Friday, June 9, 2017

How 'Bout Some Positivity?

I've been a bit of an Eeyore lately, which isn't to say that's a bad thing, just a fact. So I'd like to make a little Pooh Bear post in honor of my rumbly-tumbly.

Ander's second birthday is coming up at the end of this month (June 25th) and as such basically ALL of my Facebook memory posts are of my not diminutive baby bump from, obviously, two years ago. I cringe a little at my face for how apparently miserable I am and I wish that I would have enjoyed it more.
(To be fair, what exactly was there to enjoy at that point?? #canklesfordayz)
What I do NOT cringe at is the immense size of my belly. I mean, it's fairly obvious to the naked eye that I'm stretched tighter than the membrane over a conga drum, I was lucky to still be breathing on my own.

Looking at this picture, I am so incredibly grateful for modern medicine. At the time I posted this side-by-side, the vast majority of the comments were on how "low" baby was, that he'd be coming out before I knew it! To be sure, it definitely appears that way.
My doctor had a differing opinion as to baby's progression. Lol.
After this photo I had another two weeks to go before they would tell me that Ander was hanging high and dry, happy as a clam to stay put. No dilation. No effacing. He liked his coccoon and there was nothing to be done about it--except forcible removal of course.
Which we did, and it was a-okay, and you can read more about that here :)

My point however, and there is one, is that I've since formed the opinion that were I to have been born before hospitals and competent surgeons, my story would have ended as one of those women who dies in childbirth.
I have no way of knowing for sure, and I'd rather not find out, of course, but it follows common sense to assume that a 10+ pound baby, in breach position, with no dilation whatsoever would have easily resulted in mine and my baby's death.
All of this to say, modern medicine is great. I'm glad we went the way we did, and I wouldn't change a thing.

My second silver-lining-realization came from the reminder of this lovely capture of a wild pregnant Bigfoot tromping through the Arizona forests...

(this particular photo was meant to be a likening
of my belly to a great watermelon)

I just can't stop staring at that belly.
Our bodies are so incredible!
And not only that, but seeing these photos again has given me instant grace and mercy towards my current mom-bod. Like, DUH I have this weird pouch and a saggy belly button, have you SEEN what my tummy had to do??
It is inconceivable to imagine that rotund belly just snapping back into place like a rubber band. I'm surprised I'm not in worse shape!

That's about all I had to say on the matter. I didn't have accurate or eloquent enough hashtags to make it a simple Facebook share, haha. Maybe it's weird that I'm bringing this up again for seemingly no reason, but people keep asking me what I'm going to do for Ander's birthday and I'm THIS close to just throwing myself a party.

He won't know the difference anyway.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Should Probably Just Get a Therapist

I had an inkling that there would be waterworks before I even got in the car. I literally stared at a package of kleenex and thought, "I should be bringing that to keep in my dress pocket," but I shrugged it off.
The Spirit must be so fed up with me.
But ever since miscarrying, I've found myself stubbornly numb to what "the Spirit" wants. Or God. Or Jesus. Or whomever you prefer. I can rationally recognize that I've, as the saying goes, hardened my heart, but I didn't feel much in regards to that fact other than recognition.
"Interesting. My heart is very hard. Well, I suppose that's to be expected."
I expected shame. I expected penitence. I didn't expect indifference. I didn't expect complete and clear and apathetic coherence.
I knew I was angry.
I knew I was being indifferent to spite God.
If He was indifferent to my pain, two could play at that game. It was a war with myself, and I knew it, but I so desperately wanted to fight that I didn't care.

Now obviously, as a relatively active participant in the LDS church, I am aware that God is not likely to be "indifferent" to my suffering. Jesus literally bled for me, so I think he's probably a bit more invested than I give/was giving him credit for.
But who has the time to let these things go when you're feeling so blindingly hurt and betrayed?

I don't like to publicly cry. Some of my most humiliating moments in life are hinged upon crying in front of people. In fact, it's probably more accurate to just say I don't cry in front of people.
Scratch that.
I'll cry--if it's a reaction to a dead dog in a movie. Or a particularly affecting piece of music. Socially acceptable and permissible moments to have eyes welled with tears, or a poetic single tear running down my cheek.
So when I left those kleenex sitting on the kitchen counter, I was telling myself I could just keep it in like I usually, always, do. Save it for my closet, for my car, for the dark under my bed.

