Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mission Accomplished

He's here! He's arrived! He's changed everything (mostly for the better)! To say that finally giving birth after 9 long months of gestation is a relief would be selling it short. It's an amazing and very odd feeling to suddenly be carrying this little person in your arms instead of your belly. Like most new moms, as ready as I was to be done with my pregnancy, there is a significant part of me that misses it already. I've traded the pregnancy backaches for the breastfeeding backaches, the not sleeping because I have to pee so often for not sleeping because he pees so often, the gestational diabetes meal plan for the "mom never gets to finish a plate" meal plan, and you know what? It's freaking awesome!

We checked into the hospital the evening of March 19th and pretty quickly settled into our digs with what seemed like way too much stuff at the time. Not the nicest or most modernized birthing room but it had everything we needed for what we thought was going to be a fairly short stay. I handed over my birthing plan to the nursing staff, changed into the comfortable nightgown and robe I had brought for laboring in and was promptly hooked up to the monitors, IV's and Pitosin that would induce my labor. No big deal. I was totally ready, but ready is pretty damn different from prepared. Our first nurse was an absolute dream. Sweet and young, attentive and positive. She complimented my choice to bring something comfortable to labor in, apologized when an injection site bleed slightly on the robe and was always sure to ask if we needed absolutely anything before she left our room. She interacted with Jason as much as with me and I really appreciated that. I cannot say the same about the following 15 nurses that cycled in and out of our lives over the next 5 days. Helen, I am sooooo looking at you.

Considering that everyone has a birthing story that is unique to their situation, both beautiful and stressful, I'll spare you a long drawn out account of every interaction with a nurse, scary moment, relieving moment, humorous moment, and just stick to the major parts: 37 hours of labor, an epidural that was adjusted 3 times, the most horrifically uncomfortable hospital bed ever, a catheter, 3 hours of pushing, a forcep assisted delivery, stitches, and the scare of him being born with the cord around his neck later, Bazil Oliver Murdoc Brink was born (Bazil with a soft A. Think Brazil without the R.). He weighed in at just over 9lbs, was 21 inches long, and even covered in all that gunk was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Instant true love. Nothing can prepare you for it. He had a pretty severe "cone head" from being in the birth canal for so long and from the forceps. These two factors also caused a pretty serious scalp hematoma that posed a semi-serious problem. The entire back of his head was a large merlot colored bruise that was very obviously painful for him seeing as he cried every time his hat was adjusted or he was passed from one person to another. It absolutely broke my heart. The worst part is that a trauma like that caused him to develop jaundice in less than 12 hours. Jaundice is fairly common but cause for more concern than normal when it occurs in the first 24 hours. It has to do with billirubin levels and the processing of red blood cells. The tiny liver of a newborn just isn't equipped for the amount of processing required from a hematoma. The worst case scenario is a high enough level to cause brain damage. Not very likely, but once you say something like brain damage to me when I've had him less than a day, that's pretty much all I heard. Stressful business.

We anxiously awaited assessments from the doctor, pediatrician, blood tests, lab work and so on for 2 full days in hopes that he was fine and we would be released. No such luck. He needed light therapy in what they call a billi-bassinet. UV light therapy and bowel movements are the only effective treatment for jaundice in infants. I was required to wake him and feed him every hour which was very difficult because lethargy is a symptom of jaundice. After a day of his illness, he no longer woke up to eat on his own, had stopped crying even for diaper changes, and was almost orange. It was really awful to have him go from a normal demanding infant to a limp little yellow doll. I was going crazy on the inside but trying very hard to hold it together on the outside. It was very stressful for all of us especially after so many days in a hospital room without leaving. No fresh air. No walks. No sunshine, and now a move into a smaller room in another wing of the hospital. We all had a very rough night. One of the longest of my life. His treatment required him to be in a light bed for as close to 12 hours as possible with no swaddling, no taking him out if it could be at all avoided, and his little head wrapped in a bandaged eye mask to protect his eyes. I stayed awake almost the entire night just watching him and trying to comfort him. Helplessness is a horrible feeling when all you want to do is make it easier for him and you are running on less than 3 hours of sleep a night already. I cried as much as Bazil did.

The upside is that after just one night in the billi-bassinet he was making a quick recovery and we were discharged that afternoon, free to return home with our baby boy and spend some time with the family that was still in town to meet him. The car ride home felt bizarre and I was so paranoid about the idiotic road maneuvers of the drivers around us that I finally just stopped looking anywhere but at Bazil. I resisted the urge to look even when Jason pumped the breaks and called somebody an ass-clown. I just stared at that baby and thought, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.". It was amazing how relaxing it was just to be in my own house once we got there. I knew I was eager to get out of the hospital but I had no idea what a negative affect being there was having on me until I was in my own living room. Nothing had changed. Bazil was still new and fragile, he still had jaundice, we still hadn't slept, and I was still on the verge of tears both from exhaustion and happiness but just knowing that I could go make a cup of good coffee or take a shower with good water pressure, and that I was going to sleep in my own bed was enough to make me feel rejuvenated. So awesome to be home, sweet home.

I'll end this entry with a short list of things I found it really helpful to have with us in the hospital. Some essential and some just really handy.

1) A sleeping pad like the kind you use when camping. It will be a god sent for your birthing partner to help pad that awful vinyl couch that's provided for them and will be even more amazing for you after the birth because those beds could be used as a torture device. So. Fecking. Uncomfortable.

2) A fan. Paper or electric. Those rooms are sweltering, stagnant, and you will sweat your ass off during labor.

3)Really good chap stick. Splurge on the good stuff. You'll need it.

4) Massage oil or lotion. Your back is gonna hurt and the whole process makes your legs swell up something awful if they haven't already. Have your partner learn a bit of lymphatic drainage massage as well. You will love them forever.

5) Your own pillows. As many as you can carry. Body pillow included. You will be glad you did. Hospital pillows suck and as I mentioned earlier, the beds are horrible. I think the pain of being stuck in that bed was worse than the actual labor.

6) Snacks. And lots of them. Healthy things and yummy things alike. You will be ravenous after laboring and if you happen to give birth when the cafeteria is closed, all you'll be getting is PB&J. If you're really lucky, your partner will go on a food run for you. Even Taco Bell is delectable at this point.

7) A birthing ball. lots of hospitals provide them but they are very small and if you start thinking about how many naked, laboring vaginas have been on them, cotton pads or not, you'll get grossed out.

