My heart grew three sizes that day

Not that I was a Grinch before, but at 38 days postpartum, it is still my biggest surprise.

I knew my life would change. Everybody tells you that. I knew my priorities and perspectives would shift, my house would fill with stuff, my marriage would become more important and less important at the same time, sleep would be like a drug I crave constantly, and my body would be, well, stretchier.

But the feels? For everything, all the time? It’s been my hardest adjustment.

Upon leaving the safe cocoon of our hospital room, it felt a bit like we were pushed out of the nest. My husband was unshowered and sleep-deprived, I was swollen and still drugged up, and our baby was screaming about everything. We were a hot mess.

As we launched into parenthood face first, we eventually found solid ground as a little family of three, and celebrated our survival minute by minute. But as soon as this felt somewhat comfortable, my husband returned to work, and keeping our tiny baby alive fell solely on me. What a kick in the nuts that was.

I knew enough about postpartum depression and anxiety to know the signs and to talk about them with my husband and my doctor if needed. I read articles and checked in with my husband about his thoughts on my state of mind. I’m not totally in the clear yet, but I’m doing okay. Seriously though, the sleep deprivation alone is enough to make anyone feel batshit crazy. Add to it lack of time to eat anything normal, healing from birthing another human being, creeping quietly around a dark house all day, and giving your all to a screaming tiny human, and it’s no wonder we fall and need some help getting back up. Jesus.

Aside from my routines changing pretty much completely, I wondered if the physical changes would make me feel sad. Would seeing a stretch mark make me cry? Would having a softer stomach make me feel ugly? Would my husband think my post-baby body is in need of improvement? The answer to all that, for me, is no. Even though I was confused by some of the random places my skin chose to show it’s stretchiness (seriously, did my thighs really GROW that much during pregnancy?), it’s all good. And my husband, I’m pretty sure, is still in awe of all the work I did, from pregnancy to now. He doesn’t have time to consider all the ways my body has changed because he’s too busy polishing the pedestal he’s placed me on for birthing a human fucking being. His human being.

The biggest change in me has been to my heart. For sure. It’s like my heart grew to make room for all the newness of our baby – every cute face, sleepy stretch, and every grasp of my finger. My heart is a mom heart now, and it’s bigger and better than before. And as much as I knew this would happen, it still took me by surprise. More startling was the connection I now feel to my husband, who’s no longer just my partner in life but the father of my child and the only other person who loves our daughter the same way I do. Sure I was committed before, but now? Damn, he permanently has a piece of my heart that he carries with him. A pretty big piece. Which explains why I feel a bit empty unless our little family of three is together.

At 38 days postpartum, my body and my mind are still making room for my bigger heart. My mom heart allows me to feel more deeply and love more openly. It might mean more tears over seemingly silly things and so much empathy that you can physically feel someone else’s mood, it also means a fuller life.

August 1, 2016. My heart grew three sizes that day. Here are all the pieces:

heart

 

I love a law enforcement officer

I was born a white female in America. Because of the color of my skin, I am afforded privileges that others are not. I didn’t always believe this to be true, but it is. White privilege is a thing.

I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America, but I do know what it’s like to love a law enforcement officer. The more I think about this past week, and other weeks in our country, the more I believe that black people and law enforcement officers have much more in common than they think.

Both have added dangers in their lives because of one thing about them – what they look like, whether it’s skin color or a uniform. Both have added scrutiny for their actions. Both are blamed when bad things happen. Both must hold themselves to almost impossible standards to simply be taken seriously and respected. And, both are tired and fearful of their fellow brothers and sisters being killed.

Now before you write me hate mail, I know black people and law enforcement officers are not the same. Law enforcement officers get to take off their uniform and badge at the end of their shift; black people cannot take off their skin. Law enforcement officers choose their profession; black people do not choose to be born black. The prejudice is never-ending and I know that as a white female, I will never truly understand what non-white Americans have to face everyday. For that, I’m sorry.

