Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude is About More Than Turkey

Thanksgiving week is upon us. Time for stuffing our faces with...well...stuffing, turkey, veggies of all sorts and an endless assortment of pies and pastries. Of course we're thankful for the opportunity to gorge ourselves, right? Of course we're thankful for the ability to gather with our families on this holiday. There are so many out there who don't get the same perks and we must not forget them. There are some other things to be thankful for besides the local high school football game, food galore and the anticipation of your Black Friday assault. We forget that there are people out there who serve us and who don't get the luxury of always staying at home on Turkey Day or perusing Black Friday ads for the best deals. Their professions involve situations that don't care if some European folk hit a rock onto the East Coast and supposedly had some corn fritters with the Indigenous peoples. So...let's give them some love.

Midwives - don't forget these women who will be on-call throughout the holiday season in order to bring babies into this world. Babies don't care about turkey or sales. Countless midwives will be paged/called just as they are about to stuff that turkey or sit down at the table. They'll grab their supplies and head to the house, birth center or hospital where they are called to deliver a baby.

Doulas - they will be on call, too. Cellphones will ring with calls from mothers/families needing labor support right now. Rather than hold drumsticks, they will be holding a mother during her birth sway or holding a hand as she bears down.

Obstetricians - sure, a good many of them already induced their patients early in the week or scheduled non-emergent c-sections in order to avoid having their feasts interupted. Yet, babies still come on their own schedule and many OBs, regular doctors and anesthesiologists will be called into work.

Nurses - on the maternity floor, in the ER, at a desk in the CRICU...many nurses are required to work this holiday as illness, birth and death don't take a break. Placing IVs, running EKGs and ridding a drunk homeless man of fleas...

Veterinary Technicians - what? You still think all we do is cuddle puppies and clean cages? We're working this holiday season, too. Just like human medicine, the veterinary medical world doesn't stop for turkey. In fact, it gets worse because of it. Many of us will already be at the hospital that day because IV pumps need monitoring, blood will need transfusing, c-sections will be happening and someone will need to administer treatments to a variety of the non-human folk. Some of will be called in to help with emergencies like the dog who began vomiting blood after eating half a turkey carcass that afternoon. Or for the cat who got a piece of wishbone lodged in his esophagus. Pancreatitis is THE WORD of the Thanksgiving weekend as many of us in the veterinary field will work extra hours pouring over lipase and amylase results, placing feeding tubes, monitoring vomiting and diarrhea and thinking healthy pancreas thoughts. Some of us will be monitoring anesthesia and passing instruments as our veterinarians dig turkey tibias from terriers.

Veterinarians - will awake from that tryptophan slumber as their cellphone goes off with a call about a labrador who may or may not have drank a gallon of gravy with a side of eggnog. They be in the clinic ordering radiographs, bloodwork and reviving someone's precious pet. They'll be out in the field treating a farmer's cow who wandered off and came back with a furiously bleeding wound. They will be in someone's barn inserting a naso-gastric tube in order to reflux the stomach contents of a horse whose intestines decided to twist.

Lactation Consultants - babies need to eat, too. Even on Thanksgiving. Many of us will take calls from frantic mothers who can't get the baby to latch because he is too overwhelmed with the 50 new people who invaded his home that day. They will guide new moms who are worried about a decrease in supply because they were up since 3am fixing that damn turkey and baking those damn pies, not taking the time out for themselves to eat or drink enough water. Troubleshooting latches, supply issues, nursing strikes, SNS systems, letdowns galore and more requires someone 24/7/365.

Kennnel Attendants - well, you did have to drop off Fluffy and Scratch because you are visiting your beloved Mother-in-Law for the next 4 days. Who do you think will be there to walk them 6 times a day, feed them, give them medicine, change the litter box, pet them and love them? They won't be visiting family in a far off place that weekend because they will be taking care of your fur family.

Home Health Aides/Hospice Care Workers/Certified Nurse's Aides - hey. Grandma has the dementia. She doesn't even know it's Thanksgiving. We'll stop by the home in the morning for a quick visit to alleviate our guilt before joining the rest of the family for a feast at Aunt Jane's house. Besides, the home serves up a lovely mashed combo of strained turkey 'n' gravey, watered down mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, a side of "pumpkin-flavored dessert" and a healthy dose of 18 medications. The Aides will take care of giving her a sponge bath in bed, checking for bed sores, putting on a new adult diaper, dressing her, brushing her teeth and hair, change the already soiled diaper and wipe her butt with dignity, change her clothes again, slide her out of bed into her wheelchair and get her to the table for some grub and conversation. It's all good.

Priests/Pastors/Nuns/Rabbis/Priestesses/Religious Folk - you may need an emergency confession session at St. Joey the Carpenter's RCC because you may have intentionally beat your stepbrother with a drumstick after he ate the last stuffing ball. There's a priest for that. The dying don't keep calendars and some families need the comfort of a spiritual leader at the time of death, even on Thanksgiving. Last Rites don't wait until after Father McIrishskinelli has finished his mashed sweet potatoes.

Retail Workers - for some reason Americans have decided that they cannot bear the thought of all the stores being closed for one day. So, many retail stores have decided to open their doors just so you can buy a new labelmaker or Shake Weight. Millions of hardworking Americans will spend their day at their job assisting customers with carry outs, ringing them up at the cash registers and listening to them bitch that the OTHER store offers a 15% discount on all Thanksgiving Day pruchases and that you NEED to accept their expired coupons. Then, these workers will go home, jam some fowl leftovers down their throat and hit the hay early. No, not because they plan to rise early to take advantage of sales. Because their boss said all personnel MUST report to work at 2am in anticipation of greeting loud, rude and sweaty customers who will line up at 2:30 am so they can be first in the store to buy a new Wii just because it's fucking red or get a Dyson vacuum that they don't need but it's 12% off and they have a coupon for a $5.00 giftcard with purchase. And, no, just because they came in at 2am doesn't mean they get to leave by 10am. No. They are "allowed" to work overtime that day...many pulling in 12 to 18 hours during the Black Friday madness with a lunch break that was (illegally, but big boss just DARES you to report it) cut back to 1/2 hour. All to watch people squash each other in line and fight over who gets the last Deported from Arizona Dora the Explorer doll.

Rescue Workers - Cops, firefighters and paramedics are patrolling and on the ready for fights that break out between family members because your father-in-law thought it was funny to tell your sister that she needs to back off the cranberry sauce since her ass is getting wider by the minute. They will be there for Uncle Larry who downed 7 pieces of pumpkin pie before you can say, "green bean casserole," and then mistakes his resulting indigestion for a heart attack. Or to pull over the jackass who thought it was just fine to drive after drinking 14 glasses of Aunt Mary's "special" spiced eggnog. And to put out the fire that engulfs half of the patio furniture after your cousin Eddie learns that perhaps the turkey fryer wasn't the best idea.

Mom. Grandma. Aunt Bee. Uncle Floyd. Cousin Janet. Your friend, Georgia. Your husband. Your wife. Your daughter. Your son-in-law - somebody was at the helm early in the morning thawing out that "motherfucking turkey that they put in the fridge 10 days ago to thaw and they swore it was fucking thawed out yesterday" turkey, cranning the berries, pie-ing the pumkpin, snapping the peas, beaning the casserole, mashing the damn potatoes that over-boiled, candying the yams, baking the fucking cookies that burned because I just went upstairs for 10 seconds to pee and downing most of the cooking wine. After spending the last 7 hours slaving over a stove so you can stuff your mug they either pass out at the table or don't even feel like eating. Give them some love.

