Making space for joy…

I have moved more times than I care to count in the past twenty years. The reasons have varied but most of them share one thing in common: it was not my decision. My most recent move cross-country sort of fits into that category as it was totally unexpected due to my husband’s job moving out of state a month before I was due to give birth to our son. After weighing the pros and cons, my husband and I decided that it would be best for our family to make the transition.

It hasn’t been easy. We have boxes that still clutter the kitchen and living room. I spend most of the day halfway topless, breastfeeding, and lugging around my almost three week old son while trying to offer an ear rub to our dog who now has to compete for my attention. I eat and drink long after hunger pains and low blood sugar have set in. I am deprived of energy and sleep that is necessary to process the most basic things like remembering to have the cashier scan my Cartwheel barcode for discounts which is something that me, Frugal Franny, used to never do. So many things have changed and are changing that I feel like I am holding onto the rails of Life with half-closed eyes.

Fortunately, I am still chugging along but not without baggage. Given the nature of my mother’s irresponsible and hasty moves where she discarded things I cared about, I learned not to attach myself to material things. However, I have a nasty habit of taking emotional baggage wherever I go. No matter how uncomfortable and unhealthy it is to carry.

Seeing a therapist this year really helped me begin sorting through it. One of my first official steps was to delete a ton of numbers from my phone. Numbers of people whose faces I no longer remember, numbers of people whose face I never want to see again, numbers of people whose path will most likely never cross mine again, and numbers of people whom I refuse to continue having toxic interactions.

It feels good to take a step forward. To finally believe that I am good enough, worthy enough, to meet new people who value me just as much as I value them. I now believe that I deserve more than a delayed two-week response from so-called family members who will burden you with their mundane problems but can’t be bothered to reach out when a life life gets rough.

Although it is hard, I know that doing this will only make space for joy, peace, and positive vibes.

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3 weeks postpartum

While (im)patiently waiting on Baby H to arrive, a coworker warned me that I would long for the days of pregnancy once it was over. Fortunately for my lady parts (which are still in recovery), I haven’t felt that way. However I am still in shock three weeks later.

I cannot help but stare in amazement that I created another human being. I look back at photos from days before he was born and I think about how I was trying to hold on to the hope that I would finally leave the hospital with a living child.

Baby H must have sensed my restless spirit because he came into this world at lightning speed and everyday, though filled with fatigue and fussy cries during diaper changes, has humbled me. He has already forced me to find value in relaxation and savoring every bit of newborn life. It is in these moments, when his little eyes seemingly gaze into my soul, that I put whatever I have in my hand or mind away, and tell him how much I love him and how grateful I am to have him in my life.

It’s been such a long road to meet him but it has all been worth it. Baby H, you weren’t able to choose the family that you were born into, but I thank The Universe for the opportunity to raise you.

The Birth of Baby H/Leaving the Hospital without a baby again…

On November 14th, I told my coworkers that he was definitely coming. Everyone told me he wasn’t because I was still “too small” and I hadn’t dropped. I repeatedly told them that I had “dropped” and my doctor had confirmed his head was quite low. Oh and I could FEEL his head but of course, everyone knows more about pregnancy than the one who is pregnant.

Anyways, I had planned to “walk the baby out” by doing a 2 mile Christmas light walk with my husband and dog right after work. It was freezing but I was so determined to get things going because I just knew he was ready. I had been having real (albeit irregular) contractions since November 9th. So I walked the 2 miles and started to feel a bit odd but I thought it was mainly because I was walking fast. Well two miles, a trip home, an Epsom salt bath, and it was “go time”. Even now I’m shocked that it only took an hour long walk and 2 hours of settling down at home. I went into labor at about 8:15pm, just minutes after dozing off during a text comversation with my sister. Contractions were fast and furious. By the time we headed out the door at 8:30pm my contractions were already about a minute apart. By the time that we made it to the hospital 15 minutes later, I couldn’t keep my eyes open or concentrate on anything else.

At 9pm I was 3 cm dialated and at 10pm, I was 10 cm dialated. Baby H arrived at 10:28pm on November 14.

We were going to be released from the hospital on November 16 but the nurse discovered that he had newborn jaundice. Prior to that moment, I thought that jaundice only occured when the liver was failing. In fact, my mother had jaundice the last time I saw her. Her skin and eyes were completely yellow and I immediately knew it was over.

