The Things That Need To Be Said

It’s been a long time since I have written here… and that’s by design. Truth be told, this blog is, in many ways, much more like a personal diary than anything else. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, or if judgment is even necessary (It’s not!) — but it is what it is.

If I don’t write something about this last week right now, it probably won’t ever get written… and something about that feels, well, wrong.  So, even though this emotionally feels like what I imagine getting your brains yanked out of your nose would feel like, I’m going to let the words do their thing, so that, hopefully, I only have to do this once.

On Wednesday, November 28th, I had to terminate a very wanted pregnancy at 14 weeks because of both genetic abnormality in the fetus and additional medical complications that placed both the fetus and my health in jeopardy. 

I didn’t want to do it, but the likelihood the kid would be born was less than 10%, and if it did manage to survive childbirth, the likelihood of it surviving to age 2 was even lower. Its immune system, lungs, and heart were all compromised, and it had a genetic abnormality that would require full-time medical care.

So, it wasn’t much of a choice. Adam and I had to “decide” between ending the pregnancy quickly (before the fetus developed to a point that it would begin suffering) and a best case scenario that involved impossible odds and required money we could never scrape up.  The most likely outcome of not deciding to end the pregnancy as soon as possible was that at least one of us would die, possibly both of us.  On the other side: if I ended the pregnancy, Adam and I could try again, and would most likely not face the problem again. (One educated friend described our situation as being hit with genetic lightning.) 

Family members and close friends keep checking in — wanting to know how I’m doing, and the answer is the same as it has been since the cystic hygroma was first spotted at week 11. I’m shitty!  And okay.  I’m very sad about the situation. I’m angry at nature. And I don’t want to talk about it. In fact, I’m typing about it right now because it requires the least amount of using my voice or emotional strength to communicate with anyone about this. 

Presently, I’m sore and achy and exhausted on every level. I’m still healing, and will be for the next 2 weeks, apparently.  But really, really — no matter how much grief I’m dealing with, no single emotion has overwhelmed me as strongly as the intense fury I hold for the people of Ohio, who, while I’ve been going through this, have been working hard to make the seemingly-unending agony that I was experiencing into a capital offense

So, while wrestling with the situation, waiting for genetic testing to be done and then returned, while worrying about what this could be — for the week leading up to the painful testing (CVS: not comfortable.) and the next 2 weeks leading to surgery, I kept asking myself, “Why not me? Should I die instead? Am I a murderer? Do I want to kill my child?”

I kept thinking about how hard I worked over the last decade to stop cyclical suicidal thinking. I kept asking myself if it wasn’t a more ethical choice to just kill myself instead — if this wasn’t somehow my fault. Doctors assured us that neither Adam nor I could have caused either of the medical situations that affected our fetus, but I kept searching for reasons to hate myself. I kept looking for malfeasance.

I found myself genuinely wondering how a loving and all-knowing God could create pregnancies like the one I was experiencing and then also make unkind idiots who believe that a woman should be put to death by her government if she, her doctor, and her partner made the horrifically painful, but necessary choice to end a pregnancy that was already all but guaranteed to kill the baby within the womb, and definitely within the first 2 years of life, but also put that woman’s very existence in danger as well.  

It honestly boggles the mind to think that an action that my OB/GYN — an expert in high-risk maternal fetal medicine — called “the only compassionate choice” is also, somehow an action deserving of death in the minds of folks who have never had to experience it. 

To be clear on my perspective: There’s no goodness in letting a fetus develop to the point that it has cognition and can feel pain, just so that it can definitely die, painfully, before it would ever utter a “hello.” There’s no Godliness in making a woman choose the life of a doomed baby over her own. There is no legitimate government interest in actively increasing the misery, pain, and financial burden of the parents of a doomed and dangerous pregnancy.

Society does not need to be protected from mothers like me. I do not belong in prison for life for this. I have to live with this. I have to live with myself and the knowledge of what this experience feels like and means about nature and my place in society and even the cosmic order. I chose to live… so I had better fucking live.

Part of the reason that I haven’t written about this or been willing to talk with the many of you who have reached out is that I’m not looking for anyone’s permission or absolution. I’m not signing up for judgment, and writing about your life or sharing with concerned friends or family members oftentimes seems like an invitation for others’ comments. I don’t have the emotional energy to deal with more negativity. I have enough. Shit, I don’t have the emotional energy to deal with thanking more people for caring! I barely have the will to “person,” let alone to entertain other people’s thoughts and questions.

