On [Not] Keeping Score

October 8, 2012

Not too long ago, I had this really bad habit of keeping score. Here's what I mean. In my head I kept a running list of all the stressful events that had occurred in my life over the past five years or so. It was a breathtaking list, too, that involved moving out of state twice, dealing with a major death in the family, buying a house and undergoing therapy for nerve pain. Anytime anyone asked about my life or my stress level, they got a full rundown of the list. In detail.

Surely no one else had endured so much stress in such a small space of time. It was almost like a competition: look how crazy my life is! Or maybe, I hesitate to admit, it was a plea for sympathy or attention.

I used the list to justify bad attitudes and reactions to stress. I used it to assure myself that I was doing ok...under the circumstances. I used it as a cosmic scorecard. Ok, I've had my fill of stress now. Time for a break. 

Then I miscarried. I started to add the event to the list. And then, I started thinking: Why am I even keeping this list? 

Why don't I have a corresponding list in my head of great memories I've made over the past 5 years?

Why don't I tell people about all the cute stuff William has said and done?

Why can't I remember half the cute stuff he's said and done??

Why am I always complaining and painting a tragic picture of my life?

See, right after the miscarriage, I had a dream. One of those realistic dreams that wake you up from sleep. In this dream, I was wearing my wedding dress at some kind of event. Calvin was in a suit. And we were spinning across the floor, dancing and laughing. Carefree. Obviously deeply in love.

I was watching myself from the sidelines. Watching that young woman I was with the glowing eyes and beaming smile. She looked at me as she whirled by, so young, so beautiful. She said something to me as she passed. I'm not sure what it was. But I think it may have been, "Look at what you have."

So I did. And I discovered something. I have so much. Not just food on the table or cars in the driveway. I have the love of my life right here with me. I have a wonderful child with this man. I have a heart that's full of love and peace. Enduring a parade of stressful situations has been worth every minute I get to spend with these people I adore. I have no reason to keep score.

So I'm throwing away the scorecard. No more complaining. No more dwelling on the past. I need room in my head for all the great memories we're making.  

New Blog

October 6, 2012

I know I've been a little lax about keeping up with this blog in the past, but this week I followed my heart and started a Bible blog. I put it up on Wordpress, and it's called Revolutionary Faith. If you wish to read it, visit http://revolfaith.com.

Right now, I'm in the middle of posting about my faith experience. However, I'll still be posting stuff here about my personal thoughts. I have a post in mind that I'd like to write soon. This blog is well over three years old now, and I don't have plans to abandon it anytime soon. :-)

Thanks for reading!

Finding the Value within Myself

October 3, 2012

It's been two weeks since the loss of my pregnancy, and I think I may be finally coming to terms with it. Of course, that has involved a lot of gardening...and writing...and jewelry making. Anything that isn't crying. Not that I haven't cried. I have.

It's not just that I wanted this child and lost him. It's all the other emotions that come with it. I had to adjust to the whole idea of becoming a mother again after deciding I wouldn't. Plans to get a job were interrupted, rearranged. William and I talked about the baby, especially when my belly started to grow. I had just bought maternity clothes, had just got over the persistent morning sickness. The baby's heartbeat was strong at 10 weeks. My big ultrasound to confirm the gender was only three weeks away. I expected to feel the kicks at any moment. And then I go to the doctor to find out that the baby had been dead since week 13. Now I'm back to square one, unsure of how I will move forward. My mother-in-law calls it "emotional whiplash."

I think that description is quite apt.

It's amazing the kind of clarity that can come out of these situations. For instance, working as a way to cope with my pain has shown me exactly how much I am still capable of doing. Being stuck in the hamster wheel of housewifery for the past three years had made me think I had lost the energy, creativity and initiative that I possessed in college. Now I know that it's still inside of me.

