Be-YOU-tiful Retreat 2018

As I sit and write, my beautiful daughter has just rediscovered writing on her own with a pen and paper. She is delighted and every so often has to show me what she is doing. I love her and love that I can share this moment with her. It will be a while before I attempt allowing her to experiment with the keyboard, but for now we can share the same space, her in my lap moving the pen seemingly haphazardly on a sheet of paper as I type. The smell of her hair still fills me with so much joy.

I’ve returned home from the retreat of a lifetime. I entered into this weekend not entirely knowing what to expect or even what I wanted to get out of it except for that hefty goal of finding restoration and rest. It is a wonder to me that both seemingly take work to find. There is so, so much going through my mind right now. I very quickly wanted to withdraw from the crowd and write things down but found that I couldn’t figure out where to begin and I was afraid so, so much would be missed by limiting the experience to the prose of the written language. Yet I do wish to at least capture a small experience I had that became the leading domino in a cascade reaction. The high ropes course.

Anyone who has known me in my 20’s may have experienced my “carpe diem” mentality either an intro to being in college away from home, in the middle of it, or directly after it. I went to a liberal arts college and with that come very interesting courses already built into my tuition, if planned correctly into my required credits for my degree choice, that I otherwise before that point in my life never had the opportunity to try. Horsemanship, water skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, trail building, initiatives (a high & low ropes, zip lines, and team-building activity class), and paper making are the ones that come to mind. I also became a lover of roller coasters while on family vacations to Six Flags and had opportunities from time to time to experience the rush of speeding up fast and being flipped around. Adventure. Adrenaline. The giddiness and joy that come out of the rush. The connections that are made with those around you if you allow it.

If you allow it. There were plenty of moments in my life where I didn’t. I missed out on a lot, I’m sure. But I am not missing out now!

I went into this weekend horribly anxious. I’m not sure when the anxiety set in,  but I’m sure it was at least a week prior when messages from my director and family and friends began to completely overwhelm me. I had to disconnect from everyone but maybe 4 people. And even then I couldn’t keep up with many of the messages rolling in. What I didn’t know yet was why things were so overwhelming or even what was building up inside of me. I did know, however, that disconnecting from the stimuli around me was possibly one of the few things that could help. Less noise means more space to investigate the heart.

I know physically leading up to it that I began getting headaches, my period came a full week earlier than usual (2 days prior to the retreat), I was constipated until just 5 minutes ago from writing this line, and I had begun grinding my teeth all through out the day and night in a way that was harsher than usual as well as more painful. My anticipation was building.

Medically, my dizziness, numbness and tingling in my hands and feet and legs, and malaise had returned. And my last complete blood count showed my platelets were dangerously low again, low enough to have my doctors highly concerned about spontaneous bleeding. Yet I had no bloody noses and although I was covered with bruises from not bumping but simply brushing a coffee table or edge of a chair but also from my adorable, climbing all over me always toddler. I also had marks from burst capillaries around my armpits and arms and chest. Whenever not feeling well, I have Dr. Google to remind me that it is quite normal for someone with a blood disorder. I won’t read articles like this because it can get my thoughts moving in the wrong direction, but the symptom list helps me process what my body may be feeling. Emotionally, I was worried about clothing that didn’t fit correctly because of the weight I had been putting on and if my hair looked just so and if I’d fit in. This would be a new environment for me. Out “glamping” with some Mary Kay ladies. I got myself as dolled up as one can look with jeans and a tee shirt on and skipped the boots (because I only own a pair that look like Barbie went army, black with a slight thick heal) and went with my worn in sneakers.

The preparation for such a high risk situation here is just as if not more important than the task, but I was more afraid of who I was going to be around than I was of the high ropes. Yet that morning those anxieties were crushed. For my personality type, the details were lovely and inviting. Our names were on beautifully designed retreat themed stationary next to our cabin’s door. After checking in, we were given matching customized name tags and a notebook. The 11 directors had matching t-shirts making it easy to find them in the crowd of a little over 50 consultants. A liability form was given to me and I admittedly signed it without reading it purposefully. My nerves were already high enough. I already knew the risks I was taking, especially given that I was told to never participate in activities like this due to my blood disorder, yet I simply do not see the point of missing out on some of the most exciting experiences based off of a doctor’s incredibly high concern of the worse happening. Simply because he believes the worse is going to happen does not mean I believe it. Systems are in place for a reason and I trust those systems. And I know my body and I trust it. I may not be the most graceful person, but I am agile and strong and have never fallen. My feet are sure. I knew what I was doing. I had training in college and my nerves came from the fear of heights (read: the fear of falling from heights or my neck getting caught up in the ropes then slipping, not actually the high space). My nerves also came from not knowing how I would respond to a ropes course 3 x’s as large as where I received my training and myself being 90 lbs heavier and out of the gym for a considerable amount of time. I’m bummed that the information on the college website is lacking in showing what I was coming from. It had been 12 years since my last ropes course experience.

Muscle memory is a beautiful thing. I found I quickly learned the ropes and immediately enjoyed where that phrase was created. David was our instructor and his demeanor was perfect for this experience. He went through the basic instructions and safety protocol with humor and a calm, determined spirit. He reminded me of my husband and I thought how his first experience on a ropes course should happen sometime. Would he be like me over a decade ago and not be able to climb the pole the first time, have someone come out to help him, or would he rise to the top effortlessly and navigate the new found gravity and movement up above with fluidity and strength? That’s one thing about ropes that I know- wagers can be made on how someone will do or even how they’ll do it, but there is no way in knowing how the several factors that flood you when it comes your turn and demolish any expectation you have in how things will go.

Safety and equipment check was complete and I found myself a harness and had it on quickly. Check, check, check, my helmet was secure and my harness fitted correctly. I began to wait in line, got a few photos with my team who were either waiting on the ground or only doing the zip line. Then I remembered to fill David in on my quirky blood disorder then just as quickly informed him on my previous experience and confidence in my own capabilities in completing the task safely without injury.

It’s my turn. I take a few steps up the telephone pole and climb up that as quickly as I can. I wanted great momentum so I wouldn’t have to pull myself up. I know how little I’ve been working my arms lately, so I wanted to rely on my legs which were very, very strong from pregnancy and childbirth. It is amazing how when given no other option you begin to become acutely aware of your abilities that will work yourself through the entire course. However, I rose so quickly that I had forgotten about my breathing. I had been holding my breath some, a bad habit I have when doing something challenging, and when I got 30 feet up onto that platform, I began breathing so heavily that I hardly noticed that it was David who was directly beside me to coach me if needed. He asked if I was OK and I immediately said yes and explained I was tired (I knew he was checking for a panic attack) and needed to catch my breath. He expertly began small-talking to help regulate my breathing and asked me simple questions like, “Where are you from? How old is your daughter? Where do you live?” and by the time it was my turn to transfer to the next portion of the course I was ready to go. I had also noted while waiting that I could feel the rocking and swaying of the course as others moved throughout it.

It was hard but I surprised myself with how through watching a few people on the ground made such a huge difference in just how my muscle memory kicked in to complete the rest. My first challenge was to get across a tight rope. I had seen the wobbly way others did it and decided in advance that I would lean all my weight on the support rope in just one direction on the rope instead of trying to stay upright so I wouldn’t lose my balance. It surprised me that my connecting rope on my harness did not move with me as fluidly as I had expected. I could only move as quickly as my equipment would allow.