I already have family members who have decided to bitch behind my back to my mother about how I update about my life quickly on Facebook instead of talking to them. Honestly, I’m just getting info out to people who care about me as expediently as I can. I’m floored and slightly overwhelmed by how many people have reached out with love and support in this gigantically awful time… and my ability to respond has been emotionally stunted, at best.  So, if you’re actually cranky about me not giving you “preferred status” with regard to windows into this hellscape nightmare, do us both a favor and get yourself a hobby. Gossip obviously isn’t entertaining you enough, and I’m not calling to entertain you. 

I am grieving.  But it doesn’t mean I have to share it.  My grief may not look like yours would. I’m not on anyone’s schedule, and I don’t owe anyone. Grief doesn’t care about schedules. Neither does pain.

TBH, I’m not crying much. I’m not thinking about what should have been my 4th child, if pregnancy were always perfect. I’m thinking about how Real Child 2, version 2.0 didn’t make it through beta testing, and hoping against hope that version 3.0 does better. 

I’m thinking about how, if version 3.0  is also a girl like its rainbow sister, I need to fight harder to protect her reproductive rights. 

I’m seething for the women of Ohio, who deserve more respect and care.

And, I’m grateful to live in Illinois, for the time, attention, and care given to me by the medical teams we worked with at UCMC and Northwestern, and to have both my mom and Adam around to help me get through this.

And for Henry, who cannot really understand what’s going on, but who is really enjoying extra time with MeeMaw.

And, yes, sometimes I’m crying out of absolute frustration over my lack of control over some of the most meaningful bits of life… but crying doesn’t help me feel better. Writing does. So, I’ve written the things that need to be said, so I can stop hearing them in my head.

Better Living Through Science: Keto

When your mom calls you an hour earlier than normal and says that she’s looking forward to reading about Week 1 on the keto diet, you set up your piece-of-shit laptop  (which will hopefully not crash while I am writing this entry and also will be replaced by the end of the week) and hope for the best.

Week 1: “Lazy” Keto

Adam got tired of me driving myself nuts trying to create perfect meal plans. It mattered far more to him that we get started. So, on 6/4, we decided to jump in with both feet and give it a shot, even though we didn’t have much of a plan.

We’re lucky enough to live in easy walking distance to 4 grocery stores. (No joke: Walmart, Aldi, Jewel-Osco, and Al Nour Supermarket are all less than a half mile.) So, unlike the majority of people on the ketogenic diet, going day-by-day was actually doable and helpful.  It gave me a chance to get out of the house, change our dinner plans as necessary, and pick up ingredients for new recipes that we wanted to try.

For the first week, I went based off of this keto calculator.

1481 kcal Daily Calorie Intake
25 g Carbs (7%, 100 kcal)
80 g Protein (22%, 320 kcal)
118 g Fat (71%, 1061 kcal)

But, when I went to set my percentage goals in MyFitnessPal, I only had options by 5’s, so I ended up with this.

Calories 1490
Carbohydrates 19 g (5 %)
Fat 116 g (70 %)
Protein 93 g (25 %)

I’ve made my food diary on MyFitnessPal public because it’s easier to link you to the information than it is for me to take screenshots — or worse — to type it all out by hand.

Here is how I ate last week.  I did not food journal on Saturday, but I stayed to foods I knew were okay.

Based on my personal data, it said the keto calculator said I should stay above 79g of protein because I am mostly sedentary. I could go as high as 131g — but the best idea is the middle ground of about 105g. When I put my percentages into MFP, it gave me 93, which seemed reasonable.

When I switched to Cronometer, yesterday, however, and chose the Ketogenic diet, my goals appeared very different.

Calories 1640
Carbohydrates 20 g (net: total minus fiber)
Fat 156 g  (Much higher than the original calculator recommends)
Protein 39 g (Much lower than the original calculator recommends)

I’m not really sure which calculator to trust… but I do know that following week 1’s recommendations was doable.  I feel good about my ability to follow that diet.  And, it had a ton of benefits.

  • Reduced seizure activity (thought seizures were still very present towards the end of the week, when I was due for my period)
  • OBVIOUS CHANGE IN BODY SHAPE (My pants are literally falling off me today.)
  • Cognitive fog: lifted
  • TONS more energy

There was, of course, the other side of the coin — Keto Flu, which is bizarre. I needed a ton more sodium and potassium, but twice, chicken stock (bone broth) made all the difference in the world.  The supplement helped too, but I’m not sure how much good 99mg is when you’re supposed to aim for 3500mg

If you’re on Cronometer, and you want access to my food diary, send me a request. My email is rachael.renee at the gmailz.

Recipes That Are Totally Worth It

So, one of the things that happened this week was a lot of experimental cooking and recipe synthesis.  There will obviously be more next week, but here’s some of the recipes that got me through this week.

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My Italian sub roll-ups are so freakin good.

I also tried my hand at making cookies with almond flour, coconut flour, Swerve, and cacao nibs.  They were pretty rough, so the  recipe doesn’t deserve to get shared.  I’m going to try again, this time with Lily’s chips.  If it works out well, I’ll post the recipe.

