Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Living In the World

I've been thinking a lot lately about how hard it is for people to not be pulled into the worldly way of living. It's especially hard for young people because they're practically born into it. It's hard for anyone to see the value of life when all they care about is money, sex, themselves. But even devout Christians struggle with that temptation - doing the easy thing, whatever makes you happy, etc. It's a very painful lesson to learn that life is ultimately more difficult when you go this route and give into that temptation. And it keeps you from achieving the joy you can find if you were to just follow God. Following Him is very hard; I won't lie. But I have learned that if something is easily obtained, it's really not worth much.

When I was 19, my boyfriend of almost 5 years broke up with me. At that point, because the life we had been planning together was all I knew and it had so suddenly been taken from me, I sort of fell off the wagon and became very lost. I had no clear direction and it only got worse from there. The next three years of my life were a mix of bad decisions, unbelievable pain and an emptiness I still haven't forgotten - one I often catch a glimpse of even now. It wasn't his fault I was this way; it was just how things were for me. One spends [what seems like] a very long time making plans for a certain major thing to happen - in this case, it was my whole future - and then it's suddenly ripped from one's grasp in a very painful way, never to be recovered again. It's hard getting through that. For some, it's just another opportunity to grow and change and become stronger. But for me, for the person I was back then, it was the beginning of a long detour that only led back to the path I was meant to be on after a lot of chaos I can't even begin to explain.

Those three years of my life were some of the hardest, most painful ones I've ever experienced, and looking back on them I know it was because I was living a worldly life. I had forgotten the concept of modesty and I had no real self-confidence or, more importantly, self-respect. I was aware of God but not as the center of my life, definitely not Someone I wanted to spend a lot of time on. I guess in some way I probably blamed Him for my situation, even though I know now that it was not His fault either. But for those three years, I did not know anything but the constant pain I was in. And as the gruesome cycle goes, the more pain I was in, the more I sought to hide from it and the more I sought to hide from it, the more pain I created for myself.

I look at the young girls of today and I weep. I am sad because they just have no clue. They think it's harmless to dress in skimpy clothes and flaunt their sexuality. They think it's cool to get so drunk they can't even remember what they did, or they only have shards of memories of a night they are certain they're glad they can't remember fully. And they don't even know who they are. They're just following the rest of their peers - another lemming in the crowd - because it's just so easy and they can't see past that. And what's an even harder concept for them to grasp is that they have no clue what their image is saying to everyone else. Or they just don't care. They have no concept of what it means to have self-respect or to respect others.

I know younger girls - some I care about very deeply - who are generally good people, even if they don't put God in the center of their lives. But they also live in the world. A lot of the time, the image they put forth to represent themselves is a total contradiction to who they say they are. And it's definitely far from what God wants them to be. Some think that just because they don't engage in a particular behavior "very often," that means that it's OK. But a constant stream of different behaviors that generally
don't represent God is never OK. For some reason, we have been conditioned into thinking that as long as we are generally 'good people,' it doesn't matter how we live our lives or how we act. Society breeds this mind-set into its children and hand-feeds it to them through every outlet it possibly can.

I remember in ninth grade one of my teachers was talking to us about impressions, particularly
first impressions - how we should always represent ourselves honestly and positively. Being very young and immature, most of us didn't really take that lesson seriously. But looking back, I wish it had been a lesson that was built-on, something that was taught in a more structured way and more in-depth, something that was ingrained in us as insurance for us to be productive members of society. But the way society runs these days is all about self. It's all about sex. It's all about doing whatever makes us happy.. and it scares the crap out of me.

I wonder how bad things will be out in the world as my daughters (and sons) get older and become more aware of its pull. How do I help them fight this? How do I teach them about how God wants us to live? Will they ask me about my life and how I was before I got married? My life didn't start over until I became pregnant with Angelina. But the three years that preceded that change are something I hope I never have to relive again - even if just in the telling of my story. But at the same time, I wonder - will my children (or others) benefit from that story? Will it be a good testament to God's love and infinite presence in our lives? Will I have the strength to relate it in such a way that will actually help them?

