When Morning Sickness is not just Morning Sickness

Dear Reader,

I am so tired. I am here to talk to you about something that not many know about, and those who do know about it know it all too well. Morning sickness is an often joked about part of pregnancy. Women on television daintily vomit into a trash can and go on about their day. Then, second trimester they are fine. There are women for whom this is a reality, and I am so happy for them, but there are others who laugh at the term ‘morning sickness’ for its inept description of their 9 month personal hell. These women suffer from something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which means severe morning sickness, and I am one of these women.

I am lucky as far as HG sufferers go. Many spend multiple days in the ER getting fluids to keep hydrated enough to survive, let alone nourish their growing baby. I have only one HG related scare that I may have to go into the ER, but I experience enough of the symptoms to tell you that HG is no joke.

Imagine the first day of the flu, you are weak and nothing seems to sit well. You gag at every smell and food is the worst thing you have ever heard of. What if told you that was your life 24/7 for 9 months? I am on medicine for my HG and I still have at least one day a week when every inch of my body is in pain and I can’t even imagine eating. Part of the curse of HG, though, is that this is not just a couple days. You can’t let yourself not eat because you and your baby will starve. So I force down whatever seems like it might not make me nauseous, and not just nauseous like a tummy-ache, but I literally have to sit in a certain position all day and chew ice chips to keep myself from vomiting.(Though I recognize I am lucky that I don’t experience uncontrollable all day vomiting like so many women do.)

What’s worse is stress makes my HG worse. This means that the struggle of trying to figure out what food won’t make me nauseous, just makes me sicker, and feeling the nausea makes me sicker, and having an uncomfortable conversation makes me sicker. I hate myself sometimes for the loss of patience this causes in me with the daughter I already have. She is precious and so well-behaved, but her cry releases cortisol in me which makes me feel like vomiting. So instead of selflessly worrying about what she needs, sometimes I just want to scream at her to stop because it just hurts so much when she cries, and it won’t stop hurting for hours after. I have less patience with other members of my family too, people who normally mildly irritate me, make me furious because my short stressful conversations with them result in a whole day of mindful breathing and panic attack management from how exhausted I am, and again trying not to vomit.

People often say to HG sufferers, “Oh just get someone to help you.” Well, unfortunately our culture has created the do-it-all woman, so now we are expected to do it all. While this may be great for women’s advances in business and careers, family members and friends no longer crowd around any pregnant woman to help her with anything she needs. There are lucky women, and I am lucky in many ways, but there are moments when I hide in the bathroom sobbing that I can’t go on, only to do it again the next day.

I feel so much guilt because I should feel grateful for the help that I have, for not working during this pregnancy(HG at a new job is a nightmare) for family who helps when they can. I am grateful for all of these things. Incredibly grateful. It is impossible to have enough help though, when one spends every day in so much stress and discomfort. This isn’t meant to be a pity party, but just, be there for your pregnant friends and family. Be kind to them, you don’t know what they might be going through silently.

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“Grab her pu***”

Ok, I am not a political person. If you know me at all you know this. I avoid the news like some people avoid horror movies, I have never voted for a candidate who was republican or democrat, I tend to either become silent or leave a conversation if it becomes political even remotely. My husband is the only person who knows many of my political leanings or ideas because I think it sours people and relationships to get into the kind of debate politics tends to spark. However, something came up in my personal life today that I just have to comment on. It is completely irrelevant in some ways because the conversation centered around Trump and whether he is good or bad he is in charge. In some ways, however, it is more than relevant, and will be at any time in any culture.

A person in my life and I were arguing today, honestly I’m not even sure what the argument was about. I thought it was whether or not I had reason to believe Trump was a bad person, but later she said she agreed he was bad but kept defending her side, so I have no idea. The important part of the conversation, however, was that I told her about what Trump said about it being ok for a man to “grab her pu***.” Her immediate response was to tell me that she saw a post on Facebook of women in plunging necklines and she couldn’t help but think “What did they expect?”

Ok. For those of you who already understand why this is an issue, I’ll let you just sit with that for a second.

Imagine the screams that wanted to emerge from me. Suffice it to say, that any true emotion(that disagrees with hers) is not accepted by this person, however, so I was required to keep my calm.

Here we go.

IT IS NEVER OK FOR A MAN TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT A WOMAN.

You may say, “well, duh of course not, but what did they think was going to happen?”

No.

“Don’t you think they are inviting it?”