I’m sure there was other stuff I was going to write about, but I have too much other crap to deal with today.  I’ll try real hard to get back on before next week’s update and write more.  ❤

Testing… 1, 2, 3…

*tap, tap, tap* Is this thing on? Well, I hope so.

This week, we, as a world, found out that FB gave out the personal info of, well, pretty much everybody in the country, to Cambridge Analytica — a move which has caused many of my friends to delete their Facebook accounts.

I say, “Good for them.”  I can’t bring myself to do it for a multitude of reasons, despite really wanting to.

While it’s true that I could just write here, I would lose connection with too many people.  My phone already frequently complains that it doesn’t have room to update apps, and I’ve barely got any on there to begin with. (The latest Android system update feels bloated AF.) I hardly use Snapchat or Instagram. I only Tweet when I’m on my laptop, and I’m too tired to learn a new media platform this week. (I’m sick with another upper respiratory virus.) Besides, I don’t want to miss out on any of the psych-ops that are targeted at me. 🙂 Why would I want to waste those agents’ hard work? 🙂

Honestly,  there’s a lot that I want to write about.  So much, in fact, that creating a cohesive entry seems too tough.

So here are things.

Henry’s about to be 3, and he’s pretty fucking amazing.  He’s pooping in the potty now, like a big boy, and that blows my mind wide open. It’s the best. It’s game-changing.  I can’t wait til the potty becomes the toilet.  We’re so, SO close. Of course, once that’s complete, odds are rather good that I’ll be wiping butt #2. (Dear Lord, please see fit to let me wipe butt #2.)

He’s also gotten really good at turning my words around on me at the perfect moment.  “Be calm, Mommy! Big breaths up in your belly!” is probably my favorite thing he’s said to me all week.  He’s also decided that I deserve M&Ms when I make tinkle, too. When I refuse them, it makes him sad. It’s a good reminder that I don’t give myself credit.

Speaking of credit… I’ve been thinking about creating an app or piggybacking on another one.  See, in Habitica, you get coins and experience points for doing things. You “level up” and can use these imaginary chits to buy crap for your avatar — or you can assign “things” to yourself.  (Like 200 gold for a real-life something or other)

I feel like it’s super important for my mental health that I start recognizing the things I actually accomplish, since so many of my tasks are revolving (dishes, laundry, etc.) — and I’ve been repeatedly hearing “You must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

I’m also exhausted right now, and am going to try to nap before my husband gets home with the kiddo.  So, even though I’d love to talk about the many levels of exciting and amused I would be to read a headline like “President Trump Goes Down Because Of Porn Star Gag Order,”  it’ll have to wait.

Oh, yeah, and March is MS Awareness month. Be awarer. *lol*

The Things We Cannot See

It’s been a while since I gave myself license to sit down and write. It’s easy right now because I’m sick with laryngitis, and my mother-in-law has Henry.  After the miscarriage (which took an inordinate amount of time to resolve), I ended up having an MS relapse.  Immediately following the 6 days of oral steroids, I am now sick… so, it’s been a challenge to get basic things done, let alone to opine on the finer points of life. That being said, today is World Mental Health Day, and I write extensively about my mental health, so it seemed like a good time to give everyone an update.

The Banal

Recently, I’ve been taking a second look at the Wahls Protocol.  It’s a diet plan that Dr. Terry Wahls used to help her decrease the negative symptoms of MS.  Obviously, long-time friends and readers know that I tried the paleo diet to improve my MS symptoms and found very little relief from seizures, but some relief from fatigue.  Unfortunately, the number of dishes I created by following the diet used up any extra energy.

In the last month, scientists have discovered the brain’s lymphatic system.  This might not seem like a big deal at first, seeing as how the rest of the body has a lymphatic system, but for those of us with MS, it’s huge.  Essentially, this is not just proof of the immune system interacting directly with the brain, it’s the hardware in our bodies that make it possible. It’s literally part of our immune system, and it’s integrated throughout the entire brain… and until just now doctors didn’t even know it was there.

For those of us who have experienced the terrible side effects of MS disease modifying drugs, it’s galling. There’s something terribly unnerving about reading that “The discovery of the central-nervous-system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology.” Essentially, it means that we’ve all been sold insanely expensive, and potentially harmful, snake oil.  It reminds me of how “bleeding” patients with leeches to “balance the humours” used to be a real thing, which is kind of scary if you think about it.

The first mystery these scientists need to solve is how those vessels receive and dispel fluid, anyway.  They already suspect that the flow of glymphatic fluid (That’s the fluid that goes in and out of the lymphatic system within the brain.) may affect folks with Alzheimer’s or other neurological diseases that disrupt sleep… like MS!

