Tagged: catholicism

Coming Out With Quotes That Got Me Pregnant

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If you already saw this post and then the link didn’t work… sorry about that, this is the real one this time!

I am so grateful to you guys for being with me the past few months as I took the first stumbling steps towards being honest with my writing.

Sharing my fear-of-pregnancy story has been unbelievably empowering, healing, and inspiring. And your comments and re-tweets are at least 80% of that.

So, it’s time for the story to get it’s next step in evolution: I’m coming out! I’d like to invite you guys to visit my “real-life” blog, which I’ve been writing for several years, as I start to come out about my experience being afraid of pregnancy and aligning my life with the amazing Catholic teachings on sex and sexuality.

This isn’t just about pregnancy, though. I’m also coming out as a believing Catholic and conservative to my readers and real-life friends over there, so I’m pretty nervous. There’s not a lot of non-liberal information on the Internet, but I figure I can be one more blogger fighting the good fight with my real name and my real picture.

Here’s my first post in this topic, and I’d love it if you felt it was good enough to follow my journey on this new URL!

http://lifecommaetc.com/4-catholic-quotes-got-pregnant/

And I hope to continue the Twitter gabbing at my real handle, @LifeCommaEtc. I’ll be following you all shortly!

 

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Since When Is It Brave to Get Divorced? (#RealBravery)

I feel like I’m taking crazy pills and living on Mars. I’ve ready my second article in so many days about a woman who “bravely” left the man she promised to love forever. Both hit home to me: the first is a celebrity with millions of people who consider who a role model (and gave 56K Facebook likes to her “brave” decision). The second is a fellow online entrepreneur who grew a large blog at the price of her 2-year marriage.

Abuse and annulments aside, I just can’t deal with this!

When did it become brave to be selfish?

When did it become brave to lift up the, “Me, Me, Me” banner and wave it over your entire life like a magic wand, undoing all of the promises you’ve ever made?

I can see a few roots. Liberalism, for one, that puts “you do you” on a pedestal. But also the damage we’ve all had done to us by others. In a world without boundaries, where no one stands up for the truth, standing up for something selfish starts to look an awful lot like “taking things into your own hands” and “finally living your real life.”

Ugh!

My heart breaks!

My skin crawls!

Can we turn the angle, friends? Let’s call out some of the #RealBravery we see day in and day out but don’t stop to appreciate.

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I’d like to commend the bravery of my parents, for staying married 30+ years despite 6-month military deployments (with my mom alone with four kids at home), serious communication and compatibility issues, and computer addictions.

I’d like to commend the bravery of my husband’s parents, for staying married 30+ years despite infidelity and health and mental health issues.

I’d like to commend the bravery of my husband for staying with me and supporting me through 2 years of therapy and (it turns out) possibly self-imposed infertility even when he wanted children (and countless other flaws I have).

I’d like to commend the bravery of famous actors who put their career on pause to be supportive spouses and parents (Angela Landsbury’s 2nd marriage and Greg Kinnear’s marriage come to mind, but only because I looked them up on Wikipedia recently).

…That’s all I’ve got for now, but I really want to know:

Who do you want to commend for showing #RealBravery?

P.S. Before we get into this big Internet fight, please know one of my closest friends is divorced and going through the annulment process. I’m not saying it’s never okay to end a marriage (especially when it comes to situations of abuse and mental health issues). I’m saying it’s not brave to end a marriage because you aren’t willing to sacrifice your idea of what you want for your life for your spouse. 

Finally, the Good Parts of Being Pregnant

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Phew!

I am very happy to share that when I sit down to write about being pregnant now, only good things come up!

Connie Ann was right when she commented on my last post: it was a spiritual attack. It’d been going on for the first 9 weeks of being pregnant, and it continues to happen at 3AM when I am on one of my many bathroom breaks through the night.

But the rest of the time?

I can only assume that this is what being lifted up in prayer feels like.

