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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weep with Those Who Weep

So I'm writing this because I think it might help.  Or that it would be good for me, or something.  Maybe it's part of the grieving process, I don't know.

My 3 year old niece died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound almost two months ago.  I think of her at least once a day.  Sometimes I don't want to.  Sometimes it feels like a total lie, like the next time we visit her family we'll see her and she'll laugh and smile and give us a big hug.  Sometimes I know on a very visceral level that it's real.  That she's gone.  And sometimes my brain doesn't want to process that and so I just sort of shut down my emotions and it's all very hard logic and facts.

She was three.
She found a gun.
She's gone.

I say these words with a heavy heart, but I am not crying.  I am not holding it back.  I don't really feel anything, because these are just facts that I am relaying.

I'm 29 years old.
I live in Wyoming.
I like cheesecake.

And then there was tonight, when I was standing over my crockpot, shredding chicken, and I couldn't stop thinking of what she wanted to be for Halloween.  She was Minnie Mouse last year.  I saw the pictures when I went through her parents' computer.  She looked so grown up, my little niece.  She looked beautiful.

It's then that I remember her at the funeral.  She looked lovely, but so still.  So doll-like.  It was obvious that everything that made that little girl real was gone. 

I recently read an article on relevant.com that spoke of grief.  In the Bible, Paul says that we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those that weep.

My husband and I (and our son) were the first family members on the scene.  We were in the car when we got the phone call that she didn't make it.  I can't even explain how those long minutes felt.  I wanted to pull over.  I wanted to throw up.  My husband was beside himself, grief I've never seen, but he said we had to keep driving.  We had to get there.

We had to be strong.  We had to be rocks, stable.  We tried not to cry in front of her parents.  We held them close and we told them we love them but we didn't break down.

And now I think that maybe we should have.  Maybe we should have cracked like glass.  Maybe we should have wept with those who weep. 

Instead, we jumped right in.  My husband took over the phones.  He became the primary contact over the next week for everyone - the coroner, the bishop, the family and friends and mourners.  I took on the task of going through everyone's computers, cell phones, and tablets.  I collected pictures - hundreds of photographs of a three year old girl. 

Even ten years ago, there wouldn't have been this many pictures.  Technology means we capture so much more for posterity than we have ever done before.  My niece was so beautiful.  There were so many photos to choose from.  I put together a slideshow.  I had photos printed and put onto display boards for the viewing and the funeral.

The whole week I went through the motions of what needed to be done.  And when we got home the next week, I cried and cried.  But more than that, I was angry.  I can't even say exactly who I was angry at, most of the time.  But I was really, really angry.

I don't always deal with pain in a positive way.  There is a part of me that wants to escape, either literally or figuratively.  I want to run away into distraction or meds or a variety of vices.  I want to ignore the discomfort.

I miss her.  So, so much.  I am afraid that I will forget about her.  I wish we spent more time with her.  It hurts so much that my son won't know her.  That her own brother is too young to remember her.  That she'll never meet the sister who is due to join this world in February.

There is no good way to end this post.  I can't give advice, or platitudes.  It has been almost two months and I am hurting.  Tonight I am letting myself feel it. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Nap time is the best time


Atters. I am so in love with him. I spend hours just watching him sleep.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Have a Son!!!!

Who will be known as "Atters" (which is actually his nickname) on this blog so that he can't be Googled as easily.  I think he'll appreciate that when he gets older.  Please use him nickname when you are commenting.  Thank you!




He was born via c-section at 11:28 am, and weighs 6 lbs, 14 oz.  He is 19 inches long.  He had fluid in his lungs when he was born, so he has been on oxygen.  Because of this, he's been in the nursery, and I've been in recovery, so I haven't held him.  In fact, I've just been able to touch his head and then to see him through some glass.  But I was told that I will be able to visit him in about a half hour.  I'm so excited!!!!  I need to be with my little boy.  I already love him so much.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Brain is on Fire

So I'm having a baby this Friday.

Holy....

Whatever.

I'm going to be induced on Thursday, so baby will most likely come sometime Friday, unless he decides to surf that amniotic fluid into the world earlier (I start being induced around 5pm Thursday and I'm supposed to sleep overnight at the hospital and give birth Friday).

My natural reaction is not to be excited and squeal-y, but to use lots of profanity and look out the window in awe.  Yep.  I don't think it will really hit me until I'm in the middle of labor.  The whole thing is surreal.  And I get to parent?  Let me rephrase that:  God/The Universe somehow is allowing me to parent.  With Bryan.  I'm humbled, awed, and a little confused by the whole thing.  Shouldn't we require permits or something for this?  Seems like a pretty big deal.  I have to show proof of residency to get internet hooked up.  I mean.  Yeah.

Moving on.

I'm on bedrest, but only for 2.5 days.  Which pretty much means it's like an exxxtttraaaa weeeeeekend.  I am not supposed to do stuff (like cook or clean or move much from off the bed or couch) and I'm feeling both incredibly lazy and like I should be getting shiz DONE.  Which I am not.

On the other hand, I've watched Glee, eaten some cinnamon swirl crunch bread, had a cup of tea, and had four cookies.  So.  There's that.

Also:  according to my doctors, who weigh me in full clothes/shoes/cellphonecarryingstuff mode, I've gained thirty pounds.

Lies.

According to my ridiculously weight gain graph that I use every other day or so, I'm at exactly 24 pounds.  Eat it, doctor's office.  No one really weighs themselves in full clothes.  We do things the civilized way: you only weigh in the morning.  Naked.  After your morning poop.  Duh.

So that means that I can gain a full pound of cookies in the next 2.5 days.  Yeah.  Bring it on lemon cookies.  Apple cinnamon cookies.  Orange cranberry cookies.  UNF.  So good.

Also, I should be preparing by meditating, doing my Hypnobabies course and thinking happy thoughts, or something.  I'm sure.  But so far I'm just playing on the internet.  Lalala.  I'll have a human life to contend with at the end of the week.  Gotta soak up the lazy, irresponsible moments now.

In completely other news:  I have a compulsion to buy any perfume/cologne sample that promises to smell like Earl Grey.  It's true.  I used to swear by The Morbid The Merrier's "Morton," but the shop has since closed and there was all sorts of hullabaloo with orders not being filled.  It took almost a full year to get my refund back from an order I placed before they closed.