The article states that “The flow of glymphatic fluid can change based on a person’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids…”  And that means that aside from the brain-gut connection, we can find evidence to improve our neurological health by eating well here, too.

I already take 750 mg of Mega Red Krill Oil every day for Omega 3 supplementation.  It’s been helpful for lowering my triglycerides, and I believe that its use in conjunction with Vitamin D3 has been more helpful as an antidepressant for me than Effexor or Cymbalta ever were.

So, I’m looking in to Dr. Wahls’s research and am about to start Phase 1, which is simply adding 9 cups of vegetables a day (3 cups of dark, leafy greens, 3 cups of sulpherous, and 3 colorful.) to your diet.

Whether or not I will move forward to Phase 2 (which includes going on the paleo diet again — but this time using the autoimmune protocol), is yet to be determined. I think that it might be too difficult to try to keep paleo/keto with a 2 yr old in the house who basically subsists on Peanut Butter Ritz Bitz, Goldfish, and cookies. (Don’t worry. I offer plenty of fresh fruits and veg too.)

So, for now, I’m more interested in feeding my mitochondria the nutrients they need to produce energy than I am interested in reducing inflammation in my body by avoiding foods that I may (or may not) have reactions to.

The Sublime

With all of that setting the stage — I have to let you know that it has made me think about the bigger picture.

Back when I was living in California, I got the chance to take a walk and chat with Reichart Von Wolfshield — a notable scientist, and a pretty cool guy to hang out with. During our walk, we shot the shit about atheism vs. being a believer in a higher power.  I was very well aware of his staunch atheism, and he was curious as to why I am a devout believer in God.

He wanted to know why, with a lack of evidence, I am so sure that God exists. My personal take is that everything is God — the whole universe and anything beyond — everyone and everything is a part of this higher power, which is part of why we don’t necessarily notice it. It’s too big to comprehend, and it very likely lacks the sort of sentient thought that we would like to attribute to anything that is omnipotent and omnipresent.

My actual response to him that day, however, was that I know that people are very limited creatures — that we can only see part of the visual spectrum and hear part of the auditory spectrum, and that I simply believe that since the concept of God has existed alongside all of humanity, it must have basis in reality, even if we cannot substantiate it yet with science.

The discovery of the lymphatic system in the brain reminds me why I believe in God’s existence — not because it makes me more hopeful for a cure for my ailment (thought it certainly does), but because 2 months ago, we didn’t believe it existed, even though it did, and even though, more than likely, it was present for of all of humanity leading up to now.

I genuinely wonder what we’ll “discover” tomorrow.

Giving Integrated Medicine A Shot

Tonight, I’m seeing a doctor that specializes in integrated medicine. She’s a medical doctor, a chiropractor, and she studied Chinese traditional medicine (acupuncture/acupressure/herbs) too. She thinks she can help me get my current comorbidity status to look a little less fucking scary before trying in earnest for a new party member. 

For anyone who hasn’t been playing along for several years, I’m looking at MS, seizure disorder, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, GERD, NAFLD, PTSD, and depression. Oh, and my immunoglobulin is crazy low, but that doesn’t have a name yet… Anyway, I’m trying to avoid type 2 diabetes, lose weight, improve fatigue, and, you know, just generally not die early from lack of exercise, shit nutrition, etc.

They took almost a full pint of blood for the majillion (okay 8 or 9) tests she had me get on Saturday. On the one hand, I’m excited by the thought that someone might actually help me figure out my health puzzle in a way other than just adding more pharmaceuticals to the mix. Feeling better would be awesome, but my pessimistic mind won’t let me believe it’s something that could actually happen.

(I’m actually kind of afraid of how harshly I know my inner critic would judge my present life if I suddenly had more energy. I know that it does shit like that because when I stopped having nearly constant seizures after coming off of Cymbalta and Abilify for a video EEG in 2014, I became suicidal because I believed I had been doing literally nothing but seizing and watching TV for about 4 years. That was an erroneous belief, BTW. I wrote the Tao of Rae and created the Paleo Compendium during that time, and that harsh critic is part of depression. Depression is a motherfuckin’ liar 98% the time.)

On the other hand, I’m really not looking forward to whatever crazy, pain-in-the-ass diet I absolutely know she’s about to put me on. If I were a betting lady, I foresee a recommendation of AIP or Wahls Way… because before she sent me for the tests, she said, “You know, most of your ailments can be traced back to gut health.” *GROAN*

Either diet makes me want to weep because my son’s diet is at least 50% Ritz bitz or cookie bars of some sort — which mean that my diet, for the last year or so, has increasingly become that of “whatever Henry has left over.”  This means major changes for my family. I’m not looking forward to them… but I am hopeful.  And, on the bright side, I’ve got a decent resource already ready for myself.