As I moved through the other challenges, there would naturally be a wait on the end of each step as there were more than a few of us on the ropes at once, but never more than one on a challenge at a time. Built in breaks. Those challenges were not easy and all that came easy was figuring out how to complete the challenge without holding onto the wrong parts of the course that could cause injury or disrupt the trust in the perfect system to hold you up (i.e.-holding onto your harness or connecting ropes won’t cause injury but holding onto any of the cables you are clipped to will if you slip).

What did I notice while up there? Many things! I could go on for hours! And now I have another experience to learn something new from every time I remember it. But what was the most important thing? My team was cheering me on from below, and not just my unit of 3 people on the ground but the entire group watching (around 50 people). What did I do when I heard my name? I froze or paused or had a break in my concentration and confidence. Why? That’s weird. Why would encouragement break into me like that? I remembered high school. I was ridiculed for being the angel, the golden girl, the perfect student, and being naturally good at seemingly everything I tried. Painful words were hurled at me for just being me and doing as I should. I didn’t have friends who connected with me like I desired in high school. I felt very alone and I wanted to do well but I was conditioned to believe that success and excellence were not for me, that people hated me when I stepped into my best self. I wanted to fit in instead but I couldn’t fit in because I wasn’t made to. I tried to fade into the background but grew more and more depressed and started to never eat around my peers in fear of their judgment. I had several digestive issues from the anxiety. I didn’t know then but my dentist told me several years later that’s probably when I started grinding my teeth. My parents would ask if I was OK or if I was worried a lot and I’d answer no because I was also terrified of letting them down. Every time I slipped in my grades I would get a long, long lecture and I began getting even harder on myself on not achieving excellence than anyone else then only have that crushed by the jeers of my peers. I was in a vicious, vicious cycle. I could have been valedictorian and graduated earlier and even done college courses while still in high school, but I didn’t because the anxiety I was experiencing was too much. I was salutatorian instead but won all the scholarships given by my school.

Yet in realizing all this, the details of course becoming much more clear and concise now than when I was actually 30 feet up in the air…yet in realizing all this, I knew I had only one way down and it was through the rest of the course. I thought about the intentions of those on the ground (if anyone on the course itself was cheering I simply didn’t hear it over all the other commotion in my head and on the ground). Once I realized I was in good company, company that was excited to see my success, and things were as they should be, I could feel a healing moment occur. I was free to be me. I was free to experiment with the ropes, to bounce around on purpose and test the reaction of my body versus the elements. To feel myself slip after a gregarious twist and turn and bounce yet after my silliness and testing I quickly reoriented myself and secured my footing once more and recollected my balance. Their cheers and encouragement became fuel for me to embrace my playful self and know that I am celebrated in the kingdom of God and made for His pleasure. He was pleased with me and was watching me and smiling. I could hear the laughter when I danced through the course and finally understood why a woman who prayed over me in high school said my spiritual gift was joy. That prayer came when I was at the point of the highest anxiety in high school and here I was discovering I have the ability to bring joy to other people in my unique approach to life.

The course didn’t become any easier after this revelation/break through/healing moment, but it became more enjoyable. I went through the rest of the challenges without hesitation or loss of confidence.

Another thing to note was putting my fear in its place and realizing that the years of exposure to heights has allowed me to analyze it both before, during, and most importantly after. I have felt myself for years imagining myself speaking from a stage and saying things I felt were critical in how to live life and how my experiences would have an impact. I thought the way in which several great speakers I have enjoyed would tie humor into a profound, meaningful message was not something I could pull off. Yet that fear of being on stage has little to do with the spot light but with who is in the audience just as the fear of heights has little to do with being up high as much as it has to do with the fear of falling or getting entangled. What will happen when I’m up there? Well, I learned when I stood up in front of our group to share a 1-2 minute summary of what I experienced up on the ropes that in the spot light you often can barely see the faces of whom you are speaking to. It’s too bright. The microphone is surprisingly loud and it’s hard to not pull it away from your mouth, but just as I had seen before me when some had pulled it away in the same manner that others attempted to walk a tight rope upright instead of leaning in only one direction onto the support rope, I knew what to do. Often we make tasks much more challenging than they are in our head and if we watch those we respect and allow into our inner realm of trust and figure out what we would like to do when it comes our turn we can fall back on how steady our legs are and how sure we are in our own abilities. Building that sort of confidence takes time. I’ve had repeat exposure to heights and am building repeat exposure to speaking. It will come. And as far as being worried about what others will say, I’ve had the experience of what hearing nothing is like, what hearing something negative (and immediately being able to dismiss it) is like, and now the experience of what it’s like to have a flood of positive comments and hugs and offers of friendship is like as a result of sharing what I had to say. I had always thought it silly that I still picture myself saying meaningful things from a stage when I hate that sort of thing, but it is something I cannot help. I’m confident that it is a huge part of my purpose.

I have hit the point where there isn’t time to write more. I know I’ll continue to pull more and more lessons and revelations out of this weekend’s retreat for years to come. For now, I am amazed at the grace of my Savior in putting me in just the right place at the right time so He can undo the damage caused by the enemy’s siege on my soul.

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Happy New Year!

Wow, another year. I’ve been thinking about returning to the computer form of writing and hadn’t actually pulled the trigger on it formally. I have to admit, I was very worried my goal would self-sabotage itself before I even set out on my quest for a brand new start. I wrote in a plain paper journal last night, promising myself that it would be short and simple. It was only a page long- phew! So although it isn’t the first of the month and the first of the year, I am re-starting my thoughts here, a place only a small, small cluster of people in my life are aware even exist. That is exactly the reason why I like it here: a format that is readable but off the beaten path, away from the noise of criticism or clatter of well-meaning advice. I simply need to process somewhere outside my own mind.

Simplicity. I crave for it. I recently became acutely aware of my deficit in the realm of self care. I found myself setting extremely high and admirable goals only to find that my cup was so empty I could barely even put food on the table with a full fridge. It was impossible to think about making my short list of task, no matter how “easy” or “simple,” happen that would move my business forward. Such has been the cycle my first year as a business owner in 2017. I’ve grown weary. I’ve grown exhausted of the tireless attempts of my director to get me motivated. God bless her, though, she knows how badly I would love to see my goals come to pass.

But that’s just it- do I really want it or am I content with what I already have? My resolve to change our lives comes and goes with my rise and fall of energy. I’ve always struggled with fatigue from anemia. My half-sister who shares my diagnosis actually no longer works due to it. I often worry that will be me and I constantly fret about employment, but then quickly remind myself that’s why I’m here in the self-employed world so I can “work when I can so [I] don’t have to work when I can’t.” However, the obstacles I face are within myself when I am well and within myself when I am weak. What is a woman to do?

The challenge of being in sales is being mindful of every action. Everything is intentional and cannot just be done willy-nilly. Energy. My director argues what I tell myself next regardless of how I feel determines my outcome. Interesting thought, really. I’ve always defied odds with my blood counts and have always done far more than any doctor ever expected me to do. And I do crazy things like ski, climb ropes courses, and the like any chance I have just to prove it and honestly just to spite their rules of caution. So why is it I find it so puzzling that what I tell myself determines my outcome? Because God is in control of the universe, not me. Simply put. I only have control of my action. And my action is directly tied to my energy.