I think it's very difficult for young women to realize the full extent of their value. Society says women are basically useless unless they're bringing home a paycheck. The problem is, even when we are bringing home a paycheck, our work isn't as appreciated. Women still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. And for those of us who stay home to raise our kids, the enormity and (sometimes) drudgery of what we do is overlooked. "Oh, well YOU didn't have to battle morning traffic, or sit through a boring meeting, or miss lunch because an overbearing client was breathing down your neck," husbands will say. No, but I spent the day wiping up urine and puke, wrestled a cranky toddler, and ate a sandwich that had fallen on the floor. Sitting through a boring meeting sounds like heaven. Do you get to pee there without someone watching you, too??

So how do I cope? I find the value within myself.

And that's hard to do when people's expectations of what you should be doing are numerous and unrealistic. Breastfeed until your child is 3. Socialize this many times per week. Cook breakfast for your husband (or you don't really love him). Iron his underwear. Shine his boots. Don't let your child cry, ever. Use that degree you earned. Work off that belly fat. No VOCs. No GMOs. Organic only. Co-sleep. Don't co-sleep. Use only rear-facing carseats. And for heaven's sake, no more than an hour of TV per day. Really, WHAT do you do all day?

I could go on. But here's the thing: life is more than living up to arbitrary standards of perfection. And that's a HUGE admission coming from a self-proclaimed perfectionist. Just because I'm a wife and a mother doesn't mean I stop having my own dreams and goals. I need to learn, to try new things and fail at them, to be a human being. It's through exercising my talents and pursuing the unique opportunities available to me that I find a life worth living. In that regard, I'm no different from a man. My child is not going to remember in 10 years whether he ate homemade baby food or not. And he's not going to feel less loved because I bought him Gerber peas instead of growing my own in the backyard. What he will remember is the time we spent together. And whether I was a happy, secure, fulfilled individual or not.

I feel like I've hit a major milestone with this epiphany. I have value within myself that's not defined by a paycheck or a pat on the back. What I do matters to me, and that's what ultimately matters to those who love and depend on me.


September 19, 2012

It wasn't supposed to happen. I was past the critical first semester. But it happened anyway. I lost my baby.

I shouldn't be writing this. I just came from the doctor two hours ago, and the pain is...raw. Unreal. But I have to talk about it.

I would have been 17 weeks this week. When I went in for my check-up at 10 weeks, the baby's movements and heartbeat were strong. Today, the nurse couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. She thought maybe he was moving around too much for the fetal monitor. So she brought in the little ultrasound machine. But the baby wasn't moving. And she still couldn't find the heartbeat.

She called for the doctor to be sure. He looked for a long time. Took measurements. He told me the baby was only measuring 12 and a half weeks. Somewhere on the way to 13 weeks, the baby simply stopped growing. Perhaps a chromosome didn't develop correctly, but that was only speculation. There was no way to say for sure what happened. But my baby was gone.

I cried a lot. Wailed. I didn't mean to. But the news hurt a lot more than I thought it would.

I know I have to take this one day at a time. But I can't see how I will move past it yet. I'll eventually have to tell all my friends, family and neighbors that there will be no new baby in February. And I'll have to have the tiny body removed from my womb.

Right now, I'm just shattered. Staring at all the little pieces of myself and wondering how I will pick them up yet again.


September 18, 2012

Since I've been out of the loop for a while, I should update everyone on what's been going on in my life for the past few months.

My husband and I recently celebrated 5 years of marriage and, really, things couldn't be better in that regard. We worked through the baby blues and finally reconnected on a very tender level. Reading over my past entries recently, I've realized that we've both matured a great deal over the past couple of years and have settled down to family life. My husband, while still pretty much agnostic, is now very supportive of my Christian faith and willingly attends church with me, even though he knows he doesn't have to.

A few months ago, my depression got really bad, so I finally broke down and asked for help. I saw a counselor for a few weeks and went to a psychiatrist for meds. Shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant. Now I'm not on any meds, but my depression appears to be well under control. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones??

It helps that this pregnancy is going much better than my previous one. I'm about 15 weeks along now and haven't been physically sick in well over a week. I've been able to eat and gain weight normally, and haven't needed any trips to the ER to get rehydrated. It's been really nice. The only real complaint I have is occasional, excruciating back pain.

