Category Archives: family

patience…

…is a virtue. Been hearing that for years, and I’m quite certain I’ve said it a few times myself.

I have a doula client, one that I took pro bono, with whom I have a really good rapport. We (she, her husband, and I) met, we’ve had 2 pre-birth appointments, and she was due this past weekend. From the first, I stressed that, as their doula, I’m there to help throughout labor and delivery with whatever they need–even if it’s just a calm presence in the room from which they can both draw strength and confidence. We talked about how, as soon as she thought she was having contractions, she would call me, no matter what time of day or night, and I would come as soon as she wanted me.

This morning around 8:45am, I got a text from the husband saying that they’re at the hospital, she’s in labor, and they’ll let me know when they need me. She was doing well, apparently, and they were fine as they were.

I texted again a little bit before 2pm as I hadn’t heard anything, and didn’t hear back right away. I figured that meant something was happening, and I was right: I got an answer saying that she’d gotten the epidural (“thank God”) and is currently sleeping. He’s ordering lunch. He knows how to get hold of me.

They didn’t call me, they don’t want me yet… So much for that rapport.

As a doula, I am an extremely empathetic, yet eminently practical, woman. I am perfectly aware that when a woman–especially a first-time mother–goes through her pregnancy, she really can’t predict a lot of what’s going to happen. She doesn’t know what she’s going to need from moment to moment, which is why women need a lot of support around this event. I’ve had my training, I’m doing my studying, I’m talking to mothers and doulas and dads, and I can’t wait to do this for a living for real.

Being the empathic yet practical woman I am, educated in the ways of childbirth and the idea that the best way to keep a laboring woman comfortable is to do whatever she needs, I can completely understand that adding me to the equation at any point may actually be a stress to her. That is the last thing anyone wants.

But I’m still disappointed. I was really looking forward to being a part of the birth, and the formation of a new family. Next to being there for whatever the mom needs, that’s my favorite part.

And…since they haven’t said they need me yet, I have to go to work. *sigh*

This counts for five minutes of writing today, I think. Go, me! šŸ˜‰

gp


sh*t

Another friend has breast cancer. She is younger than me by several years, and otherwise completely healthy.

I’m calling my doc for a mammogram appointment on Tuesday. I’ve had two previously, both since my mom was diagnosed, but it’s been over a year since the last one. And now I’m scared again.

I’m also starting to really think about going on an all-organic diet–like completely. Low salt, low fat, low sugar, completely natural and organic. I don’t know what good it will do, but I honestly don’t think it’ll hurt. I’m getting those cookbooks out on Sunday, making a menu for the week, and doing it. I’m sick of feeling badly after I eat, and sick of “trying” to lose weight and just not making it happen.

It’s happening. It’s for my mom, my friendsĀ S, L, and now M. But it’s really for me.

gp


tired….very tired

In my last post, titled rather carelessly and certainly profanely, I was stressing about finding a new place to live. That was over a month ago. I still don’t have anyplace to move in less than 20 days. Seriously.

I did turn in an application to be a condo roommate today. I really, really hope I get it. The place isn’t perfect, of course, but then I’ve only found one place that was–except that it was way too expensive, and right off of a busy highway. Thus, not actually perfect…Ā This condo is also off a main highway–a major highway, in fact–but I’m just too tired to care anymore. I need to move. I need to move to someplace that isn’t horribly expensive where my cats and I can live for a year at the least and then see what happens. I can deal with traffic noise, even though I am someone who enjoys having the window open at night. I also like having a fan running, so that should help provide some white noise. If all else fails, they make these nifty little things called ear plugs… šŸ˜‰

In other, completely unrelated yet horrible news, I have two friends battling cancer. Stella*, who is actually the mom of a good friend of mine, has apparently just stopped all treatment and is going home until she just can’t cope anymore, when she’ll head to a hospice. It’s looking like a matter of weeks. Lenny*, a friend of mine from church, apparently has lesions on her brain, so they’re switching her chemo and doing some sort of gamma laser knifing or something next week on the lesions.

Obviously, my apartment hunting woes can’t even compare to what my friends, their parents, their children, and the rest of their families and loved one are feeling now. I’m not, in any way, equating my belly-aching to their courageous lives. I love these women; it’s making my heart hurt all the time that they’re so sick, and all I can do just doesn’t seem like enough. Cancer sucks. It sucks so much that it makes me want to become a medical researcher just to find a way to make sure this never, ever happens to anyone else. I’m really pretty good at chemistry; it would be a struggle, and I’m pretty sure it would take all of the rest of my life to even come close to making a difference. But when you think about it, what’s my one life in the balance against the lives of all the people who have died, who are dying, and who will die of cancer in the future?

Wow. That was deeply philosophical, a bit depressing…and somewhat uplifting, as well. My one life is what I have. What I can do for these women and their families may not feel like enough, but it is enough. It’s all I have. Finding my path in life as a doula has made me happy–continues to make me happy, transforming me and my life almost every day–and I know thatĀ my happinessĀ makes them happy–even through their suffering. Loving myself and leading the life I know I’m meant to lead is a big part of what I can do for them and their families.