Over the past four years, motherhood has definitely taught me a lot. I struggle with learning to do things God's way even now, and I am fearful of not having the ability to convey what I know to be His truth to my children - especially when I have the world to contend with. I want to shelter them from the grit and ugliness of it while at the same time be able to share the beauty of God's will for the world, the way He intended it to be. It's going to be hard explaining to them why other people live a different way, particularly when it comes to those whom we know and love. But I know that nothing worth anything in life is easily obtained.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dancing in Rhythm

There are many posts I have crafted about feeling like I am meant to do more than I am - feeling like there is just something else, something bigger. I often write about not knowing what God wants me to do as a writer, my failings (and sometimes, my successes) as a mother and my journey to just being a better person in general. This blog was first started so that I could write about my identity as a mother. I have been recording the day to day grind of everything motherhood entails - my fears, my hopes, each incident with my children (big or small, positive or negative) and how it all affects me. But as I have also written about each aspect of my life surrounding my motherhood, I have come to realize that they not only surround my life but move within it, creating a sort of dance...but it's a dance I am not often in rhythm with.

Lately I have been feeling really down. It doesn't matter what I do, when I wake up I'm already depressed or angry and I'm already feeling like the day is going to be horrible. But I say the prayers I usually say in the morning - thanksgiving for a new day and prayers for my husband. Different intentions for our families and friends and patience and love for my children. And peace for the day. And I start the day anyway, despite the ever-growing fear that it is just going to be bad regardless. Sometimes I am capable of convincing myself that it's just Satan, in his ever-present seat in my head, trying to steal my will and make me fall captive to that sadness. Sometimes I can escape him. Most of the time I cannot. I am often cynical about God, wondering why I still feel this way after so long even though I pray about it several times throughout each day. Doesn't He want me to do His will in my life? If so, why won't He tell me what that is?

My sister recently told me that I shouldn't believe the lies I tell myself when I am feeling bad. Sometimes it's hard to see which is a lie and which is the truth. One of the biggest feelings I've had lately, even in moments I don't feel "down," is that because I live an hour away from my family (siblings and parents), I am not really part of it except in the most important things. But what makes a family? Isn't it the small things as well as the big things... and making someone feel important regardless of how far away they live? I miss so much and feel so left out of things that happen where they are. No one really knows who I am and I feel like I don't really know any of them anymore. Everyone has their own life but somehow, I don't feel like a part of it even in some small way. Yes, we get together for the kids' birthdays or other major family things. I pack up the kids and drive down there as often as I can to visit but I am trying to remember the last time anyone came up here just to visit me. And sometimes I wonder if maybe this isn't God showing me that I am supposed to be on my own - maybe He'll move me somewhere even further away than an hour, where driving a few times a month for visits won't be possible. Maybe He's getting me used to the distance, used to the loneliness and detachment I feel. Or maybe He just wants me to use the time I have where I'm not distracted by other things to focus on mothering my children His way.

I don't know.

On top of all that, there's the world and its craziness distracting me from my tasks, often luring me in the opposite direction from the one I know I am supposed to go. One of the things I stopped doing long ago was watching t.v. during the day. I can remember days on end sitting on my couch for at least 2 hours, drowning myself in whatever shows were on, doing the bare minimum that needed to be done around my house. I don't even really watch the news anymore. It both angers and saddens me and makes me feel like I just don't want to care about anything. And there are even people hubby and I both had to completely cut out of our lives or that we just stopped talking to because they were just too toxic or weren't positive influences on the life we know we want.

Maybe I'm in the warm-up stage and still have time to catch on to whatever it is this dance is meant to be for me - whatever it is God wants of me?

It seems I feel I am supposed to be taking 500 different steps but that most of them are impossible for me. I feel crazy a lot, out of sorts, as if I will never catch the rhythm of the dance and find my footing secure. But even still, however frazzled I may seem at times, I am constantly digging deeper within the tune of this dance, trying to find the one beat I know I can stick with. And though outside influences from the dirt and smut of the world - and my own sadness and self-wallowing - often attempt to knock me off my feet, I am pushing on, dancing faster, hoping to catch the tail-end of the song just so I can land right in my Father's arms, in perfect rhythm with Him.

Dance is the hidden language of the soul. ~ Martha Graham

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Tattoo

When I was 19, I had the brilliant idea of getting a tattoo. My best friend at the time drove me to a place called Snakeman's on rt. 355 in Frederick and we wandered around the tiny interior, trying to decide what to get. There was no changing my mind. I wasn't even the slightest bit nervous. I knew I wanted a tattoo and even where on my body I wanted it. I just didn't know what I wanted. For almost 2 hours, we walked around, looking at the tattoo art on the walls, thumbing through binders with greasy plastic covers on the pages. After all that time, I decided on a celestial design - a crescent moon with a single star in the middle. There were variations on what I had picked already on the wall, but nothing exactly like it so I was pleased when the artist took the image straight from my mind and drew it on a piece of paper. He made a copy and took me back to the little room to get to work. It was over in 10 minutes but the product of that time spent is something that will be forever etched on my body.

