FB Live – Set Your Intentions or Pray for Miracles, Signs and Wonders

Imagine being able to manifest the life you want by focusing on the outcome you want.  That would be uniquely amazing, right? Maybe a little crazy.  But is it crazy? There’s the book and movie called “The Secret.”  I don’t remember if I read the book but I watched the movie.  I thought there would be a plot but watched several people talking about manifesting the desires of their heart by focusing on them like they’ve already become part of their lives.

I grew up in a Christian home.  We didn’t set our intentions or manifest things.  We prayed.  With just a little faith, we believed our prayers would be answered. With the authority of a son and the acknowledgement of his blood sacrifice, we believed that we could “speak what is not as though it were.” If I grew up Pagan, I would have called that blood magic and necromancy.  It’s syncretism.

Transitions Will Force Change.

A couple of years ago I was a stay at home mom.  I didn’t work for 15 years and for the most part my ex supported us.  I got scholarships and carried babies as a surrogate, but I really didn’t work as a gainfully employed contributing member of society.  Towards the end of the marriage, I was only working part time.  And then he left.  He promised to never support me again, and he’s been good to his word.  I support the kids on my own when I have them just as he supports them on his own when he has them. We’re single parents.

The shock of the transition means I had a lot to figure out very quickly. I was in prayer nonstop at first.  Not so much lately, but the consistent thoughts running through my head are the same.  Call it a prayer, mantra or belief, but I was determined that I would always have just what I need and we would be okay.  We have been. Following are some examples of ways when things worked out so I had exactly what I needed as I told myself we would have enough.

The Car

There were a few times when my car issues were shining examples of having just enough and being carried through on just what I needed.

We were often buying used cars in terrible shape.  We would drive them until we couldn’t anymore and every year we bought another used car that was nearly dead.  Just before Christmas right after the split, I was driving to my sister’s house, about 20 miles away from home.  It wasn’t until I got off the freeway that I noticed my car didn’t sound right.  It was as I was getting closer to her house and turning the corner to find a parking spot that my power steering went out.  I figured I was out of fluids and when I was leaving her house, drove to the nearest gas station, two blocks away.  I got my car parked, and bought fluids only to find my car just wouldn’t start.

My sister met me at the gas station and we walked to the two blocks to her house.  She had a new set of pajamas I could wear.  She found a new toothbrush for me as well.  Her husband wore contacts and I was able to borrow a case and use his solution.  At the time, a friend of her husband’s had been staying in their extra bedroom but was gone for the weekend.  I was so cared for in a comfortable bed that night, when I could have been stranded anywhere else.  I could have been stuck on the freeway well after everyone else I knew was asleep.  It could have happened when I had a car full of kids. The next morning my Dad came out to help me get it towed to my Mom’s house where it got fixed by my cousin.  It was the gears supporting the serpentine belt.

A few weeks later, I was picking up my nephew’s girlfriend for some hang out time.  I was planning to teach her how to make baklava.  I heard the sounds, and dropped her off so I could head to my mom’s house again for my cousin to fix it.  I got her home, then got just far enough to not walk to her house.  I coasted to a stop on the side of the road in a safe spot just in time for the car to die again.  I was able to get my car towed to my mom’s house, for free with my insurance.  When I got to my mom’s house, I learned that her car had been in an accident and it was getting repaired.  Normally my mom would bail me out and let me borrow her car. I had just been at my first temping job for about 3 weeks.  The hours were full time but it was in no way permanent.  I needed to get to work and I had very few options.

My niece drove me to the dealership where I walked in and said I had no down payment and couldn’t afford more than $300 a month.  They let me drive off with payments of $300.03 and a year later the payments became $299 and change.  I love my little car.  It’s not fancy, but it reminds me that I had exactly what I needed. It was a situation where I was safe, but nudged far enough into a new car.  Even the push that got me to the dealership.

Shoes

As a mom – a single mom, it’s so easy to put your family ahead of yourself.  I love retail therapy and one night I didn’t have my kids, but I was shoe shopping.  My shoes weren’t falling apart but I wanted to replace them.  Responsibility won and I walked out of that store without the shoes.

Call it intuition, or if you’re a person of faith, you can call it the Holy Spirit.  Later that week or month, my mom told me she bought a pair of shoes from Big 5 and wanted to know if they would fit.  They were a perfect fit.  I’m a nearly 40 year old woman.  My mom doesn’t usually buy me clothes or shoes anymore.  She hasn’t in about 20 years. The shoes fit me perfectly in a size 10, when my mom wears a size 7.  There was no way she bought them for her and somehow she knew exactly what I needed.  A short while later, my cousin came back from Australia, and brought my sister a pair of Ugg boots.  They were too big for her but fit me perfectly.  I had just what I needed. Twice.

