Friday, August 10, 2012

My life isn't a battle

for politicians to wage- and no one else's should be either.

I'm not a statistic.  I'm not a stereotype.  I'm just a person.  I don't want to get all deep on you, but recent events have made me think more and more about this habit we have of judging books by their cover.  

Anyway... this blog isn't really about any of that.  It's about a teenage girl who got pregnant when she was 18, and thought she'd never be anything more than a statistic in a world where people passed judgment on unwed moms, and where strangers in church would ask if she was a Christian because she wasn't wearing a wedding ring.  It's about being brave when the world thinks you are wrong, and growing up while you are also responsible for someone else who is growing up.  It's about making mistakes left and right, but somehow... somewhere...  doing something right... because above all else, it's about the perfect, perfect boy that was born to that teenager and about how she could never look at him without seeing God's hand, even though she didn't deserve him... or Him.

I used to wonder how in the world I was chosen to be Will's mom, (and then Parker's, and sometimes Jace's haha).  My world was so full of mistakes and yet somehow, I was given the most precious blessings I've ever known.  It's humbling.  It's also enlightening- for me anyway.  Even though I was a sinner, even though the Bible clearly says not to fornicate, I was chosen.  CHOSEN.  That word is huge in every way.  

I just stumbled upon this beginning of a blog tonight.  I originally started it a while back.  I don't know why, or where I was going with it then, but whatever the inspiration behind it was then, I'm inspired all over again now. 

As you know (all 12 of you, my followers haha), I have three kids.  Three glorious, hilarious, sarcasticious (what?  I felt compelled to keep with the -ious suffix...) loves of my life.  They make me laugh, cry, beat my head against the wall, and generally pray for (depending on the occasion,) patience, peace and gratitude.  This blog is about my firstborn though.  He's going to be 18 this month.  The same age that I was when I found out I was expecting him, and more than likely the sole reason for every good thing that has ever happened in my life since he came into it.  I was lost for so long- and I won't pretend like I was magically found when I became Will's mom, because honestly that didn't happen for a while, but all of my life for the last 18 years has been measured by whether I was just that girl I used to be, or Will's mom.  The honor has been all mine.

Will has been spending this summer in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, at basic training- learning how to be a soldier first and foremost, but also learning how to be a man.  If your kids are still small, you can't imagine what it's like to see them as an **almost** adult.  When they are born, and someone places them into your arms, your head is filled with what ifs about their future, but ultimately, that life isn't your's to decide.  It's theirs.  A few years ago, when Jace was brand new, I stood at a funeral for a fallen soldier, and I prayed that none of my children would ever serve our country in this way.  At that time, I probably believed that I would do whatever it took to change their minds if they even considered such a route.  Life is full of curve balls though.

I truly believe that being a good parent means that you teach your children what they need to know about life, and then you trust them to make the right decisions.  This belief has caused me a huge amount of heartache, because it's meant that I've had to say goodbye to Will too many times in the last 6.5 years, because he didn't want to be part of this army brat way of life.  It's also brought me peace though, because all I really want in this life is for my kids to have the life they want to live.  I can't lie though, knowing that Will wanted to stay close to home (Kentucky), made it come as something of a shock to me when he started begging us to sign the paper work to let him join the military.  I'm never truly whole without him here.  Now that he wanted to make this move, even though it was with the National Guard, and not Active Duty, meant two things:  1.  My prayer that none of my children would ever join the military wasn't going to come true, and 2.  Now my time with Will would be even more complicated- scheduled around the 'needs of the Army' in every area of my life.  I was a little hurt too.  Why did he want to be a part of this world now, when he didn't want to be part of it living and traveling with me?  Sometimes all you need is to wake up.  Will is going to be 18.  Then 19. Then 20.  Then 30.  and on and on and on.  The time had come to practice what I preached.  His life has never been about me, and truth be told, I wouldn't have it any other way.  As a parent, your first instinct is to protect, protect, protect.  Noble desire for sure, but also a noose in so many ways.  Let up to me, I would just weigh him down.  On his own, he can soar.

