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“She’s Everything I Never New I Always Wanted”

January 12, 2017

These days I’m caught in the guilty, contradicting feeling of pining my workdays away, anticipating Layla’s smile when I pick her up from daycare, and then subsequently wishing for bedtime to hurry up and get here once we walk in the door. I dread the morning and evening rush, yet know it’s such a limited time with my girls and hope to somehow make quality time out of those hurried, stressful minutes. Because I no longer see the baby in my 9-year-old, and the baby-ness has begun to fade in my 14-month-old as she’s toddling around the house, babbling and gesturing in conversation, surprising us almost daily with new developments. Her chunky butt and thick thighs have shaped up, and I miss her dimpled booty.

I never thought twice about how fast time went with Skyler when she was little. It just happened. And I DO remember praying to survive various difficult phases and wishing for the next phase. But now, having a mature and independent older child has shown me such a contrast, making it crystal clear just how quickly they grow up, teaching  me to take a breath and try to be present in as many moments and phases as possible during Layla’s littleness. I can’t stop snuggling her, I don’t hesitate to bring her a bottle and rock her back to sleep at 2 am, and I honestly enjoy diaper changes. But despite my best attempts to be present in these moments and not wish away the phases, they just seem to keep escaping me.

I feel guilty about my obsession with Layla – I don’t remember if I was this obsessed with Skyler but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. Maybe it’s the difference of breastfeeding one but not the other? Could our bond really be that different? Don’t get me wrong – I adore Skyler and enjoyed her as a baby – she was much easier and sweeter than Layla too. So maybe it’s that Skyler is so much older and more independent – she’s becoming her own person and needs me much less. I’ve forgotten the feelings of affection toward that squishy little innocent goofball who’s now become a smart, creative, sometimes snobby kid that knows right from wrong and tests me more than she should. Maybe that evolution is just running it’s course and that’s a good thing because someday she will leave the house and maybe then I won’t be so heartbroken? Maybe it’s just that my love for her is changing – it’s a love that has been wounded as her innocence slowly fades. It’s a love that is less about affection, and more about respect and concern for the person she is becoming.

But there is another difference about Layla. She is the one that almost never was. She is a symbol of healing to Ronnie’s and my relationship after some really hard times. And she herself had hard times and healing her first weeks of life. She almost died one night. Skyler’s heart struggles are already a distant memory – her own scar is so faded it’s almost unnoticeable. And so maybe my fear of letting Layla grow up comes from never wanting to forget how far we’ve come, and how far both girls have come. The more time that goes by, the darkness of the past seems to lighten, which should be celebrated. But I fear to ever forget the tests of faith, the lessons learned, or take anything for granted. I know there’s plenty more life to live, with wonderful things in each phase, but the baby phase – it’s a special one, for sure. I’m so thankful I got the chance to do it again.

How I’m Dealing With Depression

January 2, 2017

Whomp whomp. As I make efforts to be more authentic and open, this topic is one that is tough to share since I like to be in control and give off the impression that I’ve got my shizz together. But a few months ago, I came to the conclusion that I was dealing with mild to moderate depression. I was constantly tired, bummed out, couldn’t get excited about anything and had zero motivation to do anything. I looked forward to sleep way too much and dreaded getting out of bed. I honestly didn’t feel much emotion at all, kind of just blank and empty. If I did feel something, it was annoyance, frustration, longing or sadness. Sometimes, painful memories from the past seemed to bubble up out of nowhere and nag me. Despite my long list of blessings and short list of actual problems, I struggled to find and keep joy – it was so brief and far between. I prayed for God to pull me out of the muck.

I did not go to the doctor about it; I just self-diagnosed, which is, of course, not at all recommended. But I’m smart, self-aware, proud and stubborn, and think I know more about myself than someone I see for 15 minutes once a year. I didn’t feel so bad that I couldn’t function or that I was a danger to myself or loved ones, and I didn’t want something as concrete as a diagnosis on my medical records or a prescription to take. But I knew I was in a place that I couldn’t stay or things might get bad eventually. My distrust of the conventional medical establishment and knowledge that health is not just a random physiological brain imbalance, but rather the compound effect of environment, stress, nutrition, activity, spirituality, and emotions, lead me on my own little research project/experiment and these are the things I discovered and took action with. I want to share the progress/success I’m having in hopes that it helps or inspires someone who may be struggling with similar issues.