So imagine my horror when I was told that my newborn had jaundice. I felt helpless and all the hope that I tried to build over the course of pregnancy started to evaporate. I couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to another baby. I did not want to believe that I would be wheeled out the hospital again without my baby.

Guess what? I didn’t. Thanks to our blossoming breastfeeding relationship, Baby H got rid of all of the bilirubin from his system. We went home together on November 18 and he has been in amazing health ever since. In fact we went to his first pediatrician appointment 2 days after release when he was 6 days old and he already returned to his birth weight, lost his cord, and passed all his tests.

I am so grateful to The Universe for the gift that is my son. I could fixate on my fatigue, hunger, dehydration, the fact that I am writing this on an airplane moving from New York to Nevada with my 2 week old son, my concern for my husband as he drives the moving truck with my car and dog cross country in unpredictable weather, and the physical discomfort of spending 9 hours traveling with a 3rd degree tear that makes me feel like my Cookie has officially crumbled and trying to breastfeed in cramped quarters…but you know what?

Baby H is such a gift that I am so grateful to be able to love and spend time with him. Especially when I didn’t know if it would ever happen for me.

Note: This was written yesterday November 28th.

Baby H is (hopefully) coming soon and moving cross-country…

Baby H is due (in my mind) any day now. Well, technically his due date is November 23 (yes, Black Friday!) so almost 2 weeks from now but there are several reasons why I am fixated on him arriving next week at 39 weeks.

I don’t even know where to begin when talking about my anxiety as I hopefully turn the corner to meet my baby boy.

Well, let’s see…my husband’s job has been transferred to Las Vegas meaning he has been there for the past six weeks setting up our new place and working in his new position. Here in New York, I have been growing increasingly round, uncomfortable, and a little emotionally unhinged. Additionally, I have traveled throughout a good portion of the state for work which has been exhausting to say the least. The logistics of the move have been frustrating as we didn’t know that the transfer was happening for certain until my last trimester. Now we are tasked with schlepping a newborn baby cross country at two weeks old.

Did I mention that our thirty-day notice means we have to be out of our NY townhouse by December 1st? See how that doesn’t make him 2 weeks old if born on his due date which I know is rare? Did I also mention that we have paid rent TWICE this month to cover both of our places? Did I fail to remind you that I have a dog whose poo has to be picked up daily, trash that needs to be taken out, and packing that surely needs to start happening and I will be 38 weeks on Friday? I’ve been doing this all (and more…well minus the packing) by myself with just a waddle and a dream for the past 6 weeks. Fortunately, my husband will return this Saturday to begin the moving process but as usual with my life: that’s not all…

So if your head is not already pounding, please remember that this is my first pregnancy after losing Marième 3 years ago. She passed away on Halloween morning and I was induced on November 1st and gave birth to her on November 2nd which means this last week has been emotional hell on wheels because I am so exhausted and uncomfortable. I REALLY want this pregnancy to be over (shoot, I sort of NEED it to be over to move) but I am not a stranger to a pregnancy spontaneously ending for absolutely no reason. I am not immune to the years of grief and depression that follow as I tried to make sense of how and why my baby didn’t live. I am also certain that I am not a titan of strength that can push through my worst fear: losing another baby.

I cannot lie and say that I am the pillar of hope for pregnancy after loss because my mind has gone to some really dark places lately. However, I have had a really great medical team this time around which is another reason I was adament about remaining in New York until after his birth. Due to my second trimester loss, my doctor has had me do weekly NSTs (non-stress tests) since 32 weeks. Last Monday I knew that I was going to lose my mind when the baby was nonreactive on the test. His heartbeat was strong but they didn’t see the accelerations and de-accelerations that they wanted within a specific timeframe. This prompted them to do a biophysical profile to rule out complications and a possible early induction. Waiting to go back for an ultrasound felt like a lifetime of loneliness as I was at the appointment alone. I felt a wave of grief pass over me as I started to mourn the bit of hope that I lost in the instant that I was told the NST was nonreactive. I was also angry because my husband is working without feeling the physical and emotional weight of what the next test could mean.

