Tuesday, November 19, 2013

treading water

You know that feeling in a swimming pool when you think you've reached a point where you're at a depth where you should be able to reach the bottom so you stretch your feet down, and then all of a sudden you can't find the bottom, and your chin dips under the water, the bottom isn't where you thought it was at all, and all of a sudden there's that moment of panic, disorientation, almost of falling, sinking? For a moment you keep going down, how far down it is to reach the bottom? You don't remember the water being this deep. And you can't find it. You bob back up to the top, gasping for breath, looking for air. Are you where you thought you were? Everything looks the same. But everything underneath your feet has somehow changed.  You look around you and everyone seems to have not had any trouble navigating this new depth. Did they grow somehow over time and you missed it? Are they all taller and breathing easily over these inches of water that are suddenly over your head? They glide easily through the water where you are left treading water.

I feel like I am perpetually stuck in a moment like that. That feeling of losing your footing and not being able to find the bottom of the pool. The water feeling too deep somehow.

And yes, I see it. I know how to swim. Of course I can do this. I can get through this. But it takes so much more out of me to tread water and swim everywhere, when I used to be able to walk easily through these depths. And sometimes, I can hold my breath and pretend to be the same as I used to be. I carry rocks in my pockets and walk along on the same ground as everyone else, underwater, and I try to smile. But I can't for long. I have to come back up to the surface to catch my breath and stop and tread water again, while you go on ahead without me. Or I bob up and down, in a crazy lopsided way, grabbing my breath and coming in and out of the water, and you will wonder what in the world I'm trying to do, but I'm just trying to stay doing what I remember I used to do. It's not at all how I remember doing things. I don't remember everything shifting below my feet like this. I don't remember how everything looked so much easier to everyone else. Did I really used to glide so easily like that too? Just doing things? Was it really ever easy? I might have always been somewhere on that edge, slipping and sputtering with water at my chin.

This is what it's like living with chronic pain. Some days are harder than I ever think possible, in ways I never expect and I never feel like anyone truly understands. I feel like the ground under my feet is constantly being pulled out from under me and I can barely tread water and keep going on the bare basics.  I don't know if anyone, even Zac, can ever really grasp how overwhelming it all can become in some moments. Pain and depression coupled together are nasty nasty unrelenting beasts.  They are like underwater serpents grabbing my feet and trying to pull me under. This water is perilous. There are too many ways to go with this metaphor. Let me just suffice by saying please help me along the way, if you see me struggling to stay afloat.  There are monsters swarming beneath my legs, and I cannot reach the bottom, even though it seems like I'm tall enough that I should. And sometimes I've been treading water for far longer than you may realize and my arms may just be at the end of how long they can hold out and burning and screaming for rest. Please be patient with me and I will try to do the same for you. Forgive me when I am tired and overwhelmed. There are no excuses for poor behavior ever. But maybe understanding can be a salve for hurt sometimes. That's all I ask.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Things You May Not Know About Me (Bonus Edition)

If you've been on Facebook lately, you've seen the thing going around where someone gives you a number and you post that many things about yourself that not everyone may know about you. But not all of you may be friends with me on facebook and some of you stalwarts may not even be on facebook at all.  I know. 

 So, I am reposting the 8 random things that people may or may not know about me. And then, as a BONUS for those of you that already saw this on my facebook page, I am going to give you some extra stories that you may not have already heard!! So keep reading, you won't regret it!

  Alright I was given the #8 so - 8 things people may not know about me. I've made a lot of new pain buddies and many people who have only known me since all of that started so there are some things that people may not know about me before all that started such as: 

1. Right as my pain was starting I was training for and completed my first and only sprint triathlon. I miss really exercising. 
2. I read approx 100 books a year on average and I will read books about just about anything.
3. I've written in over 50 journals.
4. I birthed 3 of my 4 children naturally and breastfed for a total of ... approx 6 1/2 yrs - lol.
5. I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was interested in too many disparate things. This still really bothers me. I'm a stay at home mom, which is what I really wanted. And now I am mostly bedridden with pain anyhow. But if I wasn't those things, what would I be? I don't know.
6. I consider myself a half expert in ultra marathon running since my better half is an ultra runner. It's a funny thing being a spouse of a crazy person like that. 
7. I play the violin but it's another thing that is aggravated by the facial pain. I haven't really been able to play.
8. One thing I love that not many people know is bread making. In another life I think I'd like to live in Germany and own a bakery. Yummm.

One thing I learned when my older sister did this on her facebook is that when she and I were quite little (I was 1 or 2, and she was 4 or 5), my parents apparently picked up a hitchhiker and had him sit in the backseat with us. He proceeded to threaten my sister and I with a knife to rob my parents or something. My sister remembers this happening to her. I obviously do not - but I'm still kind of disturbed to learn about it.

Another thing that happened to us when we were very little is that my mom was traveling alone with us by train to visit relatives once and when the train was crossing a bridge over a river it crashed and tipped over and everyone had to walk along the windows to evacuate. I was a baby and so my mom was carrying me. My sister was 3 yrs old and my mom was holding her by the hand. This was in the middle of the night, so it was dark and she could only hear the river rushing below them. I imagine this must have been terrifying.

One thing that I do remember happening when I was little was when we had a copperhead snake on our back patio. This must have been in the somewhat early 80's. Our neighborhood had it's own police force so my mom called the police and the officer came to our house and blew the snakes head off with a rifle. I'm not exactly sure why this was the best course of action, but it saved the day!

We had a lot of snakes around our semi-rural neighborhood when I was little. I remember a time when I was riding my tricycle around my driveway, I must have been around 3 or 4, and I came around to the front of the house to our sidewalk and there was a huge black snake in the middle of the sidewalk and it reared it's head up at me. I have no idea what kind of snake it was but I was absolutely terrified and I just jumped off my tricycle and ran away.

It seems that we also somehow had snakes that got into our basement somehow. I don't know how it happened. Mom? Dad? Someone might be able to tell me how we got snakes into the basement. It might have had something to do with flooding. I'm not sure. But then I developed quite an irrational fear of having snakes in the basement. I had nightmares about it for years.  In fact, it's entirely possible that this didn't really happen and it was all just dreams but I really hope that's not the case because that would be really freaky.  I really think it did happen once and that's what started the nightmares.  And my new neurologist is also a sleep specialist and he asked me a lot of questions about my sleep and dreams history and he says that it's really not normal to become confused between what is real and what you have dreamt. So. Yeah.

