I just posted a post that is password protected. I talk about the suicide of a friend. If you would like to read it, please contact me for the password. – Mindy
- He knocks anything and everything off any surface he can reach. Holding him on my hip while passing by the kitchen counter is guaranteed to result in a broken dish, food scattered across my floor, or the immediate need for a mop.
I know I have mentioned laid back breastfeeding to several of you in various posts. Well, here is a bit more about it as well as some very important points about managing labor and delivery pain with medication.
Thank you, Bright Hope Mom! Great post!
I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding our second child since I started having so much trouble with the kidlet. It certainly was an occasional source of worry: what if it happened all over again? Could I handle it emotionally? How on earth can you manage exclusive pumping, a toddler and a newborn?
When we knew this little guy was on the way, I found myself asking these questions more regularly, and so, of course, the time came for me to do a bit of research. I had already read Breastfeeding, Take Two: Successful Breastfeeding the Second Time Around, and had been encouraged by Stephanie Casemore’s experience in breastfeeding her second child after exclusively pumping for her first. In this book, the author also mentioned biological nurturing (laid back breastfeeding) and I went to the internet to find out more. After reading all of Dr Colson’s publications that were available online…
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Well, this is just funny. I thought I would share with all the moms and soon-to-be moms out there.
When I was pregnant, I lost count of how many people told me how to prepare for childbirth. Some insisted that the only way was to have as little intervention as possible (“I tell you, anything other than an island yurt with a whale as your doula just feels unnatural.”). Others urged me to take advantage of all the advances of modern medicine (“Listen to me. LISTEN TO ME. You get all the drugs. Find out if your insurance covers crystal meth and if it doesn’t, text me with the code word ‘Heisenbirth’ and I’ll hook you up.”). On one memorable occasion, a cashier went into great detail about her daughter-in-law’s perineum splitting like a banana peel while I nodded and wondered what I had done to deserve this when all I wanted was to buy my Raisin Bran and vanish into thin air. But if there was one thing…
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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?
*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.
I am reblogging for my own reference. I have been using prenatal yoga and it has made quite a difference in helping my sciatic pain and lower back pain. I also feel like it is helping prepare my body for later stages of pregnancy and labor.
Yesterday marked day 20 of my current 100 day challenge: to stay active in the final days of my pregnancy. I’m happy to report that I did something every day and have continued to keep myself accountable by making daily videos.
In these last ten days I have stepped into my third trimester! I’m probably going to say this at every update, but I really can’t get over how fast time is flying. I’m getting so excited to meet him!
Also, baby has been kicking like crazy this week!! He’s getting bigger and I can feel his kicks getting stronger and stronger. Danny’s been giving him stern talking tos about repeatedly kicking me in my right side, which do not seem to be helping. It’s funny, at first I was so excited about every little kick, now it’s more like, OK baby…that’s enough now 🙂 This doesn’t mean I’m not…
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Warning: Some explicit language, mention of miscarriage, and it is really long.
I feel a little like Marty McFly in this post. I took a look at my past to remind me of my future. I know that doesn’t exactly make sense, but if you keep reading I think I can manage to spell it out a little better. However, if you don’t know who Marty McFly is, then we can’t be friends. I’m sorry, but I can not have someone in my life that has never seen or heard of Back To The Future. Ahem. Moving on…
On the daily, my husband drives me crazy (not usually in a good way, either). For the past three weeks, it’s been the same exact thing driving me crazy. All I have heard about every night as we lay snuggled in bed (as I hack up a lung, thanks to a cold that seems to never end) is how nervous he is that his yearly evaluation is coming up at work. Now, the first few nights I was very sympathetic to his feelings of nervousness and insecurity. I could empathize that it is truly nerve-wracking to know that your performance for an entire year was going to be dissected and critiqued, and that based on that performance you would receive feedback and specific goals for all of the next year. That is kind of a big deal! I get it. But, I lost all empathy around the seventh day in a row. By then I wasn’t just hearing about it at night, I was hearing about it throughout the day. I heard about it every time he gave a quote, made a sale, or lost a sale at work. I heard about it on his lunch. I heard about it all the time. No longer was he just nervous, but now he had convinced himself he was going to be fired.
