Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A God in my Details

So, Scott got laid off.  You know it's not good when you're a project engineer, and your project is over... and then they announce a company-wide "employment status meeting."  You know it -- or you should.

The thing is, we'd seen all these interesting things come to pass.  I should mention here that the company is based out of Texas, with half a dozen offices in different TX locations.  Scott felt very inspired to apply for his P.E. (professional engineering license) in Texas, which was odd, because he shouldn't have been able to get it for another year, at least not in Utah.  But lo and behold, Texas is a state with loopholes, and we'd never have known about them had he not been prompted to look for them.  So he became a TX professional engineer.  That's kinda a big deal.  He also had the most powerful company man in Utah in his corner, which we thought meant more than it apparently did.

In some ways, it's been a devastating blow.  The way it struck both of us seemingly out-of-nowhere (I guess you could call us foolish optimists?) left us in a state of shock for a few days.  And completely overwhelmed, as we determined we had no hope for getting medicaid or food stamps due to our 401k.

Merry Christmas!  We have no income!
But in other ways, it's reminded me how individual our paths are.  Having other friends whose lives have turned out differently -- especially those who have very stable jobs -- has made me embarrassed to share our situation with them.  So if you didn't get a Christmas card, just know it wasn't exactly the year where we were really all that excited to send them.  Which was a complete shame with the cute pictures.

And after getting over the embarrassment and shock, I've been filled with a bit more understanding about paths, Heavenly Father's great love for us, and what really matters.

On a good day, my routine is: scriptures, journal, then prayer.  Shortly after this happened, I got all the way up to prayer and was still feeling pretty bitter.  And I start my prayer, and I'm listing off how bad everything is, and how much we need a job, and very clearly I could just feel the Lord saying, "Mickelle, you are not forsaken.  You have money.  You just have to spend it," and he made it all sound so simple.  Because it was.

So, living off our nest-egg isn't exactly the stuff of dreams.  But I've learned that what matters is that I am in God's hands.  Which is a much safer place to be than in the government's hands, so I guess they can keep their stinkin' prenatal medicaid.  I've learned it's not important that my neighbors notice or care what kind of job we have, and also that I get to choose how much stress I feel.  The Lord has asked (commanded?) me to lay my burdens at his feet and yolk myself to him.  I find when I give him my burdens, trusting him to take care of me, I have so much more energy to continue with cheer.  And on really good days, I can even lighten others' burdens despite my own.

upon the altar

This post is perhaps the most vulnerable I've ever written on blogger.  So don't judge, k?

Once upon a time, I was quite the girl.  I was the Sterling Scholar at Davis High for Speech and Drama.  I was Oratory Captain in the DHS debate team, and I was invited to the national competition and also took third at state.  I was phoned up by a local two-year college with a heavy debate team and offered a scholarship by their coach.  I had a good GPA, and took and passed the AP US History, AP AB Calc, and AP Psych exams, each with a four.  (It's geeky, I know, but it's as cool as I get.)

I went to college on a full-ride scholarship for three years at SUU.  I then applied for a transfer to BYU, and received a one-year full ride scholarship there.  After having the time of my life, I figured it was time to actually get my degree, so I went back to SUU and finished up.  My graduation was summa cum laude.  Where I was the graduation speaker.

Now I'm a stay-at-home mother of two.  And nobody (even, or especially me) cares about a decade ago.  They care about dinner, clean clothes, and getting to watch as much Dora as they want.  I'm not very good at laundry.  I've learned to cook, but the house is usually less than stellar. (Read: I am lucky to find the floor in the girls' rooms.  I have no deep-cleaning schedule.  There's lots of crevices with dirt, which I only really see and think about when someone is at my house and I start feeling mortified.)

Here's the thing: Anything that most SAHMs judge themselves on, I really, really don't do well.  And, mostly, that's fine.  I know I have "other skills," let's just not make a list or anything.

As I look around on facebook, it seems to me that most of my contemporaries want to be doing something "besides" being at home.  So they start in with selling an MLM product.  Or marketing their photography, starting an Etsy shop, or going back to school.  Or something.  And if there's anything that has remained constant about my personality, it's that I don't do anything half-hearted.  If I pursue something, it usually has to be all-or-nothing.  And so (after having a few of these hobbies that never end, and seeing what it does to my family) I've just got to leave things like that alone, or it consumes me.  I get unhappy that my family takes as much time as they do, and unhappy that my hobbies take as much time as they do.  Nobody else is happy, either.  Not the somewhat-neglected kids, not Scott... no one.

Okay.  I've made my peace with that.  No serious hobbies for the present.

But what about someday?  I want to do something someday, and I want to be good at it.  Really good.  I swear I have that in me.  But without knowing what it will be that I'll want to do in, you know, fifteenish, twentyish years, I struggle with feeling like it will really come to fruition. 