Clothes

I’ve learned that break up depression means I lose quite a bit of weight.  In the first couple of months, I lost about 30 pounds without trying.  My clothes wouldn’t fit at all.  My mom had a friend that was cleaning out her closet.  My Dad had a cousin I saw once and she was cleaning out her closet.  I was so supported in that time, and gifted from both directions to the point that I had so much more than I needed.  Everything fit perfectly and there was so much that I could be picky and pass on a few things.

Words

During that time with my Dad’s cousin, I was given the words I needed to hear.  She saw my posture.  I was still pretty devastated and broken from my husband leaving me.  I was still wearing the weight of the things his girlfriend said to me through his phone.  I was probably still in that space where my oldest had to remind me to take care of them and make dinner because I was too upset to focus on their care.  She was the first person to really ask me if I knew who I was.

She reminded me that her blood ran through my veins.  She reminded me that we come from strong women and generations of tough circumstances.  Prevailing is my birthright . . . it’s in my blood.

There were times when I had just the right words at the right time.  Sometimes it was just the soft breathing of my sister as I wailed and cried on the phone with her. (She knew divorce and what I needed to hear.  She didn’t know miscarriage and she was very present for both.)

In the beginning, when I really wanted to hold onto my marriage, I heard story after story of couples that broke up, had full relationships and were able to reconcile.  I wanted that so desperately and I had story after story of people I knew that did exactly that.

A short while ago I was able to offer that same moment to a stranger.

It was exactly what was needed at the perfect time and it doesn’t always have to be about me.

Money

There were times when I didn’t know how I would feed my kids.  When my ex first got his apartment is when he stopped supporting me entirely.  I went from scraping by and barely having enough, to having nothing at all.

I’ve had several temporary jobs that ended before we got comfortable. My mom helped where she could and I was able to get assistance from the county, but it wasn’t enough.

There were times when I was shocked at the kindness I was offered.  I had people that knew me but weren’t part of my everyday life reach out to support me.  I was offered gas money and groceries, and money to “buy my kids something frivolous for Christmas.” I was visiting with a friend and I assumed her mom didn’t speak English because the whole time she sat quietly as we pieced a puzzle.  She first told me about her reconciliation, then offered me money out of the blue.   I felt so much gratitude for those moments and remembered my prayers . . . chanting . . . mantra, that I would have enough.

There was one day of returns to make and household shopping. I put the cash in my wallet from returns and used my debit card for purchases.  When I was ready to go home, I balanced my checkbook. With my shopping, I ended up overdrawing my account by the exact amount I had from making returns. I was able to make a deposit before heading home. I had just enough.

Grace

I consider grace to be unmerited favor.  I have felt this repeatedly though out the last two years.

Most recently, I had a miscarriage in April.  I was 12 weeks along with twins and very excited to have them.  It was rough at first because it wasn’t a surprise I wanted, but at this point I was bonding with them and excited about the babies.  When we lost them, I expected that the hospital would just do what is normal for “medical waste” and I had no options to say goodbye.  It was surgery.  It was clinical.  It was black and white and there was no space for the loss I couldn’t stop feeling.

My boyfriend had a conversation with his big brother that prompted us to get their remains released to us.  That was a turning moment where we had just what we needed to have.

The next moment came as I was reaching out to the pathology department.  I told the doctor and nurses that I wanted their remains before the procedure, but no one told pathology and they were nearly disposed of.  As I made calls to get them cremated, I was looking at paying several hundred if not thousand dollars to have my babies cremated.  I happened to call the right person in pathology to know I needed to talk to Decedent Affairs.  The person in Decedent Affairs knew who to get me connected to and Natural Grace Funerals took care of my babies, with us only needing to pay for the crematory fees.

Through the right conversations and support along the way, we had our babies cremated and returned to us.  It’s still an impossible situation.  I’d be lying if I said we got through it and we’re not still mourning.  But we had the support we needed to do what we needed to do.  I’m still dreaming about them.  My boyfriend is still feeling the things you are supposed to feel.  But sometimes that’s how we need to address the miracle and the loss.  I’ve been able to get through it with just enough compassion and warmth from my support team.

Sometimes the reason or the “enough” isn’t easy to see until I’m using hindsight.  I still expect to see it.

Even this morning I was in a minor car accident.  I’m okay, but I’m looking for the why of it and the reasons it will be enough of what I need, exactly when I need it.

Set your intention and watch support for that to show up.