Let me stop there for a moment. I realize that in most cases, this assertion that he is going to be fired would probably be based on a guilty conscience. So, maybe he knows he is lazy or hadn’t done a very good job and he has reason to think that he will be let go. That doesn’t really seem to be the case in this scenario, though. My husband met the sales goal set for him by his bosses. Not only did he meet it, he surpassed it. He has also taken the initiative on several projects, and he has been assisting the new salesman learn and develop his sales techniques. He has used his freelance-writer wife to his advantage, on his own initiative, to develop marketing emails and other company literature that can be used to benefit him as well as the other sales associates. His direct supervisor makes it a point to let me, the wife, know that he thinks my husband is doing a great job and that he loves his motivation, drive, and attitude at every business dinner we attend. I think I am pretty justified in thinking that not only will he not get fired, but he will probably get a pat on the back, a good job, an atta boy at this evaluation. So, as the evaluation looms closer and closer (it is only a few hours away at this point), his nervousness isn’t abating but only increasing despite my best efforts at reassurance.
My husband, just a little bit ago on his lunch, expressed his annoyance with my constant focus on educating him on all things birth related. I had forwarded him an article (it was to-the-point, informative, funny) to read on his lunch. After I asked if he had read it, I could hear the eye roll that accompanied his answer to the affirmative. I was instantly aggravated. It is so typical of him to be all-consumed with worry over something that wasn’t even a realistic worry while completely ignoring something that is imminent! The birth of our child will happen whether he wants it to or not! Whether or not he is educated and prepared makes no difference to my body or this baby–birth will happen! I’m only 14 and a half weeks away from my due date, for crying out loud! Worry about the important things already!
So, this is when I took a deep breath and made myself remember all the reasons I married him in the first place. This is how I ended up feeling a little like Marty, with a slightly faulty watch. I tried to conjure up reasons out of thin air, but nothing was happening. I could only see my anger and frustration. I want this birth to be completely different than it was with Eva. I want a partner that is involved! All I could think of then was not why I married my husband, but why I wanted a different birth.
So, back to the past I went in an attempt to change my future. The end of April, 2008 was my first stop. I was laying in a hospital bed as my water was being broken with what looked like a giant knitting needle. My then husband, Eva’s father, was sitting in a chair next to the bed playing a game on his phone, completely ignoring me, the doctor, and everything else.
My next stop, which felt a little random, was August, 2009 as I walked into a local gas station and applied for a job. They weren’t hiring, but the manager seemed to like me, and he said he would keep my resume on hand. He also seemed impressed with the fact that I had a resume. This had been my fifth stop of the day in an attempt to find a job, and yes I am that person who brings a resume to apply for a gas station, minimum wage job.
Next stop in time–two weeks later. Now, I had a job at the same gas station. The timing couldn’t have been better because my first semester back to college had just begun, and my then husband had left me and Eva a short 17 (I have a weird memory that remembers numbers, but not important things like birthdays) days prior, taking all our money (which wasn’t much since I had taken the summer off to spend with Eva before college began) with him.
I jumped through time again, landing in January, 2010 as I was at work at the gas station. I had quickly realized that I couldn’t be too nice to the men that came in because many of them didn’t understand that the new cashier at the local gas station was trying to do her job with a smile, not get a date. In walked (at the busiest time of my shift) this kid with a thin, scruffy beard, lots of change, and an arrogance that didn’t mesh with his general appearance. He needed to get gas and cigarettes, but he didn’t even know what kind of cigarettes he wanted. He was annoying. I was being patient and distantly polite, until he leaned on the counter and asked what I was doing later. My patience ran out. I ignored his question and asked for his driver’s license instead. He was a whopping nineteen years old. Just as I thought, he was another local arrogant kid that thought I was an ideal target for harassment. Oh joy, let me count my blessings that I get to put up with this awful behavior four days a week for $7.50 an hour. At least I had time to do homework between customers for most of my shifts.
