Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Emotional dishonesty

In moments of reflection, I've occasionally suspected that there was more work to be done in my heart in dealing with my parents' divorce. I find that suspicion resurfacing again as I read a book called Landmarks: Turning Points on Your Journey Toward God by Bill Delvaux. The chapter is about wounds, most often ones inflicted on us during childhood, and how, against every instinct we have, we must face them before we can be whole. In this book, the author relates a story of a woman who, having lost her father to brain cancer as a child, adopted the facade of strength and developed a pattern of emotional dishonesty which followed her into adulthood. Eventually seeing her own anger and dysfunction reflected in her son, the woman realizes she must face the sadness she ran away from all those years ago, not only cognitively admitting that it was a problem, but entering into the grief so long overdue.

I vaguely remember the day my parents told me they would be separating. They came into my room and both sat down on my bed, where they delivered a blow so huge I didn't believe it at first. I think I was ten. I didn't think this could possibly be happening to me. They had a good marriage,* I have no memory of them fighting. We were a happy family. Surely they would realize this and turn things back around. They couldn't get a divorce, it just wasn't possible. That kind of thing happened to other people, not me. My best friend was also my next door neighbor. I showed up at her house with tears running down my face, and she sat with me at the edge of my driveway while I cried.

Before long, I developed a persona of strength in adversity. It wasn't that big of a deal...a lot worse things happen to other people every day. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It was a character builder. That was my new catch phrase.

Throughout the next few years, there were so many little hurts I faced as a result of my parents' divorce. It hurt to see my mom French kissing another man. It hurt to see my dad lather himself with tanning oil and lay out by the apartment pool. Who was this person anyway? It hurt to realize I wasn't the center of my universe anymore. To hear the screaming matches down the hallway at my stepdad's house. For my mom to start smoking. For my dad to flirt with different women around me. For other grown-ups to tell me what to do as if they were my parents and had any authority over me. To realize that my mom and dad really weren't ever going to get back together again.

I learned to look for each cloud's silver lining. Hey, at least I got a cool new set of bedroom furniture. My dad bought me a lot of new things, and he started experimenting with gourmet cooking...he even bought a pasta maker which was really fun to use. My parents had joint custody, and I knew whenever I was so mad at whichever one I was with, it would only be a couple of days before I could be rid of them and around the other one who clearly loved me more. It meant I got a car as soon as I turned 16 so my parents wouldn't have to cart me back and forth anymore. My family made me cool and unique, no one else had a set up quite like mine.

As I grew older, I became thankful for each new family member and the unique perspectives they brought into my life. I recognized that I wouldn't be who I am today without them or without the divorce. I recognized that as far as being a child of divorce, I pretty much had it made in the shade. For me, divorce didn't mean a sudden change in standard of living, or pretty much cutting a parent out of my life; it didn't mean having to move to a different city, or even a different school district. Sure, it disturbed my life, but it didn't completely uproot it and turn it upside down.

And yet. And yet. Something's just not sitting quite right in my heart. Maybe all of these positives don't negate the negatives (yeah, I hear how that sounds.) Maybe they still don't make it ok. Fine, I'll just come right out and say it. No matter what blessings have come into my life as a result of my parents' divorce, it was still wrong. Maybe their marriage was screwed up enough that divorce really was the best option for them, really. But that still doesn't make it ok. IT WAS STILL WRONG. I had parts of my happy childhood cut short because of my parents' brokenness. I experienced a deep level of pain and wounding that I think I still have yet to enter fully into, and finding the silver lining doesn't make it ok. Now I'm not going to go and throw myself a pity party after all these years, because WE ALL have deep wounding from our childhood. But until I stop making excuses and acting like it's no big deal, I won't really find healing. And I'll keep inflicting my family and loved ones with learned dysfunction that maybe isn't necessary after all.

*Said my ten year old self. I'm not claiming this was actually the case.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Asher

I've decided that a good way to make the most of our middle of the night feedings (and keep me awake so I don't spend the whole night on the couch-yeah he sleeps in the living room for now) is to have Asher's baby journal handy in case I think of something I want to write to him. I've written in it twice so far, and who knows how long it will continue, but for now I like the idea. So, this story is one I'd been wanting to share, and now that I wrote it for Asher in the middle of the night, I suppose it's ready.

It was a few days after you were born that I felt my heart really open up to love you fully and completely, with all that I have. I think that before then some subconscious part of me had been holding back, fearful that loving you wholeheartedly was being untrue to AB. But I distinctly remember the moment, either on first our second day home from the hospital.

I was laying with you on the couch in the basement and you were asleep. I just looked at you, and in the moment of a heartbeat, I felt my eyes tear up and my heart expand, something like the Grinch whose 'heart grew three sizes that day.' I'm not sure how many sizes my heart grew, but I know that I lay there that evening and wept as I allowed myself to experience this profound thing called love. The love a mother or father has for their child is not something that can be explained, only experienced. But when you do experience it, it is perhaps the most beautiful thing in the world. And I'm so, so thankful for those moments, in the first few days of your life, when my heart grew and I fell utterly and completely in love with you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Photo Book

We used Shutterfly to make a photo book for Asher! Got in at the last minute on the free 8x8 photo book deal. It ends today...if you hurry you can get one too! Just use code MYBOOK at checkout, and all you pay is shipping + tax (around $8). Not a bad deal, eh?

PS-Family Members...if you like this photo book and want your own copy, you can click on the link above and get it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

I think this girl likes the snow

'Nuff said.

