Monday, June 30, 2014

My New Journey (TMI Alert)

"And the priest said to them 'Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the Lord.'" - Judges 18:6

Friends, this is a pretty heavy post today. I want to tell you about the new journey that I have begun. I wish it was an extremely exciting journey (like a baby!?!?), but it's more of a long, emotional, strengthening and healing journey. It's a journey that I have been hesitant to discuss because of it's nature, but I think it's time. 

Most of you will remember the long and difficult birth of Piper. It wasn't too long after her birth that I began to notice some symptoms of things being not quite right "down there". After lots of research (Google was my best friend and worst enemy), I was pretty sure that I had figured out the problem through self-diagnosis and read that it could heal all on it own. To give it a year. Great! I will, and I did. The symptoms only worsened. My body did not heal on it's own. 

We want more children but it hasn't happened yet, so we decided to move forward with this. 21 months after the birth of my child, I finally got up the nerve (and got so fed up of the symptoms) to see a doctor about the problem. It was just over a week ago, and the surgeon took one look at me and knew the problem. Although the diagnosis was worse that I had thought, the procedure to fix it seemed simple and doable. This was both encouraging and painful at the same time. To actually hear that you are "broken" does not feel good. To have my husband sitting in the room with me hearing about my problems and what attention they require... well, that will definitely make the wedding vows "for better or worse, in sickness and in health" run through your mind.

Without getting into too much detail, the birth of my child damaged my body so badly that it requires reconstructive surgery, and *hopefully* the surgery will indeed fix it. The surgery requires a few days in the hospital and a long healing process. I am expecting to spend about 3 weeks on the couch, unable to sit or walk. Then another few weeks with no lifting and minimal body movements. It basically sounds like recovering from birthing a baby, but harder and without the crying newborn (thank goodness). And that is all if this surgery fixes the problem. If not, additional surgeries and healing will be required. And lastly, because of this surgery, any additional babies we have will need to be born via scheduled c-section. I know, I know, that really works people up, but I'll talk more about that another time. 

This is not the path I envisioned myself taking. This is not part of the life that I planned for myself. Invasive, painful surgery that also inhibits my ability to birth. 

But over the last week and a half, I have had to see this from another point of view. I AM NOT A VICTIM. Yes, this horrible thing has happened to me and I could dwell on it, but I already tried that. When I dwell on it, all I feel is anxiety and fear. All I can think about is surgery and pain and the "what ifs". But when I decide to take it head-on and "attack" the problem, there isn't much fear left. I think what scares me the most is that I have absolutely no control over this. I cannot workout more, eat better, make more money, go back in time, or do ANYTHING to fix this myself. It is out of my control. But my mindset and my choices CAN be in my control.

I have a friend, Sharon, who handles every change in her life as if it is just another phase. She flows gently through pregnancy, job changes, traveling, and trials as if it is a river that she floats on. It is all a part of life, and she joyfully accepts it all. I want to be more like her.

 I have spent the time since my appointment going through so many feelings and emotions. I have let myself feel the hurt of "things lost" (aka natural childbirth), I have stayed awake in fear while reading stories of failed procedures, I have felt rest and peace about my decision. And then today, they called to schedule the surgery and it all came back. 

I have already cried today, and I am sure there will be more tears in the future. Probably lots of them! But there is nothing that I will go through that my God has not already walked through and experienced. This is not a surprise to him. And I hope, oh I hope, that I can remain teachable. There is a purpose for this pain and suffering, and there will be an end, and I can't wait to see what is on the other side.

I have not shared details in this post because I have some readers who probably don't want to know (Hi Grandpa!), but please know that I am open to discuss my condition and the surgery. Just send me a message! I want to share this because I am sure I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE. Having this issue makes me feel so isolated and alone, and I didn't have anyone to really talk to about it. I recently found a group on Facebook that has been so nice to be able to discuss our problems without embarrassment or judgement!

I am sharing this because maybe you have something from your childbirth that sounds similar but are too afraid to talk about and don't know who to ask. ASK ME! As I researched, I couldn't find hardly any blogs, forums, ANYTHING that had women discussing this- only the medical journals! Oh, and for the record, many of these stated that this condition is only present in 3rd world countries, and has been cured in America! HA! I know a group of about 300 ladies that would protest that pretty heavily. But I am walking through this now, and I wouldn't mind the company. I have always wanted to live an open life so that my experiences could impact someone else, or give them encouragement as they walked through their trials.

This is part of life. This is part of birth. This is part of learning and part of MY healing process. I am not seeking your sympathy, but I am eager to see why God chose me and what will come of this. I will continue to pray that this process will not only heal my body, but heal my spirit as well.

"There is nothing the nearness of Christ can't heal"- Mike Wells

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Young Newlyweds

The week, we are traveling to San Diego to watch two of our dear friends commit to each other in marriage. On the beach! At sunset! It will be beautiful. She is 20 and he is 21. This week I am reminiscing on another young couple that got married at 20 and 21....

Yep, yours truly. When we were engaged and newlyweds, people would ask our ages and we usually got a "why??" from them. Why get married so young? You haven't dated, finished school, you have so much life ahead of you. Why give that all up? Oh, you're "waiting" until you get married. Must be getting married for sex then. You're making life so much harder on yourselves. He must be whipped.

I was 17 when I met Daniel. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and the summer before his first semester of college. We lived over 400 miles apart, but it worked. We decided that we wanted to make it work, it felt right spiritually, and hopefully God would work everything else out!

