The Measles Vaccine and the Mommy Wars

This morning I read a thread that made me want to cry. It was originally a very strongly worded pro-vaccine post, and below one anti-vaccine mom tried to politely give her stance. Mom after mom ganged up on her, correcting her, but with barbed comments about not loving her child enough, or emoticons laughing at genuine things she was saying. I had so much admiration for how well she held it together. She was even brave enough to come out and say that it wasn’t ok how they were treating her, only to be met with mockery about that too.

The sad thing is, I see this EVERY DAY. Every day I see a new post of two different sides of an argument, the side that considers themselves smarter than the other pummels the person who holds the minority opinion. It happens on anti-vaccine sites too. The anti-vaccine moms can throw down with the best of them-on the posts and groups that are made for them. The cry it out moms do it to the attachment parents, the car seat safety moms do it to any mom who didn’t know a rule out of thousands, the rich moms do it to the poor moms, the poor moms do it to the rich moms, the Montessori parents do it to the Waldorf parents who do it to the public school parents who do it to the private school parents. And so on.

Even I am guilty of it, though I do my best not to be. I have ruined friendships over judging their parenting choices. I have been awkward and condescending when someone told me what they did with their kid, or when they treated them a certain way in front of me, or when they treated my kid in that way in front of me. You know what, it wasn’t worth it. These were amazing people that I was unkind to, and they didn’t deserve it. They are doing their best with the information they have been given, just like I am.

It even goes beyond mommy wars, it’s the war between people. Non-gamers do it to gamers, people of different religions do it to each other, people of the same religion do it to each other, people in different neighborhoods, different backgrounds, different jobs, different races, different sexes, different preferences on sex, sexuality, sex education.(sex is particularly polarizing.)

I take the route that I feel is the safest most of the time. I just stay out of it. I don’t want to argue with you, or your friends, about whichever new thing it is. I don’t want to bully or pummel or be bullied or pummeled or whatever word you use for it. Maybe I am a snowflake, but if that means that I am kinder to people for it, then that’s what I am going to be. I ask you to join me. Be kind to yourself and those around you. If you disagree, put yourself in their shoes before you make fun of them or attack their character. Realize that everyone here is just doing their best, and we may disagree sometimes, but we are all just trying to get through life with a thousand different things beating us up along the way. Don’t be one more thing that hurts somebody. Maybe when you see a conversation like this, just send some love and light into the situation, or when you give your own opinions add some compassion to your post. Maybe think about how you would feel if you were in the same situation instead of assuming you know everything.

In The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart, the author talks about how the internet has created a throwaway culture of people. Getting away from someone you disagree with is as easy as a click of a button, bullying or being rude is too, even if it is unintentional, which is easy in a world of emoticons and tone less typed words. I can say from personal experience that there is something different that happens when you live in community with people. You HAVE to make it work with those people, or your every day life is hell. You are forced to make up from fights because you can’t just give them the silent treatment forever because they are in your lunch line and it’s freaking awkward. The people around you want you to make it better because it sucks for everyone. There is pressure to fix the relationship or to be kind in the first place. That doesn’t exist online, there’s no security to relationships or conversations on the internet. Personally, I am striving to value every single person as much as if we were in person all the time. That doesn’t mean I have to be best friends with everyone, but it does mean that I am trying to treat people like real people, not faces on the internet. If you knew you had to see that person every day for the rest of your life, would you be that rude to them? Would you hurt them life that? To be fair, sometimes that makes it worse, sometimes it gets harder not to judge when you see a mom with her kids every single day and she does things so differently than you. You might feel like she’s not as a good a mom, or they aren’t as good of a person, or they aren’t trying as hard as you. You might even see them succeeding or failing at something that you do not succeed or fail at and that might make you angry, bitter, jealous, sad, or lonely, but here’s the thing, there is something that you succeed or fail at that makes them feel all the same emotions.

My favorite saying of all time is “Be kind. You will never know how much the person beside you is suffering.” Live that truth. Live like you have seen them crying alone in the chapel at night. Live like you have seen them love like no one else. Live like you have seen the best and worst in them and still love them. Love every single person with unconditional love, even the ones you don’t want to.

