A New Perspective

Teaching was my second choice. I really, really wanted to be a nurse. More specifically, a certified nurse-midwife. After I failed Anatomy & Physiology – twice – and lost my scholarship because of my ridiculously low GPA, I had to give up that dream. Who was I kidding anyway? I could never be a nurse. I would never be able to give anyone a shot or draw blood, because it’s kinda hard to do those things when you’re either 1) hiding your face in the corner screaming NO!  PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME DO IT! or 2) passed out on the floor. Let’s face it. Needles and I do not mix. So I changed majors. Actually, I changed majors three times before I finally settled into the one I earned my degree in.

First, I thought it would be great to teach elementary school. It’s what I had always assumed I would teach, without ever giving it much thought. And then I realized that not all elementary school-aged students could tie their shoes, pee and poop in the toilet and only in the toilet, refrain from tattle-telling for the entire length of the school day, and not cry over every.little. thing. So that was out the door. Let’s face it. Other people’s small children and I do not mix.

Knowing that I was a certifiable genius in all things math (ok, so I wouldn’t go that far, but if numbers are involved, let’s just say I got it) I had a few options. I thought about teaching high school, since high school teachers teach only one subject. I could teach high school math. Wrong! I thought back to my high school days and remembered the times that we were all sent home or out to the football field for the entire day because some idiot brought either a gun, a knife, drugs, or a combination of those things to school. And let’s face it. Getting stabbed and I do not mix.

Then there was accounting. Fabulous! As far as I knew, there were no kids involved in accounting. Just me, my desk, and my numerous, well, accounts. I tried it for a semester. I took the Intro to Accounting class. And at the end I had myself a big, fat D. Accounting was hard. And boring. It wasn’t just about adding and subtracting numbers all day. And when in the accounting world the terms “credits” and “debits” mean the exact opposite of what they mean to the rest of us, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work out. Let’s face it, strange terminology and I do not mix.

So I turned to my only other option (well, I had two options, really. I could have given up and dropped out, but where would that have gotten me? So I stayed.) which was to teach middle school. Ugh. Hormones, drama, puberty, and did I mention hormones? But at least they could make it to the toilet on time and they probably weren’t drug dealers. Yet. I changed majors for the last time and finally stuck with something long enough to get the heck outta there. And why I stuck with it, I’ll never know. It was pure hell. Writing 10 page lesson plans detailing every single word I planned to say and the responses I expected to hear from students was insane. But I did it for 3 semesters. I changed my way of planning to suit each and every professor, even if it wasn’t the way I’d normally do things. I sucked up and kissed butts and did other people’s work for them for free. And for what? A $13,000 piece of paper (which would have been free if I wouldn’t have lost my grant money!)? Wow. Totally not worth it.

And now I feel like I wasted four and a half years of my life. Well, most days I do. And then there are the (few and far between) days when I get all hopeful and optimistic and think that I might really have my own classroom someday. For the last 15 months, I have worried constantly about finding a job. I have sent out resumes to counties that I don’t even want to work in. I have substituted so I could get my foot in the door and taught children who didn’t even deserve an education, much less want one. I have been stressed out more than any one  (especially a pregnant woman) ever should be. I just got so tired of the phone not ringing. I felt like a failure. Like I picked the wrong career path.

And then it hit me. Maybe, just maybe, I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Everything happens for a reason, right? So maybe teaching is not what I’m supposed to do, or at least it’s not what I’m supposed to do right now. I’ve done my part. I’ve put my name out there and it’s out of my hands. If somebody wants me to work for them, they will call. Lately I’ve even sent out resumes for jobs outside of the teaching field, and I haven’t heard anything from those attempts yet either.

It is kind of depressing. I would love to have the extra money – there is so much that I want to do. I want to decorate the house. I want to go on vacation. I want to spoil Emily rotten with a ridiculous first Christmas. Denny makes enough for us to live off of, enough to give us all of our needs. But it just can’t buy everything that I want. So apparently those things that I want are not things that I am supposed to have. Maybe for once I’m on the receiving end of a lesson and this is something I’m supposed to learn from. Just what that lesson is, I’m not sure yet, but I’m not going to worry and fret over it anymore.

