Tuesday, February 13, 2018

El Paso Women's March 2018

I had debated on whether or not I would blog about my daughter and I marching in the El Paso Women's March a few weeks ago.  I am not all that eloquent in trying to explain my stance on anything political, and the last thing I wanted to do was politicize my blog.  I've learned the hard way in this world of online interactions that everyone will have an opinion about everything you do, even if it's attending a Women's March, and that can be hard on me.  But it's important to me to blog about the things that are important to me, so the more that I thought about it the more I thought their opinions be damned... the El Paso Women's March was worth a blog post.

I live my life and lead in my actions with compassion and empathy always.  I give what I can when I can to everyone without judgement and without hesitation, even if it's only a handshake and a "God bless you" - it has been through these interactions that I have found more joy than I ever deserve.  I believe that empathy at the root of all of my decisions are what make every aspect of my life less complicated.  I believe wholeheartedly in equality for ALL And I believe that compassion and empathy (and common sense) are what will heal the world.

I am not strong.  I might even be the least strong person you know or will ever know, and there was a time in my life where I was even less strong than I am right now.  There is a reason that I don't often, if ever, talk about the time of my life before my daughter was born, and it's because there isn't much worth talking about.
God put my parts together in His way and then sent me here to be born where I was tossed aside not long after as an itty bitty little girl by a person who completely broke my spirit, and that put me on a trajectory that only a timid broken little girl could go.  I easily absorbed the mean words that kids often say to each other and internalized them believing that I was ugly and stupid, growing up I was made to feel that every little thing I did was was wrong, years later I chose a boyfriend who couldn't care less whether I existed or not, a couple of years after that my repeated "no's" did not make a someone stop, and then a few months after that I settled for an abusive relationship that lasted for years longer than it should have believing that that was all that I deserved.  All of this culminating into a cycle of being perpetually humiliated for almost all of my early life.  

But then.  

Then, God in all His mercy placed a 5lb 9oz tiny miracle baby girl in my arms and I knew instantly that she was better than me.  She was smarter than me.  She was stronger than me.  On the day that that precious baby came into this world she began demanding that the world meet her standards, and they were high.  If she was going to demand from this world she now belonged in, then I would too.  Isabelle would never be tossed aside or thrown away.  She would know that her voice would be heard and that she mattered.  Isabelle would not be humiliated by standing up for what she wanted or didn't want, and her spirit would be valued beyond measure and fed goodness & love for as long as I was on this side of Heaven, so if the time ever came that she might get her heart broken her spirit would be more than strong enough to withstand it and see her through.  

So, with Eric by my side, we set out to raise a human, a strong one.  We showed her all aspects of this world through a lens of compassion and empathy, from concentration camps to cathedrals, homeless shelters to national parks, we didn't shield her from a single facet.  
But as parents it was never our job to put words into Isabelle's voice, or thoughts into Isabelle's head.  We could lead by example, we stand by our belief that compassion, empathy, and common sense will heal the world, but we can't tell her what to believe or how to feel about the things she's seen.  Going to the Women's March with my daughter was important to me.  It was important to me because I needed Isabelle to see empathy on a giant scale, but even more than that, I needed for her to see her voice in action, and for her to see that her voice has power.  What she does with it after this will be up to her.

"Normalize Empathy" - So perfect, and so important.

With each step my daughter took in the march that day, I could hear her voice getting louder and stronger.  She walked ahead of me every step of the way.  I just stood back allowing her to fill her heart and voice and spirit and brain with all the things that the Universe chose to give to her.  As a mother and a woman, it was incredible to see.  Together we rise!

The last thing I wanted to do was politicize my blog, but if you Google the statistics about woman and sexual assault, woman in the workplace, woman and equal pay, woman and healthcare, or even women and access to women's healthcare then you would understand the need for marching and raising our voices.  Just like www.womensmarch.com explains: Women's Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women's Rights, and that speaks right to my empathetic soul.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

It's My Brain's Fault

Blogging has been extremely difficult for me lately and it's all my brain's fault.  I have been on a very long and complicated journey with my health for the last few months, taking what little focus of mine that wasn't already on my daughter or husband and leaving nothing to give to this blog of mine. Which is why things have been so desolate on here for so long.  

