Thursday, September 28, 2006

I Want to Throw Up

This morning, as I walked into the lobby of my building, I noticed another person at the other end. My first thought: The woman looks like a cross dresser – too tall, weird hat, broad shoulders, etc. We met in the middle of the lobby just before I was to turn right to head to my office. This person most definitely was a cross dresser. This unfortunate man put a lot of effort into looking like a woman, but he does not have the femininity to pull it off. The extremely acne scared skin didn’t help matters. No big deal, right? You’re saying to yourself – Jennifer want to throw up just because she saw a cross dresser?

Background: I threw up at the movie theater while watching The Silence of the Lambs. That’s a post for another time, but it’s very important to this story. To this day, I am traumatized by the voice of Ted Levine, the actor who played Buffalo Bill. Ask Danny. I can pick his voice out in a crowded room with 99.9% accuracy. His voice creeps me out so much that I can’t watch Monk. I’m sure that I would love that show. I just can’t watch it because Ted Levine plays Monk’s boss. I should write him a letter and explain to him why I just can’t be his friend. It’s a testament to his acting ability.

Back to the lobby: As soon as I heard her voice, my heart started to pound and I started feeling a little bit panicky. She sounded almost exactly like Buffalo Bill. She said, “Where’s Room 104?” I mumbled “104?...” I looked at the number on the plaque outside my office praying to God it wasn’t 104. Thankfully, it’s 101. I’ll have to remember that. She said, “Thanks anyway, it’s down here.” I turned away from her toward my office. As she walked to the temp agency, I heard her bangle bracelets making (to my ears) a ‘warning, you’re in danger,’ plasticy jangle that I hadn’t noticed before. I punched my security code into my area and scurried to my desk.

The very worse thing is that I’m jonesing really bad for a Diet Coke. As luck would have it, I would have to go out into the lobby to get it. There’s no way I’m heading back out there – at least not by myself. Since I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone to walk with me, I’m sitting here spooked out with caffeine withdrawals. I guess I’ve learned that there are some things I won’t do for a Diet Coke.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Prayer Request

Update: Danny's mother is doing fine. They checked to make sure that the arteries in her neck weren't involved. Thankfully they were not. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. I'm sorry for not posting this update sooner!

We got a call about an hour ago from Danny's father. Eunice's blood pressure had gone sky high and the paramedics were there. Danny is with them now and I believe that they are heading to the hospital. Any and all prayers would be so appreciated!

Heartfelt Thanks

Thank you so much to all of you who responded to my last post and/or kept me in your prayers. My appointment with Susan went very well. I read my post to her, cried a lot, and worked on where to go from there. I left there feeling even better than I did when I finished writing the post that morning. A good portion of what I'm going through can be attributed to the changing seasons, but we've started digging into body issues and that is difficult for me. Still, working through this will only make me stronger and will help me be a better mother to my daughters. I know that this is not in vain.

I love you all very much. Thank you for being there for me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's after 4am, I can't sleep, and I'm enjoying my Diet Coke

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow morning. My assignment for the meeting prior was to write a letter to my body. I wrote that letter and it was less than pretty. Quite honestly, my body did not deserve such a vicious attack. It's just an easy target. My assignment for this month is to write a letter from my body to me. Thus far, I've been unable to do that. I can't relate to my body and have no idea what its voice might sound like.

Yesterday was a rough day. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and I can't place where it's coming from. For once, it's not work. Although my department went from four to two within the last week, my job is going very well. We're looking in to new software solutions to provide documentation more efficiently and effectively. I'm learning new skills and that has breathed a lot of life back into my work. I'm even planning on my next career move - at my current employer. Regardless, my energy level was way low yesterday evening when I picked the girls up. Emma's grumpiness was way high. Although it was over by 7:30, it was not a pleasant evening for either of us. I know that no parent is perfect. Still, it must be hard to be a three year old living with a mother with so much anxiety. Will I find patient, empathetic Mommy today or will I find strict, authoritarian mommy today? I somehow have to harness this. When I'm done writing this post, I'm going to go into her room and give her a kiss and just be with her quietly. She's an angel and one of the two most beautiful things in my life. Amy's post from yesterday helped make that quite clear.

