an old blog post. :)

As I’m eagerly awaiting news of my newest niece starting her trip Earthside, I find myself checking Molly’s blog even though i know she’s got much bigger things to think about other than writing a new post. :) This made me think of how much I have enjoyed reading her thoughts through her pregnancy and pushed me to get a little journal-y (although every journal I’ve ever begun has possibly 5 entries. It’s not my strong point.)

Anyways, we are at 24 weeks which seems remarkably significant for no reason that I can identify. I am definitely bumping, as my students are delighted to point out at every possible occasion. Maternity clothes are my new best friend and I’m a full convert into the passionate appreciation for stretchy pants club. Is there a club like this? If not, I’ll start one. Anyways…..

Eamon has begun kicking up a storm. It ranges from butterfly brushes that I may have imagined to full-on wallops that have me fairly convinced he will be playing soccer straight from the womb. Last night he did a kick/punch combo that was both impressive in strength and surprising because it showcased just how big he is getting! It never ceases to surprise me and generally happens every hour or so. So far only Andrew and Bex have been able to catch him in action but I have a feeling by Christmas he will be kicking hello to everyone. This constant motion is reassuring at one level because it soothes the constant worry that something disastrous has happened.

On the other hand, it’s been driving (or kicking) home a concept that I often struggle with: I’m never alone. At the most practical level, being pregnant has placed me in constant community with a being that I cannot see, cannot communicate with, and can only sense when he reaches out to me. My solitude and self-dependence is gone because no matter how alone I appear to be, he and I are always interacting with each other’s needs. (I’d love it if he could work out some sort of Morse code instead of making me dizzy, nauseous, or emotional as communication but hey, that’s what all those early childhood development courses I took are for!) It’s a crowded community but he and I are making it work.

The idea of making it work combined with surrendering my own sense of self is one that I’ve been learning over and over again. I think it’s one of the more potent lessons in life and one that is directly driven by God’s plan of marriage. Even though at times I feel like I’m getting a crash course in interdependency, these are actually classes I’ve been taking for years- two and a half of them to be precise. One of my hardest struggles as a newlywed was waiting to make plans till I had talked to Andrew- from social plans, to work commitments, and school schedules suddenly became “our” business rather than just mine. I had to calculate budget and energy with a shared mindset instead of thinking that I could just push though one more thing or cut corners somewhere else. Andrew, as has been a constant pattern in our relationship, has been unfailingly patient with this whole process. Before I’m even close to be ready for the level of self-sacrifice that comes with caring for an infant, I needed lots of practice with things like weekend plans and how much to spend for birthdays.

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In which things fall apart.

Yesterday afternoon while monitoring recess, a student slammed a soccer ball not into the net but into my stomach. It was quite the shot. The ball knocked me back and I sat down abruptly. Thankfully I was with two other teachers who responded perfectly. It was late in the day so Andrew was on campus and one teacher immediately went to find him. Mia, my coteacher, helped me get up and we headed into the building. Andrew was there for his afternoon job but was able to get off of work. I was feeling mainly sore and in shock but we couldn’t get Eamon to move around so our midwife recommended going to the ER. The closest one was called Grace- a good sign I thought. :) I have to say, of all the ER places I have been, this one was the best. They gave us excellent service and attention with focused and cheerful care. They even had crushed ice for me! We were there about 4 hours before we left with some very mixed news.

The good news is that Eamon doesn’t seem to be injured, my water didn’t break, and there wasn’t any bleeding. That’s wonderful short term news. The bad news was rather staggering though. My iron levels have plummeted again which has my midwife very concerned. She will be reaching out to the obgyn that she partners with to discuss further options but homebirth is looking like a long range shot. Then it gets worse. After relooking at the ultrasound, my midwife noted a big problem. The force of the ball hit Eamon so hard that it flipped him. Instead of being head down and ready to go as he’s been for weeks, he is now feet first with his head up in my ribs. As a first time mom, a breech baby (according to my midwife) would not be even attempted to birth naturally. Do not pass go, straight to c-section. There is a slim chance that I may be able to get him to flip back but generally this close to my due date ( Monday) the baby simply doesn’t have enough room to move like that unless propelled by trauma.