I look back at the me of 19 and wonder what that girl was thinking. I can see me asking the tattoo artist if my tattoo will stretch. He laughs and asks me if I have ever put silly putty on a newspaper and then stretched it out and looked at the ink that had copied itself onto the putty. Because of the location of my tattoo, I knew right then that if I ever had babies, it would most definitely stretch. But at 19, it didn't seem to matter to me. Having babies was something too far into the future - nothing I had to worry about in the immediacy of my mind's eye. So the thought that at some point my cute blue and purple crescent moon and its little yellow and orange star friend would stretch to some misshapen mass of colors wasn't really something I viewed as a reality.

At the "wise old age" of almost 27, I laugh at that 19 year old naivety, just like that artist did all those years ago. I laugh because I have now had 3 babies and my moon and star has stretched and changed with each pregnancy. I am somewhere in the beginning of my fourth one, perfectly aware of the fact that there is no escape for the celestial art this time either. But I am also amazed at the sort of symbolism my tattoo has taken on. Looking at the shape of the tattoo, it could be viewed as a womb, the star - a baby. A little piece of heaven.

When I had my sister-in-law take pictures of my first pregnancy, some people asked me if I had drawn the moon and star on my belly to symbolize my pregnancy. They didn't know it was a tattoo when they asked. Ever since then, I've been sort of regarding it as that symbol - not because I want to give the tattoo some purpose or have a reason for its existence. But looking at it from that perspective, as if it is a womb and baby, it symbolizes who I am now. I am a mother and I make babies! And regardless of my motive for getting the tattoo when I was 19, at 27 I am not completely regretful of it because it has evolved in its purpose. Within months of getting the tattoo, the excitement of it kind of faded and I couldn't even remember why I got it. But when I became pregnant at 22 and someone asked me about it symbolizing my pregnancy, I realized that maybe it did have a purpose after all. I liked that it wasn't just some piece of art on my body with no significance. I liked that it had become a symbol for my motherhood. And I like that it will always be there, a slightly stretched mass of colors and shapes, representing a part of heaven and what I'm doing here on earth.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Isabella's Birth

Yesterday Isabella turned one. I can't believe how the last year has flown by. It literally seems like weeks ago that I gave birth and yet so much has happened in this past year that makes it hard to disbelieve that it really has been that long! In thinking about the year, though, I am drawn back to her actual day of birth and am remembering how hard it was for me and how I felt like I could never do that again. But along with the natural changes and happenings that take place over the course of a baby's first year, there have also been changes within me that have allowed me to come to a place of accepting that I would - and at this point definitely am going to - do it again.

All of my births have been long drawn-out processes that drain me and my hubby both physically and emotionally but at the same time, leave us feeling accomplished and amazed over the miracle that has taken place. Bella's was no exception by any means. As usual, I went into "real" labor in the evening after laboring off and on for at least a week. We called the midwife pretty early on because she was even further away from us than she had been for Aidan's birth. I didn't do what she had suggested and go to a chiropractor throughout my pregnancy so I knew we were all going to be in for a long ride. Going to a chiropractor was supposed to straighten me out so that when the baby was making her way through, she wouldn't be met with an uneven or tilted path. This was the issue with my first birth, why I didn't get past 4 cm after many many hours of really intense labor, and why my second birth was equally as long.

We labored through the cold night in a drafty house, eating and walking and groaning and swaying. I soaked in our jacuzzi tub for a little bit. I took a hot shower. I walked laps around the interior of the house as it was too cold to go outside to walk the street. I remember my midwife and her assistant kind of just relaxing, reading, resting until they needed to check me and the baby. They hung out and slept and ate and just waited for the labor to do its own thing.

I, on the other hand, was freaking out inside. I was fighting my labor every step of the way. I held my breath a lot, I often screamed like a crazy person. It was an incredibly difficult time because for whatever reason, memories of my first birth flooded back into my mind with such intensity; the fears they brought with them knew no limits. I was so afraid of so much and I couldn't get past it. But I remained silent about my thoughts and just barreled through without relief. My sister, Kate was there with us and she lent a huge amount of support through the night but nothing was enough, no one even knew about what was going on inside of me.