8) A luxurious and fluffy bath towel and showering items. The first shower you take after birth will be the best shower of your life. Seriously.

9) Only pack clothing that you can comfortably nurse in if you're breastfeeding. If not, pack easy and comfortable items only. Don't bother with underwear. They'll get ruined and the hospital will provide you with disposables that are actually really comfy. Don't be afraid to ask for multiple pairs while there and some to take home.

10) Super comfy socks. Your feet will get so cold and hospital floors are nasty. They'll offer you theirs but they suck. And make sure that whatever kind you bring have those little grippers on the bottom or they won't let you wear them. "You may slip and sue the hospital and then how would I retire?", was actually a stated reason. Again, Helen, I am sooooo looking at you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Final Countdown!!

Cue synthesisers and GOB Bluth, it's the final countdown! We are nearly into the remaining 24 hours before I check into the hospital to be induced and welcome our baby boy into the world! I get a lot of questions about if I'm overdue or why they want to induce me a week before my actual due date and the answer is, gestational diabetes. My favorite thing. Bleh. It's been a real pebble in my shoe these last few months but, in a way, has also been really great. It sucks to have to stick my finger 4 times a day to monitor my glucose and to take medication, but it has made me very conscientious about what I eat and how much I let myself indulge. I feel that it's most of the reason I've been able to keep my total pregnancy weight gain to under 20lbs. I feel pretty damn proud of that even if half of the weight did appear in the last 3 weeks. What can I say? He dropped, my stomach was roomier, and knowing that I was nearing the end actually made me feel a little entitled to eat a bit less carefully. I swear that my hardly noticeable baby bump has turned into a huge pregnant belly nearly overnight. No joke. I blame it entirely on his finally transitioning from what my doctor calls a "floating" position. He dropped like a sack of potatoes.

 I feel truly bad for women who experience "lightening" at 36 weeks or earlier. It is the most uncomfortable thing ever. They may mention in your reading that this will happen between 36 and 38 weeks for some, earlier for others, and for some very lucky few, not until labor begins but the light warnings about increased pelvic pressure are a joke in hindsight. As soon as he fully dropped (about a week and half ago) the pressure that was suddenly pressing down on my pelvis was intense to say the least. It's like I woke up one morning and some invisible entity had spent the entire night punching my crotch. Everything facing the floor felt like a bruise and it took me a humorously long time to even reach a sitting position in bed, let alone to actually stand up. It has made the endless late night trips to the bathroom quite the adventure. I was suddenly making those old man noises and grunts whenever I sat down or stood up. Super hot. I'm not the kind of girl that asks for help even when I really need it but I was no longer ashamed to ask Jason, or my mother, or a stranger to grab ahold and help yank me out of my seat. Again, accompanied by a sound that may come from an 80 year old man. Super, super hot. I am not even kidding when I tell you that I will venture into public places with my own cushion to sit on just in case the chairs are wood or poorly padded. My shame made an exit without even saying  farewell and I kinda don't miss it.

My discomfort aside, the reality of induction is really setting in. I have said since the very beginning that I do not want to be induced even if I'm over due and that my absolute worst nightmare is to have a c-section. I have never had surgery of any kind other than having my wisdom teeth removed and the idea of my abdomen being sliced into is the stuff of bad dreams for me. Plus, extra time in the hospital and the daunting task of caring for a newborn while I have a healing incision sounds less than desirable. I am afraid of it, truly, but I just can't let myself fixate on that idea. If it happens, it happens and it is out of my control. I surrender the decision to my doctor but I really hope that I can manage to deliver vaginally. Never thought in a million years that my hope would be to push a tiny human out of my vagina. I like my vagina. I don't want to hurt it. It's been a good vagina.

As not into the idea of having to be induced as I have been these last 9 months, I'm warming up to the idea after my appointment today. My very last baby appointment, complete with sizing ultrasound! I had a couple of small and painless contractions while I was there but am cursedly undilated. This kid will stay in there another month if I let him and, according to my doctor's measurements, he is sitting at 8lbs and 15oz already, give or take a full pound. That's a big baby. I was expecting him to be over 8lbs but there is a very real chance that he could be closer to 10 lbs and that is gonna be one difficult labor. The larger he is, the more likely it is that he will become stuck. A word that my doctor loves to use and I hate to hear. Its a very real scenario now and the chances of my having to have an emergency c-section increase with every ounce he gains from here on out. Induction it is! I think I can deal if that's what it's going to take to not have a 12lb baby get stuck in my birthing canal. They can call it birthing canal if they want but I know the truth. That's just a fancy way to say the very narrow passage of my vag, and I would like for that passage to remain narrow if at all possible.

So the excitement, the worry, the happiness, the unsureness, the lack of control, the adrenalin and the fear are all setting in at once. It's something that no book, no conversation with a fellow mom, and no amount of preparation can really prepare you for. It's such a jumble that it's overwhelming. I feel heavy with the joy of it, and at the same time, as if I could float away from the disconnect that goes along with realizing how little control I have. It's confusing and I wasn't anticipating that part. As much as I love that everyone is so excited for me, I feel even more overwhelmed by the amount of energy being exuded by friends and family. I'm so appreciative of it but it's a lot all at once and I find myself kind of wishing that it wasn't such a big deal. Like if people would act as if it were me going on vacation, or getting a new car. "That's great! Have fun.", and then onto the next topic. Its difficult to find a way to let people know what a private time I feel like this is without it seeming greedy or like it's personal. I just envision the next few weeks as the most difficult and happiest time in my life and I don't know how to share that. I don't think I want to. We have a lot of family that will be mixed in and offering help and even the idea of that is kind of stressful. I just want a chance to figure out the changes and how best to deal with them on our own for a bit. What will work for our family now that there is another person in it and the existence we knew is pretty much nonexistent now. It's amazing, and wonderful, and terrifying, and I cannot wait for it to begin. Finally. Bring it on.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scare Tactics

It can be difficult at times during pregnancy to know the difference between being worried about nothing, and being totally justified in freaking out about a bad feeling you may be having. Its a very weird, and sometimes stressful thing to have this little person growing inside your body but have no clue what's really going on in there. Its part of why I wish they did twice as many ultrasounds as they do. I felt it very comforting to have a glimpse inside and see that even when I couldn't feel it, he was moving. Even though I couldn't see it, his body is formed perfectly and his little face looks like a person and not so alien anymore. I've done pretty well with not letting my mind go to scary places during this pregnancy but now and then I do get a little worried about the what if's that are still to come. Like any mother, I worry about learning disabilities, autism, developmental delays, whether or not they'll be one of those kids that wine and throw tantrums if they don't get what they want, if they'll be jealous of the attention other friends and family's kids will receive from me, and all the crazy allergies that kids seem to develop these days. Basically, is my kid going to turn out healthy. That and I sincerely worry about him turning out to be a little asshole in spite of our efforts to teach him tolerance and kindness. I know that sounds horrible but it's true. I worry about how I'll handle any of these things should they happen and about how the stress of parenthood will affect my relationship in the future.

