Friday, May 10, 2013

On Processing When it Happens to You

It's really hard to process something when you've been encouraging others to make their way through negative experiences, and then realize the same thing is happening to you. It's an entirely new ballgame, something out of my realm of "dealing with", and has happened so infrequently in my life as a pregnant woman or mother that I have to admit, I don't handle it well at all.

Yesterday I had both a dating ultrasound and a follow-up with the doctor I'm seeing.

I want to preempt this by stating that I badly wanted a midwife. Unfortunately with having to get a different car and needing to move before this baby arrives, on top of still having bills and things to pay off, it will not happen. The nearest in network midwife with my insurance is almost two hours away, and I have messed with the PPO waiver option through my work and I know it is a disaster waiting to happen. We don't have the money - even in payments - to be able to afford a midwife. So I am reluctantly stuck with doctors.

That being said, I also knew my size would be a problem. I figured I would encounter some kind of "fat phobia" in relation to my weight and had more or less prepared myself for a relatively insensitive comment or two. 

So that should prepare you for what I experienced.

When I got there, he went over my previous pregnancies, both of which were augmented with pitocin and involved having an epidural.

"So you'll be having an epidural again this time?"
I shook my head. No, I replied, I would not.

"Can I ask why?"

I frowned. He had my charts - there was no issue with my medical history that indicated a problem. It was just my choice. I shrugged and told him that I hadn't gotten to experience labor before and had no intention of being augmented this time without serious reason. He laughed.

"Well, I'll put natural for now, but I'm sure you'll change your mind later."

Hint number one that something was probably amiss.

He then brought up the flu vaccine - something I've chosen not to have, and haven't given my kids. He explained that he'd like me to have it, and then asked if he could give it to me. It isn't flu season and I don't do the flu shot - so I shook my head and said no thank you.

Again. "Can I ask why not?" He sounded more concerned that time, like by that point he was actually thinking that maybe my reasoning wasn't all that sound.

I explained to him that I just didn't want to. That we don't do the flu shot. That I have no interest in it. He frowned more.

"Well, you don't have to have it right NOW, but I need you to at least consider it," he responded without missing a beat. He went on to explain that there were 'several new studies' that indicated that pregnant women who had the flu shot were safer than those who didn't. I reluctantly agreed to consider it (although I won't be doing it).

And then came the big one.

He brought up my weight again, and advised me that because of it, he's going to be considering me high risk. He said he'd be monitoring me closely and had his intern (whom I had allowed in the room) tick all the reasons off on his fingers why my being obese was a danger to my unborn child. He then advised me - at, according to the ultrasound, exactly six weeks pregnant - that I would likely need a c-section and it was something I would have to keep in mind.

I have, while obese, birthed two other children vaginally, without difficulty. I was stunned. I couldn't think of a single damn reason that my size alone would precipitate a c-section, except physician greed.

So there you go. I am trying now to push all of this negativity out of my head. I have an appointment with another doctor in June and am hoping that, since everybody else seems to love him, I do too. I am hoping that he will consider my needs and desires. Hoping so, so desperately.

Because today, the fat shaming, the doctor bullying, although it wasn't as bad as what many women experience, happened to me. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

On Expecting

We are expecting.

Namely, we are expecting a baby at some point in December or January.

With this has come a lot of terrifying realizations and worries - getting out of my mother's house, upgrading our car, the possibility still of early loss, our kids adjusting, my health .. The list of things that worry us about this grows daily. Currently it's long enough that trying to write everything down in one place would be too exhausting, and it just so happens that I'm at that point where nearly anything is too damn tiring for me. My job is being about as accommodating as I suppose it could be, but that being said, I'm still scrambling for appointments and fixing problems and dealing with last-minute arrangements. It has been ruining my nerves, and destroying what little sanity I have left, never mind the fact that I am also panicking about the limited time that I get off of work after birth.

Hell, there is a very real possibility that at some point in the next six weeks - maybe longer - that I will lose the baby, and all our emotional and mental and financial preparation will be for naught. That scares me more than you can imagine. Or maybe you can imagine it, and if you can, you have my deepest apologies and my sympathy for your loss.

The idea of the impact on our lives is frightening to me too, though. I worry about things that to me seem obvious: fat shaming by care providers, affording the time off, establishing a breastfeeding relationship with my baby, keeping my child whole and healthy. I am, at this point, forcing myself to take this entire experience one day at a time, because if I wholly fear my issues simultaneously I will probably have a breakdown. As it is, we're facing our future relatively well, and without the panic attacks that I figured would run rampant.