So energy. That is my word for this year. I thought it’d be simplicity to be honest. I’ve been pulling away from the noise of my company on purpose, to the point that when the messages didn’t stop rolling in I spoke up risking ruining a relationship over protecting my sanity. Simply put my director wants me to become a director far, far more badly than I want it. I see no urgency in reaching my goals. We figured out how to fill our fridge, keep the lights on, etc. without my business’s help. We had monetary gifts come in and I drove for hire- a mindless task I could still do around my family’s schedule and lack of funding for daycare. The worry of not being able to work because a low energy/dizziness doesn’t exist in its fierce way as it would with an employer depending on shifts in a calendar being filled with your time exchanged for the same, if not lower, wage.

Energy. What keeps my energy alive? What drains it? What control do I have over my energy? How much of my low energy can be changed through my spiritual and thought life? During the chaos of 2017 and my husband’s theme of rhythms for 2018, what does mine look like right now? The past 3-7 days or so (?) I’ve focused on my rhythms and getting basic daily habits re-established. I sit here, fully dressed in clothes which are not my regular sleep wear and suitable for the public (although I rarely venture out wearing leggings). My makeup is on, my hair clean and pulled back. My teeth are brushed. I’ve had coffee and water. I’ve eaten today. These things may or may not have happened by noon or 2 or 3pm some days prior to my husband’s first expression of rhythms in his own blog. It was around that point that I realized this is exactly why whenever I restart my business that I quickly burn out. My cup is empty. My energy is low. My rhythm fell back to surviving again.

It is quite the break through to have. And one I prefer to have privately from my business sisters. Perhaps there will be a time and place to share, but I have gruesome work ahead of me that all lies within the basics. Going from surviving to thriving takes much more intention, and yes, energy, than I may already have. However, as I know from yesterday’s workout, sometimes the things you believe you have no energy for are exactly the things that will bring the energy back.

Can’t Sleep

It’s amazing what one’s brain can think about when dreamland eludes them. For me it’s usually the same thing that will hit at times like this, “I wish I had someone to talk to…someone who *gets* it.” …the kind of *gets* it that doesn’t take hours and hours of explaining why I am the way I am or think the way I think or even filling in an exhaustive back story.

Much of my life, scratch that, much of my relationships feel like I’ve tried to make up excuses or even perform in a way that covers up the mess that I am. And I can even hear a few people who happen to know me well chime in my inner mind saying, “Oh, that’s not true; you’re not a mess!” ..to which I roll my eyes, teasingly and gently as to not insult their judgment. Fact is, when I’m *this* lonely I feel as if every person I’ve extended casual or hopeful friendship to has had a reason to stay the hell away from this mess. And that’s the very thought that keeps me from reaching out. BUT…because I process nearly everything externally, which doesn’t make sense since nearly every personality test says I’m an introvert, I do things like post on Facebook that I’m having a bad day or not feeling well. Then rarely I’ll think of a few people I did feel close to once and think about messaging them but often don’t. It’s the lack of replies in the past that I remember, or even worse the dismissal of my feelings without really listening. Instead of working through personality differences because most of those I’m close to are just that, very different from me and how I process things, that I usually keep quiet and/or just hint at there being a problem without talking about it. On rare occasion, someone will catch on and I talk, well usually type nowadays, for a few sentences to see if there is any relief of understanding. When there is, a few more short paragraphs may come then I try to hang up the matter quickly as to not trouble the person further. If there isn’t, then I hang up the matter quickly. Truth of the matter is those who I was able to talk to I had a hard time asking them to open up the same way, even with lots of questions and offers of being there, then time would go by and lives get busy…

It takes time to build good relationships and even more time to built great ones. It’s depressing to me that I’m so interested in building something with just anyone here in my age group but then I’m finding hardly a reciprocation. I can’t replace the friends I have, but when they’re three time zones away and were already slipping away into their own busy lives, it just leaves things feeling empty. That’s how I feel this week, empty. It’s so nice to have an understanding, loving husband who will listen no matter what I have to say, but any girl would agree with me that although it helps it doesn’t replace a woman’s need for girlfriends. I have 4 women I would turn to in times like this- my sister, my mom, a friend I’ve had since I was 12, and a college friend- all of whom about 3,000 miles away from where I hang my hat now. And with all the life changes going on right now I feel like I need at least an hour with them each daily to stay sane…but I’m lucky to talk 20-30 minutes with them every few weeks.

It’s hard to admit, but I’ve been here before so I know it needs to happen sooner rather than later. I need to reach out. Not to these women, because that already happens from time to time, but to someone local. I tried to set up a lunch date, but it fell through because I was double-booked with some other plans the new friend had. It’s really hard to try again, and not just because the money is tight and will just keep getting tighter with a growing family, but because it’s just hard to put yourself out there. Although I understood I felt rejected. Man, I forgot how hard it is to warm up to new people!

I miss the trees and humidity in Maine, although my hair doesn’t! Man, is it nice to have frizz-free hair everyday with little to no effort! But my skin, ugh, that’s another story. My already weak immune system is even weaker with the pregnancy, then the progesterone I’m on is making baby break outs even worse. The script I’m on is helping heal it but it’s been 4 days and it’s still looking kinda yucky. Signs of a baby girl?

It’s been helping that it’s rained a few times. The rain is oddly comforting. I used to dread it back home because it meant a drab and dreary couple of days, but here it will last only a few hours or maybe even all day (El Nino is upon us, only happens maybe once a decade, so all day won’t be here to stay). Sunshine 360 days a year the commercials boast that run on our Hulu while watching Scrubs reruns. I think maybe during El Nino it’s 340 days. But the rain helps because it reminds me of home because it’ll feel like home if only for a few hours. Very few things feel like home anymore. Even the ocean is different. And rivers and lakes, forget them since we’re in the middle of a pretty bad drought. Seeing a little more green than when we first got here is nice.

We got permission to move early by the property manager. Our lease was to last until July, but we reached an agreement where we can give a 30-days’ notice without penalty. Our apartment is too small for a new baby and there are a a few other factors that don’t really matter right now. It’s just nice that the property manager saw that their solutions were not working and will allow us out of the lease without losing a future reference or our deposit. But it feels good because I don’t feel stuck in a concrete hole anymore. There’s no view except a cement wall and cars where we are now…and forget the mini forest we lived in for four years between Gray and Gorham. We can finally look for a place that’ll feel a little more like home. Although that relieves me it also comes with more anxiety about money. I’m happy my husband is good at apartment hunting because everything I’m finding is $300-800 more than what we’re paying now..and the $300 more a month options are the apartments in nearly the same areas with just the same urban feel. But my husband has already found something promising and is carefully weeding through online reviews. This is an unexpected challenge I hit getting here. I didn’t think I was *that* much of a country girl, but I miss having a garden and land to tend and trees to shade the back porch and places for our cat to romp around and catch critters in.

Perhaps that’s what’s got me down so much this evening. I hate living in a cement box and the bed rest is just making matters worse. That and I had to quit my job, which is something I wanted but just the same I’m going to miss the people there. Talking with them every day kept me much more sane than I had realized. Although there were several things I didn’t like about the job it provided some of the only stability I’ve had here since the move. And for that reason I’m looking forward to my new job starting on Monday. Another encouragement is how well the interview went. I love how they did it- I got to meet with all 5 of the top players on the team and what an awesome, energetic group of women! I felt lighter when I left that interview, like it truly was a good fit, and it’s comforting that they seemed to feel the same way since I got the job!