  • A few years ago after my nutrition studies, I geeked out with a fantastic book called The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. It has a symptom-based questionnaire that helps women identify which hormones they might be having issues with, and then discusses the how/why and some specific nutrition and lifestyle adjustments to make, as well as how to talk to a doctor if more advanced testing and medication might be needed. Since the last two years were pretty hormone-driven for me to grow a baby and breastfeed a baby, I figured this might be a good place to start. The quiz results showed I had all the indicators of low estrogen and low cortisol. Guess what – these hormones are major regulators of mood and energy! Of the nutrition/supplements she recommended, I chose the following to start including in my daily diet and routine:
    • High dose Vitamin C – 1,000 – 2,000 mg/day
    • Vitamin B Complex
    • Vitamin E – 200 IU/day
    • Panax Ginseng – 200 mg/day
    • Herbal blend of St. John’s Wort, Black Cohosh, and Hops – I quit this after a couple weeks as I felt increased anxiety like I’d drank way too much coffee. Those feeling subsided immediately after I quit taking this. Herbs are no joke!
    • 1 serving of flax seed and maca powder in daily smoothies
    • Organic whole soy (I chose edamame since it’s an easy snack) once weekly
  • With a push from a friend, I scheduled a therapy session, which was huge in understanding and accepting where I was at and how I was feeling, and taking some solid steps from a mental/spiritual perspective to righting my ship.
  • Essential oils for aromatherapy – I’ve got a blend from Vibrant Blue Oils called Uplift that smells amazing. I try to wear it daily as perfume. I also read that clary sage is helpful for estrogen regulation and frankincense for mood, so I’m rubbing a blend of those with jojoba oil on the tops of my feet daily, if I remember. Supposedly that’s a thing (the tops of feet). I’m skeptical of rubbing oil on the top of my feet, but there are stranger things I could be doing, and it’s not hurting anything! Also, a little frankincense in my hair after washing – that’s a good way to smell real nice!
  • I watched a bunch of TEDTalks. I went to Youtube to listen to Brene Brown’s talk on vulnerability, which I had heard a couple years ago. I found myself meandering through the suggested videos in the sidebar and came across a talk from a KU professor on how depression is a disease of civilization. If you think you might be depressed, or know that you are depressed, I highly recommend giving a yourself a few minutes to watch this and possibly gain some new perspective. It made so much sense, totally jived with my holistic approach to things, and reminded me I really needed to get moving. I have not been committed to regular and consistent exercise in a long time, and it was even harder for me to make myself do when I was feeling all Woe-Is-Me. But when the professor said that just 30 minutes of brisk walking three times per week was more effective at improving brain chemistry than any prescription anti-depressant on the market, it was a wake-up call. I didn’t have to go kill myself at CrossFit every day to feel better – the kind of movement I needed was so attainable. Dare I say easy? So I committed to movement. Daily if possible – of whatever variety floats my boat and works with my schedule that day. Walk, hike, workout video, CrossFit, run, yoga, stretch…fun!
  • I got a planner. Like a bound paper calendar/to-do list thing, and motivated myself with some colorful gel pens to use in it. With all the apps and online organization products available today, I couldn’t get into any of them. It was overwhelming and I just couldn’t make myself stick with any of it. And as I try to be more conscious of setting my phone down and being more present in life, using an app seemed to go against that. What I love about this planner and several others I looked at is that it’s more than just a schedule/task organizer. It focuses on goal setting in four areas: personal, work, relationship, and family/friends. It has a journal component for gratitude and regular self reflection. It forces me to think bigger and deeper than just my to-do list and to be more intentional with my daily life. Because I also know that I need daily spiritual/devotional time, I’ve decided to start my daily planning time with prayer/scripture-reading first to set the tone.I’m just a few days in, but I’m already thinking where has this been all my life? I hope this is a new practice I can keep.
  • I’m reading You Are a Badass, which was a total accident – like I wasn’t planning to read anything but it was a gift with great timing. Or maybe, it wasn’t an accident. This very book quoted Einstein saying “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  One action item I’ve taken from this book so far is to do more of the things that make me happy. I realized while reading that I love learning and thinking, and I need regular input like a good non-fiction book to keep the wheels turning and providing inspiration, so I’ve also got a half dozen more inspirational/self-help/health-related books on my reading list this year.  Another thing is my enjoyment of writing/blogging, so I’ve set some goals to get back on this thing regularly and share my journey through words again.

So how’s it going, you ask? Is it working? While I’m only a couple months into these steps and some are just barely in the works yet, I can say that the last month or so I’ve felt like a different person. A better person, a dare-I-say happy person? And I’ve got some new dreams stirring in my brain, keeping me up at night in a good way. I’m scared that writing/sharing this is going to jinx me because maybe it’s too soon and it’s all just placebo effect or honeymoon period or things I won’t be able to maintain for the long run. But for now, I’m celebrating. And I’m appreciating myself again and all that goes with this crazy life.