I also had fears of seeing Giants looking at me through our second story windows. No idea why.  And tornadoes.  I had a huge paranoia of tornadoes. I had heard that they sound like trains so I would lay in my bed at night, listening to the wind and straining to hear if it sounded like a train approaching, my heart pounding.  I also slept on the top bunk of a bunk bed and I was so afraid of a tornado coming, I would move to the floor to sleep, because I thought that if our roof blew off I'd surely be the first to go with it and I didn't want to get blown away by myself.  This was when I was about 9 years old. I know this kind of fear is developmental as children learn about the world and become afraid of all the bad things that can happen but I'm not sure if all kids are as afraid as I was or for as long as I was. I don't really know.

Anyway - so hmm there's an interesting collection of stories about me that you may not have already known. Some interesting little traumas I don't even remember which reminded me of some little weird memories and some of my early fears. What were you afraid of as a child? Do you think my fears were unusual?  Do you have things you dreamt that you can't remember if it really happened or not? Do you think early traumatic experiences that you can't even remember can still affect you? 
Anything else you feel like commenting?  Please do.:)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Paralyzed by Choice

There is an oft quoted sentiment that if we put all of our trials and troubles in a pile and saw what everyone was else was truly going through, we would very quickly retrieve our own back for ourselves rather than trade with anyone else. I can't say that with any certainty. But I do know that I am forever grateful that I am not the one in charge of choosing for myself which trials and tribulations I will go through in this life. I know for certain we will each have our fair share. None of us is spared some measure of sorrow and hard times, of some degree. I don't know how it all works.

I'm sure all of us have thought through that scenario at some point of whether we would rather be deaf or blind. That thought alone has often panicked me. Which would I choose if I had to? To give up music, soaring notes, melodies, harmonies, rhythm, that calming influence, the rousing beats, dancing.... so much of me is in music. So much joy, so much expression, catharsis. To hear people's voices, laughter, rustling woods, water, nature. Would that be my choice?

Or would I give up sight? To be able to look into someones eyes? To see the smiles on my children's faces. The colors of autumn. Sunsets. Trees. Light. I take so many pictures now, I see so many things that I never would have seen before, never would have noticed. Would I be able to give that up? Would I be able to live in a world of darkness?

I don't know.

And now, I have constant pain. And I will admit that it is hard not to compare my struggles sometimes with others' and wonder sometimes, would I rather have theirs than my own? Which would be easier to deal with? I am ashamed sometimes of my thoughts. I am ashamed to admit to them.

 But sometimes I think I would rather have a terminal disease, because then I think at least, at least their pain and suffering will come to an end. Yes, it is horrible and terrible and awful, but at least they and their loved ones know it will soon come to an end. And yet I know they would yearn to trade with me to be able to live another day.

And I think, oh how I would rather have this pain be anywhere, anywhere besides in my head and my face because I just can't think. The face is just so sensitive and when your head hurts, it's just so hard to do anything at all. You can't do ANYTHING without involving your head and thinking. But, I know that's not fair. Because everyone with pain is suffering. And I become insufferable when I think like this.

And sometimes I think I'd rather just be paralyzed and not have pain, then be in pain and be able to move. Because if I were paralyzed and have no pain, at least I could think clearly and be able to use my mind and do something of worth. I could put my mind to good use and be a functioning, serving and contributing member of this world, instead of a writhing whimpering thing in constant pain in bed that everyone has to avoid almost 24 hrs a day.  Instead of not being able to do anything.  And yet I know they would trade just about anything to be able to move and not be imprisoned in their own bodies.

I don't know.

But you see, I don't make the choices. I didn't choose this. They don't choose their trials. It must be better that way. I think if we looked at the whole pile of everything that everyone is suffering we might be paralyzed by all the choices sometimes. We might be tempted by some of them, like how can I possible know how it would feel to me to be deaf or blind? Which will be better for me? Which would I really rather be? Which would I be able to endure?  And when I am in the middle of it, how will I possibly be able to bear the weight of it? To say to myself, this isn't what I wanted, I want the other one back now.  But no. There is no choice.

So I am glad I am not the one making those choices. My choice is how to get through this. Sometimes that doesn't even feel like as much of a choice as I once thought. It's like when people are in a crisis situation, they don't often think to react in the ways you expect that they might. They sometimes do bizarre instinctual reactive responses. It's not all conscious choice. So I go into survival mode, fight, flight or freeze. But I get through.  My choice is to wake up and get through.  That is what I do.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kristen's Little House of Horrors

AKA: What this Feels Like

In honor of upcoming Halloween, and since I am constantly asked what my Trigeminal Neuralgia feels like, I thought I'd give everyone a fun little scare and welcome you to my own personal horror and let you into my virtual head where you can experience it all firsthand and then leave without ever experiencing it again! Lucky you! Come in, come in! I won't bite! ahahahah.

 Enter at Your Own Risk!
All Effects Are Magical and Temporary or your money back - Guaranteed!
(Now please sign this consent form that you will hold none of us liable for any and all lingering effects and or terror that may be a result of this experience. Thank you. You may now continue.)

Please enter one at a time, watch your step, that's it, leave your personal belongings at the door thank you. Yes, you are now finally entering the Kristen's Little House of Horrors.

 This is a bare cold semi-lit warehouse room like a scene out of The Walking Dead. A single chair, much like a dentist's chair is in the middle of the room, with a metal tray next to it filled with odd contraptions and needles and sharp pain inflicting devices. The legs, arms, and headrest of the chair have straps. There is a single light bulb hanging on a string down above the chair.

Please, sit down. Make yourself comfortable. Or as comfortable as you can.
You sit.
Your arms are tied down. Your legs are tied down. Your forehead is strapped to the headrest.

This is merely for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.

ok. I now need your verbal consent that you are ready to proceed. yes? would you like to muffle your screams, yes or no? no? ok then.

- We will first tape this electrical impulse wire straight across your cheek which will direct a steady ache deep in your cheek bone. There.

- Now, we are going to inject another one deep into your ear to cause a terrible constant ear ache.

- Just a second while we set up the needle darts to periodically shoot into your ear drum. There... we... go.

 - And then, hmm... this one's tricky... this is a metal clamp with sharp teeth that will randomly clamp the outside of your ear.

- Now, we're going to take this tiny needle and slide it up in between the skin and the bone right here on the side of your nose. Yes, feel free to moan, groan, or scream if you feel the need. That's no problem at all. Go right ahead.

 - And we will insert another needle up here along your eyebrow.

- And put one right going right across lower eyelid.

- And then here we're going to put another randomly clamping metal clamp on your upper eyelid. Ah, perfect.

- And these eyedrops will make it feel like your eyeball is going to explode. Very good.

- Now that we have those in place, we will now have these hypodermic needles randomly timed to be stabbed in your face, right there across your cheek, in the roof of your mouth, in your upper lip, in your lower jaw, in your temple and in your jaw joint.