Skipping ahead a month or so, it was now the end of March, 2010, and the arrogant kid with the facial hair was back. I couldn’t help but compare his attempt at a beard to pubic hair. It really did look awful. I noticed recently he had been wearing what looked like a chef’s uniform when he would come in for gas. It wasn’t complimentary, either. Today was no different than most other encounters because he asked me again when I had my next evening off. Today was different, though, for me because I was in the midst of planning my daughter’s second birthday party which included arguing with her father about who would get her when. I had finally just offered that he could come to my parents’ house on her birthday for the party so we could both spend time with her on her birthday and she wouldn’t have to be rushed around to get from one party to the next. His response had been that he would be bringing his girlfriend so he expected my family to play nice. Someone gag me, shoot me, and take away my phone before I say something I shouldn’t, please! Now here stood this nineteen-year-old arrogant, pubic hair beard, chef outfit kid. He managed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back that day. His obviously appreciative looks at me combined with his urging that we should “hang out” was met with a lot more venom than it deserved.
I leaned over the counter getting closer to him and smiled and tilted my head. It was the closest approximation to a flirtatious move I could muster.
“Listen carefully, because I won’t be repeating myself,” I said, smile in place and a blush flooding my face. He smiled even bigger and leaned a little closer. “I am twenty-four years old, I am in the middle of a divorce, and I have a two-year-old daughter. I am a full-time college student living at home with mommy and daddy due to my current circumstances. That’s just the baggage I can talk about in public or without crying. The array of emotional issues and baggage that accompanies all of those things said and unsaid is more than any little boy such as yourself can begin to comprehend. I will not be ‘hanging out’ with you, which in my time here has been made abundantly clear to me does not mean ‘hang out’ but rather that you would like to convince me to fuck you. I am not a ‘challenge’ or playing hard to get. So, kindly keep your elbows off my counter, pay for your shit, and move on.”
His response made my barely-tethered anger break its leash completely. He continued to smile as he said without hesitation, “I like kids, and two is a great age.” He paid for his gas and moved on then, with that stupid smile still in place, as my anger silently blazed. I was very glad no one else was in the store at that moment. I was also very glad he at least had the sense to move along and not hang around. I think I might have thrown something at him.
I stop to reflect here and there through the next few months, as life continues. This same kid, who seemed unmoved by my ire and honesty and baggage and lack of encouragement, continues to come to the gas station frequently. I notice things about him, like that his friends call him Bubba even though his license says his name isn’t anything near Bubba. I notice that he still smiles at me, and he still asks what I’m going to do on my next day off, but now he asks if I will be taking my daughter to the park while the weather is nice, or if I have a day off at all between work and college. He also always makes it a point to invite me and my daughter to whatever event he has thought up this week. He doesn’t give up, but I don’t give in either.
Somewhere in this period of time, I went by the gas station to pick up my paycheck with my daughter in tow. He happened to stop by as we were preparing to leave. My daughter, who always got a free candy bar from my boss every time I brought her in, had just settled into her car seat and began munching on her candy while I walked around to the driver’s door of my car as he approached. For some reason I instantly felt panicked. I didn’t have a counter to hide behind, and I had my daughter right there with me, so I couldn’t use anger to repel him. I would have to be polite. As soon as he got close, I indicated that I had my daughter and we needed to be leaving. He further frustrated me as he immediately ignored me and focused on her. He introduced himself and asked if her candy was any good, to which she smiled and took another bite and then tried to talk with a mouth full of chocolate. She held up money she had found on the ground and told him about it, and they carried on a conversation as my panic continued to rise. I wasn’t even divorced yet, even if Eva’s father had already moved in with his girlfriend, my daughter was not the way to my heart. I wasn’t ready to be vulnerable yet! He told my daughter to have a good day, and went on his way with a wave and a “see ya” to me. I released a sigh, and climbed in to my car. My daughter, still smiling, so naive, so sweet, so innocent, asked me if he could come play at her grandma and grandpa’s. I don’t remember my reply, I just remember wanting to cry. How was I ever going to have a meaningful relationship with anyone and keep her out of it? And how was I going to have a relationship at all if I wasn’t willing to open up a little? Not that that damn kid was relationship material anyway.
My next stop in the past was a few weeks after this, when I had just been in a car accident. My car, which I had just purchased with great effort three weeks prior, was totaled. I had no health insurance, and I didn’t have full-coverage insurance on my car. I wasn’t at fault for the accident, but I also didn’t have the money for doctors or prescriptions up front. I hadn’t sold the piece of junk I had previously been driving, luckily, or I wouldn’t have had transportation, either. I couldn’t afford to miss work. We were barely surviving on what I made. I couldn’t imagine missing a day. I went to work the next day after the accident, only to discover I couldn’t lift my left arm high enough to stock the top shelf of the cooler or refill the ice hoppers. Just as I was almost in tears trying to lift a five-gallon bucket of ice over my head, who would happen to come inside other than that damn annoying kid. Without much comment, he took the bucket and finished the job. He then did it again and again until both ice hoppers were full. He asked what else he could do, and hesitantly, I pointed out the few top rows of the cooler that needed restocked. He didn’t ask what I was doing on my day off. He didn’t ask me for my number. He didn’t even pry into my obvious injury. He just did what I couldn’t.
