I’ve always been the kind of person without a strong support system. I’ve always known this to be true and for the most part, I guess I’ve been okay with it. I have always done my own thing and made sure I could do what needed to be done even at great personal sacrifice. It’s just who I am. I have always desired to have the support system others have, with their great extended families and wonderful friends always there with a cup of coffee and a shoulder to cry on, but it’s never been a reality for me. That’s not the way I was raised.

I was raised in a world where you really could only count on yourself. Sure, my parents were there, but not the way I needed them to be and I learned early on what they could and couldn’t handle. I filtered and censored so they didn’t have to be more involved. I still do it. I use this filtering system I’ve developed to keep people at bay. To not let anyone in and that turns into a lack of support system when you need one. It’ s a system that has protected me my entire life, but also makes things really lonely sometimes.

You see, Dear Readers, I’m 32 weeks pregnant today. Give or take a few weeks, in eight weeks, I will be the mom of three children. A beautiful 8-yr old girl, an active 5-yr old boy and a newborn baby. We have next to nothing prepared. It’s been five years since our last baby. Our car seats are outdated, we needed a new port-a-crib, cloth diapers, clothes. I mean, we are starting from scratch on this. That doesn’t really bother me so much as the jealousy that pops up from time to time. You see, I have a friend who is also pregnant with her third baby… Her third baby in four years… More accurately, her third son when her eldest just turned four a week ago… The support she has from her family and friends amazes me. Even after having three boys in as many years, she was still surprised with a baby shower and registered for baby items and the works. She is being celebrated in her pregnancy, yet again. I’m not. It’s been five years since we’ve had an infant and I don’t anticipate a thing from other people. We registered, but only to keep track of the things we don’t have and need to get in the next 6 weeks. (And did I mention, I also need to get our homeschool curricula, for both of the older kids, my son’s fifth birthday in July, and my husband will be leaving for a month long training exercise in two weeks?)

I know this is part of the whole system I have developed and that we are far from our family and friends, but so is she. Being Army families, neither of us live close to our families and yet, hers still makes the effort for her. That makes my heart heavy and my eyes fill with tears. I’ve never had that kind of love. Never been shown that level of support or even kindness… I am truly happy for her to have that kind of support, particularly since she’s had some issues this go round and can no longer travel, per doctors orders. I am also truly saddened for myself. For my children, for my family. We don’t have that level of support. Never have.

My sister-in-law gave birth to her second daughter last fall. She had a baby shower in Texas, where her Army husband is stationed, and a small party after the baby was born in California where she is from. Her second daughter in four years.

Most days, I’m so happy to be pregnant. We are having a home birth this time and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s been a rough ride, but we are almost to the finish line and I’m so excited to meet my newest little man.

I don’t mean to sound petty. I don’t want to be jealous of these ladies and they deserve the support that they have.

I just wish someone had my back, too.

Thankful Thursday: February 21st!

Today, at 4:55am PST, my daughter turned seven years old.

Listening to Daddy sing "Happy Birthday" at 0700 CST this morning.

Listening to Daddy sing “Happy Birthday” at 0700 CST this morning.

My darling little girl is turning into a beautiful young woman before my eyes and it terrifies me. She is a huge blessing to all the people in her life and there is no way to avoid her infectious joy in her presence.

28 weeks pregnant with Sissy

28 weeks pregnant with Sissy

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, it was really difficult. Having based all my childbirth knowledge on the experience of others and what I’d seen in movies, I was not realistically equipped to handle the things that would come my way. I had a tough pregnancy emotionally. I have mentioned before that my daughter’s birth was not something that was planned ahead of time. My pregnancy was a surprise. Telling my mother that I was pregnant and moving across the country to get married was a nightmare and I was torn between the two families for a long time.

I remember stages in my pregnancy where I just wanted to die. I didn’t want to be stuck between the families. I didn’t want my mom to hate my in-laws. I didn’t want all the fighting and the drama. There were times when I wished for something to happen. I never considered having an abortion and even when it was suggested that I take the morning after pill. The night of “THEE” sex, while my husband prayed with me that nothing would result from it, I secretly prayed that God’s will be done. I’ve never told my husband that. But here I was, halfway through the pregnancy wishing I would trip and fall in just such a way, it wouldn’t be my fault and everybody would stop being mad at each other because of me. That’s a very painful thought to admit to having. I was in a very bad place. Pregnancy was NOTHING like it was in the movies and I was vomiting several times a day well into my eighth month.