The one dark cloud in all of this is the situation with my parents. After thirty years of marriage, my mom asked my dad for a divorce. And she's well within her rights to do so. One thing I haven't talked about on this blog concerns what's been going on with them for the past couple of years. Just before William's first Christmas, my dad confessed that he had been unfaithful. And not just a little unfaithful, either. He had been involved in some pretty sick stuff. Turns out he's been a life-long sex addict. The whole family was just devastated--myself included. I fell into a very dark depression, went through the five stages of grief, and then told my dad if he wanted anything to do with my family in the future, he would go to counseling. And he did. He graduated from a 12-step program a couple of months ago.

My mom has been working this whole time on trying to forgive him. She's gone to counseling as well, read books on sex addiction, and has taken vacations with my dad to try to rekindle their marriage. But nothing has really worked for her. Her trust has been shaken too deeply. And Dad's been showing signs of falling off the wagon.

Now she's trying to figure out how to take the next step. Divorce means she will have to sell her house (which she adores), split any assets with my dad, and try to make it on her own. She won't stay in Tennessee; she wants to move closer to me. Which is fine by me. I'd love to have her spend some time with her grandkids.

As for me, I'm dealing with it ok. I'm disappointed that things couldn't work out for them, but I don't want Mom to stay in such a bad situation. I'm sure it will hit me a little harder later. It's hard to believe things have come to this.

Life Overwhelming

September 16, 2012

I haven't forgotten about my blog. I think about it once in a while: "You know, I really should post something." And then I think of a dozen other things that need doing and put it off yet again.

You moms that have multiple kids: I don't know how you keep up with your blogs.

I logged on and realized I hadn't posted anything since February. Which is good, because I was thinking it had been a year. Go me!

William is now two and a half. And I'm 15 weeks pregnant with his sibling. My husband and I weren't going to have any more kids. But things just happen sometimes.

My husband (Calvin) now works about 90 hours a week. He's rarely home, and that's hard for me. Especially since William needs a strong male figure around. Calvin tries to spend good quality time with Will, but he often comes home to a lawn that needs mowing, cars that need washing, walls that need painting, and a half-dozen other chores that I can't do on my own.

I mowed the backyard last week after my morning sickness had subsided just a couple of days before, and I shouldn't have. My nerve pain got all flared up, and it took me two days to recover.

My feelings about the new baby are mixed. On the one hand, I really am excited. William is such a sweet boy; I think he will enjoy having a sibling. On the other hand, raising two little ones on Calvin's insane work schedule won't be easy. I can deal well enough with taking William with me on errands, but I don't think I'll be able to do it with two. I know other moms do, so I guess I'll just have to figure it out.

I really, really want my husband around more. This schedule is killing us. Calvin often comes home so exhausted that he spends half of his first day off sleeping. Thankfully, we just have to put up with it until February 2014--because that's when his contract with the Navy expires. Go Navy. Go away!


February 18, 2012

At this point, some of you are probably thinking I've entirely abandoned this blog. Well, not quite. I'm still here. Just not in the best frame of mind.

I don't know what's happening to me. In the past 3 to 6 months, my mental health has declined sharply. I've struggled to write, struggled fall asleep, struggled to get out of bed, struggled to concentrate, struggled to even buy groceries and feed myself. Sometimes it literally feels as if someone is driving a wedge between the two halves of my brain. Sometimes it feels like I'm hanging from a thread.

I decided a couple of weeks ago to seek professional help again. I had my first appointment with a counselor on Wednesday. I was looking forward to the appointment thinking that I would feel some measure of relief afterward. Apparently, I can't be that lucky. It was brutal, and I've felt emotionally raw ever since.

Yet, I realized some very important things from that session. First of all, I've neglected my mental and emotional health for far too long. I'm seeking help for issues now that I should have sought help for years ago. Second, there are some issues I thought I had laid to rest that are still bothering me deep down. Maybe this time I can finally move past them. I promise to keep you posted.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, dear readers.