I am currently seeing three different specialists who I swear to you went to medical school for the sole purpose of ganging up on me just to drive me to insanity by having me crisscross all over this city for their individual separate appointments and then crisscross back again to get poked for the same exact blood tests that they each ordered but didn't tell each other just so that they could all go back to their lair and laugh maniacally together at how their evil plan is coming along perfectly as they twirl their gross thin mustaches because they've successfully made a person go insane (just kidding, none of them have mustaches).  Eric and I are hoping that the bulk of the testing is over with, but just when we start to think that we get thrown a curve ball like a bone marrow biopsy days before Christmas (but that's a whole other blog post and my brain just isn't ready to talk about that yet, and it's still a little salty about that particular curve ball so now is probably not a good time to talk about it anyway).   

To be honest, it's hard to know where to begin because we don't have any answers yet, and everything that is going on has been happening so fast and is so intertwined and complicated that I couldn't make it make sense even with a clear head, but also, I'd like to maintain some of my privacy and not go into a lot of detail.  

What I'm comfortable telling y'all at this point is that we know that I have a serious seizure disorder and have very recently started seizure medication which has put me into a major fog.  We don't know why, we don't know what's causing them, we just know that they're there and that seizure medication was absolutely critical.  With all medications there are side effects and there are adjustment periods, and I know that this is no different, especially one that needs time to work it's magic on a majorly malfunctioning brain, and after two weeks I can feel that I'm starting to turn a corner (I hope), but it has been a giant life changing adjustment that my little family was not prepared for, and it too has me a little salty.  
I have been struggling with "gaps" - that's what I call them because there are gaps in my thought process and even how I put my words together.  I'm forgetting simple things and simple parts of my routine.  I get lost really easily in stores or on my way to places that I've been to dozens of times already.  I lose track of what I'm doing constantly and get confused really easily, which then immediately turns into my getting emotional.  Step-by-step instructions like recipes get scrambled and I can't manage to unscramble them even though they are easily numbered, which makes it infuriating.  I am losing weight and am hungry all the time but I forget whether I've already eaten or I forget to eat completely so then being hungry at all becomes extremely aggravating to me. 

So to sum it all up: I feel like a gosh damned child, and I am not so sure there are moments I've acted like it too.  

But don't let me make things sound so dire.  Sure things have been rough, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other and I think I've turned a corner!  I'm not sure where this journey is going with my health but whatever, I've been through worse so I'm not all that worried.  I'm a little bit irritated that I'm even on this journey since I was just on one with my fertility and it ended peacefully and I was just getting my body back and had started to fall in love with hiking, but that's okay, Universe, I see you, you want me to go through this too, okay, I can handle it.  I might want to cuss you out a bit, but we'll talk about that later.
I am thankful every day for access to the excellent healthcare that I have at my fingertips, and for my husband who lovingly points to obvious landmarks for me to remember in the mall or store that we're in when I begin to wander off (I do that a lot) so that I don't forget where to find him, and to my daughter who is inherently good and kind and says "mom, it's okay, just read it slowly until it makes sense, it's okay, you'll get it." without ever making me feel bad.  

I've wanted to give y'all an explanation for a while now on why I have been so quiet.  It's not like me to just drop off the face of the blog universe the way that I did and I feel terrible about it.  Other than that, life has been really good. Isabelle is great!  She is keeping me so so busy!  So busy, in fact, that I almost don't have time to think about those maniacal mustache twirling doctors.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Well Damn, October is Over

Well damn.  October has been over for a while now and I said almost nothing about pregnancy & infant loss.  But then, I haven't really said much about anything at all.  

This little blog of mine has been sorely neglected since we moved back to America last year.  It's gotten second fiddle to most everything else in my life, mostly because life got equal parts hectic and boring, but also, there just isn't much for inspiration right now.  
I had every intention of pouring my heart out to you all or give advice or share some amazing resources out there for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month, but then every time I sat down to blog, I lost my gumption.  I had hoped to talk about the one aspect of our fertility journey that I've never publicly talked about before, adoption and surrogacy, but then every time I sat down to blog, I couldn't figure out the words I wanted to say.... and, my heart just wasn't in it.  Which I guess tells you all you really need to know about how those methods of expanding a family fit into our journey.

