A Ghost

I’m blogging. Truly, I am. I’m just not blogging here. I am a ghost these days, blogging for others.

I am going to be shutting this blog down. It makes me sad, but I no longer have the time to write here. All of my creative muscles are being flexed for someone else now that I am writing consistently for my business.  Continue reading “A Ghost”

Nothing But Blue Skies

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77 degrees (Fahrenheit) in my neck of the woods. It’s warm enough I feel the need to use the lovely air conditioning in my car.

Spring is almost here, which quickly gives way to Summer for us. I am looking forward to wearing flip flops on a daily basis without getting strange looks. I have already embraced the flip flop season since it now requires I hold my breath to tie my shoes. Some people don’t seem to understand why I would wear flip flops when the thermometer clearly says 45 degrees.

I just realized I am a little over a month away from Eva’s 7th birthday. I’m not ready for her to be that old.

But that’s it for my randomness today. I hope everyone can enjoy some sunshine soon!

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger badge

I was nominated by My Perfect Breakdown for the Versatile Blogger award.  Thank you very much MPB, I appreciate that you thought of me! My Perfect Breakdown writes about her life in an emotionally honest way that always draws me in. Thank you for sharing with us all, MPB!

As with all blogger awards, there is a set of rules to accompany your acceptance post. Here are the rules:

1. Post the award on your blog
2. Thank the person who nominated you
3. Share seven facts about yourself
4. Nominate 15 blogs
5. List the nominees and let them know

So, let’s start with seven facts about me!

1. I’m a natural blond. I have tried (unsuccessfully) to be many other things. It never works out, though. As soon as my roots begin to appear, it usually looks like I’m going bald if I have dyed my hair a darker color than my natural blond (which is pretty much any other color) because my roots are so much lighter. As a result of this life-long affliction as a blond, I have a vast repertoire of terrible blond jokes. No, I did not go looking for these jokes, if you get my drift.

2. I am only 5’2″, and I played volleyball in junior high and high school. I was a great athlete, and part of my volleyball success was because I worked on my vertical day in and day out. I could jump from a flat-footed position a full 24 inches. I was very proud of myself to be able to get up high enough to work the net at more than a proficient level.

3. Unfortunately, I have a thing about books. I have a hard time getting rid of books I have read. The purchase of a Kindle is probably the best thing to ever happen to me because I can keep as many e-versions as I would like without cluttering up my house. I still own most of the college text books from my stint in nursing school almost four years ago.

4. I have never had cable service. Ever.

5. I grew up in the country, surrounded by words. We had ducks, goats, dogs, cats and bunnies at various times growing up. We also had giant black snakes in those woods that would measure in the eight foot plus range. And I’m terrified of snakes! A giant black snake tried stealing an “egg” from one of our ducks. It wasn’t even an egg, though, it was a car part. The duck had issues (an infertile duck, possibly, which I now sympathize with greatly); she never managed to lay an egg. She built a nest and then moved a car part to her nest from my dad’s stash of things he couldn’t bring himself to part with. She sat on that car part for endless hours day in and day out. She was so serious about protecting her “egg” that when the snake showed up, striking at her and trying to get her off of her nest, she continued to sit on that egg and just raised the alarm. She caused so much noise that it quickly brought me and my brother outside. My brother killed the snake, saving her and her “egg”.

6. I didn’t learn to read until I was almost eight (at least I think 8, by what me and my mother remember). My mother homeschooled me, and she believed in child-led learning. She knew I was smart enough to read, but I had no desire to read. I avoided all of her efforts to teach me. She purchased several different curriculum programs that were supposed to make reading fun or easier or whatever, and I ignored every single one of them. It wasn’t until I realized my friend could read and I couldn’t that suddenly I began reading. I was at a 4th grade reading level within the first three months of reading. I surpassed my older brother in reading very quickly. I was reading chapter books in no time.

7. I have a love/hate situation with cooking. I love to cook good food, but it takes so much time and creates such a mess! I hate the clean-up. Plus, since my PCOS/insulin resistance diagnosis, I haven’t been cooking the foods I really love because most of those foods have a high carbohydrate content.