May 19th, 2010 was my next stop. I had finished my finals, and I had done well in each class. I suddenly had a huge hole of time that I wasn’t sure how to fill. My daughter and I were spending lots of time outside playing. The problem I had was when she went to her father’s for three days. Work could only fill so much time. So, I caved. He came in the gas station that day, clean shaven, and before he could say anything to make me change my mind, I asked him for his number. He smiled and he asked why he couldn’t have mine instead. I raised an eyebrow and said something along the lines of I didn’t trust him to not drunk-text me and I hadn’t decided to actually use his number yet. He asked me instead what I was doing two nights later. We made plans.
On May 21st, 2010, we went on our first date. He was quite obviously nervous. It made me smile and much more comfortable to see his discomfort. He didn’t even try to kiss me on our first date. All of that arrogance was gone.
Time moved on, and we continued to see each other. I learned things about him, like that he had come from a broken home, and that his high school girlfriend had aborted their baby without his consent, and that his baby girl would have been a year older than Eva. I learned that despite his age, he had been through just as much heart ache as I had, and he understood way more about my hurts than I would have ever guessed. I learned that no matter how much I tried to push him away, he wouldn’t budge. I also learned that when I wasn’t pushing, he was just as constant. I slowly brought Eva around him. When I did, it didn’t matter what he had wanted to do or what I had wanted to do; the only thing in the world that mattered is what did Eva want to do. If she wanted to watch Cars for the eight time that day, then we would watch it. If she wanted to go to the park, then we would go to the park. If she wanted to play blocks, then we would play blocks. Not only had I found someone reliable, but she did, too.
My father disliked him. My best friend hated him. My mother just gave me that look she has that says she trusts me to know what I’m doing. My aunt threatened to kill him if he hurt me or my daughter. I don’t blame them, because I had the same reaction to him initially. He can be so arrogant and obnoxious, to say the least. Time moved on, and eventually we moved in together. The divorce had been finalized, and I was ready to move forward in life.
A couple of months after we had moved in together, my dad become terribly ill. He was in the hospital for 16 days, and then he was home but still not back to normal. He had physical therapy appointments to attend three times a week, a doctor appointment to attend at least once a week, a visiting nurse to change his dressing on his hand, a PICC line (a peripherally inserted central catheter which was a direct line to a major source of blood flow) with heavy-duty antibiotics due twice a day, and he couldn’t even figure out where he was half of the time. He had also been my babysitter for Eva prior to his illness. Now I was down a babysitter and terrified my father would die while my mother was at work. My wonderful boyfriend encouraged me to quit my job. He made enough to pay the bills without my income. I called my mother, who had maxed out her sick time and vacation time at work and was pushing the boundaries of kindness of her boss, and told her that I would be quitting my job. I told her I would be available to take care of dad, to take him to appointments and keep an eye on his progress. She was so relieved, and so was I! Except for my time in class, which wasn’t much at that point because I was part-time that semester, I was free to take care of Eva and my father.
I had my first panic attack two weeks after I quit my job. I was so sure that I was placing an unfair financial burden on this kid that I now saw as a man that I lived with. I managed to work myself up to a brand new level of anxiety. And still, he was steady and constant. He wiped my tears away and told me to suck it up, which was exactly what I needed to hear.
I hate to make things sound like they just worked out, because they didn’t. The thing I never hear divorced women talk about is how difficult is it to try again. Most divorced women talk about how awful the divorce was or the reason for the divorce. Most leave out how much it sucks to open yourself up again. Living with him and then being financially dependent on him was the scariest experience of my life. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but I don’t know how else to say it. The amount of trust needed to be in such a committed relationship…man, I am at a loss for words to describe that feeling. I had put my emotion well-being at risk by being there, with him, in a strongly committed relationship. This also involved my daughter’s emotional well-being because she lived there, too. She had fallen for him as her Bubba. Her playful giant that could never tell her no. As if that isn’t enough to make every divorced mother run away in terror, I had also added the one thing I had only ever trusted to one other man in my entire life–my financial well-being. I felt as if my heart and checkbook were teetering on the edge, staring at a never-ending abyss every day.
