14 September 2017

Miscarriage: A Sorority of Strong Women

I was exactly 11 weeks pregnant on the day of our first appointment.

We were so so excited, and were planning to announce the happy news to our family the next week on vacation. We had braced ourselves for staying home for Christmas, because I was due in early January. We had Rory watch the Daniel Tiger episode about his baby sister to prep her to tell her she was going to be a big sister. My sister just had a baby in March, and our babies would be less than a year apart. Rory was so ready, we were so ready, our world seemed so ready for our growing family.

I had Rory in California, so I'd never met with an OB in Utah before. I'd done my research and read really good things about the OB we were meeting with and in the first two minutes, I knew I'd done a good job. He was gregarious and kind, and had incredible bedside manner. We wouldn't have made a different choice if we could've. My pregnancy had been relatively easy, and I hadn't been nearly as nauseous as I was with Rory. I chalked it up to being at home (instead of working full time) where I could rest more often and graze with a whole pantry of options at my disposal. Jay chalked it up to the baby being a boy. I'd been taking better care of myself and going to the gym 4 times a week wanting to keep that up as long as possible, and wanting to run a race with Jay's family in October if I could. It had really been a breeze, and I was feeling great. I had spotted a little here and there, but I spotted quite a bit while I was pregnant with Rory so I didn't think anything of it. The morning of my appointment, I bled ever so slightly. Jay asked me on the way to the appointment, "on a scale of 1-10, how worried does that make you?" I said a 5- I honestly wasn't worried. 

But the moment the ultrasound started I knew something was wrong. He kept searching and searching for what I knew from having a Rory should have been relatively easy to find. He couldn't find the baby, and when he did- he couldn't find a heartbeat. My reaction then was the same as it is now, almost two months later as I write this. My breath started coming rapid and shallow and I tried with all I had to hold back the tears. I pressed my cheek into the seat and tried to slow my breathing, but it didn't seem to matter what I did. By the time he told us out loud that our baby had no heartbeat I was sobbing. The kind of sobbing where you can't speak, and you can't move. He gave me a hug and told me he was so so sorry. That sweet, sincere man was an angel. He left the room and told us he would be back in a minute so we could talk about what happens next. What happens next is for another time, but giving birth to a baby no matter how small is a terrible thing to have to do if there's no screaming, pink, chubby-cheeked love on the other side. 

There was so much kindness shown to us those few days after and the subsequent week which I will never be able to adequately repay. 

Before this all happened, I really feel like God had prepared all of these tender mercies for me. Months before, I was painting my friend's nails and somehow her two miscarriages came up and she shared her experience. A friend in my neighborhood had a second miscarriage in a row and was brave and vulnerable enough to post what had happened and a public thank you to all of those people who helped her with meals and support. Family members had told me they had experienced miscarriages, and I knew they were not uncommon.

In all the pain of miscarriage, of losing a tiny person that I held and loved and planned for for months and years- I never felt alone. I'll never, ever forget sitting in the car after that appointment with Jay, just crying together and wondering what to do now. He turned to me and said, "You're joining a sorority of strong women". It resonated with me. It spoke truth to my soul. In all this heartache, there was this sorority of women who knew what I was going through and had gone through it before. There's something about standing together, even if it's only symbolically. 

And that's why I share these things that are hard and vulnerable and close to my heart. Every time I go to write things like this, I almost don't, because I don't want to bring undue attention or pity or judgement on myself. I share these things because somewhere out there there's somebody who had a heartbreaking miscarriage and felt all alone. And I want them to know it's ok, and it's painful and it hurts. But you aren't alone. And if you need someone to reach out to, I'm listening. Come join this sorority of strong women who have survived the pain you are feeling right now, and they will stand behind you and succor you. And instead of alone you can feel validated and strengthened. 

Because if we aren't all here on earth together to to that for one another, why are we here?

A picture our happy family of three. Because although I long for the day when there's more of us, we are really happy to be a family.

07 September 2017

It's ok to like your kid

I love my kid, it's not a secret. She's awesome and fun and funny and smart and dang cute. She's also two... so sometimes she's a tantrum-thrower and screamer and very bossy little thing. 

