Apples & Oranges

Week 15!

week15-2I’m currently very amused by the fact that some websites say our¬†baby is the size of an apple and others say s/he is the size of an orange. There’s something poetic and hilarious about it because it means that you really can compare apples an oranges, at least as far as size is concerned. ūüôā

week15 For all interested parties, I am now showing! ¬†Most of my clothes, though, are loose, so unless you felt my belly, you still wouldn’t know. ¬†One of the perks of losing ~20 pounds before conception has been that most of my clothes still fit very comfortably, jeans aside. ¬†I basically am living in my pajama pants and t-shirts. That hasn’t stopped me from falling in love with maternity clothing, however. ¬†I honestly believe that belly panels and shirred sides on shirts are some things that plus-sized women’s fashion has been desperately needing for a long time.

And can I just say how totally bizarre it feels to have all of your organs shifted around and up, and for your lower abdomen to start feeling kind of like an inflated ball? ¬†Because it’s straight-up weird. And it’s occasionally acutely painful. ¬†The best way I can describe it for guys or ladies who haven’t experienced it yet is that sometimes you get cramps that feel sort of like the cramps you get when you are super constipated and really have to make a bowel movement, but slightly higher in your abdomen… and no amount of pooping is going to make anything better, so eating a big handful of prunes, while great¬†for its fiber and nutrients, is ultimately folly.

This week has been much better in the realm of tummy issues, though. Only 1 day where I got sick Рotherwise, things are alright!

One thing that has been¬†a bit disturbing to me is that I’ve had a few seizures. ¬†Not like, a ton or anything – heck, it’s nowhere close to what I dealt with prior to pregnancy, but it still freaks me out when it happens. ¬†I got so used to not seizing! I got some tinglies in my feet and back yesterday too, so I’m willing to bet money that I’m fighting off some kind of ickyness. It’s nothing to be worried about, just so you know. My epileptologist told me that as long as I continue breathing through the seizures and am not falling, it’s not likely to harm the baby. Her biggest concern is making sure that me and Hush Puppy have sufficient oxygen at all times.

Pre-Birth (or “Soul”) Contracts

contract-ariel

So, one thing that Facebook is really great for is introducing me to concepts that are second-nature to friends of friends but are totally unusual and bizarre to me.  One of these things is the concept of the Pre-Birth Contract.

A quick summary: Before you were born, you and a bunch of spirit guides got together, reviewed your last lives for what was good and bad, and decided a path or “destiny” for yourself to move towards enlightenment — to better understand what life is all about — to better understand how you are a part of God. ¬†This solidifies the idea that there are no coincidences or accidents — this was all part of God’s (and your) plan. The curve ball? ¬†You forget all about the contract you made upon incarnation and have to experience it without the knowledge that you’ve chosen your path for your higher self’s greater good. That’s the only way for you to experience¬†free will and the ability to creatively problem solve.

At first blush, this notion made me angry (It seemed like the cruelest form of victim blaming I’d ever seen.) and then it amused me greatly. My response to my friend’s friend was, “If I planned the life I’ve gone through for my greatest good, I am a serious pain in my own ass.”

I mentioned it to Adam, who is an even bigger fan of table-top roleplaying games than I am, and his immediate response was, “What a neat idea! It’s like cosmic character creation.” He made a joke about how there’s got to be real estate in Heaven, and that we’re all just trying to get to the de-luxe apartment in the sky — that folks with harder lives get better quarters. ¬†Imagining that I’d get better digs because of MS and seizure disorder gave me the giggles. ¬†When I said, “I’m doin’ it all for us,” he was quick to remind me that we’re only married until death, so he’d have his own place. ¬†I asked him a moment later if my eyes were actually shooting laser beams into his face or if I was just imagining it. ūüôā

I wondered if Hush Puppy was currently in negotiations, or if that happened before conception. ¬†Then I wondered, with all the things I’ve endured (and continue to endure), what enlightenment my soul was after.

Why NOT me?

whynotmeYesterday, my friend Erika wrote a great blog entry about how she deals with self-pity in regard to having MS. Her tactic is not to say, “Why me?” but rather “Why not me?” ¬†She reminded us all that everybody’s got their burdens to bear, and that it’s better to do so without unnecessary sadness over the hand you’ve been dealt — but then she said something that I’ve seen many, many folks with MS say. ¬†She said, “I want my ‘old’ life back.”

For whatever reason, when I read that, it made me think about those Pre-Birth Contracts. It made me wonder, “What am I trying to learn?”¬†I can’t count the number of times over the last 7 years that I’ve wished that I never developed¬†MS… the number of times I thought about how much better life would be if I were still able to drive… to be a full-time attorney and to still perform musically without fear of experiencing seizures on stage… the number of times I have shamed myself for not being an equal financial contributor to our household… the number of times that I worried about being a burden to the people I love, or worried about frightening children with my seizures… the number of times I’ve had to fight suicidal ideation.