The point is we decide what we can expect, and once you choose, you’ll see things fall in place that support your belief.

When I go to the Farmer’s Market or Grocery Store, I just pick up what I want.  For the most part, I don’t need to debate things. Regardless of the cost, if I need eggs, I’m going to buy them.  I made the choice.  I was intentional with putting the eggs in my cart when I put them on my list. Following through is easy after that.

There have been a few times in my current relationship when I was on the fence.  Do we go forward.  Do we walk away? What do I want? Is our status quo serving me more than the cost? I know I want to be with him, but there have been times when I wasn’t choosing.  I was sitting on a fence and being uncomfortable about it.  (Fences aren’t made for sitting on.) Most recently I had a conversation with my ex, and another one with my sister.  It was in those moments when they didn’t argue either case  but gave the perspective they had that I could witness their perspective against my own, and I could see what I wanted.

It’s like a coin toss.  It’s not whether the coin lands on heads or tails, but the result you are hoping for when it’s in the air.  Decide what you want and the support you need shows up because you know to look for it.

What you secretly hope for is what you are choosing.  Stop acting passive about the life you get to live, and choose to live boldly.

For so long I decided I would need just enough.  Now I’m deciding I need so much more.  Dream.  Dream big.  No matter the size of your dream, it’s not here until you make it happen.

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What Helps Me Through Miscarriage Grief and Clarity Through the Pain

The shock of loss is one of the most profound perspective shifting traumas I have ever endured.  I’m learning there’s a gift through loss if you are open to it.

The gift of vulnerability.

I admit to being one of those hardened single moms.  I know I’m not the only one and that’s the sad reality of families that transition.  I felt strong and independent.  I was making ends meet with family support.  I was making my own choices and doing my own thing.  Letting someone in was the hard part.  With the boyfriend that was consistently choosing me, no matter how hard I pushed him away, I was constantly on guard, and looking for him to fail me.

When we lost our children, I was completely vulnerable. I was lost and directionless.  In the past week and a half, I wasn’t looking for anything as grief worked through us, but I found every time I started crying, strong arms wrapped around me and cradled me.  He took care of me, making sure I ate, and seeing to all of my needs.  I stopped looking for failure and discovered he’s a better man than I deserve for the way I’ve treated him.

Problems that seemed to be insurmountable are now insignificant after going through our loss while holding hands.

Finding strength through adverse reactions.

I am a strong woman with an intense personality.  This is who I am and I am content with defying what is expected of me.  I’ve learned that my strength can inspire and offset others.  I’ve had people tell me they needed me to help them through my loss in the past week.

Finding your voice sometimes means saying nothing.

I’ve had people push their needs on me, and I’ve decided it’s not my job to make others feel better about how I feel or what I am going through.  Sometimes that means ignoring calls.  I’m the only one that can decide how I grieve and what will comfort me.

Connection is healing.

I was lucky to find Natural Grace Funerals.  They have picked our babies up from the hospital and will cremate them for us.  Aside from the crematory fee, they work pro bono for miscarried children.  When I spoke with the director, she told me that she is also a mother to twins. We shared a moment of knowing that no matter how small they were, this was something I need to do and as a mother, she felt the same way. We’ll release them into the ocean.

Earlier this week, I went to Armstrong Garden Center to look for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bushes we will plant in their memory.  My boyfriend likes purple and I do too.  I saw the plants in my neighborhood growing up and the idea of seeing them and thinking of our children (we named them Sunny and Rain) was comforting. I was asking questions of one of their staff and told her about the miscarriage.  As I was leaving, she handed me a couple of crystal angels with purple wings as a gift to keep my angels near me. Other than the plant, I never discussed purple or that I have a lavender scrapbook for them. She told me about a friend that had just lost a 15 year old child and we shared a hug and tears.

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Connecting with someone else is healing for me, but being open to the words she offered and the hug that came with it was healing for her as well.  Connection is what binds us through our community and with our humanity.

Letting go can feel natural.

I’ve been purging junk all week.  It started with heavy weeding in the garden.  Then I started clearing out things in the storage shed, and laundry room.  I started cleaning out things in the house.  For so long I held onto junk.

When I worked at a mini storage, a woman once told me that she had to go through her mother’s things because she was tired of making monthly installments on delayed grief.

I was doing that too.

I finally went through that plastic bin full of pictures and sorted out what was mine and my ex’s, and each of the kids.  I set aside family pictures and wedding things for the kids because who we were as a couple is part of their identity.  They’ll want that one day.  As I was cleaning out the bathroom, I realized I still had a bottle of the ex’s shampoo and I realized it didn’t hurt to let go.  It felt liberating.