I remember feeling intense pressure inside my head throughout my labor. I don't know if it was because I was so tense or what but it scared me. I kept thinking my head was going to explode. I remember also worrying that my uterus couldn't withstand the pushing and pulling and would eventually fall apart at the sharpness of the contractions. I had no real reason to feel this way. I just thought that because I had had a cesarean for my first and then was pregnant again so soon with my second and then my third, that it just wasn't going to hold up. My fears followed me through the night, gripping me and stealing my breath like the cold air in the house, digging deeper into my mind.

Bella was born after about 15 hours of labor which included only 45 minutes of pushing. I was scared to hold her. Evelyn, my midwife told me to reach down and touch my baby's head as she made her way out during those last few seconds. I didn't want to. I was so worried that at any minute, everything was going to take a drastic turn for the worse. When everything had settled down, the placenta had been delivered and I was in my bed with my baby, I couldn't help but think that I never again wanted to go through the horrifying thoughts and intense feelings I had experienced during that birth. For the first few days, I had a hard time tending to Bella the way I had with Aidan. Like with Angelina, for some reason I felt so detached from her. I was determined to never have any more children ever again.

After a week, I started really looking at Bella and marveling in her existence. I loved that she was mine - that I had birthed her even though it was incredibly difficult. But the scariness of that night still haunted me and was still so new that I still felt like I didn't want to birth any more babies. It took me until about the time I found out I am pregnant again before I really felt like maybe I could do it again. I am still fearful. I still have so much healing to do from issues with my first birth - which were the reasons Bella's birth was difficult to begin with. I will be praying for God's infinite power and grace to wash over me during this time of preparation and then as I'm laboring to bring another baby into the world. And I am more determined than ever to spend the time that this baby will be growing inside of me to get to a place within my heart that I can not just be accepting of the fact that I will be having another baby but be joyful instead.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Angelina's Birth

For the past four years, I've sort of avoided really thinking too much about Angelina's birth. I had a very difficult time and a lot of horrible stuff happened and I felt like I should just move on and forget about it. I left the hospital with many issues that were the result of the trauma I experienced and I have never really dealt with them. Anytime I thought too deeply about the event, my mind would automatically switch to "flight" response and block out any ability I had of recalling too much. I never even wrote much about my experience - afraid of truths I would discover about it. But in thinking about my past two births and anticipating the next one, I find myself once again frantically trying to block out the memories of the 48 hours that surrounded that first birth...

I remember my first thoughts about birthing a baby being filled with what I knew I wanted - a calm, natural labor and delivery as far away from any unnecessary medical intervention as I could get. My sister, Chris, was a Bradley Method Child Birth Educator and on top of the wealth of information I learned from her, I did my own research about my options. We picked out a birthing center and I started going to regular check-ups. I really liked the birthing center, for the most part. Along with the home-like atmosphere of the birthing rooms, I loved that the midwives didn't make me feel like they were scooting me out of the appointment within 10 minutes of their arrival. I was excited about the idea of laboring at a place that felt just like home, being able to eat whenever and as much as I wanted, having the freedom to pretty much do what I wanted - all without feeling like I was being timed or as though at any moment during my labor, drugs and weird instruments would be unnecessarily forced upon me.

Other feelings I had about what I wanted were more personal and emotional. I wanted to be able to imagine my baby, my body and myself all working together to bring her into her new life. I wanted to feel the waves I so often heard about when relating to labor - feel them and ride them and gulp in their depth without drowning. I wanted to move beyond the labor pains within myself and connect with my body so intensely that nothing else was on my mind but the miracle of birthing that tiny baby and then holding her in my arms. When the time came, for much of the labor, this is just about how it was.

But things weren't progressing and before I knew it, everything was out of my control. I was being transferred to the hospital because my cervix just wouldn't open up past 4 cm and I had been laboring for many hours. But when the news of the transfer sunk into my head, into my heart, I lost all control I had over the labor pain and I started to panic. Suddenly, those calm waves I had been floating on for such a long time fell out from underneath me and I was thrown into treacherous waves I couldn't stay on top of. They started crashing over me, more intense and angry; I couldn't stay afloat. By the time we got to the hospital, I was crying out in pain. There was chaos all around me. My husband's mother was screaming at everyone, telling them to get me an epidural. I wanted to say no but I couldn't speak. I wanted to try to get back on top of my waves on my own but they were too strong and I was so weak.