- ok, and now open your mouth please and say ahhh? no just kidding no need to say ahhh... we will now be performing root canals on each and every tooth on half of your mouth .... without anesthetic.  Yes I'll just slide this in to keep your mouth open.  Please stop screaming now, thank you. Remember there won't be any lasting effects from this, it is purely magical and just for fun.  Isn't this fun?!?!?

Yessssssss...... drills please................. there, that isn't so bad, is it?!?!?!?  is it??????

ok, just one more thing.
- Here is some unflavored pop rocks candy I'm just going to place on your tongue right here.... to let sizzle and pop a little bit.  There.

- And then oh I forgot, one more electrical current on your cheek to make a little buzzing now and then.

- oh and we'll occasionally hit you on the side of the head with a hammer too just for fun - watch out for that

Most of these are completely randomized (except for the constant aching currents). You may feel all of them, several all at once, or none, in completely random patterns, lasting for several minutes or seconds, over and over again, or not at all while you are here. Good luck to you.

And now that you are all hooked up and feeling the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, the real fun begins:

You can now choose between several specialized torture chambers to complete and personalize your horror experience or we can randomly choose for you between the following options OR you can cycle through them all for the optimal House of Horror PAIN Experience:

1. The Helping-Grumpy-Kids-With-Homework Torture Chamber

2. The Fighting-Whining-Children Torture Chamber

3. The Going-Over-Finances Torture Chamber

4. The Going-Shopping Torture Chamber

5. The Driving-with-Kids Torture Chamber (optional Driving-in-Traffic add-on)

6. The Trying-To-Think-About-Anything Torture Chamber

ok, you'd like to cycle through each of the torture chambers? Excellent choice, that will give you the optimal House of Horror Pain Experience. Your torture chair is equipped with automatic wheels that will take you through each of the chambers and then bring you back to the entrance where an assistant will disconnect you from the device and magically erase all of the painful effects and you can then collect your personal belongings and go about your day.

Thank you for visiting Kristen's House of Horror's! We hope you enjoyed your visit! Be grateful that you can leave this experience behind and hopefully never ever come back again. And we hope you have also gained some insight and understanding.
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teal for Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness

Yay for TN awareness day! My sweet daughter really wanted to support me by wearing teal and my husband willingly wore the button I bought for him.:) I tied ribbons on our trees and wore my TN super hero shirt, even though I didn't really leave the house.

Also, through the miracle of the internet and one of the support group pages on facebook, I was able to connect with another trigeminal neuralgia sufferer who lives just one city over from me! I'm not alone! Hallelujah!! She decided to have an honorary dinner of soft foods for TN day (since chewing often causes pain for those with TN) and she invited me over to join her and her family. So nice!  It was so great to meet her and talk to her for awhile. She is trying a new experimental physical therapy treatment here developed for TMJ disorder and is having some success so I'm excited to see how that turns out for her.  Her TN is complicated by also having lifelong narcolepsy so she can't take the typical medications that I've been trying. It was very interesting comparing symptoms and what we've been through. So many similarities and differences.  Everything is so individual. Trigeminal Neuralgia is a beast that likes to take your little brain and just storm through and hack away at it - but everyone gets it hacked at differently. Ugh.

And we all describe our pain and live through our pain the best we can and try to do the best we can and we can't really compare ourselves one to another.  It's hard not to. I really struggle with that. I know my pain is not as bad as some and then I still can't figure out why I can't handle it as well as some other people seem to be able to. But then I really don't know how bad their pain is. Perhaps we are just talking about it differently. Perhaps our medications are just affecting us differently. Perhaps my other conditions are affecting me in a way I am not giving myself credit for. Perhaps I should be more patient with myself. Perhaps. I really don't know. I can only do what I can, I guess. And try not to compare in any way. I'm just doing the best I can. Oh, Please don't judge me... and I will try my hardest not to judge myself.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day!~

Today marks the first ever International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day and so of course I have to bring this to your awareness!  This has come to pass through the hard work of a group I have come to admire on facebook, a small group who has called themselves the TN awareness fighters who themselves suffer from the condition. They have spent countless hours over the last months in this past year organizing and emailing, writing letters, making calls and whatever else they can to bring this awareness day into reality. They have sent a petition to the World Health Organization with over 10,000 signatures asking that Trigeminal Neuralgia be added to the list of new considered Health Topics which means it will be considered for funding and research with the WHO organization. For the awareness day, we now have an awareness color and ribbon and will have buildings and towers and fountains lit up in Teal for awareness. And they've designed photos to use for facebook backgrounds, t-shirts on zazzle.com, posters, mugs, buttons, (with profits being donated to the Facial Pain Research Organization). It's amazing!

So why do we need an awareness day for Trigeminal Neuralgia? You already know about my daily pain... the constant aching in my cheek, teeth, ear... sometimes eye, jaw, nose, lip etc. The stabs and jabs, buzzing, stinging, pinching. It's 24/7 for me, with some days worse than others. Sometimes I function better than others. Sometimes I just can't think, when my eyeball feels like it's going to explode for instance. Other times I am doing ok. But anyway - I feel like I've explained my pain in other posts. You know a lot about it already. And I'll do an update another time (things are basically the same, somewhat worse actually).

 But let me just share two stories I heard just the other night to illustrate why I think awareness is really important.  One was about a person, a grown son of a TN sufferer went to the Dr and saw a nurse practitioner and was telling her about his mother with trigeminal neuralgia and the upcoming awareness day. The NP told him she had never heard of that. Never heard of it. So he explained the symptoms to her. She said she thought that sounded like something someone had made up to get on disability.  Made up?! Ok.

Then, the same night another TN sufferer vented that she was working at her job as an ER nurse and told them about the awareness day coming up on Monday.  These nurses proceeded to make fun of the TN awareness day and the people who come in with the pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia into the emergency room seeking relief. They were making fun of people in excruciating pain. They were laughing about it.  They obviously had not idea what it was really like. They didn't get it. How can people like that even work in a profession where they claim to help heal people?! It's mind boggling.

This is why we need more awareness.  We need more nurses of all kinds to know what it is and to take it seriously. We need Drs who know how to treat it.  We need better treatments that actually work.  We need research. We need people to be aware and to be compassionate. Please just be compassionate. And someday, please, we need a cure.

I can't live everyday of my life in pain.
No one should have to live like this.
And I talk to people and I read these stories and I know my suffering is considered a milder case of this condition, on the milder side at least, which just seems almost laughable considering what I go through at times. It's hard to even comprehend. This pain is no joke.
Please do whatever you can to spread awareness.
Wear some teal and tell someone why.
Tell someone you know about Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Change your facebook profile to a TN photo.
Share a TN photo or infographic.
Look up Trigeminal Neuralgia (classic and atypical) and become more educated.
Be extra compassionate towards someone today.
(bring me cookies?  - kidding.)