But I have to go back to knowing what it’s like to love a law enforcement officer for a minute. Because this, this is something you cannot truly understand unless your love, your life, your future is tied up in someone who’s profession is regarded as one of the most dangerous in America today.

My officer chose this profession, after having been in it previously, because he felt a calling to return to the force. Yes, he chose this. I know that and he knows that. But for most officers, doing this work is far more than a job and a paycheck. They do it because they are drawn to helping, to protecting, to serving. This work is my officer’s calling. He is both a warrior and a helper wrapped up in blue.

You cannot know the sacrifice law enforcement officers and their families make for this kind of work, unless you’re in it. The process it takes to even be considered, and then the training, and the standards they must meet. It’s stressful, it’s time consuming and tedious. It’s hard on everyone involved.

My officer missed 18 weeks of his first child growing in my belly. The entire second trimester of my pregnancy. He missed the first kicks, the cravings, and numerous doctor’s appointments, because he had to commit 100% to his training. And he did.

My officer has spent hours reading about laws and codes to make sure he knows what he’s doing. Because he takes this work seriously. He knows it’s a huge responsibility and that he’s lucky to even be in blue. He gives a shit.

Last night, on his day off, my officer spent over an hour cleaning and pressing his uniform and shining his boots for his shift today. Because he knows that in doing this work, when you’re in the public eye, your appearance matters. Because he gives a shit.

My officer reads about issues affecting law enforcement today and takes his commands and criticisms from his superiors to heart. Because he wants to be effective and prepared. Because he gives a shit.

My officer spends time on his days off thinking about calls from the shift before, and he processes through how he responded. Because he knows that how the public views him is not only crucial for successful police work, but also how the community he serves treats him and his fellow officers.

All of it is sacrifice. It’s more than a job.

When I hear about law enforcement officers being villainized over a call and response gone public, it makes me angry. What is shown and heard in the media is never the full story, for either party involved. But people take it as fact and run with it. They divide onto separate sides and come up with slogans and hashtags to unite more people. They sit behind their screens and post memes that perpetuate hate.

When I see the level of disrespect toward our law enforcement officers that is becoming commonplace, it makes me angry and scared. No one wants to be judged simply because someone from their “group” did something bad. This is prejudice at its worst. There are officers who have abused their power and taken bad shots and killed people who didn’t deserve it. True. But this does not represent the profession as a whole. And it doesn’t represent the people underneath the uniforms.

Worst of all, when I see people actually encouraging hate and disrespect toward law enforcement officers, it leaves me confused. Because these are the same people who will preach about needing change and holding officers accountable for “senseless killings.” But you must understand, when you encourage the questioning of or resistance to law enforcement officers trying to do their jobs, you increase the likelihood of them having to use more force, which is the very thing you’re trying to prevent.

When you “Monday Morning Quarterback” the decisions they must make in split seconds, you aren’t taking into consideration the hours of training and practice they’ve undergone to make such life altering decisions. Law enforcement officers have great power, that is true, but it comes with huge responsibility. Most officers will tell you that any day in which they have to discharge their service weapon on a call, is not a good day. They don’t want to do it. It’s a precursor to investigations, being away from their work, and heavy burdens of guilt over injuring or killing another human being. They don’t want to do it. They have to.

You cannot hate law enforcement officers one day and then expect them to come protect you the next. Actually, I take that back. You can. Because when you’re a law enforcement officer, you don’t get to decide who calls in and who you have to go help. You just do it. Because that’s the job you chose.

My officer is out there in uniform today with an added layer of vigilance. Before he left early this morning, we extended our normal goodbye, with extra ‘I love you’s’ and kisses and rubs for my growing belly. It was an unspoken need that we both felt, just in case.

We don’t need more blame or more violence. It’s clearly not helping either side. We all have more in common than we think. Strip away our uniform, our skin color, our gender, and we’re all just people. Let me say that again. We’re all just people. And we all matter.

velcro

Oh, Genetics

Since finding out that we are going to have a baby together, my husband and I have spent a fair amount of time talking about what our baby will be like.