I don't know where my gumption went, but I can't find it, and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.  I usually blog when my heart is in pieces because those pieces sometimes make more sense to me when I lay them all out on a blog, but lately my pieces feel pretty great.  Mostly though, there just isn't anything exciting going on in our lives right now.  We settled into our new life here quickly, and since then I've been focusing on making life as easy as I can for Isabelle who is eyeballs deep into a rigorous high school schedule and is prepping for her first college courses that start this summer, and for my husband who needs to concentrate on Army stuff right now.  
In July I started working out 4-5 days every week and have lost a small chunk of weight.  I'm struggling to see the progress, but I'm enjoying being physical and my time at the gym has become really important to me.  I am focused on my ultimate bucket list goal of hiking to Machu Picchu after Isabelle graduates in a few years, so working out is helping me build my endurance.  And for the first time in my life I feel like my body is working the way it's supposed to, rather than hating me and murdering everything inside me because apparently I am the worst owner of a human body ever and deserve to be punished for however long I have a contract on this stupid thing.  
Besides the gym, I've also been spending any free time that I have (which isn't much) volunteering at different organizations.  If you're on any of my social media you know that Eric, Isabelle, and I volunteer at the Humane Society of El Paso.  I am a little bit obnoxious about putting all over the internet the adoption events we help with because I want to get as many dogs & cats fur-ever homes as I possibly can, but other than that I volunteer for other organizations around this city that I don't like to post about so as not to take any glory away from the Lord who is truly doing the work - but it is another aspect of life that is keeping me busy right now, even if you aren't seeing it or hearing about it.

I promise you that none of that is really all that interesting or blog-worthy.  

Since I had a seizure in June I've been dealing with all sorts of different health issues.  It's all very intricate and complex and the only thing you really need to know is that everything is checking out fine.  I have a laundry list of medical "quirks" that set off red flags, but for me they are normal and I'm just having to go through the motions as each doctor investigates each red flag.  If you've ever spent any amount of time in a waiting room then you know that that is nothing worth blogging about.  

I promise, y'all haven't missed anything.

I HATE that we aren't traveling like we used to, but with Isabelle's schedule the way it is we haven't been able to get too far from home.  Between her class load, theater club, church, and her volunteering, she needs time to rest and relax, so we are mindful to keep whatever time is left free from any sort of commitment (and truth be told, I need a glass (or 3) of wine on those days, so there's almost zero chance of getting my ass off the couch anyway).  But Eric and I know that this is just the beginning for her, and her life is only going to get more insane as she dives further into her college courses.  So until she graduates, all I can do is keep adding to our bucket list and daydream about the awesome adventures that await us.  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month 2017: Acceptance.

Today starts Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and I, for the first time in a long time, don't have much to say about it.  

Eric I made the decision almost 2 years ago to permanently end our ability to have biological children when we were told in no uncertain terms that there was NO hope of my ever carrying another baby to term.  While that decision was emotional, to say the least, and took us more than a year to make, I hadn't learned yet that acceptance was the essential part of our journey that had been missing the whole entire time.  Without it, we would never have been able to heal even a little bit.
It wasn't until after we ended our ability to have children that we were forced to accept that no baby, no answers, and a heart full of hurt was our happy ending.  It didn't feel very happy.  I can't tell you that acceptance came easily, or that I didn't shake my fists in anger at the Universe, but slowly and patiently, as if it was a living thing who had been waiting for us all along, acceptance so generously brought us the peace we needed to confidently move forward.  There was NO doubt in the months following our decision that we had made the exact right decision.

Our journey was over!

So now, I am in a completely different head space than I have ever been before.  I am not struggling with the losses I've endured, and I am not desperately trying to get pregnant.  The pain I was feeling for so long gave me inspiration for my blog, and I found solace in pouring my heart out on here when I had no where else to pour it out to, but now, I don't feel like I need to do that anymore.  

I feel like all that I've wanted to say, I've said.

This doesn't mean that I won't continue to grieve.  It took a lot of healing for me to understand that grief won't magically go away any minute now.  Grief is a life long process, and I know now that only until I am standing before my Lord and Savior will my broken parts be put back together.  So until Jesus is ready to heal all of my parts, I will try my damnedest to carry them as gently as I can and not throw fits at the Universe when they get too stabby and heavy.

And this doesn't mean that I won't continue to blog about pregnancy loss and stillbirth, or stop advocating for a community that is suffocating under the weight of silence.  