So I said ok.  I signed the paperwork allowing my 17 year old to enlist with the Army National Guard.  (It didn't happen quite so abruptly, but I will spare you the 47 phone calls between his father and I, and the 50 conversations I had with Thomas, and the no doubt, 60 convos between Craig and Lorri, and the million convos between any and every combination of us and Will.)  A million times I've signed my name in my lifetime.  Never has my signature held so much weight.  For 18 years, I have tried to do everything in my power to ensure that Will is true to himself.  So far, that's netted me an amazing kid who I can't even believe I'm blessed enough to know, let alone to have given birth to.  He's smart, hilarious, athletic, and good.  Really good.  He's not perfect, but he's mine, and I believe in him.  I have to have trust and faith in him from here on out.  A watched pot never boils, and nothing can truly thrive if it's not given the space to do so.  All of my love, hope, and pride means nothing if I don't shower my children with it.  It's in God's hands now.  He took a leap of faith in me not once, not twice, but three times.  Now I have to have the faith in Him to believe that Will's military career will begin and end and he will have the rest of his life ahead of him for whatever next journey he chooses.  Whatever it is, I will be on the sidelines cheering him on, no matter how near or far we are. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Life will never be the same...

nor will my body for that matter.

Today is Parker's birthday.  What better way to mark the anniversary of the birth of your children than by reminiscing about how ridiculously awful their entrance into this world was.  Wait- am I the only one who does that?  Surely not.  I have always heard people say that you forget all about the pain once you lay eyes on those little blessings.  I call bullshit.  Was it worth it?  Of course.  Do I remember every minute of the hellish 17 hours of labor?  Nope, but neither have I forgotten the pain!

Way back when I was just a child of 19 and preparing to give birth to Will, the hospital where I would be delivering required you to pay for your epidural in advance.  Feeling very much like, 'this is what my body was created for', I opted against one.  Right before I went into labor, I remember telling my mom that since she had five kids, I knew childbirth couldn't be that bad.  Her response?  "Oh honey, I was knocked out when you were born.  The whole family knew what you were before I even woke up."  Yikes.  This did NOT sound promising, but again, I fully believed in my ability to give birth without an epidural- and I did.  I did have a couple shots of stadol.  I'm not sure in what dimension that is supposed to block the pain of your uterus turning inside out, but whatever....  Mostly they just made me see double.  At any rate, I not only survived labor and delivery without an epidural, but it wasn't anything that I felt like I couldn't handle.  I only lost my cool once- when I overheard my grandmother telling someone, "They might send her home."  This was after they'd broken my water and inserted internal monitors.  The mere mention of going home without a baby turned me into the exorcist.  Sooo things I remember about the day Will was born:

1.  Trying to stay focused on my 'focal point' while remembering to breathe.  During much of this my sister was standing right in front of me with a sympathetic look on her face while she bobbed up in down in front of what I was trying to focus on.  On second thought, she might have gotten snapped at too.

2.  My mother repeatedly looking at the blood pressure monitor and then taking off running for the nurses.  I had mild pre-ecclampsia.  Let's just say, Mom didn't help my blood pressure.

3.  Being hungry.  Very hungry.

4.  Finally having the baby and looking at Will for the first time.  I was instantly hit with the feeling that he was his own person.  My entire pregnancy I'd thought of him as an extension of me.  Seeing him and realizing he was more than just my extension was amazing and oh so scary.

5.  Begging for a cheeseburger, which I can be seen eating in the videos Vanessa shot.  It was a long day for her too ;)  But yes, most of the film from after Will's birth is people passing him around while oohing and aahing, and me sitting in bed shoving a burger and fries in my face while looking like a deer in headlights.

6.  And finally, Will being taken to the nursery for the night and me being taken to a room to get some blissful sleep.  Instead I stayed up all night waiting to lay eyes on my boy again....  Becoming a mother was sobering and scary, but the single, best moment of my life.  It was love at first sight...

Fast forward a few years, and I'm expecting Parker.  I'll never forget telling Will he was going to be a big brother, and more importantly his reply:  You need to get fixed or something. You know like when we took the dog to the vet?  Sadly our dog passed away while being spayed.  I'm just going to assume Will wasn't thinking about that when he suggested that I go.  I'd like to think that he changed his mind when he first held his baby sister, but I think I'd be fooling myself.  Just a couple months ago he said, "When it was just me, I got 100% of your attention.  Then you had Parker and I was down to 50%.  When Jace came along I got 33.333333333% (I'm pretty sure that's the number he used,) of your attention, so it's a good thing you can't have any more or I'd be knocked down to 25%."  That's my Willio... always thinking of others hahaha.

Anyway, while pregnant with Parker, I obviously had no intentions of having an epidural because labor and delivery with Will was fine.  Throughout the years, I'd even scoffed at friends that had epi's because I thought they were weenies.  It's probably occurred to you by this point that Karma would be biting me in the ass at any moment, and yes she did.