Drama.

But now... now I am back in the "I need to buy crap on Etsy that smells pretty" train. My new favorite is Alkemia Perfume's "Arcanum," perfumed oil.  It's delicious.  Alkemia sells really interesting and diverse perfumes, and they have an incredibly lovely habit of sending samples with your order.  LOVE!  Arcanum is one of the many perfumes I've sampled so far, and I love it the most.  Here's the description:

An enigmatic yet compelling blend of seductive eastern spices, aged patchouli, and sandalwood. Frankincense, nag champa, and dragons blood deepen the mystery.

YUM.  It's less head-shop smelly than the "Hippy Gypsy" perfume Alkemia sells, and has less of the slightly cleaner-esque hint that "Sanguinea" carries.  I am in love with it.  This is the sort of patchouli blend that wouldn't make my friend Lindsay run for the hills.  She sort of hated when I wore patchouli and gardenia back in college because she thought it smelled like straight up dirt.  Or something worse, I'm not sure.  I was in LOVE with it, but I get that each scent smells different to different people.  I think Arcanum has enough spiciness and nag champa to keep it from smelling too dirty.

And my newest interest (relating to the previous ramble about Earl Grey) is Sweet Tea Apothecary's "Dead Writers" perfume/cologne.   


J.T., our fabulous apothecary, describes the scent as such:

This blend evokes the feeling of sitting in an old library chair paging through yellowed copies of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Poe, and more. The Dead Writers blend makes you want to put on a kettle of black tea and curl up with your favorite book.  This bottle contains black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, and tobacco. It can be worn by either sex.

On her blog, she goes into more detail:

Do you wear patches on your elbows and sit in dimly lit rooms drinking black coffee or tea smoking packs of clove cigarettes (Djarum Blacks)? If this describes you, or you’re just the type of person who prefers a “dirty perfume” then put some of this on before you head out to work on that novel at the local coffee shop. Dead Writers is musky and has a stale smoke smell. It is lightened by some vanilla and heliotrope (a flower that in combination with the vanilla smells like a sweet milk creamer you might add to your tea). If you’ve never had a musky perfume and want to live dangerously without smelling homeless, go for the Georgiana.
Now.  I have an issue with wanting my perfumes dirty, and I love the scent of tea in perfumes. The issue is that I need and want and gah.

I also decided to pick up a sample of Georgiana, which is supposed to smell like this:

Are you a lady who dresses for dinner and… I can’t think of anything clever, basically you are Dowager Countess Maggie Smith elegance. Georgiana literally smells like a cup of Earl Grey tea. It’s my most subtle perfume and has a soft, sultry, smokiness that is perfect for an evening on the town. I wear this one when I want to be fancy. If you were interested in the smokiness of Dead Writers but don’t want to overdo it with the musk, then Georgiana is the one for you. The bergamot really brightens it up and it smells more feminine. 


Sold.  I want to smell like soft, sultry, smoky Earl Grey.  DONE.  PLEASE.  NEED NOW.

So.  I got a few samples of that, because hey, I'm destined to sit on the couch for the next few days.  Why can't I dream of smelling pretty/dirty in the meantime?? 

If you can't tell from this post, my brain is on fire.  Meaning I'm all over the place and the tiniest bit manic.  But I'm having a kid in three days.  So.  I think this is to be understood.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tits McGee


Seriously? Seriously??? They make nursing bras in this size? More importantly.... How did my rack get this big???? These things are dangerous.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Things I've Thunk Since Getting Knocked Up

1. Vegetables are kind of gross.  I thought I'd grow out of my "ewww, veggies" stage after first trimester, but alas, it was not so.  I'm hoping I start liking them again once the little mister is born.  I can eat raw spinach and raw carrots with no problems, and corn is fine too.  Oh, and asparagus, but only if it's grilled.  Otherwise, I'm not interested.  At all.

2. An easy way to eat vegetables is to make them not taste like vegetables.  Seriously, I made smoothies every other day with about 4 cups of spinach in them, and a decent amount of carrots.  Throw in some almond milk (because I'm no longer loving regular milk either, a change I'm totally cool with), some yogurt, some frozen strawberries and a banana... it's go time.  That crap's delicious.  It looks (as one of my patients told me) like what you'd find in a drainage ditch in late August, but it tastes like happiness.  And look, Ma, veggies AND calcium!  This baby might not be born stupid after all!

3.  Sometimes you're all like, "yeah, I haven't had to deal with heartburn yet," and then BAM!  You just cursed yourself.  And apparently you can't do the old Bragg's apple cider vinegar cure that you used to use, because Bragg's is unpasteurized, which is a no-no.  And regular apple cider vinegar?  It just burns.  But it doesn't help acid reflux.  So now you're puking up even more burny stuff.  Awesome.  No.  Hope you like Prilosec, tiny baby fetus boy.

4.  Everything costs money.  People say babies cost a lot, and they're right.  Thankfully we have amazing insurance, but even little things add up.  Like a baby needs a sheet to sleep on, right?  Well, you really need three - one on the bed, one in the dirty clothes, one ready to go when the kid poops/pees/throws up on the bed.  These sheets usually run $10-20.  And you need some for the Pack n' Play if the kid is going to be sleeping in there, too.  Did you know kids need stuff?  They do.  It costs money.  Which is apparently isn't free.  Damn.

5.  Just when you think you can't get more uncomfortable, you find out that there's a whole new level of "ugh."  I'm 36 weeks pregnant, which means that kiddo can come anywhere between now and April 10th (which is when they'll induce if I haven't gone into labor yet).  Things get weirder every day.  I thought round ligament pains were nasty (and they were) but now that kiddo is bigger and lower, he likes to head-butt my cervix.  All. The. Time.  Guess how awesome that feels?  Totally awesome.  I apparently have no idea how big my belly is, because I hit things with it way too often.  I need help getting off the couch.  I wake up to roll over in the middle of the night.  My hips sometimes feel like they are totally out of whack (like one feels an inch higher, or something).  And my tits have gotten out of control.  How are they this big?  And they might get BIGGER when my milk comes in?  What exactly am I supposed to do with these things?  Use them as weapons?  And have you seen the bras that fit mammaries like this?  They aren't pretty.  They are huge, with ridiculous amounts of fabric and underwires that could be used as fishing hooks to catch leviathan.  We'll eat like kings!