What I am going to do is raise my daughter. I’m going to take care of her and read to her and sing silly songs and take her places. I’m going to teach her and love her and probably spoil her as much as I can. I am going to be at home with her until I get a job, whether that is next week, next year, or in 4 years when she starts school. (Obviously. I can’t exactly waltz into my school of choice and take over someone’s classroom. I’d be hauled off to the nuthouse faster than you can say looney tunes.) And I’m going to be content with doing just that.

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Torn

*Update: For those of you who are wondering, Liza commented on this post that mentions her!

*This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I just have to say that Oh. My. Gosh. Liza Elliott-Ramirez just left me a comment! She commented on my blog! Hello! She is famous! Oh, this has just made my day!

Ahem. So as the title would have you believe, yes I am torn. I just got news that I was not accepted for the teaching position I interviewed for on Friday. I am disappointed, but at the same time, I am at peace. It would have been fun to have my own classroom in a brand spankin’ new building, with newly painted walls to decorate to my liking. It would have been great to have students of my own to get to know and teach new things to on a daily basis.  It would have been nice to get a break from the spit-up, poopy diapers and Em’s napping strike.

But then there’s the other hand. It would have been hard to be apart from Emily five days out of every week. It would have been a pain in the butt boob to pump enough milk for her day after day after day. And even though there is a possibility that I will be offered a position as a permanent substitute, I can’t stop the battle that rages on inside of me – the decision of whether I should stay home or go to work.

I prayed about the job, and I was ready to accept whatever decision was made for me. So now the next decision is entirely up to me. Do I substitute like I did last year, with the ability to call the shots and decide when to work and when to stay home? Or do I pursue my dream of a retail store? I got good news from the business counselor at my meeting on Monday, and all signs point in that direction. But the time that it would take to get my store up and running will most likely mean more hours away from Emily than teaching would.

I do want and need to be away from Emily some of the time. I need time for me, so that I can stay somewhat sane. Oh, what am I to do?

Answered Prayers

I mentiond in my 4 month letter to Emily that we had started going to Merrywood Baptist Church here in Statesboro – and we love it! I think we have definitely found “our” church. I know that my mom and Grandma have both been praying for a while that we would start going to church somewhere, so there is one answered prayer. 

This past Sunday, I saw God answer another prayer right in front of me. I cannot go into any details, but just know that God is working on something very necessary and important to Denny and I, as well as many, many others. I am also quite certain that God has finally made a believer out of my husband. There have been many times that we have talked about God, church and religion, but it wasn’t until the events that occured on Sunday that Denny understood how real God is. In the words (well, it’s actually just one word) of Madea, “Hallelujer”!

Although we don’t always understand everything that happens in our lives,  there is a reason for everything.

Pregnancy, Labor, Birth and Babies – What Nobody Else Will Tell You

Part 2: Labor

  • Labor is nothing to be afraid of. If you dread it and worry about all of the “what ifs”, you will probably have a terrible experience. But if you just think positively and let your body do what it was made to do (and knows how to do), things will most likely go smoothly.
  • Like pregnancy, labor is different for every woman. You might be in labor for 2 hours (lucky you). You might be in labor for 2 days (God forbid). There is no way to tell, so just try to relax, and go with the flow.
  • In my opinion, contractions don’t really hurt that bad. I can think of several things that I imagine would hurt worse – broken bones, burns, cutting off your finger with a chainsaw, etc. It’s the Ring of Fire that you have to worry about if you choose to go the natural route (more about that in Part 3). Actually, it’s more of a feeling of pressure than pain. The contractions come and they go, so you won’t be in constant pain – there will be breaks in between and you will feel completely normal and pain free during these times. And if you choose to get an epidural, you will be totally pain free! But there are risks with epidurals, and they don’t always work. You will have to be catheterized and you will be unable to walk for a while after the baby is born (no, it doesn’t magically wear off the second the kid is out). Epidural babies are also less alert and their sucking is affected, which affects breastfeeding and latching on.
  • That due date that is circled in red on your calendar? You can count on that being the one day that you most likely won’t go into labor. Only 3% of babies are born on their due dates. And over 50% are born 1 week later!
  • And really, what is 1 more week when you have already waited for 40? You can do it. I promise, that baby will come out eventually. Which leads me to say……
  • Labor works best when it starts on its own – not when it is induced. Inductions often do not work and end in a C-section. Pitocin causes contractions to be irregular and stronger than normal, so if you are hoping to go drug-free, an induction will have you begging for that Epidural. Please, please, please educate yourself about your options. Your body (not your doctor) knows when it is the right time! Whats the rush? By the way, after that baby is has been out for a while, you will be wishing and praying to God that somebody will stick it back in!
  • And don’t let your research end there. Educate yourself about ALL of your options. A lot of things that are routinely done in hospitals are unnecessary and can be avoided. Example: do you know why you are not allowed to eat or drink while in labor? Because back in the day when women were knocked out during their labors, somebody threw up and got choked on her vomit because she was unconscious and could not turn her head to get it out of her mouth. So from then on, no more ingesting during labor! How ridiculous. These days, women are awake the whole time – so no need to not eat and drink! Besides, you will need your energy when it comes time to push (but then again, that’s why they give you an unnecessary IV – so that they can pump liquid energy into you).
  • If you do plan a natural birth, you can leave the games, magazines, laptop and DVDs at home. You won’t be needing any of those, and if someone else dares to entertain themselves in your presence while you writhe in pain, you might not be the only one in need of medical assistance.
  • Water works wonders.
  • The car ride to the hospital or birth center will be the longest, most uncomfortable ride of your life. You will be the world’s worst road raging backseat driver, so it’s best to just close your eyes and focus on your body – not the road. Contractions are twice as bad when you can’t get up and walk around.