But Baby H passed his test without problems. They think he’s just lazy/has a steady sleeping schedule which he refuses to compromise for anything. Yes, this includes juice, water, and changing positions. His head was down and he seems to be enjoying it quite a bit in there.

I continue to hope that I get to hold him and dress him in the clothing that I washed this past weekend. I am not too confident that we will ever have another child but I have so many hopes and dreams for Baby H. I just haven’t had the luxury of sinking deep into them knowing that at any second it could all be over. And then what?

So I guess to wrap up this long update: my doctor said that we can talk about induction next week as I would know when and how he is coming. I cannot wait to meet him. I desperately beg The Universe to let me hold my healthy, living child. Nothing would make me happier or more grateful for this life right now.

A second pregnancy on National Rainbow Baby Day

I can confirm that after two lines, three ultrasounds (including an anatomy scan), and many months of all-day sickness that I am expecting a baby boy in November.

While everyone “in real life” knows, I have struggled immensely with writing about it. Maybe its because the written word is so concrete when pregnancy still feels so uncertain. Maybe it’s because I am scared to find myself, like three years ago, struggling to come to terms with the loss of a baby.

So why now? Well three things.

1) Today at work an older woman asked me if this was my first child. I said yes and she said she had 6 children within 9 years. Prior to the first baby she had two tubal pregnancies and thought she would never be able to have children. Suddenly I felt guilty because I know it’s not my first child but I automatically assume people will not understand. Losing a child, particularly a child that never crawled, walked, or cried creates these odd silences in your life. When someone asks me how many children I have, I get silent–waiting for the “right” response to bounce off my tongue. When I am lying in bed and I think about finally meeting him, I remember what it was like the last time. I pushed through unbearable pain just like all the women down the hall but it was only me whose room grew silent once it was all over. No cries from her and no cries from me. Just silence. The same silence that followed me home that evening but a quiet room means nothing to restless mind. And that’s the way every. single. day. felt for two years. So why did I think it would be a good idea to try this pregnancy thing again?

2) I lost Marième at 26 weeks. She was born on November 2. I am due on November 23. Being a little over 26 weeks breaks my heart again for the void that I will never be able to fill. Sometimes Marième seems like some imaginary child that I conjured up for the heck of it but then he moves and I remember just how real it all was/is. And there was/is nothing I can do. It could all be over in one night’s sleep and what will I do then?

3) I have been able to distract myself with work and our impending move cross country (that will be addressed in another post) but as the months wear on, I just want him here. I want to finally hold him and be at peace that he made it safely on the other side. Yes, I have heard “you will never not worry” about your child. I understand that. However, unless you have struggled to bring one child safely into the world, until you have held your baby whose eyes will never blink back at you, whose mouth will never crease into a smile, or whose shrieks will never pierce your ears, you will never understand the relief of just being able to see them everyday. You cannot fathom what it’s like to be told that you can only hold your baby for so long because they will start to turn colors. You cannot fathom what it feels like to realize today is National Rainbow Baby Day and you are still not sure that the baby you are carrying will be your be your rainbow because the finish line is so far away.

None of these thoughts are particularly uplifting, I have no answers to my problems and maybe that is the real reason I couldn’t announce that we are expecting a baby.

I want to control how the narrative of the second pregnancy/second baby will end. I wanted to write about him after his arrival because I’m too frightened to write about happiness and my hopes/dreams, only for him to be gone while my words live on. I guess I just don’t want to remember how much I love him if I will never be to tell him.

4 Things I Will Do This Year

  1. Turn my townhouse into a home. My rent is going up when I sign my new lease and I am not happy about it but I promised myself that I would not move. I have never lived in a space longer than two years. I would like to change that. I bought two cute nightstands this weekend to remind myself that I will make this place home. Moving was a necessity for most of my life so I have no idea what permanence looks like despite the fact that I am in charge of my life. I will learn.
  2. Run my first 5K. I said I would run a 5K five years ago. It never happened but this year will be different. I found a race whose proceeds benefit people in need of grief counseling. Additionally, runners can have a picture of the person/people they are running for posted in the grief counseling office. So on Sunday, July 22 I will run for my mother and my daughter. Running is such a tough, yet mentally-clarifying sport that I cannot think of any better way to honor their lives than to push myself to live–for them.
  3. Continue working towards fluency in French. It’s been forever since I poured through my French grammar books, spent the entire day speaking French, and just immersed myself completely in the language. Fortunately, I still have solid oral comprehension skills. I just have to rebuild my written and oral production skills.
  4. Give Meetup a try. In case you are unaware, Meetup is an app that allows users to find local groups that mesh with their personal interests. I have lived in my current city for 2.5 years but due to graduate school, depression, and life in general, I have not been nearly as social as I normally would. I am ready to get out and meet people but every time a  Meetup reminder pops up on my phone, I chicken out.  I really need to get over the social anxiety and just go for it. Like yesterday. Fortunately there is a local French conversation group so I might be able to knock goal #3 and #4 out all at once!

