5 Things I’m Grateful For

Today was rough. Last night was a complete lack of sleep due to pain and heartburn, improved upon by a series of unfortunate events. Instead of writing about the assorted awful that bombarded me, I’m going to focus on the stuff that gets me through even when storm clouds threaten. I’ll rant another day.

  1. I have the absolute best man I could acquire. He’s complicated and goofy and glorious. I never have a moment’s doubt about his love and respect for me. He spoils me rotten. He cooks and cleans (actually, he does MOST of the cleaning, for which I am eternally grateful since that’s a part of adult life I have never quite mastered). He doesn’t just cook, he cooks delicious food. He has never complained about eating ‘unmanly’ foods like tofu and vegetarian dishes. He’s infinitely patient with my shenanigans. He gives amazing hugs. He cracks me up. I can deal with his nonstop presence in my space all day without wanting to tear his head off (that’s a feat, I promise you). He’s seeeexy, despite his attempts to downplay it. I’ve waged a three-year battle in my attempt to replace his worn-to-threads jacket that I’ve only JUST won. He thinks -I- am sexy, even if I’m sick and feel gross. He can keep up with me intellectually and adores my passion for stuff that most people find dull, and he even shares my passion on some of those same subjects. He’s just as much of a nerd as I am and doesn’t care if I descend into a book or a game for days at a time. He gives me space, but also lets me invade his when I need to. No matter what’s happening, I know he’ll be there for me in a heartbeat if I need him. No amount of money or prestige can replace what he is for me. I am incredibly lucky to have found not one man like this in my life, but two.
  2. My kiddos are amazing. I have three rock star daughters who have managed to navigate their way almost to adulthood through some incredibly rough patches. All three have suffered the death of a parent, despite not being raised in the same household. All three have dealt with more than kids should ever have to. Yet despite that, they’ve all managed to figure out who they are and become pretty great pending adults. I am incredibly excited to meet the adult women they develop into once they pass through the final trials and tribulations of the terrible teen years.
  3. I’m stubborn and intelligent. These two traits have kept me whole and happy through more BS than any human should have to deal with. Even in the face of a seemingly impenetrable wall, I find a way through, over, around, above it to achieve the goal I’m after hiding on the other side. My middle daughter told me today that she describes me to her friends as ‘someone who doesn’t take no for an answer, but always finds a way to accomplish what she sets out to do’. That’s the stubbornness, and while it gets me into a lot of trouble, it also gets me back out of it. The intelligence helps me sort out when to apply it and when to back down and find something new to try. When I listen to my own better judgment, that is.
  4. The people around me support me. I’ve made some strange choices in my life. I’ve moved across country on a whim with no money and no job prospects (and made it work). I’m supporting a family on a freelance writing income. I choose to love and make a life with a significantly disabled man. Other aspects of my nature (being poly, being pagan, being the weirdo nerd girl that I am) are not always easy for other folks to grok and accept. Yet those closest to me support me unconditionally (albeit with a baffled look on occasion) and allow me to carve out space in the world that suits me. I know plenty of folks don’t have that acceptance, and I am incredibly grateful for mine.
  5. I had a really strange childhood. My parents were musicians. Their friends were various types of creative/oddball types. I was given a pretty free reign to think and explore and get curious. One of my aunts is a geek who happily encouraged me to read and explore the world of possibility scifi/fantasy brings. (Thanks for all the Pern books <3). I had the chance from an early age to see that life doesn’t have to be what mainstream culture expects us to make of it. You can create a destiny that suits you. There is more to the world than what appears on the nightly news and in your history books. I wouldn’t be nearly as content with myself, I think, without that early lesson in rebellious living.

    Bonus: Music. If all else fails, I have really loud speakers and a world of great music at my fingertips, thanks to the streaming services of Google Play.

What keeps you going on rough days?

 

 

5 Unexpected Consequences of Pregnancy

Warning: This blog post contains frank observations about aspects of pregnancy which are less than delightful. If you are particularly squeamish, you may want to stop here. The word ‘nipple’ is used. Run, hide, protect yourself.

