Monday, October 13, 2014

Love and Letting Go

~Disclosure: My depression in the past month has subsided. But residual yucky feelings remain.  I write this to be true to myself.  I hope that it helps bring me out from my hiding places and hopefully touches someone else in hiding too. I want to be the most open, honest and vulnerable person I can be. ~

Anger, Powerlessness, Shame, Fear, Love & Change 

I've been going to therapy again since the end of June. I am one of the worst therapy clients I know. I've been seeing my therapist off and on for the past four years. Sometimes I miss appointments, sometimes I disappear for months at a time. I have at times purposely not disclosed my thoughts and actions. And when my mom got sick and passed way I didn't go back. I didn't go back until I heard myself one day lie to my doctor's face. Out of concern for my obvious sinking grief and subsequent depression she asked me what I was doing to self care.  "Don't worry, I've been seeing my therapist." Complete lie. At that moment I knew I was in bad shape. So reluctantly I emailed my therapist and made an appointment. I know why I avoided going.  I didn't want to say out loud how much pain I was in and I didn't want to be seen. 

I've been going to therapy again for the past four months. Most of my sessions consist of me crying, verbalizing my fears of loss and my guilt and shame for not being the daughter I wish I was. Not being the person I wish I was. But there is something that I haven't been talking about. Something that I haven't been acknowledging to even myself until now. I have become an angry person. Last week I came home from work and said to Nick, "I have been so angry. I am so tired of being angry. This is not how I want to live my life." I've been thinking about my anger and all the feelings and thoughts that underlie. Below are those thoughts and feelings. Raw and open. I'm looking for a away to change. I hope this is a start. 

My anger has taken on a life of it's own. In all things where I am powerless I am now angry.  I am angry when some driver honks at me to go faster, or I feel slighted by someone, or when I receive another bill from BCBS even though Nick and I have called them a thousand times to cancel my mom's health insurance (that only was effective two days before she died). I seethe. I don't calm down. I don't recover for hours or days. It's freaking exhausting.

I'm kind of a control freak. I might be okay if I could just put everything where I think it needs to go, anticipate every disaster, cushion myself for the inevitable fall and rescue everyone I love at the same time. But that's not what has happened. What happened was I lost my mom. I have no control (very little) over this pregnancy and the world could take anyone I love at any time. I am powerless. This too makes me angry

I don't deserve all the gifts I've been given. I am not worthy. Not a good enough person, daughter, sister, friend, partner. I don't deserve to be a mother. I deserve to loose everything I love.  I shouldn't have been gifted them in the first place. Someone, somewhere made a terrible mistake. I am now angry at myself. 

I assume that everything will turn out in some catastrophic way. That I need proof that things will be okay. There is never enough proof. The world is unjust. And I'm scared of my grief. I'm scared of the depth of my grief. The horrible place inside that it takes me. The physical pain it brings. So I hide and I am angry


Oh my, the depth of love I have experienced in the wake of so much pain. I have friends that call, email, text and send cards from all over. That show up at my door with snacks, hugs and open hearts. That invite me out, time after time until I show up disheveled, weary, but out of my hiding place. 

I have Nick who is constant in his love, without judgment, with respect and humor. He reshapes the world for me in such a beautiful way. 

I have my family who remain available to me with love and pride in who I am, even though my first instinct is often to turn away instead of towards them. 

And I have this beautiful Ninja baby. This baby that has already been the best thing to happen to me and my saving grace. If it weren't for her, I would have self destructed months ago. I know I would have drank too much, not taken care of myself and lost myself (much more so) into a world of the past. She keeps me in the present. I love this baby more than I ever knew possible. 

The love I have received and the love I feel are enough. Enough to decide to be done with anger. At least the crippling, all consuming kind.  Enough to be done expecting the worst. I am ready to change. 

I said I wanted to change. I said I can't live like this. But how do I actually do that? It's freaking hard. Being angry, terrified and ashamed are exhausting. Living like that is hard. The only thing not hard is loving. So, I think change hides somewhere in there, in the love. 

I am powerless.  You are too. The most power I have in life is how I choose to treat myself and others. That's it. If I let go, could powerlessness turn to freedom instead of all the other icky feelings? Maybe.

Love and letting go. This is my starting place. 

Truly, life is amazingly good. I have so many beautiful gifts. I am so grateful. And I am so honored. Grateful, honored and present. This is where I need to stay. Thank you to everyone who has been helping me get back here. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Three Thoughts and Three Pictures

It feels like the time again to share a bit of myself. Below are three random thoughts/realizations and pictures.