I was reminded recently how suffocating silence can be when two people close to me, on separate occasions, gently encouraged me not to talk about my son so much; suggesting that it was time to let him rest in peace, or telling me about another person whose baby had died too but never talked about it, like that was the better way to handle it (maybe for that person it was, I will never know, but for me it's not).  
These were two different conversations in a long list of conversations I've had since my son died 15 years ago that should never have happened.  These separate conversations were coming from well-meaning but very misinformed people (most likely because of a generational difference), and are examples of why people suffer in silence.  

And those kinds of conversations happen all the time.  

So then I wondered, had I done that terrible of a job explaining the facets of stillbirth and pregnancy loss on this blog that two women who are close to me and read my blog feel that their advice, which is so opposite of everything I've ever talked about, is good advice?

What I had no intention of mentioning, let alone writing an entire blog post about, I now got myself started on and now there is no going back.  Because stupid comments and terrible advice are being given to hurting hearts every day, even to me, someone who has walked this path for a really long time, has had every shitty comment you can imagine said to her, and is still here.... being given terrible advice.  
Yeah soooo, what if my journey was painfully slow and haphazard-like, and maybe it took a whole lot of wine to get me to the spots where God asked me to walk through a specific challenge.  And okay, so maybe I had a few full-on tantrums when my broken parts were extra stabby and that particular challenge God needed me to go through sucked way worse than I expected.  But I did manage to claw my way to the finish line (hair flip) with a really awful murdering uterus, so please take it from me: never tell anyone to not talk about their child.  Ever.  There are families that are just starting out on their grief path and are not capable of finding the same kind of understanding, who risk being silenced for years because of one dumb comment.  They eventually will figure out that sort of understanding, but even when they do, telling them not to talk about their precious child is WRONG.  

Don't do that.  Just listen to them, that's all you have to do.  

I promise it really is that simple.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that I am in a better head space now than I ever have been before, so a little while ago I felt like I didn't have as much to say..... but then I started typing and look, I had something to say.  So who knows what this month will bring.  October is my favorite month, so the possibilities are endless... ;)

Let me leave you with a song that my daughter introduced me to a few weeks ago and has been on constant repeat ever since (anyone else do that?  Play a song until your ears bleed?).

As if I couldn't love Ed Sheeran anymore than I already do!  Swoon!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Hatch Chile Festival 2017

I anticipated that life would get busy after Isabelle started high school, but I had no idea that it would mean practically living in my car until she graduates (or gets her drivers license, but at this point, nobody has time to teach her how to drive so there's a fat chance of her getting her license any time soon), and that I would almost never get to see my husband or sit down long enough to blog.

Not that I have anything to blog about because I practically live in my car now, and because the one place we did manage to get out and go see was a total bust.  But still, it would be nice to see my husband every now and then.

My little family lives outside of the school district that Isabelle now attends high school, which means that she isn't able to ride the bus and I have to drive her to and from school every day.  Her school isn't all that far from our house, but because of traffic it's a good 60 minute round trip twice every day.
Besides driving her to and from school, Isabelle is required to volunteer a certain number of hours in order to graduate, and because of the age limits at the organization that Isabelle has chosen to volunteer, a parent has to be present at all times until she is 16 years old.  So that means, me and Eric are volunteering too.
And, Isabelle is involved in theater club.  So in between her school day and volunteering on the weekends, her left over minutes will revolve around auditions, practice, set-up, opening nights, etc..., which means that my left over minutes do too.   

So it was a good thing that before life got so busy, Eric and I took some time alone together to go to Hatch, NM to the Chile Festival!

We had no idea what a Chile Festival was, so I don't know what we were expecting, and I can't be all that sure that we gave this particular festival a fair shake, but for us, it was a total bust and we ended up leaving soon after we got there to go home and watch a Game of Thrones marathon in our pajamas.

The festival was out at the Hatch airport, but on our way to the airport it looked like the town itself was a neat place to wander around, eat, and shop.  But by the time we made it to the airport (traffic was backed up for miles), and parked our car (parking was so disorganized and frustrating), and then walked around for a bit not seeing anything fun or interesting, a Game of Thrones marathon sounded so much more fun than trying to fight for another parking spot in a little town that was packed full of people.

The festival did have live music and food, and we managed to get a few things that we can give as Christmas gifts, but that was about it.  Other than the amazing smells of all of the roasting green chile, we didn't see a lot that we wanted to stay for.

So we didn't.

I live for Snapchat filters, don't you?