We definitely had our moments. I had a lot of pride and fear. He had a lot of pride, too. He also really sucked at saying what I needed to hear. I pushed him away so often, I still can’t believe he stuck it out. I tried breaking up with him repeatedly, giving him a way out. He never took it. He would just squeeze a little tighter and remind me that Eva and I were all he wanted, and all he needed. He chose us; he wasn’t stuck with us. He would tell me those words so often, but the best part is he would back them up with action. Even when Eva was still in diapers and had diarrhea and I accidentally flung poo all over his arm and chest in an attempt to get the diaper in the trash before the liquid poo overflowed on to the carpet, he still came back for more. He wasn’t angry that I was in danger of dying from laughing as he cleaned poo off of his arms and threw one of his favorite shirts in the trash. After he quit gagging, he laughed along with me. Still, I gave in to the panic that would clutch me as he settled further into my heart.
After living together for about seven months, Eva and I moved out. It was around June, 2011. He and I had began to argue about money. I say argue, but it wasn’t even an argument. He had put me in charge of the money and the bills, because he really did not do it well. Unfortunately, though, he would still want to buy all kinds of things we just couldn’t afford. At this point, I was back to work and my father had recovered, but it didn’t matter. The things he wanted were just not within our budget. He also didn’t feel the need to clean anything, ever. The money argument combined with feeling like he was not doing his part sent me running. I thought for sure that moving out would be the final nail in the coffin. Surely he wouldn’t understand that the problems I had already discussed with him multiple times over many months were truly important to me. I wanted a partner, not another child. I wanted someone that could and would take responsibility for themselves and all that entails. I informed him of my decision, and I gave him a date on which I planned to move all of my stuff and Eva’s stuff. He didn’t take it very well, obviously. He was quite angry and upset. The next two weeks before I moved were the chilliest two weeks of our entire relationship. I knew this was the end. My heart broke a little each day as the moving day approached.
To my utter amazement, the day prior to the designated moving date, he moved all of my stuff and Eva’s stuff while I was at work. We were moving back to my parents’ because I was going to start nursing school the next semester and I would need their help with Eva. During my eight hour shift, he lovingly packed all my things, leaving only one night’s worth of my stuff behind, and took it to my parents. He then lugged all my furniture to the second floor of my parents house. He also set up all of Eva’s things (she was at her father’s that weekend) in her room. That night when I got off of work, we both cried. I thought he was finally getting rid of me, even though it had been my idea. I thought he was making sure things ended on his terms and that was why he had moved me out a day early. Instead, he assured me that he wasn’t going anywhere, and that he was going to miss both me and Eva more than he could express. He knew that moving back to my parents wasn’t something that was easy for me, and he didn’t want me to have to move myself piece by piece. He knew it would be hard for me to do, emotionally and physically. He also assured me that he would be over to visit as often as we would let him. I still didn’t believe him. Words are so easily said.
Again, he backed up his words with actions. He stayed true to his words, spending as much time with us on our terms as our schedules would allow. I also noticed something else radical happening–he was cleaning! He was paying his bills and struggling to manage his money, but he was still doing it. There were several mistakes and a few overdraft fees as a result, but he was learning and growing. Something else happened I never would have expected–he told me I was right! He said he quickly realized how much I had been doing around the house, and that he had not realized how much we had been spending on things he wanted instead of things we needed. I could not believe that this man I had thought of as a kid not only had an emotional depth carved out of life experience, he was also willing to be a grown up. He was striving to grow and change and better himself. I still just didn’t believe it.
That fall, I had a surprise. Just before nursing school was to begin, I discovered I was pregnant. I had had strep throat and had been taking antibiotics. Unfortunately, I had also put the wrong date that I began taking the antibiotics in my phone. I was two days off, which resulted in ineffective birth control pills. I knew I was pregnant just as I had with Eva. I also knew about a week early. I was beside myself with fear and trepidation. I come from a family that strongly believes in marriage before babies. I also knew during nursing school was a horrible time to have a baby. As I began to get over all the reasons why I can’t be having a baby right now, he was filling my heart with hope and joy. He was so excited to hear the news! He wanted to tell everyone and anyone who would stand still and listen long enough right away. I had began to feel hopeful that maybe this could be the greatest thing to happen to me since Eva when the bleeding began. I lost my baby. I was a mess for a while. He was so sad, too, and I didn’t have the emotional energy to push him away. So we bonded a little closer through our grief.