For the twins, I had started a scrapbook and today I will complete it and put it on the shelf.  I won’t wait to process it all.  It’s painful.  There is so much longing and I miss the feeling of life inside of me, but I can’t be the mother my sons need if I’m intentionally waiting to live again.  I’ll celebrate the process and really enjoy the memory of the time I had with them, but then I will give myself permission to let go and to cry, as I have been.  Sometimes several times an hour.

Grief and loss are natural, but not normal.

As I know this pain will ease up and pass as life cycles with change, transition and rebirth, I also know that I’m where I need to be.  I need to feel the loss.  I need to accept I will not always have a smile on my face.  At the same time, there has been laughter.  It’s not that I can forget my babies or compartmentalize my feelings.  Life is full of variance and joy comes with the pain.  I’m experiencing each moment as it comes, specifically staying away from alcohol or anything that would numb my feelings.

Sometimes there’s laughter.  Sometimes there’s tears.  Sometimes I cling to my boyfriend with intense desperation because I can’t handle the surprise gut punches that remind me I’ve lost something wonderful and incredible. What I’m feeling is completely natural, but life only offers moments of grief every so often.  We are built to get through it to appreciate the lows as well as the highs, but it’s not constant.  This pain is natural, but living in it constantly would make it normal and that would take away from what we are given to grow through. And I’m growing through it.

Actively Grieving Through My Miscarriage

Last year we (the collective world touched by Prince’s music) lost a celebrity, and my post about grief at that time feels so naive and superficial to me right now.

On Wednesday I went in for a nuchal translucency exam on my twins.  Immediately the tech asked about my due date because they were measuring small.  As he checked different things, I thought they were still because they were sleeping. He looked for what should have been a heartbeat, and I watched the screen, not seeing what we were looking for.  Not imagining any kind of connection. He said to relax as he checked numbers outside and came in with my doctor who wanted to see me early.  I told her it didn’t sound good and she admitted we needed a conversation.

In her exam room, she looked from different angles and took a deep breath before explaining that their hearts stopped about a week ago.  The phrase “genetic abnormality” is supposed to assure me there was nothing I did or could have done, but my children were gone.  I still looked round, but in the week where I had lost them, my breasts weren’t as sensitive and I was really clingy.  I felt like an emotional vacuum and no touch was too much. I began imagining I felt a kick or a nudge, knowing it was too early for that.  My body knew but refused to accept they were gone.

I left and went to my son’s school for a meeting I knew I had to attend . . . A meeting that was pushed back for my appointment.  I saw my eldest son laughing with his friends, and couldn’t control my sobbing.  I talked with one of the school counselors because I knew my kids would need his support after I told them their siblings were gone.  I sat through the meeting, present and asking questions, assuring the team I was okay and would be okay.  I got through it.

The next day and every time I’ve woken up my hands were already searching for my children, and I knew they were gone.  Today was the first time that realization didn’t cause tears to fall before I opened my eyes.

I grew up in a church family and I’m familiar enough with pro-life propaganda to know what “gentle suctioning” would do to my children.  I begged to let them pass as they would have eventually but the evidence and concern for my safety meant I had to walk into a hospital so they could rip my children out of me. Words like “infection” from the death in my womb and “bleeding” out from blood thinners meant the risk to my own life and the children I still have to raise meant I had to do the impossibly painful.

I cried as my boyfriend drove us there.  I cried as he held my hand and walked me in.  At this point it had been day 3 of crying together and in shifts, relying on each other for strength and solace. I tried to hold it together and when I told my nurse the abortion was because they had died, she held me as we cried together. She took my last positive pregnancy test, and then let me keep it. I cried in pre-op, waiting for the doctors to talk to me and cried while they did.  I was numb as they wheeled me into the operating room for my last glance at the ultrasound. When I realized they were gone and there was no turning back, I sobbed as I let them move me and work around me to put me to sleep.  I woke up reaching for my children, knowing they weren’t there anymore and sobbing that they were gone.  My nurse drugged me into silence with both dilaudid and percocet and a prescription for 800 milligrams of ibuprofen for when I was out of hearing range. Her relief began when I was too drugged to cry for a pain she couldn’t soothe. Even through my pain and the opiates, her relief was such a contrast from what I felt.

It’s been a haze of tears.  I’m seeing the stages of grief, but they’re not really stages.  They overlap because feelings rarely take turns.  The stages like to reappear at random times too. And it comes in waves.  Sometimes you can see it coming.  Sometimes it hits you without warning.

