Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Losing Dad, Preggers

My Silver Lining Playbook

 I am not perfect. I am broken. I am a mess. I make mistakes. Sometimes I make major mistakes. I hurt people. Sometimes I am a little crazy. The thing is, so are you. So are all of us. We are all human and there isn’t one of us made without flaws and who doesn’t make mistakes. We all have ugly parts, ugly things in our past, and maybe even in our present.  The best we can each do is to try our hardest and move on when we make mistakes.

I just watched a movie with one of my best friends called The Silver Lining Playbook. I am a single pregnant woman and my friend is going through a divorce. We went to high school together where we talked about our dreams for our future. We talked about meeting Mr. Right and marrying him and having a house and kids and being happy and healthy. Neither one of us ever dreamed we would be in the position we are in right now. We both trusted men that were not Mr. Right and are hurt as a result. This movie was something we both needed. In the movie, the two main characters have had bad things happen in their lives and they both respond by being just a little crazy. Still, they also both have positive outlooks on their futures and are striving to heal themselves so they can move on in their lives. They embrace their crazy and admit and accept it as part of who they are. They are both looking at the clouds and seeing the silver lining. They see the light coming through and make a plan in their life to clear the clouds.

I am alone with a baby on the way. I don’t know exactly what my living situation will look like. I don’t know how my work schedule or social schedule will look. I don’t know what it feels like to drop a newborn baby off at a daycare center. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my baby gets sick the first time. When she takes her first step and giggles for the first time, I wonder if I will be the only one who will be there to witness such an incredible event. I wonder if my daughter will resent me for being a working mother. I wonder what I will do the first time her school holds a “daddy and daughter” event. I wonder if her father will ever come around and be in her life. I wonder and then I stop. If I don’t stop, the craziness creeps in.

We cannot live our lives worrying about the “what ifs” and thinking about all of the worst-case scenarios. We cannot be afraid of everything that “could” happen. We can’t because that is not living. For three years I went to the hospital with my dad, saw the poisonous Chemo enter and destroy his body, and listen to the doctors say there was no cure. For three years the diagnosis never changed. I was going mad trying to figure out how to make it all stop so I wouldn’t face that inevitable day, but I had to have hope. For three years, I believed some kind of miracle would happen and my dad would live. It didn’t happen and the day came when I watched him take his last breath. Had I continued to worry about that moment and dwell on the fact that I was going to lose him, it still wouldn’t have prepared me to live through that moment any easier. If anything, having a blind hope that something amazing and wonderful would happen and I would never have to watch him die helped me get through each day.

Call me crazy. Tell me I am not facing reality. Tell me that my hopes will only hurt me. I don’t care. My silver lining playbook is my hope that something amazing will happen this time. I will drop my daughter off at daycare and it will be hard, but I will get through it. My daughter will have an audience the first time she giggles and walks. She will get sick and I will have someone with me helping me when she does. She will be proud of me for being an independent working woman. And, at some point, her father will show up. I believe that in my heart and I will be ok if that is not how things work out. I will no longer feel guilty for my mistakes and beat myself up for them. I won’t let others make me feel guilty either. From this point forward, I embrace my messy, ugly, crazy past and mistakes and I accept that they are part of me. From now on, I will look for the silver lining in everything and hope for these clouds in my life and my daughter’s life to clear so that we both may bask in the sun.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose Infinite hope.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Preggers

Crunchy Momma

Today I went to a place called OM Baby. Here they offer a variety of birthing classes, parenting classes, yoga classes for pregnant women or new moms, and breastfeeding classes. I know what you are thinking: The place was full of hippies and smelled like Burt’s Bees and Nag Champa. Well, not really. It was warm and friendly with a classroom and a library. It had a small store with eco-friendly bottles and breast pumps and cloth diapers. It had a variety of herbal teas that were pregnant mommy friendly. It was a place that felt good to me. It was soothing and made me want to give birth. I am so excited to get started there. Now comes the fun part where some of you will think I am crazy. I know because I have already seen people roll their eyes and tell me I don’t know what I am talking about.