 

 

To 2016 – it’s been real…

December 30, 2016

A lot of people are pissed about 2016, with the election of Donald Trump as president and so many celebrities dying. While those things are a bummer, they didn’t really shape my year as none of those people have much impact on my life. But 2016 was a funky year for me. Not one of my favorites, but yet there are some very favorite memories. It’s been a soul-searching year as I’ve spent much of it in the consuming haze of motherhood to an infant (and 9-year-old), which was a total shock to my system and any sense of self I once had. I do feel like the fog is starting to clear, and I look forward to 2017 as a year to get my mojo back. So, how can I recount 2016? I’ll answer the same questions I borrowed from another blog many years ago. If I can even remember anything from this whirlwind…

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? I breastfed a baby.  I went to Nashville with Ronnie (had a blast), saw several country concerts, got a compound bow and am learning the sport of archery. Attempted to sell our house while living in it (unsuccessful in 2016 and so.much.work.). Roasted a turkey and provided Thanksgiving dinner.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don’t recall making any resolutions last year other than survive. Maybe to breastfeed as long as possible – I’m very proud of myself for sticking it out as long as I did. I exceeded my own expectations and it was a very rewarding experience. I’m so very thankful it worked out as it was such a rough start with Layla’s health and inability to nurse, but we got it figured out! This year I resolve to be more active, but be creative about what that means and not give myself a hard time when it means something different than earning PR’s at CrossFit. We are gearing up to start hiking as a family – literally, we picked up a backpack carrier for Layla on Craigslist and Skyler and I got hiking boots for Christmas. Weather permitting we go on our first hike this weekend to close out 2016. I’ve also brought walking shoes to keep at work so I can get out for fresh air and walks a couple times a week. I can’t make it to CrossFit in the evenings much these days as Layla goes to bed so early and I would miss her after being gone at work all day. And though the garage is well equipped for weightlifting and CrossFit workouts, I find it so difficult to get motivated without others to workout with and hold me accountable. Plus, it’s too hot or cold for two seasons of the year. So I signed up for Beachbody On Demand so I can access a variety of workout videos online when I need some intensity and coach Tony Horton telling me what to do so I don’t dilly dally through a workout. I’m excited to have this variety and especially to get outside with the walking and hiking!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My buddy Jamie had her second. My other friend and coworker Brie also had her second.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, but a few weeks ago I thought I would be writing that my Grandma Kelley passed away as her health took an unexpected nosedive, like organs-shutting-down-call-the-family-to-come-say-goodbye kind of thing, but she miraculously stabilized and recovered enough to have her previously replaced aortic valve replaced again, and she’s already at home recovering from that ordeal. I’m really hoping we can make it to Florida in June next year to see her!

5. What countries did you visit? Ronnie and I made it back to Mexico for my girl Lindsay’s wedding. It was a much needed getaway and relaxing fun time. I may have way overdone the rum or tequila the night of the wedding and spent the entire next day in my cold, dark hotel room surviving on potato chips and sips of water rather than enjoying the tropical paradise, but it still seems worth it for letting loose and dancing the night away!

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? Direction/goals/purpose outside of just being a mom. Yes, motherhood is noble and so important, but I know I have more to offer the world than just my children. I also hope to have a smaller, more manageable house.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Probably March 3 (our trip to Nashville) or September 28 (our trip to Mexico). Our vacations/escape from reality.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I think breastfeeding.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not taking care of myself – physically and spiritually. I feel like a chubby, frumpy shadow of my real self. Hoping 2017 will melt away the fluff and haze of mommy-hood and I will find more balance in all areas of my life.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I felt under the weather many more times this year than in previous years, I’m sure due to not making my own self-care as high priority, and dealing with another person’s germ-y slobber and poop and snot on a daily basis.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Probably plane tickets and/or concert tickets. I much prefer memories over material things.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Skyler – she is just an amazing big sister. I’ve leaned on her so much to help while I’m busy with little sis. And they are still so in love with each other. It makes my heart so happy and Skyler still says joyfully “I can’t believe I have a little sister now!” And she’s just so smart and creative and funny. She amazes me on a regular basis.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? No one specifically, but the way America handled this election year and the results. There’s been a lot of hate spewed unnecessarily and a lot of untruths spread irresponsibly. People just lack the ability to disagree respectfully anymore. The negativity that came out of this election really bothered me and I was ashamed of people.

