Love First

I am currently reading a book about Boundaries that threw me for a loop and shut me down a little bit. I started to believe that maybe everything I ever said was wrong and everything I have ever believed is ridiculous. It discusses that it is ok to set boundaries and say “this is ok” or “this is not ok.” Some of the ways they talked about it made me feel like maybe I don’t believe in truth and everything everyone has said about me being a relativist is right. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. The conclusion I have come to for now is that I do believe that there is truth. I do believe that there I can know the truth and set boundaries. However, I don’t believe that I know all of the truth, and I believe that truth is better shared when love has created a foundation first.

I grew up in a community that was so focused on rules that everyone hated everyone. The adults were all constantly gossiping about and criticizing each other. It was ridiculous. Our priest was the worst of all of them. He gossiped about everyone and had something awful to say about everyone at one point or another. Before that priest, there was this meek, quiet priest who terrified altar boys behind the scenes. He had them trained so intensely that I saw an altar boy wet his pants so he wouldn’t get in trouble for leaving the altar. Even before that, we went to a Church that literally threw people out if they didn’t do exactly what the priests wanted them to do. In fact, a good family friend even broke off his engagement just on their say so. Obviously, my experience of the Catholic Church has been less than positive to say the least.

In college, I got to experience something completely different.

I went to Ave Maria University, and Father Colum and Father Henry terrified me. They were different than anything I had ever seen before. I avoided their Mass because it was the praise and worship Mass, and I had been raised to believe that was evil. One time I went to confession to Father Colum and he yelled at me and I thought he was a monster.

One day, I let my friends convince me to attend a silent retreat with the nuns associated with Father Colum and Father Henry’s order. Every day I am so grateful that I did that. Father Henry gave a beautiful meditation on the baby Jesus and His love for us. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I will never forget that moment, in adoration with a tiny monstrance in front of us, listening to his calming voice tell us how incredibly loved we are.

It changed everything for me.

He talked about a God who made Himself a baby because He wanted us to see that He loved us and accepted us. For the first time in my life, I felt completely and truly accepted. He thought I was wonderful and amazing and beautiful. I cried so. many. happy. tears. that weekend.

Later, I started going to the praise and worship Mass and discovered it was nothing like what I had heard about. It was reverent and beautiful and full of love for God. Rarely did Father Colum or Father Henry talk about rules or what Catholics do or do not have to do in their sermons. They did do it occasionally, but very rarely, and only when it was a public issue for a reason. (For Ave students-the pie eating contest 😉 and the once yearly porn sermon of course.) They spoke about scripture and who Jesus was. They broke down epistles and gospels and explained what they mean for our relationship to God. It seemed like every time I was overwhelmed or stressed, they had exactly the words I needed to hear.

Over time, I spent more time with them, and I learned so much. Their ability to love others unconditionally was something I still treasure. One of the most powerful moments in my understanding of spirituality was when Father Henry who I had never heard condemn a single person for how they acted sexually, or judge anyone for being inappropriate, told me and my boyfriend that he wore the black cassock in Florida because he wanted to offer up the suffering for anyone who struggles with impurity. He didn’t say this in any manipulative way, we asked him about it. It was a completely genuine admission of an act of love he does for others. He didn’t even assign blame to anyone, or a type of act, just impurity.

Father Colum ironically became a safe place for me. He heard me out on things that no one else would, and took the time to guide me spiritually on them. When we studied James Joyce in school, everyone hated him and talked about how evil he was, but Father Colum heard me out on my staunch belief that Joyce’s devotion to God is still present in his work, and in fact, he wrote a book about it, that I am slowly attempting to read right now.

When Father Colum and Father Henry talked about “rules,” it was always from a place of understanding God’s love for us. Rules were not made up to make us suffer, they were not arbitrary. They were help given to us by a God who loves us to help us in a hard crazy world. They didn’t throw rules around at people who had no reason to follow them, they gave love, and then when we needed help with making good decisions we asked them.

I learned so much from them, but the point of this particular post is that all I needed all my life was to hear over and over and over again who God is. There are a thousand voices that say He hates us, and all the reasons why He will condemn us, but that’s not who He is. When I say that love is most important, I am not saying that truth doesn’t matter, but the truth is different if Love is first. Every rule that the Church gives is different if love is behind it. The way we argue, the way we talk, the way we teach, is different if love is behind it.

