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Being a Mom

13 Oct

My gorgeous baby boy was born on June 21st, about two and a half weeks early.  We went in for an induction because I developed gestational hypertension at 36 weeks, and my blood pressure kept spiking.  After more than 24 hours of labor, I ended up having a c-section because he just wouldn’t drop and he was facing the wrong direction.

I am very thankful for modern medicine because when they went in the cord was wrapped around his neck and body several times, so a natural delivery would have been extremely dangerous for him.  The goal was to have a happy, healthy baby, and that’s exactly what happened.  He weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and measured 20.5 inches long.  He had a full head of hair and the most beautiful blue-gray eyes.

Being a mom is an amazing experience.  I used to wonder if I had what it took because I have never been someone who’s only desire was to raise children.  I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted a kid until I met my husband.  Making the decision to get pregnant was easier than I thought it would be, but also very scary because of all of the unknown.  It’s funny how much motherhood has changed everything and nothing at the same time.

How can that be?  Obviously, my entire routine is different.  Caring for another human dictates so much of my life.  My body is providing the only nutrition for a little person. That’s an awesome responsibility and a great bonding experience.  Now that I have to pump all of the time at work it has lost some of the “magic,” but it’s still really cool that I am helping him grow and develop.  Seeing him change every day and watching him experience new things has brought wonder and joy into every day.

The first few weeks were really tough, of course, but not as difficult as people would have me believe.  Learning to breastfeed was a challenge, feeding every 2-3 hours through the night was exhausting, and there were definitely moments when I wondered how anyone does this with more than one.  Baby snuggles are priceless, though, and seeing his little face made it worth it.  Even running on barely any sleep, one look at him would give me the strength and energy I needed to push through.  We’ve got an exceptionally good baby, too…  Seriously, he’s amazing.  Not only is he the cutest thing in the entire world (despite my obvious bias, I still maintain that this fellow is ridiculously handsome), but he barely ever cries unless it is clear what he needs and he’s been sleeping for 6-8 hour stretches at night for months.

I am definitely a different person now.  I take a million pictures and only ever post about him on social media.  I am an expert in things like baby wearing and what different color poop means and how to sanitize bottles.  I track exactly how much he eats and sleeps, and I have become extremely organized (at least in his room).  I have learned that cute outfits are overrated, footie pajamas are fantastic, and it is possible for a baby to projectile poop over 2 feet.  Speaking of poop, I have been pooped on, peed on, puked on, drooled on, and been bit, poked, scratched, and even punched.  Motherhood is so glamorous…  Still, I feel like a piece of me is left behind every time I walk out of the door to go to work.

At the same time, I am still me.  I haven’t lost myself in a new identity of “mom” like I was afraid I might.  Now that I’m back at work, I still have that identity as a boss and employee.  I get to have at least one meal a day where I can take my time and not eat around a baby’s head.  I still enjoy the things I enjoyed before and listen to and watch the same things I did.  I’m sure I’ll have to listen to annoying kids music and watch Sesame Street a million times later, but for now my son watches Game of Thrones and Grey’s Anatomy with me and seems to love rap (he’s wearing a Wu-Tang onesie today).

My relationship with my husband didn’t suffer. If anything, it has gotten stronger.  He held our son while I was shaking and puking from low blood pressure for three hours after the delivery.  He swaddled and changed him more in the first few weeks than I did.  He was awake and helping during those long nights, bringing him to me to nurse and handling everything else.  Seeing him being nurturing and loving and a wonderful Dad only deepened the love I have for him.  I am grateful every day to have such an amazing, supportive, handsome, caring husband.

Being a good parent is sexy, so having a baby hasn’t negatively impacted our sex life too much, either.  If something is important, you prioritize it, and my relationship with him is the foundation of our family.  I refuse to let that get ignored or pushed to the side.  Certainly, if the baby is crying and needs something immediately, we take care of it, but babies sleep.  It helps that even when I’m exhausted I find my husband irresistible, and being in his arms recharges me.

That first cuddle on the hard hospital bench after days of pain and stress is one of my favorite moments.  I could feel everything else melt away -it didn’t matter that my c-section site hurt, we hadn’t eaten a decent meal or slept more than an hour and a half at a stretch in days, my nipples ached, or that we had to spend an extra day in the hospital because the baby was jaundiced and my blood pressure was still too high…  Everything was perfect and right in the world because he was there with me, and we were getting through it all together.  Just thinking about that makes me relax and tear up a little.