You never know what effect you might have.

Thank you.
(and thank you to all of you who have already done any of the above to show your support to me and others who are suffering from this. I can't even really express how much it means to me. Really, thank you so much.)

Check out these links for more info or google search. I regret that I can't link to all the really moving personal stories that have been published in relation to the awareness day. It's amazing:


Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School Updates (and all that stuff)

Well summer came to an end as it always does and I think the kids were mostly excited, as was I. You know I love my kids fiercely. But I am a mom who just needs a house with a time of peace and quiet - especially given the conditions that life has given me.  This is our reality.  Anyway. We celebrated back to school with our traditional night of ice cream sundaes! Wohoo!

Isaac was starting middle school and we survived back to school night, showing him where all his classes would be and getting his locker open etc (he was very anxious about all the changes of course).
Abigail would also be at the middle school with him (more on that later). The middle school here is grades 7-9, even though 9th grade is technically high school and is on your high school transcript, which I find very bizarre but I'm trying to just let it roll off my back. Whatever! They were going to a brand new built school out here, which Abigail found weird (she went to a different school for 2 years prior) - it didn't have any of the landscaping in or signs or anything when we went to back to school night.


That means the younger 2 were at the elementary charter school by themselves. Elisabeth would be in 2nd grade and Samuel would be in 3rd.  So here's a little update on each of them with the back to school pics (if you are new to my blog, just a note: I don't use the kids' real names on the blog. I also don't use our last name. I know it's weird. Just what we decided to do. So they are, in order of age, oldest to youngest: Abigail, Isaac, Samuel & Elisabeth. But I do use my name and Zac's. Totally weird. Oh well. That's just how it is.;) ok.):

Elisabeth was very excited about started 2nd grade. She is still taking gymnastics and recently tested into Level 2. She is strong! She is climbing all the walls in the house (like the hallways and doorways) and can hang from just her arms. Silly monkey. She and Samuel play together a lot and that makes me happy (except when they also fight together a lot).  She can still be rather difficult at times (her stubborn streak is still strong as ever) but we're trying to work on it. But overall she is sweet and just loves to play and swim and climb and do cartwheels and give hugs.

Samuel started 3rd grade and he was much more excited than I thought he would be! He is usually a little timid and anxious but not so much this year, which is really great to see. He has jumped right in with getting his homework done too which is wonderful (well except for his reading, which he hates). And he fights me about taking his shower, which he also hates. We are trying to find an activity he can excel in (and that we can afford) because we'd really like for him to have a talent or hobby that he can do really well in and feel confident in. He doesn't really like to do much of anything except video games right now. Hmm. So that's something we're thinking about. He and Elisabeth decided to do an afterschool drama club that meets twice a month, which shocked me. My shy anxious boy with speech issues wants to do drama club of his own free will and choice?!? Ummm, okkkk.  We'll see how it goes.  Anyway, his teacher seems really sweet and I'm hoping this will be a good year for him.  They also do a class play this year which they've already talked about, so maybe that's why he's thinking about drama club. Not really sure. Hmm.

Isaac was pretty nervous about going to middle school but by the second day he was talking about how fun it was and how it was like a game, switching classes and getting to go different places to class and everything, so that was good.  Then we found out he had been enrolled in the wrong classes.  He had tested into an advanced learning program but they hadn't enrolled him into the classes for it, so we had to switch around some classes towards the end of the first week.  That was sort of stressful for me and him getting that figured out. But it worked out and his best friend was in the program classes with him so that helped relieve some of the anxiety about changing his classes for him. Phew!  He's not taking piano lessons anymore but is learning bass in orchestra now so that's good. He's also got some fun technology classes he's excited about. He is so responsible and hardworking and independent.  And he's getting so tall!!  haha.  It's sort of amazing seeing him around the house.  It's like, where did this tall boy come from??  And how did he become so good...?  One day he just said, "I'm going to do everyone else's chores and clean the whole house."  And he did!


 Abigail was starting 9th grade - technically high school!!! (but still middle school here - lol) She actually had the opportunity to make a decision between going to this middle school and attending a performing arts charter school in salt lake.... And this turned into a very difficult decision for her and for us. I think I'll write more about how that decision was made, and why ultimately we chose the local middle school, in another post, because it would just make this post way too long.  But Abigail is still writing lots of songs on the piano and sometimes experimenting with guitar chords, and singing. She has figured out some church hymns and has composed some of her own simple variations on them.  She is even accompanying the opening hymn singing for her seminary class today (starting in 9th grade they start taking a voluntary scripture study class for one class period, off campus). I think she's pretty brave for playing the piano for a hymn when she's never taken piano lessons before! I love hearing her play her songs. She is so incredibly talented. She is playing violin and viola in orchestra this year (hopefully trading off songs) and still taking private violin lessons.  She's also singing in our church choir now which is fun for her.  Amazing girl.

 And there you have it. A little update on them all. So, they all took off to school.... these four incredible kids.

 2 going to middle school together...

meeting their friends and walking off to the bus stop...

And that's how the first days of school went - 3 weeks ago. Yahoo!

(more on that hard school decision to come...)

Monday, August 19, 2013


Is there anyone still reading this who isn't on my Facebook or Instagram? 

As I consider my blog posts, I just wonder how redundant I am. So if anyone is out there who doesn't see my photos or my status updates, let me know! ;) 

Part of me would sort of like to collect it all into one place anyhow, for consistencies sake and all of that, but we all know how great I've been at blogging anyway lately.  So. I'm just curious. Going forward... 

Leave me a comment please! I really do want to know! Thanks. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fourteen: a "blogging-as-therapy" post

If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you may remember that I went through a stage when I was very self-conscious of who I was in my youth. I was kind of embarrassed by it, in a way I guess. I had issues with integrating who I was with who I am. Yeah, I just had issues.  We all have issues, right? It's no big deal. And I am mostly through with it. I've worked through it, partly through writing some great blog posts on here where you guys helped me come to terms with who I was and who I am and that it's all ok and no one really cares and it all works together to make me who I am and I can like who I am and like who I was, even though I may not like parts of who I was and still not like parts of who I am now and still want to become better even though I accept where I'm at and everything will all be ok.  It really will be ok. I don't judge you and you don't judge me and we try to create a safe space here on my blog where we all have our own stuff, right? Because we're all imperfect and we're all just doing the best we can. Ok.  So we're all clear on that.

So. But sometimes I still like to use my blog as therapy. Writing is a great therapeutic tool.