I had a friend's mother say to me "you're too young to be talking about marriage. You need to date around more. You need to figure out what you don't like before you settle with someone". I was really offended by this because I didn't know why I needed to find all the things I DIDN'T like, if I had already found something I DID like. Not to mention that the person you marry will still have at least one trait that you don't like. Sorry, but it's true. We also had a comedian call us out at a stand-up club and make vulgar comments about all the things we should be doing besides getting married. We couldn't believe it.

I have never been one to shop around. I clothes shop quickly (in and out!), I bought my car on a whim (and it was a GREAT decision), and I tried on 3 wedding dresses and chose the first. I knew I wanted to be a wife and a mom. I didn't really want a "successful" life by business standards, I just wanted to be a helpmate to someone great and choose to love him everyday. I met Daniel and he was smart, funny, handsome, spiritual and seemed like a good fit. And he rode a motorcycle. That may have helped.

After dating for over 3 years, we got married.

And it was hard. We struggled and we achieved. We fought and we made up. We rented a house with roommates, and we bought our own house (finally!). We had to learn time management and money management. We had to work hard, but it paid off in fun weekend trips. I had to learn how to cook and take care of a home. So did he. We had to learn how to take care of each other.

Getting married young is not easy. In fact, I would debate that it is harder that getting married later in your twenties or thirties. We have quite a few couples that we know who married young and divorced only months or years later. We are now 26 and 27, and we are totally (ok, not TOTALLY) different people than we were when we got married. Things that we hated, we don't hate anymore. For example, I eat bananas now- not often, and I will never say I like them, but I eat them in baked goods. Good enough. Daniel still loves being outdoors and backpacking, but the other night he told me that there is nothing better than being home with us, with the TV on and Pip playing on his back. This is NOT the man I married.

We have had to work twice as hard to grow together and not apart as we've grown up. It has probably caused more heartache, but we committed to each other to never give up. It's hard, but not impossible.

And to make it even better, Daniel has been in my life for most of the major moments. He went to prom with me. My high school graduation. My first road trip without parents. My first "I love you". My first... you know. Our first home. Our first child. He knows every part of my heart and soul, and it had never been tainted before. We have always said to each other "I love growing up with you".

So when you see a young couple who have decided to marry, don't ask 'why', instead encourage them as they make one of the toughest decisions of their lives. Know that it CAN survive with commitment and hard work, and they'll need real friends as they enter marriage. And when they make it through those first tough years, they will tell you how much  it was worth it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Learning to Live in This Moment

This is my new tote.

I got it this weekend with a coupon and a gift card from my sister for my birthday (thanks Em!), so I didn't have to pay very much for it! That's what I like. It may not look too special, but it's special to me. It is special because this tote represents something new for me.

For the past *almost* two years, I have been strapped to a backpack diaper bag. I love that diaper bag (I actually have TWO backpack diaper bags), and I will always suggest to new moms to get a backpack. It leaves your arms free to carry the baby or carrier, and it has all sorts of pockets and compartments for all the junk that a baby makes necessary. The backpack is black and comfortable, so my husband doesn't mind wearing it and usually does when we are together. I never felt cute wearing it (most pictures I have a backpack on my back and an Ergo hanging from my front), but it didn't matter when it came to getting through the day.

Now back to the tote... I have realized in the last few weeks that my backpack is not really necessary now. I no longer carry 10 diapers, pacifiers, gas medicine, formula, frozen breast milk, bottles, teething tablets, teething toys, receiving blankets, change of clothes (for both of us), diaper cream, baby powder... etc. I pretty much throw a few diapers in the bag, tons of snacks, a sippy cup, and go. And it is hard to find snacks at the bottom of a backpack! I hardly every carry Pip anymore- she always wants to be walking on her own.

So I invested in a cute tote that I knew I would love wearing and would still give me the function of a diaper bag. But switching to this bag has been a sort of mourning process for me. It gives me the same feeling that I have had every time my baby passes another milestone. The first time she slept in her own room. The last time I breastfed her. When she took her first steps. The last bottle she ever took. When she insisted on drinking from a regular cup. EVERY SINGLE TIME I pack up another box filled with clothes that she has grown out of.

My baby is not really a baby anymore, and I am being reminded of that daily. 

God has not decided that it is time for another baby for us yet, so we wait. And in the waiting, I am trying to learn to be content and live in the moment. I have always been one to look forward to the next party, next vacation, next bridal shower, baby shower, etc. I have never been good at being content with where I am. I was in a yoga class last week and the instructor kept talking about living in your present moment, not the past or the future, and learning to breathe through it and focus on it even if it is uncomfortable or uncertain. I don't feel this way often, but it does feel a bit uncomfortable packing up what is familiar and entering into new territory as a mother and a family.

I always imagined having children close together, and now I am packing up all the baby stuff not knowing when I might get it out again. It is a bittersweet time for me. I LOVE the place that we are in currently. Toddler-hood is full of fun and surprises. We can talk, laugh and play together. I cherish every moment with my girl, but I want to learn to live in each moment with her and savor it. I am afraid that I was so tired and frustrated during her infancy that I didn't enjoy it, and I miss it now. I don't want to feel that way about these days. 

So as I transfer my belongings to my new tote and get excited about what today holds, I challenge you to live in this moment today, and focus on what means the most to you. I see potty training and sleeping in a big girl bed just around the corner, so today we will sit on the couch and watch Mickey Mouse. I never imagined motherhood having these feelings, but it's part of the job so I'll take it! Now back to my baby, because she will always be MY baby....

Happy Monday!