Over and over again I have had authorities in the Church argue with me about this. A famous archbishop shut me down at a talk about why millenials are leaving the Church(I was thinking about leaving the Church and I am a millenial,) a nun who barely knew me blew me off. Over and over again I have reassessed and questioned myself about this. Our faith is meant to be a deeper relationship with Christ. Christ was radically loving to the point of making people angry. Yes, we need to speak the truth. Yes, we need to believe in truth. No, it is not more important than Love. The Church will not heal until it starts being about radical Love again, and only giving the truth after that.

Please Stop Choosing Sides

Lately, my newsfeed has been inundated with posts screaming, “YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE A SIDE.” Of course, half the time the premise also includes condescending language about how if you don’t choose a side, you are choosing the wrong side, and there is something wrong with you. I am so sick of this.

Let me tell you right now. You do not have to choose a side.

You do have to make decisions in your life based on the knowledge you have at any given moment.

You do not have to choose a side.

Isn’t there enough side choosing in this world? Everything is about how we are divided from each other, and what makes us different, and why “I” am better than “you.”

Stop. Doing. That.

For all of the people spewing religion as the reason, and promising me that God will punish me if I don’t. Name me one time that Jesus took a side when He was on earth. He did not take sides. He loved people on either side. The only time He went up against people was when they were hurting someone else.

In fact, the people He went up against the most were the ones who were constantly beating other people over the head with their words. He got in trouble for “breaking the rules” again and again and again.

Yes, He did not come to “abolish the law” but to “fulfill it,” but that doesn’t mean that He didn’t dismiss things that weren’t really a part of the law, or were legalistic things that people were using to hurt others. The Pharisees tried to trap Him by asking about helping a man on a Sabbath day. There was no right answer to that, they would have said He was unwilling to help if He said not to help, and they would have said He didn’t honor the Sabbath if He said to help. He called them out and basically said, “You would help a sheep if it fell into a ditch. Isn’t a human more important? Of course, it’s ok.” AND THEY PLOTTED TO KILL HIM.


Sometimes, I feel like the Church today has a lot of people like this. Some Catholics are so caught up in the rules that they don’t see the people behind them, or worse, they just see them as evil. The Church I grew up in was so caught up in this that even though I was a goody two shoes, I basically wore a scarlet letter “A” my entire time there.

People have argued with me about this over and over and over again, and the biggest argument has always been, “Yeah, but Jesus said, ‘Go and sin no more,'” to the Samaritan woman.” Sure. He did. He never said what her sin was, and He never shamed her for sinning, or was harsh to her at all. He offered her life, and he offered her love. Same with the adulterous woman. “Whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” Ironically, He was the only one there with no sin, and He did not cast a stone.

I am not saying by any means that there is no truth, or that there is no right and wrong. I am always being told that that is what I am doing, but it’s not. Just because there is truth and there is right and wrong does not mean that you know all of it and I don’t. It also doesn’t mean that I know all of it and you don’t. There is a lot to learn and know in this world, and it is wise to realize that you are not the only one who knows truth, and you do not know all of the truth, and neither do I. We are all doing the best with what information we have been given, and that is all we can do.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t share our truth with others. That is the point of real discussion. If we have good reasons for believing what we do, it is good to share those reasons with others. It is not good to bludgeon them with our opinion and say they have to agree because we say so and our authority is better than theirs. Be willing to share your opinion, when it is the right time, and with kindness.

There is one exception to all of this. The one thing that really riled Jesus up. We need to protect people who are getting hurt. Jesus whipped the people who were taking advantage of the poor at the synagogue, He reprimanded those who wanted to kill the adulterous woman. Over and over again He defends those who are being hurt by others. He is the protector of the weak.

Is that who we are as Christians? Are we unashamed in our protection of those who are being hurt? Even if we don’t agree with them?

Are we vocal about protecting LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination? Do we speak about immigrants with kindness and love? Do we protect women who are trying to live a Godly life but it is an unbearable cross for them? Do we make our communities a safer place for everyone, not just the people who follow our dress codes, know our rules, and speak in our way?

Because there is one side everyone should be on. The side of Truth and Love. It takes humility to do that, to not be on one side or the other, but to see both sides and love both sides. It is what I strive to do, and what I pray that everyone will learn to do, so that there will be peace on earth. (starts singing, ‘and good will to men….’….yeah, couldn’t help it. 😉 )

Pax Christi.