So the possibility of making new relationships is existent, especially with the friend who cancelled on me who I still have in our new church’s small group so I know I’ll see her again to possibly try again. And with a new coworker who said she remembers my alma mater and turns out we were going to rival colleges while ultimate frisbee and soccer tourneys were a big deal. She recently moved here, too…and so did a few others within the last five years from Northern or the Eastern US. Cool.

Then there’s the young marrieds group at church, something we’re trying to break into but it’s a challenge when hubby’s relieved to have any time to himself away from his work-at-home computer space and the only sleep I tend to get anything out of is usually between the hours of 4am-10/11am with all the various complications pregnancy has brought me with my multiple health issues.

Yeah, that’s something that’s hard not to get depressed or down on myself about lately, too. I was doing amazing with my health when we moved here. Hubby was right- getting to a warmer climate would improve my immune system and help the fibromyalgia. It wasn’t until getting a positive pregnancy test that perfect health began to fade away again. I got 3 good months in first..

But being pregnant is a good thing, something we’ve been trying for for 3 years, hoping for for almost 5 years. Our journey was a tricky one, and believe me it doesn’t end with a positive pregnancy test! This pregnancy has been anything BUT easy! The dizziness/lightheadedness early on was the worst hurdle. I didn’t have the kind of nausea that had me hanging over the toilet like 95% of women. Instead I had nausea because everything was spinning. All. The. Time. And I nearly passed out several times, stumbled too many times to count, and thankfully only nearly fell over maybe twice…enough times for my doctor to put me on modified bed rest, especially since at the same time I was having cramping and bleeding, which are usually indicators of a possible miscarriage, but HCG levels kept rising, heart beat was seen early and grew stronger, and a hematoma was discovered to be the culprit to the bleeding. Then the UTI I had no idea I had that needed a double antibiotic (got to love being immunodeficient and then have that immunodeficiency compounded by the fact that pregnancy suppresses the immune system some more…) *sigh*… then the baby break out from needing to take progesterone to ensure the continuous healthy growth of our little one gets infected from a exfoliant face scrub I’ve been using for years, because hey, it’s me…one infection means a couple more while we’re at it! I end last week with a secondary staff infection and doctors contemplating how to avoid a c. diff infection from reoccurring (from last year’s saga of issues) after my antibiotics are completed.

Exhausted just reading that? I am, too. I’m glad my scoliosis is still happy where it is without needing to see an osteopath or chiropractor, which I haven’t had the chance to find one yet while addressing all the other needs that have cropped up. That and I’m also relieved that my hematologist is happy with where my platelet count is and that my fibromyalgia hasn’t progressed what I think is normal for aches and pains during the first trimester (without medication, too, score!). So yeah, that stuff I was saying earlier about being a mess- I am a hot mess. BUT…I’m managing it. The healthcare system here is much slower than the East Coast but although it’s slow and frustrating to get through to talk to anyone with a question about a script or treatment plan, etc, between hold times and waiting in line…about 4-5 times what it is on the East Coast… I at least feel like I’m in much more expert hands. I honestly do pull out my hair and wish to scream when yet another call center receptionist writes down my message incorrectly or asks me to repeat it for the 3rd time. I miss being able to talk to a nurse who knows the medical terms I’ve gotten used to using while I describe my symptoms and concerns… now I get a classic valley girl reply of, “Um, what’s sea derf?” …I said c. diff…and I spell it for them…then explain in very laymen’s terms what it is like this…”It’s a bacteria that can overgrow in your colon if you have a weakened immune system and take a multiple antibiotics like I just did..and it can make you very, very sick and put you in the hospital…” and I get a reply of, “Oh. OK. C-D-I-F-F…” Oiy. Vey. Why do doctors’ offices hire people who have no medical knowledge? This is truly a first for me, especially from visiting offices and hospitals from Massachusetts to possibly all over Southern Maine. The lack of competence still surprises me…but then again it shouldn’t when every job posting for like-jobs are listed as needing only 2 years of high school completed… back home I think some college was preferred or at least a GED and nearly everyone I talked to on the phone or in person never questioned what something was while taking a message…and not once did a detail get left out when I would get a call back from a nurse- who usually already talked to the doctor and had an answer for me.. but here the nurse calls to clarify the need then goes to talk with the doctor… it’s a waste of my time. And no one can bi-pass these message-takers and just talk to the nurse. I even tried getting direct lines, they don’t give them our and all call backs are done on a blocked caller ID. Truly a shame the system here is just that different. The 20-30 minute holds each phone call and each script pick up are the banes of my existence right now.

So I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have to work while in the first trimester. How else would I have time take care of myself (and baby)? My obgyn’s office is about 45 minutes away with traffic/finding a parking spot. I could easily find just anyone closer, but she specializes in high risk pregnancies and works with some of the best perinatologists in the area, so besides the fact that I really like her and her office’s must faster message turn-around, I like working with someone who not only helped us get pregnant right away while under her care but she’s helping this be one of the most healthy pregnancies I’ve had so far. It’s a big deal in itself that we heard the baby’s heartbeat since none of our other pregnancies reached that milestone. Grow baby, grow 🙂

Thankfully, the danger of a c. diff infection developing has passed. Eating my weight in yogurt (not really, just an average of 20 oz a day) is helping. Being on the antibiotic cream for my healing face (secondary staff infected acne) and then the two rounds of treatment of antibiotics for the UTI are scary enough when trying to be 100% medication free for the sake of a growing baby. Thankfully the research is now all there to show that the risk of birth defects are just the same as placebos/no medication, so I feel better that there’s no risk to the baby. Just the same, I want this kid to have as much a chance at being normal as possible and pray that the 50/50 chance of them inheriting my blood disorder to be 0%. I pray they’re like my hubby with their health, but if they do inherit my blood disorder (all my other health issues are at a much lower risk level, like 10-20% likely since IgA Deficiency isn’t congenial and neither are fibromylagia or scoliosis)…if they do inherit my blood disorder at least now we have a diagnosis which means treatment options, however limited they may be.

So my only complaints health-wise are continued nausea from low blood pressure-induced dizziness (controlled by a baby-safe medication and thankfully never included not even one round of vomiting), a slightly cranky colon returning back to normal, an itchy yet healing patch of acne on my chin and right cheek, and the random insomnia that I thought would have passed by now since I finished the antibiotics a few days ago. There’s of course the fatigue or feelings of malaise, but those are fleeting and I’ve just embraced them as part of the clearing up infections and pregnancy mixture. My husband and I were joking back and forth before bed tonight and I said something along the lines that it’s nice I’m not working since this feels like a lot of work and he replied that it was and that he’d never feel anything like it. I stopped for a moment to think of a way to describe it to him so he could experience a piece of it but I honestly came up with nothing. That’s ok, though, if men were meant to go through it, too, they would, right? I know I’ll never experience anything like the provider anxiety that comes to men when they hold their child for the first time like I keep reading about, nor do I even want to… I’m sure there’s a better comparison out there but it is getting kinda late.