I have laid my gift upon the altar, even if it is no more than saying "I won't get all crazy and pursue some hobby that distracts me from being the best mother I can" and I've told the Lord I'll forsake those things until the time is right.  And today, I have great confidence that He really will see my gift for being as wholehearted as it is for me, even if it's small.  And I feel full of assurance that he will bless me richly.

But sometimes,  the vagueness of the future engulfs me, and I wonder if I'm just done.  If my best days, at least in terms of passion, skill, and accomplishment, are over.

Now, please, despite allowing myself to be this vulnerable, I'd rather not hear vague condolences about how wonderfully talented I still am, even if I've given certain things up for the present.  To be blunt, I simply don't believe that right now, so it just feels empty and not-at-all-reassuring.

What is on my mind, what I do churn around somewhat endlessly in my head, is how do we choose faith over fear in a future that seems so flat?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Don't Like Pain. (Avie's Birth)

Really, I'm kind of a wimp, and a pretty whiny one at that.  But, in a totally unpredictable move, I still chose to birth Avie without an epidural.

I can't really say why.  One of my very good friends strongly encouraged me to look into it after her own convictions had been aroused.  She knew I was crunchy and into the natural world, and perhaps that's part of what made her so encouraging, although to her credit, she's pretty much that way anyway, so I think I was just in the right place at the right time.

She wasn't the first friend I knew who'd studied natural birth.  And, though I figured there was probably "something to it," I didn't want to get involved.  Research always makes me change my mind, and I swear I get weirder every single time I begin another fateful Google search.

But I did.  And things fell into place, in that way they do when you know something bigger than you is at work.  I found a great teacher, who offered to reduce the cost of our birthing lessons to practically nothing.  She also said she'd be my doula, although her back surgery ended up getting in the way of that.

I also found the amazing certified nurse midwives who practiced together at Central Utah Clinic Women's Center with some great practice-sharing OB/GYNs they use if complications arise.  As I learned more about birth, I brought some of my own ideas to the table, and the midwives were always very supportive.  They delivered at two hospitals, one of which was especially friendly towards natural childbirth and made all sorts of accommodations.  I couldn't believe how perfect everything was!  I'd really found an ideal situation!

Later on, quite a while after I'd made the commitment to a natural birth, and when Avie was somewhere around 34 weeks, she was given an IUGR diagnosis.  (Basically, she was underweight, and nobody knew why yet.)  I can't say in what way the epidural might not have been good for my specific birthing situation, but I strongly believe that things worked out just the way they needed to.

Because she wasn't growing as she ought to, it became necessary to induce labor.  Not so much fun.  And not the experience I'd dreamt about, where if I was going to be feeling it all, I could at least begin at home instead of  in some sterile room with an audience.  I mean, labor has some pretty intense sensations, and it's really much nicer to deal with all that misery in the dark.  At home.  With your own cozy blankets and bed.

And my last-minute fill-in for my doula, while being a marvelous human being, was a stranger.  I'd literally met her just that morning.  And labor really isn't a time when you want to have to be nice to anybody, let alone extra-nice the way you should be to a visitor.

Suffice it to say, it wasn't a piece of cake.  The pitocin got knocked up to 15, and I was less-than-cheritable to everybody, including Scott.  Then I got downright mean.  And also, I got naked.  (Your body does these weird temperature shifts at different stages of labor.  Sorry, folks, it's true.)  And then I wanted an epidural.  But my midwife, bless her heart, and my husband, bless his, decided to just ignore me.  So I threatened to get up out of that tub and walk my naked self down the hall to the nearest anesthesiologist.

Since nobody believed me, and there was no way I was going anywhere in that amount of pain, I guess you could say they called my bluff.  But about thirty minutes later, I had my baby.  So that worked out.

For all the changes to my wonderful plans, the most important details couldn't have gone any smoother:
1. Avie was born on my Dad's birthday.  Obviously, I hadn't planned for that, but it's kinda cool.
2. She was our Avie.  She was sweet and a fighter and a special soul I was blessed to get acquainted with long before she left my body. (No, that doesn't sound weird.  You're imagining it.)
3. Scott got to deliver her, just as he wanted to.  And I think it thrilled him even more than he thought it would.
4. Avie needed no time in the NICU or any other special treatment... other than an IV in her head for some lame reason I can't remember.
5. The whole thing was roughly five hours, maybe four.  I can't remember.  But relatively quick.
6. Together, Avie and I were drug-free wonders.  Or survivors, at least.

Yes, Avie came just the way she needed to.  Other babies don't need that.  Other moms don't need that.  But, as hard as it was, there was something very emotional about birthing naturally that I think I especially needed with her.

Did I loooove my drug-free experience?  No, but also yes.  Will I do it again someday?  I think so.  But that's a post for another day.