NFP Sucks. TTA(obvs)

Okay.

A post about sex.

Okay.

It’s time.

I haven’t done one in a while.

It’s time.

Talk about sex.

Okay. Go.

NFP. TTA. This freaking sucks.

Did you know that in the yoga world the part of the body that is associated with sex is also connected to creativity?

Here I sit, TTA, super fertile, baby fever so bad it almost makes me forget how tired I am of being sick, and my writing is stilted. The flow is off. My husband and I are off kilter, like we always are when we aren’t having sex when our bodies want to, and I am crabby as heck because all day I wanted to do the fertile crazy clean the house dance, and I couldn’t because I had to naptime.(Yes naptime feels like it takes all day. 3 hours is close enough when bedtime takes 3 hours too.)

This is why people make jokes about how someone just needs to get laid.

Seriously.

NFP sucks. It just does. There’s all this glamour talk about how great it is and it makes you and your spouse closer, blah, blah, blah.

It’s a lie.

Seriously, they are lying.

Why? They are trying to make themselves feel better.

Because it sucks…and not in the good way…sorry…had to.

NFP sucks because everything in your mind and body is telling you to do the one thing that your rational mind is telling you you CANNOT do. Technically, that’s why the Church is ok with it, because they want you to feel the pressure of stopping what your body wants to do, because really, the Church at it’s core wants us to live according to what is natural to our bodies and the world.(That’s not the only reason, but it is a big one.) They want you to feel the pressure so that if you are not stopping yourself from having children for a good reason, you feel the pressure to do otherwise.

In this vein, some people in the Church say that if you are having baby fever then maybe that’s God’s way of telling you that you should not be trying to avoid. However, If you are fertile and you are having baby fever, that is just what your body is telling you. Wait until your period to make any decisions, unless your reasons really aren’t that strong, and then do whatever you want. Which is sex. Because biology.

And now for the obvious question of why am I not on birth control?

My reasoning is that birth control is freaking scary. I react really badly to pretty much every real medicine I have ever taken, and I have seen how bad the birth control side effects can get. NFP sucks bad, but it doesn’t suck as bad as having my hormones go absolutely crazy, and risking cancer. Plus, understanding my body’s rhythms has taught me a lot and helped me to see a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

The Church does teach against it, so let’s be honest, of course I would never have gone through with doing it, because when it comes down to it, I do follow the Church rules(when I believe they really are Church rules, but that’s another blog post.) This rule I am grateful for though, because I am seeing how much it has hurt many of my friends, and how much good that NFP can do-even though I hate it and say this super begrudgingly.

So. NFP sucks.

But there are worse things.

So I guess I’ll keep going.

But I’m still gonna whine about it.

❤ ❤ ❤










I Need to Calm Down: Weight Loss Angry Day

I am so angry.

This week I hopped on the scale to see that I had gained pretty much all of the weight I had lost back. Seriously?? After all of this time? What was the point of any of it if I’m back at this? My BMI was back up by a full point, and my muscle was down. I started to do my inches and I just gave up, “Nope, I am not putting myself through this.”

I rested on it a little while and everything felt a little more stressful all day. I survived the day though and I started to realize. I didn’t gain EVERYTHING back. I gained some weight back yes, but considering that from when I started I had two pregnancies and ended up even heavier than I had ever been, but got it back down, That’s incredible. I started to slow down a little bit and take some time to give myself some credit.

Here’s a list of my achievements:

I have still lost 32.5 inches. It is not as amazing as the 60 I originally had lost, but that is still a lot! Especially if you consider what else I have done in the last couple of years. I had 2 pregnancies, and not just normal pregnancies but pregnancies where I was super sick and under a great deal of stress. We moved-THREE TIMES, changed jobs twice, lost the higher income paycheck to me becoming a stay at home mom, and all of this while dealing with severe anxiety and depression made worse by hormones that are skyrocketing and plummeting constantly.

Plus, there are a lot of mitigating factors to my numbers. Ok, my boobs are bigger, I AM BREASTFEEDING SO FREAKING DUH! They are STILL less than they originally were, and that is awesome! I got them down way small before they had to hold the morning noon and night buffet! (I love breastfeeding but it does add inches, lol)

Also, my weight? I went way up when I was pregnant with Sage! And managed to get it all the way back down to AGAIN?! In a year? While breastfeeding and raising two toddlers and under ridiculous amounts of stress? That’s pretty awesome.