Just yesterday, my fella and I were walking through Target  and passed a young couple with a toddler in the cart who was wine/complaining about something in a very annoying and very loud manner. The couple dealt with it by ignoring him completely and then by giving in and handing him a treat of some kind. I caught myself thinking, "I'll never let my son get away with that kind of crap.", but the truth is that those parents probably thought the same thing before they had him and have been worn down to a point where it's easier to let him call the shots. A short while later, we passed an isle where a father stood holding a younger child while his toddler lay on his back on the ground kicking and crying about lord knows what. The dad was just standing there calmly, speaking quietly and waiting very patiently for his son to finish and get up. I just kept thinking about what I would do if that were me and found myself thinking that this man was a saint for not just grabbing his kid by the arm and dragging him out of the store wailing like a banshee. We've all seen that method used by parents in public at some point. It seems so stressful and embarrassing to deal with but what is the alternative to just giving up whatever errand you needed to run and dragging your kid down a slick linoleum aisle toward the exit? I hope I can show the same restraint that solo dad did and let my kid work it out for himself without giving a crap what other judging parents or non-parents may be thinking. When walking through the kids department and glimpsing the stuff that will fit our boy when he's half grown spurred me to point out that someday we'll have a half grown child and not a sweet baby. When I mentioned it, Jason's eyes got big and all he said was a nice long "shiiiiit", which is exactly what I was thinking. We agreed that we really hope we still like each other at that point. Fingers crossed!

As scary as all the worry that comes up when I think about what happens after this baby arrives is, it's nothing in comparison to the fear that wells up when I feel like something is wrong now while he's still in my body. In the beginning it was about the medication I was taking when I first found out that I was expecting and any affect it may have had during early development. I had a fetal ecocardiogram and a spinal ultrasound and everything is just fine. Then it was all the crap I was reading about environmental concerns about what is contributing to the rise in autism cases. Some studies and freaked out mom forums suggest that things as simple as drinking from plastic bottles, eating microwaved food (especially foods heated in plastic containers/steaming bags), or touching shiny receipt paper like the kind from gas pumps or some credit card purchases will cause learning disabilities and autism due to BPA. This kind of thing can be very easy to get wrapped up in if you let yourself, especially when you are already a little irrational in your emotions. I found very quickly that it was not helpful to read forums or medical sites. In talking with my mother I realized that most of the things that you were absolutely supposed to do during pregnancy and with a newborn baby are now on the list of things that you should absolutely not do. In 20 years, it could be the same way with the suggestions made to me so my feelings are that all I can do is the best I can do and anything that happens is really out of my hands. Fear of the what if's are invalid and will only cause stress and anxiety which are detrimental to both you and your unborn baby. Stay calm and enjoy the ride while you can.

In the other hand, some fears are okay to listen to. For example, a couple of weeks ago Jason and I went to his parents for dinner and a game of SOC. We were there late and had a blast! I had absent mindedly noticed that the baby wasn't as active after dinner as usual but I figured I was just distracted and hadn't noticed. By the time we got home and layed down it was well after midnight but time doesn't really matter to my little one. If mommy lays down to sleep, it's time to party. I lay there for 30 minutes or so waiting for his usual display of rolls and somersaults. Nothing. I poked and prodded him to try to stimulate movement. Nothing. My stomach felt strange. It was tight and uncomfortable and I could tell that he had gotten himself in a very funny position, often called transverse. He was laying across my abdomen from left to right and was very high up. It was almost painful. I called my clinic and they put me in touch with a very grumpy on call doctor who suggested I do kick counts. I tried to explain that there was nothing to count but I was desperate for it to be that simple so I got up and walked around, used the restroom, ate a little something and lay back down on my left side. I was told that 10 kicks in 2 hours was a good enough sign that I could avoid a hospital visit. I fell asleep after a while and a count of less than 5. When I woke up, I began to count again and fell asleep with a count of only 3. I was feeling slightly comforted by the fact that I was feeling anything at all but my mind was still torturing me with fears of umbilical strangulation, and fetal distress.

Around 7:30am I finally got up and called the doc again. She was even grumpier and less helpful the second time around. She barked at me that if I was that worried I needed to go to the hospital for monitoring because she couldn't help me over the phone. Thanks, lady. I did take her advice and head to the hospital for help. The nursing staff was very kind and very helpful. They assured me that I was not being irrational and that easing concerns was exactly what they were there for. I was put on a monitor, given a breakfast plate and comforted with the fact that there were at least 2 other soon to be moms there for exactly the same reason. Turns out that he was not in distress. He began kicking and rolling as soon as I had eaten. He had gotten out of his odd position and was back to normal activity. I felt so relieved! Silly but very relieved. I felt like an alarmist but I was so glad that I went to the hospital and that the nursing staff was so much more helpful than the on call doctor had been. I found out later that the grumpy doc has a 4 month old baby herself and is probably just suffering from the same kind of new mom exhaustion and stress that I'm sure to experience soon enough.

My experience the last few weeks has taught me some very good lessons in patience, fear, and understanding. It's normal to feel fear about pregnancy, birth and the journey that comes after. It's normal, and encouraged, to go to the hospital anytime that you feel true worry about anything that may be happening inside your body (listen to your instincts). Its normal to feel a loss of patience with medical staff when you feel that they are losing patience with you, but they have lives outside of their jobs just like everyone else and may need a little understanding from you as well. Just don't let yourself take that step off the edge and become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Its counter productive to say the least. I'm sure that my experience with fearing that something was wrong after almost 12 hours of decreased movement will not be the last time that this kid scares the crap out of me. I have all those years of toddler hood to look forward to and then puberty and a teenager after that. The teen there is something to be really afraid of.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lets talk about sex, baby.