As much as I'm feeling so much better since April, I'm starting to feel removed from other people again. I've started feeling this way over the past few weeks. I don't know how else to describe it. There are very few people with whom I feel any emotional connection right now. My family is a stretch. One of my oldest friends resigned her position in my department and I had very little emotional reaction to it. Regardless of all that transpired over the past few years between the two of us, her last day should have been bittersweet at the very least. Nope. It was just like any other Friday - counting down the hours until the weekend came and knowing that I'd then start counting down the minutes until my work week started again.

Over that same time period, I have more often than not fallen to sleep for the night along with Allison. It's like when she was first born. I remember the first night I stayed up after she went down for the night. It felt like a revelation. I woke up at 9:30 last night and went out into the hall to see what Danny was doing. The only light on came from under the office door. I went to the bathroom and then just went back to bed. I really needed to talk to him, but I didn't have *whatever* I needed to make the effort to walk through the office door. I need him very much and I don't know how to express it fact to face. Also, I don't want to be another burden on him. I need to take care of myself.

I haven't been making calls or emailing the people dearest to me. My parents had to hunt me down last week to finally get in touch with me. They left messages and emails for a full week and I just didn't have *whatever* to make the effort to back to them. Did I want them to worry? Do I really want that kind of attention? Honestly, no. I just don't have *whatever* right now. Meridith called Monday night just before bedtime. I love to talk to her. I told her that I would call her back. Even though I didn't just go to bed after Allison went down for the night, I didn't call her back. I knew that I needed to, but the *whatever* just wasn't there.

Good thing I see Susan tomorrow.

I woke up this morning some time around 3ish having thoughts about childbirth. This happens a lot when I'm anxious. It's almost like a confirmation that yeah, my jaw was clenched a lot today because of anxiety. They weren't about my failure this time. Thankfully I've gotten over that part of the equation. They started with remembering that the first night that the nurse's button on my bed wasn't working (it ended up being on the TV remote). What if I had started bleeding out and had no way to contact anyone? My mind followed that train of thought in what seemed like an endless loop. It's all craziness and as much as I kept telling myself that it's just anxiety, I couldn't go back to sleep (hence I'm here writing this post).

Before I got up, I was able to steer my thoughts in a more positive direction. I thought about that letter that it due at my appointment this morning. That letter that I haven't even started. If my body could write me a letter what would it say? "Give me another occupant, please." Ha, ha. That's not very constructive at all. Although I've been told this by numerous people, I'm not sure that I "got it" until an hour ago while tossing and turning in my bed. There is a part of me that is simply not nice to me. It constantly judges me and expects much more of me than anyone could ever live up to. It's a harsh dictator that is making my life miserable.

Case in point - my first day postpartum. 7am. I am asleep (thank you, God!). The phone rings. I am no longer asleep (boo!). It's the commissary wanting to know what I would like for breakfast. I had to call them back because I had no idea. I didn't even realize that I would be allowed to eat that soon. Although I didn't really feel hungry, I looked through the menu. French toast with maple syrup and bacon with a muffin sounded so yummy. Nope. Can't have that. Now that I'm no longer pregnant, I must get back on plan. I need to lose this baby weight so that I can get back to where I was beforehand and make some progress again. I ordered egg beaters, a blueberry muffin and orange juice. I picked at the eggs. They were rubbery. I ate the top off of the muffin and was embarrassed that the doctor came in and saw that I had eaten that (Hello! He was just happy that I was eating something - he could care less what). The blueberry muffin was delicious - hence evil. It wasn't helping me lose weight. This is the voice of that harsh critical Jennifer. (Jump ahead to 9/20/06) Up until this morning, I would still wish that I hadn't ordered that muffin any time I thought about it. Just before I got out of bed, I realized that I would have been right to have ordered exactly what I wanted. Why (with me there always has to be a good reason - need to work on that)? I had just spent a full day in physical labor doing anything I could to try to get my labor to progress. After that, I had a major surgery. On top of that, my body was working hard to produce collostrum (sp?) and then milk to feed my precious little baby. What I needed - and what I desired - was quick energy. The fat I craved was what I needed to help kick start my body. That's why farmers like meat and potatoes - there bodies need it after a hard day out on the farm. Had I trusted myself, I would have gotten my postpartum life off with a much healthier start. Critical me was depriving my body and my soul of what it really needed - nourishment.