So, I’m a different version of the same person.  I have a stronger appreciation for my husband.  I have a new perspective on life.  I have the cutest, sweetest, happiest son.  I also have a pile of laundry to do, a house that needs to be cleaned, and a permanent case of sleep deprivation.  But it’s all okay.  More than okay…  Wonderful.  I wouldn’t trade this version of me or my life for anything.

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Last Name

11 Oct

I never get tired of my new last name. It’s great.

I love the way it sounds, the way it’s spelled, the way it fits with my first name.

Most of all, I love that it’s his.

That he gave it to me.

On our second date we walked into a restaurant and had to give a name so they could call us when our table was ready. He gave his last name. I recall thinking that could be my last name one day.

Now it is.

Now it’s the name I give when I’m waiting for a table.

It’s the name I sign on the bottom of my pottery.

It’s the name our babies will have.

The name I’ll live with until I die.

It’s a good name, and I’m honored and happy and still excited that it’s mine.

Engaged!

29 Oct

On October 25th around 2:00 am I got engaged to the love of my life.  He woke me up with an air horn.  My first thought was “that is a terrible sound for a fire alarm.”  Then he flipped on the light and blew it again.  I was already laughing.  He started walking over to the bed with a box in his hand, and I knew what was happening.  He said, “I wanted to give you this.”  I opened it up and saw the most beautiful piece of jewelry that I’ve ever put my eyes on.

Still in a daze from being woken up suddenly to a loud noise, light, and sooo much sparkle, I jumped out of bed and ran over to my closet.  I fumbled with my hamper, trying to get behind it to where I’d hidden the watch I got him as an engagement gift.  I asked him if he could blow the horn again.  He did, and I handed him the bad and told him “I wanted to give you this.”  I think I hugged him, but I can’t even recall.

What I do remember clearly is telling him that I had to go make sure that Buddy, my 11-year-old cocker spaniel, hadn’t had a heart attack.  I couldn’t stop laughing, but I managed to get the dog soothed and outside.  He came into the living room, and I left the kitchen to meet him, still laughing.  That’s when I do finally remember giving him a huge hug and kiss.

He opened the watch a few minutes later while we were sitting in bed together.  Once my pulse got back to normal and the laughing stopped, it hit me that I get to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man.  The tears only came after we snapped a picture of both engagement pieces and snuggled up together.  They were happy tears.  I knew it was coming, but the reality was even better than I imagined.

A few weeks ago while we were cuddled on the couch, he kissed me and asked, “Do you want to get married?”  I said, “Yes.”  He said, “Want to look at engagement rings?”  I said, “Sure.”  That started the process of becoming engaged to be married.  We looked at settings together, got my finger sized, and became intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of diamonds.  I got him to accept that I have been wanting to get him a watch for our engagement since I started thinking about it, months and months ago.  He placed an order, and I called a jewelry store to get the watch he told me he wanted.  Less than two weeks later I was getting woken up in the middle of the night and an air horn.  🙂

The proposal was perfect because it is so him.  It is so us.  We constantly laugh together.  I love that it wasn’t some cheesy, cliché thing.  It was simple, fun, and original.  I can hardly wait to be his wife.  We’ve already discussed that we both want something small and simple when the weather is nice.  We’ll figure out the rest later.  What matters to me is the commitment we’ve made to one another.

Here are a few pictures of my amazing ring that I just can’t stop staring at (and a few smiling pictures of me showing it off this morning).  It still doesn’t quite seem real that my life can be so wonderful, but I’m embracing it.  I’m thankful for every single person who listened to me, reached out to me, and helped me realize that I am worth it.

Moving On (And In)

14 Nov

It’s been nearly a month since my last post.  I’m still around and reading other people’s blogs, but I’ve found that there’s not much left for me to add to my own.  This chapter of my life is closed.  I no longer have a burning need to write so that I can process.  I don’t have unspoken words and tumbling thoughts weighing me down anymore.  I don’t need to put my feelings on paper to sort through them.  I’m happy, but more than that, I’m content and secure.

I’ve been blogging here for over a year and a half.  I came to WordPress with no purpose or goal, no expectations, and no clue what I was doing.  Slowly I gathered followers and found other people writing about infidelity and its devastating effects.  Many of the people who started blogging at the same time as me have slowly disappeared.  Some said goodbyes, others vanished with no word, and a few are still around typing away.  I’ve decided that I’m now part of the first group: it’s time for me to close up shop and move on.

This blog will remain open.  I still get emails and comments from readers nearly daily, and I will continue responding.  My stats tell me that somewhere around 800 people are reading each day.  I have nearly 200,000 unique hits since my journey began.  I’m still amazed that many people would take the time to read even a portion of this little snapshot of my life.  I am honored and get a bit emotional when something I’ve written has actually helped someone come to a realization, make a decision, feel better about him or herself, feel understood, or otherwise be positively affected.