Will she be like me? Like him? Quiet? Loud? Curious? Patient? Girly? Tom-boyish? A mix of everything?

And what the heck will she look like? We talk about this a lot. Last weekend, we were talking about genetics and the role they play, and we had a conversation that went something like this:

It started when Andy was crazily scratching his knees due to dry skin (dry skin being one of the many fun skin irritations he has).

Me: “I hope our baby gets my skin.”

Andy: “Me too.”

Me: “And I hope she gets my eyebrows.”

Andy: (laughing) “I hope she gets your nose.”

Me: “Me too!”

And then it hit me.

Me: “Oh my god. Your laugh.”

Andy chuckles (quietly, at least for him.)

Me: “Can you imagine a little girl having your laugh? That would be brutal.”

Andy laughs really, really loudly. (If you know him, you know what I mean.)

A few minutes pass by.

Me: “So really, what are you bringing to the table?”

Andy: (without hesitation) “Personality. I hope to god she gets my patience.”

Me: “Good point.”

The more I think about it, Andy is bringing a lot to the table. The most important trait obviously being his dimple. If our baby gets a dimple like his, she will literally be the cutest thing alive. Let’s just hope it ends up on her cheek where it belongs and not under her eye like my ridiculous misplaced dent.

Oh well, genetics will do as they please. The bastards.

My belly is my new favorite body part

I have never had to listen to my body as much as I have these last 15+ weeks. Lately, my body generally tells me about five different things:

1. Drink a lot of water. And then go pee. And then repeat.

2. Eat everything in sight. Except things that could possibly be icky in sight/smell/taste/texture. And if it is in fact icky, then be prepared for a gag-a-thon.

3. Sit down. Don’t move for a very long time. Except if it’s to go to bed. Or pee.

4. Only pay attention to me. I don’t care that you have a full-time job.

5. I do not want to be touched, unless it’s to massage my aching back or scratch my itchy shins.

Well, body, I hear ya loud and clear. 10-4.

The neat thing about listening to my body is that I’m growing fond of its needs. Even on my worst gag-a-thon, bone-deep exhaustion, migraine-yielding days, I know it’s serving a purpose. And that purpose is deep inside my belly.

I’m so in touch with my body and the amazing life force growing inside me, that it is literally ALL I can think about sometimes. And I’m okay with that.

Every part of my body has been renewed with meaning, because I no longer feel empty. I am full. In every sense of the word.

Belly. Mind. Heart. I am full.

Shit we say to our dogs

Dog owners will know what I’m talking about. As much fluffy, hairy goodness that our dogs add to our lives, they also add a lot of other shit (sometime literally). We have two fur babies, a giant teddy bear named Butch and a medium-sized ferocious little lady named Mocha Bean. If you were around our house for any given length of time, you’d probably hear a lot of this:

“What are you doing?!”

“You are literally blocking my entire view to the TV.”

“Why do you think it’s okay to step on me?”

“Sit.”

“Sit!”

“Sit on your bottom right now!”

“Good buuueeeeyyyy!” (In a high-pitched, super excited voice.)

“Good guuuurrrrllll!” (In the same high-pitched voice.)

“What the hell are you eating?”

“Wife, I need your help. I’ll hold his mouth open and you reach inside.”

“What the hell did you roll in?!”

“Stop humping your brother.”

“Get down from there.”

“Stop humping your brother!”

“That is not for dogs!”

“STOP HUMPING YOUR BROTHER!!!!”

“What are you barking at this time? Oh, nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“Your breath is melting my face. And fogging my glasses.”

“Butch is hot again.”

“Come here.”

“Smell this. Is it wet from Butch licking it, or is it pee?”

“Come here now!”

“Butch, stop licking the couch.”

“Butch, stop licking me.”

“Butch, stop licking!”

“Husband, it’s your turn to pick up the poop in the basement.”

“Stop chewing on your brother.”

“Quiet. People can walk down the street without hearing from you.”

“Mocha, leave the cat alone!”

“Look at what your son/daughter did.”

“Don’t swallow that bone.”

“The water bowl is empty.”