Then we walked in, Mark squeezed my hand, we separated ways and I sat at the end of the row. The lights dimmed, the creation played before my eyes, and I'm still trying to process what I felt.
Who I felt.

Back in EFY, Youth church camps, Sunday meetings, I would squeeze out some tears during the testimony meetings because everyone else was doing it and they seemed to enjoy the attention. I experienced that "warm and fuzzy" everyone swore the Spirit manifested as. I knew what they were talking about and I believed that was it.
It's been awhile.
So when I was watching the temple video in that hazy dim, I distinctly felt a moment sharpen. It wasn't a hug, it wasn't a smiling down upon me, it wasn't even peace. It was more like an authoritative figure stepping up next to me and placing their hand on my shoulder.
Presence, as in to be present.

It didn't wash everything away. I still had ugly and ripping thoughts flash through my mind. I watched as Eve received her name, as I renewed covenants to multiply and replenish the earth, and my mind cried, "this is the whole point! This is why I'm supposed to be here! This is all I've ever wanted to be, to do, to become."
After getting married I always thought I was being cautious by bringing my "desired" number of kids down from six to four.
What if all I get is one?
What if all I get is one and I can't even just be grateful for that?
That's not even to get into my self-surprising reservations about adopting.

The whole while I wrestled inwardly, the presence didn't change. It didn't overwhelm me with love or peace or sympathy. But it never retreated.
I suppose it felt something like a guard at my side. I knew it wasn't going anywhere, and I felt validated for it. Not comforted, not fixed, not released from my agony, but perhaps protected.

They were different tears. My core shook, my vision fractured and melted and swam, but every blink sent the floods out, following in streams. It didn't take my breath away, and I was able to quietly leak out the pressure like a sponge pooling under the force of it's own weight.
That is, until I saw my husband waiting for me across the room and I quickly made my way over to the chair next to him.
And blessedly, there was a neat and tidy box of tissues directly along my path.

I didn't bother leaving my glasses on, whipping them into my lap and just pressing the fragile paper to the drowning edge of my eyes. I could hardly breathe. I definitely couldn't see, so I just stopped trying. I wasn't even thinking. I can't pinpoint the reason I was so affected. There wasn't a solid, definable reason. I was vaguely aware of the majority of the group we had come with filing out, but Mark, having a tight grip of my hand, never so much as twitched so we just stayed put.
My Guard had followed me in, like a shadow, but had ballooned into this vast aura that blew out the walls and expanded within me.
I began crying again at the thought of having to leave.
I wanted to always feel as safe, as protected, as brave as I did then.

I would have stayed all day long....if I didn't desperately need some breakfast.

I felt fairly stable and like I had come up to breathe from the depths of whatever it was I had been avoiding for so long.
But as I folded and carefully placed my temple clothes in my bag, one of the dearest women in my life saw me as she was leaving and came to let me know how glad she was that Mark and I had been able to come.
She drew me into a long and weighted hug, and I felt that same strong, protecting presence, as I could barely whisper, "thank you," through the tightness in my throat.

It's hard for me to need people.
It's hard for me to show the raw bits.
It's hard to shut out the paranoia.

"No, I'd rather pretend I'm something better than these broken parts,
Pretend I'm something other than this mess that I am.
'Cause then I don't have to look at it
And no one gets to look at it
No, no one can really see.

Cause what if everyone saw?
What if everyone knew?
Would they like what they saw?
Or would they hate it, too?"*

I know that I'm not alone. I may not feel it, but I know it.
I know that there are so many people that care and are there and will continue to be there.
It's hard to remember, but I do know it.

If you've hugged me, if you've asked how I'm doing, if you've liked my posts or tagged me or texted me, just know it means more than you realize. Thank you, and really thank you.

*Dear Evan Hansen excerpt

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Baby Douchecanoe Summer Photoshoot

Guys, all I mean by that title is that this outfit makes my kid look like the kind of guy that's named Sammy, likes to skateboard on the boardwalk, says "dude" unnecessarily as well as unironically, and might not be the most respectful boyfriend you've ever had.
It's cute though because at least in this instance I have a chance to raise him to be the best boyfriend you've ever had. And just ask Haley, Ander's a great boyfriend already. He's not afraid to absolutely scream goodbye to you in a public place, he's all about that innocent PDA, and he likes it best when you're having fun.