Labor with Will and Parker was remarkably similar.  With both I started contracting at around 3-3:30 in the morning.  Both were born within minutes of each other that evening.  One at 7:39 pm, and one at 7:41.  (Don't ask me which was which.  These are the things I forget.)  With both they had to break my water, and with both I was given pitocin to speed things up.  Here is where things start to change- With Will I was ok with no epidural.  With Parker, I would have traded her for anything that might possibly numb me.  I didn't just think that, I actually said it at some point.  Thank goodness no one took me up on the offer.  I declined stadol because it didn't work with Will and  just made things fuzzy.  In the end, I went from 7 to 10 in a matter of minutes.  Literally, 5-10 minutes.  At some point in there they gave me a shot of something.  When Parker came out I was pretty much high and afraid to hold her.  I had to put a hand over one eye to try to see just one of her.  It was bad business.  This is where I start to forget, because I don't have a clue what happened for the next few hours, other than the only thing that was truly important to me was that Will be the first person to see her.

Sooooo after the horror of Parker's childbirth, I was NOT going to rule out an epidural when Jace came along.  I hadn't firmly decided one way or the other, but it was definitely staying on the table.  With Jace I had pre-e again, only this time worse.  I started losing part of my field of vision, and so they admitted and induced me at 37 weeks, 5 days.  At some point I did get an epidural, for two reasons- 1.  Thomas talked me into it, probably so I'd stop yelling at him for just sitting in a chair eating anything he could find in a vending machine while playing on his iPhone, and 2.  Because a lot of what happened after Parker was born was a blur, and I kept hearing these stories about women who had epidurals and had glorious, pain free deliveries and actually knew what the hell was going on.  Even with Will, the end was just a blur of pain and 'Please God make it end', so I wanted to see what was different.  

First off let me say that so far I universally hate military hospitals.  There may come a time when I feel differently, but I wouldn't put money on it.  With Jace, first of all no one knew how to hook up the internal monitors.  Because I was on pitocin and magnesium for my bp, it was important to be able to monitor him...  I don't remember how many people were crouched down there trying to hook it up, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out they were bringing in the cleaning ladies to 'have a go at it'.  Then came the epidural man.  I had been assured that he was the best in the hospital and I was soooo lucky that he was working.  Well I'm not so sure, because it took him two tries to get my epidural in the proper place.  He then started accusing me of my spine being strange, because clearly he couldn't have just made an error...  I don't know if it is or not, but I do know that you don't accuse a woman in labor of anything if you want to keep breathing.  Finally with monitors and epi in place, I drifted off to lala land, and I liked it.  I can remember as I was drifting off to sleep thinking, "Why didn't I do this with the first two?!"  Famous last words.

At some point they came in to wake me up and check me.  I had completely stopped dilating after getting the epi.  I'd been at 4 when I went to sleep and now 5 hours later, I was still at 4.  They bumped up the pitocin, and that's when things started getting crazy.  First the internal monitor started going crazy.  I think it beeped for at least five minutes before I noticed because the epi had worn off...  Oh yes....  Pain, like a mind-numbing, primal, someone put me out of my misery pain, took over my entire body.  At this point they are trying everything to get Jace where he can breathe.  I spent what seemed like forever on my hands and knees while they tried to reposition him.  I'm positive everyone in the hospital was in my room.  There were at least 10 people at this point.  The horror of all horrors was the fact that my cervix started swelling, and so instead of dilating I actually went from 8 back to 7.  I vaguely remember someone giving me a shot in my arm to stop my contractions because Jace couldn't handle them... All this time the monitors were still going crazy, and when I could think, it was, "Why aren't they just getting this baby out?!"  Apparently that's because none of the doctors in the hospital at that time were OBs.  Yeah...  It was a couple family practice doctors.  When the OB finally showed up all I can remember thinking was "Praise Jesus, Hallelujah".  I think I kissed the anesthesiologist.  By the time I hit the OR, everything happened so fast that Thomas walked in right as they were pulling him out.  He was completely purple.  Thank God he started screaming and turning pink immediately, but to this day I think, 'What if the OB had been any later?!"

So while Jace was off being weighed and measured and all that good stuff, I was left with the doctors who were trying to repair the fact that they cut through my cervix when the made the incision.  Oh, and btw I could also feel them sewing me up.  Not like, "OMG I have a knife tearing into my abdomen pain!" But I could feel stinging every time they stuck the needle in and I was petrified it would suddenly get worse.  The anesthesiologist insisted that I could not be feeling pain....  Since I begged to differ, his answer was to shoot me up with some versed so I'd shut up and go to sleep.  Worked for me.  We'll skim over the fact that I was severely anemic in the hospital and yet no one checked my blood again before discharging me.  That trip back to the hospital a couple days later to be offered a transfusion so that I could walk up my stairs without feeling like I was having a heart attack was fun.  You know in movies when someone is bleeding to death and they say, "It's so cold..."  Yes, it is.  