Papers were shoved in front of me. As I tried once again to get my labor under control, I couldn't even get past signing the first letter of my name but apparently that was good enough for them. I was given an epidural, pitocin. My water was broken. I was on the clock. As my body adjusted to the pain medication, I slipped in and out of consciousness, often unaware of who was around me, let alone what type of waves I was riding on at that point. I went through the night, never allowed to feel those waves, never allowed a second chance to get back on top of them and birth my baby the way I had imagined I would.

Already my dream of that birth was gone but that wasn't all that been taken from me. From the moment I got to that hospital, I was treated with absolute disregard to my dignity or feelings. I was denied my right to have my sister - who was also my doula - in the room with me when we first got there. I was forced to have things I didn't really want but I was unable to make my feelings known. The nurse on duty when I got there exposed me to anyone passing by, asking them if they wanted to see where a woman pees from. She was rude to me, my husband and my sister. They frequently checked my cervix to see if I was progressing, even when my midwife told them to leave me alone and that she would do it when she thought it needed to be done.

The clock quickly ticked the night away and by 11 am the next morning, I was told I would have to have a c-section. I was at 9.5 cm but was still so drugged up that I could not feel anything in order to try to push. I was devastated. This was exactly what I did not want. Around 1 PM they performed the c-section. My post-op nurse refused me anything to quench my indescribable thirst. I was yelled at for spilling my drink on my bed later in the day; the nurse thought I had thrown up.

As the days in recovery dragged on, I felt so detached from my baby. She was so needy and I didn't even know what to do for her. She was nursing pretty well and that was about all I could do. I felt no emotional connection toward her. The journey we had together was such a hard one and for the last half of it, I couldn't even feel her. I felt like something had been taken from me without my permission and I just couldn't identify her as it. I couldn't relate to her as a mother should relate to her desperate newborn baby. Recovering from the trauma I went through even before the c-section was performed was impossible at that point. I couldn't even think about it, let alone get past it.

In its entirety, my experience was horrific. I often felt violated, maybe even assaulted, though I know people scoff at these words. The process was very traumatic for me and even if it had not ended in a cesarean and everything else went the way it did, I know I would feel the same way. I have gotten over the bitterness from having not been given a chance to birth my baby naturally, but I am still recovering from the way I was treated in "the system." It's taken me over 4 years and 2 other births to come to a place where I can even realize and admit to this fact. I haven't even begun to heal.

And I am suddenly aware of the fact that I really do need to heal from my experience with Angelina's birth if I want this next one to go well. I remember my last birth was very difficult for me because I had allowed thoughts and memories from that first one to invade while labor was at its most intense, when I was at the crest of each wave frantically trying to figure out how to float down with it instead of letting it fall out from underneath me. Many times, I crashed down into murky waters, choking on the thick pain that invaded my body like fog. I remember holding my breath a lot, afraid of the sharpness of it catching in my throat. I wanted to push it all away and just have my baby in my arms. It was so different than the experience I had with my first VBAC attempt- completely worse, somehow.

I have been praying a lot lately that God will help me to heal and take away the fears I have which keep me from really allowing the natural ability of my body - how He made things to be - to work in full force. I have about 7 months to really prepare myself for my next VBAC at home. I know I've done it twice now but considering how my last one went, knowing I had suffered through it in ways I didn't need to, I know I need to really emotionally prepare and allow that healing to take place. It's been a long journey even getting to this place - where I can admit to my feelings about my first birth experience and work on healing from the trauma I feel I went through. I have to just take that experience and pull the good from it... Like the fact that I got a beautiful little girl as the end result, one who has changed my life in so many ways.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Aidan's Birth

I wanted to start writing about the births of my children and at first, I think they'll be works-in-progress because I find it difficult to really dig deep enough to remember these events on a truly emotional level. For now, this will be just the beginning of my attempt at revisiting the stories of each of the births of my babies.