Side note: Can you tell that I am not a fan of doctors and hospitals? Yeah, I thought it might be a bit obvious. But please do not think that I think that I am somehow “better” than anyone who has has a hospital birth with medication. Each woman is entitled to make her own decisions regarding her baby and her body, and I will not judge any woman for how she decides to labor (although I myself have been deemed crazy more than a few times). I just hope that each woman knows all of the facts before she decides which route is for her.

And now, a list of things that will not get that baby out any faster. Well, they didn’t work for me, so they probably won’t work for you, either.

  • The clock striking midnight on your due date will not make you go into labor.
  • Being sick and tired of being pregnant will not make you go into labor (although when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired of being pregnant and you have a meltdown in the shower and beg God to please get this baby out of me now! it just might happen. It did in fact work for me, but by that time the baby was 6 days past due, so maybe my meltdown didn’t have anything to do with it after all).
  • Walking (even for hours at a time) will not make you go into labor.
  • Having lots and lots of sex will not make you go into labor (although it will help ripen your cervix and could stimulate contractions – so it can happen, just don’t count on it. Timing is everything).
  • Nipple stimulation will not make you go into labor, which is a good thing since your baby daddy won’t be willing to touch your leaky nipples. (Let me be a bit more clear; nipple stimulation can trigger labor if you have constant stimulation for 3 or more hours. Personally, I’d rather just wait it out.)
  • Eating fresh pineapple will not make you go into labor.
  • Riding along bumpy dirt roads and across plowed fields will not make you go into labor.
  • A death in the family will not make you go into labor.
  • Your father being 3 hours away at your family member’s funeral will not make you go into labor.
  • Packing your hospital bag will not make you go into labor.
  • Washing, re-washing, organizing and re-organizing every piece of itty bitty baby clothing will not make you go into labor.
  • Drinking teas and taking herbs will not make you go into labor.
  • A full moon will not make you go into labor.
  • A drop in the barometric pressure might or might not make you go into labor. That happened a few times in the days before Emily’s birth, but I don’t believe that had anything to do with it.

And my last piece of advice is this: If you do not wish to notify family members about the impending birth until you know for sure that it is time and you want them to stay home until you call them right before the birth – do not under any circumstances post that you are having contractions on your blog! There are no secrets on the internet!

Pita Bread

*UPDATE: I found pita bread at Walmart today. It was hiding on the bottom shelf on the rack closest to the doughnuts. It wasn’t exactly out in the open – I had to look for it. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sure does look good!

Do you know of anywhere in Statesboro that sells pita bread? Because I don’t. And pita bread is good. And I want some. Help!

Should-a, Would-a, Could-a

I constantly struggle with what could have been. With what I should have done differently. What I would do if I could go back and change things. This happens on a daily basis, with situations that are big and important, and with ones that should never matter at all. I regret the silliest of decisions, and although I try to let it go, I never can.