I’m beginning to feel less burdened and far less lonely after spilling this all out in text. I really should write emails or cards to some of my 4 girlfriends and other women who come to mind but I’m still not entirely sure why I don’t. I suppose I feel super guilty that I sometimes don’t think of them until I need them. Crying about it on Facebook no longer makes sense at 31 years old (and did it ever in the first place?) and now even more so when I have 328 and counting friends on there and maybe only keep in touch with 20 of them…passively anyways. That’s something odd about me and journals- I don’t feel they are useful unless someone has access to reading it. I suppose I see diaries/journals as no outlet at all unless written for an audience. If no one is listening, then why not just pray? I joke but with how my spiritual life has been lately it’s really not a surprise I feel that way even after seeing some hope in that area as well. I used to write fervently for 3-4 hours a day if I could manage it, then that energy got put into communicating with a new husband, hehe. Now, well, all the excessive talking has worn off because there’s less to work through, which has its advantages and disadvantages. He knows me better and I know him better so there’s a LOT less to explain where the downfall is we talk less. I love not having to dig deeper and that’s a huge advantage to have with a baby on the way since I keep hearing having time with your spouse to even get a 5 minute quickie is a challenge. Needless to say I’m not worried about it at this stage. We talked far more when I was working and at this point we’re both growing weary of my restlessness. He’s being incredibly more patient than I am about it, though! Our days usually consist of my scrolling through social media feeds while venting about the various health frustrations while he’s working through his assigned claims at his work station.  All desire for me to be productive with this time has lost its appeal, especially since busy work has just gotten plain old. I’d love to be able to go for a jog or to a sweat yoga session somewhere then grab a smoothie or get a pedi after… BUT modified bed rest doesn’t allow such things.

Outlets are hard to find when busy work is no outlet at all for a formerly active person. I’m still having a hard time losing the person I was when I first met my hubby and the years prior. Kayaking, jogging, basketball, softball, yoga, skiing, hiking, biking, belly dancing, bo staff, Thai Chi… I miss it all, really. I haven’t found the new me since I had to cut back on all the activity. I mostly miss being a size 6 and know my widening pelvis will unfortunately make that size impossible to achieve again, no matter the belly band miracles out there now. But still, don’t we all hold onto the prime of our youth? The abs, beautifully sculpted arms, no one noticed my kankles I got from my mom with calves from the skiing and biking. But I think it’ll be healthy for me to at least hold onto it as a dream for a while longer. I need something to motivate me to join Cross Fit with the hubby once I get a doctor’s sign off. Wouldn’t it be something to dead lift 185 lbs like that 8 month pregnant woman the owner showed me this afternoon at my husband’s gym? Hell, I think I’m showing as much as that woman in the photo and I have 29 weeks to go!

Which makes me hopeful it’s twins even though the ultrasounds have only detected one heartbeat and one growing baby. At least if it were twins I’d only do this once and then would be back to trying to get back into those jeans. I’d love to keep the boobs, though, especially since my back isn’t complaining (yet?). I have no clue what a 10-inch difference is in true bra sizes but my stretchy wireless demi’s will get me through until ready for maternity bras. If the back acts up I’ll break down to get better support, but for now I don’t mind the cleavage that will be next to none post-baby’s breastfeeding phase. I’m surprised at how they’re hardly sore anymore, too…and it’s nice because I’m not the only one shocked at their size 😉

I had a dream a while back that it was a boy and we named them Amos Nevada. He was perfect and I fell in love immediately. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were a boy? Then I saw a video on YouTube of a little girl singing Ariel’s Part of Their World and thought how wonderful it’d be to have a little girl. Man, I’m loving this baby bump. It holds so many unknown hopes and dreams. I can’t wait to kiss their little fingers and toes! I’ve been holding off on making a blanket or any toys for them. Last time I did the poor baby passed away at 5 weeks and we didn’t know until 3 weeks later. Their blanket is still next to my side of the bed. It’s incredibly soft and brings so much comfort when I’m sad like that…just to hold it to my chest feels like a cool breeze. I feel almost ready to try again to do something special for this little one like that, but still I hesitate because I want it to be more than the hardly-large-enough-to-swaddle blankie for Jevan (baby#3). I guess it’ll come to me but we do have more tangible/useful things for baby like a pacifier, a bunch of samples from Babies R’ Us, and I think 6 onesies…3 bought just for this baby the others bought for Etsy experiments that I decided to just see what happens with instead of selling. I attempted a registry even, but it’s hard to go through the old one from 2013. It’s surprising at times just how painful it is. But I have read maybe 8 books on pregnancy since getting the big fat positive on the pregnancy test. I’m excited, I’m just showing it differently I suppose.

So having a dream about a healthy baby boy was encouraging to say the least. The sense of love and peace from that dream were incredibly comforting. I’ve had a few moments, especially when hearing the heartbeat for the first time, where I exclaimed, “Wow, this is really happening this time” and “This is for real…we’re going to be parents…” but those moments are somewhat fleeting. Part of me perhaps is guarding my own heart although I know it’s in love already? I want to believe it and indulge myself on taking a photo faithfully each week of an expanding belly bump and recording the size of the baby and saving all the ultrasounds. Part of me is believing these may be the only pieces of the baby I’ll see like in times past. The other part of me is feeling the belly bump getting bigger than it did last time and knowing this is a much bigger deal. Yet even though every prenatal and folic acid is carefully kept track of and meals are never skipped (who skip could anyways while being hungry all the time?)… I worry just as equally about my life changing as my heart breaking. Yet I excitedly told everyone I know here I was pregnant as well as immediate family and my closest friends. It’ll only be maybe 4 more days before we tell the rest of our connections via Facebook. Will it feel more real then? And will that open up more people to talk to during all these difficulties and transitions?

I think perhaps I will call the church and see if I can talk to someone. Grief is tricky and I didn’t realize just how much it’s still a part of my daily life and what is making this transition so incredibly difficult. I’m grieving my babies before this miracle baby, I’m grieving the woman I once was physically and emotionally before all my health issues and our 4 losses, I’m grieving being away from home- familiar faces, places, culture, and healthcare systems, and I’m grieving the impact it’s all had on my career and how I’ve needed to adapt to survive…and thankfully my parents taught me how to thrive under such pressure so I’m not worse for the wear achievement-wise but still find career satisfaction elusive due to the multiple changes that were necessary. (But there’s hope there, this new job shows so much promise, so this grieving phase may be over soon!) I’ve always found it critical to acknowledge emotions, well or ill, as experiencing them and exploring them sets one free from being a prisoner to them any longer. Now, through all this writing this sleepless night, I’m seeing that grief has really been holding me hostage still. I thought I had moved on from grief, but I’ve hardly even acknowledged the fact I was pregnant this past June.

This is a tricky one, so while I’m here writing all night, I might as well recap it. I had nausea that wouldn’t go away and it lasted for months but I wasn’t actively trying to get pregnant anymore although my husband and I never bothered to go back on birth control since nothing was happening when we were trying anyways. If you remember back in 2003, I suspect that I miscarried a week after my usual period after my first sexual encounter that was not consensual and carried around the guilt from relief and denial that it wasn’t my fault for a long time until talking to a counselor in college in 2005. In 2011, I suspect that I miscarried again a month after getting married but was on the pill, I was just forgetting to take it every day at the same time and wasn’t on it long enough for it to do what it was meant to do. Both of these times I was too afraid to take a pregnancy test. The pregnancy test my mom made me take in 2003 at the Dr’s office was negative but I knew it would be since the cramping and bleeding had already started by time the dr finished the pap smear. I had told my mom that we slept together and didn’t tell her that it was his idea and that I had changed my mind and how it happened anyways even after saying no. So she had me at the drs as a punishment I suppose? It’s neither here nor there as emotions were pretty high and as such my memory isn’t all that great, especially since I tend to remember it slightly different each time. Either way, both 2003 and 2011 I felt loss so emotionally I’ve always counted those as baby 1 and 2- Marcus James and Danielle Rose.