Thank you

You all have positively affected my life in many ways, too.  All 635 of my followers, in one way or another.  Some of you have been pillars of strength and reason and wisdom for me.  Many of you have shared deeply personal stories and experiences that helped me understand my own.  I’ve laughed along with you, been moved to tears by comments, and come to many realizations.  I found acceptance, validation, and hope through some of my darkest moments and times when there didn’t seem to be any good choices.  I learned that I wasn’t alone.  I made lifelong friends.  Every single “Like” and follow gave me confidence and a sense of belonging that I didn’t have before.

Maybe it sounds silly to get all of that from a blog.  And from virtual strangers from all over the world sitting behind a computer, on a phone, or otherwise connected to this great web of communication called the internet.  I did, though.  In a strange way that I can’t quite explain, writing this, telling my story, working through my feelings in the “open,” and relating to others through comments here and on other blogs caused me to know myself in a way I never had.  It crystalized my feelings about myself: who I am, what I need, and how I want to live my life.  For that, I can’t thank you all enough.

This blog has helped me discover myself and what I want so effectively that I no longer need it.  Instead of a required outlet it has become an afterthought.  Worse, it sometimes feels like a drain – I just don’t have the time or inclination to keep it up.  Rather than feel guilty or obligated (due to my people-pleasing nature) and limping along with half-hearted posts, I would like to make a graceful exit.  Well, as graceful as I can manage.  😉

I will, however, leave you with one final update.  This move away from my blog coincides with another move: in with Tony.  It will be a gradual process, but it has already started.  I’ve got (almost literally) mountains of things to sort through at my house – pictures, movies, nicknacks, household items, multiple dressers and closets (and part of a room) full of clothes that have accumulated for decades, and more.  Thankfully, things can move at a leisurely pace because I will be renting some space in my house to my sister.  Rather than worry about getting rid of old furniture, moving in one weekend, or having to sell, I can focus on the warm fuzzies and enjoy the process.  I’ve already got my own closet and towel rack, all of my necessities, and I’m filtering things in as I have the time, inclination, and desire.  More importantly, I’ve got a warm bed to sleep in every night with an amazing man who I love (and who loves me) very, very much.  What more could a girl want?

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Learning to Be Vulnerable

20 Oct

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Last Friday morning I was in my car, parked on the street around the corner from work, trying to get my emotions under control.  I had tears streaking down my cheeks, runny mascara, and a splotchy face.  I wasn’t crying because something horrible happened.  Those tears weren’t bad at all.  However, I’ve been conditioned to feel embarrassed by tears and to put on a happy face all of the time.  That’s part of the reason I was crying.  They were tears I’ve been holding back for who knows how long.  Maybe most of my life, in one way or another.

Every so often I get a comment from someone telling me that I should drop the “mess” part of my blog title.  I have extracted myself from the most apparent mess in my life, but there’s still a lot left.  Besides the fact that I’m a horrible housekeeper (as Tony can attest), I’m a mess in other ways as well.  Crying alone in the car before work is one of those ways.  Actually, isolated somewhere behind a closed door is just about the only way I let myself cry.

My upbringing and personality and the circumstances of my life have left me with a very thick outer wall.  I’m incredibly sensitive and emotional and sentimental, but I’ve trained myself not to be.  I’m the oldest child.  A woman in a man’s industry.  The daughter of a father with no empathy and grandmothers with no filter, tact, or “warm fuzzies.” I am the product of a household that was full of countless rules, one of which was something like “suck it up.”

My youngest sister was deemed “the sensitive one.”  I was the smart one, the tough one, the tomboy, or “the mouth.”  I was instructed to hold my tongue, stay in line, and do what I was told without question.  I was constantly reminded when I failed at those tasks. Disappointing my parents felt like the end of the world, yet I seemed to do it often. A large part of that was my own perception and pressure from inside to be perfect, a goal that I now know is impossible to reach.  87629344_XS In an effort to fix myself and hide my “flaws,” I made myself be the strong one, the positive one, the rational one. I tried to always be in control of my emotions whether it was with my family, at work, or just in general.

Those are difficult patterns to unlearn, and hard roles to break free from. I’m in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with a wonderful man.  He loves and accepts and understands me.  He makes me laugh, he surprises me every day with his intellect and creativity, and he’s very caring.  We talk about all sorts of things.  Subjects or conversations that would have been awkward or caused jealousy or fear in the past are comfortable and natural.  Still, I find myself falling into negative patterns of holding back, putting up a front, or concealing my feelings.