My midwife told me last night that I have until Monday to get the baby to flip and then they will be scheduling a c-section. The doctor that my midwife works with is out of network for me and the insurance will not cover her at all so I will be finding a stranger. I am currently calling obgyns in our area and asking to set up interviews. My timeline is very very short. I’ve found two doctors who are willing to take me on at this point. One wants to meet me and then do the surgery on Friday. I’m praying for one of them be kind and gracious and not have any slots for a surgery for at least a week. I will also be doing stretches, going to a chiropractor, and praying like mad for this baby to turn. Today I went to Target and bought a swimsuit so that I could go do handstands in the pool. :) Yes, it apparently looked as hilarious as it sounds. Thank God for Houston weather and being able to swim the first day of April.

Andrew is awesome. He took off work today and spent the morning planning a list of things to keep me busy and distracted. We went to my favorite breakfast spot, spent an hour at Half-Price Books in the children’s section finding baby books for Eamon and wandered around Target dreaming about our new apartment and looking at onesies. He’s been right there with me sitting on hold as we sift through conflicting insurance information, search for doctors, and research any crazy thing that might get this guy head-down in a safe way. I couldn’t imagine tackling this without him.

Emotionally I am really hurting right now. Andrew and I are both struggling to adapt to this very drastic change from the birth experience we have been imagining and dreaming together since before we knew Eamon existed. It’s hard not to let anger at a stupid soccer ball overwhelm me. It’s hard to fight back the frustration that after all of the work, research, preparation, and money we’ve invested that I’m going to most likely end up in the last place I wanted to be: the operating table. It’s a major surgery and that’s pretty scary. Many people have reached out and reminded me that the important thing is a healthy baby and that’s absolutely true but that’s not the only important thing. This is a brutal shift in the story line and it’s a painful experience to suddenly be thrown into a situation I never thought I would face. I’m deeply overwhelmed by the long lists of questions that I don’t have answers to. We will be alright and I have faith that God has a plan that’s better than mine but right now everything in my heart hurts.

Please pray with us for:        kind gracious doctors

peace that passes understanding

this baby to flip himself back around

a sense of organization and preparation

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Teaching at YES taught me.

At officially one week left at YES, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons that I’ve learned teaching here for two years and the ways that I see YES leaving a permanent mark on my life. More than anything, this has been a place that I’ve loved because it is a place that is full of love: love of learning, love of students, and a steadfast love of the potential in every human being. When people asked me why I chose a school with longer hours and higher expectations, my response has always been because it works. This system is designed to provide for needs, develop relationships, and feed hope with a steady diet of support and discipline. Senior Signing Day remains one of the most emotional and powerful experiences in my life and will always be a treasured memory but the daily victories are golden too. With all of that, here are my 10 lessons from YES, with thoughts on how it has prepared me for my next big adventure in life. :)

1. Being on the struggle bus (or driving it, or being dragged behind it) doesn’t mean you’re giving up on your destination. There will be days where I can’t remember what sleep felt like, or alone time, or finishing a book in one day. It will still be worth it. 

2. A wizard ALWAYS leaves a place better than they found it. Always. Picking up trash, moving that one thing back to where it goes, cleaning as I go will help keep the house from being a baby disaster zone (maybe). 

3. Asking for help before the ugly-crying in the breakroom is better but asking for help after the meltdown is also good. I’m going to need SO much help- might as well skip the breakdowns and get it before it’s a crisis. Pride won’t get me through like community will. 

4. Having the same heart for a mission doesn’t always mean agreeing on the method- and that’s good and healthy. Establishing norms of mutual overlap keeps teams together even when discussions get …heated. Andrew and I will disagree on how to best handle and guide Eamon. Other family members, friends, and probably strangers will have advice, concerns, and input. Calibrating intention and mutual love will allow those interactions to be purposeful instead of painful. 