On a recent trip to Subway, I fought with myself over my decision to not get my sub toasted. I should have gotten it toasted. It would have tasted better toasted. I do this all the time at restaurants. Once my meal arrives, I constantly think about what I should have ordered instead. It happens with other purchases too. I should have gotten the shirt in a different color. I shouldn’t have bought Emily more clothes, she has enough. I should have put the money toward an Exersaucer instead. It never ends; it’s like the freakin’ Energizer bunny. These thoughts just keep going and going….

Like this upcoming weekend. It will be Emily’s first 4th of July. And her daddy will miss it. He is going 200 miles away to ride 4-wheelers for the whole weekend. Will he ever look back and wish that he’d done things differently? Will he regret missing her eyes light up as she watches fireworks for the first time? Or should I suck it up and go with him? Even though I will be stuck inside of a 30′ camper for 3 days, miserable and bored to tears? Will deciding not to go be a decision that I will ever regret?

And those are not the thoughts that bother me the most. It’s those major decisions that leave me at the breaking point; just one little nudge is all it will take to send me into a major meltdown.

Did I make the right decision to become a teacher? I love being a teacher, but at the time, it seems the answer is NO. I don’t have a job, and it isn’t looking like I will have one next year, either. If I could rewind the clock, I would stay on the path of becoming a nurse, and then a midwife. That was the plan. I tried as hard as I could. But looking back, I keep feeling like I could have done more. I could have hired a tutor. I should have studied more. But one dream got in the way of the other. I would have had to go to Atlanta to become a midwife. I would have had to leave my family, and most importantly, the man I wanted to marry. It would have been only for 2 years, tops. But at the time, it was unfathomable. At the time, 2 years seemed like forever, and Atlanta seemed worlds away, not the 4 hour drive that it actaully would have been.

Did I make the right decision? What did I give up in order to get what I now have? Would Denny and I have stayed together? Probably. Would he have come with me to Atlanta if I’d really wanted him to? Maybe. Would I be happier in that career than with the one that I ended up with? I don’t know, but all signs point to yes. Would I have my Emily, if things had gone differently? That is what it all comes down to. How can I regret any decision that I have ever made, knowing that one wrong turn might have steered me away from where I am right now? But if I’d never had her, I wouldn’t know what I would be missing. I might have had a totally different life. I sometimes wish that I did have a totally different life.

Is this even making any sense?

I look at the lives of those around me, and I wonder if anyone else harbors any secret regrets inside. As a mother, I can guess that other mothers would not change one thing, based solely on their love for their children. They would take all of the abuse, all of the addiction, all of the sadness, the loneliness, the responsibility of raising their children alone (even though they have perfectly capable husbands there to help, they just don’t) just to have one second with their children. But fathers, I see them in a different light. Maybe that is because at the moment, I have never known a father who was worth a flip at being a father, except for my Granddaddy. He let me put bows in his hair without a single protest. He played countless games of Connect Four with me, when there were probably 100 other things he could have been doing. And from the stories my mother has told me, he was what all men should strive to be.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that Denny is abusive or struggling with addiction or mean or lazy or any of the above. He is a good man. He has just not yet realized that he is now a father, and that his life no longer revolves around only him. Or rather, that it shouldn’t. Or maybe his definition of the word father is construed. Maybe he thinks his job ended at conception, and the rest is all up to me. You learn by example, right?

And now I’ve said too much. I could simply hit “backspace” and make all of this go away. I could never hit “publish” and all of these thoughts would remain only mine. But I can’t do that. I have to get this off of my chest. Yes, Denny works outside of the home all day. And I work inside of the home all day. We both work, although I do know some people who would argue that what I do is not technically “work” and that I should be out working a 9-5 shift while Emily is raised by strangers in a daycare. (And before I became a mother, that was the plan, but as we all know, plans change. And I cannot bear to be away from her for more than a few hours at a time. As cliche as it might sound, I truly feel like a piece of myself is missing when she is not around.)

When Denny gets home each day, I want him to spend time with Emily. Not for my sake, but for hers. All of my life, I had an “absent” father. My parents were married and lived together. My father was home. But he was never really “there”. I know the pain of being less important to someone than the baseball game on tv or the buddies down at the bar. I have made many, many mistakes while trying to fill that void, searching for a man to give me the attention that I had always been starving for and never shown. And I want something different, completely opposite for Emily.

I want her to be more important to Denny than any 4-wheeler, truck or tractor. More important than any friend that calls and wants to work on a project or just hang out. More important than the uncut grass or the trash that is overflowing in the can. More important than me.