“Don’t destroy that toy. It’s brand new!”

“Why is he/she staring at me?”

“The cat is NOT a toy!”

“Why must you lay right in the middle of everything?”

“Move or I’ll step on you.”

“I’m sorry, was I in your way?”

“I hope you’re comfortable.”

“They are taking up the ENTIRE bed.”

“I need to walk on my feet. Not you.”

“Did he poop today? What did it look like?”

“So stinkin’ cuuuuute!”

“Mocha needs to go out.”

“Mocha wants to come in.”

“Butch needs to go out.”

“Butch wants to come in.”

“Your turn to let them out/let them in/feed them/fill the water bowl/clean up the poop/pee/drool.”

“Don’t touch me. I don’t want to get hair on me.”

“How do you have ANY hair left?!”

Here’s a picture of our furry, slobbery, lovable heathens:

kids

C’est la vie

I’m not really even sure why I’m writing this post. All I know is that I’m wandering around my house doing typical “Monica” things (a.k.a. compulsive cleaning) and I’m basically writing this post in my head, so I figured I’d head to my computer and see what comes out.

That’s the beauty of having my own blog. I can write about whatever the hell I feel like.

Let’s start here.

I’m making a concerted effort to be more positive – scratch that – more calm about things in my life. After the last two years I’ve had, it’s time. I won’t bore you with details about everything that stressed me out, but just know that I went through some things that changed me. Changes I didn’t particularly like. I felt a bit out of control of many things that I thought I had a handle on.

I was wrong. What to do when there are things you can’t control? Pick the things you can, and micromanage the shit out of them. Well, that works for a while but it will eventually burn you up.

What I aim for now more than ever is a sense of calm. Peace. Stillness. Breath. That’s what will save you from a million moments of stress, anxiety, and anger.

I could let myself get worked up over things that I don’t feel are fair, but it would be a waste.

It comes down to this – “C’est la vie.”

If you don’t like something about your life, change it. If you can’t, change the way you think about it. Anger, anxiety, and the blame game won’t get you anywhere. Nine times out of ten, it will burn you, and you still won’t be happy.

C’est la vie is freeing. Try it on for size. I did, and you know what? It’s a perfect fit.

Today, marriage is awesome

My Thursday started like most any other summer day. I slept in a little bit, cuddled with Mocha, watched some of the Today Show until it got annoying, checked both of my blog’s stats, and did a fair amount of yoga. I was feeling good and strong.

And then my uterus, a day fucking early, decides to start falling out of my vagina. I knew it was coming, it was no secret, but still sucked nonetheless. We’re officially at a year and a half, if you’re keeping count, and we’re no closer to a baby. THIS fact made it harder, because shit, something must be wrong for it not to happen by now. (Don’t worry, we’re looking into it.)

Anyway, the rest of my day went as follows.

When Andy got home from an appointment late morning, he immediately knew what had happened (me laying unshowered on the couch with my heating pad burning a hole in my stomach must have given it away). I ugly cried while he hugged me. We didn’t say that much to each other, just hugged.

After I was done feeling sorry for myself (I gave myself a time limit), I finally showered and knew I needed to get busy doing something. Andy and I went into town to do some errands. I purchased a new shower curtain (our other one is moldy and gross because we’ve had it longer than we’ve been married), two more pairs of yoga pants (because, yoga pants), a gift for my sister’s engagement party (because gifts say congratulations), and Andy got some more white t-shirts (because well, he needed more white t-shirts).

I Facebook messaged with two of my sisters for a while, which was nice and made me smile.

We stopped to do my summer job. I’m a dog walker for Gus, whose fur-mom is a traveling nurse. Today was my last day with him though, as they are moving on to their next adventure. Andy and I had a lot of fun playing with Gus, and he snapped a really sweet picture of us before we left.

Then Andy and I decided to have a fire to end our crappy/happy day together. Watching shit burn is pretty therapeutic. We ordered pizza because I refused to cook anything, and we laughed at stupid ringtones he was downloading on his phone.