In October of 2011, though, he almost pushed back too hard. He asked me to marry him. Cue my second panic attack. I said yes with the caveat that he would not pressure me to choose a date. I didn’t pick a date, either until the end of 2012. We were married in May of 2013, with a lot of supporters in attendance. Everyone that had previously disliked him was there, and strangely enough each of them had been instrumental in my ability to say I do to him.
As I would find another reason that he couldn’t possibly be right for me or Eva, my mother, my aunt, even my father, would gently remind me that actions speak louder than words. His actions clearly showed his love and commitment to me and to Eva. His actions clearly showed his willingness to grow with me, to learn how to be a better partner and step-father. His actions clearly showed he could and would put up with me, even when no one else wanted to put up with me. He could deal with my fears and baggage.
The single, most important thing about him that I have to remember every time I feel like I am at my wits end with him–he is a great dad. Eva’s biological father moved far away when she was two and a half, returning for a few months that spring before moving back to the west coast. For Eva, her dad was her Bubba. She has always called him Bubba, and I would bet that she always will. He loves her like a father should. He was right here with me, crying while Eva spent four weeks over the summer with her biological father.
So, at the end of my journey through time, I reminded of one thing that is so important. He was right for us because his actions speak louder than words. So what if he hasn’t read any of the books I want him to read to prepare for the birth of our son? So what if he rolls his eyes every time I forward him another blog post or article about his role in birth? His actions always speak volumes about how he feels about me. I know that I can trust in that with certainty and peace of mind.
By the time this post was completed, he has already had his evaluation at work. Let’s just say his actions may be relied upon, but his wife is always right!
Knock me over with a feather! I was just nominated by Jasmin over at LittleNugget_BigNugget for One Lovely Blog Award! Thank you, Jasmin, very much for the unexpected nomination. I greatly enjoy your blog and I take this nomination as a great compliment!
I am supposed to tell you all a few things about myself (seven things, to be precise). So, here goes…
1. Now, I’m expecting complete confidentiality with this one–my husband is a whole six years younger than me! No one seems to notice this little fact, or at the least they don’t mention it even if they think I look older than him. What’s worse (for him) is most people usually think he is older than me! He even got a nudge and a wink from a front desk man once for having a “younger woman” with him at a hotel which left me in hysterics and him quite upset. I always get carded (well, not right now obviously, since I’m pregnant and not drinking) and he never does. This also burns his biscuits.
2. I stole a piece of candy (a Tootsie Roll) at my brother’s urging when I was four-years-old. My mother made me go back to the store, pay for it, and apologize. Then I had to do extra chores to work off the money she gave me to pay for the candy. Apologizing to the cashier was the scariest thing I had ever done in my four years. I thought for sure they were going to have me arrested!
3. I throw/give away everything I possibly can that won’t upset my family (too terribly, anyway). I hate clutter and junk immensely! But, I have a thing about books. I can’t throw them away, and only rarely can I bring myself to give them away. I never participated in the textbook buy back programs at college because I didn’t want to get rid of knowledge I would maybe need someday. Last year, I sold several of these textbooks to Amazon, and I cried while I packed them. I know, this is not normal. Who cares about an American Lit book that is eight years old?
4. I have been late several times to pick up my daughter since the beginning of the school year. Why? Well, because I start writing/reading or some other project and I lose track of time. Luckily, my daughter likes to get picked up last.
5. I went to college originally as an English major. I then convinced myself there was no future as an English major unless I wanted to teach high school (which I absolutely didn’t) and then didn’t go back after that semester for many years.
6. I chew my lips and nails incessantly when I’m stressed out. My mother can tell how stressed/not stressed I am by the current state of my lips and fingers. God forbid I ever get a cold sore because she will grill me for ten minutes straight to make sure it’s really a cold sore and not from me chewing on my lip due to some unknown stress. She loves me, though, and that’s what counts.