Even still, some of those measurements were really exciting measurements to improve.

That difference on my calves made the difference between me buying regular or wide calf boots.

The inches on my hips made it to where I can shop in stores now for my pants and shorts, I don’t have to order online anymore.

The two inches on my arm got rid of a lot of the flabbiness that drove me crazy.

Also, I GOT TO MY GOALS. This year, I got a Victoria’s Secret pajama set! I didn’t like the fabric so I returned them, but I FIT IN IT. I was able to shop in stores for the clothes I wanted. I still am. In fact the shorts I bought in Target are now too big and I need new smaller ones. My body has completely changed over and over again and I am still better off than I was.

Biggest of all, I achieved a goal that I didn’t think was possible. I balanced my hormones enough to have two babies. That is a huge enormous deal for me. My babies lived. ❤

Time to set new goals, but those are some pretty amazing goals to have achieved.

5 Steps to Take When the Baby Steps Seem Too Big

This week, I wanted to give up on Dave Ramsey so bad. I was so done and hopeless feeling I wanted to pull out the credit card and just spend it all. I’m a free spirit and spending as little as possible to put as much as possible towards debt and towards our future needs wears on me. I just want to spend with reckless abandon, but that’s exactly what I am learning not to do. I love spontaneity and hate planning, and I am learning to have a plan. I want to run free and go play and do whatever I want, but my poor wild heart has a lot of constraints on it right now, not just from Dave Ramsey, but from being a relatively new mom, from living with my parents, from being low income, from not having my own car, from helping Patrick do work and school, and from recovering from HG. (Wow, writing that is kind of comforting. No wonder I’m having a hard time!) It is a lot to be doing at once. In fact, I read an article on Dave Ramsay’s site that said it was ok to stop if you are in a big life transition, and we are in about 5 big life transitions. I have no plan of stopping, but it was nice to hear that even Dave would understand what we are up against. Anyway, the point is, I was crushed under the weight of it all this week, and I was convinced there was no point in working this hard because it will never get better.
To be fair, I am not completely out from under it yet because this week’s stresses are still there. However, I am working on pulling back out of it, and I thought I would share some things that help me when I feel like I cannot go on.

1. PRAY! I know some people will struggle with this step but Dave Ramsey teaches that financial peace only comes through the “Prince of Peace.” There was time in our journey when it seemed like everything was falling apart, it seemed like everything we had done was for nothing. I listened to Dave on the radio, and he said that line about the Prince of Peace. I realized we had been missing the whole point of FPU. I went back to the prayer that started us on this journey, and I offered my fear to God. Ever since then, when things get bad, I stop(or if Patrick is with me we stop) and we say that prayer. It’s not magic, manna doesn’t fall from the sky every time, but every time we have experienced enough grace to pull out of the anxiety spiral, and eventually, to figure out how to fix the problem. Sometimes, manna really does fall from heaven.

2. Take a Technology Break-My brain gets so buzzy from being on social media and reading all of the reasons why it’s not ok that I’m having a hard time, and all the reasons that it all is, what my life should look like, how many people have died, how much else I should be doing, who I should actually be instead of me, and whatever people think is wrong with me. Sometimes, it is time to just step away for a little bit, and get a chance to move around, breathe fresh air, whatever else you need to do to be ok.

2. Give Credit Where it’s Due. Quiet your mind for long enough to think about the good you have already done. Maybe even have some sort of ritual to be account for it. I redesign our tracking sheets periodically because actually writing out where we have been vs. where we are now is pretty amazing. Once, I thought we had done nothing at all, and we were making no progress, but then I was able to see that we had in fact paid down $3000 of our debt, on top of saving our emergency fund!

3. What is The Lesson. One thing Dave Ramsey is teaching me is how to give myself grace while still taking responsibility for my actions. This week, the lesson was, we have to get better about planning for the future. I started to downward spiral into despair and beating myself up about not doing it, but don’t do that. You are still learning, and you are going to mess up. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but it’s worth it. Don’t Quit.