On to a semi-awkward, personal and loaded topic: sexuality and the pregnant woman. I, personally, come from a family that is pretty open about sexuality, sex, confidence, and all the things that go along with it. At least my mother and I are very open about it. I can even recall several candid conversations with my grandmother during which she divulged some juicy stories about her two marriages, and her young, single life in San Francisco. Even about being approached by "women who liked women" in the elevator of her apartment building. She was an exceptional rebel and I'm proud to say that I take after her quite a bit. I have always been an open minded, partner pleasing, sensual type. I've worked briefly in a sex shop, lived with people who proudly represent the fetish lifestyle, helped to usher homosexual friends out of their proverbial closets, and been quite outspoken on the topic of practicing safe sex. All the more reason I was surprised to have an unplanned pregnancy (that has turned out to be the most awesome thing ever).

Sex isn't something that I can't live without. I have gone years at a time without a sexual partner and been very comfortable that way. Sometimes it just takes a back burner to work, school, self exploration, friends or just not finding anyone interesting enough to bother with. I've never been the type to have sex just because I can. I need to feel a connection of some kind either mentally or emotionally. I don't necessarily need to be overwhelmed with physical attraction because, truly, it is personality, intelligence, and wit that draw me in. But once I'm in it, I'm in it hard. I become very sexually driven and need that connection for many reasons, pleasure being the least of it. I am so lucky that I found a man that caught my eye simultaneously with his looks and humor, and then had all the personality and charm to go along with it. Part of the reason that our relationship started out on a very physical level and grew from there. We were still getting to know each other when we were thrust into this very serious relationship. It was a rough transition during the beginning of my pregnancy, to say the least.

During the first trimester, I was grumpy. Heinously grumpy. I am a generally happy and upbeat person, so I'm sure this was a bit of a shock to his system. In hindsight, I gave up for a minute there and had lost my drive to always have washed hair, clean teeth, makeup and a smile on for my man. I would still be sitting around in my jammies with bed head, smeared makeup and morning breath when he got home from work. I didn't give a shit about looking my best because I was feeling my worst, and I felt totally justified and also horribly depressed about this. In spite of how off putting I must have been, not just in appearance but in attitude, I was highly offended at the lack of sexual advances coming from my fella. He was constantly in trouble for not trying to seduce me, or for not being in the mood when I was. I had grand mental scenarios built up in which he would slowly entice me with compliments and kisses the second he got home and we'd have that kind of amazing sex that only exists in movies. Even though I felt like crap, I wanted to be wanted and I grew a little more angry and bitter with every advance I made that was shot down. Every day that passed without him trying to man handle me. As the second trimester set in, it only got worse and the truth in all the stories I had heard about the increase in libido started to become very obvious. I was insatiable, to say the least. I would attack him at any given moment. Morning, noon or night and wanted to have sex multiple times a day. I took it very personally when he wasn't in the mood or had no energy after work or at bedtime. I don't know if this holds true for all pregnant women but it certainly did for me and the intensity of my sex drive was only rivaled by the intensity of my wounded ego.

My appearance hadn't changed all that much as far as looking pregnant because I was a bigger gal to begin with, but I still didn't really care to put in the effort to keep up my appearance the way I had when we were first dating. I could recall a time when I never would have let him see me without a shower, fresh breath, and a little eye makeup but that drive had all but disappeared. Part of me even felt a little snarky about it like, "I'm creating a life! What could be sexier than that? He should find me even more attractive now even without effort because I'm having his child and if he doesn't, what a jerk!". Not exactly realistic. I may not have been showing just yet but my appearance was still foreign to him, and my moods sharp as a knife. In my mind I was a goddess, but his apparent lack of interest made me paranoid and very tender emotionally. I was suddenly tearful and accusatory about his lack of interest. He must no longer found me attractive, wished he was with a skinny girl, must be looking elsewhere, resented me, must be watching porn every second he was out of my company....None of this was fair to either of us. I was driving us both insane and nothing is less sexy than insecurity and neediness.

I had failed to take into account that no matter how often he said he understood how I was feeling, understood why I was acting the way I was, and that he still found me very attractive, those were just correct responses. He may really have felt them to be true but there was no way he could really understand how I was feeling and how that was affecting my actions and my confidence, and it wasn't fair for me to hold it against him. It also wasn't fair for me to beat myself up about it and use it to shake my own confidence and sense of self worth. But that is exactly what I was doing and it was directly affecting my relationship, both emotionally and physically. He may very well have found me nice to look at but my attitude wasn't exactly pretty. No one would feel turned on by a person with bitterness, disappointment and lack of confidence brimming right under the surface. Would I be responsive if he tried to kiss me passionately or would I cry and turn into a squishy pile of self doubting questions? His guess was as good as mine.

There was one more piece to the puzzle that is a pregnant woman's sexuality and a partner who may be constantly anxious about all this new territory; there is another person inside this woman's body no matter how sexy she looks or how crazy she acts. Just on the other side of this mythical thing called a "cervix", a word that is suddenly being thrown around freely in conversation, is a tiny person. It is an unfathomable concept even to most women. It certainly didn't seem quite real to me in the beginning so I can only imagine how crazy it seemed to him. We've all seen movies or television shows or read books in which the man confesses that he's afraid of "poking the baby" with his penis and even though it seems so silly and so ignorant, it's a legitimate, albeit unfounded fear. The baby is safely tucked away inside it's warm little uterus all padded with fluid and placenta, but just look at how unsexy that sentence is! All of this new vocabulary, new images, and comedic responses burned into their brains from health class in Jr. high and from movies can be a little off putting. Some men may be fascinated with the "your pregnancy week by week" images of this little miracle growing from a zygote, to embryo, to fetus, to a recognizable baby but for others, it may be a little overwhelming and a little creepy. Men are visual creatures and once they start having images like this to apply to your body, things may get a little more complicated and a little less sexy. He may deny any association with this theory, say that it never crosses his mind when he looks at all your new round shapeliness and growing breasts, but I can almost guarantee you that it crosses his mind occasionally when he's trying to make love to you. Maybe just for a second, but behind his eyes he may be seeing your womanly parts in a whole new light. Less a warm place of pleasure, and more a home for your growing offspring and there is nothing at all wrong with that. In a lot of ways, it shows how caring he may be growing. The start of a sensitivity that you may never have seen in him before. Unfortunately, this doesn't exactly comfort a pregnant woman with hormones so raging that she is as horny as a teenage boy. Just try to be understanding of how this experience is changing him right along with you and communicate your frustrations, if any. It only gets more complex as your belly gets bigger and those little kicks turn into rolling somersaults that are VERY visible even through your clothing.