It was one of those days when Andy and I just mesh, because we know what the other needs and we do it happily, without reservation or complaint.

Today, marriage is awesome.

july23rd

Dear Adulthood, you can suck it

Remember being a child playing outside in the dirt, and your biggest worry was, will I get to use the best digging shovel next? For children, that’s a real big problem, and it’s been known to cause fights.

I can remember when my older sister and I were kids, we would often be given one drink to share. This was a real big problem for me. So, I used my impeccable kid problem solving skills and I would purposely backwash, right into the can or bottle of whatever we were given to split, causing my sister to be grossed out enough not to want anymore of it. And boom, the drink became mine. Was it worth it to drink my own disgusting backwash in order to get my own beverage? Totally. (Sorry, sister.)

Too bad grown-up problems can’t be as easily solved as spitting into an open bottle to get your way.

I don’t really remember when I felt like I had actually reached adulthood, when I was an actual “grown-up.” Maybe it was when I graduated college or grad school, I’m not sure. Even then, it still felt like college life. Maybe it was when I landed my first “big girl job” within my chosen career field. Or when I got married, or when we bought our first house.

More likely, I think adulthood slapped me in the face when I learned how much of my hard earned income would go toward the student loans I needed to get the degree to get the job I had (how is this even right?). And when I learned that taxes screw you when you’re a responsible, law abiding citizen. And when I learned that there is zero support available or reward for people who actually work to pay their own bills.

That is adulthood. It’s all about the Benjamin’s, and it sucks. But I wouldn’t give up my education, my job, my home, my marriage, my fur babies. Not for a second. I worked my ass off for all of it and I continue to do so. Still, adulthood can feel like one big trap. It’s got ahold of me with a death grip and it’s not letting go.

don't grow up

What’s a grown-up to do? Well, the only thing I can do. Get up, go to work, come home, pay the bills, repeat. Because that’s what grown-ups do. And I’m a grown-up. There’s no back-washing my way out of this, although I wouldn’t recommend sharing a drink with me.

Cheers.

I’m going to go play in the dirt, with the best shovel, because I’m a grown-up. And if some kid won’t share the best digging shovel with me, I can just go to the store and buy myself one. Ha! Take that, childhood!

Sperm Have Tools and I Might Steal Your Kid

For some of you, seventeen months might be a way that you would describe the age of your child. You know, another way of saying almost a year and a half. For me, it’s the way I describe the length of time my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant. Unsuccessfully.

Now before I go on, don’t get all huffy thinking this is another blog post complaining about my empty womb. This is just my way of expressing all the shit that piles up inside and needs to be let out. It will be honest and raw and probably sarcastic. It’s just what I need to do. (Side note: If you don’t want to read about sperm and babies and sex, you may not want to continue reading. You’ve been warned.)

Okay, first. How many years did I try not to get pregnant? Answer: A lot. All those years of health class and sex ed make you believe that it is so figgin’ easy to get pregnant. Like if you even think about a boy, his sperm will magically jump inside your uterus, hunt down your egg, and fertilize it.

Or the time my high school boyfriend’s mother told us this horrifying story that she swore up and down was true: after fooling around, this guy splooged on this girl’s leg, and instead of cleaning it up, she let it trickle down her leg toward her vagina and she ended up pregnant without ever having sex. (In retrospect, I’m not sure if this was a story she heard or the story of how she ended up pregnant herself.) Anyway, growing up, adults all over the place would have you believe that sperm have these special tools to break into your uterus and attack your helpless egg, knocking you up and leaving you to live as a single mother.

Well, I call bullshit. Never in my life did I think I’d be trying so damn hard to get pregnant. Do you know how many times my husband and I have had unprotected sex since we’ve been trying to conceive? Answer: Hundreds. Do you know how many perfectly good sperm, with tools intact, have been released inside me? Answer: Probably buckets full. Still, Aunt Flo comes knocking every 28-30 days, smiling and bearing flowers that I just want to bash her over the head with.