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to deal with Henry’s diet in conjunction. I know that I can avoid eating Ritz Bitz, but I’ve also been reading up some on Paleo Mom‘s website, and I’m feeling allllll kindsa guilt over the fact that apples and bananas are pretty well all that my toddler wants to eat in the “fresh fruits and veggies” department.  Hell, half the reason that I feed him the Plum Mighty Snack Bars is because they’ve got hidden veggies in them and all kinds of vitamins and minerals.

I’m just fucking exhausted most of the time, and that’s no way to live. I just don’t know where the energy to clean out chamutz from my house and start exercising more is going to come from. I can barely keep up as it is.

And that’s why we finally got a Care.com account and are looking for a mother’s helper for a few hours a week… but interviewing candidates is another layer of awesome stress, coated in PTSD grossness.

Anyway, Henry woke up early from his nap, so I need to go do things in the other room with him.  How could I stay away from this face?

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Happiness Is Homemade.

Hey y’all. I wrote a whole entry today, and then I realized that it was full of information that I wouldn’t want a total stranger to read… so I didn’t publish it. I miss LiveJournal and FB’s privacy settings something fierce right now, but I’m also very glad that I’m starting to have more of a filter about what I’m willing to share with total strangers all over the world. It’s an important boundry to find.

I did, however, make something for myself that may be helpful for others, so I’m linking to it here.

Happiness Is Homemade — Daily Worksheet

This worksheet goes through the 4 exercises that I do every day to help me combat my brain’s natural tendency to gravitate to the negative.

3 Great Things About Yesterday requires you to remember good things about the immediate past. I’m a big fan of trying to focus on 3 Great Things that I had no control over whatsoever — like great weather, or getting a phone call from a friend. This exercise is about appreciation.

When I was at the absolute darkest part of depression, my list looked like this:

  1. Still Alive
  2. Not In the Hospital
  3. Adam Hasn’t Left Me

3 Things I Deserve A Sticker For requires you to think about what your day has been like and give yourself credit for doing things that may have been challenging. For a while there, “Changing poopy diapers” was on my list every day. For the last week, “Fighting the urge to check social media” has been on there.  I messed up a little today. :-/ But that’s how growth works — we try our best, we mess up, and then we try again as our best gets better. In any event, this exercise is about giving yourself credit where it’s due.

3 Things I’m Looking Forward To requires you to use your imagination to envision anything positive at all occurring in your future. This can be especially challenging if you’re deeply depressed or you’ve totally embraced nihilism and are just wondering at what moment nuclear annihilation is going to unmake our entire species.

I’ve had to remove the following 3 from my list because it was the same list every day for a long time, though they’re still there:

  1. Having good conversations with Henry.
  2. Henry using the potty consistently, like a big boy.
  3. A future with autonomous vehicles that I can access.

Gratitude Rampage is an open-ended exercise that you can do for 5 or 10 minutes — or more if you prefer. You simply sit there and list (for whatever amount of time you’ve chosen) everything you can think of that you’re grateful for/happy about in that moment.  The practice requires you to think about how you’re feeling in the moment and to not ignore the positive things in your life that are currently occurring.

If you can, print this out and fill it out by hand. Your brain gets more from writing than it does from typing.

Where I Should Be Writing

Well, the last few weeks have been… interesting.

My mom came in town last Wednesday (2/1) and stayed with us all the way until yesterday. We were together for an entire week and a half…and it took over a week before I completely lost my shit on her.

On the one hand, I see that as immense growth. After starting EMDR therapy for PTSD and realizing years of repressed anger, I used to only be able to handle being around her and being kind/civil for about 3 days at a time before becoming an overly-emotional reactionary mess…so going more than a week is deserving of a high-five at the very least.

On the other hand, I’m still sick at my stomach for losing it on her in the first place, on the day before she left. I said shit that was mean and that I don’t actually think. Don’t get me wrong, I apologized, and we’re good now — but I really wish that I had more emotional control when I’m already triggered and am trying, desperately, to regain rationality.

Truth of the matter is, keeping my anxiety in check has been nearly impossible since Trump took office. The amount of irrational fear that I was experiencing when he announced the travel ban was enough on its own — but all of the internet think pieces forecasting the demise of all of humanity was just too much for me.

I lost my damn mind one morning because Adam didn’t understand how totally important it was to leave the country immediately (even though he and Henry didn’t have passports yet) and ended up going for a long walk in my nearly threadbare pajamas in 12 degree weather until I could cool my jets and act like a semi-reasonable human being.

In the twenty minutes-or-so that I was gone, Adam called my mom and my therapist.  I’m glad he realized that he didn’t need to call the cops this time… because we all know, he’ll do it if he needs to.