For now, that's all - I'm still letting this sink in.

Blessed Beltane to you and your's, and may this year bring you bounty, health, happiness, and fortune!

On Being Happy

I feel like I should stop wishing at night for good days, where we're all actually happy and healthy and loving our lives, and start just being thankful that we end our days alive and together. That sounds so morose and awful but it's the truth. Nobody is happy and every day we're here seems to be not another day we've been fortunate to live but another day closer to our inevitable ends. I miss being happy, and feeling like things are looking up. I miss that sensation so much. Instead I avoid my job and hide at home (rather, this house) desperately wishing I could raise my own children and hating money and being angry and bitter. But that's all this house is: anger, bitterness, and emotions so dark and pushed so far down that I don't even know if they have names.

Hubby has said for a long time that he thinks this house is making us all sick - and he's meant it mostly in the physical way, given the mold and other problems, but I know deep down he means emotionally too. It's a reasonable comment, which is even more sad. This place is toxic. My mother is toxic. Like most things that are bad for you, I can take a bit at a time but more than that makes me feel like I'm dying inside. I don't mean to be overdramatic; this has been my life with her. Impossible to please, forgetful, full of blame and the need to ensure that if she is miserable, so are the rest of us. The memories and emotions tied to this house are, for me, not positive. They're a mess for Hubby too. Being here is driving us into an emotional pit of despair and there's hardly a rope or ladder long enough to rescue us.

At this point I'm mostly griping. Mentally I'm not coping well - neither of us are - and while the end is in sight it feels like it's a million years away. That is a hindrance for sure.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

On Not Saying Much (Callous Language Edition)

I haven't been saying much as of late, but I've had a lot to say.

I don't normally wax poetic on the current state of the Internets, lamenting how we as mothers and parents cannot simply support and cradle one another in the long, rewarding, but incredibly taxing and difficult journey that is parenthood. I know things don't work that way. This is not the perfect utopia where people are respectful of one another's beliefs and ideals and bodies without attempting to push their morals onto anyone else. This is not a world where people are free to think and do as they please without hurting others. It should be - it always should be - but it never will be.

That being said, I have to ask: What the fuck, Internet?

Exactly when the fuck did the point of coexisting, of supporting, of even fucking faking it become finding a beautiful, amazing pregnant woman and mocking her relentlessly just to be a jackass? I was under the impression that the asshats who used to act that way to anyone who wasn't like them were either left behind in high school or sure as hell aren't around trolling mommy bloggers. I thought that those would be the dickweeds that are out getting blasted tonight. I did not imagine that one woman - a woman who owns everything she is and everything about her family, a woman who is amazing in every way I've seen and who loves her family and friends unconditionally, a woman who is a boon to the pagan community and someone who does her best to educate those interested in an attached parenting lifestyle - would end up mercilessly targeted by these dicks. I doubt she imagined it either; I know she has mentioned before drawing the ire of people who disagree, but hell, I think we've all done that before, but some of us have managed to remain in the darkness, unnoticed by our "foes".

So I ask again. What the fuck?

No, I'm not asking for everybody to hold hands and sing together, because I know a lot of people who don't like to hold hands or sing or maybe who don't like being out in public. I'm not asking for everybody to pretend that they agree with everybody else and ignore who they are for the sake of making some people happy. I'm not asking anybody to give up their religion, their morals, their parenting styles - I'm asking for one simple thing. Something that a friend of mine, someone I care about very deeply, said is his first rule in life (and I think his grandmother got it damn right):

If it's going to hurt someone else, don't do it.

If you're trolling a pregnant woman on her blog and calling her fat because you're intent on being as hurtful and disruptive as possible, maybe you should, you know, NOT, because it's going to hurt her. If you're thinking about turning around and mocking how a coworker wears her makeup, or how loud she talks, or maybe you're the kind who always has to have something to say about everything, even if your words are often callous and demeaning, then you need to shut your goddamn mouth for a second and THINK before you open it again. It doesn't matter, maybe that pregnant woman on that blog will never find out that you said those things to her. Maybe your coworker won't ever catch wind of the nasty bile you've been spreading. Maybe the people who are sick and tired of all the hateful things you just HAVE to say about every little damn thing are always willing to let it slide and wait for the topic to change. But it isn't up to them - the victims, the people on the other end, the ones who are the recipients of your bile - to let it roll off their backs, or avoid hearing what you have to say.

