How I Combat The Crazy

Heyo, Psychos!

I wrote a fabulous guest post on Crazy Good Parent!!  Please go check it out here.

Thanks so much to Janice for allowing me to share my story about how cancer, yoga, and impending parenthood are all intertwined for me.

Lost In Transition

I’m feeling all the feelings, you guys.

I had a mommy friend ask me if I wanted advice.  She had written a list of things she wished she had known before giving birth.  I said yes, and I read it.

Then I cried.

This thing really has to come out of me.  And it’s going to hurt.  Like, a lot.  Breastfeeding might be hard.  And painful.  Projectile poop really does exist.  All this responsibility…

Even though I’m the type of person who always wants to know all the good and the bad stuff, it was still pretty overwhelming.

I asked myself, how am I going to handle all this?

That voice inside me shrugged and said, one day at a time.

I’m also having some feelings around body image.

My body hasn’t changed much throughout my life, with the exception of cancer and the resulting surgery.  This week marks the highest weight I have ever been.  I knew it was coming, of course, and I know it’s healthy and it’s supposed to happen.  And I’m cool with it; it means that Little Duck is growing and my body is growing with fe.  At the same time, I felt a pang when I saw the number on the scale.  I’ve never been one to weigh myself, like ever, because I’ve never seen the point.  But with the pregnancy, I’ve wanted to track my changes and so I’ve been weighing myself once a week.

It’s not just the number on the scale, but a combination of that plus how I look and how I feel.  I’ve always been fairly petite, and sometimes it’s tough for me to see my waistline disappear.  Honestly, it depends on the day.  When I first started showing, I was so happy and excited.  This is real!  Look at me, how cute I look!  I feel so special!  And sometimes, a lot of the time, I still feel like that.  But on the days when I feel achy and bloated, I wonder how big I’m going to get.  Where is my limit?  What will my body do?  It’s the not knowing that can be unsettling.

What I’ve concluded is that my body is changing faster than my thoughts and emotions can catch up.  And I have to keep telling myself what I already know to be true – that my body knows what it’s doing.  Trust it.

Even when cancer invaded my body and I felt like it [my body] had betrayed me, it still let me know what was going on.  And when I stop to think about my progress during this pregnancy so far, I realize that my body has done all the work unaided.  All the medical procedures I’ve had have been purely for screening purposes.  Of course, if my body needs medical help along the way, that’s all well and good, but overall, my body’s in charge.  And she knows what she’s doing.

Lastly, I’ve been feeling all pent up.  I really need a project (besides growing life) and what I’d really like to be doing is decorating and organizing a house, but we’re just not there yet.  Not only are we not there, but we’re crammed into a one bedroom apartment with boxes stacked everywhere.  I feel closed in, it feels cluttered in here, and I have no idea how we’re going to fit a baby in here, let alone all the baby crap.

I know this situation is only temporary, and our next move, if it’s not a house, will definitely be someplace bigger and quieter.  We’ll only have to have the baby here for one month max, if at all.

It also doesn’t help that I am not currently working, or otherwise have something to do with my time.  I’ve been looking for work half-assedly, mostly because, while I do want to be productive and useful, I don’t want the added stress of having to learn a new job, and I certainly don’t want to have to sell my soul to any job – and that’s even if anyone offers this 5 month pregnant lady a position in the first place.

I hate how the American work force – and the social service professions specifically – expect you to bend over backwords just to work.  The job openings I’ve seen aren’t only full time, but the descriptions are peppered with lines like: must be able to work evenings and Saturdays, shifts subject to change with little notice, must be able to drive to multiple locations, may be exposed to clients with violent tendencies, must give up first born child to Satan, etc.  I’d be hesitant to take jobs like this even if I wasn’t pregnant, and forget it now.  I’m not even sure I’d want to keep a full time job after I have the baby, anyway, so that adds to my lack of enthusiasm.  Don’t employers want healthy, happy, well-rounded workers who have lives outside of work?  Sheesh.  Jobs are just jobs, and I want one that I don’t have to be married to.