14. Where did most of your money go? Hospital bills, daycare, tuition, home improvement projects.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Vacations. Dates with Ronnie. Layla finally sleeping through the night.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016? Any song by Brothers Osborne.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) thinner or fatter? same
c) richer or poorer? poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercise and sharing my feelings.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Being hard on myself and worrying about things unnecessarily, bottling all my anxiety up and getting grumpy!

20. How did you spend Christmas? The usual handful of events with various extensions of the family around town.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016? I fall in love with my husband and daughters on a regular basis.

22. What was your favorite TV program? any home improvement show I guess. I’m still not really into TV and wouldn’t be sad if we didn’t have one, other than when I need Mickey Mouse to babysit Layla at his Clubhouse…

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No.

24. What was the best book you read? I haven’t read much, but I’ve started a couple books – It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort. This one had me in tears and laughter on the flight home from Mexico. It’s just the memoirs of a girl about my age and the crap she’s been through – very raw and sad and funny and real. The other is You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. My coworker got me a 2017 desk calendar based on this book and then the book showed up  in my stocking. I’m loving it so far.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Enjoying country concerts with my husband.

26. What did you want and get? My baby to sleep through the night. It might have taken her 9 months, but she’s got it down pretty well. Now I look forward to teething and sicknesses only because they wake her up at night and she needs snuggles to go back to sleep. I jump at that chance to rock her to sleep!

27. What did you want and not get? To sell this house and find a smaller one.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I barely remember things we’ve watched. We watched the first 3 Divergent series movies and those were really good. And Rogue One, being Star Wars and all – it was surprisingly great.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 37. I went to work that day, but Ronnie made reservations at Rye that evening for us and some great friends and we had such a wonderful time over dinner and drinks.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Less financial stress, more exercise.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? Leggings – nothing else fits.

32. What kept you sane? Sleep. And my hubby making dates for us so we could escape being parents on a regular basis.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? With my soul-searching as the year winds down I’m fascinated with Brene Brown – I kinda just want her job. Her books are on my reading list for next year!

34. What political issue stirred you the most? The election, duh.

35. Who did you miss? My girl Lindsay moved to Clovis, New Mexico. It’s so far and not the easiest to fly to. Thankfully we have instant messaging!

36. Who was the best new person you met? There isn’t a single person that’s made a huge impression, but we met some great new people on the Mexico wedding trip that I hope our paths will cross with again.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016. The contrast in age of my daughters has helped me not to wish away the exhausting times with an infant. Though I gain freedom as they grow to be independent, for now I’m clinging to the baby snuggles, even with all the stress they bring.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. For Layla: “In the still of the night, I held you, held you tight, cause I love, love you so, promise I’ll never, let you go, in the still of the night.”

Here’s to 2017!

I’m an Upper Middle Class White Girl and I Need Therapy

December 8, 2016

So I went to see my therapist yesterday. Yes, I see a therapist, and I feel like that is hard to admit. Like I’m weak or crazy since my life looks fine. But my therapist is truly a Godsend and I’m so thankful to have realized this kind of service. I wish I could go once or twice a month on the reg to help me stay focused and ease my scattered brain, but I don’t have that kind of money. She was recommended to me by a friend a couple years ago when I was dealing with some crap. I met with her several times throughout that year and then hadn’t talked with her since very early in my pregnancy with Layla when I was struggling with the emotions of that very unexpected life change. So it had been a spell and we had a lot of catching up to do!

What prompted the appointment after so long and during a time when life seems pretty even keel? We have no extraordinary challenges right now and are just kind of going with the flow day by day (knock on wood, throw some salt over my left shoulder, do a rain dance, etc!). But despite that, I haven’t been happy. Plain and simple. And I don’t mean I’m not grateful for the life I have – there is SO much to be thankful for especially after all the hurdles we’ve been through. But I’ve been down in the dumps for a couple months and unable to shake the gloom, so my friend literally wired me money via Paypal for the sole purpose of paying for me to go talk to my therapist. I guess she was tired of my negativity? Ha – just kidding girl – you just knew what I needed!

What I love about my therapist is she understands where I’m at in an uncanny way. After I explain my concerns, she tells it back to me like a beautiful broken reflection. I see myself and my feelings through objective but understanding eyes, and I can immediately give grace to myself for where I’m at. Even if that was the end of the appointment, with no advice or action items, her recounting of my current state allows me to accept where I am and love myself for it. My guilt and feelings of weakness disappear as I see myself the way she does. But then she probes further and gives me action items. And I love a clear to-do list!