I am going to have a natural birth. I have opted out of all drugs and plan on laboring at home until the last minute when I will head to the hospital. I know that birthing my daughter will be painful and I am ok with that. I am a woman and I am designed to have babies. Women have been doing this for millions of years. I want to be awake and aware during the birthing process and I want to feel any pain that comes with it. I have been told that if you opt out of drugs and pain killers, you come through feeling like a warrior and with a high like none other. That, to me, sounds wonderful! My daughter has to work hard to come out and I will work hard with her. We will do this together. I do not want a pill or a shot in my back that will cause me to feel nothing and forget this moment. I do not think I will have another child of my own, I did not think I would ever even have this one, and I want this to be something I never forget.

Once we make it through the birth, I will breast feed. This is another thing that some friends have heard from me and, surprisingly, gave me a look of horror. When did the natural process of things become so taboo? Our bodies were designed to give birth and to feed our babies. The nutrients from Brest milk are all natural and specific to our children. The process of breast feeding is a bonding time for mother and child. The breast milk is full of immunity builders and acts as a natural immunization for a variety of diseases. To top it off, it reduces the risk of SIDS, child obesity, and postpartum depression. Even more, it burns about 500 calories a day! It is a workout you can do from a rocking chair. To be honest, I am not sure why people raise an eyebrow to something so natural and I do not know why women chose to use formula which is anything but natural.

Cloth diapers are another thing I am planning on, but think I will save that post for when I am actually using them since I am sure it will be a lot more entertaining. For now, I have been surrounding myself with women who think like me, including a Facebook group called “crunchy Mommies,” and I have been trying to avoid people who tell me I’ll be screaming for an epidural the minute I go into labor. I have talked to dozens of moms who have been through natural and drug induced births and the only ones that made it seem like a totally wonderful, non-scary experience were the ones who went traditional and all natural. And if you are wondering, yes, I do start my mornings with green smoothies, vegan organic granola, and GMO free organic soymilk!

***I would like to add a disclaimer to this post. I think ANY woman who carries a child for 9 months and gives birth to that child is pretty amazing. And, if she loves and cares for the child while having to deal with all the other things life throws at us, it doesn’t really matter whether she fed the child breast milk or formula. I admire mothers in general and we all decide how we should do things and we all have opinions. However, I don’t want people to judge me for my choices and I do not want to be misunderstood as someone who is judging anyone else.

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Preggers

Ovaries

I recently learned that though my baby girl has 18 more weeks of growing until we get to meet her, she already has ovaries and they are already full of the eggs that will eventually be my descendants. Does anyone else see how awesome this is? I woke up this morning thinking I looked fat as I frowned at myself in the mirror. Of course I look fat! I am carrying around hundreds, possibly thousands, of people inside me. I have doctors and lawyers and teachers and probably the future president right there floating around my uterus! If I could, I would send them all a cocktail and let them have a party to celebrate their new existence.

Think of the influence I have right now. I need to make a playlist immediately so I can make sure they listen to good music and good books. I also need to start spending more money on food so I can spoil them a bit. After all, one of them will decide what home to put me in in the future and I would like to be on that one’s good side. I need to start schooling them on politics now to ensure none of them end up conservative. No offense if you happen to be one yourself, but a Republican just won’t survive in my family. We are a bunch of environmentally friendly, do-gooder, women’s rights, peace loving people.

Just when I thought I was alone, just when I got a little sad, I find out that generations of people are inside me. Call me crazy, but I am going to start talking to them all the next time I feel that loneliness creeping back in.

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Preggers

Cinderella

I met an incredible artist tonight. Her name is Georgianna Hicks. First of all, check out her portfolio:  http://zealisnotacrime.carbonmade.com/

Cinderella

She created this depiction of Cinderella and I love it. I am currently trying to decide how to talk to my daughter about men. I saw this and thought, how perfect! This is the reality of Cinderella. This is how life is more likely to turn out (not exactly stabbing Prince Charming, but definitely feeling the anger when he turns out to be the opposite of what we expected). So, why should I lie to my daughter and tell her fairy tales of how some wonderful man will ride in on his while horse and carry her into the sunset? My story with men is not good right now, but it can be good, and for many of my girlfriends, it is.

When I found out that I was having a daughter, I immediately thought that I needed to decide what I am going to tell her about men. My own mother didn’t give me many warnings about men or much guidance in that department. Why would she? She found my dad in her late teens and was married to him when she was 20. She found what I consider to be the perfect man without a whole lot of trial and error. By the time she was my age, she was happily married to a wonderful man and had three children. The rest of us are not so lucky. I feel the need to let my daughter know up front what this is going to be like for her. And, if she turns out to be attracted to women, I have plenty of friends who can help her out with great advice. For now, however, I am going to assume that she will be dealing with men and give her a little advice.