7. I am the youngest of five children, with the oldest being sixteen years ahead of me. I have 22 nieces and nephews and 2 great nieces and 2 great nephews. I feel like I have been babysitting since I was five, and I won’t hardly babysit these days. I love spending time with my nieces and nephews, but I just don’t babysit.
Now, it is my turn to nominate some bloggers I admire (again, the magic number is seven).
7. And here is where I fail because I can’t think of anyone else.
Thank you again, Jasmin, for the nomination. It means a lot! Furthermore, every time someone clicks the like button, the follow button, or share on anything I write it makes me do a happy dance! Every comment I get in response to something I have written makes me do another happy dance! I have learned so much from this blogging community through experiences shared and information displayed. I never expected to have so much in common with so many people. Thank you to each and every one of you that reads and likes and comments for each of those acts. You guys make my day every time I post something!
Several times in the last few weeks, I have been reminded that we as a society have no sense of propriety when it comes to others’ reproductive health, habits, goings on, preferences, opinions, you name it! Don’t let me sound all pious, as if I haven’t been guilty of sticking my nose in to someone else’s reproductive business at least once in my life (once is generous, I’m quite sure I can name at least three such incidents, one dating back to age 10 where I asked a newly wed couple why they didn’t have a baby yet). I think that secondary infertility and miscarriage really brought the message home for me that other people need to stay out of my reproductive business. Not only do I want people to stay out of my business, we need to stay out of each other’s reproductive business. If it isn’t your baby or body, then hush it!
At a local restaurant this week, I happened to find myself face-to-face with a woman we will call Susan. I haven’t seen Susan for about a year, and we have never been close. I went to high school with her daughter, and her daughter and I were friends…twelve years ago. Within moments of stumbling upon Susan, I was ready to hide or yell or both. The exchange went something like this:
Susan: (After she pointedly looks at my belly) So, you’re expecting?
Me: No, I’m fat. (I couldn’t help myself! I didn’t even think before it came out!)
Susan: Oh, um….
Me: Just kidding. Yes, I am pregnant.
Susan: (Obviously defensive and back peddling now) I wouldn’t have said anything but that is just what I heard recently.
Me: How is Rebecca? (the daughter I went to school with)
Susan: Oh, well, she is doing fine. She just had a little boy. So she has two girls and a boy now, and I think they’re done. God, I hope they’re done. They certainly don’t need anymore and–
At this point, Eva, bless her timing, has interrupted this stream of horrible coming from Susan’s mouth. Eva needs to use the bathroom, and I could just squeeze her perfect little, tiny bladder for extricating me from this conversation before I said something extremely inappropriate but then I would have to take her home so she could change her pants. No squeezing of the bladder then, just her. I’m not sure why I felt the need to exclaim that I wasn’t pregnant and that I am instead fat, but I did. I was instantly defensive and annoyed. I have a different point of view with this pregnancy than I did before–if I wanted you (as in Susan, or anyone that I haven’t personally told) to know that I am pregnant, I would have told you. If I haven’t told you, which also means you and I aren’t even friends on Facebook, or if I haven’t seen you in a year or more, then I do not consider us to be close enough to discuss what is happening in my reproductive system currently. This sounds harsh as I type it, but I really do feel this way and I don’t think I should be apologetic about my feelings. I’m sure maturity plays a role as well in my feelings (I was 22-23 when pregnant with Eva), but the point I can’t seem to make is that I can’t be the only person that feels this way. Not only had this woman stuck her nose into my reproductive organs instantly, but she had then moved on to make her obviously negative opinion clear in reference to her daughter reproducing ever again.
Let’s play a hypothetical (which should read pointless) game for a moment. Let’s pretend that her daughter works two jobs, takes online college classes, and doesn’t have a husband or steady boyfriend. Now, I know none of this is true, but stick with me for a moment. Let’s say all three of Susan’s grandkids have a different daddy, each one worse than the last. Let’s say that Susan’s daughter is on food stamps, medicaid, and state aid for daycare. Susan herself has agreed to pick these children up daily from day care and take them to the next babysitter who keeps them until her daughter gets home from her second job. Obviously, this isn’t an ideal way to raise children. Does any of this give Susan the right, the sanction needed to justify standing in the middle of a busy, local restaurant commenting on her daughter’s reproductive choices to someone that her daughter doesn’t even know anymore? I still say no, she needs to mind her own business. Am I advocating that this is a good way to raise children? No, I’m not, but I also don’t think I should get to weigh in on the decision to get Rebecca’s tubes tied. It is none of my business!