My fellow nominees:

1. Ben’s Bitter Blog–Ben blogs about all aspects of life with humor

2. Science of Mom–a mom oriented blog that covers different kid-related scientific studies

3. Hunting For Bliss–she blogs about life, family, motherhood and her latest adorable twins

4. Not So Quiet Momma–she blogs about being a mom, wife, teacher to her kids, and life in general

5. Sass & Balderdash–a humorous blog that covers just about everything

I am breaking the rules and stopping with five blogs. I hope all of you on those five blogs take the time to tell us a little bit about yourself!

29 Days and Heavy Thoughts

TRIGGER WARNING: This post addresses pregnancy, miscarriage, recurrent pregnancy loss, stillbirth, birth defects and secondary infertility from the perspective of someone experiencing a viable pregnancy.

I only have 29 days before my estimated due date.

I’m not naive enough to think my due date is some magical date whereupon reaching midnight my water will suddenly burst and baby boy will make his appearance soon thereafter. But, it would be nice to have such assurance.

My water may not even break until it is time to push. Lord only knows when that will be!

At a local Chinese restaurant recently, the owner’s daughter (an adult) pointed at me with a knowing smile and said, “Ah a boy”. She caught me by surprise, but I nodded and smiled back.

She said the next time I walked past her, “Only 4 or 5 more weeks”. I was 34 weeks at the time. I should have stopped to question her because my curiosity now is killing me. Instead, I just smiled and said, “Time will tell”.

We have all been guestimating when I will have the baby. My husband and I both said March 17th. I have since changed my guess to March 18th for no real reason except maybe to have my own date picked. I never did share well with others. Ask my poor brothers! Hazards of being the youngest child maybe.

My mother and a friend have guessed March 5th, while my brother guessed March 12th. I know there are other guesses but I have lost track.

I find it funny none of us have guessed past my estimated due date. We shall see.

My brother sent me a text today saying, “Are you still pregnant?”

“Yep,” was my reply.

“I will be texting daily to make sure,” he said.

“Lol ok.”

What else should I say to that?

I had planned on posting on Facebook a photo and an announcement that I am only 29 days from my due date today. Instead, I will only be posting here.

I found out that someone I consider a wonderful mother and lady just had her third miscarriage yesterday. She has a wonderful, intelligent, sweet 4-year-old daughter, but she hasn’t been able to carry a baby to term since.

She doesn’t even know that I know these things. But my heart hurts for her loss. It wasn’t so long ago that I felt my life would be forever haunted, my dreams crushed, by secondary infertility. Her mother told my mother that this woman will have to have a D&C later this week.

I know it is my Facebook and I can post whatever I want, but I just can’t bring myself to post something that may make this sweet lady or anyone else feel even more grief or pain.

Something else is weighing heavily on my mind. A family member experienced a stillbirth two years ago. She now posts articles on Facebook about kick counts frequently in an effort to promote counting the baby’s kicks in the third trimester as a way to prevent stillbirth.

Today, she posted another such article. But, she also wrote that if she had only known to do kick counts, her son’s life might have been saved. I didn’t realize she felt this way.

I’m about to describe something graphic concerning her son. Please stop reading if this might negatively affect you.

Her son had a neural tube defect. He was missing a portion of his skull. The defect wasn’t discovered until after he had died at almost full-term after she gave birth.

Her doctor had told her the missing portion of his skull was a result of decomposition, even though he died on a Monday and was delivered on a Thursday and her waters were intact until the birth.

I always assumed her doctor’s statements were untrue, because decomposition doesn’t occur in a bacteria-free environment such as the womb (when the gestational sac is intact). It was never an appropriate time or situation to bring this up previously. And, I always assumed that she had learned the truth when she began visiting her high-risk obstetrician.

Now, I’m not sure if I am mistaken or if she really lives needlessly with a mountain of guilt believing there was a way to save her son. I’m not sure if maybe this wasn’t something she discussed with her obstetrician or if I’m just wrong.

Anyone with experience and knowledge please feel free to comment. I’m not sure if I should approach her about this or not. She is more than open and willing to discuss anything and everything related to her son’s life, birth and death. I would like to ask her if she ever got a second opinion on her son’s death, but only if I am not completely wrong.

I have stillbirth listed as one of my biggest fears for my son. My mother experienced a stillbirth as did my father (they were both previously married). There are many people within my circle that have as well.