The week we started sharing the news (with 1-2 people at a time, for a total of still a small group) I felt the excitement start to match the anxiety. Then slowly overcome it. Until now, I am so grateful to say, it’s a ratio of about 10% anxious to 90% grateful, excited, and suspiciously hopeful. I attribute it all to the prayers of our friends and family!

Thank you guys for bearing with me!

It’s so hard to struggle with doubts and anxieties when what you’re facing is 100% blessing and a miracle. After all, there’s no doubt in my mind that pregnancy is an amazing thing, a complete mystery, and something that is not guaranteed in anyone’s life. So feeling sad about it puts a massive cloud of guilt over the whole thing: shouldn’t I be grateful? Shouldn’t I be glowing?

But that’s the thing I keep learning and re-learning: everyone’s scars are different, and that’s why we can help each other so much when we’re compassionate.

The people who comment on the blog aren’t afraid of pregnancy (at least, they haven’t let me know they are!) so they can walk with me through this and provide this sense of abiding calm and clarity… that I was utterly incapable of giving myself.

What I hope that means is that I can take my lack of fear about other things in life (EMDR, re-configuring sexual morals, singlehood, among other things) and be strong for someone else.

So, I’ve got to run now, but expect something a little less dramatic/drastic next time I am able to write!

And thanks again!

Standing on a Cliff Waiting to Fall

I want to document my experience of pregnancy from the very start, but that’s going to have to wait. What’s on my heart right now is this sense of waiting and impending doom, and I feel like maybe that’s more common in pregnant ladies than we might think.

I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which means my thyroid doesn’t work well. It’s given me a host of issues to deal with over the past few years, but what weighs on me right now is that it increases your risk of miscarriage. When I was first confirmed pregnant, my TSH was 12. In the two times we’ve tested since then it’s dropped to 6 and stayed at 6, which are both bad, high numbers. Everyone wants it to drop under 2.

I’m also low-progesterone (possibly a complication of HT). That means I get a big shot of hormone in my butt cheek twice per week, and I’m also taking daily suppositories. It’s hard not to feel like a science experiment or a medical emergency that might end in heartache any day now.

Spoiler alert: I’m still pregnant right now.

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But. The fear that this isn’t going to work out, that I am now 10 weeks and “it’s going to happen or not in the next 2 weeks,” or “it could happen at any time after that” is unbearable sometimes. It makes it hard to “glow,” or to share the news without wanting to cry and give tons of disclaimers. Or do anything much but stare at things and try to reason this out with God.

It’s also become a spiritual thing that I hope someone can help me with:

  • I know God works all things for good
  • But the “good” is really, really painful sometimes
  • I’m afraid of the “good” that would come from a miscarriage

That’s what’s on my mind when I’m crying on the couch each evening, and what I’m asking the trees and clouds when I amble outside and pretend to get a little sunshine in the morning. When I can’t work, that’s what’s on my mind, too.

(Don’t get me started on work. The freelancer mid-life crisis is in full swing.)

So, yes, another life experience is on its way, fraught with opportunities to “let go and let God,” try to give up control, try to accept that I’m not in control of anything, try to accept that everything that happens will be good. But I feel a little like a traitor or a fake to be terrified of that good and anxious of when it’s going to strike.

What do you think?

I’m Pregnant

I could almost feel God laughing when I wrote the following words in my recent post, “Where Have You Been?”:

When or if I get pregnant, it is because of years and years of work tearing down this ego Satan has built inside of me.

Seriously. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a more hilarious thing to write literally within the days of the conception of my pregnancy.

(And boy – I mean literally. I’ve been charting my cycles with the Creighton method, and literally July 8th is around when ovulation happened.)

So, hey, wow. Let’s get this party started:

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Conceiving

That quote was dead on. (TMI Alert!) Thanks to EMDR, I overcame my emotional blocks (one day at a time) and we started making love to completion in late May. We made love that way three times, and then I became pregnant. This is interesting to me on so many levels, because I thought we had physical conception problems for the past three years.

But the story starts a little earlier. In April of this year, I completed a Whole 30 (very strict no sugar, grains, dairy, or “Paleo” desserts). For the first time in 5 years, my thyroid numbers were within range of normal.