No.

Just. No.

It is infuriating to me that this kind of ignorance is touted as a real teaching in Christianity. Modesty, which by the way does not mean “Cover every inch of your body, you are disgusting and a temptation,” is taught as if it does. Women are encouraged not to be alone with men, because then we are encouraging them. If a woman wears something too tight, too low, too loose, then we are tempting them. I grew up traditional Catholic with weekly if not daily lectures on modesty, do you know how often I heard men talked to about respecting the wfemale body? Exactly never. I don’t count anti-porn addiction because the way that is taught is really as just another thing for men to blame their bad behavior on.(Not saying porn is ok, in fact that is a huge post for another time.)

I never heard anyone talk about how to respect a woman’s body and boundaries.

[I should note, before I go on, that while I never heard this talk to men growing up, I did have a fantastic college professor who discussed how men should view women, and he helped me to understand what I am talking about in this post.]

Now, first of all, this is a teaching that is not really even necessary for most women, because women have not been taught that anything we do is excused by the clothes that men wear.

Second of all, the example far too frequently used “if you put a great dessert on the table, do you expect people to eat it?” is laughable and demeaning. A woman’s body is not food for a man to take as he wishes. I don’t care if I put cookies out on the table and you eat them. Cookies are not a part of a human being, they do not have consciousness, they do not (as far as we know) have an opinion as to whether or not they are eaten. I could go into the Christian argument that woman’s body is made in the image of God and is therefore sacred, but I’d rather simply say, a woman is a PERSON, not an object.

Those who talk about how women “objectify” themselves by dressing in a certain way, need to reflect on what they are saying. A woman who is a PERSON makes herself an OBJECT because she wears something that does not fit into your guidelines of what is appropriate.

Is that true? Can we accuse a woman of doing that? Women in Africa go topless everyday, are they objects now or still people? When a baby is born naked, are they only an object because they are not wearing clothes? No. And it would be ridiculous to say so. But, you say, these states of dress are appropriate in their culture, or their situation. Back to the Facebook comment, what is and had been for some time the culture of Hollywood? Revealing, provocative styles designed to make a statement are the cultural fashion if you will. A plunging neckline is frequently the mildest of these things, but even a piece that pushes boundaries farther still fits into the culture of that situation.

Those who argue that women are objectifying themselves, are basically saying that a man can treat this kind of woman however he wants because she has made herself an object. No matter what a woman is wearing she still has the basic reasoning and consciousness of self that is the typical way of recognizing personhood. She is and always will be a person, and can NOT be treated like an object.

The argument itself is actually degrading in a deeply sinister way if you think about it. No one argues that a man is compromising his personhood if he wears no shirt, but if a woman wears a deep v, she is no longer a person?

Take a second to think about that.

Why do women only possess personhood if you deem their outfit appropriate?

Honestly, I feel that there’s nothing I can add to that.

Why am I only a person, therefore deserving respect, if I wear what you say I should?

Note: This isn’t meant to be a philosophical essay, or I could have gone into the definition of personhood and argued more academically my points. My point is to say my thoughts on the issue today, and these are them, do with them what you will.

What’s Wrong With Me?

I’m feeling so sad and I don’t even know why. Everything I try to do to make it better makes it worse. I feel like I can barely breathe. Like I can breathe into my stomach but there’s this spot in my chest that just locks up. Am I just afraid I’m going to puke again? Or is this really some deep sadness or exhaustion that just won’t let me move on. What am I even sad about? Is it the sadness of pain and fear I couldn’t feel while I was sick? How do you feel that well enough that it stops hurting inside you. I really thought I was going to die there for a minute, and Willow too. But everything was so awful for both of us that I couldn’t even feel it or it would literally make me vomit. It hurt so much though. I was in so much pain, so humiliated, so disgusting, so tired and weak, hungry and miserable. The world was spinning around me and I shook freezing cold. Willow was so sick too, she almost had to go to ER for fluids and what’s worse is I wouldn’t have been able to go with her. That thought hurts my heart so much. I was so afraid I was going to go into early labor and this baby would die because I was sick, or that because we hadn’t gotten the flu shot Willow and I were going to die. I need to be on Facebook less, I’m getting all these anxieties I never would have thought to have. It was really hard. It only makes it scarier for me that there is worse out there. There are women for whom this is almost daily in their pregnancy. I’m afraid to be them and I’m afraid for them. It is terrifying to be in that much pain. I don’t really know how to express the crippling feeling I have now. All I know is it hurt and it was scary and I’m still scared and it still hurts or rather the memory hurts.