6.  My huge belly makes my wide hips look less wide.  That's a plus.

7.  I'm not sure I ever want to go back to non-elasticized waistbands.  Ever.

8.  Strangers still think it's appropriate to ask how much weight I've gained.  Some of these strangers are men.  Seriously?  You're lucky I'm a friggin' classy lady.  21 pounds.  That's how much.  How much have YOU gained in the last year, random person?  Turn around, let me check out those love handles.  Yikes.  When are you going to lose YOUR baby/donut/McDonalds weight?

9.  Stairs are evil, and designed to make me sweat like a pig and breathe like an asthmatic hippo.

10.  I don't know words and stuff.  Don't ask me to name objects.  Or people.  Definitely don't ask me to define anything.  Brain no work.  Me use "thing" and "stuff" and "does stuff" a lot.  Baby take brain.  Baby super mean.

11.  Eventually I have to birth this baby.  I have lots of thoughts about that.  Lots.

12.  Last night I had tons of dreams about my kiddo.  In one, I was out shopping with him for the first time by myself, so he was really tiny.  I kept forgetting him and having to find him.  My excuse?  "I'm not used to him being outside my body."  In the second dream, he was a toddler and we were walking along the Chicago lakefront.  He ran towards the edge and almost fell off a 5 foot cement drop.  My mom caught him just in time and we were able to get him back on the boardwalk.  In my dream I am clutching him to me, rocking on the ground and screaming his name.  I woke up hyperventilating.  The kid isn't even out of my uterus yet.  This does not bode well for my sanity

13.  His room is awesome.  At least I think so.  It's happy, and bright, and I'm excited to play with him in it.

14.  With the amount of nerdy stuff we've been getting/buying, we won't have to have "The Talk" with him until he's at least 17.  I think all the Harry Potter and Doctor Who paraphernalia will set him on the path to enforced abstinence.  Which is awesome.

15.  I am really, really, really excited to meet this little human being who has been hanging out inside me.  I think he's going to be incredible.

Here's what he looks like so far:
Taken by my beautiful friend, Ashley.  She's the best photographer eva.
Kinda lumpy.

16.  It's weird but amazing to love someone you've never met.  Someone who isn't even born yet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

You Don't Get Real Posts...

You get a list.

Stuff that's happened in my life recently:

It was Christmas.  Did you know that?  It was.  Ours was quiet and nice and calm and not super Christmas-y at all, but it was good.  Just Bryan and I, which is nice, because it's the last time that will ever happen.

I'm officially back on the nap train.  There was about a month or two there where I didn't need a daily nap, but that's gone.  I usually come home from work at about 6ish, eat dinner, then take a nap from around 7-8:30 or 8-9:30.  Then I wake up again and go to bed around midnight or 1.  It sounds strange, but it works well for me.  And I feel SO GOOD after my nighttime nap.  Seriously, so good.

I ate too much crap over Christmas and gained 2 pounds.  This isn't a big deal, but I know it was mostly sweets and not the kiddo getting bigger.  As of right now, I've gained 12 pounds so far this pregnancy.  I think I'm still on track to gain about 25-27 pounds, but we'll see how third trimester goes.

Bryan and I are watching "Alias" on Netflix.  I watched some of the show when it actually aired, but it's nice to see it again.  We're pronouncing it like "Elias" (the name) with an A.  Cause we're dumb.

I made cinnamon caramels this year for presents.  They are so so so good.  I need to stop eating them.  Delish, melty caramels.  SO.  GOOD.

The kiddo (also known as baby bear, bunny, and "Atters," which is a nickname for what will most likely be his actual name... more on that later) seems to be doing well.  He's growing, he's moving, he's grooving, and he still approves of me eating spicy food, so what's not to love?  He has gotten some super geeky onesies so far, and I am LOVING it.  Seriously.  I just hope this kid learns how to be cool from other people, because he's not getting it from me or Bry.

Do you live by a Smith's/Kroger?  If so, run out IMMEDIATELY and get a humungo carton of their Amaretto Cherry Cordial ice cream.  GUH.  It's SO GOOD.  I can't even...

Jackson is officially wintery.  We didn't have snow (at least not real snow) in October or November, but it's DUMPED recently, and it's super pretty.  It's also really cold.  But.  That happens.  Bry and I went for a hike/snowshoe walk on Christmas day and Bry's beard and my hair got all white and frostified.  Bryan said I looked like Rogue from X-men.  Cause I'm awesome.  I then touched him, took all his powers, and almost killed him.

I miss my family.  I wish we could be in Seattle with my folks and Dave and Stacey, but that just isn't happening.  I thought I was totally cool with having Christmas just the two of us until we were on our hike/walk/snowshoe thing, and I got mad about something dumb and then cried for like ten minutes.  And it was pretty much because I wanted to hang out with family toooooo.  I haven't seen my brother in a ridiculously long time.  Seriously, by the time Kiddo (little kiddo, not brother kiddo) is born, I think it will have been 2 years.  That's bull.

I am doing continuing audiology education for work.  It will let me do more things at the office to clear up the Audiologist's schedule a bit, which is cool.  I never thought I'd like Audiology, but I find it super interesting.  I did some trouble-shooting on this gal's hearing aid today, and when none of the usual fixes worked, I was getting bummed.  Her hearing aid wasn't under warranty, and she was this ridiculously sweet 86 year old woman; I didn't want to charge her $250 to send in her hearing aid for repair.  Then I thought, "Hmmmm, what if the battery connections just aren't great?"  And so I tweaked them real quick and voila!  You can hear!  It was pretty awesome; I like actually being able to help patients in a tangible way.

So.  Those are things.  And stuff.

I'm sure there's more, but I'm tired, and my tea is cold.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How the Light Gets In

In the wake of tragedy, such as we saw today in Connecticut, it's normal to feel desolate, despondent, and utterly cynical.  Throughout the day, I've heard it again and again: what is this world coming to?  How can things be this bad?  What is happening to our country?

And then there are the political questions: why are dangerous weapons so accessible?  Do we need stricter laws?  Where do safety and freedom collide?