So, were we infertile until May, and then would have become pregnant regardless of whether it was to completion or not? Or have we been fertile this whole time, and it’s only since EMDR has been working in my heart that it was going to happen? Literally only God knows.

“Knowing I’m Pregnant” Week 1

Are you ready for this? My first reaction to my pregnancy was terror and panic. I cried. I had panic attacks for the first time in a long time. I shouted at my husband — through gasping sobs — “I don’t think I can do this.” 

Is this any way to react to a miracle? Or, Lord help me, did Mary feel anything like this?

Looking back (er, looking at me now still), I can see there’s three parts to this reaction:

  1. Probably pretty normal: I’m not ready for this. I thought I had more time. This is a lot of change. Why not wait a few more days/weeks/years?
  2. Less normal but still normal:  I’m a sick person. My body can’t possibly support a pregnancy, so this whole thing is doomed from the start. (This is what keeps me up at night the most, when I’m not crying about it).
  3. Even less normal, pretty wicked: I don’t want to do this. I want to be comfortable, and I was just about to achieve it with my dedication to health and fine-tuning my mental performance so I could make money with my business.

I really had shelved a baby. I was always afraid of it (my chronic health issues make me afraid of being sick, and let’s face it, being sick is basically the daily cross of being pregnant). But I also felt misty-eyed when I thought of not having children.

(Side note confession: If I weren’t Catholic and I didn’t understand deeply just how much of an abomination it is, I would totally have thought surrogacy was an option).

I was in this weird, Catholic-but-oddly-secular place where I got to have the satisfaction of “wanting kids” and the freedom of “not being able to have kids.” I was getting away with it. And then… suddenly… I wasn’t.

Pairing that sense of joyful disbelief (I already gave up on a baby, after all) with the sense that I was on this path to utter destruction (it starts with queasiness and exhaustion and ends by ripping your body apart), my brain was on overload. I cried most of the first week and scared my poor husband.

 

“Knowing I’m Pregnant” Week 2

OK, I lied a little bit in the first section. My first reaction to pregnancy was actually very practical: I called all my doctors and determined that I should drive to a city about an hour away to start bioidentical progesterone shots.

It was surreal — telling nurses I was pregnant, getting HCG and progesterone tests, and so on. Turns out I was so newly pregnant that they weren’t sure I was pregnant and it had to be confirmed with another blood test over the weekend. That’s part of my life now, getting stuck in the butt with a big needle on Mondays and Thursdays. So, let’s start that timeline, too.

As for week 2, I was less panicked, but still crying a lot. This is a good time to mention that we also moved. Nothing quite like ripping yourself out of your home for the past 3 years for a new, bigger home, that’s a little more expensive and not quite as nice. I’m sure half my stress comes from getting used to a new place, but wow, it all combines at night to make me feel like this otherworldly, terrorized, crazy lady.

Things got slowly better, though. During week 2, we bought some fun books about parenting and pregnancy. I had a few moments of actually being excited about this, and enjoying the prospect of being pregnant. What if this really could work out?

“Knowing I’m Pregnant” Week 3

This just about brings us up to date. We’ve told a few close friends (basically the support network I would want if we miscarry) and my anonymous Internet community (that’s you guys). Everyone else is going to wait until October 1st.

I get very, very sad sometimes, and I am struggling with depression. But that seems to be my main “pregnancy” symptom.

I am relieved to say that I was so afraid of throwing up, and I haven’t yet! I get queasy easily, and the most appealing things to eat are mostly off-limits to me (carbs and sugar mostly, and I’m at risk for gestational diabetes so I started tracking that carefully).

I’m also exhausted a lot easier than ever before (and that’s saying something — I was already working 10-15 hour weeks to accommodate my lowered energy!). Making food for my husband and I is so far off my radar. We’ve been eating more to-go food and prepared food than ever before, and my counselor gave me the green light to not feel bad about it. We still eat very clean foods (we eat a Paleo/Whole 30 template), but cheese and gluten-free packaged treats have been sneaking into it.