5. Put it in the survey! Feedback is important but it’s even more important to have follow-up on how to reincorporate new ideas into an existing structure and to ensure that each person feels heard and valued. Relationships matter in real time not just in the vague sense of an overarching goal, so taking time to hear and interact with other’s concerns and areas of conflict should be part of an intentional discipline on my part rather than a “push through it” moment so that we can get on with life. Investing that time in communication will preserve resources and keep our community strong. 

6. It is actually possible to heat your lunch, use the restroom, and eat your lunch in seven minutes. That said- an extra ten or twenty minutes of savoring goes a long way towards sanity. Efficiency is a skill I’ve learned, and will keep getting better at. I know it’s going to be important as I try and figure out how to take care of a little one AND myself. Taking time to treasure moments of peace is also a skill that will preserve my health and patience. They are not in conflict. 

7. Simple sub plans will save your life. Even if it’s not the fantastically intricate 12 step jigsaw that you were sure would transform your student’s perception of Shakespeare, in times of need, pulling out that documentary or silent reading time still counts! Sometimes Baby Einstein or Mommy’s phone will pull babysitting duty. It’s not ideal, but it’s not a moral failure and I need to remember that I’m a person with real needs too. 

8. Structures and systems reduce stress- once they work. Investing in a set-up and solidifying how it runs keeps the minute-to-minute freestyling down and gives you attention space to catch those teachable moments. Andrew and I have already discussed sick day plans for when Eamon comes down with something- now it’s not a topic to ambush us with the first fever. In the same way, building patterns and plans may take more energy that I feel like I can muster but it’s going to be vital for me to get a routine down- even though I’m not great at them. Diaper washing- I’m looking at you! 

9. People are always in progress. It doesn’t matter the situation, age, or background, we are always learning and adjusting to things around us. Sometimes that’s invigorating, and sometimes it’s exhausting. Sensitivity to those shifts is key.  I’m going to be a new mom. Andrew will be a new dad. My parents will be new grandparents. CrayCray will be getting LOTS of day-t0-day baby time once school starts back up. All of these things are going to be interesting, draining and terrifying in waves. 

10. Shout-outs matter. Choosing to celebrate others is an active step in declaring that the world is good, that hope is at hand, and that Mondays can be redeemed. You never know who really needed those two claps that day. Active gratitude and an eye for celebration invigorates both the giver and the receiver. If I can be looking for good, it leaves a lot less energy for focusing on the bad. It costs me nothing to give genuine thanks for the things that others do. 

BONUS. Making people is hard. It’s okay to be tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, and desperate for the weekend because it is actually bonebreaking, mindmelting, spiritsucking work- unless you do it out of love. Taking time to love a student, a coworker, a curriculum first will sustain you through the jarring reality of how difficult it is to change lives.

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Home Free!

Today marked an exciting moment in our pregnancy journey- so of course it involved tears, comfort baking, and terrible directions. This morning we had our official home visit by our midwife who delivered the tub, a bag full of tools and attachments, and the last stamp of clearance for getting this party started.

It definitely was not a guaranteed  approval though and I’m spending a little extra time in praise and processing this afternoon instead of watching the Barcelona game with Andrew. Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve struggled with low iron levels. Matched with my inability to take pills and keep them down, this anemia threat has been consistently discouraging and a tiny monster drifting out of the shadows of my mind. Andrew has been a champion- grinding up supplements and hiding them in smoothies for me, encouraging me to keep cooking in the cast iron, and sacrificially agreeing to steak for dinner. :) Despite all of this, every test I’ve taken has shown dropping levels of hemoglobin. What was meant to be my last test several weeks ago put me severely in the anemic camp and raised warning flags for the safety of trying a home birth. At that point, the risk of hemorrhaging was significant enough that we discussed other options but my midwife had faith that my levels could rise. She kept reminding me that everyone’s levels dropped at that week as the baby was busy building his own blood supply and that it would bounce back in a week or two. (We’re studying alliteration in school next week- did you notice?)