4. Rest Most of the time when I am feeling this way, it is because we have been overly stressed about other things and it has dominoed into our financial life. Spend some time in quiet, or quality time with the family, or whatever is free and recharges you. It makes a huge difference.

5. Do Something About It Once you have rested(and NOT before), take some time to do something about whatever it is you are worried about. If you need some extra money, figure out how you are going to make it, or where you can look at the budget again to retool it, sometimes I go back and the problem I thought was there actually isn’t at all. If things are not going fast enough, do something that will make you money in the future, work on your big money dreams if you have them-for me it’s my blog writing and my screenwriting. When I am in these downward spirals, I stop working on this stuff, which is ridiculous because these are my dream for changing everything. Once I go back to them though, I remember that we are planting seeds for the future even if it seems like they are too small to mean anything.

Once I have followed each of these steps, it is amazing to see how much everything can improve. The heart of Dave Ramsey’s teaching is to become a person who lives by faith and not by fear, and doing each of these things transforms my heart everytime. I am so grateful for the little steps we are taking even though I am not patient and they seem like nothing. I pray one day we will look back in awe at what a difference we made when we gave our little seeds to God’s hands.

Planning for the Future: Even When All You Have Feels like Nothing

All day I’ve been cursing at myself about how we haven’t been planning for the future. “We had one good paycheck and we used it all up. We should have saved every penny for the future. This is God punishing us because we messed up again.” Over and over again I thought of all of the things I could have done better, or should have known about.

It took my husband forgiving me for yelling when one of the little one hit me, hard, in the face with a wet swimsuit, to snap me out of it. I immediately called her out to apologize for yelling. I saw him looking at me and said, “Look, I know, I’m a bad mom now. I’m trying, it’s just been a stressful day.” He silenced me and told me that he was just letting me finish. “You are being a good mom, most moms wouldn’t have apologized so quickly.” He told me I was a great mom, and all of my discouragement came out at him. I told him I felt like there was no point to anything and we failed and nothing turns out right in the end. He told me, “What makes the difference is you keep going.”

It rang in my ear for hours.

What makes the difference is you keep going.

I kept thinking about how many times I had started something and given up, how many times I had told myself that I would never get better, how many times people told me I would never succeed. I thought about what if it wasn’t true, what if everything really is hopeless? I thought about how important my why is.

Then, I started to realize little ways I am planning for the future that I wouldn’t have before. Last month we bought diapers in bulk with extra money so we would have leftover to get things for the girls. We are learning how to plan how much we will need for groceries. We have been planning out which paycheck we will need our medicines on. Then, I realized some little ways we are planning for the future. My husband is going to school for our future. I am submitting my writing everywhere I can think of for our future, we are living with my parents for our future. Our sacrifices may look like nothing to my naked eye, but, it occurred to me, maybe they are the seeds we will reap(‘you reap what you sow’ has been on my mind lately.)

Then I thought about faith as small as a mustard seed, and how small a mustard seed. What we are sowing now in this dry and hard season feels as small as a mustard seed. It feels like it doesn’t matter, like there’s no point, but we ARE sowing. Every single day we are planting seeds of financial freedom, planting seeds of a loving family, planting seeds of hope for the future of our dreams.

I don’t know if we will get to the end and say it was all for nothing. I sure hope not. I know that I have been told over and over about how God does not promise happiness in this life. I know though that God does WANT happiness for us in this life. He wants abundance in our lives, and no matter how many people tell me otherwise, He has told me over and again who He is when it comes to that. God wants us to have abundance. I also know that I can’t get to the end and know I didn’t at least try for a better future.

When Every Choice Feels Like Life or Death: Dave Ramsey with a Small Shovel

Last week, I spent too much of our grocery budget.

I was sick of not having snacks to eat or to give our toddlers. As any mom knows, all toddlers want to eat are snacks, all day long, every day, and it gets really old cooking a new meal every five minutes just for it to get thrown on the floor and crushed. Plus, I’m breastfeeding, so trying to get enough calories to sustain myself feels like a full time job in itself. On top of all of that, I was stressed, exhausted, and hungry, because the week before I didn’t overspend my grocery budget.

So I overspent.

Of course like every time I make a mistake, there was an avalanche of other things that went wrong in the paycheck, so there was nowhere to cushion. Plus, it was the first paycheck that I had really felt like I could breathe so I treated us a little bit. We got Downy Unstoppables, and I got the expensive bar soap. Some Dave enthusiasts would remind me that this was my stupid and it was fault, and I should’ve planned for the future better, do better next time. I can hear it now, because I’m telling myself all about it now.