Your Gift to Me: Fear Venting

I hate to bog you guys down with my fears, which are less real to you, but WOW if that’s not what I need to do!

I’ve been pulling away from friends and activities because I hate to cry in front of people without a solution in hand. Then there’s trying to think of something to say to people who don’t know I’m pregnant yet. I’ll work on this, but in the mean time I hope you’ll forgive me for walking through the deepest, darkest part of my heart right now:

  • What if we miscarry? This is a real risk for everyone who gets pregnant. The rates vary, but it could be as high as 25%. I felt a lot better once I learned that in many cases it’s simply unavoidable: it’s because the baby isn’t viable for some chromosomal reason, and it has to go. But I still fear this greatly, not just the loss but also the physical pain of uterine contractions. I’ve had very  bad period pains before — to the point of getting hot/cold sweats, shaking, and thinking I was going to pass out — and I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle the pain of a miscarriage.
  • What if we miscarry and I have to do this again? The idea of starting over at O with a pregnancy makes me cold to my bones. Honestly, part of my thoughts (that I can’t control) is that this is it, this is my shot, and if something goes wrong I’ll find a way to not have to do it again, like not having sex every again. I can’t explain this thought process, but it’s all based in fear, which means it’s not from God. I need to work on this.
  • What if I can’t work? I work for myself as a freelance writer. My income depends on me 1) finding clients, 2) writing for clients. Pregnancy craziness affects concentration and energy, which affects both those things. I am terrified I won’t be able to focus and then I won’t be able to make enough money to 1) cover the next few months of bills, 2) cover a maternity leave, 3) cover our taxes for last year and this year. I pray for a financial miracle every night (if that’s God’s will for us… otherwise I pray to be brave through all of this).
  • How do I maintain my friendships? My friends are almost all split between single women who crave a husband and a home life, and married women who are struggling to conceive. They have all been so gracious to me. But inside my head all I can think is that they want me to hush up and be grateful for the wonderful things I have in my life. And hey, I can’t argue with that, I should be grateful! But how do you deny your fears and discomforts to embrace only the positive? At my core I feel fear and discomfort with my new home and my pregnancy. I’ll pray to God to let me release them.

Well, there you go. Thank you so much for reading. I don’t want to dwell on my fears — my hope is that by sharing them with you, I can release them and focus on being excited to be a mother, grateful for the ability to be pregnant and the pregnancy itself, and closer to God by being closer to the miracle of life.

I don’t think it will feel real until I see a heartbeat at 12 weeks, but getting up 4 times a night to pee feels real enough for now!

Time to turn the mic to you: If you’ve been pregnant, what were the first few weeks like? If you’re struggling with infertility, do you forgive me for being terrified?

Where Have You Been?

When I look back on the changes in my life in the past two months, it feels like it’s a different person writing. That’s only a testament to the amazing change that can be wrought in your heart when God, the Holy Spirit, and counseling work together.

I’ve worked a lot, traveled a bit, and been in counseling almost every week. Here are some themes that are playing out in my life and bringing me closer to God:

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“You are more than what you do”

I have a tendency toward false idols (I think we all do). Work is a big one. Because I’m good at it and it rewards me with money, I tend to pour all of my time, thought, and energy into it in order to avoid harder things like being present to my husband, putting myself out there for my friends (new and old), and being available to God.

Right now, my business is in a slow growth state, which gives me a lot of time to reflect and feel fear. More than ever before, though, I’ve been trying to stick with mantras like, “It’s all in God’s hands,” and “What happens will happen.” I’m still very afraid, but I also feel a bit of anesthesia from a fear that would usually be wringing my guts out. I’ve prayed for peace from God (and the ability to stop seeing money as security) and I can feel God working in me.

Sex as mutual self-giving

At the time of this writing, the past two times we’ve made love has been to completion. It feels so weird and amazing (and TMI) to write that, but it’s an important part of my story. It’s also one that I want people to know about. When or if I get pregnant, it is because of years and years of work tearing down this ego Satan has built inside of me.