Shoes are from Walmart, Tank and Booty Shorts courtesy of ye olde Goodwill.

I was honestly stunned to open up my blog dashboard and see that the last time I even opened blogger was back in January. It's been three solid months since I even thought about blogging. While the majority of that hiatus can be attributed to our moving, [still ongoing] renovating of three separate housing "units", and just being busy in general, the last almost month I've really struggled with how to talk about and deal with a very unexpected personal tragedy.
I literally just sat here for a good minute debating whether it constitutes using the word "tragedy" or if it will come across as facetious to give the event that much credit. And that's been my inner battle. Treating it seriously enough to deal with the emotions, but rationally accepting that it's not the worst thing that could have happened.
To avoid beating around the bush any longer, we'll just get straight into it.
Around the first week of March I took a pregnancy test and finally got the positive result I'd been coveting since late Summer of last year. It was a cheap test from Walmart so Mark was hesitant to believe it. So I bought digital ones, and they concurred with the first positive. We were pregnant! Finally!
I was barely 5 weeks along but keeping secrets is not my strong suit and I had always said that, "if anything were to happen I'd rather people knew so that I could have a support system," because that's what you say even when you don't believe that that supposed "anything" will ever actually happen to you.
So we told family, I bought Ander a couple of "Big Brother" outfits to wear to choir, our close friends knew, everything was great.
Right before bed about a week after our announcing, I got a little blood when I wiped after going to the bathroom. My heart skipped a beat, but I knew spotting was a thing, so I just slipped in a small tampon and went to sleep.
I woke up in the wee, dark hours of the morning significantly aware that I had bled through the tampon, through the period underwear I had put on "just in case", and through all of my pajamas.

Having read a lot now I know that my behavior following this instance was probably the first phase of grief: Denial. I talked myself down from the ledge of panic constantly until my OB's office opened so I could call and ask. Even after I heard back from the on-call nurse (as I had just left a message about the bleeding) and she flat out said, "well it does sound like you are having a miscarriage," I still told myself I would go in, get the vaginal ultrasound, and I would be one of those rare cases where the yolk sac is still nestled snugly in my uterus and all would be fine, my baby would continue to carry, and I'd have my Thanksgiving Baby.
All was not fine, my uterus was glaringly empty, in a most hurtful betrayal of my trust, and I left the office only to drive to a gas station and sob as I filled my car and avoided looking in the eyes of the strangers who blatantly stared at the crazy crying lady.

I think I managed to remain fairly dignified and rational as I rescinded our announcement to those that knew. And I was glad that I at least had people I could tell without having to start the conversation as, "so I was pregnant."
But again, having read through many an article, that was during my Numb period. I had cried, mostly in private, for a few days and now I was able to remind myself that there hadn't even been a heartbeat, I'd barely been pregnant or even known for hardly a week, and that it wasn't a big deal. And I truly believed it at the time. I think.
But then time kept moving, and the buzzing black cloud surrounding my head hummed with the constant reminder, "I should be pregnant right now." Yesterday my calendar chimed in that it was supposed to be my 8 week ultrasound appointment and here I was still putting in tampons and waiting to feel just normal again.
I think the most difficult aspect is being unable to bring myself to let other people know about all this without feeling guilty that I seem unable to simply "get over it" like I think I should, or like I think other people think I should. There's this automatic assumption that people will roll their eyes and judge me for being so affected and sad that I lost an embryo. I want to be perceived as strong, and sensible, and right now I feel so far from strong or sensible.
I feel weak, I feel emotional, I feel foolish.
I feel isolated, lonely, and vulnerable.

I don't know what phase of grief I'm in now, which makes it difficult to know what would be the best course of action. But I woke up this morning, got my kid dressed in a funky, cute outfit and took him outside with the dog to take some fun pictures. And that made me feel great.
Even in the midst of all my confusion and general despair, I can name one shining silver lining from this trial which is that it has brought me so much closer to my dear, sweet son. I appreciate him so much more, I am usually more patient with him, and I take more time out of my day to just sit and spend time with him. His spunk and humor and his squishy, happy face heals me.
So I'm sure someday that will translate to gratitude. I look forward to that day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The heck are the Douglass' even doing right now?