So I’m at a place where I’m re-evaluating my values (huh?). She gave me a massive list of “values” – things like Spirituality, Wisdom, Achievement, Health, Financial Stability, etc. (there’s like a thousand in the list). She asked me to quickly highlight everything that resonated with me, and then to go back through the highlighted list and really think on the values that best represented the things I aspire to lead my life with. The things that I want, rather than the things that I’m currently doing, and narrow the list to around 5. She said it sounds like I’ve been letting life lead me, rather than leading my life with my values. I need to identify my values, the things that help me protect them, and the things that interfere with them, so I can hit the reset button and begin making decisions again with my values in mind. I’m looking forward to this exploration and new practice, though already fear failure. The biggest cause of my gloom is putting everything else before myself – and selflessness is a virtue. And Responsibility is a value, one on the very top of my list. So the struggle to be true to myself and balance everything else is conflicting and very very real. But I’m up for the challenge and excited to find my way out of this funk.

As I think about publishing this post I feel guilty. I feel guilty as a well-to-do white girl living in the safety of the Midwest. Like that gratitude thing should be what I focus on and to quit my bitching, put a smile on my face and go out and do some good in this world with my resources and be happy about it. There are people in way worse scenarios that have real things to be sad about – they deserve to be sad and I don’t. But that’s the hard part about sharing my feelings publicly like this – I don’t share everything. There are some really dark things that I don’t share, so my story and the feelings that I express are disjointed and lack context to people that may read this not knowing. There are very few that really know me and the things I’ve been through. Could things be worse? Yes, but I’ve been through more bad things than I ever would have chosen, and have to accept that it’s okay to grieve about those things. It’s just a reminder that everyone has their own unique experience in life, and it’s all relative to each person. Everyone has a low point (or several) and we don’t always know what those are, nor can we understand how it affects another person. The human brain and soul are fascinating things in how they handle the ups and downs of the unique lives they captain. But we can choose to respond to others with empathy and kindness, in hopes that we don’t negatively impact their situation, and maybe even become the positive thing that helps boost them to a better place. As cliche as it is, you never know what another person is going through, and we can all learn to not judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

I am Pro-Life, but it’s complicated.

October 22, 2016

My first memories of “abortion” are from my early elementary school years at my family’s central Arkansas Bible church. Let the stereotypical assumptions flow after that introduction. But seriously, I recall seeing pamphlets with graphic photos of bloody trash bags of dead babies. I’m sure I asked my parents or maybe they showed them to me and explained what the picket line we were going to participate in was about. I was horrified and sad that this kind of thing could happen, and my little 7 or 8 year old self was proudly “pro-life.” I helped create posters with colorful magic markers to hold streetside in front of the capitol maybe? I don’t remember the locations but I’ve stood in a few abortion demonstrations as a young child. Maybe even in junior high – that was probably the last one I remember, with my church youth group here in Overland Park, Kansas, on 95th Street between the cross streets Lowell and Craig. How I remember those details, you got me? It was just a busy street in a residential area, near some churches (though not ours), and not in front of a clinic or government building, but I digress.

Over the years I’ve heard all the buzzword arguments on both sides. And while my views on lots of traditionally conservative issues have changed in many regards, I still haven’t heard a good answer to explain “when life begins” if it doesn’t begin at conception. Maybe the argument of “when life is viable outside the womb” works, except that as technology and medicine continue to advance, so does minimum. I think the earliest born surviving preemie was born at just under 22 weeks gestation, and the viability chance for fetuses continues to increase. When you combine that with the idea of “cloning” science, it doesn’t seem impossible that the two sciences could meet someday and a baby could be conceived and gestated with no living human womb at all. Seems creepy, but possible in some matter of years. So that argument of “when life begins” seems like it could be a moving target.

Where things get really gray for me are the cases that get thrown around a LOT in the media and politics, that everyone gets so up in arms about – the right to abortion in cases of rape or the mother’s health or birth defects. And I think each of these scenarios has so many shades of gray. A woman who is raped has been damaged physically, emotionally, mentally, and possibly spiritually. I haven’t been through it but have only imagined the pain and trauma. And if that horrific event wasn’t just over at the time, but that evil attacker left a part of themselves inside your body to join with part of your body and create a new creature that you would be responsible for the rest of your life, always reminded of that event, even that face. What if that child was the spitting image of their father? Could they be loved? Would that hurt and anger be taken out on that child? What if the evil in the father’s heart was genetic? And pregnancy and childbirth is hard and uncomfortable and hormonal – would there be any healing to hope for in those 9 months? Those are only a few of the thoughts that I’ve considered in that sad scenario. So I can completely understand and feel no judgement for anyone that could choose to terminate that pregnancy and attempt to move on. However, I know and truly believe that God can make beauty from ashes. If a victim had faith, I think there is a way (and I’m sure this has happened in real life) to turn this tragedy and pain into something amazing. God can provide healing in amazing ways, whether through blessing a family that wanted to adopt, or building a beautiful mother/child relationship with the victim, even if they started in unlikely and evil ways. So I believe there is hope for those that would choose life – to take that chance on the new creature inside them and put that baby’s life ahead of their own pain. I’m not saying which one is right or wrong, but I believe there is healing either way, and a lot would depend on the spirituality and support system of the victim.