And so you see my daughter, my oldest daughter, my firstborn, this one that turned me into a mother . . . she turned 14 in May . . . 14?! How can this be? Yes. 14.  And this turned my head around and whipped my mind around in circles and kind of kept me up at night in reflective thinking, flashbacking to some kind of memories and aching and wondering how such silly old memories could still seem to hurt so much, remembering and wishing I didn't remember some things. Then wondering how she and I are so different and our experiences will be so different (of course, because we are different), but then how we might be the same, and how can I be her mother, how can I best help her through these years, and why were they so hard for me, why were they just so hard and what was I supposed to learn from them . 14 was a transformative year for me. A hard year in a lot of ways. Much of this was through my own dumb choices which I recognize, but which I was blind to at the time, I guess. Who knows. What do we really know at 14.
14. Ugh.

I turned 14 in the middle of 8th grade. I had already had 5 so-called "boyfriends" (eeeeek, please please remember that little clause about not judging too harshly). I'd had a boyfriend attempt suicide. A friend who had been raped. A few friends who used drugs (although I had never had it offered to me). And one of these so-called boyfriends who did clearly only want "one thing" - he asked for it as his Christmas present. Nice. I had my older sister call and break up with that one for me - because I was very clearly mature enough to handle this on my own. hahahahahahah.

 I also got mono at the end of 8th grade which meant I was very sick for what felt like forever. I ended up in the hospital  for 3 or 4 days with abscessed tonsils that had to be drained. Then towards the end of that summer when I was 14 I had to have my tonsils taken out, which was awful. So it felt like I was very sick that entire summer.

Anyway, I don't know how others would have described me at that time. I guess I was shy? Insecure? Self-conscious? That sounds pretty typical of a teenage girl, but I think maybe it went beyond that.

You see, I had a problem with talking.
Let me explain.

My first "boyfriend" was in 6th grade, but I've told my kids that we didn't even talk, so it hardly even really qualified as a relationship.  And that's no exaggeration.  I mean I did not exchange words with this poor boy, ever. I even called him one night (our one and only phone conversation) and we said hello and then sat on the phone listening to each other breathe for 20 minutes. I kid you not. I'd like to say we share equal blame for this, which I suppose must be true to some extent.  But I just don't really understand it.  Why didn't we say anything to each other?!? How did that even happen? I don't know. And then the thing is, this kind of thing kept happening throughout my relationships.  So I began to see that it must be me.

It was excruciating.

 I think all of my so-called boyfriends had given me lines at some point such as "you should talk more" "why don't you talk" "you're too quiet" "what are you thinking" (except for the boy who I never actually talked to).  These words would swarm around my head like bees and buzz so loudly I couldn't hear anything else until I couldn't even hear any of my own thoughts anymore and I would clam up even more than I had been before.  Teenage Kristen Rule #1: If you wanted me to talk, don't bring attention to the fact that I wasn't talking.  Some of the time, until they brought it up I wasn't even aware that I "wasn't talking".  It was just comfortable quietness or listening to them talk, or laughing, or whatever.  But then.  Once I was aware.  Then it always became awkward self-consciousness. Which I hated. Was I talking enough? What if I wasn't? What if I was too quiet? Was it not ok to be quiet?  Other times, usually when I was very emotional, I would have so many thoughts and feelings and something would happen where I would physically shut down and I could. not. talk.  I could not make words come out of my mouth.  It is very hard to explain - but it's almost like standing at the edge of a high diving board and just not being able to make yourself jump off. I would be frozen. Shut down. One of those things.  Anyway.  And it just kept happening.  So I knew it just wasn't one other person who felt like I didn't talk enough.  It was me.  As a 13 and 14 year old girl I felt very acutely that something was wrong with me.

Summer after 8th grade. 14.
My first church youth conference. I had a boyfriend who was going. This was a boyfriend who would take the phone and play basketball with it sometimes across the room sometimes when I wasn't "talking", just throwing it into the trash can over and over, and I would sit in silence.  I remember that. Why did I sit there? I don't know.  I can't remember if we had broken up officially at that point when we went to youth conference, maybe we had. Maybe we were kinda sorta getting back together.  I don't remember all the details.  We were riding in big charter buses to drive several hours to a college campus for the conference.  I sat next to him. He leaned his head on my shoulder and slept. I really liked him. I thought I did. I had a heart that liked too much too early and yearned to be liked - and I mistook all sorts of other things for being liked in return.  How could I have protected myself? This is what I ask myself. Maturity would have helped. Self-confidence... Why didn't I have any?  I don't know.

At any rate, as things went on at the youth conference my 14 year old self felt like I was being given very clear signals that this boy still liked me and we were very much still together.  There were unmistakable signs. Clear actions on his part.  At least the first night there were.  And then the next day there were various workshops to attend etc and I felt like he ignored me completely. We didn't go to workshops together like we could have. Or go eat meals together at the cafeteria. I didn't see him anywhere, although I tried.  He didn't try to see me. I felt discarded.  He didn't talk to me again for the next 2 days of the conference.

The last night of the 3 day conference there was a dance. I was tired of feeling so confused and sad and used.  I waited around at the dance for him to show. He did.  He didn't ask me to dance.  I gathered every bit of courage I had and asked him to come with me for a walk outside so we could talk.  Because we needed to talk . . . . didn't we?  Because I needed to know why he'd been ignoring me.  I needed to know where we stood.  I needed to know why he had acted (very clearly) that first night like he liked me if he really didn't.  Oh my poor little 14 year old heart.

So we walked down a sidewalk and sat down on a bench. I had words in my head that I wanted to say. So many words. Like a huge puzzle of words. I had to say them. I had to. They were exploding out of my head, but it felt so hard so hard to get it out of my mouth.  And we sat. We sat. The silence. The longer the silence built, the harder it became to say anything at all. What was wrong with me? What was my problem?!? He started picking flowers off of a nearby bush and dropping them on the ground and crushing them beneath his shoe.  I watched. Agonizing.  And we sat in silence. And I felt paralyzed. I wanted to speak. I wanted him to speak. I couldn't get any words to come out of my mouth. Nothing.  I felt like I couldn't even move. I don't know how long we sat there.  How long could it have been....?  Finally he said something like "well, if you're not going to talk, I'm going to go."
And he stood up and walked away.

I sat.

I looked at the crushed flowers on the sidewalk by my feet.