I think part of why I have such a hard time with the little things is that I am so terrified of the big things and everytime the little things happen I am haunted by how bad things could get. I always feel melodramatic for it, but I really did think she was going to die, and me too, and not in a I’m kinda nervous way, in a “ok this is the moment where I just accept it kind of way.”

There was a missile alarm in Hawaii today. They said it was a mistake, nothing was ever wrong, but we have stories of mothers and children hiding in their basements, praying for help. Hurricanes and monsoons and floods and fires are only getting worse every year. Some say there is no climate change, but we have people dying and homeless who are suffering at the ends of something. I am so scared, not just selfishly that these things will happen to me, although that too, but at the fact that they happen at all. How can we live in a world where in one moment everything is ok and peachy and the next minute we are dead, or dying, or wish we were? What kind of a world is this?

Or worse, at the risk of blasphemy, what kind of God is this? Let’s forget for a moment the terrifying thought that some of it may be our own fault, horrifying evils performed by humanity or by their neglect. What kind of God allows the death of a baby inside a mother? Is there anything more horrifying than a mother crying in agony about a baby she never got to touch? What kind of God forbids anything when He knows His people are lost and desperate and the last thing they need is guilt? What kind of God allows the things that are our fault? If you knew, and I mean, really knew that throwing away a can would kill all the baby seals, would you do it? Or is it the sense that what I do doesn’t matter?what difference do I make unless I find a way to do everything, and I can’t do everything so what’s the point of even a little?

I tried to put my babygirl to sleep tonight and she just screamed louder and louder. I felt so helpless. How can there be days when I know exactly what to do and others where she wants nothing more than for me to go as far away as I can get? Am I just selfish wanting to hold her when I thought she was slipping away so recently? How do we live in this world where things could be taken away so quickly? How do I live in a world where this beautiful life inside me could suddenly be gone and I could go through the worst human pain imaginable and never see her face? (Please God protect my baby, I’m just asking) Women have held their lifeless children in their arms. I never held my first and I never will. Women suffer untold horrors to bring life to the world, and horrible things happen to people just minding their own business. But why? It hurts. The whole earth bleeds with our own mistakes and and injuries. Why?

I don’t understand how some people can hear the trite “God brings good out of everything” or “God has a plan,” and think that somehow makes it ok. What plan could ever excuse Rachel crying in the wilderness, or the moment I screamed in my husbands arms about the death taking place inside of me? What plan excuses the children in pain all over the world from starvation or abuse? What plan excuses powerful men who would rather see vast amounts of people die than share a country with them? I pray often that God doesn’t strike me down because I just don’t understand, and I’m afraid I’ll go to hell for saying it. But there are times when the cruelty of the world is suffocating me and I have to say something.

My grief is that of the whole world. (She said arrogantly) I feel the death of Samson for his worst mistake, I feel the sin of Judas and his desperation for forgiveness. I feel the fear of the children in gas chambers, and I feel the anger of a young Adolf denied his chance to speak. I feel the pain of those who have hurt me sometimes more than my own at being hurt, until my own ability to feel rises and comes into my own throat to shred me into tiny bits like carrots in a shredder. (It’s a crass comparison, but that’s the point) I will never be a good enough Catholic because I feel the faith of the Buddhists, and I feel the anger of the atheists, I feel the abandonment of those who would give anything for just one thing to believe in, but can’t.

I guess I know what my sadness is now, but what do you do when your sadness is everything evil that exists? When the fact that pain is an experience that happens is the most painful part of being? When you can’t get air into your chest because something bad will happen to someone in any given minute? How do you stop feeling everyone else’s pain and your own? Is it just forgetting and moving on until something else bad happens and you remember again until you are paralyzed, and then you have to learn to breathe again? Maybe the idea is that I just don’t have the answer and never will, or maybe this is why people go to therapists. Will my counselor teach me how to live with knowing we all die and grieve before we do?

Mistakes

I accessed this blog today, for the first time in almost a year. It was almost an afterthought of sending a poem into an online journal that I have an immense amount of respect for. They write truth, but more importantly, they write what is in my heart. There is nothing more powerful than that in reading, when another person somehow unlocks the deepest caverns of your soul and says what you cannot say for whatever reason.