Suddenly my heart is a little less heavy.

 


TSA

My mother, who is a wonderful, caring, sarcastic, snuggly, amazing woman, went through TSA security a few weeks ago from SeaTacĀ airport. She refused the new scanners, and was “treated” to the new uber-invasive, horribly insulting public feeling up that is now common-place–and disgusting.

My mother is also a breast cancer survivor. Three years ago, she discovered a very small, very “well-behaved” tumor in her left breast (quote from the oncologist). Instead of chemo or any other type of treatment, she decided to get a bilateral mastectomy so that she would never, ever have to worry about breast cancer again. Don’t worry, this has a very happy ending; she’s still here, still kicking, walking, making amazing quilts, trading snarky comments with me, and being the fabulous person she’s always been. She didn’t get reconstructive surgery; she doesn’t wear a bra or undershirt with prosthetics inserted. She wears what she wears with dignity and grace, and other than the occasional scarf, she doesn’t hide the fact that she clearly doesn’t have breasts.

This is the part where I really get going, and you’ll see why I described my mom in detail. I read an account written by a woman who recently went through TSA security to get on a plane so she could go home. This woman, who is a rape survivor, describes how she was treated in this TSA “pat-down”, as they’re calling it. Here’s the link to that article:

http://www.adn.com/2011/04/16/1813827/i-was-gate-raped-by-my-government.html

My mother, who refused to go through the new TSA x-ray machines on the grounds that these machines are not as safe as TSA and the government say they are (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/tsa-radiation-test-bungling/), was also treated to one of these “pat-downs”. In full view of everyone else in the security line, the TSA screener did her job. She did ask my mom if she wanted to go into a screened area for some privacy, but my awesome mom said, clearly, “No. People need to see what you do here.”

Thankfully, my mom doesn’t have a horrifying sexual assault in her past whose memories were triggered by the TSA pat-down. She said she stood and let the TSA screener do her job, in full view of all of those people. She described the gloved hands that felt along the inside of the waistband of her pants, down around inside the edges of the collar of her shirt, down both legs and arms, and then down the center of her chest and under her breasts.

Wait… Remember how I said my mom had that bilateral mastectomy? The screener swept her hands down the center of my mom’s chest, as though my mom was wearing a bra, and then swept her fingers underneath…nothing. Apparently the screener was a little bit puzzled by this, but she was very professional and went about completing her job. My mom put her outer layer of clothes back on (the shoes, the belt, the jacket, etc.) and went about getting on her plane.

Wil Wheaton, star of TV and screen, also recently had an encounter with a TSA screening:

http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2011/04/i-dont-feel-safe-i-feel-violated-humiliated-and-angry.html

And then there’s this poor little girl who was selected for further screening:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tsa-congress-vow-to-review-pat-down-of-6-year-old-girl/2011/04/13/AFZD9LYD_story.html

I am going to be getting on a plane in June to fly across the country for a yearly convention I attend. I will most definitely be opting OUT of the x-ray machine. If that means I get the pat-down, then I’ll take it. But TSA should know: I’m not going to be quiet about it. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything to get myself arrested or kicked out of the airport. I will, instead, blog about my experience, tell everyone I know all about it, and add my voice to the thousands of people who are being singled out, humiliated, and even violated by the new TSA screening processes. Hopefully, my small voice will help this issue to be heard, and force TSA to make changes–to the x-ray machines and to the pat-down process.

gp


wednesday

No, I haven’t finished anything. Not my Big Bang, not the church newsletter for April, not even my lunch.

I did, however, complete a transaction for a loan on my 401k. This means I can’t leave this job for another year so that I can pay it back, but I will actually be able to pay it back sooner once my car is paid off in August. However, this loan is allowing me to pay off both of my TWO remaining credit cards!!!

Now, I’ve heard from lots of different sources that borrowing against your 401K is BAD, and it SHOULD NEVER BE DONE!!!! I’ve also heard from other sources that, as long as you keep your job for the length of the payback period (or come up with the cash to pay it back sooner), and if it helps to pay off loans or credit cards with substantially higher interest rates than the 401K loan, then it’s a conservatively good idea.

I could go on with more details about how this is a good idea for me, but I’m not going to. I don’t need to be convinced, and since my mom doesn’t read this blog (she doesn’t know it exists!), she doesn’t need to be convinced either. From everything I’ve read about possible reasons for the 401K loan, I’m doing a fiscally smart thing for me. I’m not blowing it on a month-long trip to Italy, which is what I would really, REALLY love to do. But my momma raised a smarter girl than that. It’s just taken 36 years to really, really sink in. *sigh*

gp


for wisconsin, from washington state

For WordPress, written 2.18.11, posted 2.21.11

We didn’t have a very busy day today at work; consequently, I did quite a bit of internet surfing. I usually spend time on things like music or writing my own fiction or looking up interesting things when I’m not working. Today, though, I found myself looking for news articles about the protests going on in my former home state–Wisconsin.

In the November 2010 elections, Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle, was replaced by Republican Scott Walker. I didn’t hear any of my friends back in Wisconsin rejoicing or lamenting one way or another; in fact, I didn’t even know it happened.