Also, I just have to vent about all the people who accidentally get pregnant. I can’t even. I know I’m not supposed to compare my journey to anyone else’s, but come on. This is just ridiculous. People who are not physically or emotionally healthy, they somehow make babies.

Or, and I preface this by saying I really am happy for you, the people who have been trying for less time than my husband and I. Again, I’m not supposed to compare. But it’s happening so get over it. There’s a very irrational part of me that thinks, wait a minute, we were in line ahead of you, we’ve been waiting for longer, how come you get to go first? That’s not fair.

And that’s when anger shows up. I expected the sadness and frustration, and even the hope and despair. The tears and the ‘I’m not going to cry again’. But anger, that surprised me. I find myself getting angry for all sorts of reasons. I get angry at people who are pregnant, who have been pregnant, who talk about their pregnancy in positive or negative terms. I get angry at people who have kids, who talk about their kids, and especially at people who talk to me about not having kids. I get angry at my body for failing me. Basically, there’s no possible way you can win. It’s irrational and it’s no one’s fault. Anger is an irrational emotion, and it comes from a place of hurt. I know that. (Another side note: I feel the need to say that I don’t hate pregnant women or mothers at all. Go ahead and talk to me about your children, because they’re beautiful. It just gets hard sometimes, you know?)

And then crazy creeps in. There are times when I think I might just, you know, take someone else’s kid and call him/her my own. That would work, right? I’m not talking about adoption. I’m talking about stalking the cutest kid at a public place, waiting for the moment that his/her parent is preoccupied with something else, and go in for the grab. Oh, wouldn’t my husband be surprised to come home and find me trying to soothe our new child (who would no doubt be terrified and traumatized). Obviously, I’m kidding. You don’t have to keep a close eye on me around your children, I promise.

All I’m saying is, this whole trying to conceive thing is hard. And it brings out the ugly. It’s one of those hot button issues that no matter what your beliefs or what you say, you will somehow be wrong. Each person and each couple experiences it differently. I can’t give you advice on how to be sensitive to someone you know who’s struggling to get pregnant. What I can do is be honest and say that there are days when I’m really, really ugly about the whole thing. It’s not rational and it’s not cute. But it’s part of the deal.

I don’t have a rainbows and sunshine way to end this. It’s another day, another try, and another load of sperm.

Such is life.

Ready or not, here comes change

This has been a weird week. So many things have happened that I feel like I’m being pulled along with a giant knotted rope, and I’m skidding by all kinds of life changes, just trying to hang on and not fall flat on my face.

There were the little things. Like finally donating some old and “I never wear this” clothing to make room in my closet. And having to use a new brand of all-purpose cleaner (when I find one I like, I’m sad when it’s over). And experiencing the embarrassing split-in-your-pants sound when you kneel down (luckily, this happened at home, but it was my favorite pair of jeans and I’ve had them, for like, ever).

There were also the big things.

Like deciding, after a lot of pros and cons list making, and crying, to accept a new job. I’m still uncertain and scared, because, whoa, it’s a huge change.

And, for the first time in the year that we’ve been trying, thinking that I may actually be pregnant. That my husband and I may actually not have anything wrong with us and we might actually get what we want. And then, after the excitement of a positive pregnancy test, the plunge downward when we found out it was a lie. It was like a slap in the face, a titty twister, and a gut punch all at the same time.

And then, perhaps the biggest change of all, my sister welcomed her first baby into the world, making me an auntie. Knowing that it was coming soon doesn’t take away the excitement and surprise of hearing the news that he was born, healthy and happy, ready to change my entire family’s lives, forever. And most importantly, changing my relationship with my sister because she’s not just my sister anymore; she’s a mother to the most amazing little boy, my nephew.

I slept for almost twelve hours last night. All the changes caught up with me. This week has been a roller coaster of some low lows and very high highs.

But here’s the thing. Change is scary, yes. But it’s also inevitable. It happens whether you want it to or not. Some changes happen to you and others happen because of you. This week has had a little of each, and it has forced me into letting go of the things I cannot change, which is perhaps the hardest of all.

Ready or not, here comes change. Make way.