Acceptance came first.  The first call I made was to my sister and the moment I heard her cheery voice I couldn’t talk.  The words finally came with a flood of tears and the depression that is never far from me. It’s fresh when I get new emails from Destination Maternity, or when I got home today to see the maternity clothes I bought, but didn’t wear.  I knew it was a high risk pregnancy and I might not see them born.  Denial hit right before the abortion.  They might call it a dilation and curettage because that name gives it clinical space, but I had to walk in and let them do it, hoping they would still be alive.  I bargained that they could stop growing and give their heart a break for a few days and start up again.  Life doesn’t work that way though.  Anger hit when I was looking at their last ultrasound and the resident assumed the pictures were bringing me pain and not the fact that my hope had died in that moment.  The overlap of emotions means I sobbed when all I wanted to tell her was to stop talking.  Sometimes silent presence is all that’s required of you.

There’s a plan.

I found out Wednesday and we’ve received a stream of love and support from our families since then. In spite of not being able to talk to many people.  I have one sister that gets the majority of my meltdowns and raging tears.  My parents calls are never ignored, nor are my children’s.  I can’t handle talking to most other people, and they are kind enough to text me.

Today I told my kids (by phone) without fully breaking down, knowing their Dad will support a pain they will keep from me.

I’m alone at home right now.  I’m putting away the maternity clothes with the ultrasounds and Easter plush baby sheep I gave the baby’s Dad for Easter. I will have to get laundry done to finish putting it all away. I’m putting away pregnancy books and prenatal vitamins and all evidence that their short lives have made in our home before everyone comes home.  As I’m feeling the cramps from the procedure that remind me they’re gone, the stretch and mourning echoes in soft sobs throughout the quiet of my home as I prepare for the noises of tomorrow when my home is too full of life for the hollow space I feel inside of me.

We’ll celebrate the lives we were able to witness.  They will always be our children. We’ve given them names.

I’m looking for a necklace that will remind me of them because I don’t even get a lock of hair. Honestly, that may be too hard right now. We’ll plant a couple of trees around the house for them.

I’ll find ways to be active and outdoors because working through it actively is where I will find my healing.  I keep hearing time heals everything, but I call bullshit on that.  You heal when you take what life has given you, pull it apart and put it together in a way that helps and heals, rather than festers and closes you off.  It’s messy and unkind.  I have to write. As much as this blog post feels like a journal entry, it’s about healing, and I have to hope it brings someone else comfort as I’m digging through the details to find my own. It’s raw.  It’s real.  Maybe it’ll get proofread in a few days.

I keep hearing that there is no loss as painful as that of a child, and we lost two, but I’m not sure that’s true.  I’ve been a granddaughter, an aunt, a niece, and friend . . . and this is my first time as a parent.  It’s the most pain I’ve ever felt.  There’s no way to downplay or minimize it, but I’m sure there are other losses greater than my own.  I can’t see this as the bottom because so many have risen from it.

Through the pain I’ve found compassion for others.  Compassion has been extended to me.  In spite everything that has passed between us, my ex has been the Dad our kids need in supporting me to support them. He is a great Dad.

Through the sadness, there has been laughter.

Through their loss, I’ve grown in ways that I was stubborn against just last week. The short time we have shared as parents has pushed us into better people than we were to the world and each other.  At 11-12 weeks gestation, they’re frequently called “fetus” and “tissue” but they were our babies. We had plans for their lives.  We wanted to watch them grow and do great things.

You have to work through the pain and get used to the tears.  You can’t numb yourself away because grief will make itself known in other areas of your life.  I’m sticking to Yoga pants for now, but my belly is already smaller than it was.  I can see my feet again when I look directly down when just a few days ago it was just my belly, full of life and hope.  I’m just not feeling as round as I was.

There have been similar losses in our families throughout our lives.  It’s given us compassion and understanding for our loved ones.  It’s given us an opportunity to help others work through their own delayed grief.  It’s given us ways to work out issues that used to feel so big to us, but are completely insignificant now.

You Were Meant to Face What is Coming Because the Life We Live Was Created For Us: My High Risk Pregnancy Announcement

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Outside the Gamble House at 9 weeks and 6 days pregnancy. 

A little over a month ago I did another Facebook live video.  I was in the hospital on pain meds for the gallbladder that was later removed.  I don’t like being high, so I didn’t handle it well and the video was kinda all over the place, but authentic.  Not one of my best Facebook live encouragements, but one I wanted to flesh out here.  While not on drugs.  All of my live videos are public and I’m easily searchable.

This year has so far been a series of events that were foreshadowed by something else in my life at some point. Something complex and scary before me was similarly experienced in a previous experience that is now part of my history.  It’s about getting through on the strength earned before.