The problem is, it’s not stupid. Right now, we really don’t have a lot of extra money. We are making big, big financial sacrifices to keep our babies healthy and loved. We can’t afford for me to be a stay at home mom, but we are working every day to make it possible and to survive it because it is so important to both of us that our little girls have me home with them.

Because of those financial sacrifices we are operating on a very low budget, with very few places to save money. Because of having so much going on, we have very little time to make more money, or to find ways to save more money. Yes, there are little places we could cut, but even our FPU coordinator said she thought we had it cut down to the barest bones possible.

The problem with being that low with only that much money coming in is that every single mistake is a world shattering stupid moment that can domino into a thousand different things going wrong. When more money is available, it’s easy to just switch around the budget to cover a mistake and it’ll be okay. In our situation, if I make a single mistake ever on how much I spend, it could affect our lives for the next month. If I get sick and don’t meal plan perfectly, or if I am tired, or if my husband works overtime, its like the entire world falls apart and I start to feel like there’s no point in even trying.

What’s even worse is the ridiculous amount of guilt I am consumed by, like it is my fault that we are suffering and I don’t even deserve for us to be better because I am so stupid. I am not stupid, I am a human going through a million different huge life transitions all at once with hormones flying in a thousand different directions. I am swimming against the current with weights tied to my back. In these moments, it is important to tell myself that. It is crucial to remind myself how freaking hard our situation is, or I just crumble in shame at my own weakness.

I have to remind myself every single day that even though it doesn’t feel like it we are moving forward. I have to remind myself to be grateful for what we do have, but it’s ok to struggle with what we don’t. I have to remind myself that we are learning important life lessons, and we have to be patient. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to accept help when it is the difference between spending time with our babes or not. I have to remind myself over and over again that there is hope.

I’m not always good about this, and sometimes the reminders feel ridiculous and I start to feel so worthless because we haven’t worked it out yet, and we haven’t finished our journey yet, but we are still trying. We are not giving up, no matter what it takes. We are moving forward even if it feels like it will never be enough. Even on the days when I feel like I am inside of a tornado, I am not giving up this fight.

If you know what it’s like to struggle like this, and you want to cry when some people talk about paying off huge chunks of debt, know that I am here fighting alongside you, you are not alone. There will be good days when you make some headway, and there may be days where living within your means feels like dying, and I am here with you for every one of them.

If you don’t know what this is like, that is totally fine. I am happy for you, and I am glad that your experience is better, but please just be gentle with the people who are in different situations than you are. Don’t assume someone is lazy because they aren’t making every choice you would, don’t assume anything about them. The greatest thing you can do is to just be there, hear them, and remember when something was hard for you, and what you needed back them. I pray every time I feel this way, that when I am rolling in the dough in my nice, big, beautiful house, I will never forget how hard it was to get there, and I will love on anyone who is trying to make their own journey forward.

I hope we see each other on Baby Step 7 one day, have a blessed day. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

The Demon that Won’t Go Away: A little known fact about HG

Hyperemesis Gravidarum has been getting a little more publicity lately as Amy Schumer and Kate Middleton have been honest about some of their struggles with it. HG is really severe morning sickness that can end women up in the hospital, on IVs, and with many different pregnancy complications. Many don’t know though, that HG doesn’t always end completely when the pregnancy ends.

I didn’t know about HG during my first pregnancy. I thought that either it was just normal or I was making up in my head the constant nausea and stomachaches that came with pregnancy for me. Almost every day I was bowed over my desk at work(I was teaching full time) desperately holding on to keep myself from passing. Some days I would be almost in tears from the stabbing pain in my side. I couldn’t eat anything but yogurt and cheese and saltine crackers. Believe me, I tried. Whenever I would try to eat anything normal I would vomit with a violence I have never experienced outside of HG. I will never forget the spinach I ate one day when I got desperate for some vegetables. I could not move for the rest of the day without making myself sick again and again and again. My mom and I got in an argument because I didn’t want anyone to come visit for a baby shower because I was in so much pain I couldn’t fathom the idea of trying to keep up with people visiting. But I couldn’t express to people how awful it was because I thought this was just what pregnancy was like for everyone.