I, however, like to focus on the former rather than the latter. 

Not because I think my kid is perfect... but because if you're going to focus on one, it may as well be that one. I feel like I have to make the caveat that what I'm referring to here is not ignoring your child's issues or forgoing discipline because you have on rose-colored lenses. I'm just saying that just like grown-ups, all kids have good and bad and I think we have the choice of which we focus on. 

I can't begin to count the number of times I've given a parent a compliment about their child, and they either shrug it off or tell me something that child has been doing wrong lately to downplay my compliment (i.e. "yeah, well if you saw them at home you wouldn't be saying that") and while I understand the urge to do so,  I wish we wouldn't. There are times I have to make a conscious effort to accept compliments rather than downplay them because it can feel uncomfortable, or maybe I'm not sure what to say, or I want them to realize that my life isn't all roses with this imperfect child! haha. But this is my pleading for us all to accept compliments directed toward our children. And I beg you, please accept compliments toward them if they are standing next to you. If you have nothing else to say, a simple "thanks" will do, if not a "thanks, I agree!".  I think half of us are so used to rejecting compliments about ourselves that we have no idea how to accept them for our children, but it's never done any good for anyone to reject a compliment, has it?

I had this leader in college that taught me about the pygmalion effect. 
It basically is a theory of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby people perform to your expectations of them. They internalize your view of them and become more of whatever that is.

It really makes sense if you think about it. We are human beings, and we internalize what we hear said about us-children even more so. If we hear kind, uplifting things said to us often, how will that affect us? And vis versa? I can tell you that I've seen both play out a million times over and the pygmalion effect has proved true in observation. 

I'm not saying it is some sort of cookie cutter pattern that affects everyone and every child the same. I  just feel this duty as a parent to be a source of kindness and good in my child's life while she lives in a world that doesn't exactly sprinkle those things like pixie dust. I want to be her disciplinarian and her parent, but I also want to be her champion and anybody who wants to champion her with me will be welcomed with open arms. So let's strive to be our kids champions, and next time somebody tells you how perfect they are say with enthusiasm, "thanks so much, I really like him/her too!"

01 September 2017

What do Mormons believe?

You probably know a Mormon. At minimum, if you're reading this you at least know of one.
But do you know what Mormons believe?
If you know them, you may know how A little of how they live, but  that doesn't always correlate with what we believe.
Unfortunately (and fortunately) we aren't perfect. Nobody is, but a lot of us are striving.

I'm a Mormon and this is what I believe.
First and foremost, I believe in a God who loves us and cares for us and knows us intimately. I believe he knew just how imperfect and flawed we would be here on earth so he sent us His son, Jesus Christ. He died for us and experienced pain and sorrow and suffering so that he could understand us perfectly that we need never be (or feel) alone. I believe God expects us to try to be like Him and return to live with him, and that our salvation is a personal and individual path as unique and intricate as a snowflake or a fingerprint.

I believe that there is a lifetime of spiritual knowledge in front of me, but that just like some things in our world here, I will likely never know or understand everything. I'm okay to not be all knowing,, though I will try to come as close as I can and someday meet him face to face.. Until then, I walk by faith. I believe it is by design that faith is crucial to our varying faiths here on earth. It seems simple to put it that way, but it's altogether too easy to forget that in an age of readily available information bombarding us on all sides.

When I say my church is the one true church (or if you've ever heard anyone say that) it's because I believe, like a puzzle, my church provides a complete picture with all the pieces. I believe all churches (and all people for that matter) hold pieces and bits- sometimes really large bits- of the truth and I appreciate  that truth and think that if they are listening to and in touch with their God they are going to be okay and when they meet Him he will know their heart. I believe people can make it to the highest degree of joy and glory in heaven if they aren't a member of my church.

I believe families are eternal units. They have the potential to bring us the most happiness that we can experience in this life, and I wouldn't want Heaven without them. I believe that we can live with our families forever, it just makes sense to my heart. I think most people inherently believe this, but not very many churches preach it.

