Can You Slap A Pregnant Woman?

A co-worker of mine is pregnant. They got married at the end of August and the baby is due at the beginning of June. I don’t have a problem with that.

What I do have a problem with, is this: the whole summer when she was planning her wedding, she kept venting to me and saying she wasn’t sure why she was going through with it. That she wasn’t even sure she wanted to marry him. She was angry and frustrated and questioning their relationship. And now she has been saying that she is regretting getting pregnant so quickly. That she wishes that she would have planned better, that she should have thought things through.

I hate the fact that she is pregnant already, but I hate even more that she is regretting having the baby. And I doubt that she actually regrets the baby, because she’s talked about being a mom for a while. I just feel like she’s rushed into this, which she admits, and is just setting up the baby for a rough life.  After losing Jamie, it just hurts so much to watch this unfold every day at work. To see someone regret the child growing inside them. Because it’s something we would not regret. She gets pregnant super easily and is now bringing a baby into an unsteady relationship, and Rob and I want a baby more than we can say and we have very little chance of having a baby. It just sucks. It makes me want to walk up to her and slap her for being so ungrateful. For not cherishing that little life inside of her. I would give almost anything to have Jamie back again, or to have another child, and she is complaining.

It makes me feel twisted and dark inside. Like I’m filling up with bitterness. And I know I should pray for her, for her situation to improve, and I am trying. I really am trying. Because I do want her to be happy, and I want so badly for that baby to have a good life, but I am so angry. I am so hurt. And oh Lord, I am so bitter.

Keep Walking On The Path

I’ve been trying to reconnect with God lately, so I’ve been reading my devotionals lately and I really loved parts of two of the passages.

“Peace is more than a feeling, it’s a knowing that everything is going to be alright because God is on your side…A sure indicator of trust in God is a fixed mind…It is being able to rest in your heart and soul…”

“Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart…All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction.”

I want to become more dependent on God. I’ve really struggled with being too dependent on myself. Ever since I’ve started healing from the PTSD, I’ve felt more whole than I have in my entire life, which–I am ashamed to say–has made me feel farther from God. Almost like I don’t want to need Him (?). I want to feel powerful and in control. I don’t want to feel dependent.

But I also haven’t felt very at peace.

Because feeling like you have to keep your life in control all the time is exhausting. And I love God. I miss that closeness, the comfort. The comfort of knowing that I am in his arms. I know I need to rest my mind on Him and to follow His path, even when it scares me.

So today I did.

A while back I met a woman who told me she tries to give everyone she meets a compliment, and I thought that was a beautiful way of life. To tell people what they mean to you, even if you don’t know them. To pass on the positivity. I really felt like it was a God moment.

And today as I was pulling into my parking spot at home, I saw a woman in traditional Indian clothing sitting on a rock. She looked so peaceful, so beautiful, and the sight of her really moved me. And something inside me really wanted to tell her that. But of course I argued with that something. I argued. I told myself it would be awkward. That I would make her uncomfortable. That I was already inside and it didn’t make sense. But I remembered that all I had to do was cling to His hand, even if I was afraid.

And so I walked across the street to talk to her. And it was scary, and a bit awkward but I am so glad I did it. She didn’t speak much English, and I speak none of her language, but we were able to cobble together a bit of a conversation. Her same is Sandya (sp?) and she lives with her grown son Raj. She likes to sit on the rock in the sun. She used to live in India where she was a priestess in the Temple. She also said something about waterfalls at Temples but I didn’t quite get it. She also asked if I was Indian.

I was so happy that I got to meet her and that I listened to God’s prompting. Just little steps at a time.

God’s Timing- Nov 2013

The same week we began ‘Unglued’ I started a new type of intensive therapy called EMDR. EMDR is specifically designed to help alleviate and even reverse the effects of PTSD. For me, I planned on Unglued being more of a time for fellowship than growth. After all, I’m not an ‘unglued’ person, so how much was I really going to get out of this study?