I have managed to share this blog with Tony, although it was a very scary thing to do.  The first few moments after I gave him the link I felt cracked open, exposed, and incredibly vulnerable. Those are emotions I don’t handle well. But I wanted to give him this important piece of myself. Writing is very cathartic, and I can express myself so more fully with time to consider (in fact, I’ve been working on this post for more than a week now).  Things also come out that I didn’t realize or understand before I put them into words.

After my last post about meeting his parents, Tony texted me that I don’t have to hide what’s going on in my head or be afraid or embarrassed of telling him how I feel.  At first I wasn’t even sure what he meant. Internalizing is so routine that I don’t recognize how much I do it.  I have a filter inside that automatically blocks off emotions, tells me that I’m wrong or silly to feel the things I feel, and covers those perceived flaws with a mask of confidence and happiness. After a moment of considering his comment, I realized how incredibly true it was.

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That mask, which I’m not even aware of wearing because it has become so comfortable and commonplace, slipped. I was driving to the office after visiting a new store location, and I had to pull over. As we continued to text, tears were silently falling from my eyes. He told me that I don’t have to worry about packaging my thoughts. I expressed how that goes against basically everything I was taught as a kid and years of punishments for saying things that I shouldn’t have (by someone else’s standards).

I texted that I’m working on worrying less and opening up more, but when I’m a complete mess it feels safer to pretend I’m more confident than I am in the hopes that I’ll convince myself it’s the truth. It feels weird to be vulnerable and expose my insecurities because I’m still halfway convinced that he’s way too good for me and he’s going to realize that any day. He told me to unconvince myself, and to talk to him when I feel that way. I said that I try to be the person I want to be and that he deserves instead of the ugly dork with no social skills that no one liked, which is what I was growing up and how I still feel a lot of the time.

Then he said something that really made the waterworks flow. He told me that I don’t have to try to be anything with him… To just be. That it’s the whole point. I was nearly sobbing by then. I put a lot of pressure on myself and hold back my emotions most of the time. It was like a valve releasing those pent up feelings, and they rushed out at once, with great force. It was also astounding to be accepted and loved exactly as I am. That is something I’ve rarely experienced, partly because haven’t allowed myself to expose the things that I dislike. To be encouraged to show my perceived flaws and have someone love those things, which I can’t even do for myself, was overwhelming. Knowing I have someone to reassure and build me up, even at my worst, gave me permission to let go and be a sap, even for just a few minutes.

It also scared me because I wondered if I even know how to do that. The next several hours the question kept rolling around in my head, “Do I even know who I am if I’m not trying to be something else?” At first, I panicked a little because I wasn’t sure. I could think of a few words to describe myself: loving, honest, funny, sexual, genuine, intelligent, talented, and definitely insecure.   Those seemed generic and flat as a descriptor of who I am because they are just a little portion of who I am.  So many other things began coming to mind… I snort when I laugh, forget names, and talk way too much.  I’m a people-pleaser with a deviant streak, and a stubborn, emotional mess.

All of that and more makes me who I am. As Tony pointed out, those less than perfect parts are what make me human. And interesting. And he loves me for them. Despite my efforts to put on a mask and polish over the rough spots and pretend to have it all together, he sees me. The real me. Sometimes maybe better than I see myself. It’s my job to let him, and I’m going to keep practicing.

Meeting the Parents

10 Oct

Last night I got to meet Tony’s parents.  He’s met mine.   We did dinner out with my Mom and step-Dad followed by a night at the fair (and a rodeo) a bit later, and dinner with my Dad and step-Mom.  He met my grandma when my band was playing at the State Fair last weekend.  I’ve met his sister (twice), her boyfriend, and a cousin during a very fun day/ evening.  His parents were on vacation during some of that time, but this week we set a time for dinner.  At their house.  Where Tony and I would cook.

I was really excited and glad to get to meet them.  I was also kind of a nervous wreck.  I left work early so that I could swing by my place, pick up more clothes (not content with the original selection I brought), and go to Tony’s house to shower and get ready.  By the time he got there after swinging by to pick up the steaks for dinner, I was mostly done.  I was freshly scrubbed and plucked with minty breath. My hair was dried and straightened with a big round brush.  I had on the perfect amount of make-up that made me look fresh, rosy, and bright-eyed.  I had on a touch of jewelry (earrings and my watch).  I had my shoes and jacket picked out and standing by to be put on. I appeared fairly calm and confident.  For all he could tell I only changed once before we left (just switching for a different shirt).