That said, I do feel incredibly fortunate that I am being supported by my husband right now.  I have the privilege of having the choice to work or not, and for that I am very thankful.  I also feel a bit guilty about not contributing financially to the household, and a part of me really does want to get out there and do the profession I love, but Brian totally understands my priorities and he’s supportive.  I’ll keep looking for work, and if I find something that fits our needs, then awesome.  If not, we’ll adjust and get by together.

So.  It seems as though my theme for the moment is transition.

But, now that I think about it, am I ever really not transitioning?

Birthday and First Trimester Recap

Today is my birthday, and it’s right around what will be my baby’s half birthday (WHAT?!).

I am 14 weeks today!

What a difference a year makes.  Last year, if you recall, I had some fun drinking adult beverages and then attempting to throw a very heavy ball down a hallway, all whilst dressed up in the clothes of the time of my origin.

A lot has changed since then, and I imagine a whole lot will also change in the coming year.  I’ll look back on this time and wonder where all my freedom went, where all my time went, where all my sleep went.  But I imagine I’ll also wonder how I ever got by without a drooling, pooping, screaming angel strapped to me.  Weird.

I’d like to take this opportunity and do a little recap of my first trimester, since it came and went in a whirlwind of leaving jobs, packing, the holidays, the flu, and moving.

I think it’s interesting that nausea and vomiting are the only acceptable pregnancy symptoms that people seem to be allowed to ask about.  Or interested in.  And that those symptoms really weren’t a major issue for me, so conversations beginning with those kinds of questions are pretty much nonstarters.

I remember sneaking a copy of What To Expect at the shelter where I used to work before we started to try to get pregnant, and it was horrifying.  While I knew on some level that pregnancy affected the whole body, I had no idea about the sheer range of potential side effects.  Face skin turning colors?!  Anal bleeding?!  Eyes frickin changing shape?!

How come nobody asks me about my eyes and how they are doing, hmm?

I feel like my pregnancy symptoms started happening before the pregnancy.  As soon as I went off birth control (that I had been on for the entirety of my adult life), I felt like a 13 year old kid all over again.  My skin became greasy and broke out everywhere.  Like, all the places.  I usually shower every other day, but I quickly started having to shower every day to keep from feeling so hormonally gross.

Which reminds me – I watched the movie of What To Expect because it was on netflix instant view and I was bored and full of pregnancy hormones, and thank goodness for Elizabeth Banks’ character’s storyline.  She struggled to get pregnant, felt horrible during pregnancy, and actually uttered the wonderfully descriptive term ‘bac-ne.’ (How does one spell that?  It’s like ‘acne’ and ‘back’ had a baby, only this baby aint cute.)  It felt validating to see a pregnancy experience that wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and that I could partially relate to.

Once my pregnancy train left the station, I started feeling heartburn for the first time.  It prevented me from eating a donut at work for about an hour, but I eventually prevailed.  Soon after, I became so exhausted that I couldn’t make it through some days without taking a nap.  I remember the first day the movers were packing up our stuff, all I did was stand there and watch, and at 3pm when they left, I felt like I had done all the work.  An hour nap, and I still had no problem getting to sleep at night.

At that point, the flu struck and I couldn’t tell what was flu and what was pregnantness – I just felt like a zombie in pajamas.  I only wanted comfort foods like ramen and PB&J.  I slept all the time.  Interestingly enough, still no vomit.

Once I was feeling fairly normal again, the completely random food aversions hit.  Our first night in Portland, we were exhausted from driving all day (and being pregnant) and so we ordered pizza.  I demanded no meat because that sounded pukey.  Nevertheless, the veggie pizza arrived and, while it looked amazing, it smelled and tasted like barf.  I forced a slice down and then passed out.  A few days later, Brian cooked us up some veggie burgers and I thought I’d have to run outside to escape the stench.  For the first time, their look matched their smell.  Ralph.

What confused me through all these food aversions (that only happened at dinnertime) was that I couldn’t tell – was I hungry or was I pukey?  The answer was yes, all of the above.  I hated that this babe was ruining mealtime for me, and I am thankful that the phase didn’t last very long.

Heartburn continued, although it hasn’t been predictable or consistent like the bloating and constipation.  Funny that people love to talk about food coming back up and out, but in the absence of an exit, it’s suddenly gross.  I am no stranger to GI issues, as some of you know, but this was/is by far the worst batch of symptoms for me.