I saw several posts that said something along these lines: I think I may homeschool my kids.  I'm glad I homeschool my kids.  This is why I homeschool my kids.   

I understand that difficult times like this cause us to question the very fabric of our society.  We wonder "is humankind really that evil?"  There's talk of the world getting worse, instead of better.  The kind of violence that we saw today is meaningless, and inexcusable.  But I believe the reason it hits us so hard is that it's not common.  In America, children aren't afraid to go to school for fear that they may be shot.  It is not normal for an elementary school child to wonder, "Am I safe here in class?"

This isn't true all over the world.  In some countries, going to school is a dangerous thing.  War, genocide, violence make school an improbability.  There are some very dark places in this world that child murder is not that uncommon.

That said, the world is not a terrible place.  It's a wonderful place, but it has some people in it that are sick.  Whether it's a sickness of the mind or a sickness of the heart, this perversion does not permeate our whole society.  We are wrong if we think that it does. 

What worried me today was the idea that educating one's children at home will keep them safe.  Unfortunately, we all know that evil deeds can happen anywhere, not just at schools.  While homeschooling seems to be a great option for many families, I worry that keeping kids at home  for the sole sake of "keeping them safe" only teaches fear.  I would hate for a child to believe that the public school system is a dangerous, scary place.  Of course, bullying has to be taken into account, but separating children from the world in order to keep them "safe" sends a message that I find troublesome.  As a person who has dealt with anxiety for much of her life, some things feel innately dangerous; planes, heights, crowds, and elevators have all fit the bill at one point or another.  But living in this beautiful world and being scared is a travesty.  There are so many amazing things our public schools offer, as does our world at a whole.  Hiding children from this world isn't the answer.  While today is a day of sorrow and remembrance, a day to ask questions and keep one another close, it shouldn't be a day of fear.

So here are some things to be grateful for:

family
puppies
kittens
baby kisses
chocolate
strangers who say "hello" when you pass on the street
people who hold doors open
cars that let you merge without having to force your way in
hugs
teenagers who aren't afraid to be seen with you
books
music
dahlias
ginger beer
the way Canadians say "sorry" and "about"
the sweet simplicity of holding someone's hand
doctors/nurses/healers
red pandas
good coupons
soft blankets
children's innocence
the way technology improves communication
rainbows
laughing so hard you're afraid you might pee yourself
the pleasant exhaustion of a good workout
anticipation before a kiss
parents
lovers
the extra treat you sometimes get at a vending machine
the color turquoise
traveling
unexpected gifts
sweet strangers that call you "hon" or "dear"
finding an empty checkout line at the grocery
crying because you're happy
chocolate chip cookies and milk
your first love
art
wilderness
finding the sacred in the mundane
Shark Week
really good coffee
inside jokes
a best friend
aspen trees
knowing you are good at your job
poetry
the weirdly pleasant and familiar grossness of rented bowling shoes
hitting all green lights on the way home
sea turtles
kindness from strangers
an honest compliment (giving OR receiving)
a hot shower
the feeling you get when everyone laughs really hard at the same time at a movie theater
watching a child learn to read on their own
collecting shells
feeling like your prayers are heard
Nutella
modern medicine
singing along to the radio with the car windows open, and knowing all the words
blue skies
long walks
forgiveness


"There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." -  Leonard Cohen

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:7

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mommyhood vs Personhood vs My Possibly Unfounded Fears

Okay.  So I'm going to writing here as a non-mom.  I currently have a very feisty fetus making a ruckus in my increasingly humungous uterus, but I am not yet a parent. 

So I'm talking out of my proverbial placenta, folks.  (And how weird is that I suddenly have not only a baby, but a placenta in my body?  Like... it just appeared one day).

Anyway.

I read this article recently and it got me thinking a little bit about motherhood and what I want for my life.  The article is "The Motherhood Mystique" by Rachel Hills.  It's a short piece that quickly summarizes a book I haven't read (Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti).  It looks interesting; I just haven't gotten around to it, with all the working and sleeping and baking and fanfic reading.  These things take priority.

As I was saying.

The article touches on the idea of motherhood vs. personhood, and the inevitable "mommy wars" that seem so commonplace today, even to those of us who aren't moms.  So many people want to tell you that you're doing it wrong.  You need to sacrifice more, you need to feed your kids A, B, and C, you need to get them this certain sort of diaper, you need to keep them away from tv, you need to get them Baby Einstein videos, you need to sacrifice everything for another human being.  I have heard the latter more and more lately - that motherhood is sacrifice.  You give up your life (not necessarily literally, although childbirth still can be dangerous for some) for this tiny little infant.

But is this right?  Is it even good?  Or is it just the new face of the mommy war?

Check it out:

Jessica Valenti's book. Jessica Valenti's book.
Why Have Kids? sets itself apart from its “mummy war” predecessors with its lack of prescriptiveness. Valenti’s issue isn’t with mothers who stay home to care for their children or with those who go to work, but with a culture that presents motherhood as a non-negotiable – something every good woman ought to do – but simultaneously depicts it as “the hardest job in the world;” a difficult and unpleasant chore that can only be done properly if the mother sacrifices her freedom, body, identity, and even, if necessary, her life.
“Part of the problem – and I think the word sacrifice is exactly right – is the idea that if you’re not sacrificing all things all the time, then you’re not being a good parent,” she told me over soft drinks recently. “But what does that mean? How far do we take it? Does ‘sacrifice’ just mean not going to the movies as often, or does it mean sacrificing your mental health?”

Now, I want to focus on that last bit for a moment: mental health.  My mental health is very important to me, not just because yeah, obviously mental health is good, but because it has been at times hard-won for me, personally.  You can read about my fabulous ride with anxiety here and here and here.  If you don't feel like reading about all my lovely little neuroses, let's just say that I have dealt with anxiety in varying degrees since I was a young child.  While I have it under control 99% of the time, it's still a reality in my life.  I have been very thankful about my anxiety during this pregnancy; it's been low, almost non-existent, which I would have never guessed, based on previous health issues.

I will say that I am curious to see how my anxiety plays out after childbirth.  My hormones will go wacky again once this kiddo is born, and I'll be much more susceptible to things like postpartum depression.  My life will change, and I'll have to deal with that, with the good and the bad.  Unfortunately, many parents (especially moms) report symptoms of depression that last a long time after their kids are out of newborn diapers. 