This is my 6th pregnancy. That’s a scary number. Six. Jeesh. I have three beautiful daughters, all teenagers now. In the last three years, I’ve had two miscarriages. I’m in my 5th month of this pregnancy, and despite my constant undercurrent of anxiety, the wee bean seems to be healthy thus far.

The author and her infant daughter near Christmastime in 1998.
Me and my eldest daughter, circa 1998.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my previous pregnancies. I remember reading everything I could get my hands on. At the time, the internet was not nearly as useful as it is today. There weren’t hundreds upon thousands of Mommy blogs and reliable websites with medical information. I had Dr. Spock’s guide to ‘how your mother raised babies’, ‘What to Expect When Your Expecting’, and similar books to dissect.

I wrote my own early version of a blog. I did research for my own benefit and shared what I learned. I did product reviews. I shared links to useful online resources I found. Circa 1998.

Even with all my research, actually -producing- a child was a lot different than I had anticipated. Every single pregnancy has been different. Every single childbirth experience has been different. Every single child-rearing experience has been different. These kids are their own people, with 100% of inherited stubbornness to back that distinct personality up should parents get their own funny ideas on how things should be.

So I’ve been thinking about the things the books never said. About the things the unsolicited advice never included. About the tribulations (and a little joy) that pregnancy brings and nobody warned me about.

  1. You turn inwards. I’ve always been self-aware about what my body is getting up to. I notice subtle shifts in blood pressure, the rhythm of my heart, everything. Pregnancy takes this to a whole new level. I am nearly always focused on what’s happening inside my womb. I have a lot more conversations with myself, maybe with the infant, in my head. I feel an unmistakable connection to the pulse of life centered in my body.
  2. This new awareness isn’t always pleasant. I imagine for women who are not quite prepared to be a mom, whether the pregnancy is planned or unplanned, this could be a nerve-wracking experience. The presence of another body within your body. I’ve had more than one friend describe the sensation as the feeling of carrying an alien invader or a parasite. These weren’t women who hated being pregnant, but I think their assessment was an honest one. We don’t always get the swoony baby feelings until we get to hold the squirmy little midget outside of the womb, and even then sometimes the connection takes awhile.
  3. Stuff hurts. Glow, what glow? My first three pregnancies were pretty blissful. I had limited to no morning sickness. I lacked most of the other nasty symptoms that go along with pregnancy. I had heartburn in the 3rd trimester with all three and my eldest kicked my spine out of alignment before she made her grand exit. This time, it seems that I’m getting every symptom in the book. Morning sickness for the duration of the 1st trimester, a constantly stuffy nose, the weakened immune system is being bombarded by every drifting virus that comes near, all kinds of digestive upsets, heartburn, exhaustion. I’m pretty miserably in my flesh right now. Pregnancy glow? That’s the simmering rage and exhaustion I’m feeling while I struggle to remember what it feels like to not be sick.
  4. Breasts take on a mind of their own. Aside from the swelling (My goodness, is it really possible to go up a cup size in a freaking night? Why yes, yes it is), breasts ache. A lot. The preparation from being mostly in the way partner-sirens to food production factories involves a lot of adjustment. And that adjustment is not even remotely comfortable. My nipples, which have never been particularly sensitive by any stretch of the imagination, can’t deal with the presence of fabric near them, let alone any touch (mine or otherwise). Can you say screaming pain? I can. And before you assume I have little pain tolerance, I had two babies au naturale. I have a pretty wide-ranging pain scale. Speaking of nipple pain – nobody had warned me about the possibility of leaking milk, chapped nipples, BLEEDING nipples, and the excruciating pain that can come from an improper latch before my first daughter. I didn’t use the Lamaze breathing during labor; I used it during breastfeeding. The first time blood appeared alongside breastmilk at the corner of her mouth I nearly fainted. I had a floor nurse supplementing her in the hospital with bottles, which had a significant impact on her learning to properly latch. I very nearly quit two weeks in before the pain began to subside. If someone had warned me in advance, I could have prepared better. Lanolin and breast pads, at least, would have been already purchased. The next two rounds were much successful (lest I scare any would-be mothers away from breastfeeding. It’s wonderful: great for your baby, much easier on you, and a great deal cheaper. You’ll get more sleep at night, too. Doo eeet.)
  5. Permanent PMS. I am not usually afflicted with PMS in the way we usually think of it. I don’t get the mood swings or the cravings, I don’t become a crazy rampaging beast woman. I don’t even really get cramps. I break out and check my tampon supply and that’s about it. All bets are off during pregnancy. My normally logical brain has broken down completely. I have found myself sobbing on a drive home because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stop for tea. I was self-aware enough to be simultaneously laughing at my own ridiculousness, but there it is. I’m much more snappy, emotional, and reactive than I ever am. This has been the case for all three pregnancies. The books mentioned mood swings, but they didn’t indicate that they’d be ongoing for 9+ months. You are welcome (and partners, prepare yourselves for extra patience and lots of hugging.)