The Turkey - he's just chillin', killin' and practicing his gobble when BAM, next thing he knows he's on the other side watching you and your family slice his cooked body with a black and decker electric knife. Give him (or her) respect for that sacrifice. All life is sacred.

Members of our Armed Forces - Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, National Guard - all have service men and women, gay and straight or both, of all colors and backgrounds who are missing their families....waiting on a care package, hoping the 6ABC camera man will notice them so they can send a video greeting back home, sitting in a tent with sand blowing in their faces while keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity. And keeping your American ass safe so that you can enjoy your American right to the freedom to eat your turkey 'n' trimmings and go shopping.


So let's not forget. Let's respect. I know I missed a lot of professions, but this was just a sample. Much love.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A helping hand for broken hearts

I recently came across a very important website. There is an organization called The Amethyst Network. They provide doula care to women experiencing miscarriage.

A miscarriage is a devastating time for a woman and her family. Often, we feel very alone. Since most miscarriages are just like "regular" labor, it makes sense to have a person who is trained in labor support and who, in this case, has experience with pregnancy and baby loss. The organization also advocates on behalf of family who have experienced pregnancy and baby loss. They plan to work with care providers across the country in order to get this support into the hands of families dealing with this devastation.

What an amazing group. They are new still, but growing very quickly. I urge all of my 8 followers to get the word out, donate and/or help where you can.


The Amethyst Network

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cracked Actor

I don't know why I do it. A few times a week I look at the October Due Date 2010 message boards. I was once a member. I once shared symptoms, stories and belly photos. Now, I'm a bystander, watching other women having the experience that I'm supposed to be having right now. Watching their bellies grow in the photos, like mine should be growing. A few babies have made their way into the world already and I know I should be sitting here, hand on my belly, reading those birth stories with the knowledge that my own should be in a few weeks. Sometimes, I forget for a moment and I rest my hand there anyway and pull it away when I realize it's empty, small and not the 35 week belly that should be there. My due date should be 29 days away. October 27th, 2010.
I'm so empty lately. I don't know how I'll pull through this next month. The date is in front of my eyes all day long, getting closer and more real. I try to sleep time away, but insomnia rules and I just lay awake thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking. It's becoming so real. No matter how many times I close my eyes and wish and pray that it was just a bad dream....hoping to feel a swollen belly with feet, arms, knees and elbows poking me...it doesn't happen. It's so unescapable and I'm just being hurtled forward into that day. And I have to smile. I have to pretend that it's okay, that I'm okay. I'm not okay. Everyday at work I am so numb. I feel nothing. I know they expect me to put on my brave face, be quiet, don't yell at doctors who make stupid comments about my tattoo, and act like the dumb, ditzy, sarcastic Jenn that everyone expects. Otherwise I'm "whiny, over-sensitive, over-reacting, looking for attention, not over it." I have to be concerned that my feelings make everyone else feel uncomfortable. I have to take care of others. It's my responsibility to keep my emotions in check so that no one else has to deal with me. I must carefully craft my little bullshit show of fake, happy emotions. If an unacceptable emotion rises up, I must push it down. It's an act I can't keep up with. I've cracked on occasion. Do you know what it's like being a woman who has miscarried who is experiencing a mini-breakdown? It's like being radioactive. People may stare at you all wide-eyed for a moment because that radioactive glow sure is odd. But then they step away, avert their eyes, keep their distance and take cover. They don't want to suffer the fall-out. If you bury yourself deep in your grief fall-out shelter, complete with non-perishable cans of avoidance, you can be sure that the annoying radioactive sobbing mother will eventually go away. How dare she shed her tears? How dare she feel awful, especially 6 months later. How dare she ... how could she ... why would she want to make US uncomfortable. Those sad people are so annoying. If you roll your eyes and sigh when you think she might not notice and turn around so she can't make eye contact she will probably comfort herself and just go away. Whew! Bad situation avoided. Oh dear, there's sarcastic Jenn. She's writing right here. She's back! Life is normal.
Fuck that shit.
There are days when I will be standing in line somewhere and I just want to scream, "Does anyone here have any clue what's going on with me?" To the cashier, I want to yell, "Do you know I lost a baby? Do you know what's going on inside of me?" Why was I the only one who noticed that the world stopped it's orbit on the day my baby died? Oh, but we can never be so up front about our sorrow. I hear you. You are thinking it right now. I wish she would just shut up about it already. Stop jamming your 'feelings' down our throats.
I'm tired of shutting myself up for people. I'm tired of hiding my discomfort for the sake of other people's comfort. I'm tired of being ashamed because I flipped on someone for saying the wrong thing. Tired of being ashamed because I NEED TO FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT. I'm tired of the expected silence. Tired of the deep sighs. Tired of the eye rolls. People think they are so clever. So hidden. They aren't. I've seen and heard it ALL. I'm fed up with being PUNISHED for so many different reasons. I have suffered the ultimate punishment - my child was taken away from my life, from her life. The supercedes all punishments available. Just an FYI. You think I'm not hard on myself? I could make a career out of being hard on myself. I do it well. And it's eaten at every single last fiber of my being. There is nothing left to me. A few sparse threads that you couldn't even weave through a needle. I've torn myself down. Others have torn me down. I'm tired. I'm tired. I'm tired. I can not put on a show any longer. The reality is bitch-slapping my ugly face day after day. Every dark bit of energy is trying to bring me down and I'm losing all the strength I had to resist it.
Let us all take a moment to thank God that Monkey is here. Without him....it would be so easy. So easy.
So easy for me to take the next exit. To leave a letter saying, "Thank you for shutting me out. Thank you for making me feel ashamed of my grief. Thank you for trying to box up my emotions and send them to a storage bin out of your sight and mind. Thank you for using my grief against me. Thank you for finally pushing me to the edge, for giving me that one last little nudge I needed to let myself go and join her." Bang.
And what would be done? People so surprised? I can't believe she really did it. Would you be happy with where we left off, permanently? Would you wish you sent that card or collected a few pennies to send us flowers or called and offered to help while clots of blood were running down my legs? Would you wish that you would have spoken up when you saw me cracking? Wished that you didn't join others in judging me and the way I am handling this? Because I don't need your fucking judgment. I don't need your bullshit "well this is how I would handle it stories." I needed understanding. I needed people to realize that I'm fucking serious. I needed people to step out of their comfort zone and say, "hey I know it's been a few months, but I know it still bothers you. Are you okay?" I needed people to say, "hey, cool tattoo" instead of, "that's not organic." It's all adding up, being etched onto the trigger.
So easy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There, but for the Grace of God...

I got a tattoo. Would love to show you a picture. However, I only took a pic with my cell phone when I first got it and the light does not so it justice. It's only been about two weeks so it's still in that healing phase. Pictures soon. It's a sparrow, a real sparrow, on a cherry blossom branch holding a banner that says "River." I'll write more on my tattoo at another time. Right now, I'm mad. As hell.