I can’t imagine living with the thought that I might have been able to prevent my child’s death. I really can’t imagine living with that thought for years only to discover later that there wasn’t a single thing anyone could have done.

My Legacy

What’s my legacy?

I realize I’m only 30. I shouldn’t be contemplating my legacy yet. But, if I don’t contemplate it now, what can I possibly do to change it when my life is already in its twilight?

What is my vision for my life?

I never even thought that someone could have a vision for their life when I was fresh out of high school. I thought that people had dreams, many unrealistic, that either just happened or didn’t. A vision implies actively working toward something. Or, even better, actively crafting and shaping until the result is a replica of your vision.

What are my goals?

Goals sound like a finish line. Goals make me think of hitting a point and calling it a day. I suppose I do have goals, like giving birth naturally.  That most definitely has a finish line, thankfully. But I don’t feel like I should have a life goal. I don’t want to stop, to cross the finish line in life.

What is my philosophy?

Oh my. Have you ever tried to explain evolution to a 6-year-old girl full of curiosity and questions? If that doesn’t solidify your philosophy, then I’m not sure what will.

What am I babbling on about?

Well, other than the fact that I just tend to babble anyway, I do have a point. The first 4 questions above are typical, universal questions we ask ourselves and others throughout life. Many job interviews will contain questions such as these. Do you have the answers?

Today, I have my answers. I have my legacy, my vision, my goals and my philosophy all outlined, road mapped and solidified.

All of those things all revolve around my children (born and unborn). I want to live intentionally, with the purpose of creating a legacy that will long outlive me. My goals will never involve a finish line, but instead will grow and evolve and change from one moment to the next. I want to be the road map my children will need to navigate life.

Life isn’t always easy, but it isn’t always hard, either. Life is only as hard as I make it. I cannot control the uncontrollable, but I can control my outlook and my response. I want to live as an intentional participant, not a reactionary respondent.

Today, I am determined to take the long view on life. How about you?

Grief and Pain: Why My Grief Is Worse Than Your Grief

*Trigger warning–this post discusses pregnancy, child loss and infertility. 

 

Pregnancy–the wondrous means needed to perpetuate the human race. The reproductive process holds mysteries and miracles alike. Our living situations during a pregnancy or leading up to a birth can make pregnancy a wonderful, joyous journey to parenthood or a fear-filled burden resulting in a different life than the one envisioned. It’s one of those things that can’t be fully described to someone else. No one’s experience with pregnancy and childbirth is exactly like someone else’s experience. It is a unique process that changes each time someone reproduces. You have to experience it to understand the power that reproduction contains. Given that I had difficulty conceiving this child I’m carrying right this moment, I am sensitive to how insensitive that last sentence is for those that cannot conceive and carry a live baby to term. For some, there is nothing in the world that would be more meaningful than experiencing pregnancy and subsequently, parenthood.

The road to reproduction can also be the source of so much pain, heartache, anxiety and depression, just to name a few emotions, for those that struggle with infertility. We are genetically hard-wired to seek and desire parenthood. When a man or a woman cannot reproduce for some reason it can cause so much heartache. Many of us in this world who have managed to have a child but struggled to have another find secondary infertility just as heart breaking. Luckily, many stories of infertility end happily. Just as many, however, do not.

The road of the infertile is rife with so much disappointment. Not only is there disappointment every time a pregnancy test or ovulation predictor strip indicates a negative result, which for some is a daily occurrence, but there is the disappointment attached to missed life achievements and goals. There is disappointment at every holiday, anniversary and event as the infertile remain childless. There is plenty of financial disappointment as well, as most of those struggling with infertility realize the mandatory health insurance (in the U.S.) they are paying exorbitant fees to have won’t cover much or anything related to the treatment of infertility. For many, the lack of coverage and a lack of unlimited funds signals the death of a life-long dream to parent a child. For many, adoption isn’t an option either because of the financial burden adoption presents as well.

Fertile person, holding your child right now, imagine that your child never came into existence because you couldn’t afford the fees required to conceive, birth or adopt that child.

I’m not writing this to make you feel guilty that you have something someone else wants terribly. I’m not writing to try to explain to you how it feels to face infertility because, let’s face it, just as carrying and having a child is something that has to be experienced to be understood, infertility, too, must be experienced to be understood. Infertility is something that cannot be fully described. For each infertile person in the world, there is a separate story and experience.

