Wednesday, June 4, 2014

to the green-eyed bride,

I cannot believe how the time has gone! It feels like just a few weeks ago we were talking about books and photography and your Jr. High things. You were such a beautiful girl and now you're a beautiful woman -all grown up and taking on the world -literally. And that's what I want to write to you about.

I know I've said this to you already, but I'll say it again for the sake of the other people reading this letter: Welcome to the Sisterhood of Military Wives. You've probably figured this out by now, but this military life isn't always an easy road to travel. The sacrifices are heavy, and you'll be out with your man and people will thank him for his service, but people tend to forget that you make a sacrifice as well. In other words, it's kind of a thankless job. And I do mean job. It is a position, it has specific requirements that many are just not "cut out" for, you don't own yourself nor your future, and your interests often have to take a back-seat to Uncle Sam's agenda. It's your life, but it isn't your life. If that doesn't make complete sense now, it will later. Which is why I say Sisterhood. I've always kind of thought of you as a little sister anyhow, so in that spirit I'd like to impart some of the things I've learned along the way...

First, and this is very important, you need to not need your husband. I know how that might sound especially to a starry-eyed bride. The romantic notions of "I can't live without you" are just that -'romantic notions'. You literally need to not need having a man around. For example, running a sticky jar lid under warm water and banging the lid on the edge of the counter, and flipping it over and slapping the bottom of the jar is usually enough to get it open. Learn how to do the things that your dad used to do for you, like mowing the lawn and changing the bulbs. Unlike your friends with civilian husbands, your "Honey-Do" list is, at least when your husband is gone, just your own "To-Do" list. Of course, these are just the practical things, but the whole "need to not need" extends to the emotional part of yourself too. Because the occasional Skype session from half the world away isn't exactly emotionally fulfilling. This is where two things become very, very important.

The very first thing is this: Get good with God. However that works for you. Whether its church and Bible Studies, or just meditation and prayer... Get good with God because you're going to need Him. Especially when your Hubs is deployed and you happen across a news report. (When your Hubs is deployed avoid the news. Just do. Unless you love mental torment and sleepless nights, then by all means... CNN it up!)

The second thing is this: I know you are a bit introverted, but you're going to have to shed that. At least a little because those other women whose husbands are off sharing living space with your husband are your best support system, and everyone needs a support system. Again, this may not be quite as big of a deal now, but when the kids come... It really, really will be. This also brings me to friendship dating. It's a real thing with us military wives. You'll see. One day you'll find yourself sitting with another woman and within your two-hour dinner date sharing with her all your personal, life-story things that took months to reveal to your spouse when you were dating. This is because time is too short anywhere you go and you'll need at the very least one good friend. You don't have the luxury of taking your time with finding and nurturing friendships. You just have to dive right in.

Also, keep a journal. They're great for emotional dumping.

Something else, when your Hubs is gone for an extended period of time write down a list of things you want to do while he's away. My lists always include chick-flicks and Indian restaurants, because my Hubs hates chick-flicks and Indian food. Some women I know get ambitious and write things like: complete a half-marathon. Then they spend 90% of their free time in a gym, and that's what works for them. My best advice: Don't compare yourself to these women. ;)

Know that some of the most difficult times in marriages are immediately following deployments.

Know that you're not alone. Not really.

About the military lingo. Urgh! All. Those. Acronyms. This is just one little thing in a whole new culture you now belong to. Go to the on-post, on-base, on-(what does the Navy call them?) and check out a book or two on "How-To-Be-A-[military branch]-Wife." Yes books like that exist, and they are incredibly helpful. You didn't just marry a man, you also married the military and now there are cultural things you need to know. Like how to read rank. And what may or may not be expected of you at certain functions. And Oh! The functions! The functions... Find a stand-out recipe (or two) and get really good at making it.

While your at the library, befriend the librarians -chances are good they're fellow military-spouses. Again, you need friends and at least you know you share a common love for reading with them.

Anyway, this is getting long and I'm out of time. (My kid is getting more and more desperate for my attention.) Congratulations of your marriage! I wish I could have been there! You've always been a favorite of mine. Please know that I love this life, and I hope you will too! You now share in a heritage with strong, courageous women who make quiet sacrifices for this wonderful country of ours. The sacrifices are worth it because freedom is worth it. So, thank you for what you do.

Wishing you all the best!

With Love,

Heather

Sunday, May 25, 2014

so it goes.