In 2013 we began trying again. I got pregnant in December or January I think. It’s hard to remember without looking at the calendar but I know I was teaching an art class one night a week and working full time at a call center while helping my sister plan her wedding. Yet I still had time to buy little baby socks and crochet a blanket and I made little presents for our families with the little socks. Jevan Zechariah would be here in November the notes said and please hold onto these socks so my feet don’t get cold… By the time my sister’s wedding came around in the first week of April we had already known for a week that the baby had passed away at only 5 weeks old. My body was still supporting the pregnancy, so we had to induce labor. I’m still not sure how far along I was since I’m not sure when we conceived, we only know how old the baby was when they stopped growing from the ultrasounds. I thought I had miscarriage successfully (such a dark way to say it, but it is what it is), but 3 days after began bleeding heavily and had to have an emergency D&C after, my blood disorder played a huge risk factor and things got dicey there for a little while. I spent a day in medical care before being discharged to go home on our 3-year wedding anniversary in time for my husband to bring me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and go out for dinner at a beautiful restaurant next to a river. Our friends and family showered us with flowers and cards and even chipped in for a mani-pedi for me and a couple’s getaway for the weekend at a B&B. Devastation was met with much love and support, indeed! Jevan Zechariah’s remains were burned and his ashes spread at our favorite lake at camp and his initials carved in a birch tree. The drama didn’t end there, though. I was coaxed by a nurse to get a depo shot so I would have time to grieve without a thought about getting pregnant again until ready, but unfortunately I was without a period for several months. I changed obgyn’s and she discovered I had scar tissue causing the lack of period and I had another D&C October 2014, circa a month after our baby was to be born had they not passed away.

The experience of nearly bleeding out before getting the emergency D&C then needing a second one 6 months later made our loss in July 2015 seem so insignificant. So while going through maybe a dozen HCG checks after my 4th miscarriage, I kept quiet until it was all over. Even then I don’t know how or when or who I told or even how many know. It’s possible many had no idea until we finally named them in October 2015 and shared her name, Ysabel June, on Facebook. I hate how we found out about her because I had a choice and I chose wrong.

I was having a lot of issues since losing Jevan. After our make-up honeymoon trip (our original honeymoon got rescheduled several times for different reasons, all job or health-related) in November, Thanksgiving and almost all of December were filled with a lot of colds. Then I got a sinus infection, then a UTI, then something else that I don’t remember needed an antibiotic through January, February..by the time I got to March I had c. Diff for the first (and hopefully only) time ever. I was hospitalized overnight but not admitted. IV antibiotics, a few injections, etc. By then they found out I had IgA Deficiency, but moral of the story is I was pretty sick. April was a challenge and I honestly don’t remember it very well. I think it’s a shame I don’t know what we did for our 4 year wedding anniversary, but I remember in May I was hospitalized again and this time admitted for 3 or 4 days. I continued to have upper gastro issues from heartburn to nausea and acid reflux long enough that my doctors decided to do an upper endoscopy and when they found nothing but GERD induced by the antibiotics (needed for the low IgA Deficiency which was causing the infections and then needed for the infections caused by the antibiotics…a viscous cycle)…I was to have a gall bladder scan…which is pretty much an all-day low-radiation procedure.

This is where the story gets hard to tell and it’s a story I haven’t shared with anyone. I don’t think I was even open about it with my doctors because, well, it’s just sad.

Through this whole thing, my husband and I were just conveniently avoiding sex during my ovulation weeks, but it wasn’t always intentional as my condition often meant sex just wasn’t at all that appealing. Not only that, we had a new roommate, a coworker suddenly finding himself between apartments, that we let stay with us for a while until he found a new place, which can be awkward when the walls are not very thick. June 2015. I went in to the gall bladder scan and they go through the usual questions including, “Could you possibly be pregnant?” or however it goes. I hesitated and realized I was in that 2-week window between ovulation and expected period. I answered that I didn’t know. Before I know it the tech is on the phone with the dr and they tell me they can’t do the scan.

At that point I should have just accepted it, but I didn’t. I got angry. Maybe it was frustration of always being one or two steps behind finding out what was wrong with me and just treating a disease instead of the cause of the vulnerability to even contract that disease in the first place (which I found out later that there is no treatment for IgA Deficiency and it is about disease/infection control) or maybe it was just frustration over not yet knowing why I was feeling so disgusting. I began to firmly tell the tech I wasn’t leaving and that I had waited two weeks for the test and that I was lucky to get in this quick and that I didn’t want to wait a month or two just to find out we needed to do another test….I wasn’t very nice, but I recall no yelling, just a lot of pent-up frustration and argument over why I should have the test anyways. I even regrettably said I would sign a waiver for any liability of Maine Med in the event of any pregnancy loss and that it was just simply too early to even bother with a test and that “It wouldn’t be that bad if I did miscarry anyways because I’ve been through it already.” (Sigh, yeah, I really did say that…) I even called my husband to drive over a home pregnancy test to pee on to prove it was negative. Then when I kept getting, “No, ma’am, I’m sorry, our policies just say we cannot do the test.” I called my obgyn and asked for her to explain that it’s impossible I was pregnant since we gave up trying after a year then all these health issues…and my obgyn gently explained that she wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that since I still had a uterus. That’s when the tech told me that the medication needed for the procedure had expired and that we’d have to reschedule anyways and gave me the number to their supervisor. So my husband arrived with a pregnancy test that I didn’t have to pee on and we both just simply went home.

Well, I called the supervisor and left a brief synopsis of what happened and how upset I was and included my desire and need to be healthy out-weighed the risk of miscarriage. I got a call back hours later (or was it a day or two? probably just felt like it). I don’t recall now if we even had a roommate yet at this point? I don’t remember worrying about listening ears besides my husband’s while on that call. When the supervisor called, they apologized and offered an appointment only 3-6 days (it’s hard to remember but it was within a week) after my original appointment. This time when I showed up for the scan, I answered no to the pregnancy question although honestly I still didn’t know for sure.

So I had an IV of radiation fluid given to me. And for hours they watched my gall bladder drain this radioactive fluid.

Not even a week after the procedure, I begin to feel sore breasts and *that* kind of nausea that was really different than the whole complaint that sent me looking for answers to begin with. I took an at-home test and it was positive. I nervously told my husband but also told him about my period starting maybe 15 minutes after taking the test. Due to just how weird it was, I called my obgyn and she scheduled me in as quickly as she could. I can’t remember if it was only days away from the positive test or if it was after my period was gone, but I know they took a HCG reading via a blood test that same day I called. It was also positive but so low that it was 100% certain there was no baby.

Blighted ovum and chemical pregnancy. Now those are two terms that confuse my former belief of “life begins at conception” and now the more I read the more I now know about molar pregnancies and the like. Jevan was diagnosed as blighted ovum, failed/missed miscarriage, incomplete miscarriage, etc. Ysabel was a chemical pregnancy. She never attached to my uterine wall…and I’m 100% certain it is because the radiation disrupted that chain of events.

I know guilt is a common feeling with loss. I recall how the guilt felt after rape, then how it felt after my birth control naivety, then how it felt with Jevan, but arguments can healthily be made that there was no reason to feel guilty and to release that guilt as best as I could. But if there was a debate over the guilt of losing Ysabel…although some could argue things like, “How could you have known?” or “How could you have been viably pregnant while so ill?”…that procedure still caused the miscarriage.