But every week God surprised me. It seemed as though He was personally tailoring my EMDR and Unglued sessions to fit perfectly together.

When I was struggling with the fear to start EMDR I read this passage “…I don’t know how to get a handle on this. But God help me if I don’t get a handle on this. I will destroy the relationships I value most and weave into my life permanent threads of short-temperedness, shame, fear and frustration. Is that what I really want?” And I found the strength to walk into the office.

At the time I started to become frustrated with myself, telling myself that I should be able to handle therapy ‘better’ we started a session on self-defeating labels and grace, and I started learning to give myself a little grace.

As the memories of the trauma started to consume me, and made me feel like I was losing control, I completed my procedure manual for Unglued Moments. Those 5 steps helped me to feel as though I had a bit of control, a little bit of power, and so I kept going.

And when I had to start identifying the beliefs about myself that the PTSD had trapped me in, I found comfort and guidance in the study. The line “…Where you come to believe you belong is where you will stay” awakened me to the fact that I don’t want to stay in the PTSD reality.

Negative Inside Chatter and the related discussions helped me to realize that I am not alone in seeing the worst in myself, and that these wonderful women don’t see those terrible things in me at all. But even more importantly, it helped me to see how important the EMDR is, because after all, how a woman thinks is often how she lives.

And the ‘Good Words’ exercise revealed to me that my lingering words don’t have to be the ones that have haunted me my whole life. I no longer have to carry the thoughts “I did something wrong”, “my feelings don’t matter” and “I don’t deserve love”. Instead, God showed me that I can be—that I am—compassionate, friendly, generous, patient, playful, and—most of all—thankful.

A Blessing For Us, A Trial For Her

Recently, I wrote how I was facing the possibility that I would have to say goodbye to the kids at my job because it was only temporary. Then a few days later, my boss approached me about staying on “as long as I want to stay”. What a blessing!

But then I found out why.

The woman I am filling in for, April, has been on medical leave recovering from a surgery. It turns out the surgery was a double mastectomy. Thankfully, the breast cancer was contained. However, when the doctors were running labs on the tissue they found a second type of cancer that is very aggressive. And it has already spread. So she is going to be starting two types of chemo simultaneously in an effort to fight both cancers.

So she’s probably not going to be back for a long time. And if we are completely honest, she might never be back.

And I don’t know how to process that.

I am grateful beyond belief to have a job that I love and (I hope) I am good at, but it breaks my heart that it comes at such a cost to her.

I have been through awful things in my life, I know awful things happen. I am just so used to them happening to my family, that I guess I never thought about others going through horrible things. And I would never wish this on her, but I am still benefiting from her pain, and that breaks my heart. I know logically that when I quit my bookstore job due to the PTSD getting too severe (not sure if I’ve written about that yet, if not, I will eventually) that someone benefited by getting my job, but I’ve never been in the positive position in this kind of situation. We’ve always been the ones struggling.

I guess the key is to remember that even though we are in a time of blessings, there are still people going through trials. We can’t say ‘oh, it’s their time’ or even ‘it’s not my problem’ because life happens to all of us and we only get through those times with the support of others. So I will try not to feel guilty, but instead grateful for the blessings we have, and try and pour those blessings into others.

Realizing God’s Love

Last night the GIRL friends group that I’ve written about before began their winter session. And again, I went mostly for fellowship, not really expecting to get much out of the study, since I had already done a study on Ephesians. Boy was I wrong.

Our meeting leader, Kathy, explained how the book of Ephesians was laid out and we started by reading Ephesians 1:3-14, where Paul is listing the spiritual blessings that are ours simply by accepting God. Then Kathy went back to verse 4.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

She asked us what it meant to be chosen, and for a while the room was silent.