Anyone who has read this blog for longer than two minutes knows that I struggle with anxiety and depression. These are aggravated by the detrimental self-talk that I learned from a young age. I know they are aggravated by it, and I know I need to learn to stop. Knowing something, though, and practicing it, can be two very different things. The most powerful voice in my head is not even a voice. It is a lock. It is a powerful cage made of the most powerful material imaginable. Me. (My inside voice says I need to clarify, Not that I’m that powerful, it’s the most powerful material inside me because it is me. ;-). )

 

The beauty of a work that speaks into your heart is that, if you have a lock that powerful, whispers from inside are often impossible to hear and even harder to engage. But, if something outside strikes the right note, and the one inside meets it, something strange happens. The bars of the cage ring with the sound, and threaten their own annihilation. That one moment of acceptance, resulting in a near self approval, is the beginning of change. I hope that I will continue ringing this sound until the bars shatter into a million pieces and I become a version of me that is not dead, but truly alive.

Rap

Shut up, I’ve got something to say.

I’m sick of holding my breath

Holding my tongue

In my hand that’s bleeding

From all the times I stabbed it

Waiting for something

someone to free it.

Cuffed like a damn thief

Cuz I was born under the wrong roof

Can’t breathe can’t see can’t eat

Can’t live when the snakes are at your doorway.

Hells not real it’s what you make

It’s what you made for me

Painted for me in your mind in mine

So I could never leave

So I could never breathe never eat

It worked because I was too small to say no

And a kid can only take so much say so

And everyone tells me I should say no

But you wrote me and beat me up against the wall.

 

 

Fat Yoga

i read this article this morning and I was so touched. I have struggled with body image my entire life, probably somewhat influenced by my mothers constant body shaming towards herself. Reading this article really touched me because to me it is what yoga is all about.

People now struggle with body image like crazy, maybe women always did. I mean there were parasols so that women wouldn’t get freckles, corsets that are incredibly unhealthy that sucked their waists in and left their hips out, and who knows what else. I am no exception to that rule. It doesn’t help that now I have gained a lot of weight and I can’t lose it, and I’m not gaining for specific reasons. Someday I need to get hormone testing done to see if that’s why, or maybe it’s allergies to some different food group. I won’t deny I struggle with over eating but part of the problem is that even if I do the work I don’t lose the weight, so when I’m really depressed and want a coke, that five pounds it adds means nothing because I’m just going to keep gaining anyway!

It doesn’t help that my mom spent my entire life talking about how ugly she was. “Mom, you look so nice.” “No, I don’t, don’t lie!” “Don’t take pictures of me!” “I will take your phone if you don’t delete that right now.” And it showed itself in other ways too. I can’t shake the feeling that maybe the reason why she would never let me wear clothes that really fit me, or clothes that were stylish was because she couldn’t because she weighed too much to shop in regular people stores.

Now I weigh too much to shop at regular stores too and I can sympathize with all of that. It makes me so angry to see all the skinny people at the mall when I go to try and see if they have had any big stuff returned from online. And I work retail so that doesn’t help either, so much bitterness when a size 2 complains about never being able to find stuff that fits. At least there is a size that fits her and she doesn’t have to order online, and she can shop without being too ashamed of herself to talk to sales people.

But in yoga class is the one place I get to forget all of that(at least most of the time) I get to remind myself constantly that yoga is about accepting myself and others for where we are. So I am just in the moment and the people at my yoga studio are so welcoming and kind that I don’t even feel that they are judging me. Yoga truly is my sanctuary.

The other thing that touched me is what he said about “one day” being able to do things he can’t do now. My hot yoga teacher is always saying, “and one day” such and such will happen, “and if that is not today there is nothing wrong with that!” And she is one of my favorite yoga teachers because in her class I am safe from all of the daily insults and all of my self grading thoughts. And when she talks about “one day” I believe her. And that’s what really matters and what I need the most. Hope. Yoga is my hope.

Dear Willow Rose,

Tonight, I think of you as I feed a machine. Attached to cords and electricity, I allow them to drain me of your life sustenance so that I can give it to you when you are ready for it. They have to be monitored for the appropriate levels of pull. 

But when your sweet lips are on me, I will be so much more at peace, Your ever gentle angelic ask at my breasts a contrast to the demand of the machine. I will hold your sweet sweet head and cradle you with love, while you move closer and closer to my ventricled closet of love. 

Our loves will unite when you come home to me, heal Willow, so we both can.