My appointment with my obgyn after the low HCG test was oddly quiet. My husband went with me. She asked me what kind of gastro issues I had and I remember not wanting to talk about it so I gave her as little as possible but I don’t recall my answer. Prob just about the GERD, former c. diff infection, and unexplained nausea that hung around for months? She nodded and I recall asking about how it was possible to have a positive pregnancy test yet have a period before she explained what a chemical pregnancy was and that I had in fact miscarried. “Isn’t it strange,” I remember thinking, “that I really knew all along and still fought it?” It’s as if I knew all along our baby would not make it? Because if they had a fighting chance why didn’t I fight to protect them and instead fought to protect myself? What I did goes against nature…unless I somehow knew? Or maybe just didn’t want to be pregnant? But I did fill the progesterone prescription my obgyn gave us months prior for when we were ready to try again and I tried it for a few days to try to save the baby I already knew was gone…

So it is very, very strange living with those memories along with the dozen or more times it seems that I had to go in to get my HCG checked up until mid-August when we were packing to move cross country. Our roomie knew what happened and I remember hardly crying. In fact I just felt nothing for a while until it’d suddenly hit me in a weak moment or something. If I did talk about it, it was without feeling to people I thought just needed to know for informational purposes.

We traveled across the country the last few days of August and the first week of September. By the time care providers were selected for my various healthcare needs, we were already talking about trying again. We knew since trying to get pregnant naturally hadn’t worked out yet that we’d need to consult with someone, so we saw my current obgyn for the first time. She thought the progesterone wasn’t a bad idea but that this time we’d use it intentionally 14 days prior to my expected period as it was supposed to be used anyways. She gently explained that progesterone used in the manner I had wouldn’t have saved the pregnancy and I admitted I knew that and knew the directions were as she prescribed and that we hadn’t actually been trying. Her opinion of using the progesterone was really up to us since we had shown we could get pregnant without it but she thought it may help. So, we waited a cycle so I would know my “count” and we filled the script, goodbye October, hello November.

I didn’t think it would work right away. I had definitely hoped it would and I know this because when I counted and marked the days I was ovulated and compared them to the days we “did the deed,” I was angry that we missed the window. I tried to pick a fight with hubby about it and he gently and kindly explained he didn’t know when my “days” were and asked when my next window was. We wrote it on our calendar in the kitchen and it was going to be around New Years’ Eve. We would try to try again then we agreed. And we also agreed to a “no pressure” rule after it was clear that he did indeed want this as much as I did and just simply didn’t know what the window was.

I think it was only a week after that that we went to Mexico. He wanted to drive to the border then cross on foot, so we planned for a somewhat long walk to do some shopping for Christmas then come back. I remember feeling much more tired than was the new normal. I had a very active job where I was on my feet all day preparing food and running product out to shelves and stocking and lifting boxes over 50 lbs, etc. But a few miles of walking and I was exhausted. I didn’t need to take any breaks, but it was odd enough to suspect something was up. We had pregnancy tests at home and I knew I was 5 days early and how many times did I take a test on similar suspicions just to see it was negative? And we had missed my window even? But I had to know, especially when the idea of eating the cheese we purchased oddly made me want it then not want it at the same time. Weird, right?

Well, we get home, I get settled in and while hubby is settling in (usually takes him a little while longer), I go into the bathroom. I suppose I was surprised, but then again I maybe wasn’t because of our odd journey these almost 5 years together? Positive. I told him and his reaction almost reflected my own- Huh, go figure? I suppose you ovulated early.

Here we are 11 weeks pregnant. Will this drama be a comedy or a tragedy?

Incredibly Blessed

Here we are, almost 2 weeks after my interview…the one I didn’t think I’d get…and well, I got the job. And I’m done at the grocery store. Wow. I never thought the end would come; I thought they had me wrung in there for life with all the unfulfilled promises, etc. I’ll never know what it means to travel up and down California from LA to Hollywood through Orange County to train and spearhead a whole new product line… and I couldn’t care less.

It’s a beautiful thing to finally let go of career and know I want this little family more. My achievements may someday matter again, but probably not until my little ones are grown up enough to be more independent. Such an odd thought. I never thought I’d be a mother let alone be able to let go of ambition. That’s just it, though, even though I let go of a promise of a hotshot job and instead picked the steady, predictable life at a desk, I know I’ll have plenty of areas to shine- in my new career and in my art on my website. I’ve still yet to get even the tip of the iceberg up online. The world hasn’t seen my portfolio and hasn’t even seen what I can do when I apply myself. I’m afraid of it because a lot of my art is barely refined- the criticism could come crashing in…and when it comes to my art, I am completely vulnerable to it. But, I have the confidence from several instructors over the years chiming in my head that my art is beautiful and powerful and dripping with talent. I’m terrified. It will indeed be a life-long project getting it out there, but I also know that’s what’s held me back on finishing any tattoo design I’ve been asked to do. That lingering question- what if they don’t really like it?

It’s odd feeling that way about one subject when I’m confident in all other areas. I’ve been successful at everything I’ve put my mind to- except singing and horseback riding, lol. Oh, and swimming. I’m really not good at any of those, but at least I know how to blend in a choir and enjoy singing so much that it really doesn’t matter how off key I am when I’m happy…besides there’s hardly ever anyone around when that happens.

I don’t know, I’m just finding this whole process of needing to rearrange my whole life due to my new, unique health needs and this new baby extremely freeing. If I didn’t get sick, I would still be working at Paymode in snowy Maine. I can’t imagine still being a prisoner to SAD now that I’ve tasted what it’s like to be free. I can’t imagine anything else talking me into the necessity to live 2000 miles away from my friends and family except if we were missionaries. And I don’t at all feel ready to serve people the way missionaries do although I know it is a dream Jake and I shared at the beginning of our marriage.

For me, that’s a really tricky area still. I grew up thinking I was going to be a missionary, so I always assumed I’d live really far away from anyone and with that in mind I hardly built relationships with anyone. I wish I had, but it was nice waking up to that deficit after college and being able to rebuild. The friends I made after college are still around. My love for God isn’t the same, though.

It’s tricky. I’ve waned in and out of love with God for so long, but this is the longest spell I’ve gone through where I just feel nothing when it comes to Christianity. Well, not really nothing, just complex emotions of all the things that Christians do wrong. That’s never hung me up before because I used to believe that was all just up to the individual to be right before God- between them and God, you know? But now, I find it a much bigger offense. Why would someone, who still loves God and claims to love people, shake a sign of a chopped up, bloody baby in front of any woman entering a building where an abortion clinic is a tenant? Christians like that called me plenty of names and did such things not knowing I worked at a different company in that same building and had nothing to do with the clinic’s offenses towards their beliefs. At 16 I remember a friend of mine and I talking about protesting outside a clinic…I’m so glad we never did.

I was going through blighted ovum at 9 weeks gestation with my third pregnancy when that happened. Assholes.

So it’s safe to say that I’m trying to understand God and accept Him back as a daily part of my life again, but I can’t stop being angry with Him. I try not to let my anger with Him seep into my interactions with other people, especially my husband. And it’s getting better with time. By the time I miscarried our 4th baby I was already kinda numb. No living children yet at 31, been trying since 27. I somehow suspected I’d have fertility problems given half of the women’s medical history in my family, but it’s a totally other thing altogether while going through it. Each loss impacts you differently, you know? Especially since the last one was my fault. I opted to have a radiology procedure during that 2-week window where it was too early to test for pregnancy. I shouldn’t have. I should have waited.