It's up to you to be a fucking good person.

Because you know what? Maybe you think she looks fat (or maybe you think she's too skinny), and maybe your coworker does wear too much makeup to you (or maybe she might look better with at least a little on in your opinion), or maybe you're positive that somebody does talk just a little bit too loud sometimes - but none of it matters in the slightest. You are not perfect either. You are probably not the ideal weight or height. It's almost guaranteed that your proportions are at least a little off. Your clothes aren't perfect (whatever that is) and sometimes you probably snort when you laugh and then hope to all that's holy that nobody noticed. Maybe your feet really stink at the end of the day and you have to powder them every night. Nobody gives a damn because it just doesn't matter. You will never hurt anybody by just being you.

Unless "you" happens to be a vile, hate-spewing monkey. In which case, fuck off.

Monday, January 28, 2013

On Moving On

Wow, the difference getting outside for five minutes and taking a little white pill can make.

I've been off of Lexapro for months now but with the recent events in our family - basically, stress - I've decided it might be best to get back on it. This happens about once a year, and while I function quite well the remainder of the year there's always a section of a month or two where I find myself so despondent that my options become clear: either keep moping, accomplishing nothing, and stressing out about everything, or allow myself this one thing and inch myself back onto a low dosage in an attempt at reclaiming my remaining sanity. Today, I started taking it, and we shall see what the results are. Even if it's completely placebo, I already feel a little better, and I've found myself internally monologuing my way through my troubles.

We were hoping to move with our tax money, into our own place.

Now we are looking at staying here another six months, if not longer.

It's a tough pill to swallow, pardon my dry humor, and I can't argue that it still really stings to think about. We desperately need our own space and I can see the toll that staying here takes daily on myself, my husband, and my kids. This is not an easy place to live. It was difficult enough when growing up; things have only gotten worse, as my mother has become more set in her ways and more determined that even the smallest things will set her off. I can understand to a degree; randomly adding four people back into your previously empty house and then losing a beloved pet and companion are things that would be taxing on even the most steadfast soul. But for her somehow it is a million times worse, and though she claims we are still welcome here I can only hope that we will be out sooner rather than later, both for the sake of our sanity and so that she can have her house, space, and privacy back.

Today the weather is teasing us. The days have been sunny but too cold and snowless to justify heading outside for any length of time, and up until today, our highs were only topping out at 20, max. Today it was about 65, and though it rained occasionally I found myself outside on my second break, and I took a few minutes to just sit on the curb in the setting sun. It was a boon to my soul, and I know that it helped me feel a little more like there is life outside of this dark, dark box. Then, albeit only briefly, there was a tiny thunderstorm this evening. All I got to see was the vaguely damp ground and a little lightning, and I heard a bit of thunder, but that small event was encouraging! Spring is on its way - even though tomorrow they're forecasting severe storms for our area and on Wednesday we are looking at snow and highs that are back into the 20s. Welcome to the Midwest.

G is officially in therapy. We had intake last Monday and Hubby and I both chose to attend instead of just having one of us go. The therapist, Missy, agreed that we are likely looking at issues with impulse control, but she thinks that in reality most of his problems are stemming from his sensory issues and she wants to further investigate this through some sort of testing that is yet to be arranged. In her opinion this will give us the best idea of what, exactly, is the matter, and how we can best help him integrate his sensory input problems into his daily routine. In short, we want to help him cope, and in turn learn how to cope with his outbursts and overstimulation reactions in turn, so that we don't lose our cool with him when he is obviously having trouble dealing with himself.

My job is still stressful as ever. I am working close to 50 hours a week on a regular basis, and I have worked nearly every Saturday but two since the beginning of November. I am beginning to feel the toll of my position and I won't lie and say that I'm handling it well. I hope that eventually I will even out and learn to tolerate this, because we can't live without my income.

Here's to the coming of Spring.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

On the stupidity of the nation

We, as a nation, revolve around the concept of schadenfreude - that is to say, we like watching the misery of others play out before us as a relatively solid reminder that we are, in comparison, more sane and have more stable lives than some of the more interesting members of our society. Often these people have agreed to open up their lives and family to encouraged and even planned drama, and they are typically bound to the will of the network that their contract is with. We see the immediate effects but the results of the drama are often lost on us - and typically we don't decide that a reality show's premise is harmful until after we've been exposed to it for a while and begin to see the wear and tear it creates on its stars.

Except, sometimes, it is blatantly obvious that something is an absolutely horrible idea.