Last Saturday, we took another test hoping her optimism would be reflected in the numbers. It had been a rough week with both Andrew and I home sick from work at the beginning. I had been fighting nausea and fatigue all week as Eamon had temporarily decided right up under my rib cage was exactly where he needed to be. As a result, much of my appetite was gone and only rice crackers and ice were even slightly appealing. Neither of those are particularly rich in iron. We went off to get the tests done and then I went mostly offline for the next few days, working on resting and enjoying the amazing mini babycation Andrew planned for us.  (I plan to post pictures from that soon!) Imagine my dismay when I opened my email Tuesday night to find a concerned email from Nanci telling that my levels had dropped AGAIN.

To be honest, I was crushed. I often struggle with identifying success in my life and having this area where I was consistently and metrically measuring short is a quick fuse to a box full of other self-doubts and fears. Knowing that I had already been in the grey area for a homebirth, I was filled with fear that another dip would sent me straight to a maternity ward. At this point that was triggering a whole plethora of fears, including the simple calendar truth that I’m a mere three weeks away from my due date. That’s simply not enough time to research and enter a practice that would let me try for a completely natural birth in a hospital setting let alone that also takes my insurance. The logistical nightmare meshed with the concerns I have about feeling pressured and manipulated into practices I don’t feel are necessary made last night and this morning a fairly emotional affair. There was a lot of anxiety not only about what the future might hold but also tied up with the sense of failure that I had about these low levels.

This morning I woke up intent on feeling purposeful and successful. My body may not be reaching every goal I set it but I’ve carried Eamon for over 8 months and we’re solidly in what is considered in some practices full-term. (Other more rigorous definitions require 39 weeks to be considered full and would consider us at 37 weeks as “early term” which means that Eamon would most likely be fine but that a longer gestation would only improve his health and well-being.) Andrew and I braved the torrential rain to go grocery shopping- the first time I’ve been in weeks! Andrew has been so amazing about easing so many of my household jobs without a single complaint but it was a lot of fun to be able to shop together. Wednesday night is game night at our place and this weekend we’ll have a houseful of guys hanging out for the fantasy baseball draft so it was great to plan out food and look forward to some social time with good friends.

Even a short grocery trip taxed me to the edge of my energy though. Fatigue, the sort that feels like I’ve run a mile with a big dog on the front of the leash, has been a constant companion the last several weeks but hey, ain’t nobody got time for that! The midwife was coming at eleven though and I was determined to have a hold on my emotions by then. The obvious solution was baking so I started in on a batch of blackstrap molasses cookies. While working on them, I threw on Pandora for some background sound. This song ( Blessings came on and whoosh I was gone. It was such a strong reminder that faith means leaning hard when it’s hard and having the hope to see things that shake me as an opportunity for good- either through learning or by unexpected grace. Lots of tears. Bless that woman!

Soon after that my sister showed up and I was so grateful for the chance to talk through all the plethora of changes Andrew and I are planning. In the next three weeks or so, I’ll be leaving my dream job and 80 some kids that I love dearly and be tackling one of the more challenging physical activities commonly experienced by the human race. We’ll be figuring out parenting the way everyone does- half asleep and totally terrified. :) Of course, we should also throw in job-hunting, apartment searching, and moving across the city.  Andrew is convinced it is a Minick quality to never do anything halfway but I think with this one we may be taking it on double-strength!

Andrew arrived from his quest for Sonic ice (thanks Jill for having particular ice preferences because he didn’t even blink when I insisted it had to be SONIC! Well- trained! :) )  and brought the midwife with him. I’m glad we do homevisits because her address for us was off by one number and her phone number for me was also off a digit- definitely NOT a situation to discover when I’m in labor. She kicked off the meeting with a bang by telling me that my iron levels are so low that she’s not sure “how I’m still functioning”. For context, most healthy people hover between a 12-13. Anemia is a score of an 11 and many pregnant women get close to this score at about 28 weeks but then bounce back. I started at an eleven. Currently I’m barely holding onto a 10. Nanci explained that if I dropped below a ten, she’d probably recommend a hospital birth because she’s worried I simply wouldn’t have the strength to safely make it through a homebirth. I was stricken. It must have showed because she quickly told me that thankfully, even though my hemoglobin levels were drastically low, my platelet count was still in a decent range. Apparently this is not common as they tend to correlate but it’s great for me because low platelets increase the risk of hemorrhaging- and with two strikes I’d be out! Nanci started listing off bonus supplements- yaaaaay. So now, I’m cooking in the cast-iron, rocking the red meat, and stocking up on raisins while Andrew sneaks desiccated liver into my smoothies. Um yuck. But here goes everything we’ve got because the time is running out! Otherwise it was a great appointment. Andrew gets to fiddle with the cords, hoses, and attachments as we do a dry run of setting everything up later this week and Sofi was a great addition to the fun as well as giving me a much needed hug.