The article goes on to say:

Once we become mothers, the narrative goes – once we become good mothers, certainly – motherhood will become the most important aspect our identities, the driving force behind our decisions, our compromises, and our value in the eyes to the people around us (sometimes literally – the latest UK research shows that new mothers can expect a $15,000 pay cut when they return to work). 

“The expectation is that your identity will be completely consumed into that of your child, if you’re a good mum,” Valenti says. “If you’re a good mother, if you’re doing it right, you should have no identity whatsoever, except for ‘so-and-so’s mum. … It does make me worried. I don’t want my daughter being raised to think that the best thing she can ever do is take care of another human being. I want her to know that she can impact the world in other ways, too.” . . .
. . . And just [as] we would hesitate to lose ourselves in any other relationship in our life, so too should we be wary of losing ourselves in our children. “The relationship you have with your child is certainly impactful. It’s one of the most important relationships you’ll have in your life,” Valenti says. “But a good relationship doesn’t necessitate you losing your identity. In fact, most people would call that a bad relationship. A good relationship is supposed to make you the best version of yourself, happier and more active. So that’s what I’m aiming for.”
I think my biggest fear about having a kiddo is just that - fear of losing my identity.  I don't mean that I'm seriously super concerned about it, but it's there.  I have a strong enough personality that I know I can be a mom and a wife and an audiology assistant (yes, I will be working after having a kid) and a writer and a friend and a consumer of way too much tea and television.  But I do recall (quite strongly) the feeling of losing a bit of myself after I married Bryan.  It wasn't anything he did either; I was just struck with this new image of myself, of being a wife.  At times it felt like extreme responsibility, like he may expect things out of me that I wasn't willing to give.  I began to think of myself in terms of stereotypes, and I became concerned about losing myself.  Of course, this never happened, and Bryan would have been upset if it had.  He wanted me, not some Stepford wife, and not a housewife.  In fact, he strongly encouraged me to get off my butt and get a job already, because really, we need the cash.

With a kiddo, it's different.  Bryan could obviously take care of himself, but an infant can't do the same.  I'll be the mom.  Although Bryan will be able to take care of our son just as well as I can, he won't be able to feed the baby if I haven't pumped breastmilk recently.  He works in the Village (about 20 minutes away), so I'll be the one taking little Mister to daycare and feeding him throughout the day.  I'm the one carrying our baby; I'll be the one to birth him, to feed him from my own body.

It's a hell of a lot of responsibility.

I want to lose myself in this experience in that I want to immerse myself in all the wonderfulness that motherhood brings, but I don't want to actually lose myself.  I've carved out bits and pieces of who I am as an adult, as a woman, as a person.  I don't want to lose any aspect of myself because I become Mom.  I don't want to be seen primarily as Little Mister's Mom.  I want to be seen as Jessica. Because I like who I am.

Here's the thing, though: I already feel like things have changed.  When I mention that I'll be working after having the baby, I sometimes feel judgement from stay-at-home moms.  "But who will watch him?"  Daycare.  It's less than 60 feet away from my office, and I can do feedings on my break.  I won't be around my kiddo all day, it's true.  But I will be able to feel accomplished at my job, and my kiddo will be able to interact with other babies.  He'll (hopefully) learn how to share at an early age, and he'll have tons of social interaction with his peers.  And when he goes home with me and his dad at the end of the night, he'll be around parents who have waited all day to see him.  Parents who haven't heard him cry and scream for hours (hopefully that won't happen).  Of course, we won't be around him all the time to see the little awesome things he does, or the cute new faces that he makes.  There are good and bad parts to it. 

I think (and once again, speaking as a non-parent, here) that motherhood needs to intentional.  I think it's very easy for lots of stay-at-home moms in particular to feel like their entire identity becomes "Mom."  While I am very excited to bear that name, I don't want to lose my own.  I'm going to try my best to wear all of these hats respectfully and responsibly.  I want to honor my child and his life, but I also want to honor my own. I want to keep myself, and my mental health, while enjoying this new miracle.

Does that make sense?

Does anyone have any suggestions as far as how to do this in a real, practical way?  Am I worrying about nothing?  Or is there a real concern here that others have felt?

As always, I'm open to opinions, comments, and bad jokes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful

We're having a son. He's been kicking up a storm today, and it's amazing to feel the flutters getting stronger. The doctor says everything looks fantastic - me, him, all of it.

Tomorrow morning we get up early early to drive to Salt Lake City. We're shopping for the nursery, where our son will sleep and eat and play.

I'm so thankful. So, so thankful.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A PSA on Pregnancy, Self-Image, and F-ing Stupid Comments

Remember that time almost two months ago that I revealed to the world (and by the world, I mean Facebook and the 10 people who subscribe to my blog) that I'm pregnant?  Remember how I then disappeared from the blogosphere?

Pregnancy is EXHAUSTING, you guys.  In between working full-time, moving apartments, pretending to be a responsible adult and napping, I'm lucky to have enough time to take a shower or read fanfiction (because, yeah, that's still happening).  There are all sorts of lovely things that accompany pregnancy.  I have, thankfully, soared past some of the really nasty things so far (vomiting, excessive water retention, hemorrhoids, excessive weight gain) but I've had to deal with some of the normal things that are less than awesome (intense acne, some constipation, excessive crying/mood swings, extreme lethargy, food aversions, and round ligament pain).  According to doctors or whatever, pregnancy is a time of intense change, both inside and outside.  Because apparently you're making another life, or something, and that means that stuff goes to crap sometimes.

But I want to talk about self-image and pregnancy.  I do not have a great body image.  I wish that I did, but as my friend Monica reminded me a couple of years ago, I have wanted to lose ten pounds since I was about fourteen.

Yeah.  That's not healthy.

15 year old Jessica.  Obviously not fat, even though she might argue with you about that.  A healthy self-image can be difficult to gain and to hold onto.
I've tried over the years to come to grips with the fact that I am never going to be 5'9" and 130 pounds.  I have big hips and boobs, thanks to both sides of the family.  I have thick, shapely thighs and I've been a C-D cup since I was 23 (my 15 year old self would be happy about that last part).  I am 5'3" when I stand up really straight, and my BMI before pregnancy was in the "overweight" category.