I want to be clear it’s all by the grace of God and that the only way forward was to get out of my own way and give everything to Him. Which, ironically, sounds a lot like what I was afraid of in the first place (giving everything up). So it’s all an amazingly intertwined spiritual pretzel.

I still worry I’m not having sex enough or that I won’t be able to have it to completion enough (or each time), but part of the work I’m doing has been to turn off my brain. I am enough. What I’m doing is enough. And I should never dwell on not being enough, just as I should never stop trying to improve myself and my spiritual condition… the beauty of the Both/And Catholicism!

I still wonder if other women go through this. It’s not something people bring up in polite company too often, so it’s hard to get a sense of how normal this is, but if I keep chugging away with my story I hope I can find others or help someone dealing with the same thing.

What does “OK” mean?

So many things affect how I think I’m doing. My health, my bank account, my mood, how much I’ve accomplished in a given day. But God tells us only one thing matters: I’ve had to keep reminding myself that I will be the best-version-of-myself no matter how the future finds me based on my spiritual health, not my physical health, possessions, or mind.

What does OK mean to you? Getting into a certain college? Getting a certain salary? Dating a certain person? Imagine how much stress would fall away from us if we focused on the only thing that matters: how quickly and easily we express our love for God. When that’s all that matters to us, we stop fighting those great things because they don’t look the way they think they should, and we leave room for God to do great things in our lives.

There’s so much more, but that’s enough of a check-in for now (and I hope to be back more regularly starting now). I’d love to hear how you all are doing and what you’re reading!

Even High School Love Should Be God’s Love

“I don’t know if I love you, but if I don’t, I know I want to.”

After more than a year of dating, that’s the closest I’d come to having the boyfriend I’d been sleeping with say he loved me. It was a hot summer night, and he was dropping me off at my house after we spent the day together.

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You’d think this — in addition to his serious addiction to pornography — would have been enough of a “Get the heck outta there!” warning to back away, but for some reason it didn’t register.

Instead, I wandered inside my house in a daze, wondering what it meant that my boyfriend really wanted to love me. He wanted to (he was good), which meant he couldn’t (because I was bad?), which meant I was unlovable (really bad, then?).

I’m not here to relive sad memories. I’m hoping that hearing this story might show you what could be going on in the life of someone you know. Picture your daughter, or your niece, or your best female friend as a 16-year-old and replay this scene in your head (and believe me, it’s possible. Kids are having sex as early as fifth grade now, and if they aren’t having sex they know someone who is or they’re talking about it). Looking at it now, it’s despicable. It’s ludicrous.

I wish I had a clear answer about what would have turned my path back then. M parents raised me in a Catholic church and I was half-involved with youth activities. But some perfect storm of emotional vulnerability and insecurity left me wide open for the influence of a cute boy who wanted to hang out with me.

What can you do for that person in your life now? I don’t know. Anything I wish my brothers had done (find this guy and beat him up, demand that we stop seeing each other, reveal everything to my parents) would have been very painful and awkward at the time. But I wonder how much it would have helped to have a strong relationship with someone who would have given me the tough feedback I needed to hear.

Here’s a small selection of things I didn’t know then that I know now:

Your body and your soul are connected; what you do with your body, you do to your soul. (C/o Sr. Helena Burns, FSP’s foreword to Chastity is for Lovers!)

If someone doesn’t love you enough to want you to have a beautiful life and a strong marriage, why do you think they love you enough to be worthy of sleeping with them?

If you have to “do things” in order to keep a friendship or a relationship, you’re better off without that relationship.

As I learned in reflecting on Strange Gods, I don’t pretend it was up to someone else to “save me” from these bad decisions. I moved forward in this relationship because I had no relationship with God. At the time, it felt like it was John or bust. And then a sort of Nightingale Effect settled in and I began to deeply love the one-sided relationship I was having.

So that’s where I’d start. If you’re concerned about a loved one or you want to be a part of the team that prevents these kinds of things from happening, start with God. Start with relationship. And start right now.

Your turn: Where do you think bad decisions come from in the teenage years? 

PS Wrote this post to the Casting Crowns channel. My husband loves them! What do you think?