We love to lay in bed and watch our son move back and forth inside my belly. All his little kicks and rolls, and him sticking his butt as far out as he can are just awesomely cool. It's an amazing and, very often, humorous thing to see but not exactly a mood stimulator. While these little rituals may actually get me in the mood by making me feel very close to him, it's not exactly boner material. He has just spent a good amount of time being visually and emotionally stimulated by something he sees as "really cool", but I am now brimming with love for him and feeling a very strong need for connection. For me, this connection often means a physical one. I could be satisfied with cuddling and kissing but my mind would still start to wander to thoughts about why he wasn't trying for more and then twisting it into nasty little insults inside my own head. This in turn, starts the ugly cycle of self doubt, bruised confidence, over thinking and intentionally achieving the opposite of what I want by pushing him away with an overabundance of questions about why he doesn't find me attractive, and accusations that he would be in the mood if I looked a different way. Things can go from sexy to flatline in a matter of minutes.

There's no real way to counter any of this. It all depends on the endless fluctuation in moods and hormones and often even involves how low your blood sugar is. You may find it easy to console yourself with positive thoughts like, "I am beautiful if for no other reason than because something beautiful is happening inside me.", but it isn't always enough. Sometimes you need to hear it from your partner. Sometimes you just need a cookie, but often you need confirmation from them that you are desirable, sexy, gorgeous, beautiful and wanted. The thing is that they may not know its as simple as that. I am not above telling my fella that I'm having one of those days where I need to hear nice things. I may even flat out tell him to say something sweet to me. It may sound silly or even desperate but it's good practice for when he's in charge of being your labor partner and his main role is keeping you confident. This is kind of his role through your entire pregnancy and for the first few months after so he better get used to it early on.

 A piece of advice for the partners: Sometimes you may really not be feeling it when she is but you need to take one for the team anyhow. You may have a head full of images of whats going on inside her body and the last thing on your mind may be ravaging her the way you did when you got into this situation, but it's what she needs, and I can promise you that she has gone along with your advances more than once when she wasn't really in the mood. Start out with the heavy petting and deep kissing and you may just be surprised at how quickly you get into it because she is so turned on. If it's really difficult to get into it with that baby bump in view, ask her to try getting comfortable on her side and enjoy the view of that sexy backside while you kiss her neck and shoulders. You just have to take the time to find what works, and what is comfortable for you both. Trust me, a little communication and a little effort go a long way in the sex life of a pregnant woman. And if you really just are not in the mood, are exhausted or just too preoccupied with other things to perform, don't be a jerk and use that strained tone like it's such an effort to be asked to offer up a little loving. Don't say, "No, baby. Not now.", followed by a dismissive sigh. It won't help your case. Be aware that simply using the right tone and the right words can save your ass. Use that sweet voice. You know, the one you use when you want something, and tell her she is beautiful but you are just not up to a romp at that exact moment. And for fuck's sake, don't let more than a day go by before you follow up with trying to start things off. It'll only give her that much more time to self doubt and become annoyed with you and start that whole ugly cycle all over again which can only end with the thing men dread the most, a "talk". Sound advice, I promise you. It helps if you mean it, but it's also about choosing your battles and helping your lady feel good no matter how she looks, or acts at the moment. She's going through a lot, A LOT, and most of it is not visible to you.

For the mothers to be, just try to remind yourself that you won't be pregnant forever even though it feels that way. There may be times when he makes advances and you aren't into it so try to offer the same gentle rebuff that you would expect. It may not be easy to get into the sexy times when you have an 8 pound baby sitting on your bladder, aching hips and stored up farts that could rival any trucker. Feeling not so sexy is kind of a regular thing so learn how to deal with it in a way that won't make him feel bad either. He's going through a lot of changes right along with you but things will get better eventually. You will have your body back. You won't always have insatiable appetites for sex and weird food items. You won't always be uncomforatable no matter how you try laying down. You won't always have awful heartburn and terrible gas. You'll heal up and things will mellow out around 6 weeks after your birth.Your baby will eventually sleep at night. Your sex life will eventually return, though undoubtedly altered from its original version. Though your role may have strayed a little from the sexual object of his affections, you will be one sexy ass mama for the rest of your life and there's a lot of positive change that comes with that. If your libido really is too much for your partner, take matters into your own hands (literally). If you've never visited a sex shop before, now may be the time. If you're too modest for a face to face trip and you don't even know what you're looking for, utilize the Internet. There are endless reviews of toys, personal massagers, stimulating lubricants and lots of other items that will help you along. There are literally hundreds of online shops to choose from when making a purchase and a lot of them come in discrete packaging that won't give anything away to your postman. Also, if porn has never really been your thing, you may try it now. There are a lot of production companies that make very tasteful female friendly videos that are far from the raunchy stuff you may have seen before. Give it a go, and get it girl!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's the plan, Stan?

Since I very first started to tell people that I was expecting the first question out of people's mouths seems to be, "So what's your birthing plan?". In the first weeks, I didn't even know what this really meant. I had seen enough movies and had enough friends give birth to know that this was an important item to have nailed down, I just didn't know what I was supposed to do. Where was I to start? What book should I read to give me step by step instructions on what was best for me? Let me tell ya, there is no book or website or forum that can answer these questions. Your birthing plan is totally unique to you and your situation. Some women have pages of detailed instructions to hand over to the nursing staff upon hospital arrival and some have a napkin with some notes scribbled on it. I fall into the later category.

In the last few months I have been talking to a lot of friends who are parents, some of whom have read every single book on the market, some who had no plan at all, and each has a similar story; plan all you want but it's going to happen however it happens and your plan cannot dictate this. You truly have no control over how it plays out, only in how you deal with it. For example, my amazing sister just had a beautiful, healthy baby boy in December. She is one who read many books, studied birthing methods and finally settled on hypnobirthing. If you aren't familiar with this method allow me to break it down:
The approach is all about relaxation and letting go of fear. Fear is the enemy during labor and birth. It makes you tense, it tightens up your body, blocks the production of endorphins, and creates more pain. With this method you condition your mind for months in advance to visualize positive birthing outcomes, your body relaxing and opening. You use breathing techniques to calm yourself and relaxation techniques to allow yourself to let go of the fear that the inevitable pain of labor brings. It's also big on partner participation and having the father be involved in the labor and birthing process rather than sitting in the waiting room. It's all very interesting and can really be applied in daily life just as effectively as during labor.