Another example - the first day I was home alone with Allison. In my mind, I imagined that everything would be the same as it was with Emma when I got home from the hospital. When I was home with Emma, I had to think about packing up the old house to move into the new house. I figured that while I was home with Ally that I could get even that much more done because I'd be off double the amount of time. I was so wrong. Things were not the same once we brought Ally home from the hospital. Physically, I was in the same shape the day I brought Emma home as I was the day before she was born. Not so with Ally. Still, I had to do more. I had to be more. I wouldn't allow myself a ride in a wheelchair to the car. I was "better" than those women who needed it. I wasn't going to baby myself. I'm also sure that the 45 minute walk I took around the maternity ward the night before I left (had to lose that weight - after all, the doctor said he wanted me up on my feet) did me a whole lot of good, too.

Anyway, I noticed that the bathroom floor in the master bedroom really needed a good cleaning the first day home with Ally. Did I ask my mom to do it while she was here? Nope. She didn't come all that way to be with us just to clean my floors (uh, yeah, she did). Did I ask Danny to do it? Nope. I didn't want to place any more demands on him since he was primarily taking care of Emma. So, just a little over one week after Ally was born, I carried a heavy bucket of hot water from the kitchen to the bathroom, got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed that floor. I couldn't finish the entire thing. I was too wiped out. As much as I was beating myself up about not finishing, I was darn proud of what I had accomplished. I was also pretty put off when I showed Danny and he questioned whether I should have done it at all. I wonder if there is any connection with that and that being Ally's first colicky night? This morning, this is what occurred to me - there is a reason why women are pampered and cared for when they've just had a baby - they need it. It's not a sign of weakness to ask for help or to accept help. It's the smart women who accept it when it is offered to them.

I can't write a letter from my body to me. The critical, harsh, abusive, bitter Jennifer can:

You are not a bad, lazy, ugly, worthless, piece of shit person. Don't listen to me. All of what I say to you is bullshit. You are smart, loving, beautiful, funny and damn tired. I don't let you rest. You always have everyone else's best interests at heart. If I'd give you the room to breathe, you could take good care of yourself, too. You can trust yourself. You are not the out of control animal that I lead you to believe you are. You are lovable and you deserve to be loved. You deserve to love yourself most of all. You can't be the wife you want to be with me around. You can't be the mother. You can't be the daughter, sister, friend, employee or supervisor. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Nourish yourself. I don't want to hurt you anymore. Please forgive me and let me go.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Five years ago today it was a Tuesday. It was an absolutely gorgeous early fall day in southwest Virginia. Out of courtesy, the day should have been more like it is today: foggy, misty rain, and dark. A warning. An invitation to remain in bed and remain innocent just a little while longer.

I remember the cell phone call from Danny letting me know that a plane had hit the Twin Towers. My response – what kind of crazy pilot could miss such a big building? The second tower was hit as I waited at the light at the bottom of the hill leading to my office. I knew then that there couldn’t have been two “idiot” pilots who made the same mistake within an hour of each other.

Over the next few nights, I finished a canvas needlework sampler that I framed and gave to Danny for our fourth anniversary later that year. Each square in this sampler took a minimum of 45 minutes to complete. I finished two and a half rows of 12 over those three nights while I was glued to the news. I need to document the circumstances under which that piece was finished and attach it to be the back of the frame for posterity.