Take, for example, Oxygen's new "brilliant" concept, absurdly titled, "All My Babies' Mamas". The idea is apparently that the network will follow a man who calls himself "Shawty Lo" and the 10 women who have fathered his 11 children. Apparently, tossing his 19-year-old girlfriend - who is a year older than his oldest child - somehow makes the whole thing more like a "Brady bunch" situation and less of a painful clusterfuck of stupid. The network intends to follow Shawty Lo around and document the interactions he has with his children and their mothers, with an implied hilarity level that I can't even begin to fathom.

In short, this series is a combination of every single "lesson" that I'd prefer my children never learn.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out how ultimately demeaning this series is - to the mothers who are a part of it, to the kids who are involved without their consent, and to both women and the African American community. A number of people have already spoken up in protest of this crudely-designed form of entertainment, and I'm adding my voice - not to follow with the crowd, but because this has illicited a serious "dafuq!?" reaction in me.

Am I wrong?

Here's a man whose appearance thus far in the promotional material seems to scream "stereotypical gangster". He is portrayed as a guy who can't keep his dick in his pants, with a harem of women who somehow find him and his womanizing ways irresistable. Mind you, I don't mind the idea of plural relationships - if everyone involves consents and is aware of any potential repercussions, and everyone is aware of everyone else's other relationships, who cares? But this is plain exploitation. And god forbid we consider the kids - whose impolitely nicknamed mothers (including "Sassy Baby Mama") are being degraded from individual women with names, lives, and personalities to irritatingly cutesy and insanely embarassing monikers meant to somehow set them each apart from one another - in this entire disaster. There are 11 in total according to Oxygen's information about the show, and their dear father can't remember all of them.

And he proves as much on camera by trying and failing multiple times to name them all.

So, again, I ask: Dafuq is this.

Oxygen, you have GOT to be kidding me. I just.. I've lost words, I'm so disgusted. All I know is, I can tell you one network I won't be watching anymore - and that any advertisers who put in commercials during that show can count on losing my business.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On what we make of life

I have become incredibly introspective as of late.

While I consider myself pagan, I am not a druid, nor am I Wiccan or really any other solid "version" of pagan out there. I believe there are multiple forces in place in our universe that helped begin creation and that occasionally can guide us or offer assistance in our lives, usually without our asking, although they can be asked to interfere as well. Despite all that, I do not have a solid belief system when it comes to the afterlife, and as of late, thoughts of death have become commonplace.

I am 26 years old.

And someday, I am going to die.

I don't know what it means to leave this existence. The scientific side of me is still desperately trying to come to terms with my latent spirituality, that which demands there must be something more beyond death itself, another plane or another version of existence in which our souls continue. Call it Heaven, the Summerlands, Purgatory, what have you - I have to believe there is something more. In my head, the human brain - already an admittedly ugly but complex organ whose inner functions are understood to a degree but whose development and inward function still makes little sense to the scientific community beyond a chorus of, "Hurr hurr, neurons firing!" - is somehow special. The brain itself in any creature is special. There is a spirituality inherent in all things that are capable of existence, of growing and thriving. There is a certain meaning behind each bug (even though I'm the type to squish them - sorry) and every blade of grass. Every bit of quantum mechanics and string theory and our knowledge of black holes and neurons and the beginnings of life itself, in my mind, all come back to the idea that, surely, all this cannot be for naught. There must be something more.

I doubt it's healthy that my fear of death is so ingrained that if I allow myself to think about it too hard, I can actually encourage and set off an anxiety attack. It terrifies me to the edge of my understanding and the worst part, I think, is that it isn't something I can try to understand with the inherent acknowledgement that despite my attempts to understand it, I may never physically encounter it face-to-face, so while I can attempt to understand it fully, I don't NEED to. This is not a thunderstorm, or a bee hive, or childbirth. This is not a way of parenting or a need fulfilled in a relationship with another person. This, as much as creation itself, is solid - there is death. I will die. So will you, and my mother and husband and children and in laws and neighbors. There is no escaping this fact, and the only variables are when, how, and where. There is no question as to whether or not it will occur in the first place.