The next morning we boarded the buses to go back home. All of my friends, including this boy, somehow ended up on a different charter bus than me. I don't remember how that happened, as we had all been on the same bus when we had come.  As if I wasn't already feeling crushed and heartbroken enough (and also hating, hating myself), for some reason this added to it.  I sat in a seat by the window, overwhelmed by such overpowering feelings I could not even deal with it. It wasn't just the sadness, although there was that. It was the self-loathing - this not being able to believe what had happened, not wanting to accept this part of myself, this way that I was, this thing I did. Then the rejection. And feeling alone. And the happy noise of the bus all around me but not being a part of any of it. And it was too much.  It was too much for some part inside of me that just broke into pieces.  And it was then, on the way home from youth conference on that bus, there in that window seat, sure that no one was paying attention to me (and they weren't), that I first self-harmed. I won't go into details because you really don't need to know. But I feel like this was the age (if not before) when I began having depressive episodes.  This was definitely the beginning of one. I feel like they continued ever since although I didn't recognize it as such until much much later.

And I hope you don't feel like I am placing any blame on this particular boy or what he did, although rejection can certainly play into triggers for this kind of thing. My goodness, I can only have very vague and compassionate views of what goes on in any 14 year old boy's head. And certainly I am very forgiving of any poor boy who did his best to like/love me back in my teenage years. Sigh.

And so, that was one of the defining turning points during the summer after my 8th grade year.  Along with having mono/being hospitalized with abscessed tonsils and then getting my tonsils taken out. It was just a bad summer.

My problems with talking, by the way, continued to plague me well throughout my dating years, even into my marriage, although Zac has been able to patiently work that out with me when I would shut down over the years.  It's been a hard long process even with him, which I am somewhat embarrassed to admit. But he never told me I didn't talk enough or that I was too quiet. So that is to his credit.

So, you may think I am making a bigger deal out of all of this than I should. I certainly don't see any point in comparing what should be a big deal and what shouldn't. And this is just my story, one part of my story - I can only tell my own and what it meant to me. I look at my sweet daughter, my 14 year old daughter, and I know she will have her own story to tell, which will not be like mine (in the time since I first started this post, she has gone to her first youth conference!!).  And I hope I will be able to help her navigate through her own. I hope she will not have to suffer in the same ways I did. I hope she will be confident and will be loved and love when she is more ready. (So far there has been no mention of any boys (fingers crossed).) But I also hope that there was some purpose to what I have gone through. That there is some reason for it all in helping me become who I am.

This is only one little story of me being 14.
It is hard sometimes to think about.
But it takes out some of the sting to tell it out loud.

(me second from left, a couple days before I was hospitalized with the abscessed tonsils. I got very sick very quickly. This is pictured with my siblings and visiting cousins)

"If I don't write to empty my mind,
I go mad."
- Lord Byron

Saturday, July 20, 2013

`and last but certainly not least, the May Birthday Girl

Remember we had a bunch of Spring birthdays?  Yes? Yes. May brought the last of them, our first born, who became the last of the birthdays.;)

Abigail turned 14. This brought all sorts of strange nostalgia to my mind because 14 is big! The summer after 8th grade. I remember that summer.  I'm writing a blog post about it. Maybe I'll post it sometime. Maybe. If I ever finish it.

Anyway. Abigail is the sweetest 14 year old you will ever meet. And not much like I was at all I think.  Not that I wasn't sweet.  But, well nevermind.  (See? I can't help it. This 14 thing keeps coming back to me, I need to purge it or it will haunt me forever. wow.)

I decided to spoil Abigail on her birthday and take her out of school to Kneaders for lunch.  It was pretty fun for the two of us.:)

Then for her cake, she got 2 of her favorite treats: nutty bars and reece's peanut butter cups.  Turned out pretty cool, I must say, for not having any idea for sure what I was doing!

And she got some musical sheet music that she can play on the violin and a used ipod touch (just as Isaac did - except she uses it for her music and taking pictures and not for games).

Confetti!  :)

Another part of her birthday was having 2 of her best friends come over to work on making a music video for one of her songs that she has written.  They worked all day on planning, acting and recording snippets with the video camera, then Abigail put it to her song and edited it and pieced it all together.  It's really great.  We're still working on getting it to where we can post it to YouTube and get it on FaceBook where everyone can see it.  I'm so proud of her.  (This picture is of her friend doing her hair beforehand - or pretending to do her hair or something.  Silly girls.)  ;)   And a very appropriate T-shirt from my mom.

My beautiful girl.  She is so musically talented and creative and loving.  Love her so much.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

how does your garden grow

The other night I was kneeling in the dirt of our little garden looking at what has come of the seeds we have planted, what has grown and done well, and what has not, pulling out all kinds of very prickly noxious weeds, and weeds that had worked their twisty ways around the stems of my dear little plants. I knelt there weeding and weeding and weeding and and I got to thinking, as I am wont to do. Oh, thinking. My brain. It's a doozy. And I thought about life and summer and the trip I just went on and my kids and the things we've been doing and all of what we've been up to.  (I know it's hopeless to even tell you about the posts I still have in my drafts that I really am still going to finish and post. I really am.) But anyway.  Gardening. Weeding.  Thinking.  And I thought I'd check in here and give you a little update and let you know how things are going, or growing, as the case may be, beginning with our experimental garden plot, and maybe expand on this as little metaphor because metaphors are always fun.  And here I am.

1. So we've lived in our house 11 years and through these years we have had a little plot in which we have sometimes  on and off experimentally gardened.  Nothing has been very successful and it has mostly been discouraging and has mostly grown an amazing amount of weeds.  This year we are trying again. We bought some manure and peat moss and turned the soil and even designed and installed a watering system (which we determined to be our main failure in the past. Turns out things don't grow so well without water. Hm.)  We bought seeds.  We started some seeds from little seed starter peat pots indoors.  And eventually (later in the year) we bought a few tomato plants and a red pepper plant. The younger kids also brought home some carrot seedlings they had started in yogurt cups at school.  So, at this point, our watering system has failed - our sprinkler system turned out to have main water valve leaks that Zac has tried to fix at least 3 times and it is still leaking and so the branch leading the garden and back yard are still not functioning.  And yeah, it's over 100 degrees and our backyard is not being watered.  If you're not from Utah or the West you may not understand the significance of this. Oh well. We are watering the garden from the hose but we are more committed to keeping things alive and I think it is working.  We have some tomatoes starting to grow. Some lettuce. Some peas look good. One carrot from the kids school seeds. Of my little herb garden that I started from seeds, only basil looks like it will grow into something that can be harvested.  I am disappointed not to have any dill or chives but not much can be done. Of the seedlings we started indoors, marigolds were the only ones to make it after we transplanted outdoors.  We have some green bean plants growing (haven't seen any fruit yet) and some zucchini or yellow squash (not sure which).  The pepper plant died and we don't know why.  We are learning through trial and error.  Probably mostly though error. We don't really know what we're doing. Just hoping to enjoy some of our harvest.