1. I realized recently that pregnancy is the only time where the Ninja baby will be just mine. Once she's born I have to share her with the world. But right now she's all mine. This thought has really made me look at pregnancy differently and feel more gratitude.

2. I put a lot of energy into not publicly showing negativity. As a result I think sometimes I misrepresent myself as always okay or always happy. That's totally not true. My world is beautiful and painful. Always and especially lately. Some days I manage better than others. I'm doing my best. If I ever make any of this look easy, I apologize. Life's not easy for me, and it's easy not for anyone else either. Not easy, but certainly very beautiful. 

3.  This blog post about gratitude really spoke to me:
I have a real internal struggle with the person that I want to be and the person that I think the world wants me to be. I have stated on the blog before that I want to "do more", not "have more".  And for the most part I have been very good at having/acquiring less. But it's been hard.  My value about things is low.  I don't really care about things. I do care about being comfortable and there is an amount of materialism that coincides with that. However, if the house burned down tomorrow, I'd grab Nick, my dogs and my phone. (I have to stay connected!)  The rest can burn. So why then, do I have to remind myself not to fill my virtual shopping cart on a daily basis?! After reading this blog post I realize the change needs to come from a place where I not only value doing over owning, but that I also value myself as enough.

This face slays me. 

A bit blurry. But this group of people are family. Love them. 

29 week bump (a couple weeks ago!)

As always, thanks to all of you for being a part of my life. For the beautiful and painful parts. I adore you all.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Doula, Doula

Photo not topic relevant, but too cute to not share. 

Until this spring I would describe myself as purposefully ignorant about the medical system and medical topics. I am a sensitive person, medical issues make me queasy, uncomfortable and afraid. When friends have been pregnant, I have shown obvious disinterest. My strategy to manage the discomfort was to avoid, avoid, avoid. While this approach allowed me to steer clear of discomfort, it did not benefit me when real medical issues inevitably arose. During my moms illness I was powerless. All family members of terminally ill people feel this way, but I was powerless in my knowledge base too. When doctors said they couldn't do anything, I couldn't argue. When they said she needed to have an uncomfortable procedure, I had to blindly follow them. I felt like I failed her. Then when I started having abdominal pain in the 20th week of my pregnancy, my doctor was out of the office and her co-practitioner wouldn't even take the time to talk me through the symptoms I was powerless again. I submitted to unnecessary medical tests. I felt alone. I had Nick, but he was in the dark too. And he is so empathetic, that my pain became his. It was too overwhelming for us.  We needed more support.

My doctor is amazing. Truly, I adore her. Nick and I purposely selected a small hospital and a small OBGYN practice. I know myself, and I know that I need to feel heard and seen. When my mom died, my doctor hugged me, she changed my appointments from monthly to bi-weekly, she listened and responded empathically to every anxious question, she respected my decisions and she called me personally with every lab result. She continues to do all of these things, but she's a medical professional. There are boundaries with her role. She cannot hold my hand in the way I need right now. Being pregnant without a mother is very painful. 

Since that 20 week scare, I've been trying to take back some power by educating myself about pregnancy and birth choices. In this pursuit I've seen a lot of judgment and defensiveness. Women who choose to have natural births (when the stars align and allow them to) have to defend themselves, and many seem to do so by attacking women who choose to use pain management options. And vice versa.  I won't go too deep into how this observation has disappointed me, but as I write this blog post it feels relevant. Who out there will read this post and judge me to be too self indulgent or less of a woman/mother? Many won't, but some will. 

In my quest I have identified a few things that are important to me (if the stars align and I have options).  I will be straight forward, I intend to have the epidural. I also have hopes that I will be able to avoid medical intervention until further in the labor process. These are personal choices that I have made based on my body, my mind and my research. There is no right way to have a baby. Sometimes we have a say and sometimes we do not. But if we do, I have decided that I wanted someone in our corner to help ensure that my voice ( and Nick's) is heard. Enter doula Betsy. Betsy says that a doula's true purpose is to take away the fear associated with birth. Betsy takes my phone calls, emails and text messages when I'm feeling anxious. She meets with me to discuss my birth preferences, she helps me plan for breast feeding, she talks to me about the loss of my mother, she supports Nick, and when I'm in labor she will be by my side, holding my hand and talking me through the process. She will help me understand what the doctors are saying and assist me in voicing my decisions. Nick and I will not be alone. 