On Friday morning as I drove to work, there was a new billboard along the highway. It was quite simple: a flowing American flag with the words “I’m Proud to be an American.” That is when I broke down and cried like an abandoned baby. I was scared about what was to come. I was terrified to have to worry about my safety and the safety of my family just because we were born here. I realized that I felt that morning like many people feel every day. Life shouldn’t have to be that way.

I turned 30 less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is funny how hitting that milestone wasn’t as hard as I was anticipating it to be.

Other than anticipating all breaking news stories to be terror related, my daily life has changed very little.

It seems strange to me that my daughters will never experience the 20th century. It’s even stranger to me that they will never know life pre-9/11. What will they think when they get old enough? Since they won’t have lived through what came before, will 9/11 be to them the way that Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination is to me? Will their only interest be in asking people where they were when it happened? At least they won’t have a problem remembering the anniversary dates.

In February of 2005, I flew to Michigan with 3 month-old Allison to attend Meridith’s wedding. We were stopped at the security checkpoint and I was made to take Allison’s outfit off and open her diaper. I was furious that my infant daughter’s privacy had been invaded like that. We were no threat to security. What woman would use her baby to blow up a plane? My anger quickly changed to anxiety as I flew on a plane with a colicky baby. Allison didn’t cry once. I had nothing to worry about.

2006: There are many movies coming out about 9/11. Other than the movie about Flight 93, I have no interest in seeing them. It’s still too fresh for me. I can still recall the visions of those news programs. Just as I’ll probably never watch The Passion of the Christ again, I don’t want to relive that day in the medium of something generally considered to be entertainment.

August 10, 2006: Another airline terrorist plot was foiled in London. One of the suspects: a woman with a baby. She intended to use the baby to help carry out those attacks. Had it not been stopped ahead of time, would they have been lucky enough to check that baby’s diapers?

Patriot Day, 2006: I really would just like to ignore today. I want to forget about its significance. I can’t do that. The luxury of burying our heads in the sand has been lost. As a nation, we were lucky to have held on to it as long as we did. Tonight I will light a candle and set it out on the front porch. A small light to let my departed co-patriots know that I am thinking about them. A small hope that their sacrifices will not be in vain.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

5 Blessings This Week

[Melissa has been posting 5 blessings every day for a while now. I'm not quite that energetic. I'll start with 5 weekly blessings - in no particular order]

1. The weather has grown cooler and less humid.
2. I was able to read "Feeding the Hungry Heart" by Geenen Roth.
3. Despite the resignation of one of my employees, I'm really enjoying my job these days.
4. Danny turned the TV on at just the right time to see some of The Killers' new video.
5. I got lots of hugs, kisses and snuggles from Emma and Allison.

Friday, September 08, 2006

My Little Stingray

[Insert the beautiful song of the angels of heaven] Allison is a joker, a prankster and always on the lookout for games. She is always thinking ahead to what she can do next to amuse herself. She has such a spark of life in her that her smile or devilish grin can light a room and warm your heart. I love this very much about her. In junior high and high school, I wished to have three boys just like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs. Allison is exactly the child I dreamed of in female form. She's imaginative and adventurous. I know that as she grows taller that her gigantic Pooh bear from E and Grandma and Grandpa B will become her Hobbes. [Exit angels]

[Enter shrill, sinister laughter, two sets of pounding feat on hardwood floors, the smell of sweat, and whatever sounds a mother makes as she attempts to pull her hair out while holding a fresh diaper and a new day's outfit in her hands] Allison has made getting dressed and undressed her favorite game and past time. The moment she sees me walking down the hall with her diaper and clothes/jammies, she's off like greased lightning. Because I am in a constant reactive state and am too tired to be proactive, the chase is on. With lots of laughter and much squirming and wiggling, she's finally dressed and I'm ready for a nap. My conscious attempt to space out my shower, blow drying, and breakfast so as to not be perspiring when I put my make up on is a daily futility. By the time I chase that little girl down and wrestle with her to get changed and dressed, I'm damp. As I wipe the sweat off of my face, I'm sure that I'm wiping off all the cosmetics I just put on so carefully. I have to turn the air conditioner on full blast in the car when we leave for the day just to cool down.