Everything is in place and ready to go more or less. :)

How far along? 37 weeks! With a green light from the midwife, I’m drinking pregnancy tea that is supposed to “tone” the uterus and telling Eamon about all the awesome things in this world. I’ve got two weeks of teaching left and then come on baobao! :)

Maternity clothes? Ha- are there any other kinds? I’m so big that I keep running into things with my stomach- ouch!
Stretch marks? Got my first set two days ago. I’m working not to be too bummed about it but I was so close to getting out without a mark!
Sleep: I’ve always been good at sleeping. It’s probably a superpower or something. Most nights I’m still getting my 8 or 9 hours but occasionally Eamon decides to work on some martial arts and I spend a lot of time practicing keeping my temper.
Best moment this week: Escaping for a couple of days into Houston with Andrew. We went to the bookstore, the art museum, and simply had a delightfully peaceful pause in life.
Movement: This guy is fully active. The midwife asked me to keep a two hour log to make sure he was moving at least 10 times in that time period and I may have laughed out loud. If I’ve gone thirty minutes without him making his presence known, it hasn’t happened in months! I think he’s getting so big that the students will be able to see him rolling around.

Food cravings: Rice cakes- which reminds me I need to get another bag! Sonic ice. Sonic ICE. All the time. Ice always.
Anything making you queasy or sick: Ugh the smell of coffee is still rough at random times. That’s pretty much it though!

Belly Button in or out? Pretty much just flat. The oddest looking thing in my opinion!

Wedding rings on or off?  Definitely on- no major swelling yet! My ankles are fine too which is super nice.

Prayer requests: Iron. Iron. IRON. Energy is going to be important on this sort of mission, quest, thing. :)

I’ve been really praying to hit active labor where things might get loud during the day while my neighbors are at work/school. It’s a minor detail that I know I don’t have control over but God does and he cares about the little things!

I’m SO grateful that home birth is and continues to be an option for me and I’m praising God for this chance. Please pray for wisdom for Andrew and I and our midwife Nanci. As she ALWAYS reminds me, the goal is a healthy baby and not a homebirth. I know that she will be fierce in placing me in the best possible situation and I’m blessed to be in her care but we both know and celebrate the fact that before I ever met her God knew me and my heart and story. He has control and power and grace in abundance.

Please, as the days pass on, and God brings us to mind take a moment to shoot a text or call. This is a staggeringly large adventure and we know we will need support from our dear community.

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Class triumphs

  • Quick classroom triumph.

    In class we are reading Persepolis, a graphic novel that describes the Iranian Revolution during the 80s. It’s a memoir written from the perspective of a young child and introduces many complex topics. In this chapter, the government begins to enforce tighter and tighter dress code restrictions. To defend the new rules, they argued on one page that “women’s hair excites men….so to protect women from rapists, women should cover their hair with a veil.”

    Now there was no way that this was going to just drift on by in MY classroom. So we called a pause and started to look at this statement. At first, the kids were hung up on the idea of hair being sexual but I pushed them to look at the sentence again (after talking about how different cultures have different standards of beauty).

    Since I teach 8th grade, I didn’t want to get too hung up on sexual arousal, so we talked about how to excite means to have “strong emotion”. Emotion can come in all sorts of forms but we are focused on the idea of strength in emotions- very powerful stuff!