I believe God knows us by our hearts, and that he knows us one by one. I know Jesus is my personal savior and that he suffered all things so that he can succor me in exactly the way that speaks peace to my soul. And he has, time and time again. I believe that our God is a personal God and gives us personal revelation when we seek guidance in our lives.

I don't represent the entire church, but I represent one testimony. One woman's search for truth through study and prayer and faith. I am one who has found peace through the church of Latter Day saints and the truth and doctrines held there. I have had strong, life changing direction from God and quiet peace to my soul in times of need. I have searched for peace and truth and found it here.

If you ever wondered, this is what I believe. If you've ever had a question, consider me a resource no matter how insignificant.

24 August 2017

Of economics and of soul mates

I've sold more than one item second hand. Have you? I've sold unopened water filters and shoes and cars and mattresses, etc.

And there's one thing I've learned. (Aside from that sometimes people are flaky and the worst) And it's that not everything has a huge market. And sometimes, even with the things that you love most or have the most value, it may take a while to find the right buyer. Almost always, you just have to wait.

Example: after Jay and I got married I inherited this GORGEOUS black BMW. You guys, I'm talking black, sleek, gorgeous coupe. I felt like a million bucks in that car, and it drove like a million bucks. Black leather, great sound system, fast-- the car was a dream. Then we started feeling like we wanted to have babies and start our family.

You know what doesn't work with a carseat? A low, two-door, beautiful coupe.

So we looked up what it was worth, I detailed it by hand, we took to-die-for pictures of it on a mountain top, and we listed it online. And then....

*more crickets*

We couldn't figure out why nobody wanted this car. It was legitimately perfect (I will forever mourn having to sell it in the first place) and I would have kept it forever and ever-- yet, it seemed like nobody wanted it. We waited and waited and waited some more. We received some interest without offers, and some offers that were laughably low. We took it to carmax, only to walk out with an offer so insulting my dad swore he would never do business with them. The whole thing was incredibly disheartening.

It made us question... was the car not worth what we thought it was? Was the authority we referenced to find its value wrong? But we hoped that wasn't the case, we stuck to our guns, and we waited. And you know what? It took a long time, but we found a buyer. We happened to be out of town when they came, and they asked my mom what our lowest price was. She told them a few hundred below list price, and they snatched it right up. And do you know what my mom told me later? She told me she thinks they would have payed full price. Maybe even more. This car was just what they were looking for, and they knew what it was worth. When you find someone who recognizes the value of what you have to offer, you don't have to cut them a bargain for them to want to take it home.

Now on to dating/marriage/self worth/the bigger picture here. Gosh, we all have so much inherit worth inside of us. And our hearts are on the market there for a little while, and sometimes longer. And it's tricky. It's all just really tricky. There's people telling us there is no such thing as a soul mate, and 'you can make things work with anyone'. But you date and date and date and there's still this nagging feeling that you just couldn't make do with what you've been handed so far. And if you feel like there's a soul mate out there for you it can be overwhelmingly heavy concept to carry. And it's just downright hard to reconcile all of the ideas swirling around on the subject with real life and how your heart feels while you're living it.

Basically, it's the worst. But I think our hearts are all a little bit like a precious item for sale-- in the midst of a bunch of other unique, precious items for sale. We're all different and look and feel and sound different and are made up of different stuff. And we're all worth a lot. But not everybody is looking for exactly what you're offering, or maybe they value you a bit under you're worth. Or maybe they would take you for half price but somewhere inside of you it sits wrong. You're worth more than that. And you sit... and you wait... and you wonder if you're worth what you thought you were, or worth anything at all. Maybe you're wondering if there's anybody out there that's looking for, well... you. And you wonder if whoever or whatever told you you were worth something was wrong, or maybe didn't know you well enough.

And here lies your option. You can take a lowball offer, a lot of people do I think. You can lower you price and take less because you think that's what you're worth. Or you can go to the source and the one who knows you best and ask. Ask what you're worth. Ask if you're loved. Ask if someday someone will come and see you and know your value.