So, why am I writing this? I’m not even sure myself. I suppose I just want to remind people that parenthood is a privilege that not everyone who wants to gets to experience. Everyone is different, and everyone has a story, if we just let them tell it. But, no, that isn’t really what I want to say either.

My grief is worse than your grief.

Before my comment section gets blown up with heated comments, please listen a bit longer.

I think many of us have parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles that have probably lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth or disease way back when. In the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, even to some degree in the 80’s, everything was governed by appearances. It was unseemly to speak of infertility, and it was even more unseemly to speak of something such as losing a child. Loss in general was something to be spoken of only in the most proper of ways at the most appropriate of times. This was the era in which the U.S. was thoroughly dedicated to one-upping the U.S.S.R. Everything needed to be better, brighter, happier, healthier and wealthier. Our lives as American citizens needed to be shining examples to the world as a demonstration of the superiority of democracy and free enterprise. The original version of keeping up with the Joneses involved being the Joneses.

We haven’t exactly held on to this view that everything had to appear perfect in the subsequent decades. For example, we now view divorce as a normal, common occurrence and accept all of its messy details without raising an eyebrow these days. We live unwed with a chosen partner without stigma or fear of ostracization even. But, for some reason, we still don’t openly talk about infertility or child loss. It is an uncomfortable subject that has been and continues to be avoided except as whispers among gossipers and curious folks alike. Is this a carry-over from earlier generations?

Now, in our open-minded modern society, we still live in a world of one-uppers. That is definitely something we have carried over from previous decades. Instead of a national movement to one-up another nation, now we try to one-up each other. To be able to one-up someone implies that there is a certain value attached to everything.

We define everything by degrees. Someone’s degree of loss is less or more than someone else’s. Someone’s hardship is lessened because he or she is more fortunate than someone else, for example. Or, someone who experiences a miscarriage should not be expected to grieve to the same degree as someone whose child is stillborn. Or, the degree of loss for someone who lost an infant to sudden infant death syndrome or an older child to cancer or an accident or some other tragedy, is more severe than that of the parents of the stillborn child.

My grief is worse than your grief.

Grief is grief. Why do we have to assign value to a person’s grief or pain or hardship?

I would like to think I’m not one of those insensitive people, thinking that my grief over my baby lost to miscarriage several years ago isn’t any more or less than anyone else’s grief over anything or anyone else. I would like to think that I don’t listen to a story of a woman struggling with infertility who was triumphant at conceiving after only a short period of time and then immediately think that my story can one-up her’s because it took me longer. But I’m just as bad as everyone else.

I do put the degree of pain and grief experienced as an infertile in terms of length of time trying before conception and birth. My infertility story is worse than some and better than others; I suffered more than some and less than others. That is what my brain says, anyway. I, too, rarely speak of my miscarriage, and when I do, I speak of it very casually. I don’t assign much value to my miscarriage because it was so incredibly early in pregnancy some could argue that there wasn’t ever a baby to lose. I don’t assign much value to the emotions that I still feel when I think of my baby that never got the chance to breathe or smile or laugh.

Why do we do this? Why do I do this?

Because it validates our feelings in some way I suppose. Maybe, just maybe, instead of comparing my grief to someone else’s grief, I could just accept it as it is within me. My pain is real. My pain is mine. Someone else’s pain does not lessen or increase my pain.

I am trying to be much more intentional with my thoughts and emotions. I am trying to realign my emotions and my brain. My story as an infertile, which barring any tragedy, will end happily. My happy ending does not negate the experiences I had to get to the happy ending, though. I now rarely talk about my struggle with infertility for the most part since my pregnancy was confirmed via ultrasound. This blog has been the only place in which I speak of my previous struggles, and that has been infrequent and not recent. It feels like, according to this law of degrees, I no longer have the right to publicly acknowledge the pain I felt as a person struggling to conceive a child.

Pain is pain and grief is grief. It can’t be quantified, graded or nullified. If I can’t make anything else I have said stick, I hope this one statement sticks–your pain is as big or as little, as much or as less, as you feel it.

My grief is my grief, and your grief is your grief.