Social Media Changes

The first major change that occurred when I got home is that we put a site blocker on my laptop. If I try to go to Facebook, I get redirected to Cute Overload. If I try to hit Twitter, I’m redirected to ICanHazCheeseburger. If I try to go to Reuters or the Associated Press, it sends me straight to FailBlog.  Because, let’s be real… the news is full of fail right now.

I haven’t read my Facebook or Twitter news feeds in nearly 2 weeks, though I have kept Messenger around for PMing with friends. I both miss feeling “in the know” about what’s going on in my friends lives and in the world around us — and don’t at all miss feeling the near-constant panic that comes along with Facebook’s ability to show you the same bad news 10 different ways with 10 different click-bait-worthy headlines all foreshadowing imminent doom… And I sure as shit don’t need to scroll past comments showing that there really are morons out there who both want to fight for fetal “rights” and also stop those same babies from ever being able to be covered by insurance… or women who simultaneously scream that racism is over and that they don’t need feminism because they have Jesus, but don’t understand why white, affluent rapists don’t get sent to prison.

Truly, I always knew those folks were out there. Shit, I grew up in around a ton of them… (you don’t have members of your own high school drumline drawing swastikas on your practice pad and books and get to ignore the rise of NeoNazim in the South) but I don’t have to read their hate-filled, scarcity-based fearmongering.  I don’t even have to see that it exists and scroll past it. I can stop tuning in.  I wouldn’t watch FoxNews or CNN all day, so why would I let the 24 hr news cycle rule my social feed?

Instead, I downloaded Instagram and SnapChat.  There’s almost zero in the way of political crap, and that suits me fine. I’m actually seeing more personal pictures and am reading about what’s going on in the lives of my friends, which is what I actually care about.

I also do not understand SnapChat yet… because sometimes I want to see what someone said again, and I can’t get it to replay.  It’s frustrating. I swear I’m not a luddite, btw… just a little lazy, considering everything else going on in life.

But my real new addiction?  A game called Habitica. I’m still learning it, but I think it’s is one of the best possible changes in my life.  It has multiple to-do lists that you can populate with what you need to, and it gives you experience points and loot for living in integrity with your intentions.

It also doesn’t hurt that I have both a cotton-candy pink wolf and a royal purple tiger cub as pets that I got for remembering to brush my teeth, take my meds every morning and night, and eat 3 meals a day, every day this week. (It’s the little things, for real.)  It tickles me that I’m going to be getting fake gold coins for remembering to make social contact with people I like at least 3 times a week.

Anyway, much as I’d like to keep writing, Henry is up from his nap, and we have limited daylight left to take a walk on a beautifully sunny 48 degree Sunday afternoon. So, for now, I’m gonna wrap it up.

I’m not dumping my thoughts in 140 characters or easy/fast/thoughtless status updates anymore… so, I think we all know where my significant updates will be found. (Right here.)  That also means that if you want to comment on any blog entry where I can see it, you’re gonna need to comment right here and not on Twitter or on FB. I won’t see either of those. 

 

P.S. – I finally bit the bullet and contacted Pace Paratransit. Sometime in the next month or so, Henry and I should have significantly more freedom to get around. Cabs are fucking spendy.

My Sphere of Influence

So much has happened since the last time that I wrote.

Henry is now 19 months old. Donald Trump has been elected president, but everyone’s looking to the electors to see if they’re actually gonna vote for him next week, especially now that he’s put together a cabinet comprised of members of Who’s Who Among American Assholes (That is to say that they’re almost all family members, horrific Neo-Nazis, and science deniers.) and is already starting shit with China and Israel by chatting it up with the leaders of Taiwan & Palestine. *shrugs* Who the fuck knows what’s gonna happen? Not me.

Here’s what I do know: I have a limited sphere of influence in this world, and it’s kind of a gift.

It’d be way too easy to be sucked into the hysteria of this prolonged election cycle full-time, thinking I could make any difference in its outcome.  I’ve had days like that, admittedly. But I felt awful after them. I feared for my life, for Henry’s life. I felt insignificant and vulnerable. (Both of which things are true and not bad, relatively speaking.) I questioned the goodness of humanity — even existence as a whole. I questioned my resolve to have good mental health. I questioned the sanity in staying in this country. And then I questioned the sanity in leaving.

When I think about recent days that end with me not feeling like I need to get blackout wasted, I’ve usually spent the majority of it not focused on making the world a better place, but rather making my home a better place. Not on being a good citizen or advocate, but on being a good wife and mother.

The more time I spend one-on-one with Henry, with my cell phone in another room, the better I feel about life. So, I’m trying to remember to quit looking at my phone… which is surprisingly difficult, but worth it – because Henry’s at a wonderful, but difficult age.