I want to write. I do. My brain, I think, has other ideas. It's rolling out this list of things I need to do this morning. (Quick! While you have a minute! Hop in that shower and wash your hair! Shave your legs! You DO have church today!... And I want to know what happens next in that book you picked up last night... And you need to call Jackie today... And clean up those diapers you left on the floor last night... And heck! If ...

AND *free moment over*

(Pirate came to me with a "Special Surprise!!" -It was a worm in his muddy little hand. I told him he should take it back outside and he said, "No, mom. He just LOVES me." --Top of the new list, find a place for him to keep his new pet worm.)

Have a good Sunday friends. Someday I can blog for real again.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

this day and i -we have a history

Pirate picked these out for me.

Not so very long ago Mother's Day was an incredibly painful day. I'd thank my own mother in some way or another, and then promptly cut myself off of all media outlets. I'd try very hard to pretend it was any other Sunday, only I'd ditch church. I'd nap instead, and do anything else that might distract me from the reality that as much as I wanted to be, I was still not a mother.

Come late evening, or next morning I'd venture back into the world of social media only to find that well-meaning friends had shared articles with me about how "we as women are all mothers" and if these well-meaning articles had been handed to me in paper form I would have (likely) given in to the temptation to knife them with a Sharpie before running them through a shredder. I saw Motherhood as the premier club of Womanhood. I still see it that way, honestly.

Even though those days are over, the little strings of memory are always tied around my heart especially on this day. My own wounds are just fading scars, but I am ever-aware of my Sisters in Womanhood who desperately want to be a Sister in Motherhood. My heart aches for them.

It creates an emotional kind of day. The kind of day that sits on the edge of tears. Sad tears. Happy tears. I'm so grateful for this moment tears...

Today, this particular Mother's Day, couldn't have been any better. The boys let me sleep last night. Five solid hours! And Baby gave me his first series of smiles today. Pirate brought home a darling little handmade crafty thing from church. Hubs bought be a new computer. And made lunch. And made dinner.

A thunder lightening storm is rolling through and my life is so, so good.

Friday, May 9, 2014

the trees are green!

The Pirate has been waiting & waiting for summer, for his little play pool and for a trip to the Zoo. For months we've been telling him we can do these things when all the snow is gone and the trees are green. He kept close tabs on the status of the snow as it s-l-o-w-l-y melted, and he's kept his eyes peeled for the color on the trees.

A few days ago he came running in: "Mom! The trees are green!" This is true, but I needed more time. I pointed to the trees across the street and said, "When those trees are green, we can go to the Zoo." His shoulders fell, and he resumed his wait.

Yesterday we reached into the mid-to-upper 80s. He came out in his swim shorts and talked about swimming, so I went down to the basement and found his little pool. We got that all set up, and then -almost miraculously- Hubs finished his work and surprised us by coming home early! So he and the Pirate splashed around in the backyard for awhile and then dried off, got dressed, and went to the Zoo. (While I sat at home with a book, and a sleeping Baby in a gloriously quiet house.)

Later, on our way out to eat, I noticed the trees across the street. Little green buds are sprouting off the ends of their branches. Pirate and I have been looking at those trees every day, waiting. Yesterday was the first day they displayed their coming leaves. It was perfect timing.

Let Summer begin!

Friday, May 2, 2014

birthing a baby

Often, when I tell my first birthing story the women I'm relating it to will look at me like I'm completely crazy and/or lying through my teeth.

Now I know why.

With the Pirate labor began on it's own, naturally. It was a slow and steady progression. All of my hypnobirthing practice totally paid off. I separated myself from pain, feeling only pressure because I was able to completely relax all muscles in my body, leaving no tension, and no pain. The spaces between "surges" were long enough to give me a bit of rest. It was a beautifully sacred, and empowering experience. I felt the real call and gift and power of womanhood and motherhood and it was just wonderful.

This time? A whole different story. At my Wednesday appointment I mentioned a symptom I'd been having to my CNM who was pretty concerned about it. She requested I get some blood work done first thing the next morning (since the blood test required fasting), and then explained if it came back positive, and she really felt like it would, that they'd induce labor that day. I left her office with tentative plans for an induction the next day.

Two hours or so later she called me back. She just couldn't shake me from her mind. She talked to the doctor about my symptoms. They decided they were so classic to "[medical name I never could remember]" that they were going to make the diagnosis without the blood work, and to head to the hospital for an induction.