Are you as lost on what is even going on in our lives as we are? Not to fret, I will now quickly and concisely lay it all out for you in a beautifully organized and prompt manner.
I'm also a huge liar.

No, but seriously. There may have been leaks and drips, but we haven't really taken a moment out to "announce" our current life decision the way you would normally expect a life decision such as this to go. Mostly because it's such a long-run based endeavor that it's kinda hard to figure out when exactly that "announcement" phase has arrived.
After we moved out of Rialto, our first obscenely large home, Mark began concocting a plan to increase, er, *ahem* create a stream of passive income. The idea is to, loan contracts permitting, accumulate rental properties and be landlord moguls. As best as I can understand it, that is.
It basically means we'll be moving once a year (ish) for the foreseeable future.

We hit our year mark in our current house around November, and we're hoping to move into our new place come the end of January.
But first we've had to put in some work to spruce the place up a bit. Without getting into great detail (of which there is plenty), we'll just say some renovations needed to be re-renovated due to questionable quality of work, as well as ridding the smell of cigarette smoke.
Thus far we have...

  • Removed commercial carpet tiling [much wailing and gnashing of teeth]
  • Removed kitchen cabinetry
  • Pulled up kitchen tile
  • Trashed pony wall
  • Knocked down kitchen soffits and superfluous walls
  • Carted the toilets (ew) and bathroom vanities/sinks outside
  • Purchased new kitchen cabinetry second-hand (and subsequently moved the entire set like, a billion times) (literally)
  • Sponge-mopped every wall with a vinegar solution
  • Scrapped the vertical blinds, ceiling fans, and baseboards
  • Rerouted kitchen wiring and plumbing
Honorable Mentions: Mark found a perfectly laid out rat skeleton in the attic and tried to preserve it to show me, but it crumbled into a pile of bones when he moved it. Alas.
And I shaved 20 years off my vitality by pruning the jungled forest of California Palms in our front yard. There's technically three of them with trunks wider than my waist (which is notably girthy) but they've gone so long undeterred that there are two mini offshoots that are practically their own shrubs now. 
Pro-tip: trim them while they're green. All the fronds at the bottom of the trunks that had died out since they were shaded so thoroughly by their sibling fronds (frondlings?) were basically like sawing through concrete. And we don't have a chainsaw, nor would I use one if we did, so I was left with my own sheer muscle power. Which isn't saying much. And it was nighttime. And snowing! Uphill both ways! Nope, too far.

We are, however, hiring out quite a bit for this project. We did our own painting in Rialto and I swore it would never again be a thing I told myself I could do. Mark was still complaining of patchy spots when we moved out of that place. #peskymemories
Turns out, efficiently and confidently managing a contractor schedule is sup totes tricksy. Still...
  • Repair garage roof
  • Remove popcorn ceiling
  • Retexture and install drywall
  • Carpet
And then we can move in!
At some point in there we will be installing the cabinetry in the kitchen, but we're doing that ourselves. And a great many other things that we're doing ourselves. 

The drywall guys come in the next day or two, tile is scheduled for next week, I'm thoroughly panicking about all these invoices and receipts that are piling up, so really, everything's going exactly as planned.
This endeavor would be completely impossible and nonexistent without Mark. I am continuously in awe of how much knowledge he has in such a vast array of subjects, and I'm so grateful he can impart such wisdom onto our own children. I only hope they soak it up better than I do. I'm lucky enough to recall the difference between a reciprocating saw and a jigsaw, let alone operate one and skillfully build a base for a railing. Cuz that's a thing Mark can do. 
Not to mention the leaps and bounds in our growth as partners as we learn and struggle together. I mean, who needs marriage counseling and therapy workshops, just gut and rebuild a house with each other. Team-building exercise on steroids.
But also like, therapy is irreplaceable. Don't take me or these blogs seriously. 100% do not recommend. 

So basically that's where we are right now. I've been struggling with the line between including people in our lives and not making a big deal about it since it's kind of an unconventional situation. It's not your typical facebook announcement from the newlywed couple that are finally getting out of their one bedroom apartment and into their first house. Like, I don't need to make an instagram post of us holding the keys by the front door, but also maybe I should tell people what we're doing? So this here's my compromise. 
We did/are doing a thing, it's a cool thing, and I'll share pictures when we're done. TBD.