I have a good feeling about this year. Hopefully things continue to “look up”.

Health Update March 2018

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chödrön

In February 2016, I decided to get brutally honest with myself and post about my struggle to lose postpartum depression weight. Although I was still in the deep trenches of grief, I thought that losing weight would save me from myself.

The weight gain seemed to confirm everything that I thought about myself. I was doomed to become my parents. My estranged dad has struggled with emotional eating since I can remember. Surely this was a sign of things to come.

Focusing on “the inevitable” fueled my insecurity and by the time I returned home after a summer internship, my weight jumped to 188 lbs.

In September 2016, I told myself that although I wanted to lose all the weight by May 2017 (my original graduation date), my immediate goal was to feel comfortable being physically active in public again. I stumbled many times but by December 2018 I was 180 lbs. I made it all the way to 163 lbs in April 2017 which is when I started to really take myself serious. Since then, I have waffled back in forth between 156 and 162 (I temporarily hit 154 in September/October).

From the outside, the pounds lost and length of time might seem pitiful or impressive, (depending on your outlook on these sorts of things) but my story is much more complicated than the remaining 12 pounds. While trying to avoid crippling sadness and anger that I have felt for over a decade, I turned my body into a prison. I have starved myself of a vital nutrient needed for growth. Hope.

I thought that imitating happiness made it appear.

I thought that if no one saw you cry, that it meant that you were okay.

I thought that if I could just gain control of everything around me, everything would fall into place.

Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.

Hope is not here to reaffirm everything I already know about life. Hope is here to awaken my weary spirit to the possibilities of what this world can be. Hope has reminded me that there is still a place for me if I am willing to welcome her into my life.

So how am I going to get over this last hump? I’m going to learn the damn lesson. I’m going to fight for my place. I finally believe that I deserve it.

To my husband on a very quotidian day…

Dear Love,

Thank you for being a great person. Thank you for always supporting me and providing a rational voice in the midst of life’s chaos. We don’t always agree and we don’t always know the right words to say but everyday we try. We try to be better individuals  and we try to treat one another with the respect and dignity that we deserve.

I am beyond lucky to call you my partner because life ain’t easy but with you–love is.

I am appreciative that you came into my life when you did. I have learned so much in a relatively short time. I have learned to be an adult, to forgive, to love, to lose, to grieve, to move on…

You have so many qualities that I admire. To name a few: you are a natural born leader. You lead by example, not force, not by demand. You are a natural lover because you love without conditions, nor do you seek anything in return. You are my husband because you have such a subtle yet silly sense of humor and you don’t just “get” my corniness. You find it endearing. You bring peace and calm to our home. You bring positivity and joy to my life. 

I love you times a million (and one–depending on if you remembered to vacuum the stairs this week 😁 ).

Love, 

Poupinette

The job hunt is (finally!) over…

Testing, testing, 1,2,3. Quarter-life crisis averted because I got the job that I wanted. What an amazing belated birthday present!