After the events of Monday morning, I've taken to calling Ally "My Little Stingray." I'm sure that she will one day be the death of me. This knickname is given to her in love. Despite all the sweat, pounding blood and tears, I am still glad that Ally is turning out to be my little Calvinette. "My Little Stingray" is a term of endearment. I also mean no disrespect to Steve Irwin or his family. I have been heartbroken about his death. Still, he was a man of humor and a huge magnification of Ally's blooming adventurous spirit. I pray that he is not offended by her new knickname. Steve died doing exactly what he loved most in life outside of his family. If Ally's antics do one day do me in, I will die loving her and the rest of my family that much more dearly. My one request is that I get at least one chance to make Ally chase me around the old folks home in just my used pair of Depends. [Reenter angels playing the opening notes to "Where the Streets Have No Name" on their golden harps - the sound I hope to hear as my spirit rises to the pearly gates]

Spontaneous Fun at Sam's Club

Some people would not link the words "spontaneous," "fun," and "Sam' Club" together. Oh, they are soooo wrong! I needed to go to Sam's today to pick up a prescription. The idea popped into my head, "Why not pick Emma up and take her with me?" And so I did (spontaneity). When she saw me come into her classroom, she jumped up and ran to give me a hug. I told her we were going to Sam's Club to get some lunch. Emma jumped and screamed for joy (fun). Since she had already eaten a good lunch at school beforehand, I got her a 97 cent cup of ice cream at the food counter (Sam's Club). Can anyone say 7th heaven 3 year old style (more fun)? I enjoyed spending some extra quality time with her while I ate. She is growing up to be such a bright and beautiful little girl. We're going to have some good times ahead. She even helped me pick out my pack of 342,343 sticks of deodorant. What could be more fun than that?

All you doubting Thomas' can all take a moment to rethink all the possible connections between "spontaneity," "fun," and "Sam's Club." It's a big, wild world out there. Don't box yourselves up in such a little cage.

So, to weaken the spontaneous aspect, I'm thinking of making this a weekly lunch date. Next Friday, the senior staff will be grilling hamburgers and hotdogs to raise money for St. Jude's Hospital. You know that Emma and I will be there with bells on.

Emma is learning that part of having a good time is having that good time come to an end. She was so upset when I brought her back to school. She was such a good girl, though. She laid right down on her cot (it was naptime). I covered her up and loved her for a few minutes while she gently cried. This part wasn't so much fun for either of us, but it's part of our bond, isn't it?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Strange Day

Danny usually eats part his breakfast in the office. When he walked out this morning, I asked him if there was any news. Watching The Wiggles and Higgly Town Heroes doesn't keep you up on the world's happenings. He hadn't checked anything other than email. Danny went back into his office and our attention returned to Playhouse Disney. Not long afterwards, Danny came back out and said that something had happened. My thoughts immediately went to terrorism. I was shocked when Danny said that Steve Irwin was killed by a sting ray. After that, today felt much like the day Princess Diana died. Why? I'm not quite sure. He's a celebrity just like Diana and his death was an accident. Still, I didn't even like the guy when he first came on television. For a while, I was - jokingly - calling for his death every time he held a huge snack or entered a swamp. All those times he should have won a Darwin Award left him perhaps maimed, but always excited to be alive and teaching others about nature. In the one place he was pretty well safe, he lost his life. It's crazy how life works.

I think the fact that he leaves behind a wife and two young children that hits home to me. God bless Steve Irwin's soul. God bless the family that he left behind. May they find comfort in that he died doing what he loved doing most.