Again, I know that some individuals may feel that I'm too indulgent (hiring a doula) or less of a mother (prioritizing pain management). But what I hope, is that some women out there hear me say this:  This is your family, your pregnancy and your body. Whatever you choose, however you do this, you are a strong woman and mother. There is no right way. Read, talk, and make your own choices. 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Finding Out the Ninja Baby's Gender

Ninja Baby Profile

It's an interesting concept, finding out the gender of your baby. Our parent's and grandparents had to wait until the baby was born. Now we have all this insane technology that can measure the baby's bones, see inside the brain, heart and stomach. Many people I know have decided to forgo having their baby's gender revealed for a surprise at birth. I get this. And waiting is even more appealing when you add on top the unnecessary (in my opinion) pigeonholing that happens as soon as the gender is revealed. 

But for me there has been another piece of the story. For the first four months of my pregnancy I put all of my thought and energy into the well-being and then the loss of my mother. Most of the time not really even remembering I was pregnant. And for the past month, I have been all consumed about the pregnancy, always unsure of how it's progressing and if I'm making the right choices. Finding out the baby's gender felt like a grounding experience. Something that I can know about our baby. Something that can connect me. 

It has become somewhat of a joke in our house. Several peeks at the baby through ultrasound and the baby's legs have always been crossed.  Ninja is stubborn we say. (And I wonder to myself, are we already creating an identity for them?) This week we had our fourth ultrasound and the baby's legs were crossed again! But with two ultrasound technicians that were as patient and encouraging as possible and a bit of walking around, the baby finally revealed themselves! Baby Ninja is a girl. Not only is baby Ninja a girl, she is in the 58% for her size. I felt so grateful and relieved. I knew that I would be happy with either gender, and I am. It's such a strange feeling, but a lovely type of strange. Welcome baby Ninja, you are loved and you are perfect just as you are. 



Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Last Little Bit, A Bump Plumps

I thought I'd put together a photo journal of the past six weeks. I think the photos can reflect changes where words sometimes fail. It's been both an exciting and difficult time. I continue to struggle with the loss of my mother, but am trying to focus on the little joys that occur every day. Thank you to everyone that reached out with kind words in response to my last post. I was encouraged and deeply touched to receive so much love

Nick and I work opposite schedules. So on Memorial day we enjoyed a day off together by visiting Chicago's Botanical Garden with our good friends and their adorable daughter. 

  Bump @ 18 weeks!

Anastasia flying high at the Botanical Gardens.

Super cutie family. 

We celebrated our 8 (together) and 2 (married) year anniversary.

Bump @ 21 Weeks!

Nick celebrating another happy year together. Me jealously eyeing his adult beverage (not pictured).  

Construction in the bedroom=slumber party in the living room! 
Alphie smiles. 

Asa hates the paparazzi! 

Nick has been working extremely hard all summer. And we really needed a break together. So we decided to take an extra long weekend and spend the 4th of July with his family in Michigan. 

4th of July fireworks. 

The best smile. 

Sights on our long walks.

Nick with his dad and sister. 

Sweet Darla

Bump @ 24 weeks! 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Pregnancy Story

This post is not just an update but a story about my pregnancy.  It's kind of a long story.

Anniversary Selfie

So, it's been a bit since my last post. I've had a hard time writing for a while. First, I found out at the end of February that I was pregnant. Great news! But I felt that I couldn't be my true, honest self if I were blogging but not yet revealing the pregnancy. Then in March I found out my mom was sick. The next couple of months I focused on her and her care. I was so distracted most of the time that I barely remembered I was pregnant. We lost my mom at the beginning of May.  Since then I've been grieving and trying to get back into my life. It has been really hard. 

I think writing might be a bit of getting back to my life. A bit I can do safely from my couch. So here's the story:

Thursday June 5, in a session with my therapist we are discussing my upcoming 20 week ultrasound. I had been terrified of this appointment. The consensus I got from everyone else was that the normal feeling should have been to be excited.   My therapist responded, "Mariah, I think you feel so guilty that you think you don't deserve a healthy baby".  And though I had not ever been conscious of it, I knew immediately she was correct. I didn't think I could get pregnant. I had no reason to believe this.  And now I realize I didn't think I deserved to get pregnant. Then I was terrified I'd loose the baby, then terrified the baby would not be healthy. All along not believing I deserved a healthy baby. I know logically we all deserve healthy babies, b
ut I didn't feel worthy.   (I hope that I don't come off as not grateful or hurtful to those amazing women that are struggling with fertility and health issues.)

In addition to these feelings, I've developed some negative associations with doctors. Every single appointment for my mom was more heartbreaking and devastating than the last.  I think it's hard now to believe that good news can come from a doctor. 