So I have a present for you, dear reader–a two-part series on my experience as a temp worker for one of the world’s worst employers.
I began working at a manufacturing plant in the middle of October, shortly after learning that I did not get a case manager position. According to the temporary agency that placed me, this job was a perfect fit with my education and experience (please insert an aggressive eye roll). I was even told that the other temporary worker had a similar professional background.
Based on the job description, I arrived to work thinking that I would be given administrative duties. I was told to wear steel toe boots, protective eyewear, and earbuds when ‘out on the floor’ (aka outside of the office with the machines and assembly workers) but in the office to dress casually. While on a tour of the building, I made a mental note to style myself à la Rosanne-show.
Sporting this ridiculous attire, I arrived for my first day of work. My supervisor, Myra provided absolutely no direction or training. Instead, she relied on the other temporary worker Anne, to teach me everything she knew. Myra also mentioned that I should get used to hearing her talk on the phone with her husband throughout the day (at the time I remember thinking it was an odd thing to tell your new employee but goodness, now I understand). During lunch, Anne gave me the rundown on how poorly the job fit our shared backgrounds. My position required that I write “work instructions”. Simply explained, a work instruction is the manual upon which assembly workers build commercial machines. Dear reader, please understand, I have never had any mechanical inclinations. So when I learned that my days would be spent talking about hardware, photographing and photoshopping the assembly process, writing instructions that mostly no one would read anyways (because people only care about the photos) I found myself…
…whoops, sorry, I almost feel asleep just talking about it!
Fortunately for you, dear reader, you can enjoy my not so lovely-foray into manufacturing hell for a meager price of FREE NINETY NINE. Stay tuned for:
Part 1 Hyper-masculinity, Sexual Harassment, and Cubical Asylum and
Part 2 Two Week Notice: The Journey to The (Never) End

“Don’t push the panic button!”/I didn’t get the job…

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed from a date night with two Unisom gel capsules. I knew that my potential job at the behavioral healthcare clinic would be making their ‘final decision’ today but I told myself to not stress out. After all, I had been given all the signs that I had the job. No, seriously. The interviewer/potential supervisor told me that she wanted me on board and introduced me to someone in the Human Resources department, she showed me the office that I would temporarily have to share, and she even told me that she was sending all my documents to Human Resources right away (because the company is notorious for taking forever to process job applications).

The prospective supervisor turned out to be right on the mark. The process took forever but I tried to remember that she said she wanted me on her team.

So imagine my horror when I checked my email this morning and saw this:

Dear Dominique,

Thank you very much for your interest in employment opportunities with [insert company name]. I am writing to inform you that we have selected a candidate whom we believe most closely matches the job requirements of the position.

We appreciate you taking the time to interview with us and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Best regards,

[Insert company name]

Say WHAT now?!

Cue my distressed, angry tears and you can picture the scene in my bedroom this morning.

I am not angry that I did not get the job so much as I am about them making me feel like I was a shoe-in and prolonging my rejection. I mean, really? I thought I had the job because she SAID I had it. Not to mention HR called me like 80 million times during the process “to collect more information” as if there was anything else left to collect besides a map of my genetic code!

However…at least I know. I didn’t get the job and it is okay.

Now what am I going to do? The job that I thought I was transitioning into fell through and I am now without an income.

I wasted spent several hours trying to figure out why is life so damn unfair to me and now I guess, I have sort of sucked it up and accepted my fate. I’m not ashamed to admit that I briefly goaded myself for quitting my other job without officially securing a new one but then I read my last post that reminded me why I left and what lessons I have learned.

On the bright side, reading my post sparked my creative light. Just the other day, I took a Meyer’s Briggs test. I have taken various versions of this test before. So far as an adult I have consistently been labeled an INFJ. Careers that are suggested for INFJs include: public health educator, author, counselor, nutritionist, interior designer, technical writer, editor, librarian ect.

The key to career success for this personality type is a job position that appreciates their creative thinking, stimulates personal growth, and impacts someone else’s life. Without these components, INFJs become depressed from wasting their energies on things that seem of no importance to the world.

It is amazing how on-point this is for me. I have considered many of the careers listed (minus interior designing because ya girl has absolutely no decorating bones in her body, seriously) but I guess I have been too pig-headed to really contemplate how to get there. Writing professionally has been a dream of mine since I learned how to write. I gave it up shortly before college when I got tired of hearing, “you’ll never make money writing”.

I decided I would continue to write as a hobbyist and find “real” work but maybe this is my real work, I am unsure. For now, I will continue blogging, searching for volunteer opportunities to get out the house/continue building skills, and browsing job boards. Forgot to mention, I have decided to apply for freelance writing positions as well because…why not? What else do I have to lose? My imaginary job? Ha!

All I can do is remain calm and gently remind myself, “Don’t push the panic button!” because it will be okay…in due time.