All 7 of you who read this may have gathered that I'm a bit of a crunchy, tree-hugging hippie-type person who prefers organic and natural things. I like to use products that don't harm the earth, re-use, reduce, recycle and compost. Everyone at work knows this. So, when I got my tattoo less than two weeks ago, one of the doctors said, "tattoos aren't organic." I was so not prepared for that comment that I kinda brushed it off and didn't really respond. It wasn't until I got home later and thought about it that it pissed me off. Here I just inked myself in memory of my baby and you make a flippant remark about it. So, I released the anger. I'm getting tired of negative energy and I made the choice to forgive. Until yesterday. Yet another doctor came up to me and said, "you know, tattoos aren't very natural." And the doc who had made the first comment was right there and had started to chime in and laugh. So, I spoke up. I said, "No. You can make fun of me for anything else. Anything else. But not about my tattoo for my DEAD baby." And the doc who had made the comment first started to say something, like she was going to argue my point. I just looked at her and kept saying, "No, no, no, no." And I couldn't hold back the tears or the shaking. The one doc said, "I'm sorry. I had no idea." And the doc who was the first to make the comment did act a little concerned and just rubbed my back.

What the FUCK? First of all, I don't care why anyone gets a tattoo. Obviously it means something to them. I consider a tattoo to be part of a person, almost like their hair or their eye color. It's not something you can wash off. I may not like the decomposing skull tattoo that my friend's boyfriend had done, but it's his body and he can choose what he puts on it. I'm not going to make fun of it. As for me, everyone knows who River is at this point. One new chick at work had no clue, so she asked and I told her. That was that. What kind of person thinks it's okay to make fun of a tattoo done in memory of someone. I just lost my baby in April. I was supposed to be due in October. It's Septemeber - I should be 8 months pregnant at this point. Every single day I think about how I should be pregnant right now. How my belly should be alive with movement. And I look down and see the same old flab. No life. The wounds are so fresh. The pain is no less than it was a few months ago. I did that tattoo as part of the healing process. It felt very good to get it. It makes me want to vomit to think that someone who is obviously aware of the pain I am going through (the one doc - the first to make the comment - is on my Facebook, where I have been very honest about my emotions) would make a comment like that. I'm trying so hard to heal and remarks such as that just throw me back and erase any "progress" I have made. All the negative energy comes swirling in. I even entertained the following thought - I wished they would go through the same thing, so that they could understand that this isn't just something you get over and laugh at. I would never wish harm like that on someone, but I couldn't stop that thought.

And you know what? I'll be seen as overreacting. Oh, Jenn is so oversensitive. She needs to get over it. I'll be seen as the bad guy for speaking up and getting angry. It'll be just one more thing for people to make fun of. It's a wonder I don't burn the place down.

P.S. Tattoos have been part of human culture since we stopped swinging in trees a million years ago. It may not be natural, but it's a very normal part ofthe human experience to want to modify your body. Even God is into it - "See! I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand." ~somewhere in the Bible in Isaiah.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Truth I Haven't Told

There is something that I have held back for months because I haven't really been able to let it out to anyone but my husband and a friend or two. I post on Facebook and many of my co-workers are friends there. Anything I say there can be related to a manager. So, I'll say what I have always wanted to say here.

I hated the way my job treated me when I had a miscarriage. Sure, a few people were kind. I got 2 cards from 2 different people, one being someone I never thought would send me a card. Another wonderful lady made me a necklace with both children's names on them. I also received some texts and facebook messages. And one boss was very understanding.

But....

I frequently heard through the grapevine that people didn't support my desire to miscarry naturally. It seemed that some thought I should have a d and c and "get it over with." Some were not keen on my postings to facebook, saying it was "just" an early miscarriage, I was "only" 8 weeks and that I needed to "move on." There was another comment that I wanted attention. Nice.

I will admit that I was little expectant. I DID expect that I would probably get flowers. Maybe that's a little self-centered. Maybe that's because I would have done that for one of my co-workers if this had happened to them. Ok, so now flowers. But, I didn't get a card. Once again, I got 2 cards from 2 people. But no group card. I work with 50+ people. In a veterinary office. We send out cards everyday when a pet dies. If you walk in to my clinic and haven't been to a vet in 15 years, yet you bring us your 15 year old dog who needed to die 4 years ago and we euthanize the dog we will send you a card. Even though you are not a client. Even though you didn't do what's best for your pet and take care of him. We still send you a sympathy card. And all employees sign these cards. Yet one of their own who lost a baby didn't get a card. I guess I didn't rate. You could buy a hamster at Kritters in the mall and if it dies the next day and you bring it in to be cremated - guess what? We send you a card. You work there for 3 years and lose the baby you loved with all your heart. Nothing. They just shit talk you while you were gone.

And my first day back. Silence. Awkwardness. The knowledge that my presence made THEM uncomfortable. And the knowledge that no one acknowledged my discomfort at their silence and discomfort.

This whole experience has completely changed the way I view my job as a whole. And not for the better.

Ah, it felt good to get that out at 4 am. Sadly, no one reads this, but I do feel a little better.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Never Fading

The following three blogs are among some of my favorites. These wonderful women have created blogs to help us remember our little ones. Please visit them!

http://facesofloss.blogspot.com


A site for parents who have lost babies to share their stories, help others and to heal.



This mama created a blog for parents to request a sidewalk chalk writing of their children's names.



A blog from a mama who releases butterflies in memories of little ones we have lost. My own River had a butterfly released in her name:
http://tripletbutterflywings.blogspot.com/2010/07/river.html

Please visit them!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Carved on to the palm of my hand.

This is an entry written on Facebook a few months ago. I've edited out some identifying information. This was originally written April 21, 2010.

*****

This will ramble. A lot.

We all know I recently had a miscarriage. We all know I blog. Most people like my blogging, some make fun of it. Petty. Anyhoo, it's not surprise that I would blog about this, too.

My pregnancy was oh-so-planned. We had been trying since the late summer of 2009. I practice the Fertility Awareness Method, which many people confuse with the Rhythm Method. Sooooo, not the same. FAM requires you to be in tune with your body. I did the morning basal temperatures, the charting, I got familiar with my cervical mucus and I peed on ovulation predictor kits. To some that may seem like too much. I think it's incredibly important and empowering to know how your body works. There are way too many young girls and women out there who do not have a clue how their cycles work. And so many say, "Oh, I don't need to do that because I can feel when I ovulate." You sure can, but charting helps you understand exactly how your hormones are working. My hormones weren't working 100% correctly. I had a little low progesterone and some wonky cycles. It was frustrating as all hell, but I had faith that things would kick into gear...and they did. I got pregnant very early in February. I knew pretty much from the get-go that I was pregnant. This caused a major freak out for me at work one night when I was alone at the clinic and got locked out of the building in our enclosed kennel yard, in 1.5 feet of snow, a blizzard, no phone, with a disabled dog and my son. I ended up climbing the 8 foot wooden fence and jumping over it to get in the front door of the clinic. The whole time I thought, "I know I'm pregnant. please God, don't let this hurt my baby." I flipped out from it, pissed people off at work for flipping out, but I had reason. I was so worried and then so grateful that everything turned out okay at that point.

I took a pregnancy test on February 18th. That date is significant to us as it was the third anniversary of the day our Abigael kitty died. Don't roll your eyes, she was a VERY special cat and will have a spot in my heart forever. I was elated that good knews came on such a somber date and took it as a reminder that new life always follows death. I took three tests that day, mainly because seeing that second line was so exciting and because I had a bunch of tests I didn't want to waste. And those lines were DARK. Nice and strong. And so, I was definitely pregnant. And excited. Being a mother is what I was born to do. We all know how much I love pregnancy and birth, babies and children. I love being pregnant and there isn't anything about it that I take for granted. The nausea, tiredness, ligament pain, heartburn, constant peeing, constant not pooping - all that can suck. It does. But, I embrace it. During this pregnancy, I would frequently say that I was glad to have the symptoms. The tiredness and nausea knocked me off my ass and it was so hard to stand up or even keep my head up at work. But, I was happy to have those symptoms to remind me that my body was doing something magnificent. I enjoyed every moment of those weeks.