It was also weirding me out.  Am I full even though I only took two bites of my cheesey blasters?  Nope, it’s just gas.  Am I starting to show?  Uh-uh, it’s just gas.  Did I just feel the baby?!  Nope – gas.

I think the only other major symptom left is the constant peeing.  Twice, sometimes three times a night.  Like clockwork, too.  And forget trying to laugh or sneeze and stay dry.  My belly had better grow bigger faster, because now that I actually want to eat a horse, there’s no room for it with all that pee, poop, gas, and the reason we’re having this party in the first place.

I forgot to mention the one good side effect of all this – since getting knocked up, my migraines have all but disappeared.  Thank you, first trimester gods, there is a silver lining.

As I already alluded to, the second trimester is treating me well so far.  I’m told I need to enjoy it before the third, and I definitely plan to – starting by stuffing my face with a huge birthday dinner in a few hours and demanding that the bartender mix me up a mocktail so good that I am convinced it’s the real deal.

Sleepless in Portland

Hey.

You don’t really know me.  I mean, I met one of you briefly, but I am pretty sure you were…indisposed at the time, so does that really count?  But see, I know a lot about you.

To the best of my knowledge, there are three of you.  Two females and one male.  One of the females we’ve lovingly nicknamed The Laugh, because it sounds like a cross between a dodo bird and a hyena.  And it’s constant.  You know what?  Nothing is that funny.  Unless you’re flying high on life, I suppose.

It seems as though all three of you have some sort of unique locomotion disorder where you’re required to wear lead-soled moon boots at all times – even in the middle of the night.  Of course, it also doesn’t help that the floors/ceilings in this place are creakier than a Disney Haunted Mansion and thinner than the skin of an 80 year old woman.  For that, you get a little bit of slack.  A little.

You all have amazing stamina, what with your alternative sleep schedules.  Quiet one night, up screaming until midnight another night and then up again five hours later to argue about how uncomfortable your moon boots are.  Or there was last night, when you chose to dance around intermittently between the hours of 2 and 4am.  Look, if you’re going to have a dance party, the least you could do is invite us.  It’s only the polite thing to do.  Instead, I was jolted awake and torn apart from my dreamland boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal (Bubble Boy had been on Comedy Central that day.  I assure you, he was much hunkier in my dream than he was in Bubble Boy.  Complete with stubble.), and every time I was just about to drift off and rejoin him, your moon boots again met the ceiling directly above my head.

Speaking of parties, do you remember that fateful night we met?  Your dance moves were so synchronized that we watched our ceiling flex inward several inches, and it was then that we knew we had to meet.  I can only guess that your excitement at having visitors was the cause of you fumbling to get your door open to greet us!  Let’s be honest – your glistening eyes gave you away. We totally understood when you didn’t invite us in – I mean, you can only really play Twister with a limited number of people.

We wish that sometime you’ll take the time to get to know us.  For instance, we enjoy sleeping uninterrupted for about 8-9 hours during the night.  Every night.  We also like being able to hear our television at a reasonable volume.  When we can, we pride ourselves on helping others, so please let us know if you need help removing those moon boots.  I know a guy who gets things done.

So please, don’t be strangers.  Or do – we imagine that your progressive and carefree lifestyle will lead you to new and exciting places, and who are we to stand in the way of that?

Sincerely Yours,

Sleepless in Portland

Drifting in Portlandia

So we’ve been here about a week now.

Here means just outside of Portland, Oregon.

It’s been a little rough, as I expected it would be.  I also suppose it hasn’t been as bad as my worst fears, so that’s something.

Brian and I both came down with the flu over Christmas (given to us by the movers who packed up our stuff), and that made for a pretty rotten holiday.  We made the most of it, but we were not able to do everything we had planned, and we were forced to skip seeing loved ones for fear of getting them sick, which really sucked.

We returned to our mostly bare apartment for one night in sleeping bags so that we could rise early, grab the cat, and make the 10 hour drive to Portland all in one day.