To me it is such an abstract idea. It has nothing to do with you, you have no control over it. You don’t get to decide if you are chosen or not, it is just something that happens or doesn’t. Some women said that, to them, being chosen was a feeling. I know that God loves me and has chosen to love me, but sometimes I don’t feel the love. How can you feel loved when something horrible happens? How do you reconcile the abuse? Losing a child? I know I still hold a lot of anger and confusion about things that have happened, and I know that those are issues I have to work through, but I hadn’t realized how greatly those issues had impacted my relationship with God until I sat there listening to these women extol their feelings of being chosen, and all I could think of was the struggle inside of me.

The conversation eventually dwindled and we moved on. Ephesians 1:5 says this:

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Kathy asked if anyone had any experience with adoption and my hand shot into the air. Having 5 adopted sisters, I tend to be the go-to adoption expert in most rooms. Kathy asked me to describe the relationship between my parents and my adopted sisters and to compare that to the verse and the idea that God has adopted us.

Why did I raise my hand?

I knew what she was asking, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what to say, so I just started talking in the hopes that my words would lead me down the right path.

My sisters know that they are adopted. It’s kind of obvious because they are Asian and my parents aren’t, but it’s always been talked about in my family. They know they were born in China or Taiwan. They know they were adopted. And it’s funny, because my parents get the same reaction from so many people. People are always coming up to my parents and saying things like “Oh, God bless you for adopting them. They are so lucky!” But my parents always respond the same way “We are the lucky ones”

It was around here that the light started to come on. I was starting to see what this verse really meant. But it wasn’t until I finished speaking that I truly ‘got it’.

And my sisters know. My parents tell the girls how three sets of parents have been blessed by them, have gotten to love them. They’ve brought joy to their birth parents, their foster parents, and their forever parents. And it’s funny because we always think of how blessed we are to be loved by God, how lucky we are, but if we are adopted by him, then it’s amazing to think that God looks at us and thinks that He is the lucky one, for getting to love us.

And when you adopt a child, you love them before you know them. When you have a biological child you know them a little before they are born. You know their background, you know their movements inside of you. But in adoption you don’t know anything until you are handed that file. But you love that child long before then. It’s just like the Bible says in some versions ‘even before the world was made, he decided to adopt us’. He loves us that much. I don’t think I truly understood that until just now.

Isn’t it amazing? God, the creator of everything, Master of the universe, loves us so much that He thinks He is the lucky one, simply because he gets to love us.

And no, it doesn’t make the bad things okay. Just like we get mad at our parents for reasons they don’t deserve, it’s okay if I sometimes get mad at God for things He doesn’t deserve. But when I think about how much I love my sisters–how much I will love a baby if we adopt–it helps me remember that God is not The Bad Guy, He is the Comforting Arms when the bad things happens.

Blessings Overflowing Our Trashcans

This doesn’t have much to do with anything, except that it’s a ministry I am trying to start at my church and I wanted to share. I hope you enjoy.

The idea is simple: give something you don’t need to someone who does. But so many times life gets in the way, and those ‘somethings’ end up in the trash. Most times in our hectic lives the trashcan in the other room makes far more sense than the second hand store across town. It’s no one’s fault. It just seems to happen. But every day, countless resources happen to be wasted. This is just one idea of how we can capture one situation and turn that potential waste into real abundance.

Before the much-anticipated last day of school comes the highly dreaded locker clean-out day. The day when you have to dig through all the debris you’ve accumulated the past eight months. The day you find the granola bar smashed under that book you never read. And somehow you are supposed to throw away all the trash, return all the texts books, and put everything else—even the granola car—in your backpack. All in the twenty minutes allotted.

But your locker organizer can’t possibly fit into your backpack, and you don’t really want the binders full of Biology notes, so you take the stuff you want—the pictures, the cool pens—and the stuff your parents would make you replace—hello scientific calculator—and you pitch the rest. And so do all the other 800 students at your school.

Pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, rulers, all of it is thrown away. Sent off to take up space in a landfill. But what if it wasn’t thrown away? What if among the trash cans there were donation bins? Boxes where the kids can dump their unwanted binders, the protractors they never used. Now the kids have a choice to donate, and it’s a choice that costs them nothing. But by choosing the donation bin over the trash can they are making a very real difference.