The wedding occurred during the weekend I hit 28 weeks pregnant. I forgot my husband was wearing a microphone and promptly announced to the entire church that I needed to pee… My father-in-law, God rest him, always did get a kick out of that one. I still remember him laughing from the front row. I also burned my hand on the wax from the unity candle, but that’s another story. Our first ultrasound was late because I had to switch doctors (apparently at 19 weeks pregnant the baby is too small and moving around too fast to be seen on the ultrasounds… It’s a uterus, buddy, not NASCAR!)… So the day before our wedding, we found out that we were having a baby girl, though I’d been referring to the baby as “she” the entire time. FYI, that’s a baby, not an “it”. I couldn’t call my baby “It”.

It was my little sister who noted that the chamber of Sissy's heart actually was heart-shaped in this ultrasound.

It was my little sister who noted that the chamber of Sissy’s heart actually was heart-shaped in this ultrasound.

My due date came and went, and on February 20th, 2006, my doctor sent me to the hospital for an NST (non-stress test), to determine if she was strong enough for an induction. Well, as it turned out, I didn’t need one. “Go have breakfast and then go to the hospital.” said the doctor. Well, after eating my Burger King breakfast in the car on the way to the hospital, we arrived about 10:15am and when I got out of the car there was a gush. And when I say gush, I mean someone just kicked a big ass hole in the side of a full swimming pool, it gushed! And for some reason, I didn’t expect the fluid to be warm… Seriously, they don’t tell you what it’s gonna feel like because most women don’t have “spontaneous membrane rupture”, I had no expectations, but was NOT expecting hot water to be running down both legs and soaking my pants. Logically it makes sense when you think about the average persons normal every day body temperature.

The look on my face must have been something between “I can’t remember what I was doing” and “WTF?” because my husband asked me if I left something at the doctor’s office. I promptly replied, “Either I just peed on myself or my water broke.”

So we waddled into the hospital ER, having no idea if that’s where we were supposed to go at that time of day. I was admitted once they confirmed I had not, in fact, burst my bladder, and the adventure began. I’ll save the gory details, but a bitchy nurse, a failed epidural, three hours of pushing and nearly 19 hours of labor later, my daughter was here… And the trouble began… She was 9lbs 9oz, delivered vaginally and had her first bowel movement in utero, which means the NICU was on standby in case she had breathing troubles as a result of swallowing the meconium. She had not, but it still puts a new parent on edge. It was another two hours before I got to hold her because they wanted to make sure she was just fine. Well when you know that babies bond with their mother in the first three minutes, it really sucks to not see your baby until she’s two hours old.

Nearly 19 hours of labor, I want it noted that my husband was the only one smiling.

Nearly 19 hours of labor, I want it noted that my husband was the only one smiling.

IMG_0761Shortly after I held her for the first time, I decided that this time I really did need to pee. My husband took the baby and was sitting on the couch with both our mothers, while the nurse helped me to the bathroom. This is wear I promptly blacked out. (I told you it was trouble.) My helpless husband was holding our tiny newborn daughter and not able to come to my rescue. My mom told me that she saw me step into the bathroom doorway and then suddenly I was gone and the nurse was yelling. When I woke up, I was sitting on the floor with a nurse in front of me, my mom was behind me, Hubby was in the doorway with the baby and everyone was trying to figure out whether or not I had hit my head… Needless to say, I’d never seen that happen in a movie…

But the baby was fine and eventually, I was too.

Me and Sissy, 3mo

Me and Sissy, 3mo

Over the years, things have come up. After she was born, I pushed myself to bond “magically” like they do in the movies and ended up overburdened, exhausted and hospitalized (twice) for Postpartum Psychosis (like, Postpartum Depression, only with paranoia and delusions/hallucinations)… It was not a good time in our lives. We were kicked out of a women’s ministry because she couldn’t sit still when she was three (before we knew she had Proprioceptive Input Dysfunction and Sensory Integration Disorder). She was diagnosed with autism just after her fifth birthday. And now, my baby girl is seven… It’s really hard to believe that the chubby little baby I struggled so hard to love is a bright, beautiful, and overwhelmingly joyful little girl now…

Chubby little baby girl

Chubby little baby girl

My sweet girl. So grown and yet still so little.