20161205_081701At 19 months, he’s 3 ft tall already. He can grab anything he wants off of the counter. He can play the piano just standing up. He can climb up and down stairs on his own, and he’s getting closer and closer to talking in sentences.  (Of course if you count, “OH NO!” as a sentence, then he’s been golden for over a month.)

Right now, he has a lot of words that are regulars: Mama, Dada, dog, duck, baby, ba-ba  (for bottle), car, no, book, milk, wa-wa (for water), stairs, shoes, mouse, and yeah. And I know there’s more.  But 15 right off the top of my head isn’t bad!

Anyway, I’d write more about how awesome this kid is, and how much I love him, and how being a mother is completely changing the way I think about life and myself and law and even music.. but he just woke up from his nap.

Maybe someday, I’ll get the chance to write again. But you can’t “carve out” time when you’re already maxed out. Right now, I’ll just be happy getting through the holidays.

Carving It Out.

Time

pumpkin-clock1I don’t think I realized, when I decided to become a mother, how difficult it is for a stay-at-home-mom to make time for herself, let alone to make time for writing, practicing music, or even keeping in touch with friends and family who don’t use social media… but it has become increasingly obvious that sublimating my sense of self is detrimental to more than just my happiness.

So, here I am, eating my lunch while attempting writing my first blog entry in several months.  Why?  Is it because I have such important stuff to say? Is it because I need attention?  No. It’s because writing helps me be the person I want to be. It helps me think.

And, fortunately for me, Henry just went down for a nap…at 2:15 p.m. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. He’s down to 1 nap a day, and it usually happens around 12:30 or 1. When kiddo refuses to give in to sleep until his body just conks out, it usually means that I’ve got more than an hour to myself — plenty of time to eat lunch.  Maybe even enough time to get dinner up in the crock pot.  And, if I’m feeling really feisty, enough time to do the dishes too. There’s no chance of that happening today. I wish I were napping too. Instead, I’m writing. It’s what I need to do.

Pumpkins

Can you believe it’s only 2 weeks until Halloween?  I can’t. I mean, I actually bought some decorations for our house yesterday, with the goal of getting them up before the holiday is over.  (Who am I becoming? I never decorate!) I keep asking Adam if I can buy a pumpkin at the grocery store, and so far, it hasn’t been time.  Hopefully, I’ll convince him to get some this weekend.  I’m looking very forward to carving one. I’m not quite sure why, but I’d bet it has everything to do with getting the chance to do something creative. It also probably has something to do with how much I love roasted pumpkin seeds…

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to be for Halloween — or what Henry’s gonna be. Originally, I wanted to be Sarah & Duck, since that’s his favorite cartoon right now.

 

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Sarah & Duck or, as Henry likes to call it, “Duck Duck”

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Whoever made this costume is radicool.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot find a mallard costume for the little guy, and I am absolute shite at sewing. I can’t even remember how to properly thread a bobbin. (Thank goodness Craftsy classes are forever.)  If it weren’t so close to the date, I’d try to replicate this awesomeness. –>

So, I’m currently at a loss. Maybe I should think of a 3 person costume for the whole family. Who knows. We’re not planning on taking him door-to-door, but we are planning on giving out treats, and it would be a shame to half-ass the holiday like last year. I’m pretty sure he wore his $25 costume for 15 minutes max. Worth it for the pictures, sure… but not ideal.

I’d really like to take him to a petting zoo or pumpkin patch or some other age-appropriate autumnal “thing.” Adam seems on board to do that this weekend. I hope the good weather holds out.  I don’t know how I’d handle it if we end up spending the whole weekend in this house. I’ve got mad cabin fever.

I’m getting really, REALLY, really tired of not being able to drive.  Like, it’s one thing when it only really affects you, but when the kiddo is obviously stir crazy, it makes me so sad.  I mean, it shouldn’t be a revolutionary thing to get to go to the library, but when it finally happens, it will be.  I’ve only wanted to go for over a year now. It shouldn’t be so difficult.

In all seriousness, I have to figure out how to get around in the outside world with a kid when the only public transportation available to us doesn’t accommodate car seats, and Uber Family doesn’t exist in our area. Aside from asking my mother-in-law to take us places, which obviously can’t be an everyday thing, I’m at a loss.

Dear Tesla, Toyota, Google, Volvo, and every other company that is working on automated vehicles and getting the laws changed so they can be on the road: thank you for your efforts. Please do more faster.

Turkey

turkeyHalloween, of course, means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Adam and I, shockingly enough, still have a big-ass turkey sitting in our freezer from the Christmas sales last year.  According to Butterball, it’s still good if frozen and unopened for 2-3 years, but I’d be lying if I weren’t slightly concerned about how it’s gonna turn out.