     To keep it grounded (and PG), I had them picture me in a bookstore. We drew a bar graph for my emotions. The students pointed out that I really like books so they ranked my emotions as fairly strong.  Then we imagined the books were on sale and the kids all decided my emotions would be off the chart! I would be SO excited.
    The clear next step, I told them,  was that obviously… I just grabbed all the books and ran out! They all decided I was going to be arrested (hilariously).
    I countered by arguing with the policeman, “But I love the books. I mean, I REALLY love books. Books just make my emotions so intense. It’s not MY fault I love the books so much.” My student jury was not impressed with my argument. So I took it a step further- if it wasn’t my fault, who’s was it?
    “It’s actually the store owner’s fault…because they put the books out there in public AND put them on sale. They caused me to be overwhelmed with my powerful feelings and I just couldn’t help it!”
     They decided I would definitely remain arrested.
    So we discussed the problemeven when I had REALLY STRONG EMOTIONS Istill had responsibility for my body. I was held responsible by the imaginary policemen but also by the class- they all thought I had done the wrong thing. Emotions didn’t excuse my actions. We added to our graph, a balance scale with emotions on one side and responsibility on the others. No matter how high our emotions got, it didn’t tip our scale away from  personal responsibility.  We discussed whether strong emotions should outweigh personal responsibility and they decided that no it shouldn’t. Just because I really really LOVE the books and my emotions are very strong- doesn’t mean I can steal them. So then we discussed that emotions happen all the time. Many times we don’t have a lot of control over our emotions- people might make us really mad or happy, or whatever. But regardless, we have to have responsibility for our own bodies.
    Then we talked about the first rule of kindergarten, “keep your hands to yourself”.Then we pictured what it would be like to have your body run by your emotions and I posited it would be like being a two year old . Two year olds throw things when they are angry or grab because they want something. We discussed that the world would be really scary if it was made up of adult sized two year olds. They can’t handle anything other than their emotions. It’s only okay because they aren’t big enough to really hurt someone else (although several students tattled on younger siblings who had caused some serious damage. haha). We don’t let them STAY in that place of maturity though. That’s why kindergarten spends so much time talking through staying in your own space and controlling your emotions.
    Then we spoke about how the argument about the hair essentially claims that if person A makes person B’s emotions strong enough then part of person B’s responsibility for their own self “transfers” to person A and it becomes their “fault”.  So then I asked if I could control their bodies?  They said no. I could affect their emotions but couldn’t control their bodies. So we talked about how “hands to yourself” means keeping control of your body without taking into account your emotions or their power.
    Essentially this is the core of rape culture: the idea that at some point, another person’s actions- be it clothing, alcohol intake, or sexual history- has the ability to erase another person’s responsibility by so overwhelming their emotional desires that they lose control of their bodies.
    Throughout the week different students have referred back to this idea, talking about being frustrated with teachers or friends but still needing to control their own mouths or bodies so as to maintain their responsibility. I think it may be the most important lesson I’ve taught this whole term. :)
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Searching for Peace

God bless Chris Rice. I am starting a day that seriously has me considering just walking home and pretending I don’t exist anymore. My phone is missing, of course on the day that for homework every single one of my students were to text me their thesis. So I’ve got a mound of stressed out emails, with two very upset parents in the mix, plus I get to to face the hordes of 8th graders who are at that potent mix of self-righteous and deeply anxious (although now that I think of it, many people who are self righteous are also deeply anxious so maybe that’s just a thing.) Suffice it to say, with a student conference after school, a parent meeting that runs till seven, and a missing phone, today I’m on the struggle bus.

I flipped on my Pandora station looking for some solace and the first song was Chris Rice’s “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. Oh soul are you weary and troubled? Oh yes! Yes, I am. I am weary and stressed and stressed because people keep telling me stress isn’t good for Sequel. Despite that I’m going to take some time this morning and walk outside before my morning duty. I’ll watch the sunrise and hum some hymns and maybe get my balance back. As my dad reminded me, Life is filled with dukkha, the suffering of impermanence, but I can rely on the permanence of God and His peace. Here’s for a fresh start to what already feels like a long day!