What to wear

In reality, I had already tried on what seems like 100 outfits.  It wasn’t quite that many, but I got started at lunch.  I was having a hard time finding something that was not too casual, not too dressy, not too formal, etc. that I could cook in without looking awkward or like a sloppy mess.  It’s funny how on days when I don’t try or even care I can put together a killer outfit, but when it’s something important I can’t seem to find a damn thing that looks halfway decent.  I tried on several dresses (which I discarded as not practical with three dogs in the house and cooking to do), jeans (which I decided weren’t quite right), countless tops and bottoms, and something like 5 different pair of shoes before settling on an outfit that was comfortable but probably still a little too much (dress slacks, a printed top with 3/4 length sleeves, and boots).

Outside I looked okay.  Not spectacular, but definitely passable.  I think I even did a pretty good job of hiding my nerves.  In theory.  I actually reached out to several friends and my Mom throughout the day for reassurance.  In fact, there was a whole pep-talk going on in my head.  It went something like this:  “I’m sure that they’ll like me just fine.  I’m sweet and smart and kinda funny. I know how to talk to people, I’m pretty engaging, and I don’t think I’ll say anything offensive. Plus, I really love their son.”

In my heart, I didn’t think that they would hate me or anything.  But he’s a really special guy, and he’s close to his parents. I knew they’d be evaluating me to see if I’m good enough for their baby, at least on some level.  I’ve also never done the whole “meet the parents” thing.  It was completely new to me, so I had nothing to base it on.  The real reason I was nervous, though, is that he’s very important to me, and I wanted to make a good first impression.

In the end, I don’t think I did anything stupid. I met his parents, who are incredibly sweet, their adorable dogs, and his youngest brother. We cooked an amazing dinner, had good conversations, and it was very comfortable. I didn’t feel awkward in the least. It actually felt more like it could have been the 100th time I’d been over there, and I was just part of the gang. It was wonderful, and I’m still floating a little.

When I found this picture today, I had to laugh, though. I had something similar float through my mind (not about his nipples). And I did much more than that when we got home. 😉

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When You “Just Know”

29 Sep

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My last post included the tidbit that I’m in love with Tony.  I spoke the words out loud just shy of two weeks after meeting him.  That would have felt fast to me before.  This time I could barely hold out that long.  There was no doubt in my mind when I said it, either.  I was, and am, certain.

It’s hard to explain how I can be so sure so fast, especially to people who have known me for a while. I’ve fallen in love before, or at least felt romantic love for someone, but it was a gradual process – not like “falling” at all. I now know what that phrase means for the first time.

If you had asked me six months ago if it was possible to truly be in love after two weeks, I probably would have laughed, or at least said it wasn’t likely. I always thought that love had to develop slowly over time. I wasn’t shy about sharing that belief, either. Anything else, in my mind, was just lust. Or delusion. Or infatuation.

I told my sister, more than once if I recall correctly, that she couldn’t possibly be “in love” yet. I made fun of Taylor Swift and her new “love” every 5 seconds. I still believe that real love is rare, not something you can find with every stray guy who crosses your path. I have also discovered that love is powerful, though. It can grab you in an instant, overpower you, and bury itself deep.

I understand a lot of things now that I didn’t before. I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché that you “just know” when you find the person you’re supposed to be with.  That “knowing” feeling is something I never believed in, either. How could you know something like that? There’s no way to predict the future. I thought that maybe, as time passed, it was possible to make an educated guess about whether a relationship could work out long-term. But I had never experienced certainty, “knowing,” or an overwhelming feeling that another person was “it.” I denied that existed because I couldn’t fathom it.

All of those beliefs have been blown out of the water. It is possible to feel love – real, deep, consuming, mature, developed love – in a relatively short amount of time. There is an accelerated process that hardens and cures love, like a kiln, and the heat between two people can set it in motion. The “knowing” is a quiet certainty that you don’t want to let the other person out of your life. It’s being sure that you’ve found something exceptional and right that must be held tight.

I’ve got that with Tony. Even in the hours before met him, there was an easiness to our jokes that was exciting. I was hit by the thought that this could be very special as I was sitting across from him the first time.  In the days that followed, even before I saw him again, I found myself opening up and sharing all sorts of things. There was electricity in the air on our second date. Every touch was charged, while feeling familiar at the same time.  It wasn’t just that I was comfortable with him.  It was something more.  Something deeper. I had the sense that there was no need to pretend or put up a front about anything with him.

Almost since the moment he held me in his arms, he has felt like home. Every new thing I discovered about him has clicked into place – like he was made for me and vice versa.  We just fit. He accepts who I am now, and I accept and love him just the way he is. At the same time, he challenges me to be better with his mere presence in my life. Like the song below, this new love feels like something I’ve known forever, and I’m sure he will keep surprising me. That’s how I know.

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