When I told my friend I was going to write this blog, we were with her 8 year old daughter. Her mother and I asked her what she thought of boys and she said, “Boys stink!” In hearing this, I thought I could probably just write those two words and it would be enough to prepare my own daughter for what she needed to know. The problem is that my father was an incredible man and my daughter’s uncles are incredible men. My own uncles are incredible men. My male cousins are incredible men. One of them is a single father of three and, though I don’t see him often, I admire him and am impressed by his courage and strength as he works hard to raise his children. I have often thought that I just have bad luck with men and that perhaps the women in my life just lucked out in a way that I never will.

Let’s be honest about my situation right now. I’m five months pregnant and my daughter’s father has not done anything helpful or supportive during this pregnancy. The only thing he has done is to try to pretend none of this is happening. He was my friend and I have known him for years. I trusted him and thought highly of him at one point in my life. How am I supposed to explain to her that there are good men in this world when I feel stupid for believing they existed? We grow up with this belief that our soul mate is out there somewhere and that he is going to swoop in and woo us and we will live happily ever after. So, when a man shows us a bit of attention and starts the wooing, we trust that it is real and believe what we are told. Our problem is not the men. Our problem is our approach. We need to stop being doormats and start being a little bitchy.

Tune in next time for my explanation……

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Preggers

A Letter to my Daughter

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Today I had my ultrasound. Today I found out you are a girl! I don’t want to forget a single moment of this, so I decided to write you a letter. To begin with, I want you to know that although this is not a traditional pregnancy where a father and mother are celebrating together, I am not alone in my celebration of you. There is always someone willing to go with me to appointments and there is always someone there to help me when I need it.

Today, on the day when I feel like I first met you, your Aunt Courtney was there with me. You need to know who she is to me. Courtney was a good friend in High School. We both went to college and went our separate ways. Then, my father died. It was the worst thing that ever happened in my life. I loved him so much and was not ready to lose him. After not seeing her for more than a decade, Courtney came to the funeral. A friend like that is a true friend. When things are really hard in your life, your real friends will be the ones who are there for you and with you. This is something I learned as an adult, but I want you to know that now. Also, if you think you’ve lost a friend because your lives go in different directions, they will come back at just the right time. Courtney came back when I lost my dad and has been at my side throughout my pregnancy. I pray you find a friend like her.

Courtney filmed much of the ultrasound, so I will be sure you see that video someday. Seeing you was breathtaking. By the time you read this letter, you will know me well enough to know that I talk a lot. Apparently, God has sent the cure because you make me speechless. I thought I would be crying through the whole thing, but I could barely breathe or blink. Your little toes and feet and legs and hands are all so perfect and inside me right now. I cannot believe you are in there moving around and stretching out and becoming this amazing person. At one point, you pressed your face against the ultrasound and peeked at us. I saw your little nose and eyelids and mouth. That is when the tears welled up. It was like you were saying, “here I am, mommy. I can’t wait to meet you!” I’m going to be totally corny and just tell you that you had me at hello. I am so in love with you right now that I can’t even stand myself.

The rest of the day I felt like I was high. I know you need more time to grow, but I don’t even want to wait for the next five months. I am not sure how I am going to contain myself or focus on anything important. I want to write this now because I know there will come a time in about 15 or 16 years when you think I hate you and want to ruin your life. I know, because I have been there with my own mother (It will be this one little phase and we will get through it and be crazy about each other again). The fact is that I cannot think of one thing on this entire planet that could ever make me not love you. I cannot think of one person who I love as much as I love you. I can’t even explain the feelings that I am feeling right now except to say that I feel whole and complete for the first time in a long time. This letter will be ongoing and I will add many other letters to it. I want to start writing down the things I want to teach you about life.

For now, however, I want to promise you that I will always always love you. You will mess up and make mistakes and I will still love you.  You will hurt my feelings, but I will still love you. You will make decisions about your life that I don’t agree with, but I will still love you. You came into my life when I least expected it and you filled an empty space. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for knowing when I needed you and coming at just the right moment. I love you.