I started labor when we had just gotten our food at
Carrabbas. I had been having contractions on and off for a few days before-hand but it started to really pick up at that point. I tried to eat but I was too anxious and didn't know what to expect. I told my husband we had to leave. I went to the bathroom and apparently while I was gone, the waitress came to the table to check on us. My husband informed her that we had to get our food to go because I was in labor. The waitress freaked out and rushed back to the kitchen to get boxes. On my way out of the bathroom, I passed by the kitchen door where she and a few other servers were standing. She was frantically telling them that I was in labor. As I passed, they all looked at me as if I were an alien with 3 eyes on the top of my head. I chuckled inside. They just had no clue. But apparently, neither did I.

a few hours to about 11:00. Hubby and I are watching a movie, trying to get my mind off my contractions, which had steadily picked up in both intensity and frequency. I didn't think I was ready to call the midwife just yet, as I knew from my first birth that the progress could be slow and the entire process long. I tried to sleep but I was just too excited and scared. We were going to be at home for this birth and I was going to attempt a VBAC. I had a pretty traumatizing experience with my first birth, one which ended in a cesarean. After everything I went through with that, I was determined to never step foot in a hospital to have a baby ever again.

We called Kate, one of my sisters who happened to live across the street. She came by to sit with Angelina so that we could go for a walk. We called the midwife and told her I was in labor but that it was going slowly. She told us to keep her informed. The hours ticked on as I tried to relax and not make a big deal out of every contraction. Each one was intense but still quite manageable. I called my sister, Chris who was my
doula, around 2 AM and told her I was going to call the midwife. I didn't know how fast things would move and the midwife was an hour away. My sister came over and soon my midwife and her assistant showed up. At this point, I was only at 2 cm dilation and was still in pretty good spirits. Because of the drive, they settled in for what would turn into a very long night ahead.

Throughout the night, I tried to sleep and I ate and tried to relax. My contractions were pretty intense and frequent and by 6 AM, my midwife had me walking the stairs of our condo building to try to speed up the process. I had not progressed very much since her arrival. I remember climbing those stairs, my hubby on one side, my sister on the other, moaning lowly with each contraction. Often, I would be right outside a neighbor's door. I could only pray I didn't wake anyone up! We had rented a birth tub and I spent some time in that with my hubby, floating around in the hot water, letting the warmth penetrate my body, relaxing me through each contraction.

Around 8 AM, I was finally fully
dilated and ready to start pushing. The first few hours of intense labor had been difficult because I was afraid of so many things. Uterine rupture was one of them. I was soothingly talked out of that mind-set by my sister and husband but all those hours later, when the actual pushing had begun, those fears once again swarmed in my head as I tried to make it through the hardest part of the labor process. My midwife's assistant, Lora, helped me to get past those feelings and lent huge support, confidence and strength to me as I got to work and pushed my baby from my within my body.

Shortly after 11 AM, Aidan Joseph was born. How
exhilarated I was! And I felt so amazing for having just given birth. Joe and I cried. I held our little boy to my breast and he latched on like a champ. I felt so connected to him. I had felt him through every moment of every wave, contracting and pulling and sliding his way through my body. As my midwife, Evelyn and her assistant, Lora took care of all the after-birth duties - which included checking the placenta to make sure everything was there - they made a surprising discovery. Apparently, the placenta had two chambers in it which meant that at some point, Aidan had had a twin. This is something that I think about often but know that I can't dwell on it for too long at any one time. I know that baby is up with God in heaven and that's more than enough for me.

I couldn't believe how different this experience was compared to my first birth. I had been the pioneer for the women in our family for home births. I was the first of anyone we knew to even attempt a VBAC at home. It was one of the most uplifting experiences I have ever had and I think about how amazing it is to not only have had it but also get a beautiful baby boy as the prize!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Milanos at Nine

Big mistake...eating those Milanos at 9:00 last night. I was just craving something chocolaty and sweet, and I knew I couldn't overdo it because of the late hour. And thank God hubby didn't buy double stuff Oreos at the store.. I could have more easily gone overboard with the sickeningly sweet creme-filled cookies. While they're definitely not nearly as distinguished and rich and yummy as Milanos, they're just sick enough to be absolutely delicious! Not to mention that I am pretty sure they have some sort of addicting agent in them anyway so it really doesn't matter how sick Oreos are. I did pace myself with the Milanos but I probably should have just avoided them altogether.

So at midnight I was still wide awake and tossing around in my bed, in a sort of crazed delirium of sugary sleeplessness, wondering if I really ate only the two or three cookies I was remembering in my head. My mind slowly cycled back to earlier in the evening when the actual crime took place. We were in the living room watching the season premier of American Idol. Angelina was on the couch, recovering from a day of throwing up. Bella was in bed. Hubby was in the chair. Aidan was wandering around, unable to settle down enough to stay in bed. I decided I wanted a little treat - or rather, this baby in my belly decided. So I made my way to the pantry and checked out my snack choices.