Soooo how does all this relate to today, Parker's 11th birthday?  Because despite ridiculous pain, having total strangers up in your hoo-ha, stretch marks, ever present maternal guilt, and saggy boobs seems like a hefty price to pay, but it's not.  I would have given more.  I still would.  Each of my children is the best part of me and the best thing I ever did.  I would die for them.  I will love them forever, without fail.  I will immediately think of them any time I count my blessings.  They are my everything, and the fact that I have given them life, feels like nothing compared to everything they've given me.  No matter how many mistakes I've made, no matter whether I deserve them or not, God has given me these babies and they are amazing and the most perfect children for me.  They are funny, smart, and perfectly imperfect, and I could not ask for more.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Long time no blog....

Hola Amigos!  This is my first blog from Texas and I'm still not sure that I'm ready...  No matter how batty my kids drive me, since they are pretty much the only thing I blog and/or talk about, you've probably noticed that they are not only vital to my life, but also my identification in general.  Moving to Texas without one of them basically makes it hard to breathe.  Something about blogging about my life when part of it is missing is just harder than I can explain.  The good news is, no matter how many miles are between us, Will still gives me material :)

The good news, and the bad news:

The good news is, technology makes it easier than ever to feel close to someone no matter how far away they are.  

The bad news is, technology makes it easier to only call your mom when you want her to transfer money onto your debit card.  

Honestly, even though I joke about it, I'll take what I can get.  Whether I'm putting money on Will's card or sending him the code to an X-Box card that I just bought, it makes me feel like I'm still vital in his life even though I'm days (and by all appearances,) light years from home.

Speaking of light years, Welcome to Texas!  Now that I've been here a few weeks, I have some observations to make.  Actually the first observation came about while we were still traveling....  

1.  Texas is huge.  Of the 1200 miles we traveled to get here, most of them were in Texas.  I left Kentucky, and passed through Tennessee and Arkansas while it was still daylight.  The rest of that glorious trip, (and by glorious I mean me, two kids, and a cat in a vehicle that was so packed I couldn't see out the windows,) was spent in Texas.  Which brings me to my next observation.

2.  For years I've been reading about how everything is bigger in Texas.  Much has been made of it's size...  I learned from my friend Jen that you can actually fit Texas into Alaska not once, but twice.  You don't hear as much about that though, do ya?  Wanna know why?  Because much of Alaska is still in it's natural state and Alaska knows that you don't brag about the size of something unless you plan to use it.  Which brings me to number 3.

3.  The entire second day of our trip here was spent in a barren wasteland.  As far as I can tell, once you get past Abilene-ish, it's mostly tumbleweeds, and final resting places of big, rusty, metal things.  Honestly, I was ridiculously excited by the first tumbleweed I saw.  I suddenly identified with Snoopy's brother Whatshisname who was besties with a cactus.  When you've spent countless hours looking at nothing but dirt and wind turbines, a tumbleweed passing in front of your car is not unlike seeing the last inhabitant of a ghost town...

4.  At some point I realized that I could probably ignore the speed limit and just drive as fast as I wanted.  I came to this realization when I realized that there wasn't even a gas station for at least a hundred miles.  Which begs the question- Hey Texas!  Did you ever consider the thought of posting some sort of warning?!  Something along the lines of "Get gas now, or you're about to be shit outta luck"?  If you lack proper signage, you could spray it on the side of one of those big, rusty, metal things.  I say without a trace of humor that God had to have gotten us to a gas station because my gas light was on for ummmmm  an hour?  Yeah.  I can't remember what astronomical amount I paid for gas there, but I would have paid double.  Seriously.

5.  By the end of Day 2 two things happened.  1.  We were home.  Praise God.  and 2.  I was pretty sure I would never get in my car again. 

6.  El Paso is huge and I need to learn Spanish.  Like yesterday.  I practically  had to do charades at Wal-Mart one day in order to find out that the checker was ready to close their lane.  No amount of smiling and nodding fixes the fact that the checker is telling you they are closed and you are still unloading your cart...

Please excuse me while I go and downgrade my phone to one that doesn't have apps.  Jace has been shoving my phone in my face and whining about race cars for the last 8 minutes....