My sweet girl. So grown and yet still so little.

I still don’t feel that “magical” bond to her, like you’re “supposed” to. But that’s why I talk about my experience. Not every woman will be connected to her child with some magical bond. It may sound cold, but my daughter was a stranger. I didn’t know her anymore than she knew me. We had to learn to love each other.  I knew what to expect of myself when I gave birth to my son and the entire pregnancy, delivery and postpartum went by with no issues at all.

I was in a really bad place when I got pregnant with my daughter. I was drowning in a town that literally will suck the life out of you and kill any chance you had of having a dream or a real life of happiness and joy. My daughter saved my life. She’s a huge blessing everyday and I am so thankful that my prayers were answered all those years ago.

God’s will was done.

For that, I am thankful.

Happy Birthday, Sissy!

30 Day Drawing Challenge, Day 11

Day 11: Turning point in your (my) life

Getting married, having kids, becoming an Army wife…

Dropping out of college, deciding to go back to college, failing to get the financial aid required to attend even a single class…

Telling secrets, keeping secrets, fears becoming reality…

Life starting, life stopping, life getting in the way…

Love, hurt, indifference…

There are so many things that have changed my life in drastic ways. I can’t tell you how many have been for the best and how many have been for the worst. It’s about even…

That being said, I think the thing that would truly make or break me, the thing that would really cause me to step up, to move past fear and into what was right, the one thing that focused me into the person I am today with the relationships I have today is my daughter.

I readily admit to having gotten pregnant with my daughter prior to marrying my husband. We had been talking about marriage for a while, but one night after church things got emotional. Then they got heavy and we forgot to protect ourselves. One night… One condom… 41 weeks later… One beautiful baby girl.

Sure I was crazy. I was beside myself panicking when I took that test, in the bathroom at work. I was terrified to tell my boss, even more terrified to tell my parents. I called my (then) boyfriend on the phone. He was living in California, I was living in Florida. He talked me down off a very frightened ledge. I remember very little of the actual conversation we had, mostly I remember telling a coworker “You have no idea how bad it just got.” when he jokingly said “It can’t be that bad.”

The night I told my mom was the worst. It was about a week after I found out, yes my parents really paid that little attention to me. My mom picked me up from work with my step-dad and sister. When we got home, I whispered “Can I talk to you in my room?” We sat on the bed next to each other and I took a deep breath.

She blurts out, “You’re pregnant.” I nodded.

“And you’re moving to California?” I nodded, again.

“I can’t believe you ruined your life like this.” And she left the room.

I came out a few minutes later to my sister calling me a “slut” and my step-dad asking me if I was “getting married”.

To them, this was THEE worst thing I could have done. My mom had plans for me, she said, plans of me staying in Florida, raising my family there, where her and the “in-laws” would be best friends and have barbeques and such. Those were her plans, and I ruined my life because my actions didn’t fit into her plan.

I’ll tell you a secret: I didn’t really ruin my life.

My daughter gave me the strength to do what I never thought I would do. She gave me the strength to leave. To get out of a toxic environment and move on with MY life. My daughter didn’t ruin my life, she GAVE me life. Sure, my husband and I didn’t plan to get pregnant before our wedding, we didn’t plan to have a baby three months after our wedding, but given the chance, we wouldn’t change a thing if we didn’t have her. She’s our baby girl. She made us a family.

My daughter is a stronger person because she has a stronger mother. She is a happier person because she has a happy mommy. She is a valued person, a person who is truly loved because I gave her father my heart. She has more than I had growing up simply by having a daddy who loves and adores both her and her mother. I didn’t have a “loving” father growing up. In fact, my father tried to kill my mother when she was pregnant with me. My step-dad was a jerk who’s best game was to belittle us. My daughter has the father I always wanted. The father who wants to be a father, who takes her on dates and shows her how boys should really treat her.

Seven years ago, I was a frightened 20 year old girl, pregnant and on the verge of marriage. I had nothing real to lose and everything to gain. I didn’t ruin my life. My daughter didn’t ruin my life.

We saved ourselves and each other.