The items in those donation bins will be sorted, and yes some of them will be trash. But a good portion of the supplies (about 50% in my experience) will be like-new. These items—which would otherwise be in a landfill—can now be redistributed to children for whom school supplies are an unattainable dream.

In Psalm 23:5 David writes of his cup overflowing with blessings from the Lord. We are in a unique position in that our blessings are so plentiful that they occasionally overflow into our trashcans. By implementing this project, we can redirect the flow of blessings and pour them into the lives of others. With this simple ministry, we will be able to help the cups of others to overflow.

It’s Over, I Am Safe Now

Today was EMDR, and this was the first time we did the bilateral stimulation with the trauma memories. Lori had me bring up the image and feelings that I associate with the abuse–A low wooden desk, plastic and metal chairs around it. I’m looking down at my lap. I can see my bright pink sweatpants with the white cord and the desk is covering part of my knees. I was wearing sweatpants because I had learned that he couldn’t get his hand under the elastic, so he would stay out of my pants. I can feel his hand on my right arm, going up the sleeve of my t-shirt. The phrases we had paired with that memory was “I am helpless and alone” and the phrase I want to change it to is “It’s over, I am safe now”.

Lori asked me to rate on a scale from 1 to 7 how true the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” felt. I said a 2. I knew logically that it was over, but in my heart it didn’t feel that way. Then she asked me to bring up the image and tell her on a scale of 1 to 10 how disturbing it was. Tears burned my eyes and my voice shook as I said “Ten”.

Lori started the bilateral stimulation by having me follow her pen with my eyes while she moved it horizontally at varying speeds, all while I kept the image in my head along with the phrase “It’s over and I am safe now”. Every time she stopped she asked me to tell her what impression I was getting. It could be anything, from a color, to a physical sensation, to an image. I just had to be honest. I don’t remember all of my responses, but I know some of them were ‘blurry’, clouds, and clouds with a little red kite.  With each new impression, she had me focus on that impression, so it was kind of like a chain leading away from the original image. After a while she asked me to again rate how true the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” felt. This time it was at a 4. She asked me to bring up the original image of the trauma and the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” and I couldn’t find the image in my mind.

I COULDN’T FIND THE IMAGE!!!!

This is something that has haunted me for 19 years, and in the span of a half an hour, I went from crying when I thought of it, to not being able to find the image. I was completely thrown. I told Lori what I was experiencing, explaining that it was like when you are searching for a specific word and it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t reach it. She told me to close my eyes and take my time and bring up what I could of the image and when I had that paired with the phrase “It’s over, I am safe now” to open my eyes and follow her pen, concentrating on those two thoughts. I did manage to find the image, but it seemed almost faded, like it was a memory, not reality. It didn’t have all the details I could see just minutes ago. I knew that there were scratches on the wooden tabletop, but I couldn’t see them. I knew my pink sweatpants had a white drawstring, but I couldn’t see it. I knew his hand was on my arm, but I couldn’t feel it. When her pen stopped, she had me take a deep breath in and out, and asked me to rate how true it felt. This time it was a 6. I told her how it felt true, but there was still this little part of me that was holding back, that wasn’t breaking through.

We repeated the exercise, and when I let out my deep breath my eyes filled with tears and I felt a huge smile on my face. It was a 7. I started laughing and crying. I am safe. I couldn’t believe I’ve never felt this way before. I AM SAFE! IT’S OVER AND I AM SAFE!!!!!! I was practically giddy. I wanted to run through the street laughing, I felt so amazing. Part of me never truly believed I would feel this way. When our session was done, Lori and I were talking and she said how she could see the joy on my face. That’s what I feel. Joy. I have a part of myself back that I never thought possible. I still don’t think it has completely sunk in. I want to run up to everyone I know and tell them how awesome of a day this is, how much I have gained. I AM SAFE!!!!!! It’s just so amazing.