Not too little, not too big... juuuuuust right.  For me.  At least, that's what I try to remind myself.
But I've tried to accept my body and all its imperfections.  I may have wide hips and cellulite, but I've also got good hair, a nice rack, and straight teeth, thanks to my parents' investment in orthodontics. 

And then came pregnancy.  I have told myself for the past three years that I'd lose a good 15-20 pounds before getting pregnant (this didn't happen, even after P90x).  Then I was told that it could be quite difficult for Bryan and I to get pregnant on our own, since my Follicle Stimulating Hormone (or whatever) measured as higher than normal for my age.  As of July, we'd been "trying" (which is a really awkward term for "having sexual intercourse without any sort of birth control, and yeah, now everyone is thinking of our sex life") for ten months to no avail.  We had decided to try the initial fertility drug my health care provider recommended come January 2013, assuming we wouldn't get pregnant without medical intervention. 

And then my sister-in-law Amanda visited us in July with her kiddos, and recommended that I take a pregnancy test, since I was a few days late.  I was SURE I wasn't pregnant.  I mean, I had cramps, and a headache, and I was super bitchy and tired... which meant I should be expecting my monthly friend at any moment, right?  That's what I thought when I peed on that little bit of plastic.  And then I saw two lines, and then I said a bad word, and then I started to laugh and cry (hysterically, I'll admit) at the same time.

I was pregnant.  I was crampy and achy and bitchy and tired because I was PREGNANT.

There was a day full of happiness, and excitement, and TERROR.  And then I started to think of all the changes that would befall me in the next 9.5 months.  And I remembered that I was going to gain weight, possibly a good amount of it.  And then I tried not to freak out.

It's hard though, when one of the reactions you get to, "We're pregnant!" is, "You're going to get fat!"  It's said with laughter, of course, but it still stings a bit.  When people find out you're pregnant, they naturally start checking out your belly, so God help you if you've had a big burrito for lunch.

I had hoped to be one of those women who didn't "show" until she was 20 weeks along (halfway through the pregnancy).  I knew a number of these women, so it wasn't like they were unicorns or whatever.  I diligently checked my Baby Center phone app daily to find out what was happening with the kiddo, and what changes I should expect.  Week 12 came and I found out that many women noticed a small "bump" begin to take shape between weeks 12 and 16.  Sweet!  A tiny little bump was okay, right?

Except apparently my body was really in-tune with this app, because that little announcement seemed to be all the permission my mid-section needed to start SHOWING.  At 12 weeks.  And man, did I notice.

Everyone else started to notice around week 15, it seemed.  That's when I realized that my Bella Band and half-way unzipped regular pants were starting to prove uncomfortable, and so I went shopping for actual maternity pants.

Yeah, that's also depressing. Because you know that stretchy bit of material that substitutes for a waistband in maternity pants?  It's going to STRETCH.  A LOT.  I mean, I'm only 18 weeks, and I'm already amazed by how much I'm showing.  But it's okay, right?  I'm growing a freaking LIFE inside me.

Apparently this bump gave some other people the visual proof of pregnancy that made them think that they had the right to say whatever. the. hell. they are thinking.

STRANGERS.  People you DON'T KNOW think it's okay to weigh in (guffaw) on your body.  Like this ho-bucket that came into my office the other day.  She asked how far along I was, and I told her.  "Are you having twins?"  Ummm, no, unless the two ultrasounds I've had are SERIOUSLY off.  "Are you sure you're not further along?"  Ummm, yes, I'm sure, and so is my doctor.  "Wow, you're big for 17 weeks!"  Wow.  Well.  Okay.  I mean, I've only gained two and a half pounds so far...  "SERIOUSLY?  ONLY two and a half pounds?  Are you sure?"

By this time I just wanted to cry.  Or round-house kick this ho.  Because guess what, Princess?  MY BODY IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS.

She wasn't the first to say any of those things, either.  It's amazing what dumbass comments come out of people's mouths.  And you know what?  They STICK WITH YOU.  You try to tell yourself that it's fine, but no matter how many people say you look great, or that "you're not fat, you're pregnant" (which actually is supremely helpful, but hard to remember), it still stings.

16 weeks and DEFINITELY showing.

18 weeks and the bump seems to be disappearing... it looks bigger or smaller depending on the type of pants I wear and what I've eaten for the day.  And some days it's just bigger or smaller, depending on... I dunno, something.
I try to take it all in stride.  Because I'm pregnant, not fat.  Except that those (now) 3 pounds I've gained seem to have gone straight to my tummy, hips and thighs, all which are seeming a bit more plump.  And yeah, your entire body SHIFTS when you're pregnant - some things feel bigger and others, smaller.  I can feel my hip bones more than I used to be able to, but I also notice that I'm carrying weight right under my breasts, at the very top of the bump, and that's a weird place to notice you've put on weight/fat.  And it's easy to look into the mirror at the sudden changes in your body and think "maybe I do look fat," or "do I really look like I'm having twins?"  Sometimes, you believe the lies.

Here's another thing I'd like to reiterate about pregnancy:  your hormones are WHACKED OUT.  Little things set you off either screaming or crying.  Don't even mention politics around me at the moment, unless you want to say, "Doesn't everyone seem like a big liar?"  We can agree on that.  But try to push your agenda on me and I am likely to go off.  A heart-wrenching commercial comes on?  I'm crying like a baby.  And when my husband told me I looked like a blueberry in the puffy, blue down coat I was wearing today (after I asked for his absolute honest advice), I told him that I was not going to talk to him for the rest of the night, and then I refused to hug him or listen to him apologize.  Because I was picturing this:

Violet Beauregarde, looking like a blueberry.
Apparently it wasn't me, it was the fact that the coat itself is blue and puffy.  Because it's a puffy blue down coat.  But to me?  He was saying I was a big old fatty, and hideous to boot.