Love,

Mom

“And I thank you for choosing me

To come through unto life to be

A beautiful reflection of his grace

For I know that a gift so great

Is only one God could create”

~Lauryn Hill, To Zion

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Preggers

waiting.

I had my first positive pregnancy test on September 24th, 2012. I took my 11th test on the 27th: this is when I finally called my doctor and the father of my child. This is when I finally kind of believed this was happening. The doctor made me wait three more weeks until she would see me. Three weeks of worrying. Three weeks of conversations and arguments about what we were going to do. Three weeks of not being able to talk about it. Three weeks of pretending this wasn’t happening. Three weeks of praying my period would come and realizing this was just a big mistake. Three weeks of searching the internet for other causes of positive pregnancy tests. This couldn’t really be happening, so I figured there must be some other reason the tests were positive. Maybe I had some rare form of cancer that caused this to happen. There was just no way in my mind that I could be pregnant. Not now and not under these circumstances.

Those three weeks were torture. I could not think of anything else. I kept thinking this was some kind of test that the doctors gave mothers to see if they could handle the stress. I sat waiting in the reception room. I am sure it was only a few minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. Though he said he would be there, the father did not show up and I walked into that stark cold room alone. I was shaking as I filled out the forms and praying that this was not happening. The doctor confirmed I was pregnant, told me to take vitamins, and gave me a due date. The nurse gave me a huge bag full of samples, reading materials, and even more papers to fill out. I went out to my car, texted the father to let him know about the appointment, and sat in the parking lot and cried.

I had agreed with the father that I would give the baby up for adoption. I had agreed to this only 5 days after I told him about the baby. Somehow hearing the doctor confirm the fact that I was pregnant changed everything. Suddenly I felt an overwhelming sense of protection and connection to this child. I knew that I was supposed to have this baby and that there was no way I would ever give him up.  Suddenly, I didn’t care what my friends or family thought, I didn’t care what people at work would think about me, and I didn’t care how angry the father would be with me. This baby happened for a reason and he had a purpose. Everything else would eventually work itself out and everything would be ok.

It has now been 12 weeks since that day. In the last twelve weeks, I told my family, my friends, my job, and announced this pregnancy to the world. I switched doctors and am now going to a place where all the rooms are warm and welcoming and the staff are helpful and friendly. I have gone from hiding this pregnancy and being ashamed of it to celebrating it and talking about it. I have gone from wondering if there really is a baby inside me to feeling him move every day. I have gone from being angry at the father to hating him to realizing that anger and hatred only hurt me. Now, I am just thankful to him for giving me such an amazing gift. In the last twelve weeks, my belly has grown and my skin has started to glow. In the last twelve weeks, a future that first seemed bleak and depressing now seems exciting, new, and hopeful.

Now I wait again. This time I wait for my second and last ultrasound. In less than 48 hours, I will see my baby once again and find out if he is a he or a she. I will be able to decide on a name and start to have an even more personal connection with my child. The next day and a half is going to drag on forever, but it is happier and feels so much better than the first time I had to wait.

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Preggers

Half-way

I am officially 20 weeks pregnant. I am finally half way there! I have 20 weeks to go till I meet my little bean. I have learned so much about myself, about other people, and about grace in the last 20 weeks. The people who I thought would be mad at me showed that they loved me and opened their arms to me. People I haven’t spoken to in years have written me, called me, and taken me out for lunch in a show of support. People I don’t know that well have offered me gifts to use for the baby. I am a mother. I am happy. I am blessed.

In 20 weeks my life is going to change for the better and it will never be the same again. In 20 weeks, I will be faced with the biggest challenges of my life. I have walked into a Guatemalan prison and been surrounded by more than 100 tattoo covered gang members who have killed, raped, and hurt others. That was challenging. That was scary, but I survived. For me, parenthood is more terrifying than a Guatemalan prison. I am going to mess up. I am going to make huge mistakes. I’m going to constantly wonder if I am worthy of being the mother to this miraculous little child. I am going to hope every day that my love will be enough. I will ceaselessly worry.

Here is the thing though: There is a human being growing inside me. I am and always have been nothing more than a clay pot full of soil. I have waited for something to grow, but have remained empty. Now, I can feel the seed. I can feel the sense that something is missing slowly fading away. I can feel the small roots wiggling their way to the top. And, in 20 weeks, I will see the flower sprout forth and I will watch as it blooms and grows. That, my friends, is what life is all about.

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