Monday June  9, my anniversary with Nick. 7 am, I woke up, stood up and doubled over in excruciating pain. I couldn't stand or really walk.  Nick decided to work from home to take care of me and I tried to rest. 9 am, I called the doctor. 930 am, they call back. I'm still in terrible pain when I stand and sometimes when sitting. No other symptoms. They can't do anything for me. I have a 20 week ultrasound scheduled for tomorrow and an appointment with my doctor. Can it wait? If not, if it gets worse, or will not go away, I should go to labor and delivery where they can monitor me.  I don't know what is the right decision, and I'm scared. But 
I don't want to be that pregnant girl. I wait. 230 pm, it's not any better. I still can't stand for long. I tell Nick that I think I need to go to the hospital. We go. The labor and delivery staff are kind and reassuring. Nick is silly. He plays with every gadget he can get his hands on and jokes with the nurses. They monitor me for contractions. I'm not having them. They check the baby's heart rate, it's normal. They run blood and urine tests. An ultrasound gives us a glimpse of the baby. The doctor says that the baby looks good, no concerns. She thinks it might be a boy, but the legs are crossed, so she's not sure. My vitals are normal. The blood work and urine sample are normal. I'm still terrified. They take me down to have a different ultrasound to look at my appendix and ovaries. I'm told that my ovaries look good but the baby's in the way of the appendix. Nick, despite protest, makes my wheel chair do a wheelie. Nick makes me laugh. It hurts. Doctor comes back, she thinks my pain is normal ligament stretching but is concerned it's lasted all day.  They can't find anything wrong with me. They want to keep me over night. I decline. 9 pm, we go home. 

Hospital anniversary, Nick is showing off my arm band. 

Tuesday June  10, we head into our scheduled level 2 ultrasound. The pain is less today, I can stand and walk with only a bit of discomfort. The ultrasound tech is kind and upbeat. The baby's legs are still crossed, she thinks it's a girl, but she's not sure. The doctor comes in and continues the thorough ultrasound, pointing to every organ, the spine, the brain. The baby looks healthy. She has no concerns. We are told the ultrasound does not detect everything. But the baby looks good. After a few questions and brief exam she is also not concerned about my pain. 

I can't describe how my energy changed with this news. The weight in my body from months of fear melted down. I feel more connected to the ground below me. I love Nick so much for his unwavering support. I feel hope.  Hope is scary, but less scary than hopelessness. And I am grateful.  



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog Writing // For Those That Asked

Inspiration station: caffeine and Buddhism

Since I started my blog a few people have spoken or messaged me expressing hopes to write their own blogs.  This is my attempt at sharing what I've learned (so far). When I started my blog I had an idea of what I did and didn't want. Below are my thoughts about what I decided is important. I think if you write, in any format, it would benefit you to think about how you want to represent yourself.  

1. I do not want to be negative. Not that it is all rainbows and sunshine over here. In fact it is quite regularly the opposite.  I don't think I paint everything with a rose colored brush.  I just don't focus on the negative. Negativity feeds negativity. And for me, I want to put positive thoughts back into the universe and into my life. 

2. Be myself. A good friend told me that reading my blog was like actually talking to me. Huge compliment. I know myself. I'm not a formal person with perfect writing skills, or an all the time energetic, bubbly person. There is nothing wrong with those qualities, they just aren't me. It's hard not to want to be liked when you put yourself out there. But I think it can be obvious (even in writing) when we are not our genuine selves. So, again, huge compliment.

3. Be kind. Writing that sparks good conversation is often controversial. A well written piece can really push peoples buttons. I have strong opinions and I want to stay true to that. But I also know my audience, and they are not random strangers. They are my family and friends. I never want to alienate someone I love. So it's kind of a balancing act for me.

4. Inspiration.  I suggest going with what you're interested in, not what you think others might want to read. I think this connects back to number two, be yourself. I've read some people keep a note book of ideas or do writing exercises to explore their interests. This may help you. Although ideas may not always be flowing, I tend to wait for one to come on it's own. But my motivation is not to make this my job, it's an outlet and way of connecting.  Professional bloggers work hard and spend hours a day on social media. If that's your end game be prepared to work. 

In the conversations that sparked this post I heard a bunch of different ideas and I love how each seemed to reflect the individual person. The suggestions above are what work for me. They may change, as I change. And you may find your inspiration leads you in a totally different direction. But whoever you are, and whatever you want to do, go for it.

PS.  If anyone would like to do a guest post on my blog please shoot me a message. I'd love to collaborate.