I have a love-hate relationship with this cat, and that morning it was definitely hate.  And pity, I suppose.  She refused to eat any of the sedative-infused food we offered her.  We had given her some a few weeks prior as a trial run, just to make sure she wasn’t allergic and to see how she would do.  I can only imagine that she remembered that experience and was like, “No effing way I am doing that again, you guys.”  We tried putting it in dry food.  We tried hiding it in chicken.  And then we tried just forcing it into her mouth and down her throat.  To no avail.  At this point we were behind schedule, so she got shoved into the cat carrier, hungry and unmedicated, and off we went.

Despite the struggles of the morning, Sadie (the cat) did pretty well.  She howled solidly for the first 45 minutes and then would pass out for 20 minutes at a time, only to wake up and howl some more.  I had to just emotionally detach myself from her in order to cope.  I kept telling her, “I love you, and you are safe,” which I think was more for my benefit than for hers.

The drive up was pretty damn gorgeous, and wonderfully uneventful (the cat howling aside).  We passed Shasta and saw a bit of snow in the shade in the mountains.  We stopped for lunch in Ashland, which was good to check out again.

We arrived at our new place after dark and I was just exhausted.  The cat was freaking out and had no bed to hide under.  We unloaded most of our two cars, ordered pizza, and then passed out on an air mattress.

This is the first time I’ve ever moved somewhere and not had something waiting for me on the other side.  We moved because my husband found an amazing job, which is awesome, and we are both thankful for that.  As for me, I am now left with the daunting task of trying to figure out how to get relicensed in this new state and how to find a job.  I know zero clinicians in Oregon, and so I am left to email perfect strangers to answer my questions.  We left the warmth and sunshine of California, and I can definitely feel that tugging at my wellbeing.  I wonder to myself if Oregon will ever really feel like home.

To sum up, I feel scared and sad, and somewhat stuck.  I am fighting it, but the energy only comes in spurts.  I am very, very thankful to have one good friend in the area I know from California, and of course my husband is there for me, as I am for him.

I don’t like moving and I don’t like change and I hate the unknown.  In my moodier states, I feel like I am on a raft, just drifting aimlessly in an endless foggy sea.  That just makes me want to curl up in a ball and wait until the raft bumps into something.

I guess I’d better fashion myself a friggin paddle.

Transitional periods are hard

Hello there, Psychos.

I’ve missed you.  Well, I have and I haven’t.  It [my honeymoon] was actually a very nice break from blogging, from wedding crap, from my job, from the world.

I was able [read: forced] to completely unplug whilst on a giant ass boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, and it felt good.  Wireless was crazy expensive on the boat, and the only things I used my phone for was as an alarm clock and to stitch together amazing panoramas of European villages I want to retire to (in like 5 years).

But it’s interesting, because now that I am back, I want to write, I feel the need to write, but I don’t know what to write about.  I also want to put a post between me and my last one…so here you go.  I just started typing to see what comes out.

So I started this post several days ago, and just last night I got a surprising email – my Post Wedding Blues post is going to be Freshly Pressed, and my first reaction was not excitement.  I think my first worry was that I’ll get all this unsolicited advice about how I need to look on the bright side and how I shouldn’t dwell on the wedding, it’s the marriage that’s important.  (A side note about advice like this – I find it very interesting that many people in our Western culture have a hard time tolerating sadness, whether it’s their own or someone else’s.  We’re taught very early to act like everything’s fine or to cheer people up rather than just accept and deal with what is.  Perhaps this is a post for another day…) I’m wondering if dealing with all the FP-ness is going to hinder or help my fragile mood as of late.  Being FPed is an honor and a part of me is excited – maybe it’ll give me that push to start really writing again – but it’s also a vulnerable place to be.  I’ll get a lot of exposure from all different kinds of people and that can be awesome but it brings about just that – the feeling of being exposed.

My depressed mood hasn’t all been about wedding stuff.  I had a lot of fun on my honeymoon, and I was able to just be in the present for the vast majority of it, but we came home to a hurricane of an apartment and it’s driving me crazy.  We registered for crap for a house we don’t yet have, and that crap is now piled and shoved into our tiny two bedroom apartment.  Right now I feel like I am drowning in stuff – the walls are closing in.  More importantly, B and I both came home to jobs from which we’ve learned all we can, and we both feel that it’s time to move on – professionally and personally.  At this point, before we’re able to actually make these major changes, I am not sure how I am supposed to keep this feeling of unrest from eating me alive.