Thankfully, I found out about HG before my next pregnancy and I had a much easier time. It was still difficult, but there is medicine for HG and while it didn’t fix everything for me, it definitely helped. I was able to eat and drink a little more, and there were days where I felt good.

Since this last pregnancy, though, I have learned something about HG that makes me angry, and frustrated, and strikes fear and anxiety into me.

It doesn’t always end completely with pregnancy.

I am somewhat lucky in this regard because mine does mostly go away. However, recently my symptoms have been coming back around ovulation and PMS. That’s two weeks out of the month. It varies in how bad it gets, but there must be a huge hormonal shift at one year because lately it has been bad. Just last week, I couldn’t stop shaking, and I was lightheaded for several days, and everything I ate seemed to make me nauseous.

What sucks the most about this is the despair and anxiety that comes with it. I was just working on getting a job to get me out of the house when the week started. At the end of the week, I was shaking and in tears because it was taking everything I could do just to watch the girls during the day, and get enough to eat and drink. As the next week started, it didn’t go away like I thought it would and despair started to take over, I started to feel like it was never going to end, I started feeling consumed with my own inability to just “be better.”

What this means, is that in addition to any PPD or PPA that a woman has after pregnancy, a woman with HG must also deal with the paralyzing fear that, not only might it come back if she were to get pregnant, but it could come back whenever it darn well feels like it. It is terrifying to be at the mercy of a monster that could come back and take over your life with no warning at any given moment in time. My husband has repeatedly had to talk me down from panic attacks about death that I think are arising from feeling as helpless as I feel when this happens. 

Also, having all of these issues while having a baby, or two toddlers in my case, is a special challenge, because falling behind in chores and consistency with the kids is BAD. One week of feeling sick lost us a full day of cleaning, a week of laundry, a whole bunch of organizing and adulting things that needed to get done. So now that I’m recovering from the anxiety of seeing how sick I could get at the drop of a hat, everything in me is screaming out that I need to do a major overhaul to fix everything, and I feel like a complete failure. Now the healing process has to start all over again.

The healing process for me is a variety of stages of working through paralyzing fear of getting pregnant, anxiety attacks about death, getting back into physical activity, trying to learn to be fun or have fun again when you were too sick to even think about having fun, and the hardest part, learning to fight again after you feel like giving up. The mountain of tasks before me seems absolutely impossible while I am attempting to repair my body and mind, but it’s time to take it all back and pick the fight back up.

Take a second to imagine the worst flu you have ever had in your life, the one that made you feel like you were going to die. Now imagine that you feel that for 9 months straight, and just when you thought you were free a year later, it came back for seemingly no reason. That’s what HG is, and that’s why it sucks that it comes back with a vengeance after being silent for a time, like a demon that pops its head out of random corners so you never feel safe. I share this, so that you may know a little more about what HG survivors fight, but also for those women who feel lonely and miserable and hopeless when their HG seems like it will never go away. You are not alone, I see you. 


 

Jaded

Ever since I grew to adulthood,

I hear the echoes

of everyone who told me,

“That’s not real.

That’s a fantasy.”

Most of the time, I silence them

With a wave of the hand,

And maybe a deep breath,

But then,

Sometimes, a wave of grief comes,

My heart begins to ask,

“Were they right?

Does God give us dreams to take them away?

Does He dangle hopes of a beautiful future,

Just to laugh when you are in pain?

There are times in my life when I believe them,

When the hope that God is listening grows as faint as a fading heartbeat,

The ache swells until my chest begins to cave into itself.

I cease to breathe in in terror of reality,

I force myself to breathe and anger overtakes me that God has turned His back.

But He hasn’t turned His back.

He is here when hundreds have told me He doesn’t hear me.

He is waiting for me when I can hear Him through the despair.

He hears me when I cry out in the pain of the skepticism that is our world.

Cast behind you the words of those who condemn you for belief in hope.

Cast behind you the belief that grief will win.

Cast behind you the grief that God doesn’t hear you,

And doesn’t love the real you.

There is a place for you.

Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Use your wounds to heal others until you escape the chains,

And then free the slaves.

Sometimes God answers no, but not when it’s His promises to you.

If you are called to something, He will bring you to it somehow, I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Even here in the darkness.

I believe.

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