Meredith Grey loved the serial killer(Greys Anatomy-Season 5), can you?

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What the New York Abortion Bill Means to Me

When I found out I was pregnant with Emma, my husband walked away from me, went upstairs and blared slipknot. I trembled downstairs in fear.

When I was pregnant with Emma, my husband and I fought every single day. These were not little, meaningless spats. They were screaming arguments, “How are we going to pay for that? How are we going to take care of her? What are we going to do?” We would scream at each other for hours and break down into the kind of sobs that take over your whole body, and your guts come out through your eyes.

It never stopped. Every single day we erupted in terror at the only person we could talk to about it.

We were Catholic. There were no options. We were stuck, and we were screwed. We had no insurance because we couldn’t afford it, but because we were paying rent we couldn’t get Medicaid. We didn’t have our own house. We were living in a tiny bedroom, sleeping together in a twin bed as I grew enormous in a matter of weeks. My mom has always said that using NFP meant that you didn’t really trust God, and I had had virtually no sex education so it didn’t occur to me how quickly you could get pregnant, if you were married(obviously you get pregnant if you even think about having sex if you aren’t married.)

Our marriage was ruined, we had no idea how we would survive, or how she would. I was terrified of hospitals, and we couldn’t afford one anyway.

I had fleeting thoughts of wishing I would miscarry, but I could feel her. She was present in me and I knew her, but I couldn’t stand the pain of knowing that she would always be afraid because we couldn’t provide for her.

It got so bad that I considered abortion. Not fully, not seriously, but for a second, I thought about it. It is almost impossible for me to admit that as a Catholic.

Later, I don’t even know how it happened, but one day I realized I was reading a how-to on committing a natural abortion. I think I may have been searching for vitamin safety during pregnancy, and then saw this article and was so shocked it even existed. I had been taking a ton of vitamins that weren’t safe to stay healthy while I was so run down, and again, for a split second, I thought, “What if I just kept doing it?”

It couldn’t be a sin right? It’s just taking a vitamin, for my health. It’d be an accident. I’d like to think I didn’t mean it, but I was so scared.

We lost her a week later.

In the most horrifying, tragic moment of my life, I miscarried our honeymoon baby.

I don’t know if it was the vitamins I was taking unknowingly, the lack of sleep, the exhausting work I was doing, the stress, or just my body’s inability to form the baby correctly, but whatever it was she was gone. She IS gone.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel some repercussion of losing her. She is my butterfly effect proof. She is everywhere. She was all over my periods every time I questioned whether they were miscarriages or not. She was there every step of my pregnancy with my rainbow, and my double rainbow. She is there when I check my babies breathing at night. She is there when I hear stories of women losing their children. She is in me still, even though she’s not for anyone else.

I cannot believe now that there were moments I did not want her. Now, I would give anything to take those moments back, to have her back. I was so scared, and I try not to blame myself, but losing a child, whether it is your fault or not, is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. It is the greatest pain that you can imagine, and it isn’t healed by time. The thought fades, thankfully, but the grief never does.

In the face of the New York bill, what I want to say to you, is that you do not know what these women are feeling. A woman who is losing her child, has lost her child, or could lose her child, is in a kind of pain that you cannot imagine if you have not been there. There are women who are pro-life who have held their own children lifeless in their arms, and they cannot stand the idea of another child being lost. There are women who are pro-choice who have faced the worst nightmares and had to ask “what do I do?” No matter who you are, you do not know what is in the hearts of who you are against. You do not know what drives them.

So? You ask. What do I do with that information? Find out. Learn from the pain of others how to address problems in a way that helps everyone. Ask the mom who is contemplating abortion what she needs, and help her find it. Start a fund for women who are struggling. Be compassionate. If you are pro-choice, ask the pro-life women what are they worried about, what is wrong with the bill? What do they want?

More than anything, tell your story, tell it as loud as you possibly can, until you are heard. Stop telling everyone else what’s wrong with them, and speak your truth.

When Morning Sickness is not just Morning Sickness

Dear Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistakes

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

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

 

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

Fat Yoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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