I'm going to blame 50% of my pregnancy image issues on myself, because yeah, I could do better with the self-talk and all of that.  But I think a lot can be said for people saying stupid crap.  Since when did it become okay to tell a stranger she was too big or too little?  Or that she needs to watch what she eats?  Or that maybe her doctors are wrong and she's having TWINS, because DEAR GOD YOU ARE FAT, WOMAN!  This is simply not appropriate behavior.  And while we're on the subject, what the heck is with touching a pregnant woman's belly without asking?  And honestly, you probably shouldn't even ask to do so unless you know the woman really well.  Because yeah, there's a baby in there somewhere, but that's her stomach. It's still attached to her, and it may make her feel hella awkward that what was once HER body now seems to be available to the world (but guess what?  It's not). I've decided to combat this with the following move: whenever I feel uncomfortable with someone touching me, I'm going to touch their stomach.  Because it's my hypothesis that no one wants their tummy rubbed, especially when they are not pregnant.

And for those of you that think that hormones are too easily blamed for women just acting crazy?  You have no idea.  I mean, I've been feeling a lot more like myself since the second trimester started, but still.  There were times in the first trimester that I felt completely unable to control my emotions.  We're not just talking tears, we're talking sudden, intense, unreasonable amounts of rage over small, small things.  And there is a part of your brain that says, "what are you freaking out about?" but the rest of you?  The rest of you feels like strangling your sweet, loving husband.  You know, the one who makes you tea and tells you that you're pretty, and that you should relax and put your feet up?  Yeah, that guy.  No, it doesn't make sense, but that doesn't make it feel less real at the moment.

So here are few suggestions I have to help all of us, pregnant and non-pregnant alike, to live a bit more harmoniously:

  • If you're not COMPLETELY sure a woman is pregnant, don't ask if she is.  I have seen this happen to too many people, and it's hella awkward, and super embarrassing for everyone involved.
  • Do not touch people unless you know they are okay with it.  This is actually a really good rule no matter if the person in question is pregnant or not.  Consent is a GOOD thing, folks.  Remember that.  (Just for the record, I don't mind close friends or family touching my stomach.  But random colleagues or people I'm not friends with... don't touch me, dude).
  • Do not comment on a pregnant woman's weight, size, or shape.  Babies and pregnant woman come in all different shapes and sizes.  It's rare to have that perfect little basketball sized baby bump; you know, the kind where you ONLY gain in your tummy and the rest of you looks amazingly svelte?  Just because Hollywood is obsessed with the "bump watch" and an unrealistic view of what is beautiful doesn't mean that we should be the same way. 
  • DO remind pregnant women that their body is doing exactly what it should do - creating life.  It's an incredibly helpful, soothing reminder, even when it seems like their body is completely rebelling against them. 
  • If you can't say anything nice (or helpful, or loving), shut up.

If it sounds like I'm bitter, I'm not, actually.  People say stupid crap all the time, about all sorts of things.  A lot of things can be said with completely innocent intent, but are, in effect, totally hurtful (this is true not only for pregnant women, of course, but about all SORTS of things).  I know this, because I've said some really bad crap that I SWORE I didn't mean 'in a mean way.'   But words have consequences, and when you add in hormones, a changing body (that you can do NOTHING ABOUT), and the pressures of society... well, stuff gets personal really fast. 

So there's my $0.02, which is actually more like $20.00.  And yeah, I'll probably wait another two months before updating again, but no worries, I'm good.  I find out (hopefully) in three days if we're having a girl or boy.  I'll be ecstatic about either, just for the record.  I'm feeling good, I'm feeling happy (90% of the time) and I'm resting a lot.  I'm still so thankful that we get to have a kid, that this was even possible.  Life is good.  Just don't ask if I'm having twins.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Le Tiny Little Bebe

So.... I'm knocked up.

Yep.  :-)






Little Baby Lords is due March 31st, 2013.  Everything is looking good!  I do have a history of high blood pressure, so they'll be watching that, but baby is right on target for size, heart rate, and adorableness. 


All non-uterine pictures by Ashley Wilkerson Moore of Ashley Wilkerson Photography, located right here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming!  She is awesome, and one of my bestest friends, and I recommend her SO HIGHLY.  She got these shots (and some other cute ones!) in like... a ten minute shoot.  Seriously.  It was so awesome.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND HER! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sometimes-etarian.

So Bry and I are (once again) trying to eat less meat.  This was easy to do in California, where we were pretty much too poor to eat meat, at least on a daily basis.  Now that we're rolling in dough (HA!) we have been eating more; specifically, chicken.  We want to get the healthy, organic chicken, but it's so pricey out here (around $7/pound, sometimes more).  So we're just trying to eat less meat.

When we were in California, that meant a LOT of brown rice and beans.  Now we're branching out a bit more.  Also, I'm obsessed with quinoa.  Loooots of quinoa.

Anyways, here are three recipes I've made this week that I recommend:

Quinoa and Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

source
I added chopped tomato, green onion, cilantro, and lime juice.  This was a HUGE HIT with the hubs and I, as well as our friends who are vegetarians.  I recommend making the quinoa in your rice cooker, and just adding everything and mixing it together there (easier to clean up).


Cucumber Boats

source
Not bad, and I don't even like cottage cheese.  Nice and light, though, and very refreshing on a warm day.  Plus, my basil plants are actually doing pretty darn well, so I was able to grab some fresh basil from my end table garden!


Quinoa Burger

source
 These were quite yummy indeed!  I served them on whole wheat buns with bib lettuce, cucumber, and Swedish-style dill mustard.  SO delicious.  


So there you are, three easy vegetarian recipes that we've been enjoying a lot.  Earlier this week, my friend Danny made us some amazing cheese tortellinis in a Portabello cream sauce that was SO GOOD, if not super rich.  Yikes.  I have a feeling that vegetarian recipe isn't exactly healthy, but dang did it taste good.




Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are You Guys Thinking of Having Kids?

This is the way most people phrase the question, and I'm grateful for that.  Not "when are you going to have kids?" or "why don't you guys have kids yet?"  I'm thankful people ask the open-ended question because yes, we are thinking of having kids, and no, I don't appreciate the sentiment that we should have them already.  I also really don't like the terminology "when are you going to start a family?"  I've said it myself before ("We're thinking of starting a family), and then thought, "UGH, why did I say that?"  Because Bryan and I?  We're a family.  Yeah, there's just two of us, but that doesn't make us somehow LESS.  It also doesn't make us immature; children do not equal maturity, no matter what some people think.