I got my bump early. I'm a skinny chick with no torso. I'm all legs. Since my torso is short, there is practically no where for my uterus to grow. I was huge with Monkey and everyone swore he was 12 lbs. He was 7. With this pregnancy, my body saw those two lines and said, "well, time to move stuff around." I got that wonderful bloating, my muscle separated (bitches) and my intestines shifted within the first 4 weeks. By 6 weeks I looked 5 months pregnant. That's common with subsequent pregnancies. I needed maternity shirts pretty early as a lot of mine just didn't make it over my flubber. I had to buy a couple of tops because I didn't have much in the way of cool weather maternity clothes. Monkey was a summer baby and I lived in tanks and dresses with that pregnancy.

And I was bad at work. As a veterinary technician, I have easy access to ultrasounds. So....I popped a probe on myself at 5 weeks. All you could see was a sac at that point, but I checked again at 6 weeks - twice - and saw a little nugget with a beating heart. I looked again about a week later and saw a much bigger nugget with a very strong heartbeat. I had one of the vets come in and count the heart rate for me to double check the rate I got - 150. Very nice. Very strong. Girl, according to the wives tale. I had a sense she was a girl. I was elated to see that flicker on the screen each time. And I told myself I was not going to do another ultrasound for a while. The jury is out on the safety of frequent ultrasounds. ACOG doesn't support them routinely in the first trimester. A few days later I had my first prenatal with my midwife. I declined the 8-12 week ultrasound scan, telling her that I saw my baby looking perfectly formed with a perfect heartbeat. I told her I would do the 20 week scan.

That night, I went to work and felt like supreme shit. That was a good thing to me. As we closed up the rooms and got ready to leave, my mind nagged the shit out of me to check myself with an ultrasound. I told myself to fuck off, that I wasn't doing it again for at least four weeks. My mind wouldn't shut up, though, so I relented. Just for a second, I said. I popped the probe on my belly. I saw my perfect little baby, already a little bigger than she had been 3 days prior. The flicker was gone. I moved the probe around and jiggled my belly, figuring I just needed to reposition. No flicker. I shut the machine off. I turned it back on. I looked again. No flicker. No heartbeat. I turned it off and went downstairs as everyone was getting ready to leave. I locked myself in the radiology room and tried the other ultrasound. Same baby. No flicker. I prayed hard to God and every Saint. I looked again. No heartbeat. I composed myself and left with my co-workers. A few sensed someone was wrong, noting that I wasn't as talkative as usual. I said I was just tired and hungry. I got in the car, drove off and started bawling. I called Mike and proceeded to freak him out. And then I felt my blood pressure plummett to the floor, my heart skip more beats than ever and heard the sound of white noise in my ear. I did my best to compose myself and to calm down. It didn't work. My heart went nuts. My blood pressure barely made an appearance. Afraid of a cardiac event (I have heart issues), I had no choice but to visit the emergency room at [name removed] hospital. All but one of our experiences with [name removed] have sucked. They were great with my husband and the people in their billing department have always been so nice. I had two experiences there when I was pregnant with Monkey. I have absolutely nothing nice to say about their maternity care. Nothing. Especially since their only objective is to keep women quiet and slice them open. Anyway, that's where I went. My other choice was [name removed], but it had a bad reputation when it was [name removed] and I didn't want to take a chance. I didn't tell them anything about doing my own ultrasound as I knew they wouldn't be nice about it. I explained all my cardiac symptoms, they hooked me up to an IV, an EKG and oxygen. They pulled a ton of blood. I asked them over and over and over and over and over to check my baby, but they refused. Mike was persistant and they refused. They said if something was wrong with my baby they "wouldn't do anything about it anyway." It was determined that I just had a typical syncopal episode and I was sent home. I tried to relax. I convinced myself that I was wrong...that I did something wrong with my ultrasound, that our machines sucked (my opinion and it does not reflect the opinion of my place of employment)and that I was anxious over nothing. I called my midwife the next day and she said to try to stay calm and to scedule a "real" ultrasound in a few days. I agreed. I called or texted Lauren who tried to calm me, explained that I'm not a trained ultrasound tech and that everything is fine.

I was okay for two days, but then I broke down again in the car on the way home from my parents. I begged and begged God to let me keep my little baby, to not take her away from me. I prayed hard. I told Him I needed Him RIGHT NOW because I was falling apart. Lauren called at that moment (10 o clock at night, I believe) and talked me through my anxiety and calmed me down. This would be the theme for the next four weeks. I would have these desperate moments of fear, sadness and lonliness where I would call on God to guide me and hold me and then Lauren would either call or text at that exact moment. If that isn't God answering...I don't know what is...

It took longer than expected to get in for an ultrasound. I don't have insurance and one place was just completely confused as to how to proceed with someone paying out of pocket. I don't know how that's more confusing than insurance or how it's atypical for her - there are over 50 million people just like me in this country. In the end, I had to wait two weeks to get the ultrasound. I spent those two weeks praying and asking everyone I knew to pray or think positive. I put myself on prayer chains/lists. I went to the [A Catholic Saint] Shrine and said a billion prayers and lit many candles. Everyone told me things would be alright. Everyone had a positive feeling. I was feeling positive. My symptoms were changing, but I brushed it off at that moment.

During those two weeks, the name River came to me. River is not a name we have ever considered, but it came to me while I was praying at the shrine. It literally came into my head as a sentence, "You will name this baby River. It can be for a boy or girl and is perfect since you aren't sure of the gender. River." I immediately shook that thought out of my head. I'm not thinking of any names for a dead baby because my baby is alive, I told myself. But, the name followed me everywhere.