When I stopped laughing and crying, Lori had me visualize the ‘safe place’ I had created in one of our earlier sessions (a forest with the sun shining through the trees) and to describe any changes I could see or feel. It looked the same, but it wasn’t. It was still a pleasant place, but it didn’t do anything special for me. It wasn’t a sanctuary, a retreat. I felt like I had outgrown it. Lori asked if a new safe place came to mind, and instantly the thought of being with Rob came to mind. I have never thought of a safe place with another person. It’s always been just me. But the thought of us together, just laughing and talking and being together made me feel amazing. I could feel myself smiling. Lori asked how that image made me feel. Loved, safe–truly safe–warm, happy, complete, whole. She asked me to assign a word to that image and feelings, and I chose Love. My safe place is now the love I share with my husband. It’s not me hiding out on my own, it’s being close and sharing my heart with the man I love. This is only the beginning of my EMDR journey, and I already feel I have been blessed beyond measure. As I am writing this I am smiling with pure joy and my eyes are filled with tears because I never thought I could feel this way. I can’t thank God enough for what He has done for me, nor can I thank all the people who have and continue to support me. I love you all.

 

Laura

Broken Now Instead of Destroyed Later

Right after losing Jamie, I talked to (and yelled at) God a lot about why He took our baby from us. I knew he had a reason, but for the life of me I didn’t understand, and I didn’t agree. Every one I spoke to about this said the same thing, that ‘someday’ we would understand. But I felt so betrayed by God. How could He do this to us? What possible reason could He have for taking away our child? Were we being punished? Had we done something to deserve this pain? For months on end we talked and prayed, questioned and cried. Every time a person said ‘someday’ it felt as though a bitter knife was driven a little deeper into my heart. I blamed myself for being a bad mother, I blamed God for being unfair. I hated myself and I especially hated every pregnant woman I saw. And I still miss Jamie. I would still give anything to hold Jamie in my arms, to kiss that little face. I still wish that things had turned out differently. But I think we’ve reached ‘someday’.

When Rob and I went through our rough patch in August, we had a lot of heart to hearts, and one of the things we talked about most was Jamie. We both agreed that we never really processed losing Jamie, or accepted that loss. We both just tried to push past it, to tell ourselves that if “this” happens, then the pain will stop. We talked about how much we missed our baby, and how losing Jamie broke our hearts. We talked about how not mourning together ripped us apart and in many ways broke us. And, hardest of all, we talked–honestly–about what could have happened if we hadn’t lost Jamie.

It’s easy to tell myself that life would have been perfect, but the truth is that’s probably not real. I had a really hard time being pregnant. I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own body. All of a sudden there were so many things I couldn’t do, food I couldn’t eat. I was feeling things I had never experienced and couldn’t stop and couldn’t take medicine for. Feeling out of control is a huge trigger for my PTSD, and so many things about being pregnant were making me feel out of control. When I started bleeding at 9 weeks, I was put on partial bed rest and told not to lift anything. Rob, being the sweet and loving man that he is, did everything he could to take care of me, even carrying my purse, but to me it felt like all of a sudden I had lost my power. Now instead of having a few restrictions, I wasn’t allowed to do anything. I was frustrated and even resentful that I was having to go through this, all I wanted was to be pregnant, but be able to live my life normally. When we had our honesty talk, we realized that those feelings wouldn’t have just gone away. In fact, there is a very real possibility that they would have gotten worse. That could have, in turn, caused issues with the pregnancy and delivery. It would have

The scariest thing we talked about was postpartum depression. I was told by my therapist that I was at very high risk for postpartum depression due not only to my PTSD, but also to the fact that I have depression. What if I had abandoned Rob and the baby? What if I had started cutting, or even killed myself? What if I had hurt the baby?

What if I had killed our baby.