We’ve been trying to organize a day of Turkey & Twilight Imperium, but it’s really hard to get a group of friends together for a 6+ hr chunk of time these days. Everyone’s got dogs and babies and jobs and other things they need to take care of.  Shit, if we could even get everyone together even to watch a tutorial on how to play, that would be something.

I would say that we’ll bring it with us to Colorado Springs to play with my family, since we’re doing Thanksgiving with them this year, but the game is larger than a carry-on bag, (No, I’m not joking.) and the idea of my family sitting through learning all the rules when we’re high on Pancho’s cheese dip and sleep deprivation (since my newborn nephew and Henry will be in the same home for the first time ever), sort of tickles me.

Anyway. That reminds me that I need to set myself a reminder to order cheese dip.  And possibly turducken. God, I love the internet. Gonna carve out some time to do that right now.  Hope you’re all doing well. ❤

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Henry congratulates you on making it to the end of Mommy’s post. 🙂

And today I’m fine. (So far.)

MS is so weird. One day, I’m damn near immobilized by fatigue and seizures, and the next, I’m feeling great and am having a genuine debate as to whether it’s smarter for me to blog or fold and put away ALL. THE. THINGS. (It can’t be some of the laundry. That’s just not enough. I’m adulting so hard today!)

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Happiness > Folded Laundry

Of course, since you’re reading this, you know what choice I’ve made. Surely, I’ll make a dent in the mountain of clean laundry at some point today, but I felt like writing was a better use of the short time that I have while Henry naps.  Why?  Because writing is one thing that makes me genuinely happy, even if I’m writing about tough stuff… and if I don’t do simple things that make me happy, I have no one to blame but myself.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about being a SAHP (Stay-At-Home Parent, for the uninitiated). It’s way too easy to spend the entire day focusing on your child’s needs and housekeeping and to completely neglect yourself.

If you can sing every jingle from every Daniel Tiger episode, but you haven’t listened to a new release from one of your favorite artists that was released almost a year ago (like this one for me), you just might have your priorities slightly out of whack. (And that’s ok.  Friends help each other. Yes, they do. It’s true!)

If you don’t carve out time for things that make you smile, you can become overwhelmed and sad so easily. Heck, when I first started this gig, I had to set alarms to remind myself to eat (Ok, I’ll be honest. I still use those alarms.) and take showers. (More than 1 a week! It’s important!)

After going back to therapy, this time for postpartum depression, I realized something: I’m doing a fantastic job of challenging automatic negative thoughts… but I’m doing a crap job of giving myself credit for the things I do and an even worse job of having fun.

A thought really struck me hard the other day — Henry is learning how to be a person from watching me.  If I don’t do things that make me happy, I’m teaching him (by example) how to be miserable. We can’t have that. I refuse.

domorehappy

So, I’m gonna keep doing my best to show him that you rest when you feel bad, and you do whatever you can when you’re feeling well.

On that note, I’ll be busting out the guitar this week…finally bringing it out of retirement. It’s been almost a year and a half now since I played. (Baby belly bumps get in the way!)  I’m not expecting that it’ll sound particularly good — but something is so much better than nothing. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and I think he’s finally at an age where I could play it and he wouldn’t automatically try to wrestle it away from me.

Truth be told, I miss parts of my identity from before I became a mommy… from before MS made my life wonky… from before I stopped thinking that I could be and do anything I wanted to do be and do. It’s time for that thinking to end. My mindset is in my control. Self-empowerment is about owning your bullshit and choosing to powerfully move past it.  You can’t be proud of yourself and be mired in self-pity at the same time.

How do you kick self-pity’s ass?  Gratitude and credit.

The Sticker List

Y’all have heard me talk about how important Gratitude Rampages are, and how you can rewire your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 great things that happened yesterday, every day.  Well, we can add another exercise — one that I made up myself that is helping me out loads.  The Sticker List.

What’s “The Sticker List?”  It’s a simple list of everything that you believe you deserve a sticker for.  See, we give kids stickers (or other little treats) when they behave well, in an effort to give them positive feedback and attention so that they will develop good habits. Some kids gets stickers for using the potty. Others get them for brushing their teeth or doing basic chores.

Today, I believe I deserve a sticker because I’ve chosen to write… and I think I probably also deserve a sticker for:

  • changing 3 poopy diapers before noon
  • remembering to take all of my morning meds
  • eating within an hour of waking up
  • not being ashamed of sharing this. 🙂

It’s like a to-do list in reverse… a “Done” list, if you will.

poopsticker

This would be the sticker I would give myself for changing diapers. Have you ever seen such a happy crap?

And, now that I’ve shared this, I actually want to go fold clothes. (Who am I becoming?!?)

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day. ❤