The day of my ultrasound came. I stuffed my bra with a St. Jude prayer card, kept some medals in my pocket and two rosaries in my pockets. I had to take Monkey with me as I was without a babysitter. The ultrasound was at [name removed]. I was so nervous, but I tried to remain calm. I focused on positive images. I just knew I would see my baby with her little heart beating away and that I'd feel a huge sense of relief. I knew I'd come home and change my Facebook status from "please pray for me" to "Praise Jesus." I was technically 10 weeks pregnant at the time. The ultrasound chick was nice. Just doing her job, right? She kept the screen at my head so I couldn't see it. She kept the probe on my belly for 1/2 hour, telling me she was also taking pics of my ovaries, my cervix and everything in the area. Ok. I expected her to finished taking her pics and then wheel the screen around so I could see my baby, but she took the probe off and said, "the first part is over now. Did your doctor tell you that there is a second part?" Noooooooooooooooo. And I had already mentioned 59897569 times that I didn't see a doctor. I saw a midwife. I told her, "no," and she rolled her eyes and said with flair, "Oh, they never do. We have to do a vaginal ultrasound." I gave her my best "what the fuck you talking 'bout Willis" face, cocked an eyebrow and said, "At 10 weeks? Why would you need a transvaginal ultrasound at ten weeks?" She said, "Oh, it's very common. It's our policy." I KNEW that wasn't true. Sorry lady, but I'm not your typical woman who sits there and let's the medical profession walk all over her during pregnancy. I don't lay their with my tail between my legs while you presume I'm too stupid to know anything about my own body. I said, "That's not true. What's wrong? What did you see that's making you want to go vaginal?" She said, "No, it's just policy. We always do this." I normally would have been a major bitch at that point. I'm one of those patients. You cannot bullshit a bullshitter. I've been in this game long enough. But, something stopped me from being my usual bitch self. I think I was afraid of bad karma if I was nasty. I thought, maybe this is a test and I have to be humble and nice to this lady - because my baby is ok." So, I relented. Mark that down in your calendars, folks, because that's one of the last times I give in. I took off my pants and wrapped the sheet around my waist. Yeah, don't forget my son was there. He stayed in a chair by my head and colored in his books. Such a good boy. It was so fucking humiliating. I hadn't shaved above my knee since the baby was conceived. K? She took another 20 minutes to do that ultrasound and then told me to get changed while she showed her images to the doctor. Ok. She came back in and said, "Okay, you can go home now. Our doctors will be in contact with your doctor." Oh HELL no. Again, a prime oppurtunity for super bitch. I said, "I'm sorry. I don't get to see anything? I don't get to know anything?" She just stood their looking all stupid and stunned. Probably not used to having a patient actually advocate for themselves, such is life in the obstetrical world - your patients should be quiet little sheep. I said, "This is not cool. Something is wrong. I know this means something is wrong and I have to wait HOW LONG?" She said, "24 to 48 hours." I said, "Hell no. Did you see a heartbeat. Can you even tell me if you saw a heartbeat?" She said, "I'm not allowed to tell you anything. Our doctors will call your doctor." Fucking cunt. "MIDWIFE! I said that 100 times. I don't go to a doctor...is my info even going to be sent to the right place? Why won't you tell me anything? Why couldn't I see my baby. This isn't right." Again, looking stunned she just stuttered, "O--Our d-d-d-d-doctors will call your doctor with the information probably by tomorrow. Here I can give you a picture." And she printed out a picture. I looked at it and at her. She knew I knew. I left. I was so angry, scared, sad, anxious - you name it. I called Mike, my mom and Lauren. Everyone was frustrated for me. Lauren said maybe the tech was just a new girl who didn't want to get in trouble by saying my baby was alright. Everyone tried to give me hope. I barely had a strand of hope to hang onto, but I clung to it for dear life. I called my midwife via her emergency number since the office was closed by then. Oh, she was so angry for me. So she called [name removed] to try to get information. They told her it could take up to 48 hours to send a report. She said she needed to know if my baby was okay. The lady said she couldn't tell her anything, but that "they usually don't send a woman home if something is wrong." Ok, so I hung onto that and tried to relax. I looked at my ultrasound picture and thought maybe I was interpreting it wrong. You see, she gave me the picture showing the blood flow. There was no blood flow to or from my baby. Only around my uterus. And only a small pool behind my placenta. Still, I talked myself out of it. Maybe I was interpreting wrong. Maybe they can isolate the blood flow images to show only outside the uterus. Maybe that's a sub-chorionic hemorrhage and that's why she couldn't tell me anything. A SCH is usually just fine. I went to bed.

When my phone rang early Thursday morning I was filled with dread. Monkey had just been running around telling me that he was building castles with his sister. He had been talking about playing with his sister for the past two weeks. I answered and it was my midwife and I knew before she even got her name out. "It's just as you expected." She said the baby had died two weeks earlier, measuring 8 weeks and 1 day. So, she actually was measuring ahead because she died at 7weeks 6 days. There was nothing else visibly wrong. A small bleed behind my placenta, but not major and unknown if it was prior to her death or after. She told me what to expect, saying the miscarriage would most likely be just like real labor and could take a couple of weeks to happen. The placenta doesn't take over until 12 weeks and that's why many women don't experience their miscarriages until then, even though the baby dies weeks prior. And so there it was. Confirmation. The swords were in my heart - piercing away. I was outraged. I was numb. I was hysterical. I called Mike, my mom and texted Lauren. Mike came home right away. I blamed myself. I blamed Mike. I blamed my job. I blamed God.

The following weeks were a rollercoaster. I immediately took off work as that would be the last place I'd want the miscarriage to start happening. I was very angry at first. I yelled at God. How dare He. Why would He do this to me. Why weren't my prayers and the prayers of my friends good enough? Why did he let 16 year old crackwhores have babies they would abandon? What did I do to deserve this? Why didn't He love me enough? Why didn't He love my baby enough to let her live? Why? Why? Why? Why? Finally, what the FUCK was His problem with me. Hadn't I been crapped on enough? At the end of every angry session yelling at Him I would have an overwhelming peace.

I have no idea how I've gotten this far. Who knows if I would have survived this if I didn't have David. Many times I have felt that I could just die right along with her if I didn't already have a child here who depended on me. If this had happened with my first pregnancy there is a good chance I wouldn't be blogging now. The grief has been unbelievable. It was hard to carry around a dead baby for two weeks, yet it was also comforting because she was still with me. I have prayed A LOT. It has been hard to hold myself up. I'm a strong woman in most circumstances and don't usually take shit from anyone, but this is too much. I don't know how I would even begin to live through this without my faith. No offense to those who don't believe. But, I'd be doubly crushed without my faith. Besides, God sent me a text message. Haha. Seriously. I was laying in bed at 2:30 in the morning crying my little heart out. I was bitching at God again and asked Him, "Do You even hear me? Are You even listening?" A second later I got a text message from Lauren that said, "Thinking of you." I swear, everytime I call God out I get a call or text from Lauren. That's probably God slapping me upside the head saying, "I'm here, dude. Chill." And Lauren - though she doesn't know it - opened my eyes to a big DUH moment by saying, "God knows your hurt. He lost a child, too." Lauren has been a total rock for me throughout all of this.

There has been a lot of anger, of course. Especially for people who think they know what's best for my own body. I have heard more than once that I was just dragging everything out and that I should just submit to a D and C. A D and C is when they knock you out and scrape or suck (then it would be a D and E, right?) out the contents of your uterus. Just like an abortion. Ok, no. First of all, I know what's best for my body. Thanks. I'm an anesthetic risk. Heart. Hello. There is also a risk of infertility associated with the procedure. There is also the issue of me having a problem with my baby being torn up inside me, sucked out into a vacuum and tossed aside with biohazard. That is fine for some, but not for me. No offense to those who had that procedure and are fine with it. We all view things differently. I view all life as very, very sacred. For me, life begins at conception. Actually, I believe it begins before conception, but we won't get into that. You are talking to a woman who will not kill a bug. We don't get much more than spiders, stink bugs and those scary house centipedes here. Stink bugs are escorted outside. Spider and 'pedes can stay as they both eat other bugs. I bless every animal I touch. I pray over every animal I hold during euthanasia. I pray over ever puppy or kitten born into my hands or placed into my hands after a c section. I bless every dead animal I see on the street. For God's sake, I apologize to plants when I cut them - hahaha. See how crazy I am? But that should tell you how much I value life and why D and C wasn't for me. There is also the issue of money. All the people who suggested D and C never offered to pay my hospital bills. No insurance, remember. I can only have insurance if I'm pregnant, so......... But it pissed me off to no end that people have been like that. And for future information - no grieving mother EVER wants to hear, "it's for the best" or "God has His reasons" or "You can try again soon." Another baby is always a joy, but NEVER a replacement. Another word of advice, it doesn't matter when you lose your baby - it hurts like a mother fucking bitch. It tears your heart up in pieces. It doesn't matter if you miscarry the day after your test is positive, at 5 weeks, 8 week, 14 weeks, 20 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks, 39 weeks or at birth. It hurts like hell no matter when it happens. We grieve no matter when it happened. It sticks to your soul for the rest of your life no matter when that loss happened. So, saying, "well at least you weren't very far and didn't have a chance to get too attached," hurts way more than it will ever help. I was very attached to my baby and I praise God for every minute I had her, no matter how short that time was. And note: I will not get over it. I'm sorry if that bothers you. If you have a problem with the length of time it has taken me to grieve and the way I have chosen to deal with this, I would love to invite you to kiss my ass and then go fuck yourself. I can't even say this to most people because most people have not had the courage to say anything to my face. I guess that's a good thing, because I would destroy them. The violence in me these past two weeks has been scary at times. And, yes, I realize that some people are coming from a good place and a place of concern. I get that. Although, why I have to "get that" and why they can't get me is another thing. But, there are some folks who are not coming from a good place. There is a place they can go.