I want my husband to never look back wishing that he had done more with her. I never want him to regret that he didn’t spend enough time with her, didn’t take her enough places, didn’t teach her enough new things. And even more troubling is the fact that he might not ever regret any of it. It might not ever be as important to him as it is to me. So how do I get him to do all of that? I can’t force him. I can’t even ask him. I want him to want to all on his own. I want him to love her as much as I do.

I always thought that he would be a good dad. He was a great boyfriend. He’s a wonderful husband. And my Grandma always tells me that he reminds her of her Otis. So I always assumed that when we had children he would be the best father this world has ever seen. And for a while I wondered if all men were the same. I wondered if any father loved his kids as much as his wife does. And then as I watched his brother yesterday, I realized that their childhood had nothing to do with it. His brother is a good papa, and he teaches his children and plays silly games with them and spends time alone with them. So no, not all men are the same. Not even men from the same family.

As I checked my Facebook this morning, a friend of mine who is a brand new father left an update saying that his daughter was all smiles this morning and he didn’t want to leave her to go to work. Again, no, all men are not the same.

I read a lot of mommy blogs, and I am surprised at how many husbands get up at night to help with the baby, and how many times the mothers have gone away from the house, leaving the baby with the husband all alone. How do they do it? Do they possess some sort of magical powers that make their men helpful? Denny has kept Emily 1 time, for a whopping 3 hours. I can count the number of diapers that he has changed on one hand. And it’s been nearly four months. And he doesn’t get up at night, but then again, he doesn’t have the feeding mechanisms required, so I can’t really say anything about that one.

My heart is sad for my daughter. At times I wish that we had waited longer to have her, so that my husband could get everything that he wanted to do out of his system first. And then there are the times that I wonder if all of my earlier mistakes was my subconscious trying to tell me something that I didn’t want to hear.

And although it is too late to change anything now, I will always wonder what could have been. What should have been. What would have been different if only I had done something different. If. So much meaning in such a tiny, little word.

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We celebrated our anniversary yesterday by taking Emily to her 2 month check-up. Fun times!

Side note: Why does a doctor who strongly encourages breastfeeding not have a room where waiting mothers can nurse their babies? I had to sit on the toilet and feed Emily. Once again, fun times!

It seems that Emily is going to be a skinny mini. At her 2 week check-up, she was 21 1/4″ long, and weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz. She was in the 90th percentile for height and the 75th percentile for weight. Fast forward to yesterday. She is now 22 3/4 inches long, in the 75th percentile, and weighs just under 10 pounds (9 lbs. 15 1/2 oz. if you wanna get specific), and in the 25th percentile. She is so tiny! I must be starving her! Poor thing. 

Then came the shots. And if you know me, then you know how I feel about needles. I couldn’t watch. But we lucked out and got the best nurse EVER, and she was seriously finished in less than 5 seconds. She was so fast that Denny (who did watch) didn’t even know she put band-aids on her legs until we gave her a bath last night.

I was upset by her stats and her shots, but nothing could have prepared me for the news we got next.

 Emily was born with a little knot on her neck, and at our first appointment the doctor told us that it was a branchial cleft cyst , but not to worry because it isn’t harmful to her. It was formed early in her development and should have gone away on its own long before she was born. The worst that can happen is that it will get infected, but then again it might not. It has to be treated later. But, at that first appointment, she didn’t say how it would have to be treated. Nor did I go home and do any research, because she said not to worry. But my curiousity got the best of me and yesterday I asked about treatment.

And do you know what she said? Surgery! SURGERY! My poor little love is going to have  HER NECK CUT OPEN! I couldn’t hold back the tears. I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I would actually let a bus hit me if it meant that Emily didn’t need this operation. She has to be put to sleep. She has to be hospitalized. I’ve never even been in the hospital! Heck, she wasn’t even born in the hospital!

Stupidly, I looked up branchial cleft cysts today. I found out that it is extremely close to the jugular vein and carotid artery – and it doesn’t take being a doctor to know that both of those are MAJOR! Because of this, the doctor might not be able to remove the whole thing, and it could come back! I am officially Scared To Death.

But, the pediatrician did say that there is a chance that she is wrong and it might not be a branchial cleft cyst, and we were referred to a specialist.

Please pray that she is wrong.