P.S. One of these days I'll shed my perfectionist tendencies enough to write a post about Asher. :-)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fish Fry-day (get it?) and fun at home

It is becoming something of a tradition in our family to attend the nearby Catholic church's Lenten fish fry. We had a lovely time out with some friends tonight, and by the time we were ready to leave, AB and Noah finally decided to overcome their shyness and have fun playing with each other. Friends, greasy fried fish, fries, mac'n'cheese, and applesauce...what more could our little hearts desire?

After we got home, we enjoyed spending some musical time together, and this is how we ended off before bedtime. Oh the cuteness!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Milestone, symptoms, blessing bracelet

As of 5:39 this morning, this pregnancy has officially lasted longer than AB's. I woke up just before 7 (not on purpose), had a little celebratory moment to myself thinking about this, and went back to sleep. So now I'm entering the unknown territory of what it's really like to be pregnant that last month :-)
Speaking of 'what it's like,' I thought I'd share (cause I'm sure you're dying to know) my most annoying & weirdest pregnancy 'symptoms.' I don't like calling them symptoms since it further promotes the crazy medicalization of a normal life event that this country seems to be alone in the world stage in continuing into the 21st century, but that's a rant for another time, and I haven't figured out a better term to use, so symptoms it is. So for most annoying, heartburn/acid reflux wins by a landslide. I had forgotten how bad it was, but oh lordy, I remember now! And for weirdest, it's all these skin tags that seem to be multiplying on my neck. So strange, and I wonder if they'll go away on their own when the rest of my body goes back to normal.
And finally, I wanted to show you my sweet, eclectic bracelet from the mommy shower that Catherine threw me! It's an idea I got from reading Birthing from Within (see previous post on my pregnancy reads) that I really wanted to do, so I manned up and just asked for it. Not my usual MO, but I figured nobody else was going to just come up with this on their own and think it's a great idea, so what the heck, may as well just throw the idea out there and see if it works. And it did!

So the idea is that each person comes to the shower with a bead and a blessing for momma/birth/baby, they all share said blessing, and I get a fun piece of jewelry to wear throughout the rest of my pregnancy and birth to remind me of the blessings, well wishes, and love from my friends. The shower was almost a week ago, and I just got around to making them into a bracelet last night, but I'm really happy that I finally did, and exited to wear this until baby comes (hopefully at least another week!). Although it's a bit heavy for a bracelet, so I'm thinking of heading to a craft store, buying some jewelry making wire, and turning it into a necklace. Perhaps after my oil change this morning.
Well that's all the randomness I have for you right now, so see ya when I see ya.  :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

pregnancy and childbirth reads

I recently composed an email to a friend with some thoughts on books I'm reading, have read, or think would be good to read during pregnancy, and I thought I'd share here as well, in case there are any others embarking on the fun mommyhood adventure. I'd also love to get feedback from others who have enjoyed or found anything else helpful!

One book that I haven't read but that comes highly recommended (and I probably would read, or at least check out from the library, if I were earlier in my pregnancy) is Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin, and I've also heard really good things about another book by her, The Birth Partner, which is geared toward the "labor companion"...These books are praised for their comprehensive, unbiased approach to talking about risks and benefits of lots of ways of doing things in pregnancy and childbirth without having an ulterior motive they're trying to push. A book that was recommended to me when I was pregnant with AB is Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. I REALLY enjoyed reading this book, and it was so helpful in normalizing the birthing process for me...I felt much less fear after reading it. It's written memoir-style, so it's less like a pregnancy/childbirth how-to guide or information resource, and more of just a fun read.

The other two books I'm reading this time (picked them up kind of late in the game) are Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin and Birthing from Within by Pam England. If you haven't heard of her yet, Ina May Gaskin is basically a pioneer in the US for midwifery, and she runs (and has since the 60s I think) a midwife birth center practice out on a hippie-ish farm in Tenessee that's famous among natural childbirth types. The first half of the book is all birth stories, which I found only so-so to read through, and the second half is more informative. If you decide to read this one, I would recommend starting out with at least a couple of the birth stories, and then when you've had enough of those, flipping over to the second half...then maybe going back and forth. I got a little bogged down just reading birth story after birth story, and am enjoying it more now that I'm onto the second half. Ina May has a lot of wisdom from her years of experience, and it's clear that she respects and is respected by a lot of other doctors and people in the field.

Birthing from Within is a little "crunchy" for my taste, but I'm also finding it helpful too. It's actually helping me connect a little more with the crunchier side of me. And it's been really good in helping me prepare emotionally for having another birth, thinking through what was difficult and good about AB's birth and actually dealing with some of the fears I have rather than just pushing them down and trying to pretend they don't exist. There are parts that I kind of skim, and then others that I really delve into. I even took her advice and made some birth art, which was a little outside of my comfort zone, but opening myself up to that kind of idea was really helpful for me I think.

And of course the Hypnobabies course is intended to be an all-in-one childbirth course, so it has a lot of good information in it too. Also, I've found some good info online, just googling something when I wanted to learn more. My doula also turned me onto a blog which I really like, http://evidencebasedbirth.com. Two other blogs that she recommends are www.childbirthconnection.org and birthsource

So that's basically word for word the email I sent to a friend. :-) And YES, I'm going to try hypnosis for childbirth! I'm pretty excited about it and can't wait to see how it differs from my previous experience. I've been doing a self-study course which involves listening to a 30-40 minute hypnosis session each day, and so far I have to say that even just the immense relaxation I've gotten from doing the course has been worth it. I'll definitely post an update after the birth to share how it went. 

So what pregnancy and birth resources have you used, or do you love (or hate)? Do share!