So, I officially miscarried this past Sunday. My midwife wasn't lying when she said it would be like real labor. I didn't take that 100% seriously. I mean, I read other women's accounts and knew it could be awful. But other women had easy miscarriages. It's like any other birth - some are easy and some are very hard. I had it very hard. I had a week of spotting and then light bleeding, so I knew it was on it's way. By Saturday night, I knew it would happen within 24 hours. I was slammed into real life labor at midnight. Regular contractions. Back labor. I got into the tub to help deal with them. Everything about it felt EXACTLY like real labor - like when I gave birth to Monkey. I had to move through the contractions, breathe through them and moan through them. I did my usual Hail Mary's through the contractions (did this with Monkey), which later turned into cursing. And I had the urge to push. Amazing, really, when you think about it. Here I am birthing a teeny little one inch baby and it's just the same as labor for my 7 lb baby. It was not the home waterbirth I wanted. Like any other birth, I brought her into this world in pain and blood. I held her in my hand. If you are curious, I did save her and she will be buried among our flowers and trees. Before you think that's weird, it's actually VERY VERY common. Many mothers bury the babies in first trimester miscarriages. I never thought of that before. I pushed the placenta out. I thought I was done. My uterus wasn't done as it sought to get rid of the blood and extra tissue, but the uterus can't contract and expel as effectively as it would during a regular birth. The pain after I birthed her and the placenta was 5,000 times worse. I finally got to the point where I thought I could easily die. I wasn't losing a ton of blood or anything, I just had tons of anxiety because I was still contracting hard and pushing even though nothing but a little blood was coming out. I called my midwife who assured me that what I was experiencing was normal and wasn't concerned as I wasn't light-headed, dizzy or losing tons of blood. She told me it was ok to go to the hospital if it made me feel comfortable. I didn't want to go to the hospital and felt better after talking to her. But, that changed. I couldn't eat or drink anything and felt dehydrated. I got myself anxious because I couldn't take anything in and was scared I would faint. Of course, I worked myself up until Mike was forced to call 911. And ambulance came and took me. Mike stayed behind as it was 3am and Monkey was sleeping. I didn't want Monkey freaked out. I assumed we'd go to [name removed], but they took me to [name removed] because it was closer and it's a trauma center. They don't have a maternity section, but the worry was hemorrhage, not whether I'd need to be scraped out. I puked on the nice paramedic guy. He said it was okay as long as it wasn't poop. I was dreading the hospital since it never really had a good reputation. My nurse came in once I got there. Holy Christ she was so nice...and funny. They got me hooked up to fluids right away which is exactly what I needed. I asked for a pain med, too. Hey, I'm all about natural everything, but I did the birth and wanted the afterpains to stop so I could relax. They gave me hydromorphone. It doesn't stop pain, it just makes you loopy so you deal with the pain better. I got two doses - very low doses. I've never been high. Apparently, I made a lot of weird phone calls to my mom,my dad and hubby. I told my mom to come over and feel free to dig up some of my flowers and plant them in her yard. High is not for me. I could never be a druggy. At least I got some sleep. They did an internal and swabbed a big clot away from my cervix. My midwife said that blood kinda clots after you pass the big stuff but the uterus doesn't contract effectively enough to get it all out, so the blood and clots pool at the opening of your cervix and it causes more irritation and pain as your uterus still tries to push it out. Confused? Sorry. They did an ultrasound to check for extra retained tissue and all was clear. The pain subsided a bit and my bleeding slowed. I was fine to go home. I really needed those fluids. They helped so much. They pulled blood which all came back happy. OMG - they were so nice. What a different experience than [name removed]. I know a trip to [name removed] would have been terrible. These nurses and doctors were so nice. The ultrasound lady was so nice. Everyone was the best. It may not be the best hospital in the area (though they got rid of a lot of crap people and are trying to change), but that was one of my best hospital experiences despite the circumstance.

My mom and dad came up. Well, my dad had to work so he could only be there a little, but he brought my mom who stayed overnight, cleaned, cooked and took care of Monkey so Mike and I could rest. Moms are the best. So, there. I'm recovering. Physically, I am kind of okay. The pain isn't too bad, but I've realized that I can't do as much as I normally want to do. Emotionally, well that's a different story. It's a trip. I have moments where I realize she is really, really gone. She isn't in my body anymore....and that makes me so sad. I know for certain her Spirit is right here with me. I know that. I hold onto that as much as I can when the grief pulls me down. A wonderful mother who has also experienced loss told me it's like navigating a ship through stormy seas. As time goes on, you learn how to sail your ship a little better. And I know I have to embrace my grief. I know for certain I will see her again. It's too early to make sense of anything, though I try. I want to know how I can use this experience in a positive way. Lauren says I will be able to help mothers better because I have experienced loss first hand. I know some sort of maternity career is in my future and maybe this experience will help others. I don't know yet. River will never be forgotten by us or many of those who heard of her through me. Her name is forever carved into my heart and soul. I will carry her in my heart for as long as it's beating. On the day it stops, I will carry her in my arms forever.


P.S. So many people have reached out to me and have been wonderful to me during all of this. I haven't responded to everyone yet. I will. Just know that I appreciate and love you all and have not forgotten you.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. "
Psalm 46:1-11

Triplet Butterfly Wings: River

Below, you will find the link to the butterfly release for my baby, River. I lost River @ 8 weeks (tough the actual physical miscarriage didn't happen until 12 weeks). Triplet Butterfly Wings is an wonderful site dedicated to helping parents heal through the release of these gorgeous Monarch butterflies. I encourage everyone touched by miscarriage/stillbirth/infant/child loss to check out her site.


Triplet Butterfly Wings: River: "Born to Heaven on April 18, 2010 'See! I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand.' Isaiah 49:15 We will love you for..."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Never Narrow

Bowie - Alladin Sane 1973
 ***This is a copy of something I posted on Facebook, which is why there is an assumed familiarity with certain subjects.***



Someone asked me the other day why I'm so vocal about gay rights. So, I'm gonna write a little blurb about that.

First, I should note that I was raised in a home where intolerance was NOT tolerated. My parents raised me to not be racist, sexist or any other "ist." No hating people because of skin, religion, sexual orientation or anything else. You disliked people because they were assholes, but not because they belonged to any certain group. My mother was also raised this way. Her mother, as a child in the 1920's, specifically asked for a black baby doll and got it. So, part of my nature just comes with how I was raised and the family I come from. I should also note that, as some of you know, I come from the Lee family. The Lees of Old Virginia. Robert E. Lee. It KILLS me to see his face and the confederate flag being used by racist rednecks to further their agenda or to identify themselves as neo-nazi racist redneck morons. Anyway, I had to get that out there.