Now, let’s move on to a lady named Hannah (fictional name, real person). Hannah chose to have (and keep) a baby she knew was not healthy. This baby has a neural tube defect that translates to two things: it’s a miracle her child is alive two years after birth, and her child will have severe physical and mental deficits her entire life. Her child will spend a large portion of her life visiting hospitals and doctors, and her child will never walk or stand or speak. Hannah was told that while still in the womb her child had suffered a severe stroke due to a blood clot which led to the neural tube defect. Genetics did not play a role in her child’s condition. This woman appears to be a fantastic mother and advocate. Hannah also chose to have another child. Her second child is completely normal developmentally and physically. Hannah’s family, however, has completely disowned her. Her parents will not get to know the joy of being grandparents to Hannah’s children and Hannah’s siblings won’t be called auntie or uncle–all because they felt it was okay to tell her she could not, should not, have another baby. While I think everyone will agree this is incredibly crappy of her family, stop for a moment to ponder why her family would think that they should have a say in her use of her reproductive organs?
A certain member of my family that will remain nameless recently weighed in on my future, hypothetical pregnancies. Of course, this was an unsolicited opinion offered up as if I am too foolish to understand what pregnancy means and all it entails like, you know, caring for a baby and then a child and then a teen (oh darn, I thought babies grew up and could support themselves within a couple years of birth). Upon sharing my news months ago that I am pregnant, the first question I received from this person was if I am considered high risk because of my age (I was exactly 30 years old, it was my birthday). This was not a joke, this person was seriously concerned that I was too old to be having babies. I explained that no, I am not high risk, and that most women these days don’t start having children until they hit their thirties. Apparently, this fell on deaf ears. After sharing the news that my baby is a boy, this same family member then asked if I would be getting my tubes tied after this baby since I will have both a boy and a girl now. My family member then proceeded to tell me that by the time I am in my forties, I will be ready to slow down and I won’t have time, energy, or the desire to continue to raise my children if they are still young. Let me just say ugh. I gave a smile and said I would pray about it (this family member is extremely religious, so the response was a better chastising remark than anything else I could have offered).
I think the pro-choice fight has had some unexpected consequences. I am not pro-abortion…not even a little. But, in a country in which we fight and argue about a woman’s right to choose to abort her baby, why do I feel like we should be fighting for a woman’s right to have a baby? Why do I feel like we should be fighting for the right to reproduce without commentary from any random person that feels they should share their opinion? The fact that we are publicly debating something so personal as reproduction choices at all is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion. Why shouldn’t random people feel as if they are perfectly justified in commenting on my pregnancy, my future reproductive abilities, and any other woman’s on which they have formed an opinion if it is deemed okay (dare I say, even in style) to publicly decide on a woman’s right to kill her baby in utero? What a ridiculous world we live in! We have spent so much time, energy, and money on regulating women’s reproductive health, and for what? To declare that this nation is open-minded, liberal, and ever-evolving? To tout the right to choose as an avenue to empower women to be the only one’s governing their bodies? If open-mindedness (i.e. letting a woman choose what to do with her body, life, time, emotions, etc.) were really the goal, then why do so many people feel it is within their right to comment on a woman’s pregnancy, future pregnancies, infertility, family planning of any kind?
I am a married, financially stable, sane, healthy person that is already mom to one amazing girl. What my husband and I choose to do with our reproductive organs is not something that is up for public debate. We may choose not to have any more children after this one, or we may choose to have as many as we can as quickly as we can (or as my body allows, it doesn’t cooperate with having babies), or we may pick something somewhere in between those options. The key in this is that we will do what we decide is best for us, our family, and our situation. Sarah Jo or Bob or Thelma or Johnny down the street should not then feel obligated to inform me that I am too old, or that I can’t be a loving mother to so many children, or any other such nonsense that is none of their business. Worse still is that Sarah Jo, or whoever, will feel that this line of discussion is perfectly appropriate.
How frustrating to think that all the a-woman’s-right-to-choose campaigns really produced is a carte blanc to opinionated people to express their feelings on my reproductive practices.