Here's the thing, though: apparently it might be difficult for us to have kids.  So says my primary provider, at least.  Apparently my follicle stimulating hormone is wonky.  So that's sort of lame.  We've "tried" for about nine months now.  I say "tried" in quotation marks because we haven't been super duper serious about it like some people.  I've had friends who are trying to conceive that have sex three times a day.  I'm going to honest: I don't want to have sex three times a day in order to have a baby.  I love sex, but I am weirdly AGAINST having sex JUST to get pregnant.  I don't want it to become a task.  I realize that having sex to get pregnant is sort of a normal, natural, hey-that's-part-of-what-it's-about thing, but I'm not into it.

That said, I have been putting a bit of pressure on myself to get pregnant.  Not physically, really, but emotionally.  Bryan and I have had a really stressful month, and I am sure that's not helping.

So right now my answer to "Are you guys thinking of having kids?" is "Yes, when it happens, it happens."  When we do get pregnant, I'll be terrified but excited.  I do want kids.  Sometimes only one.  But probably two.  But as of right now, I'm no longer going to take my temperature in the morning, I'm not going to freak out when I'm fertile (if I'm fertile), and I'm not going to take multiple pregnancy tests.  In all honesty, the idea of having a baby, or really, the idea of having a CHILD freaks the hell out of me.  I'm loving the freedom of being in my late twenties.  I want to go out with my girlfriends and have a drink or two.  I want to sleep in late on the weekends.  And I really, really like being DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) and not worrying all the time about money.

I'm willing to wait for this.

So for right now, I'm trying to be Zen about the whole thing.  If we get pregnant, we get pregnant, and that's great.  If we don't get pregnant this year, then alright.  We'll re-evaluate in January.  I'll consider Clomid if we haven't conceived by then.  But I'm not going to beat myself up over the whole thing.  I am going to get back to exercising every day, because that slipped a lot since Bryan's back injury (which still hurts every single day, so we'd love prayer for that); I used his necessary sedentary lifestyle as an excuse to sit my butt down and not doing anything, and I'm back up in my weight.

So this summer, my goals are to walk to work when it's nice out (5 out of 5 days last week!), to enjoy my friends (Ricky and Danny live in Jackson again, at least for the summer, and I've got my girls Ashley and Caroline, as well as Trent, Cody, and Kendra), and to just relax and enjoy being a 27 year old married woman (almost five years!!) who has a steady job (even if I don't like working... anywhere), good friends, an awesome husband, and freedom to drink gin and tonics whenever I darn well please.  And I'm good with that.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Kitchen

Apartments are ridiculously expensive in Jackson.  We have really really cheap rent because we know the owner of our condo.  She lives in Idaho and doesn't bother us, and we don't bother her.  If something goes wrong with the apartment, we fix it.  That's the deal.  Because of this awesome deal, we pay about $400-500 under the going rate for a 2 bedroom apartment.  It's excellent.

Because the condo owner doesn't seem to care too much about this apartment, it hasn't really been updated in... forever.  The kitchen is tiny and old and sort of ewwy, but we're used to it.  Still, the counters bugged me when we first moved in, so I covered them with contact paper.  A year later, the contact paper was looking less than fresh, so I redid it.  It sounds super ghetto because it is. BUT.  If you live in an apartment with gross countertops, and you don't mind taking a few hours to work on a project that cost next to nothing, you should try this.  Warning:  it does leave sticky stuff on your counters, so you'll have to use a lot of goo-gone and elbow grease to get the stuff off when you move.  Still, the end result is surprisingly great.

I got blue faux-granite contact paper from the Dollar Tree.  Yep.  This entire project cost me about $6. 

First step:

Look at how terrible your counters are.  Complain, and pout.

Doesn't look that bad until you look closely and realize that people have used the counter as a cutting board for years and years and years.  Apparently wood cutting boards are just too posh for some people.

Mmmmm, old, stained, AND cracked!!
The old countertops compared to the new contact paper countertops
Our cast of characters (or tools, whatevs):  some sort of stiff card (credit, library, whatever), an X-acto knife, scissors
The most difficult part of this project is lining up the edges of the paper with the edge of your counter.  You can always cut anything that hangs over the edge closest to you, but you want the back edge to look good, or it will be super obvious that you use contact paper on your countertops.  I recommend laying the paper with the backing still on it and pushing it down onto the counter; if you get the counter a big wet, it'll create a natural stickiness and you can see where you need to cut your first piece.  I fold the edge down and crease it so I remember about where to cut.  Now comes the hard part:  line up the side edge of the paper with the side edge of the counter, as well as lining up the back edge.  Peel a bit of the paper off and stick it to the edge, making sure that it's lined up nicely on the back and the sides.  Slooowly peel off the backing while pressing down the vinyl paper.  Use the credit card to smooth out the paper while it is slowly being stuck.  Make sure there are no air bubbles.  If you mess up, pull it up right away, but slowly, so it doesn't stretch out of shape. 

What it looks like when it's done
Here's the awesome thing about patterned contact paper:  if you mess up, it's not that obvious.  Let's say that you put down a bit that's not coming up: simply cut the strip with an X-acto knife (carefully, so as not to cut the horrible countertop below) and place a new piece of paper with a slight overlap.  You want to make sure there's overlap on every piece of contact paper - I recommend about a centimeter.  This way you won't have water escaping underneath.  Every time you put down a bit of paper, whole sheet or a tiny bit to cover an imperfection, use the credit/library/whatever card to firmly press it down.  You want the overlapped parts to be as smooth as possible.  This makes it easy to clean (just use water and soap or surface cleaner), and keeps crumbs from gathering in the in-between bits.

Just like regular countertops, contact paper does stain.  You can try to get the stain off or you can just peel it off and put down more paper.  If it's a big enough area, you can try covering it will additional paper; if you have lighter stuff than the blue above, you'll see the overlap, though, so be warned.

This is how it looks with the appliances in their proper places:

You look good, super ghetto Dollar Tree countertops.

The whole kitchen (we have terrible light in our apartment, my apologies):

I think the light blue brightens the place off, and shows off the gross faux-wood laminate cabinets.  Seriously, how freaking small is this kitchen?  That's the ENTIRE THING.

So that's my tip of the day.  Nasty countertops can easily be covered with contact paper for super cheap.  Just takes time, patience, an X-acto knife, scissors, and a library card, and you're done.  Easy-peasy.  Seems to last for a year if you're careful with it.