I can't remember when I became aware that there were gay people. As a young child back in the 80's, I was obsessed with Boy George and The Culture Club. We all know Boy George is a little gay and back then he wore tons of make-up and long braids with ribbons. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but BG was a giant David Bowie worshiper and sought to be like him. Cool. In the early 80's it wasn't uncommon for bands or musicians to have long hair and make-up. I remember asking my brother about it and he said some guys just like to have long hair and make-up. No big deal. I broke up with Boy George (and Michael Jackson) in favor of another, David Bowie. It was 1986 and Labyrinth was just released in the theaters. I remember actually thinking he was a woman from the movie poster and was surprised when the deep voice came out during his first scene (at 8 years old that giant bulge in his tights meant nothing - haha). Again, just another dude who wore make-up. Big deal. And I became a fan. Back then, Bowie was pretty reserved in his appearance, looking like any other dude (only way hotter and closer to God) with short hair, leather jackets and no make-up. In my early days of fandom I listened to his more current stuff...Let's Dance and Never Let Me Down (and I still remained a fan!). In 6th grade, I was introduced to his early work as the Rykodisc company began re-releasing all of his old stuff, starting with a greatest hits compilation, ChangesBowie. Rykodisc cassettes (some of you kids don't even know what that is) came with a foldout thing with pictures and sometimes lyrics. This is where I got my first glimpses of him as Ziggy Stardust, Halloween Jack and Aladdin Sane (to some of you, these 3 are all Ziggy, but they are actually different characters), dressed in some flamboyant leotard barely covering his man bits and with flaming red hair and out-of-this-world make-up. So, Bowie was definitely one of those guys who liked hair and make-up. Fine. My Bowie education continued that year and by 7th Grade I was quite the aficionado and well-versed in all his Gospels.

Back in grade school, where things were not awesome for me as you know from previous blogs, we would decorate our English/Creative Writing books with magazine cut-outs, drawings or pics we copied. Guess what I chose for 7th (and 8th) grade? Bowie. I also decorated my folders with his pictures. And these pictures depicted him in all his forms, including the more flamboyant. I'm pretty sure I had a picture of him fellating Mick Ronson's guitar. Ahhh, Catholic school. This is where the whole gay thing becomes relevant. By then, I was aware that Bowie was bisexual. And it was no big deal to me. You love who you love. It was a big deal to my classmates. This was the same year when Bowie's ex-wife, Angela, sought fame and notoriety by proclaiming, "I found him in bed with Mick Jagger," on the Joan Rivers show. The world was shocked (why?) and everyone assumed she found them fucking. And Angie let that assumption linger for years until she later clarified that she found them passed out drunk/high (coke), fully-clothed on the same bed. That's a much different scenario, but she wanted her name in the spotlight and wanted to sell her music and books (Oh, Angie? Epic fail). Anyway, back to 1990/1991 when the accusation came out. Bowie, never one to shy from admitting trysts with men, denied the report and brushed it off as "she is green with envy." Enough said. So, when my classmates saw those pictures on my books they started telling me he was a fag. A fucking queer. Fudge-packer. Fag. Fag. Fag. Faggot. I knew those words were hurtful to gay people and it bothered me to hear them. But then, the attention turned to me. Again, if you read a previous blog about my grade school days, you know the St. Anon kids were NOT nice to me, save a handful.

It started with me being called a gay-lover. Fag hag. Queer-fucker. I was also told I would burn in hell with the fags I loved. David Bowie would burn in hell, too. It evolved into me being gay, too. Since I loved the gays, I, too, must have been a gay. So I was called a dyke everyday until I graduated. Everyone whispered that I was a lesbian. Don't let Jenn touch you. She might want to feel your boobs. She might want to make out with you in the closet. Jenn is a queer-loving dyke. Everyday. Not only was I singled-out for being butt ugly and awkward, but I was told I was a lesbian and a dyke. Everyday I heard dyke or other gay slurs directed at me. Funny, here I was lusting after a dude, and they were calling me a dyke. And, hey, I have made out with a chick or two. Not because I'm a lesbian or even bisexual, but because teenagers experiment. So, hearing that everyday and getting the treatment gays get sometimes, I began thinking that it must really suck being gay. Not because being gay was bad, but that being gay meant you were tormented like this. I didn't like being tormented. It didn't feel good at all. I realized it was bad enough for me and it must KILL those who are really gay. It must hurt so bad to have people not understand you and tell you that you are an abomination and that you will burn, burn BURN in hell for eternity. I was able to experience what it was like for them. And that is a big reason why I am so much in support for them. I felt a small amount of pain back then and knew I could never imagine what it would be like to truly be gay and to hear this. I was already tolerant, but that experience really opened my eyes and I knew that it was not right to let anyone feel that way. In addition, I never believed that being gay was a sin. I have always believed it's the way you are born and that God doesn't make mistakes. And that the Bible verses people use are already so full of holes that those arguments have never swayed me. Not for a moment. By the end of 8th grade, I officially hated the intolerance thrown at gays. I knew that the real evil was in the slurs thrown around, the violence and the hatred towards them.

High school was different as the gay thing died down on my end. I was in Drama and Chorus, surrounded by quite a few closeted gays. But, I heard the whispers about them. I heard the damning of their souls for all eternity. I saw their pain when they reluctantly whispered about being gay, but made me promise to not tell anyone because they were so afraid their family would disown them or they would get kicked out of school or they would get beat up. And some did get disowned. Some were kicked out. Some had happier times, but there was still prejudice. And it hurt them. And things that hurt my friends, hurt me A LOT. I've always been that way. I feel other people's emotions like you would not believe. And so, I left high school still hating that intolerance. Hating the way it was presented in religion. Knowing that I believed we were all God's kids and he loved us all and that no one should be discriminated that way.

College years were the same. I joined PFLAG years ago and, more recently, the Human Rights Campaign.I have listened to stories and given advice. In recent years, I have become a lot more vocal. I don't know why, but it's just something that's in me. I have a strong drive to speak up for them. Being older and more politically aware, I am able to understand how gays have been affected by politics, religious hatred and bigotry. And it pisses me off. Another catalyst for "the way I am" is Matthew Shepard.  I remember that story back in 1998. The 21 year old kid who was brutally beaten and then tied to a fence post for 18 hours because he was gay. He died a few days later and his parents have been gay rights advocates and crusaders since then. That also sparked something in me because shit like that shouldn't happen in this day and age. And I have been frustrated since then, seeing gays gain rights, being denied rights, being promised to and then lied to. I mean, in the last two years, Colorado actually repealed laws that said it was illegal to discriminate against gays. That's right, it's not illegal anymore in that state. And there are more states like it. And that PISSES me off. I have realized that I won't stand for it. Not just for gays, for anyone. Blacks. Jews. Muslims. Anyone targeted for being "different" than a WASP. Anyone who is beaten in the name of Christ. Anyone sent to camp to be "cleansed."

