A Short Story About Reading, or, Getting Over a Reading Slump. Again.

This is a story in three parts.

Part the first: Two weeks after my son was born, I was at the doctor and was told that he hadn’t gained enough weight. I really like his doctor, who very non-judgmentally reassured me that formula was an option, or she would help me make breastfeeding work. I opted to stick with nursing, and realized shortly thereafter that I needed to nurse more. Like, a lot more.

I have this super useful app that I use to track things like time spent nursing, diapers changed, amount pumped, etc, and one of the stats it gives me when I ask is total time spent nursing in a day. The day we saw the doctor, I went from an average of 2 1/2 hours per day to 4 hours per day.

Part the second: I was listening to a “books and reading” podcast, and the interview subject was talking about finding time to read (and how hard that is), and the interviewer gave him a little speech about fitting reading into the cracks. Read in line, she said. Read waiting to pick up the kids, she said. Read in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, she said. Read whenever you have a minute or five to spare.

These are all things I know and have heard before, but hearing them that day was the reminder I needed. Use whatever time you have, I thought.

Part the third: I’d been slogging my way through The Winter of the Witch. Part of the problem was that I knew how long it was. Part of it was the slow pacing when the author was taking her time. And part of it was the little message at the bottom of my Kindle, telling me how much time it would take me to finish the book. That day, it said, “Time left: 6 hours.”

Now it all comes together, because I’d been considering putting the book down. I felt like I would never finish. But here in black and white was proof: I’ll finish. It’s easy. Baby steps are steps, too. I can take it a minute at a time; just read for 6 hours. And I thought to myself, if I spend 4 hours a day stuck in one place nursing a baby, all I have to do is spend that time reading, and I’ll finish tomorrow!

Which I did.

IMG-1715Now, I know this seems like an obvious solution, and believe me, it was. But let’s bear in mind that I was a sleep-deprived new mom, stressed and overwhelmed. And the epiphany I had came at just the right moment, to remind me of three things I already knew: Being stuck in one place may seem rough, but it’s often an opportunity to do something you don’t normally have time for. Reading is like ice cream – it fills in the cracks. And how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.



Back in Dhaka

Note: In the interest of you all actually understanding what happens in my life, I’m posting this, even though it’s wildly out of date. I actually wrote it back in May. But this was happening then. Further updates are to come, promise.

So… we made it! We’ve been back for a week now. Getting back was crazy!

So because of Trey’s traumatic birth, we weren’t sure he’d get a medical clearance at all. So we started making contingency plans, including Scott bidding on an unaccompanied post in Pakistan. But as we got further along, we (and the State Department) realized that Trey was doing great, and that he’d probably get cleared to come back.

They wanted to wait for his 3-month appointment with the neurologist before deciding, but it looked like he’d be cleared to go home, as long as the doctor thought he was doing well.

Then, the week before the appointment, we found out that Dhaka might be going into Authorized Departure.

For those who don’t know, Authorized Departure is a state where families are allowed to leave post, if they so choose. They’re given plane tickets and a Separate Maintenance Allowance, and get to go live anywhere they want, pretty much. The downside, though, is that nobody under Chief of Mission Authority (meaning, embassy employees and their families) is allowed to enter the country without permission.

So if Dhaka went into Authorized Departure, we wouldn’t be allowed to come back, no matter how healthy Trey was.

It was about 72 hours between finding out there was going to be a meeting, and finding out the results of that meeting. Needless to say, those 72 hours were very stressful for me.

The good news, though, was that at the meeting they decided to wait two weeks before making a final decision. Which gave us just enough time to get Trey cleared and come home.


My Reading Slump

Back in October, while we were on our big trip, I noticed something: I was reading less.

This is understandable, considering the fact that we were traveling so much. We were pretty  busy.

But once I got to Utah, I had a ton of free time on my hands. In fact, besides getting ready for the holidays (which took a surprising amount of time; parenting is hard!), I had pretty much nothing to do. But I still wasn’t reading.

I was crocheting. I was playing Nintendo. I was shopping. I was not reading.

Winter-finalI mean, I still read here and there. And I would get into books (usually once I hit the 75% mark) and stay up late to finish them and stuff. But once they were finished, I didn’t immediately pick up the next book. Finishing and getting into books took me forever. I started a few that I abandoned, even though I’d really wanted to read them. (Such as Winter, which some of you know I’d been beyond excited about.) There’s no way around it.

It was a reading slump. Man, I hate those.

I mentioned it to my sister, who (as she often does) immediately made me feel better. She told me she’d stopped reading during her latest pregnancy, as well. She started again after the baby was born, though, never fear.

So I made sure to put my Kindle in my hospital bag, expecting to finish a couple books right after the baby was born. (Oh, how naive I was…)

Ready Player OneIn fairness, I did start Ready Player One while I was in the hospital. But I didn’t really get into reading again for another week or two.

My first week postpartum was miserable. The baby, as it turned out, was in the NICU of a different hospital, and he couldn’t even be held for the first 72 hours of his life. I spent most of that in the hospital, luckily, because once I finally got to go see him I HATED not being able to hold him.

A few days after I got out, though, he was finally able to nurse, so I ended up spending the second week of his life pretty much living in that room in the NICU. And that’s when I got back into reading.in-a-dark-dark-wood

There wasn’t a ton to do in my little room there, and a couple books I’d put on hold had finally come in for me on Overdrive. I started In A Dark, Dark Wood on my Kindle app on my phone, and Why Not Me? on my actual Kindle.