So, my amazing sister and her amazing husband have committed to this method of natural childbirth and spent months practicing these techniques, including listening to positive affirmation cd's. It's a lot of work! Her due date comes and it goes, but the beauty of committing to natural childbirth is you don't have a doctor pestering you to induce labor. Instead, they offer what they call a membrane sweep, clearing the cervix of the mucous plug and hopefully stimulating labor. It's pretty common from what I hear. She said that this effort worked almost immediately. Good news! She labored at home for a few hours until her contractions were the standard 4 minutes apart, and they headed calmly off to the birthing center to get the ball rolling. Like I said, she's pretty amazing.

If I'm not mistaken, a short 3 hours later she was utilizing the jacuzzi tub, along with some of her relaxation techniques to ease the pain, but felt a strong urge to push. It was all happening very quickly. She requested her midwife be notified but the nursing staff insisted that she wasn't ready and to just try getting back to her room to relax more and they would let the midwife know she may want to arrive soon. Thank goodness my sister is strong willed and knows her body! She stepped out of the tub, laid down on the lounge in the jacuzzi room and told them to get the midwife right away. No sooner did the midwife arrive and take a look than he was crowning and ready to join the world. Four (yes four!) pushes later, her son was born right there next to the tub. Some of the hypnobirthing methods were used but in reality, he came so quickly that most weren't used at all. You can plan and prepare and condition for months, but that baby is going to come his or her way, and at their own pace and there is nothing you can do about it.

While I do intend to use some of the hypnobirthing methods during my labor, I'm not fully committed to it. I'm not fully committed to any method or real plan at all. I don't want to pressure myself into thinking I can do natural childbirth only to find out that I can't handle it at all and feel like I let myself and my baby down by needing drugs. In the other hand, I don't want to mentally commit to having an epidural and then have it happen so quickly that I end up doing it naturally and having my baby in a state of high anxiety and fear. I know that I do not want to be induced even if I'm overdue. I know that I do not want to have a c-section. I know that I do not want an audience and that the room will be cleared of everyone except my partner and medical staff when it comes down to it. I know that I don't want camera flashes going off like the friggin paparazzi are all up in my vagina. I know that I do not want a grouchy nursing staff and I'll be super pissed if that's what I end up with, but that's about all I know. Some of the things I don't want mixed with the few obvious things that I do want is all I can hope for. I want a healthy, happy baby and a good birthing experience.

It's going to hurt. There's just no getting around it. It's a painful and messy process. I may let loose some wicked farts. I may poop. I may throw up at some point. I may tell my fella it's all his fault. I may tell a nurse to get her shitty attitude out of my birthing suite. There will be blood. There will be pain. There will be gross stuff but it will be worth every single tiny little bit of unpleasantness when I get to see him, and his proud papa's reaction for the first time. I could cry right now just thinking about how happy I'm going to be.

So, what is my birthing plan? To remain fucking calm! Seriously, it's simply to remain calm and let my body and my baby tell me what I need to do. I'm not going to build up images of what's going to occur. I'm not going to say I can do it without the help of drugs, or that I'll need drugs at all. I just plan to stay as calm as possible, let my body relax and my breathing stay controlled and welcome my little man, the love of my life, into the world in whatever fashion he arrives in. Learning to let go is something I've struggled with my entire life but in this particular situation, I'm finding it very simple. I have no control over how this is going to happen and building up expectations in my mind isn't going to do me any good. Women have been doing this for a long time before me and they'll continue for a long time after. I'm just a speck in the grand scheme and I find a certain amount of comfort in that. My body was made for this and I trust that. This emotional roller coaster, this discomfort, this entire process that seems like forever but has flown by like minutes, is going to bring me the greatest love that I have ever known and I feel unbelievably lucky for every second of it. I find calm in that.

When I think about love, both the kind you find with a partner and the kind you find from becoming a parent, I think of the poet Rumi and some of his amazingly wise words. One poem in particular has always stuck with me and it resonates more now than ever before.

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.” 

Just 6 weeks left. Stay calm, Autumn. Stay calm.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Big Time

Today is a good example of practicing self control to find balance. Every part of me wants to just sit here and pound out a long ranting, negative, finger pointing entry about the shit day I had yesterday. It was a bad one from the moment I got up to the moment I fell asleep, but it wouldn't be productive and would only make things worse. On to another topic: body issues, weight issues and pregnancy. Big fun, eh.

I went from being a teeny tiny little kid to a round youngster sometime between first and second grade. Maybe it was spurred on by the relocation of my family from Oregon to Washington. Maybe It was the lack of supervision offered by my two very hard working parents. It's hard to say, but I'm sure that being allowed to cook for myself and snack as much as I wanted on anything I wanted played a big part. I did not grow up in a house full of junk food, mind you. We were never allowed to have chips, cookies, soda or any of the like but there was always a full fridge and pantry and I loved to cook and bake. No peanut butter cookies? Well, I'll just whip some up! I hold no grudges in this area as I am an excellent cook in my adult life and probably wouldn't be if I hadn't had so many years of practice.

All this cooking and loving food led to a pretty consistent adding on of pounds as I grew up. In my defense, I was always a big kid even without the extra weight. By the 5th grade I was 5'6" and a size 18. No joke. I looked 20 years old but still loved comics and barbies. It was an awkward time to say the least especially because I was also responsible for dressing myself in the mornings. I wish I had photographic evidence of some of the outfits I thought were cool. Lets just say that 90210 was on the air and I was in awe of all the brightly colored outfits consisting of baby doll dresses 4 sizes too big, and that spandex bike shorts were worn under everything. I was not popular but in my head, I was awesome.

It was around this time that my mother became involved and put me on Jenny Craig. Try telling a 5th grader that she can now only have frozen/freeze dried food items and also has to start taking them to school with her for lunch. It won't be pretty and a 5th grader really isn't emotionally or mentally equipped to understand the hows and whys of this humiliating experience. Everyone who had a television knew what JC was at that time, and school went from bad to worse in that very first day. I can still cry just thinking about how the next few weeks played out. I was no longer a carefree kid. I was a weight obsessed, secret food addict that went from awesome to troll and never really recovered. I managed to sabotage the plan in a matter of weeks and was free again to eat as I pleased. Success! Success?? That is debatable.