(all below photos taken in Humboldt, CA)

2. My trip: I went to CA for my oldest sister's wedding.  I drove 2 days there with my mom and her new husband and my niece/sister and her husband and we stayed there 3 days in a rental house with the 5 of us plus my brother, his wife and their 2 yr old and my youngest sister, then drove 2 days home again.  We spent time with my sister, her son, her fiance, and his 2 daughters, plus the best man, another friend, my sister's fiance's parents. Did I forget anyone?  There were a lot of people, which meant they were surrounded by a lot of love and support which is wonderful, but for an introvert like me who needs a little time alone to recharge, and a person like me with chronic pain who needs daily naps to kind of function in a normal fashion, all the busy running around kind of drained me in a significant way.  I mention this to try to explain to myself why this trip felt so difficult to me in some ways.  Family.  We grow up together.  Are we like a garden? We are seeds somehow sown together, we think we are getting the same experience of sun and water and soil and yet each of experiences it all so differently.  This is something that always seems to come up when I am together with my siblings.  We experienced our childhoods so differently.  We remember even the exact same things so differently.  We experienced our parents differently.  It is hard sometimes to come to terms with the differences of our experiences.  Our memories.  Our childhoods.  And even now. We continue to experience things so differently.  It is hard sometimes to respect and come to terms with the differences of our experiences.  We are in the same garden but experiencing differing shade and sun and water. Sometimes we forget that it's not the same. And not all of us are flourishing in the same way.  Anyway.  I'll just quickly also bring up the issue of being an adult when your parents divorce and remarry. I must have been naive or maybe I just didn't want to think about it - but I didn't think this would affect me as much being older.  I was 21 when my parents got divorced.  And I will just tell you that I was wrong. And if you are one of the people who somehow think or thought the same, I just want to disprove that myth for you once and for all.  And I just have to say that having your parents remarry at any age is still hard.  There just is no way around it.  There were weeds I found on this trip cropping up in my mind that I didn't even know existed.  Not the "bad thought" weeds that we're typically taught to weed out of our minds in that sense, but just things growing in the back of my mind, thorny prickly uncomfortable feelings that needed to be dealt with. Painful thoughts that had to be grabbed with both hands and yanked on and brought to the surface and untangled, even though they dug into my palms and left me scraped and bloody.  I came home from the trip having accidentally unearthed some prickly thorny weeds and it wasn't necessarily any one's fault or any particular incidences or anything. It was just the circumstance of what is and that I need to deal with my weeds. It was a wonderful trip, all things considered. It is so beautiful there and I love it.  The wedding day was beautiful and I loved it. I love my family and I loved spending time with them.  Gardening is just such hard work.  We work at it the best we can and sometimes we aren't so good at it.

3. Summertime and my kids: we started a new chore system and it seems to be going well. The kids are actually doing chores!!  Hooray! This is going well for the most part because I am doing well enough to enforce it - ta da! Magic! ;)  And Zac and I are both actually amazed at how well it is going.  It took a couple weeks to get some of the complaining to stop and to not have to drag certain children from step to step but after 4 weeks, it seems to be going somewhat smoothly. They have a room for the week to clean and maintain everyday and then "deep clean" once a week and we have incorporated doing the laundry and some extra things into the basic rooms. They have a printed list of what they are expected to do every day.  I help Samuel and Elisabeth as needed.  That's basically it.  They seem to be proud of their work, happier throughout the day, they keep things cleaner because they take some ownership in it. Ahh finally seeing some growth in this little garden!!  We are also taking steps to limit screen time and that seems to be helping the overall tone in our home.  Other than that, we've made our list of "fun things to do" and we're trying to do them.  Except Elisabeth wants to do things like "make hats" and I'm really like, really? do we have to make hats?! I'm not crafty and I don't really want to sit and make hats but there it is, sitting, staring at me on the fun list, wanting to be done. Crap.  So yeah.  There's things like that.  I'm more into the "make homemade ice cream" - lots of it.  Let's make lots of homemade ice cream, and popsicles, and smoothies, and cookies .... and forget all about counting calories .... ever . . . again.  Ugh.  It's too hot here.
We are also doing lots of pooltime and hopefully growing lots of great family memories. Summertime...

4. Finally, because I haven't updated in a long time, I'll just give a quick pain update.  It's still there. The beastly trigeminal neuralgia and chronic migraine. I added another medication that is supposed to be helping the migraines and could also combine to work with my other med to help my TN. I started in April and have been increasing the dose. April I had 17 migraine days.  May I had 14. June I had 10.  So you could say perhaps it's working. It could be coincidence. It could be any number of factors.  You could say any way you look at it, 10 migraine days in a month is still an awful dang lot of migraines!!!  I was disappointed when I counted it up because it felt like it had been such a better month for me.  hahaha.  That's still an awful lot of days.  And then I still have the daily TN pain.  But I'd have to say that pain is mostly down a notch.  So instead of generally being at a 6-7 on a 1-10 scale, it is mostly at around a 5-ish most of the time.  And I have some small hours at a time when I am almost without pain, which is glorious.  I have been able to exercise, or I am able to force myself to exercise most of the time, which I am grateful for - and I have been counting calories, which is miserable.  But it is a necessary evil, because I hate the weight I gained on the meds and being bedridden that first year and a half with the severe pain. It is/was a definite contributor to my depression.  I never know if or when I may be at that point again so I need to do all I can to become more physically healthy while I can or whenever I can.  It's been hard but worth it to see even small results.  So my pain is a little bit better.  Mostly now I get the ache  and stinging pain across my cheekbone, occasionally aching in my upper jaw, occasional aching and shooting pain in ear, pain around eye and in eye, tingling along tip of tongue, feeling like someone is pinching my ear - then the migraine either in my left eye and left side of forehead and head, or on my right side of head (I know that's
weird).  So that's the strange garden of my brain (these messed up neurons).  Just leave it alone - only the professionals can tell what's growing in there (metaphorically).

And there you have it.  Lots of growth and weeding and watering and fertilizing and nourishing and waiting and watching and hopefully harvesting.  All of it.  That's what life is, right?  Gardening. :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

gymnast in the making

Elisabeth has been taking gymnastic lessons since November. Over the weekend, she had her first "exhibition meet" where she got to do a little routine on each of the pieces of equipment; bars, beam, floor, and vault. They didn't compete or anything, just showed off what they've learned, then got a medal and a goodie bag and we gave her some flowers (fake flowers, because she's been having terrible allergy attacks lately with swollen eyes and hives and everything, so she actually requested that we get her fake flowers, silly girl).

Anyway, she was noticeably nervous but did a pretty great job.  She was very excited to show all of us her routines!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

becoming a mother

 “When a woman gives birth, 
two are born; 
a baby 
from the womb of its mother 
and a woman
 from the womb 
of her former existence."