I also worry that it's unhealthy that at nearly 30 years old I have not yet formed some vague understanding of what, if any, life after death I believe in. When my mother's beloved purebred black lab had to be put down in October, she was thrown headfirst into the mourning process - and as part of that, she taught my children that the dog is now in Heaven, with God. The Christian god, I should note. While I'm open to teaching my kids about every religion, and committed to answering as many questions as possible with as much open-ended information as possible, it worries me that there is already an established set of beliefs that is being pushed at them. Maybe I don't want my kids to believe in Heaven, and maybe I don't want them to think that the god assumed to reside there is the only one in charge. Maybe I don't want them to think that if they are inherently good and innocent in their lives they will be rewarded in the future, but a single indiscretion can be enough to send them reeling into eternal torment. There are so, so many things about Christianity itself that I don't want my children to learn.

At the same time, I am - and yes, I hesitate to admit this, but here it is - inwardly a little relieved. No, I don't really want my children to believe that but the concept of death itself is already so abstract to me, a grown woman, that the idea of trying to explain its functions and process to my children is overwhelming. My three year old does not understand it at all and will often mention the dog but remind himself shortly afterwards that she is gone. My five year old will crassly answer his younger brother with terse reminders that she is dead - a painful but at the same time reassuring reminder that he is beginning to understand truly what this process is all about. All the same, I can't imagine trying to ingrain into their beautiful little minds that the soul of a dead person is simply gone, no more upon this plane nor anywhere we can reach it, and that it has simply ceased to exist. It has left me in a moral and mental bind, one that has been inadvertently answered by the purposeful but relatively innocuous teaching passed along by the dog's death - that there is an afterlife somewhere, and it's where souls go.

And maybe, really, that's the route I should be taking. Not trying to explain to them that there are necessarily any singular places where souls or minds or thoughts travel to upon death, but that we are only sure of deaths's finality and little else - and perhaps, then, to try to ask them what they think happens after someone dies to their mind, thoughts, and to their spirit. Encourage them to think outside the walls of any singular religion or spirituality and let them find their own way through, to determine their own paths through life.

My husband once explained it, more or less, this way: Humans have proven that by simply thinking of something in a group, enough people are capable of more or less making something exist - be it a single thought, ideal, or a bigger concept that requires the expenditure of energy, time, and emotional and mental power. The mind itself is capable of so much that surely if one person believes something, then somehow it becomes true for them - meaning, if just one person believes in an afterlife of a certain kind, in a certain location, then it becomes the truth, even if only for them, and it will be the eventual location of their spiritual essence. If enough people believe in something, then it becomes even more real, even if only for them - and by that reasoning, Christians are perfectly capable of being "sent" to Heaven or Hell, based on their inward impression of themselves, and there is a distinct possibility that they will not be the only "believing" soul there, if their concept matches that of others who share the same system of beliefs.

It's a puzzling concept that I've had some difficulty with as of late, so I thought, why not share it - and see what your thoughts are.

What do you think happens after death, if anything? And how have you explained it to your children, or other kids in your life?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

On new beginnings

2012 was a hell of a year for us.

I don't even mean that in the "we lost a lot of celebrities and bad things happened" way. I mean that on a very personal level, 2012 sucked to degrees I can only barely comprehend, much less put into coherent words. While it started with what was supppsed to be a promising new job it ended as a painful and poignant reminder of just how hard we can try to achieve our dreams without ever actually getting anything done. It was a frustrating year of two steps forward, one step back, and it seemed like every boon came with a punishment. Numerous illnesses have plagued us this year, as have dental bills, medical bills, lost opportunities, setbacks, and so much overtime that I'm at work more than I see my family. Plans to leave my mother's house by August became plans to try to escape in 2013 sometime, with no solid timeframe. It was agreed that my husband should go back to therapy, and finally, agreed that G - at five and a half - should also seek help.

In short, 2012 sucked balls, and I celebrated its ending by giving it the finger and not watching the ball drop.

Unfortunately 2013 didn't start any differently than its predecessor ended, which is honestly to be expected. Change -- especially good change -- rarely occurs overnight. Hubby is still quick to anger and slow to cool down, the kids are still showing obvious signs of stress and frustration. My mother is still unpredictable, and hasn't stopped treating Hubby like an animal. If the old adage that you should start the new year doing what you want to spend the whole year doing is true, then I will be getting very little sleep, staying frustrated, and will be working a lot.

There are still hints, here and there, of promise. With the solstice over the days are becoming longer, and soon won't feel like they end at 5:30. Spring will return within the next few months, and with it, life hopefully not just for the world, but for our family.

So brightest blessings to your family in this new year; may you be healthy, and have all you need (and a lot of what you want). And if, like us, you too have struggled and are now hoping for better, my cup is raised to you and your's with positive strength in your direction.