I know I could never have forgiven myself. That would have destroyed me. In all honesty, I probably would have killed myself once I realized what I had done. That would have destroyed not only me, but Rob, and our relationship. Rob recently told me that even when I was pregnant, the thought of me with postpartum being home alone with the baby terrified him. Even then, something inside him was afraid.

I will never be glad that we lost Jamie. I will never stop missing or stop loving Jamie. Jamie is our miracle baby, and I am so thankful for the time we got to spend together.

We believe that God took Jamie home so soon because He wanted Jamie to be a light in our life. A reminder of our love and happiness. He took Jamie so that we were broken now instead of destroyed later.

Coming Unglued

Last night at my church there was an event called Unlgued to kick off the fall women’s study, also called Unglued. It was an event solely for women and we had a guest speaker from Proverbs 31 ministries, Nicki Koziarz, who spoke about  how becoming unglued can be miraculous if it leads us to holiness. She spoke about how she was the quintessential Jesus lover in high school, and one day God revealed the real her when she found herself pregnant at nineteen. She talked about God used her brokenness to do amazing things, including leading bible studies for the very women who rejected her and her baby.

She encouraged all of us to let God expose our true selves and to let Him use us for His glory, and it was beautiful. It was everything that I have been trying to do. I want to do the EMDR not just for me, and not just for Rob, but for God. To become the person I am supposed to be for Him and to let my story be a light to others who think there just can’t be healing for them. I don’t want them to look at me and say “oh she is so amazing”, I want them to look at me and say “look at how amazing God is, I want that

Talking with Melissa

I wrote the other day about how my good friend Melissa has unexpectedly found herself pregnant, and it really shook me up. After a lot of praying and crying I started to be able to wrap my head around her news. This is a chain of emails between us.
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2013 19:32:11 -0600

  Subject: hugs for Melissa

 Hi Melissa,    I wanted to write you a little email to say a few things. First off, I am SO happy for you, and Bob. Second, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so kind in telling me your news. So many people have thought only of their excitement and not of how other people might feel, and one of the most amazing things about your spirit is how empathetic you are. Thank you for being you. Third, I love you to pieces. I consider you one of my best friends (#1 local friend! 🙂 ) I know that life has thrown you a curve ball, and I just want you to know that I am here for you in any way you need me. I am more than happy to cry with you during movies, eat weird craving food, listen to your hopes and worries, and anything else you need. I know that you are concerned for me and I love you for that. I’m not going to lie, it does hurt that God hasn’t blessed us and that we are going through such a difficult time right now, but I don’t ever want you to hesitate to call me because of that. It would hurt me so much more to have a barrier come between our friendship. I am praying for you, Bob, and the little one to come and I hope and pray that everything turns out well. I would be honored to get to be by your side and help support you through this, and I can’t wait to hold that little blessing (yes there will be tears 🙂 )

Congratulations again

laura

PS- I told Rob, I hope that is okay. I told him not to tell anyone else.

Date: 8/16/2013 10:45 AM
Subject: RE: hugs for Melissa

You are beautiful!!! I am so glad you are my friend!

Maybe it’s the hormones….yes….I’m sure it is…but you sent me to tears!

I love you, Laura! Thank you.

Melissa

Date: 8/16/2013 7:15 PM
Subject: RE: hugs for Melissa
That’s okay, I was crying when I was typing it :)Got the call from the girlie dr- not pregnant (darn) but I DID ovulate 🙂 I told her that we are going to take a break from trying for a while and she asked if everything was okay. I told her we had been going and going for two years and our relationship was starting to suffer and that we wanted to take time to rebuild us before adding another family member. She said she thought that was great and that after we strengthen our relationship we can come back and make it even stronger with a baby and to call her if she could do anything. She also said she is praying for us.

It’s weird how much more mentally stable I feel after hearing that we are not pregnant. I’m disappointed because I do still want to be a mom, but so relieved that we can take the time to fix us and rebuild our relationship.

Thinking of and praying for you 🙂

Laura