How Lower Gas Prices Are Ruining My Life

Okay, that title might be a bit melodramatic. But, right now, at this moment in time, it doesn’t feel melodramatic.

The nation-wide phenomenon known as cheap gas is something we haven’t seen since well before my little Eva (she’s six and a half now) was even conceived. I wrote in her baby book that gas prices at the time of her birth were hovering around the $4.00/gallon mark. Now, as I pass the local gas station, the sign out front declares that gas is now $1.67/gallon. I can fill up my car for less than $20.00. I should be doing a little dance and rejoicing, right? So, what’s my problem then?

These lower prices are dramatically impacting my husband’s sales. Most of his income (which is most of our income) is commission based. He sells steel of all kinds, but some of his biggest customers are those in the gas and oil industry. The companies in the gas and oil industry are scared, though. The companies that have completely halted all projects are operating at a loss right now because of the price of a barrel of oil is so low. These companies are struggling to keep their current employees paid; they don’t have the cash flow to expand and work on new projects. So, what’s making gas and oil so cheap, you say?

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (or as most of us know them, OPEC) is selling crude oil for next to nothing. Typically, if the prices for crude oil drop, OPEC decreases output which raises demand because of a drop in availability which raises the price. This time, though, OPEC is playing for keeps.

In an effort to become less reliant on foreign oil (silly Americans that we are like our independence), American oil production is up. The U.S. has been drilling for shale oil for several years now, significantly increasing production in the last couple of years. Russia has been doing its own drilling for years now, but Russia’s oil production alone wasn’t enough previously to impact OPEC. Now, with both the U.S. and Russia drilling and the overall global demand for oil on the decline (thank you hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicle drivers everywhere, and I genuinely mean that), the price of oil is dropping. As I said before, the typical answer to sliding oil prices is a decrease in output or sales by OPEC.

This time, OPEC doesn’t plan on decreasing anything. The members of OPEC met in November and declared to the world that production levels will not be changing anytime soon. This was reiterated again just a few days ago in a statement released by an OPEC representative. The next planned meeting between OPEC members isn’t until June.

The way things are looking right now, my husband may not sell enough steel for us to survive March. Did I mention my baby is due in March? Cue panic.

Even if I went back to work at a regular, reliable day job, it won’t do us much good when we need the income the most–March. Cue more panic.

I realize that we still have plenty of time to (hopefully) supplement our income with my writing and my husband’s constant efforts to find new customers. I realize that a lot can change between now and then. I realize that I should be praying about it instead of blogging about it (which I will be doing this evening, for sure). I know all of these things intellectually. But, emotionally–well, my emotions just don’t want to talk about it right now. Emotions have decided to turn a blind eye to reason for a few moments.

I thought at first when gas prices started dropping that it was a result of shale drilling in the U.S. and maybe a hidden-agenda by our government. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I thought it was possible we (the U.S.) were flooding the market with oil in an effort to dry up some of the money that may or may not be funneled on a regular basis to terrorist organizations. I know, conspiracy theory is alive in my house. Now, however, I have a new theory. Yes, another conspiracy theory is about to develop before your very eyes.

I wonder that OPEC isn’t purposely allowing the price drop as a way to knock the competition out of business. Many of these companies in the U.S. drilling shale oil are mostly new businesses, and these companies are probably still paying back start-up loans. What better way is there to ensure a monopoly of the market than to get rid of all the competition? If OPEC forces these companies in the U.S. into bankruptcy, then we are right back to getting most of our oil from OPEC.

OPEC can withstand a long period of low prices because they have been operating at such a profit for so many years. Any loss sustained this year is just a drop in the bucket for them.

I cringe knowing that the failure of these companies won’t only affect my bank account, but it might affect my bank. It will affect the family of each employee as well. What we don’t need right now is the loss of more jobs.

I’m not entirely sure I’m being fair to OPEC, but I don’t really care, either. Whatever geopolitical nonsense is happening here, everyone needs to knock it off and play nice so I am not worried about bills in the middle of labor. I don’t want to be cataloging each bill that needs paid as I try to breathe through a contraction. Yes, I know, that is my personal problem, not the problem of the world at large. But, enough is enough. Come on now!

If you would like to read about it from a point of view not quite so slanted, try Googling low gas prices, or take a look at this article from CNBC.