Then last week, I started seeing news about Governor Walker introducing and attempting to push through a bill that would remove collective bargaining rights from the state employees’ union. I worked for the State of Wisconsin for several years–first as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then as an actual employee of the University itself once I had graduated. I didn’t know anything about the money, the insurance, the benefits, or any of that. All I knew–all I saw–was that I was making more money than I ever had (which was still a relatively small amount compared to private sector jobs, btw), and I had my own health insurance. And it was good health insurance!

During that time, I was only supporting myself on my wages (which were under $11). If I had been attempting to support a child, children, or another family member, it would have been much more difficult. At one point, I was informed that my union was doing some bargaining for me on health care for the new year’s contracts. I didn’t even know I had a union; I didn’t pay dues. Turns out it’s not that kind of union. Being employed by the State of Wisconsin automatically means you’re a union member, and you have people looking out for you.

Anyway, I never had any complaints while I worked for the State of Wisconsin, other than that they actually wanted me to WORK for the money they paid me. šŸ˜‰ But that’s a different story…

I have friends–very good friends, though some more along the lines of acquaintances–and family who still live in various places in Wisconsin. Many of them have Facebook accounts, or have been emailing various things to me (as forwards, mostly). I have seen anger at closed schools, pride in the people of Wisconsin standing together to protest something they see as unfair, resentment toward the protesters and their various attitudes, and some indifference toward the whole thing. I’ve done some reading about the bill being proposed (and I continue to do so), and given a lot of thought to what I would be doing if I were in Wisconsin, whether I worked for the state or not.

I was going to say something soothing and practical now about everybody working together to make needed cuts and keep needed benefits throughout the state. I think every state individually needs to do this–and so does the federal government, as well as every person in the United States, richest to poorest. What we’re doing–all the “gimmieĀ gimmie!” and “me first, all mine!” is not working for everyone; it’s hardly working for anyone, in fact, except for the richest 1%.

Instead, I have to let a tiny rant out.

<rant on>
I am appalled that Governor Walker is trying to bully this legislation through without the popular support of the people in the state who elected him. I am appalled at the sheer gall it takes to become a public servant–someone who is duly elected by the people for reasonable government–and then turn around and push his “my way or the highway” agenda. Passing this bill will hurt more of the middle class in Wisconsin than it will benefit–including all of my friends and family still living there and attempting to earn a living, whether they are employed by the state, self-employed, or otherwise employed.
</rant off>

Now, I need to say something else: I am SO PROUD to be from Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a great political history, including the beginnings of at least one major political party and some amazingly dedicated public servants–not to mention being on the ground floor of passing measures to protect workers in both public and private sessions. I take pride in being from Wisconsin, and it’s not just because my football teams do amazing things like go to the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl (though I do look very good in cardinal and white, as well as green and gold!). It’s because the people there are not afraid to stand up for the things they believe; because of the work ethic I learned from the people around me; the solid humanist values I inherited from my family and friends (no matter their religion or skin color).

And finally, to all the protesters: be peaceful. Be fair. Be strong. You’re not alone outside of Wisconsin; there are people all over the United States standing beside you–even if we can’t actually be there.

gp


my big brother’s birthday

So it’s February 17th, and that means my big brother D turns 38 today. How does he feel about this? No idea; I haven’t called him yet. I imagine he’s treating it like any other day–he’s really pragmatic like that.

Question: when I call him, do I pick on him for NOT calling me for MY birthday last month? šŸ˜‰

This is my ROW80 check-in post as well, and my first post here in a few days.Ā  2028 words, which isn’t a lot since the last update, but it’s something.

I also haveĀ a new personal trainer, who I LOVE. And when I say “new”, I don’t mean I replaced a previous trainer or anything; L is my first one. I LOVE HER. She was in my doulaĀ training class with me, and she mostly works with mothers and mothers-to-be, but I asked, and she said yes. She kicked my (not so) little butt around the little gym where we meet on Monday morning, and now I’m doing stairs here in my building 4 times a day to keep moving. And I’m supposed to do more cardio as well, but I haven’t as yet. It’s very, very hard for me to get up and do anything early in the morning unless I’m doing something WITH someone–like walking around the lake with my walking partner, T.

This reminds me…it’s time to go do steps. I should probably tie my shoelaces first, though. šŸ˜‰

gp


1.23.11 Checkin, ROW80

226 words yesterday. šŸ™‚ Getting there, getting there…

And I finished my birth doula training class over the weekend. Found myself a bunch of sisters I never knew I wanted–or needed, even. I started the first weekend being totally excited; finished the first weekend feeling pretty overwhelmed. Started this weekend feeling pretty damn scared–lots of insecurity around never having been in the same room as a birth again. Last night at the end of class, we stood in a circle and talked about what we’d be taking away with us, and I realized I wasn’t scared anymore–and that I’m moving into a sisterhood that I never really knew I’d been looking for. Living and working the way I have been is so isolating, and it’s not been what I need in my life.

*heaving huge sigh of relief*

gp