It got me thinking: what good has come out of dealing with MS and seizures? ¬†And the answer was, “Quite a lot.”

The Upside of Down

findthegoodHaving MS and seizures has caused me to learn many lessons that I would not have otherwise have learned.

  • It’s absolutely forced me to learn the importance of regular meditation and/or prayer for physical and mental health.
  • It has highlighted the need for¬†self-compassion and made me learn how to practice it.
  • It’s made me question the way that I think about everything – and to constantly examine those thoughts for truth and rationality.
  • It’s made me wildly change my expectations of myself and others.
  • It’s made me face some of my biggest fears (like spending huge amounts of time alone or being locked up in a mental hospital against my will) and to learn how, not only to cope, but to thrive in situations that prior to seizures, I would have avoided at any cost.
  • It’s required me to face demons of past abuse and to do the hard work to move as far past those memories as possible by both growing as a person and learning to forgive the people who caused me harm to begin with.
  • It’s made me take a long, hard look at what I thought was important and to reassess my priorities.
  • It’s made me redefine what love means, and to see how vital it is to not only feel gratitude, but to express it loudly and regularly.
  • It’s made me a more kind, empathetic, compassionate person to others.
  • It’s made me much, much more patient. (Which isn’t saying much, since, emotionally, I’m still wildly impatient – especially with myself. Still, 2014 Rae is way more patient than 2006 Rae.)
  • It’s made me redefine what it means to be a good friend, and to more fully appreciate the people who¬†are willing to be on this ride with me.
  • It’s made me painfully aware of mortality, of the importance of never taking any aspect of your body or health for granted, and of the fact that doctors are just people who are doing their best to help people with the knowledge that they currently possess.
  • It’s helped me to recognize what’s really important versus what society and advertisers suggest are the things we should be focused on.

If it weren’t for my disability, I wouldn’t have the privilege of staying at home with my future children. I wouldn’t know, deep down, that the most important work I will do in my life will be to raise kind, emotionally intelligent, community-minded, curious kids. I would be trapped in the Quest for More Stuff and More Power.

I wouldn’t know the joy of the double-nap day or the freedom that comes with being able to say, “The dishes and laundry will be there tomorrow.” ¬†I wouldn’t be able to laugh about people who are genuinely fretting over fashion or other “first world problems.”

Does that mean that I’m grateful for my challenges? ¬†OF COURSE NOT. That would be silly. Challenges suck! Nobody’s genuinely grateful for disability. ¬†But I am genuinely grateful that there’s gold to mine from the rubble. I am genuinely grateful for growth that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.

When I think about my “old” life and my current existence, it really feels like looking at two very different people… sort of like comparing apples and oranges. ūüôā

But either way, the fruit is sweet. Life is good.

Everyday Earbug

And just because life is amusing in its serendipity, while I was writing this, I found out that one of my favorite bands (Marina and the Diamonds) has released a new single. ¬†The name? “Froot.” ¬†I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. ūüôā Hope you enjoy.

Happy Friday!

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Exercising My Right To Abstain.

iabstain

Today’s the mid-term election¬†in America. Damn near every post on my Facebook feed is the same digital sticker saying “I voted.” that is otherwise completely devoid of content. For everyone who is proud of themselves for participating, I say, “Good for you!” ¬†I, for one, will be abstaining.

Why?  Because of 3 reasons:

The first is logistical: I can’t get to the polling place. ¬†When we moved to the Chicagoland area, we moved in to my brother-in-law’s house in Romeoville (a town that’s an hour away from where we live now). That’s where my ID says I still live, and hence is where I’m registered to vote. ¬†Yes. I know that I need to get that ID updated. Adam and I have delayed that process because we thought we were going to be getting a house somewhere, and that it would be a lot of unnecessary waiting in line and filling out of paperwork. We expected to live in this apartment for maybe a year. ¬†It’s been almost 3 now. So, we will be remedying that soon. Strictly logistically speaking, thanks to my seizure disorder, I lack the ability to drive way the fuck out there while Adam is at work. So, there’s no way for me to voice my opinion, if I even had one.

The second is practical. ¬†I am not remotely invested in this community, and I am not educated on any of the races. Other than not wanting Bruce Rauner to be governor because his family gave $700,000 to the lobbying groups behind the terribly flawed SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, I have absolutely no opinion whatsoever on anything that’s being voted on.