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Reclaiming the power of pregnancy.

The new top question is “How are you feeling?” It’s always a battle to decide how to answer it. Obviously it’s generally asked with genuine interest and care, but at the same time, details are often not well, ready for public consumption. I normally settle for a shrug and a “I’m making it so far!” Thinking it over though, I think the best comparison for my first trimester experience is that I feel the way you do the day before you have the flu. Achy, a little off, and really really tired. Thankfully my nausea has stopped short of actual sickness for most of the weeks but that whole “morning” aspect is a crock of lies as far as I’m concerned.

All of this leads into a bigger question for me. How do we as a culture approach pregnancy? I’ve noticed with friends and family who were pregnant that often the first question focuses on the symptoms, and therefore often on the difficulty of pregnancy. While there’s no doubt that pregnancy is hard (…really really really hard as I’m coming to recognize), I think that that intense focus can have a negative effect on the empowerment of pregnancy. Instead of talking about how wonderful it is that our bodies are capable of such massive change, we often center on the (legitimate) struggles and frustrations of adapting to these changes.

As Andrew and I began planning and thinking through what pregnancy was going to look like for us: we really wanted to focus on concepts that would guide us rather than a long list of rules and regulations. Being a solid YES Prep corps member, of course I suggested setting norms for which we could hold each other accountable. Here they are.

1. Pregnancy is positive.  (I am not ill)                                                                                                                         All of these body changes, the fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms are POSITIVE proof that something amazing is happening in my body. Instead of complaining about how tired I am, Andrew and I work to frame it as “Wow, my body is working really hard today!” Instead of whinging about feeling constantly on the verge of that dreaded bathroom sprint, it’s pretty cool how my body is working hard to protect my baby from food poisoning. While this may seem like tiny minutia or quibbling over semantics, I think it’s actually a powerful reclaiming of the narrative. I am not ill, or sick. I am undergoing a healthy transition that is occasionally uncomfortable, just as puberty and growing pains had their moments of discomfort.

2. Assume nonintervention.                                                                                                                                   As a very verbal processor, it is often necessary for me to be able to talk or write about what I am feeling in order to sort out these feelings. This can put a unique strain on Andrew as there is sometimes lack of clarity as to whether I am looking for solutions or merely taking the time to organize and structure my thoughts. In order to reduce stress and tension, our second norm states that at any given point, it should be assumed that there is not a “secret” agenda of trying to get him, or anyone, to change something, whether that be the smell of a room, my fatigue, or my desire to only drink Dr. Pepper. This eases the pressure on Andrew trying to cater to my whim and leads nicely into our next norm.

3. Ask for help. DIRECTLY.                                                                                                                                      Neither of us have experienced pregnancy before. We are figuring out a whole new normal. I like to have things under control and like to try to remain as independent as possible but I’m quickly learning that, without extra resources, I’m not going to be a healthy happy person, wife, or teacher. Since I don’t have the option of leaving dramatically vague hints (see above norm), I need to push myself into asking for specific, concrete help. The other day, as I’ve been struggling with emotional distress and lots and lots of crying, that took the form of asking a dear friend to send me silly pictures and funny quotes. It meant asking Andrew if I could use my “Day Break” a rule we set in place where once a month I could take a day off from work and just recharge and refresh. It also meant eating Whataburger for dinner instead of the delicious and more healthy beef curry I had planned.

Each of these norms are designed to empower Andrew and I. Life is going to continue gaining more challenges and I want to be focused on how capable I am as a human being. My goal is to do a natural, at-home birth and in order for that to be successful, I can’t afford to spend the next six months focused on how frail and fragile I feel. I need to consciously develop my will into acknowledging difficulty as a stepping stone to success rather than an unfortunate occurrence that immediately negates my self-efficacy. I need to take responsibility for my emotions and feelings without using them as leverage over others and I need to grow in maturity as I become interdependent in very real and practical ways. These are my challenges and these norms are my supports. I have committed to keeping them and would love accountability from others as I continue with this journey!

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