Taking it back a few years, I chose to be a surrogate mother after having my 3 children.  I did 6 IVF cycles.  This means weeks of intramuscular injections into the upper, outer quadrant of my rear end.  It was typically at least a shot if not two a day and I still have the scar tissue from it.  Any shot in that area is super painful because of all the shots I had before.

When I had pulmonary embolisms, I was given lovenox shots until my blood was thin enough to be sustained without the risk of blood clots on coumadin pills. I was already past the fear of injecting myself with medicine, and I was already accustomed to the schedule of medication because taking hormones on time is so important in IVF assisted pregnancies. It’s just as important when you want to not let your body create blood clots that can travel to your heart or brain and kill you.

My last pregnancy was twin girls born at 29 weeks.  I was hospitalized at 25 weeks because my body was trying to deliver them early.  I was technically in labor for a month.  I have had five easy labors before that which means I didn’t feel a thing until just before they were born.

Back to that hospital visit for my gallbladder . . . I started feeling pain and while doing standard tests to treat me at the hospital, I found out I was 3 weeks pregnant.  Too early to miss a period, feel body changes, or see anything by ultrasound. I knew the lovenox shots would start and they did within 24 hours of that positive test.  I have been here.  It was a stretch, but not one that was unfamiliar.

At the start of my 5th week of pregnancy, I had my gallbladder removed.  There was no way it could have waited for the pregnancy to end or the second trimester to begin.  It needed to be done. The pregnancy had already survived 2 CT Scans with Iodine.  We were already defying the odds and I hoped we’d get through general anesthesia and my surgery.

After surgery, refusing to take pain meds just 4 days after surgery (because I hate being drugged), and just before 6 weeks, I found out I am carrying twins. The baby split and they are growing in two sacs while sharing one placenta.  Identical twins with two older brothers on the autism spectrum.  I should be a gambling person.

At 8 weeks, I was feeling the strain of becoming parents with a man I had known 3 months.  This wasn’t planned but I’m good at working with what I have, accepting that it’s not the situation but my interpretation of it that gives me control and empowerment. All of my insecurities about being drawn to an abusive relationship because it’s what I’m accustomed to and my pride over being a single mom doing well on my own hit me in a defensive way.  We’re still figuring things out and making heroic efforts for each other, but part of me is content with being a single mom to these twins because that is the cowardly and easy road for me.  I was a wife, entirely dependent on a husband and I had to figure out everything on my own, and giving up that control is painfully hard.

At 9 weeks my doctor went over some of the complications that could potentially come in serious depth.  I have had embolisms, but it’s a genetic thing I was born with.  I have Factor Five Leiden.  It means my blood is great at clotting but not so great at stopping the formation of those clots.  My doctor was a bit puzzled because it’s usually seen in caucasian and europeans but I look black.  (My black genes can be traced back to slave ship America and there is history in my bloodline.) I laughed and told her it just means I’m special.  It’s been that kind of a pregnancy and luckily she seems to see this as a challenge but not one worth giving up on.  This chat has me sitting in the present as much as possible because it’s possible the pregnancy will be all I have. I’ve been a surrogate 3 times, so again this is familiar.

At 10 weeks, maternity clothes are a must.  I was sitting down and a stranger asked how far along I am.  Two prune size babies and I have an obviously pregnant belly.  I am in between jobs and going on interviews, hoping I just look like I’m sporting a stress belly. Since it’s a pretty large momma belly, I’m ready to announce it because it won’t matter what I write here when I show up for an interview as a party of 3.

I have been in similar positions on this road so far, and some areas are new.  I didn’t know that my liver would have to learn to function without a gallbladder and it would look like a breakup.  Painful and messy.  New lands in familiar places. I have had to give myself injections before to sustain a pregnancy and prevent blood clots, and I’m doing so again.  I will probably have siblings or parents visit in the hospital but when I get home I don’t know if I will be on my own, caring for my older kids, and figuring out life with two infants. And gosh,  I get to find a car big enough to carry me and my 5 minor children.

I’m looking at the future and I can see the road that lies in my past.  I can see where I am strong.  I can feel where I need to grow and how I need to ask for support.  The road I’m on was created for me.  No one could compare my journey to theirs because this life was created for me.  I grow as it forces me to and no one else can do it for me.  No one else can encourage me through it.  They have their own lives to figure out.

Be your own cheering section.  This road called life is a life you were called to.  It’s meant to help you grow and reach places others will marvel at.  It’s not what we’re given in life, but how we choose to grow from it that defines where we will one day land and the impact we’ll have on the lives of others.