The mother’s health argument – I haven’t done a lot of thinking about, honestly because I have this idea in my mind that modern medicine can figure that one out in most cases that it seems a very rare decision for anyone to have to make. And I think the stats support that, it’s not really an argument people should be resting their laurels on because it just isn’t applicable to many people. But the case of birth defects was recently illuminated for me. But let’s start at the beginning of my views on this first. I generally do not believe that viable genetic abnormalities should be reason to terminate a pregnancy. The idea that “I just don’t want a child with known health problems” just doesn’t jive with me. That in and of itself sounds selfish and slippery. I agree, it could be devastating news and completely change the vision you have for your future family. But people are doing it, and they have found so much joy in it. And that argument seems similar to and dangerous to the “when does life begin” question. What constitutes a birth defect that is acceptable for abortion? Is it one that you don’t feel mentally or emotionally prepared for? Is it one that you can’t afford to pay for the resulting medical services? Is it one where the child has a chance of dying anyway? How big of a chance? What about the child’s “quality of life” with their condition? Who’s standards do we use to determine when it’s okay? And what heavy combination of answers to these questions makes one scenario okay but one scenario wrong? These are the questions that I can’t answer. Today I read two heartbreaking stories/articles that got me really thinking about this late-term abortion issue (and I’m referring to that now because I’ve recently learned that late-term abortion really only applies to these unique medical situations, rather than some selfish woman who decided last minute that she didn’t want her baby). First was about a couple who learned mid-pregnancy that their much-loved and much-anticipated baby could absolutely not survive outside the womb. It would be stillborn, but they had to carry the child full term and deliver her, knowing this devastating outcome for the entire second half of the pregnancy. Second was a similar case, but this baby could survive, albeit with an extreme condition that was likely to cause a painful, vegetable-like existence. I read both these stories and fought tears. Tears for the parents and the heartbreak they felt and the guilt they felt with even considering their choices. I felt tears for these unborn souls, who would never fully know their loving parents. I felt compassion and understanding, and sadness that laws made these already difficult situations even more difficult and painful. It gave me new perspective on this issue. Though I still don’t know the answer for them – what should be legal and what shouldn’t. I think in the first scenario, a baby with zero viability should not be made to be carried. That seems downright cruel and ridiculous. The second story has a lot more gray, as the mother describes. I can’t blame her either way, and she would carry her decision with a certain pain no matter which way she chose. And that baby never had to know pain and suffering.

But despite all these feelings, the thing I’ve also learned is that these situations make up something like less than 3% of abortions that take place in the United States today. The vast majority are unplanned pregnancies terminated in the very early weeks. There are hundreds of reasons why an unplanned pregnancy is inconvenient, and I can empathize with not wanting this circumstance or this change in my life plans. But, the women in these circumstances knew it could be a possibility. The evolutionary purpose of sex is to reproduce. I believe it’s the responsibility of the people who chose to have sex to accept parenthood as a possible outcome of that, whether or not they used birth control. That’s not a super fun way to look at it, and I know that sounds really lame and old school, but that’s how I see it. Our culture has made a huge deal out of sex, glorifying it and promoting sexual freedom, but not appropriately emphasizing that sex causes children (for heterosexuals, that is)! The Pro-Choice movement is so adamant about women’s health and women’s control over their own body. I 100% support that. Women should be able to choose when and with whom they have sex, and they should have access to affordable preventive birth control and the education to use it the most effectively. But, once they have become pregnant, it is no longer just their body that they are making health decisions for. There is a new body; a new person in this equation, I believe, since I haven’t yet been convinced when life begins if not at conception. And that person’s health is now the responsibility of the parents. Yes, unfortunately, if unplanned, most of the time the women take the brunt of the responsibility, if not all of it. But those are the risks taken if choosing to have sex with someone and either or both of you doesn’t yet have the desire to be a parent. There has to be some acceptance of responsibility at that point, not once a new life has been created.