So... I got the Pirate situated with a friend & lined up a ride from the airport for my super-awesome SIL who was coming that night to help out for a few days, and Hubs and I headed to the hospital. We were checked in at 3:30ish... They did their medical things... Then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.

We slept most the night... I woke up around 8:00AM to a trickle I didn't tell my body to make & they confirmed my water had broken and I was at a 6. I thought "Cool! I slept from a 3 to a 6! Induced labor is kind of awesome."

HA!

A few hours later I was singing crying a different tune. Around 11:00 I asked for something to "take the edge off" and they dosed me up with something that was fabulous, for one hour. And only one hour. By 1:00ish? (I have no idea) I asked for an epidural. It went a little something like this:

Me: I need an epidural!
Them: Oh! But you're doing so good! You can do this!
Me: I need an epidural!
Them: Are you sure?
Me: Give Me An Epidural! Please! Please!
Them: Okay. We called the doctor. It's going to take 45 minutes.
Me: [In my head] 45 MINUTES!? DON'T THEY REALIZE I MIGHT DIE!? Oh my gosh! Oh. I need to push. It's too late. It's too late for an epidural. Kemra's done this. She's done this three times. I have to do this. I have to do this. I don't want to but I have to do this. There is no stop button. Oh I wish there was a stop button! There is no stopping it. I have to do this. I can do this. I have to. This is a bitter cup! 
Me: I need to push. I think I need to push.
The CNM: You're at a 7.
Me:[In my head] She doesn't believe me. I'm trusting my body though. I'm going with it.

*What felt like 1 minute later*

The CNM: Get me a blanket!!
Me: [In my head] She believes me now! Ha!

*What felt like eternity and mere seconds both*

The CNM: Heather, if we can get you on your back I think this will go a lot faster. Can you just get onto your back?
Me: [Deep breath, flipped onto my back]

*What felt like two seconds later*

Everyone: *{crickets]*
Me: Talk to me!
Everyone: You can do this! You're almost there! You're doing great! Push! Push! Push!
Nurse: She's crowning!
Everyone: Push! Push! Push! Push! Almost there! Push!
Someone: There's the head!
Hubs: Heather. You. Are. My. Hero.
Someone: One more push! Common! One more!

And then they were laying him on my stomach because the cord was too short for him to reach my chest, and then they were handing Hubs scissors, and covering us with warm blankets and this new Babe was howling-mad. They moved him to my chest, but I was shaking really hard and I couldn't focus my eyes on anything and I was feeling dizzy. They were giving me another pill to help stop the bleeding and then a shot to help stop the bleeding and I told Hubs to take his shirt off and do the skin-to-skin with the baby because I just couldn't. I couldn't.

Hubs took the Babe for awhile.

I threw up ALL OVER myself, the blankets, the bed, the pillows, everything.

And eventually the shaking stopped, and I could focus my eyes, and I felt like I could nurse the little guy, who had finally stopped screaming his lungs out.

In my head it was all very dramatic. To the nurses it was probably all pretty normal.
I was just really relieved when it was all over.

And I vowed if I ever have another induced pregnancy I will get an epidural.

And here I am three weeks later thinking... Maybe it wasn't so bad.

Friday, April 25, 2014

these are days i want to remember

Today was lived slowly. In two hour increments. I nursed the babe until milk dripped off his chin and he fell into a solid sleep. I tucked him into the baby swing and built lego trains with the Pirate. I made a peanut butter sandwich for him, then wiped it off his face and my table six minutes later. We danced to the Taylor Swift station on Pandora and took naps. Well, tried to take naps. I never actually did sleep mostly because Little Man's life is at risk with his big brother around. He could be loved, literally, to death if I'm not watchful. Also... I was busy cleaning up all manner of bodily fluids from places beyond diapers. And then nursing again.

This afternoon instead of making dinner (which ended up being a heated up can of refried beans over some shredded cheese and corn chips) I sat in the sun with Little Man tucked in my arm, and my kindle in my free hand, watching Pirate run barefoot through the yard, pushing his lawn mower and kicking his ball. When he was bored with that he went and got the shovel and started turning up the ground in our will-be garden area. I love that at three he knows exactly how to use a shovel, a real one. Then the neighbor girl came over and Pirate showed her a patch of worms recently unearthed while I visited with her mom over the fence. Childhood is so fun to watch.

I did read enough to learn that a Jersey cow can produce 5 gallons of milk in a day. I am super glad I'm not a cow.