Entering the Pro Choice or Pro Life Debate

I’m pro choice.  I always have been.  I have had one of those in the trenches motherhoods that taught me not everyone is cut out to be a parent and it’s not a decision that should ever be forced on anyone.

When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a book on Christian abstinence, but also made sure I got birth control if I needed it at the doctor.  I had boyfriends, and I didn’t always practice abstinence.  I had tried every temporary form of birth control available before I finished high school. With the amount of time I spent peeing on a stick, it’s miraculous that none of those tests were positive until Kid1, 8 years after losing my virginity and after getting married.

I think back to the possible fathers in my expression of experimental irresponsibility and I’m grateful that I never had to face a pregnancy with the boys that were all ephemeral ideals of lust with hope for love. It was usually infatuation.  I liked the boys that liked me back, and it’s only in my late 30’s that I realize how much better it feels to be selective and picky.

When I imagine what life would have been as a teenaged mother . . . In a relationship that was built on teenage hormones . . . During a time when I was unable to take care of myself. . . A pregnancy created out of irresponsibility is what I escaped and  I’m so grateful I never had to choose when I was unable to make a decision from a place of empowerment. In my youth I was never put in a position to have to choose.  That only came once I was married.

I never had anyone force their decision for my fertility on me. The parts considered private have always been under my control. I couldn’t imagine the way I would feel about a pregnancy resulting from incest or rape.  Still, we have politicians trying to use “Beauty from Ashes” as a natural consequence disguised as a euphemism to help stomach the idea of being brutalized and further victimized by legislation enforced by men who will never experience the consequences of their control. Thank you George Faught.

It’s not just a financial decision.  It’s emotional.  It’s religious and ethical.  It becomes physical and affects families.  No one person’s ideals should force itself on people they will never meet.

I would want the women I love to be able to choose when or how she has a child.  I would want her to feel safe and protected in making choices for her body.  I say this but as for me and my body, I’m pro life.

When I was pregnant with Kid3, I felt extremely lonely.  My poor OB doctor stood uncomfortably as I sobbed and contemplated a late term abortion over several appointments.  Late at night I would sit on the floor next to my sleeping husband and cry.  My son would kick and remind me of how much he wanted to live, and so he did.  My reward has been his light and love and hope.  He has inspired me and encouraged me with his sweet smile and the way his tiny arms would wrap around me for a hug, patting my shoulder with his tiny hand.  I made the decision then, that any child trying to fight for life within me, would have every opportunity I could offer.

The test of your belief is how firmly you stand on your word as difficulties and finances assert their authority over you. When you say you believe in life, do you put your money where your mouth is? Do you pass judgement from the high tower of the distance you keep from your own life? If you found a young mother in need, would you try to support her with a kind word, or anything she might need?

A pregnancy for me would involve daily injections of blood thinners and be high risk.  I know this. My last pregnancy delivered prematurely.  I’m 39 this year.  The risk of birth defects jumps with that 50% fertility drop once a woman hits 40.  My youngest is 10 and I have long gotten rid of all baby gear and maternity clothes.  I would need a bigger car for my minor children.  All of this said, my personal stance is pro life.  A child trying to stick to my womb deserves every chance I could offer it, but the point is, it’s a choice I would make, no matter the cost.

A woman should have the option to do as she chooses with her body.

What It Means to Make Space for Someone or Something In Your Life

When my ex first left, there was space. I had room in the closet and where furniture left bare walls. There was space in my bed and I always filled it with books or kids when they were with me. I had to adjust my cooking so I didn’t always have way too much food.

The new man in my life has been around a few months and the spaces I try to make feel tight. It’s like a stretched rubberband. There are times that I see a shadow or hint of my past in our future and I stand back and snap in anger and he makes space for me, responding quietly and patiently. He might respond to a comment the way my ex did. He might blow off a concern the way my Dad does. He gets the full weight of what it feels like to know I am not afraid to be alone from the ways I keep trying to push him away and reject him.

And yet, the first time he took out the trash or helped with laundry before I asked, I started sobbing because I’m not used to that kind of help.

I’m fully aware I’m holding him responsible for a past he had no part in and I’m trying not to. He’s listening. He’s shifting from his own comfort as a bachelor and we’re both figuring out how we fit.

At one point we discussed making space and I emptied a dresser drawer for him. There was excitement. There was fear. There was a stretch and space was made. It was a moment to celebrate in our relationship but for my eldest it was a space made that he didn’t have room for. It didn’t affect his things or his personal space other than being in the same common areas but it bothered him. He didn’t make space.

