• My Words

    Getting Real About Being Pregnant, Part I

    This is going to be a long one, folks, so get comfortable. Those who know me IRL shouldn’t be too surprised by my need to share. I think I’ve always been a bit of an overshare-er, but there’s a purpose to this story. See, for those that don’t know me IRL, I became an young, unwed mom in the mid 90’s. I graduated high school in June of 1994 and my son was born July 1996. As people argue over a woman’s right to choose, the reality of single motherhood gets brushed away, but that reality is important to understand. It is hard. In the grand scheme of things I had it easy. I am white. I was healthy. I was on my parents insurance although that only covered my own medical costs and wouldn’t cover baby, and my family didn’t shut me out. It was still fucking hard.

    Some people supporting the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade say abortion isn’t needed because of adoption, and that whole idea of forced pregnancy makes me fume. A woman without the option to end a pregnancy is impacted by the pregnancy long before there’s a child to care for. Pregnancy is not as seen on TV, at least not for everyone, nor is delivery. The “Glow” people talk about pregnant women having was never worn by me. For some people pregnancy is months of debilitating illness. Some of us even end up on bed rest. Try working attached to an IV pole! Forcing women and girls to be pregnant should not be something one group of politicians can do.

    I’ve been pro-choice my whole life, but in the fall of 1995 when I knew I was pregnant I knew I was going to become a mom. It was a decision I made quickly and for myself. And when I say I knew I was pregnant, I mean I knew. I was so sure that I showed up at the hospital to have a blood test. I wasn’t trusting this to a pee stick. When they asked about how late I was, I was honest – I wasn’t. Yet. But I was sure I was about 2 weeks pregnant. I even had dates. They turned me away.

    After being turned away I was more determined to get the test, so I came back a few days later and lied. I mean, I was never one of those Every-28-days kind of girls anyway. Twenty eight days. Eleven days. There was no tracking that shit. The bottom line was that I knew I was pregnant and I just needed them to confirm it. They took my blood, assigned me a random number, and told me to call a phone number in a few hours for the test results. At that point I did what any other 19 year old would do; I went to the mall with a friend.

    Wandering the mall I tried to come up with a game plan while my friend played her part trying to reassure me I was paranoid and it was going to be negative and everything would be fine. I was going to be fine, but I also knew I was pregnant. We went into a Hallmark store and I spent money I shouldn’t have on a stuffed polar bear there. I was holding that bear in it’s bag to my chest when I stood at the payphone at the mall and made the call. “Your test results are positive.” No shit. That bear became the first gift I ever bought for my son.

    I think because I was already so sure that I was, getting the positive pregnancy result wasn’t that big of a shock. I wasn’t going to panic. I got pregnant the second week of November and got my results around Thanksgiving. If I could get through the Christmas holiday, I would tell my parents at the new year and go from there. Plenty of girls went months and months without anyone figuring out they were pregnant and I was sure I could do the same. I was wrong. It became apparent right away that I was not going to have an easy first trimester. My mom called it out one night while we were alone, wrapping Christmas presents together. I told her the same thing I’d told everyone else so far – I’m pregnant and it’s going to be fine.

    My OB/GYN started me off right. I was given the injection for my RH factor. I was started on pre-natal vitamins that I couldn’t ever keep down, weighed, and given a due date. August 3rd was my first due date. I might not still remember that but it was my grandmother’s birthday. It also felt so very far away in this miserable pregnancy that I’d started. I panicked after a later visit pushed my due date out to the 9th, and then changed it to August 12th, my uncle’s birthday. I already didn’t think I could make it to August 12th.

    I was working an early morning shift for a call center answering questions about at-home hair color, and taking classes at the community college to finish my criminal justice degree. Initially, I thought I could maintain both. I needed to work because I needed money. I also really wanted to finish school. I had plans for the police academy and an eventual detective position. Even though others were already saying that something was going to have to give, I spent a few weeks in denial about this part. I wanted to believe I was responsible enough to do it all.

    Problems with my ambitious plan started right away because vomiting started to be an problem right away. The final straw was throwing up all over myself and my car on the freeway on my way to work. I missed work that day and the next. Fun fact: I’m a reactionary puker. Just hearing someone else throw up makes me dry heave. This was torture. Shortly after that I was laid off from my job. I’m sure my struggle mornings and the fact that they also figured out I was pregnant had a lot to do with it.

    Now I was pregnant, unwed, and unemployed. After that I withdrew from school. The truth was I was sometimes too exhausted to keep my eyes open, and my “morning sickness” seemed to struggle telling time. It thought of itself more as an all day and all night kind of sickness, so I was having trouble in my morning and my end of day classes. I’d be a liar if I said that choice to quit school and change career plans wasn’t hard, but these were all my choices. Imagine having to go through this, completely unprepared, because people not impacted by your decision made the choice for you.