The others, we’ll simply never know since all tests came back normal.

But now, I’m 10 weeks pregnant today. The baby’s heartbeat is strong. We never got to hear our other babies’ heartbeats. We already crossed an incredible threshold we’ve never been through together 3 weeks ago- our baby is alive and growing!

Joy, anticipation, nerves… I have all of it, all the time. And while my complicated body fights through the need for double antibiotics and modified bed rest for the subchorionic hematoma, fibromyalgia and scoliosis pain.. pregnancy is difficult for me. However, this kid is already beating the odds and growing stronger. I think s/he gets it from their father, who still hardly misses Cross Fit classes and has been doing dishes, killing bugs in our apartment, taking care of the trash and cat box and bathroom, doing the grocery shopping… everything, even the laundry.

And he brought home Oreos and orange juice for me today and showered with me to make sure I wouldn’t slip and fall. There are flowers from a few days ago drying in the vase. I can’t believe the love of this man! I thank God for him every day. This man may be the key to softening my heart against all the anger I have about our infertility. I’m sure someday I’ll see or even say it was worth the journey, maybe in a cliche moment when I’m holding our new son or daughter, but it’s a challenge to see that right now. But I do thank God for my husband and that He would bless me with such an unselfish, loving man. I hope our baby continues to grow stronger, but for now, I’m going to relish the joy, anticipation, nerves..all while trying to keep from keeling over or losing those Oreos.

Moments

I’m 7 weeks, 6 days pregnant today. It’s already been quite eventful. When I first found out, I excitedly told everyone at work. Then the nausea hit hardcore, but in the most odd way possible- it left me extremely dizzy and suddenly fatigued. Then the cramping would start and some light bleeding.

My ob-gyn told me to lie low for a while, take it easy, and asked me to stay at home for a week from work. It was almost Christmas and since work was, well, complicated, with these new symptoms that came with a backpack full of new emotions that would emerge at any moment (I cried when I came back from a lunch I couldn’t eat and someone asked if I was ok). I was relieved to the core when I was given medical reason to relax during what was possibly the most stressful week of my career with a promotion around the corner and corporate coming in that very afternoon to look at my department’s work. I lasted to just the end of my shift that day before going to see my doctor. And when corporate had come, they passed through our department like it wasn’t there, but don’t get me wrong, I was severely relieved because no news is good news in this business. I heard, right before leaving at the end of my shift, that we got solid A’s for the entire day.

Pushing myself that hard that day cost me a lot. It nearly cost me the life of our child. I had a emotional conversation with my supervisor about it- what was I going to choose? Putting 110% in for this promotion or putting 110% into having a family. I’m so very thankful I saw my ob-gyn quickly after that conversation and that I listened to her advice- take it easy!

I’ve gone through a couple of really interesting careers since graduating college with an English Lit degree. God, I don’t think I could name more than ten authors with their published titles right now and we are still paying a pretty penny for that degree! Every career I’ve had I’ve cared an awful lot about while I was there. I tend to always put 110% into everything, something my parents pushed me hard on as they would lecture quite passionately each time I’d come home with a B+ instead of an A- (94 vs. 95 at my high school). I would feel their disappointment and would chastise myself for getting comfortable. Achievement hurts. It takes away your social life and the joy of learning, or at least that’s how I felt 90% of the time. That other 10% thoroughly enjoyed reading and discovering new things. And 100% of the time I enjoyed the beautiful bi-product of a job well done. That’s the high I strive for everyday now- to be able to step back and have a moment of quiet pride in what has been put together. ..AND…this is critical… knowing I did it on my own. And that it is because of my diligence that something stood out above the curve. Perfection isn’t necessary per say. That high is necessary. Because once that high is achieved, very little criticism can take it away.

That’s another thing I learned along the way- criticism sucks. If you’re not putting 110% into something and making it into what you desire it to be, that criticism can suck all the life out of your achievements. This is why I’d get really hard on myself when my parents would lecture me over that one point growing up. It’s because I know somewhere along the way I got comfortable and/or didn’t care about the final product. Somewhere on the journey that semester or quarter I decided to not put in the sweat and tears. That complacency is what made the difference between a perfect straight A report card or not. Thankfully, my school did numerical averages and I graduated with a 97.6 average. That’s an easy 4.0 at any school. And that’s a lot of sweat and tears. If I put in the work and got that 95 and my parents, or anyone for that matter, would ask me how come not a 97 I would rarely feel crushed by those words. I put in the hard work and got rewarded with that high already.

One area it would matter, though, is if I put in that work on a resume or term paper and my mom would notice a comma splice or misspelling somewhere. Yeah, that still gets me. There is always an exception to the rule.

So, I had that week off from work around Christmastime. The bleeding slowed and everything looked so much better that I went back to work the Thursday before New Years. I lasted only 4 hours before the bleeding, cramping, dizziness, and nausea got the best of me again. Another visit with the doctor was set up and another leave of absence given, three weeks now. While dropping off the paperwork at work, my manager tells me my promotion went through and now that I’m out of work, “We’ll see” if it’ll still happen.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Something had to give. I’ve been living this cycle all my life, push push push until my body gives out and I have no choice but to rest. I don’t know how to get just 94’s in something.

This time, however, it has to do with more than just me.

We heard the baby’s little heartbeat at 6 weeks and again at 7 weeks, only 6 days ago. I cried out of joy and disbelief. One thing my body has not proven to be good at is keeping babies alive. We had never reached this milestone before and this is my 5th pregnancy.

So naturally, being out of work I’ve been worried about money. Especially when our new group of friends here asked if we’d like to join them for dinner during restaurant week. The extra $40-120 right now is really hard to come by when our combined student debts and credit cards equal what we pay in rent. Not only that, I’m worried about my ability to do anything. I know I’ve been here several times in our marriage. Since my husband and I married in 2011, I’ve worked maybe only 3 1/2 years out of the 5 (totally guessing). I’ve had a few surgeries and have dealt with a lot. In fact, my health is why we find ourselves on the other side of the country at the turn of our 5th year together. Better weather has meant better health, so perhaps I forgot what it feels like to rely on someone?

The stress is crazy sometimes. I dove into my website turning it into a project hoping it would replace my income. Although I tend to think it’s gorgeous and everything I hoped it to be, it’s only cost money. I’ve lost all heart to try the dozens of work at home ideas I saved to Pinterest. I put in two job applications to carefully selected jobs and called them yesterday after hearing nothing for a few weeks- no calls back. Although I

Mid-sentence, the phone rang. One of those jobs called back and I have an interview tomorrow. Wow. Talk about the least expected…

Moments.

The title of this post is moments. What drove me to write today was the fact that my husband walked over to me this morning just to give me a kiss. The look in his eyes and his smile melted me. All that stress and pressure I put on myself to hold up this tiny household melted. The same thing happened in a totally different way a few days ago. Work was hectic, as it always is, and the sun was shining just perfectly in the crisp afternoon of another 70 degree day. The mountains were pristine in the distance that the traffic lights hardly mattered.

Moments.

Moments make it all worth it. Moments when a little heartbeat thumps on a monitor for the first time. Moments when the love of your life is still in love with you. Moments when the area you live in make all the sacrifices worth while. Moments when one single phone call gives you a surge of hope- instead of wondering if I’ll be able to return to one job that’s physically impossible for me right now, I can return to a new job that makes so much more possible for us right now- all three of us.

Moments.

I choose to live life in the moments.