I snagged one of these for my kitchen!  I'm not sure that it's meant to be used as decoration, but I think it's just perfect anyway!

See what I mean.... there just wasn't much there that struck our fancy.  But c'mon, could a Chile Festival ever really compete with a bottle of wine, a Game of Thrones marathon in my pajamas with my husband who I don't get to see all that much anymore?  I didn't think so either.

But please don't mistake my adjusting to this new routine for complaining.  I've only got a very few precious years left with my girl until she goes out into the world on her own, and I am convinced that the years have aligned the way that they have to allow me to spend these last few years walking along side of Isabelle as she makes her way out from under our wings.  So while it's been exhausting lately, I am loving every second I get with my daughter.  All I'm saying is that it'd be nice to see my husband.  But not at a Chile Festival.... because it was kind of dumb.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Freshman 2017-2018

My only child, the light in my world, the coolest person I have ever met, has started high school.  

High school......  

Whoa...  Wait a second, give me a minute here.  I think I need to let that sink into my heart a little longer.

Wow, yeah... Isabelle is in high school now.

Today, Isabelle embarks on what will no doubt be an intense few years at Valle Verde Early College High School (VVECHS).  VVECHS is partnered with El Paso Community College (EPCC) where students earn an associates degree in the major of their choice as well as their high school diploma upon graduation - fulfilling 6 years of schooling in only 4.  On top of all of that, a certain amount of volunteer hours are required to earn their diploma, as well as involvement in at least one club or organization.

But Isabelle isn't intimidated by any of that.  Eric and I are, but Isabelle... not even a little bit. 

VVECHS is rated the best high school in all of El Paso and was recognized by U.S News & World Report for being one of the best in the nation!  VVECHS has a 100% graduation rate.  There are only 100 kids per grade which was about the same size as my graduating class in ancient times when I was her age.  
We worry that Isabelle doesn't know how hard, and I'm assuming overwhelming, the next few years will be.  The school offers endless resources to help the kids get through, and of course Eric and I are extremely committed to doing whatever we need to to help her too, but we know that there is only so much that any of us can do, and most of it will be on Isabelle's shoulders as we take a step back and let her carry the load mostly alone.

Are her shoulders strong enough?  She is smart enough to earn a college degree at the same time as her high school diploma, that's for sure!  But she isn't organized at all, like, at. all, and her priorities are typical of a 14 year old girl, so we can't be sure that she knows what she's in for yet.  She has a lot to figure out still.

But she will.  She'll figure it out, she always does.

I've just recently came to a point in my mothering where I have realized that now is the time that I begin to let her go.  Not completely yet, if ever.  But little by little as she makes her way towards graduation and becoming an adult, we as parents have to let her go and let her get her barrings on this world.  And while it had never occurred to me that this was where I am as a mother until recently, I am completely comfortable with that realization.  

But I've still got a lot to figure out too.  And I will.... I always do.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fort Union, NM

On our way home from climbing The Incline, Eric and I decided to stop at Fort Union, NM on a whim.  We were exhausted and every muscle from our wastes down were on fire, and it all sort of sucked a lot more than it should have because we had a really long day of driving ahead of us to back get home.  It would have been really easy to not stop at this random place that we hadn't even planned on stopping at in the first place and just continue on down the interstate in all of our miserable glory.  

But we didn't.  

And I am so glad didn't.

Eric got me and Isabelle a National Park passport book a couple of months ago and we have been trying to collect stamps ever since.  We did not get a stamp when we were in San Antonio and I'm really irritated about that.  So to be completely honest with you all, we probably would never have stopped at Fort Union if it wasn't for our passport books telling us that there was a stamp waiting for us there, and if not for us being irritated that we didn't get a stamp in San Antonio when it was within our grasp.

Fort Union is in northern New Mexico and ended up being so much more than we expected!  It was the largest U.S military installation on the Southwest frontier in the 1800's, and the foundations of the stone buildings and some of the adobe walls are still visible.  It was really neat seeing an old time military compound and seeing how it all starts - I could imagine that this was how Fort Bliss may have started and grown into what it is now.  Everything was all self-guided so after we were sure to get our passports stamped, Eric and I wandered around the compound, took pictures, and then reluctantly headed back to the car to continue our long drive home.

Fort Union was so much more than we expected!  And was totally worth the extra hour we added to our already long day to get home!  Sometimes, the best little adventures lie within a whim.