For those of you who’ve produced offspring, what surprising things did you discover while you participated in the human factory experience?

Old Excuses, New Baby, & New Focus

I’ve been a terrible blogger. In my defense, I’ve been off getting sick, getting pregnant, writing a book in a month (helloooo, Nano), getting sick again, and generally being occupied by the tragedies and triumphs of a life lived.

I have things to say, though, and I’m pretty sure my Facebook circle grows tired of my epic rants. So, here I am again.

I’m not much of a NYE resolution sorta girl. I figure we should always be self-analyzing our place in the world and if it matches our goals in life and adjust accordingly. It just happens that NYE brings with it all kinds of inspirational suggestions and one happened to strike.

I need to write. To write well, I need to practice. To build my business, I need to be visible. To feel whole and happy, I need to get my thoughts out on a page, digital or otherwise. To achieve all of the above, I need to establish good writing habits. Here’s how I’m going to tackle establishing those habits:

  • 5-Year Journal. I picked up a slow but gradually improving habit of journaling from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. (Which, btw, I highly recommend for anyone involved in anything vaguely creative. Which is all of you. Go forth and read it. It’s sort of a workbook on how to recapture your inner muse. It’s got a spiritual bent, but generic enough to be non-offensive to us non-Christian sorts).  However, I find her 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to be a tad tedious for me. I would like to consistently write a page or two a day. To accomplish this, I’m mixing a bit of my own wandering musings with a daily journaling prompt.

    "Write a short story every week. It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row." -- Ray Bradbury, Freedom With Writing
    Bradbury has spoken.
  • Daily Blogging. I have enough to say that I can pull something out, even if it’s just a quick rant on a current event, every single dang day. So I’m going to. I have an uncharacteristic fear of sharing anything I write for myself that isn’t a social media response or copy/research writing. I need to get over that. The best way to do so is to force myself to put my words out there where the world can poke at them. Which means I am also going to boost my daily posts on social media. Meep.
  • Nanowrimo. I ‘won’ Nano for the first time in 2015. I learned a lot from the experience. Not only am I capable of writing over 50,000 words in less than a month (I beat it before turkey day!), I found the daily writing discipline far easier than I imagined it would be, and discovered new ways to inspire myself. I am ready to tackle Camp Nano and Nanowrimo 2016 and I fully plan on winning both.
  • Bidding. I’m a freelancer. I have no ‘real’ day job. My partner and I support our family of 5 (about to be 6) solely on the income we make writing copy, blogs, and whatever else someone wants to pay me to compose. I need to get better about hunting down new, private clients so I can grow my income. In order to do that, I have to stick my foot in doors and ask for jobs. That’s harder for me than it should be. So, to fix it, I’m going to bid for one 1-3 new clients a week. That number is subject to change based on my work availability, current income, and ability to coherently smash words together.

 

So, here’s to consistency and furthering my wordsmithing skills. What commitments have you made for your upcoming year? What helps you stick to the goals you set for yourself?