The only answer so far has been for me to clean, organize, pile, and give shit away like a maniac on speed.  I obsess over what I can give away next, or how I can maximize my closet space beyond what I’ve already done.  In my calmer moments, I am also able to reassure myself that this period of my life is transitional, it’s temporary, and I will get through it.  Plus, now I have an amazing husband to get through shit with, and that’s the best part.

Hey Brian, you might want to read this one…

Ten years ago today, I was nervous.  I was excited.  I didn’t know what was going to happen.

Ten years ago today, it was a Saturday.  I had just asked you out the day before and today was the day – our first date.

Ten years ago today, we had ice cream together.  We walked and talked and I didn’t want the night to end, and neither did you, so I guess it really never did.

I can’t believe how fast these ten years have flown by.  We’ve grown up together, and I can’t imagine my life without you.  It’s like that lyric from that one Jewel song: you make the world make sense.

One week from today, we’re going to get married!

One week from today, we’re going to pledge to keep walking and talking because we don’t want this awesomeness to end…ever.

One week from today, I’m probably going to be nervous.  I’ll be excited!  And I don’t know what’s going to happen.

But whatever happens, I wanna be there with you.  Eating ice cream.

2003

2003

2013

2013

Bridezillas are made, not born

I am exhausted, you guys.

Seriously, people keep asking me if I am excited about my upcoming wedding, and…I’m not.

I mean, I want to get married and I feel like I have been waiting for this for forever, but the planning, ooh the planning, has just sucked the life out of me and I have no energy left.

What energy I do muster up is spent on my clients, and after that, I have nothing left.

It doesn’t help that my dress was 5 weeks late and I just got to see it yesterday for the first time since ordering it in January.  And now I have to bend over backwards to get this thing altered in time.  And it’s great that the bridal shop is compensating me with reduced fees, but you know what I really want?  I want them to erase the anxiety I went through.  The anxiety I still have and can’t seem to shake.

Which brings me to another subject….

I’ve been reading Quiet by Susan Cain, and even though I am not finished yet (I have much less time for reading these days), it’s been soooo validating.  While I always knew that I was on the introverted side of the spectrum, I never knew that all these things about my personality tied into all those introvert personality traits.  Since introverted traits are often pathologized, (“She just needs to come out of her shell,” and “Why are you so quiet?  Are you mad at me?”) it was awesome to read a different spin – that I groove better with a lesser level of stimulation, is all.

I plan to blog more about my introversion later, but this brings me back to the wedding stuff.  In theory, I like being the center of attention, but in reality I often shy away.  And at weddings, the bride is the center of attention.  Let’s face it, I’m going to look smashing in my fluffy white dress, so can you blame people?  There’s also a shitload of stimulation going on at a wedding, especially at your own.  I’ll be going around talking to everyone, which don’t get me wrong – it’s going to be awesome – but it’s also going to be taxing.

I suppose I just wonder how I am going to handle it.  I guess that’s what my groom is for, to help me get through this…I mean, he’s an introvert, too.  Maybe we need to have a safety word or something for when it’s time to go hide in the bathroom.  It’s ok, because people will just assume we’re going in there to bang.

Speaking of hiding in the bathroom, I totally understand how bridezillas are made.  That’s right, they aren’t born, they’re made.  The evil wedding factory takes in perfectly rational, in-love (oxymoron?) engaged females, throws them into the fires of Mt. Doom and cranks out bridezillas like evil furby dolls, except less hairy and with more lace.  Their fiances won’t recognize them anymore.  The bridezillas will burst into tears because they stepped in cat vomit that morning and their poor gentlemen will be at a loss as to how to console them.  And then the bridezillas set fire to the house.

So, this is where I am right now.  Maybe a tad bit of an exaggeration, but you get it.  And I am going to a wedding this weekend…mixed feelings about that.  On one hand, it’s a break from planning, a break from stress, a break from my life.  I’ll get to watch people in love (!) and I’ll get to eat and drink and dance.  But it’s also time away from planning, which let’s face it, may make me even more stressed.  And, I mean, it’s a wedding, so it’ll kinda remind me of my own and how it just needs to GET HERE.