 -Marianne Williamson

The arrival of Mother's Day always does something to me, puts me in a contemplative mood, perhaps especially because it coincides with the month of the birth of my firstborn, so I am always thinking in particular of when I became a mother.  This child, my daughter, this baby, who suddenly came into the world and transformed me into a mom.  I struggle, as perhaps all moms do, with feeling adequate, with feelings of guilt, all my shortcomings laid out in sharp detail with every parenting misstep, every single day.

And now I find myself in an interesting stage of parenting.  This middle stage. All my children are in school.  It's an "easier" stage in a lot of ways.  Not yet driving or dating. No potty-training or diapers. No nap schedules or nursing schedules. We can leave them with a sibling who can babysit. Admittedly, there is more fighting, whining, screaming, throwing things, hitting, and crying than I would have expected at this stage, but I am learning that things are very rarely, if ever at all, like you expect them to be.  Really. Like my face pain.  Just when things were supposed to be getting "easier" . . . nope, BAM! Let's hit you in the face (almost literally) with chronic pain instead. Have fun with that. 

Anyway.  I wanted to tell you the story.  This story of when I became a mom.  Just because all stories are fun, right?  And this is my mother's day story. And we all have our own stories. I don't mean to diminish anyone else's or glorify my own. Yours may be a story of not wanting children at all, or wanting but not being able to, perhaps a story of having children young or waiting til you're old, whether by choice or by circumstance, of adoption, of infertility, of being rich or being poor, or having a single child, or 12 children, or something in between, of being married, single, divorced, widowed. I don't know all of your circumstances, how can I. We each have our own story to tell. 
This is mine. 

Zac and I had known each other about 4 years when we got married so we felt like  we already had a somewhat solid foundation and knew each other very well. Although there is always an adjustment period being newlyweds, there was a deep well of trust and emotional bond that we had to draw from from the very beginning of our marriage so that we felt we were ready to start the next phase of our life together. Even though we were both still young college students, we felt strongly that as soon as I graduated we should start our family. 

I was graduating in April so we figured May would be the absolute earliest that we'd want to have a baby, counted back 9 months, figured it would probably take at least a few months to get pregnant anyhow (right?! I mean, of course!) and we started trying.

And I got pregnant right away. 
Of course. 

That was September. So I spent Fall semester pregnant, sick and running out of my classes puking. Then Winter semester I had a full time internship during which I became very swollen, uncomfortable and very pregnant.

I graduated 8 months pregnant. 
Here is my department head congratulating my very obviously about-to-pop belly: 

A month later we welcomed Abigail into the world (I've written the birth story on the old blog, which I need to import here sometime):

Having a child I think is like a million other hard but wonderful things in life where you cannot really wait until you feel ready or you will never do them. You are never ready. There is no ready. You can never be ready for something so completely transformational, so unexpected, so deeply individual.  
So was I ready? 
Of course not. 
I would never have been ready. 
No one ever is.
Ask any mom. Any parent. I don't think anyone is ever really prepared for what lies in store when one becomes a parent because it's never really ever what one expects it to be.  It can't be. That's just the common refrain of life isn't it? 

So there I was. I was 24 years old. Just graduated from college. Zac had a really great, well-paying, important-prospecting summer internship at a firm in DC so we were actually packing up our apartment and leaving to drive across country. In 3 weeks. 

Um. Yes. This was slightly crazy. And turned into the perfect recipe for a delicious brew of postpartum depression, but I didn't realize any of that at the time. It wasn't any one thing's fault. It was just a combination of factors.

(Here is zac with 3wk old Abigail at a gas station stop somewhere in Wyoming) 

We packed up everything we thought might need for the 2 of us and a newborn baby that we could possibly squeeze into our tiny Tercel floor to ceiling, front to back, and we took off, stopping at least every 2 hrs to nurse this tiny infant and change diapers and outfits and blowouts at the side of the highways and at gas stations and rest stops and soothe her whimpering and crying all along the way across the country.  I remember she still had a bandaid on her heel from her PKU test in the hospital and her umbilical cord stub fell off somewhere along the way on that trip. It was . . .  perhaps . . .  the longest car trip I have ever been on in my entire life.

Then we eventually arrived to stay in this strange apartment that was part of an semi-attached garage in the house of a lady who attended our church there in Fairfax,VA.  We were sub-letting the apartment from a couple who were coming out to UT for a couple months and thus leaving it furnished and leasing it out for the months they were gone.  We would occupy it for those 2 months.  But the owner of the house was an older lady whom I felt like never really liked us very much (who knows why) and I felt uncomfortable and shy and weird in this other person's apartment with their furniture and belongings. It just felt strange.

Zac worked long hours. I was home alone with Abigail without a car in this apartment. It was so hot and humid outside, I was afraid of the baby overheating, and I don't think I even had a stroller. I felt self-conscious and even paranoid going outside (clearly something was going a little bit wonky in my brain). I was a brand new mom with no friends in the immediate area and I had not a clue what to do. We didn't even have a TV (and this was before prevalent internet). I read some books. I called my mom and cried to her. I nursed my new baby and napped with her and talked to her and watched as she developed new skills. But that was all I ever did. I was lonely and depressed.  But I didn't recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression at the time.  It was only looking back in hindsight that I see it and sometimes I am a little sad that those were my first months of motherhood.  But I know now it was also more than just circumstance - it might have happened to me even under the very best circumstances just because of my very susceptible chemical makeup. Anyway.

 I also had no clothes that fit me. None. I think my socks were all that I still had that fit. Nothing else. Even my feet had swollen and become a half size bigger.  This persisted as a problem because we were still rather poor college students (trying to save his great internship income, of course), now with baby costs, and also I was still holding out great hopes that I would soon be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. That's what "everyone" said would happen, right? That was the expectation. So I wore Zac's baggy clothes to get by and tried to adapt to my new body that felt so foreign to me.  I remember the first time I tried to go for a run that summer, the first time since sometime before I had gotten big into pregnancy, and I felt shocked by what my body had become.  It wasn't me. It couldn't be. And yet I looked down at myself and yes it was.  Oh. 

And I never did get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I guess that's part of my point in this story. More than just the clothes, I never went back to person I was before I had Abigail. I never could. I don't know if I would want to. Everything changes. Everything. When you become a mother. If I wrote about all the ways that I changed, this story would never end. 

But this is my story now.  It never ended. I guess it wasn't how I expected it to be. Nothing ever is.

This is the story of when I became a mother.
Everyday I become 
more of my story.
This is my story.
Everyday is my story.
I become more 

Related posts that got me thinking:
Why Mother's Day is For the Birds
Don't Call Me Mommy - Unless I Birthed You
Birthing a New You

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