Honestly, I am just starting to accept that Chicago is going to be my permanent home, and that I don’t have any say in the matter. I absolutely hated¬†this city before being forced to make the best of being here. ¬† I wanted to live in Los Angeles. ¬†I still do, but I know it will never happen again. I did all the hard work necessary to get out there… but disability completely¬†stripped me of my autonomy. I couldn’t support myself anymore, and when Adam couldn’t get a job there for over 2 years, we had to choose between going¬†to a homeless shelter or moving in with family. Not a tough choice, especially considering that Adam had a job here within a week of our arrival — but it has been a long, difficult adjustment for me.¬† These days, I look hard to see what’s good about Chicago… (and there’s a lot!) but I still don’t feel like a Chicagoan. I don’t know if I ever will. I feel like the people who live here and love this place should have a louder voice than me when it comes to their local politics.

The third reason is intellectual honesty. I factually know that my vote wouldn’t matter anyway. I would only be playing my part in a nation-wide charade. We are no longer living in a representative democracy.¬†We are living in a society where the only people who make it to the ballot are there because they have the financial support of oligarchs. We are living in a society where votes are lost all the time by malfunctioning hardware, where the Republican¬†party actively works to stop poor people from voting and miraculously has the SCOTUS’s aid in doing so, where the only real votes we have are¬†with our dollars. ¬†You know, because money is speech now. Voting gives us the ability to PRETEND that we have any say in what goes on here. It gives us the ability to PRETEND that we’re not succumbing to neo-feudalism. This pageant¬†gets played out¬†because people buy in to¬†partisan marketing messages and can’t be convinced of truth afterward. ¬†I have had to accept that very, very¬†rich people are the only ones whose voices will actually be heard by our government, and that those people, by and large lack empathy and are out of touch with the needs of the common person.

Personally, I don’t like participating in a farce, even if it’s the “American” thing to do.

Chasing the American Dream

Remember how I said we had a contract on a house? (This would be the 7th house we bid on in the last 6 months…) ¬†Well, we don’t anymore. We had a housing inspector out on Saturday and found out that the property we were slated to buy had all sorts of interesting problems.

Electrical issues!¬†There was no electricity to the kitchen, wiring to the main breaker using wires that aren’t even available in this country, and all of the electricity to the garage was not grounded, and was therefore a fire hazard. Also, the connection to the city’s power was not up to code, and there were wires just randomly sticking out of the ground that could hurt people!

Plumbing issues! All of the spigots on the outside of the house were leaky. None of the showers or tubs drain properly. The sump pumps were both homemade, rigged incorrectly, and non-functional. The whirlpool tub was non-functional. The hot water heater needed to be replaced.

Safety issues!  The door to the basement opened over the stairs. The outside stairs, both in the front and back were irregular in size and could cause people to fall. There were cracks in the foundation.

For these reasons and more, we decided to step away from the property. ¬†At this point, I’m completely over the idea of owning a house. Other than wanting to be closer to family and friends, I don’t see a benefit. Our 2 bed/2 bath apartment has¬†good access to public transportation and damn near everything you could want in walking distance, for a good price. ¬†If Adam finds a place he wants me to check out, I’ll give it a look, but I’m absolutely done spending time on Zillow and RedFin for the time being.

Pregnancy Update

It’s been over a week now since I last worshiped at the porcelain altar! Morning sickness has been replaced with extreme crankiness and bacne.

Tomorrow, we enter week 14. The traditional “size” this week is “lemon.” ¬†I much preferred this graphic, however.

Our next OB appointment isn’t for another 2 weeks, so there really isn’t much to report. Things are just rockin’ along. ¬†I have, however, come to a very important conclusion – and that is that I don’t need to participate in The Bump’s May 2015 mommy board anymore.

Why I left TheBump: Somebody asked about whether or not it’s ok to host your own baby shower, and she got mercilessly flamed. She was told, “If no one throws one for you, you don’t get one.” I jumped in to say that I vehemently disagree, and that Emily Post and Dear Abby’s opinions should never mean more than your personal experience and your genuine relationships with the people in your life. I said that folks¬†are going to be giving their unkind, unwanted opinions regarding motherhood for the rest of time, so she should start getting in good practice on telling people where they can shove those unwanted opinions, and that¬†she should do whatever makes her happy. At that point, I became the target for the catty, hormonal bitches, and decided that if I actually stood by my opinion, the correct next move was to completely ignore theirs.

I have found it interesting, however, that when I’m super cranky, I have an unreasonable desire¬†to click back on that thread and see the mean things that these women have said and get upset and fight. ¬†Resisting that urge has been a big deal for me.

3 Great Things About Yesterday

  1. Started a new 21-day meditation challenge by Oprah & Deepak Chopra. I always enjoy those.
  2. I was taking the bus home from my chiropractor appointment, and on the second leg of it, when I tapped my Ventra card, it said “insufficient funds.” I started to look for the money, and a total stranger offered her card. She said, “Happened to me just last week, and somebody took care of me. I’m just payin it forward.”
  3. Was an effective housewife – got dinner on the table, did the shopping, did the laundry.

smallactofkindness

Daily Cute

Everyday Earbug

And now, it’s time for me to go do all the things! You know, things like actually eating breakfast… ūüôā