For a minute, I didn't even remember the bag of Milanos my husband had lovingly brought home for me the night before. I waited for that little tickle I get when I have found something I know will satisfy my craving, as my eyes took inventory of all of my options - gold fish, pretzels, a box of vanilla wafers from God knows when. And then - on the top shelf of the pantry, illuminated by the fluorescent bulb hanging low from the ceiling, there sat the Milanos. They were dangerously close to the edge, as if by some magical force they had inched themselves closer to me, purposefully catching their crisp decorative bag in the glimmer of the light just to attract my attention.
Tickle. Tickle. Tickle.

At first I grabbed just one from the bag. One would be enough, right?. I could satisfy my sweet tooth, indulge myself just enough and go to bed content without feeling guilty of overloading my growing baby or my body with sugar. But you can't eat just one Milano - especially when it's the DOUBLE CHOCOLATE flavor and most especially when you're a pregnant women who has just had a hard day of running back and forth for a sick 4 year old, cleaning up throw-up along the way. Oh, and did I mention I'm a sugar addict?

I am pretty sure it was only two or three that I ate, but let me give myself a reality check here and see what only two or three Double Chocolate Milanos actually breaks down to in crazy sugar-addict terms... Basically it means that the 15 grams of sugar that the "measly" three cookies offer equals jittery bouncy time of at least a good half hour. And that's with absolutely no other sugar added in for at least a few hours before or after consuming those 15 grams. So, basically, I was a goner the moment I pulled that beautiful bright bag down from the shelf in the pantry.

In retrospect, I realize that if hubby had never brought them home for me in the first place, there would be no temptation to begin with. But I can't blame it on him. It's my fault I'm such a wimp when it comes to fighting the temptation of sweet chocolaty goodness. Or - I could blame it on the makers; Pepperidge Farm. I mean, have you ever read the back of one of their bags of cookies? Let me just quote here from the back of a bag of the Double Chocolate kind:

"Picture, if you will, its subtle contours, its perfect balance. Imagine, for a moment, those exquisite golden cookies. Now, especially consider that layer of deep, luxuriously rich, dark chocolate...OK, now totally double that last part.."

'Nuff said.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Different Me

A little over 5 years ago, I was a different person. I had a different [last] name. I was younger. I even had different hair and a different body. But the biggest difference was my life in general. That life consisted of going through the motions of each day, getting up very early to go to work, struggling to make it through the long hours of monotony - just to go home to an empty house filled with silence. It left me pretty depressed and mostly feeling like I had no purpose; like I was this shell of a person wandering through my days, waiting for an end. I was searching for another piece of myself, though I had no idea if one existed.

And then that life ended.
It ended with a positive pregnancy test. And before I knew it, I was a completely new person. I was a mommy, my belly growing bigger each day as my first child formed inside me. My heart grew as well, as I came to an understanding of a totally different kind of love than I had ever experienced before. And as each day passed, I found myself anticipating the next one instead of dreading it as I had for years. I had a purpose - something tangible that I knew was the right direction for my path.

Sometimes I look back on that life and honestly, I don't even recognize that person. Was that really
me? I marvel at the fact that God allowed me this change; that He trusted me so much with one of His most precious treasures even though I was such a broken person. I guess He knew what He was doing, though. It's no surprise that He would know that becoming pregnant would indeed change my life. I could go in circles for days trying to figure out the way He works but it's a task that seems pretty aimless, as the answer will never come.

I often think about the fact that so many people can't bring themselves to allow children to change them and it makes me very sad. So much good comes out of allowing children to move within our lives instead of around the boundaries we set out of selfishness or impatience or fear. Learning how to let go of so much of ourselves for the sake of a child is a huge change with tremendously positive results. There's a reason God favors little children. There's a reason He sends them to us even though we are so unworthy of their presence in our lives.

Five years ago I would have never thought about such things. I would have never believed that a child could change me in so many ways if I just let her.
And now..Now I feel as if my role as a mother has always been part of my identity.. Like that girl of 5 years ago never even existed. Even through the tough days, like the one I posted about just recently, I find that I could never wish to have my old life back again.

Five years ago, I made the decision to become a different person and though most of the physical aspects of change were completely out of my control, the heart change I made was not.
I am a different me.