I’m between jobs right now and the timing was perfect for my gallbladder to announce its existence. I just had it removed. Moving slowly, resting fully and asking for help (and being receptive of it) is a way my situation made space for the needs of my body without pressure of work responsibilities.

In October of 2014 I had pulmonary embolisms. There were several blood clots hanging out in my lungs. They could have easily taken a ride in my blood stream and ended up in my heart or brain with fatal results. My birth control pills tried to kill me and I take medicinal side effects seriously. I was told any pregnancy after that would require a shot of blood thinners daily until birth and then it would have to be quickly reversed.

My youngest was 8. I felt it was time for permanent birth control for my irregular cycles. My kids still wanted a sibling but they were open to adoption. My ex wanted more kids. My tubal ligation was scheduled. Just before I was ready for it, my ex told me he was leaving me.

Suddenly I didn’t need birth control. It didn’t make sense to have surgery and no one to help with the difficulties of post op. I was ready to make sure there was no space for more kids but it really didn’t matter.

In the following 2 years I would lose about 40 pounds and my monthly cycle became regular for the first time in my adult life. I would become more patient with my kids and so much anxiety would melt in the shadowed beauty of a sunset.

I went from not wanting more kids to actively creating space for life.

We do this in every area of our lives. We allow things to happen or we do all we can to prevent it. We make time to exercise or we refuse to get out of bed. We make time for friends and loved ones or we find ways to be too busy for them.

Can you see the ways you make space and why some of the promises you keep making end up being consistently empty?

How We Compare Past Pain To Gauge Present Pain But It’s All Relative

My writing feels broken.

Life still moves at the speed of “slow down, WTF!”

That hasn’t kept the words at bay.

My love life has been moving in a positive direction.  It has made change for me and my boys and we’re riding the waves as a family.  For the most part we’re okay but in one very specific way, we’re not.

My firstborn is having a hard time with the changes and not having my home whole has made writing a challenge.  How do I write about doing what feels good, when so much of what I feel is tied into how my son feels and the ways we’re not blending our lives into ways where I can proclaim we’re all doing epic shit.

Friday I drove myself to an ER after pushing through a job interview and saying I had a little indigestion.  The chest pain was bad enough that I was crying.  Not sobbing or asking for attention as much as silent tears and gritting my teeth through the nurse’s questions.  It was bad.  I found my sense of humor.  She was hiding out but given free reign, she’s a bit snarky and had no patience for the whiny bitch next to me.  (If a nurse or doctor is trying to help you after you go see them for help, don’t bother trying to justify kicking them.) I was sent home after being given really good drugs and felt better through the weekend.

Monday morning I called an ambulance after a night of chest pain, vomiting and being unable to sleep.  I know, pretty bone headed of me.  I kept thinking, it hurts, but it’s not as bad as the pulmonary embolisms.  And then it was.  It went from kinda uncomfortable to more painful than full on labor pains pretty quickly too.  I think at some point I may have begged for death while running to the bathroom to vomit and it was only after getting through the night that I called an ambulance and had the paramedic act pretty bored as he realized I wasn’t actually having a heart attack.  They hung out with me and waited for another ambulance to take me to a hospital where I was taken in and tested and poked and prodded and drugged.  The 7 am call included a transfer to my plan hospital and a discharge after 33 hours, with lotsa fun follow up appointments in my near future.  Gallbladders are like lungs.  They’re supposed to function without using pain to grab your attention.  If you feel pain, play it safe and see a doctor.

I kept thinking of my worst possible experiences and I held them up to what I was going through.  I held up the past with the present in a way that let me see that I was not actually dying.  I matched up battle scars to see that I’ve been through bad situations and it doesn’t make the current better or worse.  It reminds me there’s no point in whining about it.  I will get through it.  There are no other options.

That moment helped me find the funny and crack some jokes.  That comparison gave me the clarity to see that I haven’t been able to write, but it’s about me.  It’s not the boyfriend.  It’s not wondering what I can write or if I should. It’s my relationship with my firstborn that makes me feel so shattered that the words stopped.

It’s new territory.  I get to learn and we get to stretch, and in time, this will be one of those battle scars in our relationship I will hold up.  I’ll remember how hurt I am that I have hurt him.  I will remember how torn I feel by the directions my heart is pulling me in.  I’ll remember that in this moment and every moment around it, I’ve been trying to go by my gut and do what is best for me and my family, without sacrificing myself for my family.  It’s a marker.

I will see the parts that were broken.  I’ll compare them to the next terrible thing.  I’ll remember how we managed and the ways that made us stronger.  It’ll be okay.  The words will flow again.