In the parents’ lounge of the NICU, there was a little shelf of paperbacks, and I picked up a Diane Mott Davidson mystery while I was eating meals there.

And I slowly started to care about what I was reading. I started wanting to tell people about the creepy psychological thriller and wanting to gush about how cool Mindy Kaling is.

Once Why Not Methe baby was home, I finally did read Ready Player One (after whining to Scott about how much exposition there is in the first 50 pages). I finally finished Winter. And I finally got
into reading again.

And thank goodness my reading slump is over, because guys, this is the year of the Epic Fantasy. That’s right… I’m finally gonna read The Wheel of Time. Heaven help me.

Wheel of Time
Haha jk, that thing is LONG. I’m probably good for at least two of them, though. (PS I definitely stole this picture from reddit; click it to see the source.)

Giving the baby the green light

So the big news this week is that Scott’s here! He was able to take a few weeks to come to Utah and be with us while we wait for/greet the new baby. He got in this past week, and it’s so great having him here. We missed him so much, and Special K especially LOVES having him around again.

scott's home
My mother-in-law got this great picture when we picked Scott up at the airport. Special K was so happy to see him.

It’s such a relief having help. My in-laws are great, and they’ve been SO helpful while we’ve been living with them, but it’s different than having my husband here. I have to be on good behavior with them, and I’m really cautious about imposing on their time. Scott, on the other hand, is my husband. I don’t have any compunctions whatsoever about making demands of him, especially when Special K needs something. It’s awesome having someone around to help with the responsibilities of parenting. Being a single parent is HARD, y’all. And I didn’t even have the full “single parent” experience, because I didn’t have to work and/or go to school, and, as aforementioned, I had wonderful in-laws to help me a TON. Even so, it was stressful and overwhelming, especially being so pregnant. Having Scott here to share that with me is SUCH a relief!

On the baby front: the waiting has officially begun! I’ve spent the last week or two worried that he would come early, before Scott got here. But happily, that didn’t happen! Although we’re a little disappointed that he didn’t come on Scott’s birthday, which he was really hoping for (it was last week), I’m just glad that he’s going to be here for the birth. (My father-in-law said the nicest thing to me about that; we were talking about making sure I didn’t have the baby before Scott got here, and I said something about keeping the baby in through sheer force of will. He said, “If it were anybody else, I’d tell them that you have no control and the baby will come when he wants to. But Jamie, I think you really could do it.”) Well, whether it was my will or the baby’s, I did in fact get my wish of not delivering so early. Hooray!

My due date isn’t for another week and a half, and Special K was actually a week and a half late. So don’t get too anxious, everyone. The baby comes when the baby comes.

Here’s What I’m Up To

Ok guys. So obviously the blog thing hasn’t been happening. Let’s change that, eh?

So here’s where I am right now: Scott and I got back from our 3 1/2 week R&R trip to find that Bangladesh had been having some issues with terrorism. Just, y’know, here and there. The Embassy’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) has been working with an Emergency Action Committee (EAC) to decide on some security restrictions for Embassy employees and their families. Which got pretty strict at times (including sheltering in place for a couple days, luckily while we were gone still). This situation is ongoing, including various security restrictions, which happily have eased a little bit since the beginning.

So the week we got back, I had a doctor appointment at the Med Unit. (Because, surprise! I’m pregnant.) UltrasoundAnd because I was going to be medevac’ed anyway to the United States (right around now is when I would have been leaving, as a matter of fact), I asked the doctor if I could leave earlier. Like, as soon as possible.


(By the way, this all happened in late/mid October.)

To which she said, absolutely! Let’s get you out of here!

And that was that. There was a lot of paperwork and some tense waiting for funding approval, but I had my appointment on a Wednesday, and on the very next Tuesday, Special K and I got on a flight to Utah.

We got in the week of Halloween, just in time for her to go trick-or-treating with her cousins. 🙂

Here they are, taking pictures before we go out. In case you can’t tell, she’s not into posing for pictures.

Being in America is awesome, guys. I missed it a lot, and I especially missed simple things like driving myself around and going on walks. For instance, I walked to church today (a whopping two blocks). (My mother-in-law was scandalized that I wasn’t driving. Admittedly, it was snowing. But it wasn’t sticking, and my shoes AND coat were good ones for it.) As I walked, I thought about how my walk to church today was longer than the one I would have had to make in Dhaka (while we’re under security restrictions still, the Branch President, who lives one block over, hosts church at his apartment). And yet, because of those security restrictions, I wouldn’t have been allowed to walk. I would have had to take a car. It made me really appreciate being here.

So that’s where we’re at, guys! I’m in Utah for the next couple months, while I get ready to have a baby some time in February (or January, if he’s early).

Stay tuned for more updates!

Welcome to the new blog!

Welcome, friends! This is my new blog! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jamie. I’m the wife of a US Foreign Service Officer (FSO), also known as an Eligible Family Member (EFM). My husband and I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with our 20-month-old daughter, Special K. 10863793_755720344482220_9109196807703618842_oThis blog is a place for me to share (and likely vent from time to time). I’ll talk about foreign service life, expat life, parenting, Mormonism, and some of my hobbies, like crocheting, baking, and the one that kind of dominates my life right now — reading! To be honest, I haven’t *really* blogged in quite a while. I’ve been writing a book blog for the last few years, but I use a similar format for all of my posts. Freestyle blogging is something I need to get used to again, so you’ll have to bear with me here. And if you have any questions for me or suggestions for things you’d like to see me write about, I’d LOVE to hear them! Thanks, guys!