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. 🙂

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 – otherwise, 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 🙂 Hope you enjoy.

Happy Friday!

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2 thoughts on “Apples & Oranges

  1. I’ve read your blog off and on for a few years. Congratulations on your pregnancy. Having MS made having babies that much more difficult for me, it’s even harder to explain it to them later. My babies are 9 and 6 now. They are amazing kids, as your child will be. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks so much, Kim! Right now, I’m just enjoying having fewer seizures and having more energy than usual. I’m sure once the little one is born, I’m going to need extra help. Adam and I keep teasing about just keeping me pregnant, one after another, until there’s a cure. 🙂

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