My height and weight continued to rise over the years and by the time I turned 18 I was 5'9" and a solid size 18/20. I looked great and I didn't even know it. I started working at a plus sized clothing store called The Avenue, and was finally learning that the rules made up by the fashion industry about how fat women should be allowed to dress did not work for me. I did not want to be in baggy shirts and pants anymore, nor did I want to be subjected to dresses that looked like couch upholstery or forced to wear "suck em in" shorts and panties under everything. No matter how badly I wanted stylish clothing, it just wasn't available in my size or in my area. I would drive a couple of times a year to the nearest Layne Bryant, which was almost 2 hours away. I became determined to dress cute even if it meant paying way too much money for items, and even sometimes buying maternity clothing. How unfair is that? Maternity clothing is often still way cuter than plus size lines at the same store. Target, I am so looking at you! I found ways to work around the limited availability of cute clothes mostly by utilizing thrift stores. Even if I couldn't find it brand new, somebody else had and I was happy to take their donated leftovers. Altering and tailoring cheap 2nd hand items became a weekly occurrence.

I was concerned from the start of my pregnancy about gaining weight, not being able to find clothes and how these things would factor into my already dodgy self confidence. Most of the time, I felt great about how I looked and carried myself as if my confidence was unwavering even on days when I started out crying in front of my closet about what a hopeless fat ass I was. Unlovable. Unwantable. Unworthy. A woman doomed to be single and eventually living the life of Goldie Hawn in Death becomes her. Fat greasy face covered in frosting being eaten right out of the tub and 500 cats over running an apartment. My nightmare. However, I was thrilled with myself that 4 months in I had not gained a single pound and the only clothing item that had left circulation was my regular jeans. I was the best! And then I met my OBGYN. I had been warned by every single person that I mentioned his name to that he was a great doctor but a total ass. His endorsement always came with a warning label: he has no bedside manner and is going to be on you about your weight right from the start. I was already feeling negative about him before we even met.

Our first meeting went well enough. Just an ultrasound (after a 4 hour wait!) and not much mention about my weight other than him saying he tells all of his patients to follow a diabetic diet plan subsisting of 1,800 calories a day and NO SUGAR AT ALL. If you've ever had a food craving, pregnant or not, you can probably relate to how unrealistic this seemed to me. Our second meeting was a little more bumpy. He had no interest in me at all other than my weight. He entered the room, sat down facing away from me, asked if I was experiencing any pain or cramping and then went into a 15 speech about my weight, gestational diabetes and how I was sure to develop it and eventually die an early death because of my obesity. I felt a heated dislike for him. A loathing that made me fear I would lose my cool and just punch him in the throat if our encounters continued on this path. But he was the doctor that everyone said I needed to be with. The best high risk delivery Doctor in 3 states. Did I mention that I am considered high risk because of my BMI? This fact is what robbed me of my wanting a midwife and a very non medical birthing plan. Frustrating doesn't do it justice.

I had voiced to my fella that I was nervous about him being with me at future appointments because of how this doctor seemed to be obsessed with my weight and my weight only. He never asked me about medications, family history, current medical concerns, my emotional state, my mental state or my birthing plan. It was all about my fat ass and the number on the scale. I was terrified that he would blurt out my weight in front of my partner. This fear turned out to be valid on our 3rd meeting. Doctor was on his usual soap box about my size, my weight, the complications I was guaranteed to have because of these factors, my glucose tests, the fact that my stomach was bigger than it should be even though my uterus was measuring correctly and so on. All while either having his back to me or scowling at me over the top of his glasses. I was reaching a point where I had heard about enough.

I pointed out that even through the Thanksgiving holiday I had managed to maintain and that I was pretty proud of the fact that in my second trimester I had gained only a single pound. Much to my absolute horror, he blurted out my starting weight and my current weight right in front of my boyfriend and topped it off by telling me that though that's pretty good, he wanted to see my weight going down. I was in a state of that embarrassed kind of shock that caused my ears to ring and my face to feel like it was on fire. I could not get out of the exam room fast enough and was very glad that I had driven myself to the appointment so I could cry in my car on the way home without judgement. By the time I got home, I was livid and already planning my letter of complaint and how I was going to get out of this man being my guide through the single most important, and intimate experience of my life. He would not be delivering my baby and I would not be subjected to his lack of bed side manner one more moment. Hell hath no fury like a pregnant fat girl who's just been humiliated about her weight in front of the one person who never needed to know that number.

I spent the next few days calling other clinics, meeting other doctors and submitting my request for a change of provider. I wasn't feeling the kind of support that I wanted from my partner who seemed to defend the offenses of this doctor and was even unwise enough to suggest that I was blowing it out of proportion and making too much of it. He's lucky that I like him so much or I may be writing this entry from prison. Even if it was a hormonal reaction to a minor offense, that is not what I needed to hear and I kept right on making other plans with or without his support on the matter. I'm happy and relieved to say that I gained his support, found an OBGYN that I love and she was able to get me in for my March delivery. She is supportive and thorough and even though I did develop gestational diabetes, she doesn't make me feel like this is because I have no self control or am a bad person because I ate some freaking cake. She has gently guided me through the ins and outs of my condition and assures me that I will deliver a healthy baby and the diabetes will subside as long as I continue to take care of myself. I trust her. I feel comfortable with her. I do not regret my decision and by taking better care of myself with her help, I have gained only 14 pounds. It took some searching and a lot of stress but I found the Doctor that is a perfect fit for me.

 However, now that I am nearing 32 years old and 32 weeks pregnant, not much has changed as far as clothing options. The Avenue is still not my style, my town still doesn't have a Layne Bryant, the plus section of Macy's is excessively expensive and segregated to a location outside of the actual store at our local mall, Target is hit or miss with cute plus sized items and still has a maternity section that is twice the size of the women's department but doesn't offer plus sizes above an XXL. We do have a Motherhood store but their plus section is two wracks and they stock a very limited amount of each size so you can never get what you want anyway. It's a sad state of affairs.

This caused me to reach out to my fellow big beauties and prompt them to tell their secrets. No surprise that it was all Internet shopping. This is great and all but when you are a size 22/24 you really need to try things on especially when your baby bump sticks out a foot in front of you and your ass is somehow even wider than before. Not to mention the added cost and the waiting for shipping. When I'm having a bad day and I need a little retail therapy, it isn't ideal to look at tiny pictures and then have to wait for days or weeks to have my "feel good fashions" arrive. When they get here, its worth it. Patience is a virtue I'm determined to keep throughout this pregnancy.