This last scenario is where Pro-Lifers need to focus their efforts in discussions and legislation. Why does abortion have to be an all-encompassing, all or nothing law? If we could make some concessions in certain areas to not put well-meaning parents through unnecessary heartbreak and fear of judgement, maybe be open to lovingly and empathetically discussing abortion as a legal alternative for rape victims. Let’s look at addressing this very small percentage of abortion cases with compassion. But then focus on re-educating today’s young men and women about responsibility with their sex lives – not just about the risk of catching and spreading STD’s, but about the “risk” of parenthood. And then, for those who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies, let’s flow some legit resources there way. Healthcare, adoption resources, support networks and groups. For those that keep their baby, help with childcare, education and employment. Legal resources to help maintain responsibility for BOTH parents. Parenting classes and support groups. I know these things exist, but are more often charitable organizations rather than government-funded. And abortion is so much financially cheaper and logistically easier than these things. But THIS is where the argument needs to be, and the most lives could be saved. As long as Pro-Lifers and the politicians running on that platform continue to use scare tactics about partial-birth and late-term abortion to make Pro-Choicers out to be evil baby killers, and as long as Pro-Choicers stop using “for the health of the mother” as a reason to keep abortion legal, there can never be any sort of progress on this legislation that really promotes the health and safety of women and their unborn children.

I’m sure some of my thoughts here are unpopular with both sides of the coin, but it’s so emotional and it’s something I’ve considered a lot and asked God about plenty of times. I’ve said before I never really had a desire to be a mom. And my second child was very much unplanned and inconvenient in ways not many realize. I hated being pregnant and being a mother is DAMN HARD. And I’ve got it easy compared to many that are faced with unplanned pregnancies, so I get it. But I also know the blessing my children are, and the ways they’ve expanded my soul in such positive ways, and what they’ve taught me about joy and love. Things and feelings I never would have known without their arrival into this world. This issue has been weighing on me heavily this week since the presidential debate where some disturbing buzzwords were thrown around. I laid awake the other night feeling so emotional and confused that I had to get some words out to try and make some sense of the issue.  I still don’t know the answer, but I do know there needs to be more understanding, less judging, and as always, more love.

Ripple Effect

October 19, 2016

The Barrish vs CrossFit/Sky’s Limit Fitness case is closed, and hopefully for us the worst parts are over: the waiting and financial stress. The bomb was dropped on my husband nearly 3 and a half years ago, and the sinking feeling of betrayal hit immediately,  and never really let up, even as court date after court date was postponed, probably half a dozen times over two years. But even after the slightly disappointing verdict, a weight was lifted – the crushing attorney fees were finally done increasing, and this could become an annoying thing of the past.

The thing is, nothing ever happens in a vacuum. This frivolous lawsuit brought about a whole slew of consequences. I know how it has affected us personally and the gym business thus far, but I don’t know how far the effects have reached or will continue to do so. There’s bad and there’s good, thankfully.

My husband suffered the worst – the impact this had on his passion for fitness and love for the gym was no joke. He prides himself in his knowledge, experience, gym programming, concern for proper form and safety, and the way he runs his classes. He lost a lot of joy in what he does by someone so easily being able to accuse him of negligence in all of the above and actually take it far enough in the legal system to cost him years of time and money and stress. My husband has built something amazing with the gym – a community of people who love fitness, are getting healthier, and have a good time doing it, and while that remains and continues to thrive, the nest egg that came along with it is gone. Not that money is everything, but a man prides himself in providing for his family and their future, so when that is taken from him for such a ridiculous situation (and by someone who is likely in a much higher tax bracket than we are), it cuts pretty deep.

Friendships and trust were lost over it, and in more relationships than just the obvious. It’s one of the most disappointing parts of this whole thing to me, as I generally assume everyone to be nice and for longstanding friendship and loyalty to mean something. Unfortunately, people can be really crappy, and I should probably learn not to trust as much as I do. But friendships and relationships were gained too, so it feels more like a profit in the relationship department.

For Ronnie and me personally – this whole lawsuit and the stress that came with it brought us to the lowest point of our relationship, and we almost fell apart. But, we are fighters, and I’m so grateful we didn’t let the actions of one selfish jerk actually tear us apart. We stayed the course, rebuilt, and have a better marriage than we ever did. And without all that, I can’t say that Miss Layla would ever have come to be. We never planned on another kiddo, but can’t imagine life without her, so for that, maybe we owe the plaintiff a thank you? Surely God could have found another way…