So there you have it. I could write a lot more but, lucky for you, I am out of time.

www.matthewsheppard.org

www.pflag.org
www.hrc.org
Benji Schwimmer on being gay in the Mormon Church

Friday, January 8, 2010



Today marks the anniversary of two wonderful things. The first is US. That's right? Me. Mike. Both of us. This is the anniversary of our first date. I know, it's like, sooooooooo High School to keep track of such a day, but I like remembering dates. That's 11 years and neither one of us has gotten tired of the other. And I am still in love with him even more than I was way back when. He's hung on pretty well for a guy I thought I'd never have to see again after bumping into him at the mall.

Meeting
We first met way back in the day, in grade school. I transferred to a new Catholic school in 5th grade and he was in my classes. I was a fugly girl with unruly curly (yeah, curly - don't ask me where they went) hair and pimples. He was a chubby slob of a boy with that creepy almost moustache you see on pubescent boys. Hot. We were hot. I didn't interact with him much. I didn't interact with many people that much at that school as they were all horrible to me. He was quiet and never bothered me. He transferred to another school in 8th grade and then he went to :::gasp::: public high school while I stayed in the Catholic school system.

And I never saw him after that. Until...

It was a day or two after Christmas in 1998. I was shopping at the mall with one of my besties, Steph. She wanted to call back a number on her pager (we were so cool with our Motorolla pagers in different colors) and needed a pay phone. She also needed to be. No, that's part of the story. I only us one single bathroom in the mall...the upstairs bathroom at Sears. No other. But Steph wanted to use the one in the food court. I also had a rule about the food court - avoid it like the plague. Normally, I would have asked Steph to go to Sears and use the phone outside that bathroom, but I simply agreed to brave the food court. So, there we were. As we walked out of the bathroom, this creepy guy in a long black trench coat with combat boots and a shaved head comes walking towards us. Not exactly my type. And he smiles at us. And I freak out a little because he looked pretty frightening in that "I could possibly blow up this entire mall" sort of way. And then...horrors...he says "hi" to Steph. Steph is a social butterfly and knows almost as many people as God. I hoped she would just say hi and keep walking, but Steph never just says hi. So they chit chat for a few and he doesn't take his eyes off me. I thought he must be sizing me up to cut me into little pieces, that sick little wannabe neo-nazi bastard. And then he asks if I was Firstname Lastname. And my heart stopped. How did this creepy dude know who I was - and that's what I asked him. He introduced me as Mike Lastname and said we went to gradeschool together. Not what I wanted to hear as there were about 3 people from that school who didn't try to make my life hell. The fact that I barely remembered him was a good thing as I knew it meant he didn't do anything horrible to me. He decided to follow Steph and I around the mall. Loser. Then...get this...he asked for a ride. Rude loser. I said ok, since he was Steph's friend and she assured me that he doesn't cut people up and that he was not, in fact, a neo nazi. He just thought he looked cool. At his house, he asked for my number. Ew. I gave him my pager number, waved bye bye and never had to see him again. Not. He actually paged me a few days later. Steph called him back because those are the games 20 year old girls play. She told him that I didn't even believe in kissing before marriage and that I was a Puritan. He said that was okay, he just thought I was cool. So...I let him talk to me. And we stayed on the phone until 7 in the morning. A few days later, we had our first date. We saw "Shakespeare in Love." Awww. Three weeks later, we were engaged. Don't worry, we took 4 years to get married. And...the rest is....

The other cool anniversary is David Bowie's birthday. He is 63 years old today. Props to him. I've been a fan since 1986 and he has been nothing less than a blessing to my life. That's a lot of credit to give to a celebrity, yes, but his music got me through A LOT, especially said grade school experience. He is, by all acounts, NOT one of those dick celebrities and has a reputation for being kind and down-to-earth. He's also someone who has never been the conforming type and will march to his own beat, no matter how bad the reviews are of that beat. I can think of 10,000,000 or more reasons that I think he rocks, but I won't bore you this time. Happy birthday, dude. Never get old.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Cool Mom


You know, I had a sad little fact come floating to me recently. A lot of parents I know like to keep their kids inside all winter long. Hey, I know it gets cold. We're not going anywhere above 36 degrees this week - and that's our really hot heat wave day. I know some of you in the midwest see temps well below zero constantly. I know going outside isn't always practical. In my area, it is practical during some parts of winter. That 36 degree day coming up? My son will be outside. He will be bundled up in a coat, hat, hood, scarf and mittens and maybe snowpants and boots, depending on what the weather does. I don't keep him out for hours, but he gets a chance to have some fresh air, maybe some sunlight if it's shining and he gets to burn up his energy. We may stay outside for a few minutes to fill the bird feeders. He likes to wander around a collect sticks and pretend that they are dinosaurs. We talk a little bit about how nature changes in winter - how leaves fall off some trees, but others keep their needles or about why there are different birds visiting us and why the robins have left. I personally feel that many children today lack an essential connection with nature.

I'm not pulling this out of my butt. I have spoken to several moms who bemoan going outdoors because they hate snow and bundling up and then complain about being indoors because the kids watch too much tv, play too many video games and destroy the house. Just because you are stuck inside doesn't mean you have to plant yourself in front of the tv or video system all day long, but that's what seems to be the norm. I have spoken to many mothers and father's who "just don't feel like" reading books, writing, drawing, painting or doing crafts. It's just easier to plop them down and let the tube entertain them. Judgemental? A little. I know that something has to give sometimes. I do let my son watch tv now and then - he loves SuperWhy, Sid and Dino Train. He watches those on days when I really need to do something alone or if I'm sick. He's pretty good at entertaining himself with crafts, toys and games, but there are days when he wants to just sit down and pretend he is a Super Reader, too, and that's okay because it doesn't happen the majority of the time. There are definitely times when I just don't feel like reading Persnickety for the 100th time. I don't feel like drawing 19 cars or gluing some craft together, but I do it. I hate to sound like a Hallmark card, but these moments really are brief in our lives and it's something we can never get back. And I don't want to live with myself knowing that I let the tv babysit my son when I could have been interacting with him more.

Back to the outside world. Structured outside play is a big trend in my area. If you're going to play outside then you have to play a certain way, with certain things and you best not get dirty and PLEASE do not touch nature. That last bit was actually yelled by a mother at the park, several times. Her kids were picking up leaves, sticking their fingers in the dirt, feeling the bark of the trees and running down the path. Over and over she would yell, "We DO NOT touch nature!" Why? I understand not wanting to get dirty, but you're outside and sometimes it happens. And kids are supposed to get dirty. It's in their DNA. I'm not saying you need to let your kids roll around in the mud everyday, but it's probably not best to keep everything super pristine either. Science has already shown that a severe limit in exposure to germs and the overuse of cleaning products and antibacterials actually has the opposite effect of what parents think they are achieving. We aren't making things cleaner. We're making bad bacteria and organisms more resistant and we're training our immune systems to be weaker. Not to mention the environmental and bodily harm that some of these products cause with their chemicals. I just see it a lot. Parents who don't let their kids be kids. Play has to follow a set routine. Grass stains are not okay. Dirt and the outside world are evil. Why? I do hope there are more parents like me. they are hard to find in my area, but I know they are out there.

Do you know the weird looks I get when I let my son splash in puddles? Do you know I can usually count on one person asking me why I would let my son do that? Because it's damn fun and he's learning. I guess that makes me the fun mom. Grass stains don't give me heart attacks. Dirt under the nails can be cleaned with a little (non-antibacterial) soap and water. Snow is meant for building snowmen and forts. Rain can be enjoyed and it may even make your hair curly. It's fun to watch the ribbons on your homemade wand blow in the wind. Nothing feels better than a little sun on your face. And puddles were made to be jumped in.
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