Some of the websites that were offered up by friends are as follows and I encourage any of you pregnant, plus size, or pregnant and plus sized ladies to take a peak and not lose hope. You are freaking gorgeous and there are cute clothing items, good doctors, and great men out there. You just have to do a little leg work and find them. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adding Insult to Injury

We all know that women are sometimes very sensitive by nature. It's no secret, and no mystery when it comes to the fairer sex. We are just emotional creatures, but I have always felt this was a strength. My mother, in the midst of a huff with my dad, has often looked at me and said, "I'm so fucking glad that I'm a girl.", and I've pretty much always felt the same way. This is not to imply that there aren't a ton of very sensitive, thoughtful, nurturing men out there. I know a lot of them and I value each one in high regard. It's just that in this particular instance I'd like to stay on the topic of women, my pregnant self in particular, and how easy it is to let my emotions get the better of me.

In my case, I have always been labeled the family drama queen. This, of course, irritates me to no end but I at least have enough self control to not freak out and prove the theory true when the topic arises. I'm just one of those personality types that is going to tell you how I feel no matter what. I like to think of myself as a talented and creative communicator rather than a drama queen. Kim Kardashian is a drama queen. Taylor Swift is a drama queen. I am a productive talker, or so I tell myself. The drama queen theory has only gotten worse as my pregnancy progresses, and I'm honestly finding less reasons to argue it on a daily basis.

I don't know that this holds true for all pregnant women but movies, television and my own experience have told me over the years that pregnant women will cry at the drop of a hat. Even the smallest and most innocent of comments can set me into a whirlwind of what ifs, whys, and unrealistic fantasies of telling people off. This shit will stick with me for days, even weeks. I can even get myself worked up about insulting encounters that happened 10 years ago. I can take it back to junior high if I let myself keep going once I start. Most of the time these insulting encounters happen in a way that I've come to refer to as the "staircase affect" and is part of why I tend to hold onto things.

Let me explain: think of one of those times when a friend or stranger says something they see as innocent (or maybe they mean it to be hurtful) and it kind of takes you off guard so you don't react to it right away. This would be at the bottom of the metaphorical staircase. You then continue your journey up but halfway you stop and think, "That was a really shitty thing for them to say. Why would they say that?", but they aren't even on the stairs anymore. They've moved on. By the time you reach the top, you may be really sad and insulted, or really pissed, and already going through the amazingly witty list of responses you should have come back with. The amazing way that you should have defended yourself, but you're already at the top of the stairs and the moment has passed so you are now stuck with this head full of insult, injury and regret about not standing up for yourself. I think everyone can relate, pregnant or not. Male or female. If not, you are my hero. Teach me your Jedi ways.

This scenario has gotten huge for me as I get more and more emotional. I don't want to be that jerk pregnant lady that freaks out over every single thing that anyone says, because believe me, at this point I am feeling so unsexy, so uncomfortable, so unwanted that I could turn almost any comment into an insult. My poor, poor boyfriend knows this truth all too well. So, if the offender is lucky, I bottle it up and take it with me. If they are unlucky, they leave our encounter without a face. Not fair to either of us, really. Not fair at all to whomever catches the pointy end of my wrath later on when I finally lose my shit. The art of dealing with it is a little thing called balance. Become familiar with it. Utilize it. Win with it. You really have to be conscious about choosing your battles if you want to win the war. Hormones are the enemy and they want to take out your entire platoon in the bloodiest fashion imaginable.

Another, bigger issue for me is the dreaded horrible boyfriend dream. You know what I'm talking about. Those dreams where you catch him lying, cheating, abandoning or worse. I have had them on occasion during every major relationship of my life but now they are a weekly occurrence. They feel real when they are happening no matter how the scene is playing out. In dream land, it's just as normal to fly into the tree house and see him pounding your 3rd grade teacher as it to track him into a bedroom at a party and see him doing the unspeakable with some faceless blond that has the nicest body you could possibly think up. It could even be with a friend or coworker of yours which is all the more difficult to shake off. The worst part is that you never think to yourself that you must be dreaming when you are actually in it. It's real. It's happening. He is actually betraying you and you can't even land a good punch because hitting never works in my dreams. Even if you feel a wave of relief upon waking up, you still feel as angry and hurt as if he had actually done those things. Then the paranoia sets in. "If he could do that so easy in my dreams he could do it in reality". You may even be tempted to start acting like a detective. Looking through his pockets for numbers or condom wrappers. Checking in on his whereabouts when he isn't with you. Dropping by his work to make sure he's actually there. You may even go so far as to invade his privacy and look through his phone. In some sick way, you may even hope to catch him at something just so you don't feel crazy. Dangerous ground, my little darlings. A minefield of unlikely possibilities that will probably only hurt you in the long run. Ever heard that saying "holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die"? It's true. Especially when the resentment is over fictional offenses.

My approach with my fella in regards to my endless insecurity and horrible dreams is to talk to him about them. I try to make it very clear that I am referring to dream Jason, not real life Jason. I tell him all about jerkhole's offenses in detail so that he will understand why I'm suddenly genuinely upset with him when he hasn't really done anything wrong. It's difficult to do and difficult for him to hear, but it has to be done or it will only get worse as the day goes on. If I don't speak up, the next day will almost definitely be a stay in bed and cry and feel horrible about myself day. This is bad for me and bad for baby. If I communicate with him, he at least has the opportunity to vindicate himself by assuring me that I am beautiful, loved, wanted and that I can trust him in real life no matter how big a lying douche he is in my dreams. Just getting it out and having him comfort me is often the best remedy and we usually end up laughing about it. Communication is a huge part of the balancing act that I try to perform all day, every day. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails miserably. I just try to not be too hard on myself or anyone else and remember that even the bad stuff is all just a part of the journey that will end with meeting the love of my life, and that is a huge comfort.

So, if there is truth in my family referring to me as the drama queen, I'll never admit to it. If there is a situation in which I feel insulted, I will try to be calm in my reaction. If I miss my opportunity to stand up for myself, I'll take it as a learning experience for next time and try to let it go. If dream boyfriend continues to behave badly, I'll try to remember that he's not actually the man that sleeps next to me and greets me every single day by saying "good morning sunshine". If I feel like real life boyfriend is being a stupid jerk, I'll try to refrain from murdering him and remember that this journey isn't easy for him either and he probably isn't really being a stupid jerk. I will attempt to choose my battles wisely, avoid drinking the poison that is resentment, and remember that even when I feel crazy, it's no one's fault and it will pass. Hopefully. Be patient with yourself, with others and especially with your partner. Remain calm and find balance through communication.

In the not exactly accurate but still hilarious words of the late, great George Carlin, “Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”