Personal meets Professional meets the Internet

If y’all enjoyed reading my guest post on Black Box Warnings on what it’s like to be a therapist, then I can also recommend a fabulous piece by Ally at Dream Electric!

Ally is a mental health professional in the UK, and she interviewed me and another psych blogger on how we manage and present our professional and personal selves in the online world.

Check out the post here!

I’m tying the knot- pour me a shot!

Hello Psychos!

I am so blessed.

I haven’t updated about the wedding planning process in a bit, and today I plan to remedy that.

Since I last updated, I have been thrown two beautiful, delicious bridal showers and last weekend I was thrown one saucy bachelorette party!  I am incredibly thankful and lucky to be surrounded by such swell people.

When I sat and thought about it, the tradition of bachelor/ette parties is quite amusing, especially in Brian’s and my case since we’ve been in a monogamous relationship for almost 10 years now.  It’s a tradition like this that reminds me how much we’ve already been living the married life, and now we just get to throw a massive party to officially celebrate.

All the same, we didn’t pass up the opportunity to experience the traditional debauchery with our gender segregated peer groups!

How does one create the perfect bachelorette party, you ask?  Based on my recent hands-on research, I have arrived at the optimal recipe.

1. Bling

Ladies need the accessories on any normal day.  Brides need flashing signs saying I’M THE BRIDE!  THIS IS MY DAY!  NO ONE NEEDS ATTENTION MORE THAN I DO RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT!

My bling came in the form of a stately white hat, complete with a veil, a sparkly sash like I just won beat up Miss America, and a classy plastic shot glass necklace.  No one was going to ignore me if they could help it.

We also made use of props to enhance the experience.

2. Pleasures of the flesh

Some brides-to-be need to get some nasty out of their systems by admiring glistening pee-pees flying about under pulsating lights.  That’s cool, I get it.  I watched Magic Mike with Depends on to get my fix.

As for me, I am saving myself for Shirtless Ryan Gosling, so instead, my ladies spoiled me with a full body massage (given to me by the masseuse.  phrasing.), and I nearly cried on the table I was so overcome with stress leaving my body.  Seriously, I wanted to cut off this lady’s hands and take them home with me, they were so magical.  They totally would have fit in my purse.

After I spent about 10 minutes drying my tears and wiping the goo off my body (phrasing?), we progressed to the third stage of bachelorette-ing.

3. Gastrointestinal delights

My ladies and I then went to a leisurely late lunch where I stuffed my face with carbs and then had some gelato so delicious I cried some more for good measure.

The melted gelato is mixed with my tears.

We were generally obnoxious in this slightly fancy pants restaurant, being loud and getting up to take pictures.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to apologize to the poor, shy bus boy who had the misfortune of having to deliver appetizers to our table.  I know some good therapists, kid.  Call me.

4. Booze

No bachelorette party is complete without making a complete fool of yourself under the influence.  Not one.  You wanna fight about it?!

My ladies knew of this hecka rad speakeasy, that actually used to be a real speakeasy, and you needed a password and everything.  We felt special and smug.

We were led inside to this smallish room lined with books on one side and very furry red velvet wallpaper on the other.  Wobbly 20s clarinet music wafted through the stale air.  At first, it was so dark before my eyes had time to adjust that I probably looked drunk just stumbling around for a place to stash my jacket.  The irony of having tons of real books (we checked) but not enough light with which to read them was not lost on us, in case you were wondering.

My people kept me well watered that night.  At least, I assume the drinks that magically kept appearing before me had more to do with my friends and less to do with magic…even though it felt like I was in the restricted section at Hogwarts.

Now, careful when mixing ingredients 3 and 4, because you don’t want to be reacquainted with all the carbs, gelato, and lobster rolls; those trysts were meant to be one night stands, not rageful ex-lovers returning to throw rocks at your window.

A random brass band played the Wedding March in my honor. Bonus!

Needless to say, I had a blast and now (after some recovery time including moaning the obligatory I’m never drinking again…) it’s full steam ahead to the Big Day!