You can find somebody looking for you. For some people maybe there's only one buyer in the world that's looking for what we have to offer, but I think for most of us there's probably a few who would see you and you see them and you both know exactly what the others worth, and are willing to pay the price to take that home with you. Sometimes it takes a long time, sometimes there just isn't any interest coming in, sometimes there seems to be a ton of insulting low ball offers, maybe somebody is interested but with some hefty changes here and there. And you may question what the heck you're doing here, or if it's all worth it. But wait. Be patient. I implore of you. The right one will come and jump at the chance to give all they've got to have you.

I was there. I remember. I remember the ones who were interested but fickle. The ones who thought maybe I was worth it, but changed their mind on the subject from day to day. The ones who just took a look and weren't interested in what I had to offer.

It's economics, people. If there's one buyer out there for you it's just bound to take a minute. If there are two or three that could work it will still take a minute. Every once in a while, fate smiles on people and they find each other right away without a lot of searching, but I think it's much less common. The rest of us must soldier on and exercise patience and try our best not to take our hearts off the market because it hurts to keep it up when it seems like there just aren't any perfect buyers out there.

17 August 2017

3 things

I don't know everything,  and I certainly don't know everything about marriage. But here's the deal: Jay and I are imperfect people, but we love each other and we've worked really hard to create a marriage that is happy and comfortable and full of love. We've worked for it, and I think any two people who want to work for it can have a happy marriage too. (I fully understand that relationships are complicated and it takes two to tango, but all of these things have really worked in our specific situation and others that I know. Plus, science and research.)

So here are 3 things we try to do that work.

Think nice:
Your relationship cannot be happy if you're thinking mean or harsh things about your spouse all the time. Happiness and harsh words or critical thoughts cannot coexist. They represent darkness and light, contention and peace, like and dislike and they cannot exist in the same space. Not that we have complete control over what wanders into our head, but I believe we have a choice about what we do with those thoughts once they end up there. So stop it. Stop is as soon and as often as you can. Make a conscious effort to think only good things about your spouse for a full day- a full week- forever. They will feel the difference and so will you. And remember your brain is like a muscle, and the more you work that muscle and choose what you do with those thoughts, the stronger it will get. You can literally rewire your brain. It may take time, especially if you haven't exactly worked on your thoughts very often the last year (or five or ten years).

Don't keep score:
Things aren't even- no two jobs are the same, no two people are the same. Some people enjoy laundry, some people hate dishes, so no two jobs are equal in the grand scheme. Not to mention no to peoples' mental capacities are the same at the same point in time. Some seasons are more emotionally exhausting than others, and it's ok for things to be a little imbalanced on paper during those times. Some days are more exhausting, and we each may have less capacity for things left at the end of those. Preferences and abilities are different: some people care more about it being clean, some people don't. Some people like doing research and planning, and some would rather just go for it. So the best way I've found to even the drawing board is to forget it. Totally and completely forget it. If I want to do something (aka I want the dishes done right this moment or have a clean house or whatever) that's my prerogative- not something Jay is indebted to me for. And vice versa. If he prefers to do really detailed planning on trips and projects or have a perfectly manicured lawn, that can be his thing. Important sidetone: if you need help, ask, but it is never fair to keep silent score against your spouse. It creates immediate opposition. You only keep score if you're on different teams. Stop. It.

Be happy and express love:
If we are to act not be acted upon, I think the best choice we can make is to be happy regardless of the circumstance. I'm always struck at how quickly attitude contagion happens. If Jay is happy, it's hard for me to be upset or angry and vice versa. We (hopefully) love our spouses, and we may even tell them. What if we followed the Savior's advice and took it a step further to show them love and kindness every day. It's a lot easier to think, "they know I love them" than it is to make sure that they know and have not forgotten. Try using their love languages. I'm not exaggerating when I say speaking each others love languages has made all the difference in our marriage. You may be showing them love in ways they don't recognize, which makes you feel bad or irritated, and them feel unloved. Make an effort to show kindness and to be happy regardless of circumstance. When you have capacity to- be the sunshine.

I say these things not because I'm perfect at them, but that I'm imperfect.
I can be intense and emotional and a million other things all in one day,
and these are things that help me to have a happier marriage.
I am happier when I do these things, and I'm trying to be happy.
I believe life is made for us to be happy, so if you aren't feeling happy... trying is always worth a shot.