I’ll probably never really know what impact this all had on the plaintiff. While the verdict wasn’t exactly how we wanted it to go, it must’ve been highly disappointing to the plaintiff. Knowing the details that we do and doing some simple math, I can’t imagine he got the payout he was hoping for, and I have to wonder if it was worth it? There’s been a bit of local publicity instigated by his own attorney’s press release, and from what I’ve read and heard, he hasn’t been met with much sympathy, but my circles are a tad biased. He owns his own local real estate business so he took a risk with his own reputation  by pursuing this case, so who knows what impact that may have on his career. Probably not as much as I wish it would. Oops, did I say that? #sorrynotsorry . What”s crazy is our house is on the market, and within days after the case had wrapped up, we got a call from the real estate scheduler saying the plaintiff wanted to show our house. What are the odds? Maybe somehow he knew and was poking us, or maybe it was just coincidental. Either way, we quickly declined that showing. He could’ve had the perfect buyer but we refuse to let him make a penny off of us. Regardless of reputation, I can’t imagine a person that doesn’t take responsibility for their own actions and blames others for their problems is ever really happy in life. No amount of money would fill that emptiness anyway.

Speaking of reputations, certainly we are wondering what the little bit of local chatter on this whole case will do to the gym business. It’s not a concern with current members who know the truth, but it’s a bit unnerving to hear a rumor here and there that we “sold everything and closed up shop” or read comments on some Reddit post from a bunch of keyboard warriors that think they know everything about something they know nothing about. Recently a persistent local reporter for Channel 9 stopped in to film Ronnie’s side of the story and plans to run a piece next week. It’s nice that at least one media outlet actually cared to cover both sides of the story, since so many just picked up the Plaintiff’s press release and ran it without all the details. We will see how things air next week and hopefully it’s edited ethically and represents Ronnie and Sky’s Limit CrossFit accurately. Either way,  I really believe that the truth always wins, and if Ronnie keeps focusing on what he does best, and we put the negativity of this behind us, our future is bright no matter what happens in the details. We continue to love and hope and dream together, and we continue to knock out all the challenges life throws at us, so despite what a judge and jury could ever decide, WE WIN.

28 Days Later

December 2, 2015

Four weeks ago, we welcomed Layla into this world. It was painful, scary, wonderful, and she blessed us with her first breaths immediately. She still resides at Children’s Mercy Hospital where we spend our days with her. We’ve had so many ups and downs during her stay here – I wanted to document the experience more but haven’t had the energy. So I thought I’d try to write some of the random feelings and observations we’ve had along the way. Hopefully, her stay here doesn’t last significantly longer and we can move on to the ups and downs of life at home together as a family.

  • The sounds and smells of the hospital are haunting. I get home at night and hear echos of oxygen saturation alarms, and my jacket has absorbed the plasticky, alcohol sanitizer smell that permeates every breath of air inside those walls. Ronnie bought hand lotion at the gift shop and it has its own unique smell and I will trash that bottle once we are home so I dont have to smell it again and be reminded of this time.
  • Everyone here is fighting their own battle. The halls and elevators are filled with mostly solemn and sometimes tear stained faces. People are often rude and act as if they are the only people here. It’s easy to get frustrated with them, but then I remember some of the very rough days we’ve had, and I have to offer them some grace. Some of their children are in much worse condition than Layla, and some have been here for a really long time. When I was using the lactation booths to pump milk the first few weeks, a few times I overheard a new patient parent being shown the ropes of the lactation room. And I heard the sniffles of a scared new mom as she sat down to pump in this strange place, away from her sick baby, maybe only hours after learning her baby was sick. My heart hurt for her and I wanted to run and pull the curtain and give her a big hug. It sucks recognizing the “newbies” over and over again, as it’s a reminder of the fear and brokenness we felt in the early days of Layla’s journey.
  • Though we are in the best place for Layla to get well, it is apparent after spending weeks here and observing how things are done that these people are smart, but there is still so much mystery to Layla’s case. They have protocols for handling her condition, but she’s stumped them several times already. Maybe she’s stubborn, but it also shows that as much as the medical establishment knows, each individual person presents a unique challenge. Unfortunately that isn’t how modern healthcare works, so I suspect that recovery times could be improved for all if there was an efficient way to address each patient uniquely.
  • My heart hurts every single night I leave Layla here to go home. I am deeply conflicted about going home to sleep, but I know I wouldn’t get sleep here on this worn out, uneven window-seat bed thing. The recliner is even worse. I broke down a couple nights ago with frustration, impatience, and guilt, but the doctor talking to us assured me that the best thing I could do for Layla right now is to take care of myself and stay healthy for her. If it’s the doctor’s orders, I will continue, but nothing makes it feel any better leaving her every night.
  • Last thought, but not least, is I’ve been amazed at the strength and resiliency of my husband and Skyler. I’ve been an emotional roller coaster and the two of them seem to always be right there to cheer me up or help take a load off. Without them, I would be lost through this.