    I was momentarily unemployed, but I was still trying to be positive and move forward. Even though my dad was bristly(we’re fine now, no worries), and I was sure some family members felt sorry for me, I had support. I had a (free) roof over my head without any threat of losing that, my groceries, or my insurance. I had no doubt that I was going to see this through and be a mom, but even at this point it was hard.

    And I was only twelve weeks in.

    To be continued…

  • My Words

    Who Needs Four Legs?

    It’s been a rough few weeks around our house. Our beautiful Muppet of a dog, Astrid, ran in front of a very slow moving truck and ended up losing her back left leg. Seeing the accident and the aftermath was the most traumatic event of the year for me, but I’d be lying if I said it seemed to be as traumatic for Astrid.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it wasn’t traumatic for her in the moment. And I’m not claiming she enjoyed the week in two separate animal emergency centers, or the actual surgery she went through. But I am saying that this little dog has bounced back from this way quicker than her human counterpart.

    Home from surgery

    When they let us know that the leg could not be saved like we initially thought, I did a deep dive into life with a Tripawd, and managed to find all the horror stories on my first try. After that, I shut down the internet for awhile, and for the past three weeks it has been 24-hour med schedules and taking turns sleeping in the living room with Astrid. At first we were sleeping with her on the floor, after awhile we moved to spending some time on the floor, some time on the couch, with Rich getting the real bed on weekdays since he’s the one with the real job. That part, I know, has been harder on us than on Astrid. She likes sleeping on the floor but I’m way too old for that shit.

    Last week the surgery staples came out, the stitches in the bottom of her good back paw came out, and the pain meds ran out. All of a sudden, our old Astrid was back. While she’s been moving around since the day she came home, now she’s back to wandering around the house, checking up on her humans, getting on and off the couch, and up and down the small set of steps on the back porch. As far as she seems concerned, she never needed four legs in the first place.

  • My Words

    My Three Spiders

    A spider died in my shower this morning. His name was Floki, and I apparently triggered one of the traps he set last night for George, the Jumping spider that lives in the bathroom skylight. Whatever trap was hit, Floki ran at me across the ceiling but the steam from the shower proved to be too much and he fell into the water. I got him to the ledge of the tub but he didn’t make it. George made an appearance about an hour ago, so he has survived the attempted invasion of his territory.

    I know that all sounds ridiculous, but it’s all real. Floki was one of three cellar spiders in our house, and we’ve been able to track them since we moved in December 2020. Floki wasn’t the biggest – that’s Ragnar – but he would hang with his front legs outstretched in a way that made him look much bigger. He traveled the most of the three, frequently moving upstairs and down for his kills. When he showed up in my bathroom last night, I knew it was to hunt George, and I joked with Rich and Alex that we’d have to do a spider funeral soon. I was pretty sure that George was not long for the world with Floki on his heels. The little jumpy spider that is now bigger than a dime doesn’t know how lucky he got because of my shower.

    Some of you are probably laughing at me right now. Some might think I’m making this all up. Who names their house spiders? Truth be told, this is a huge deal for me. I’m fucking terrified of spiders. The fear level absolutely requires the use of the “F” word. I have multiple stories of me and spiders, and none are good. But these three – Ragnar, Floki, and Halfdan – have been given full access to my house because they seem to fucking hate other fucking spiders as much as I do.

    Ragnar was the first of the cellar spiders to make himself known. He’s massive for something with such a tiny body, and he is fierce. It was his gruesome kill-space littered with dead spiders that allowed me to be convinced by Rich’s argument that he was going to be helpful. I didn’t even know we’d had that many spiders alive at some point down there! Ragnar makes sure I never have to know.

    Back in September we thought Ragnar died. He was tangled up in a web with a much bigger spider at the bottom of the stairs, and neither seemed to be alive. For more than a day we thought they’d succeeded at killing each other. Then Ragnar popped up above the dead guy after another day or so, and showed us how lethal he is. Floki also showed up shortly after we moved in. He was stalking Vlad, the elusive black widow on the stairs, but Rich killed Vlad first and Floki vanished for a few weeks after. I got the sense he wasn’t impressed with us interfering with his mission. For the last year he’s been easy to identify with his unique way of perching in his webs – front legs out straight, almost shaping himself like an arrowhead. Wish I’d thought to take a picture of how different his pose was from Ragnar and Halfdan.

    Halfdan is the newest of the three, and he joined Floki in the guest room over the winter. He’s the smallest and most likely youngest, but he currently has an impressive graveyard in his perch corner downstairs. I know Ragnar probably won’t be around much longer; the cellar spider has an average lifespan of 2-3 years. Halfdan will have a lot of shoes to fill now that Floki is gone. We can’t let the bad spiders take the house.🕷🕷🕷

  • My Words

    Finding Home

    One year and six days ago I walked into Rich’s office in the middle of the afternoon and changed our world. We were hip-deep in 2020 and it had taken it’s toll. Rich had been working from home since March. I quit working at the end of July to focus on my writing and my health. But on that day – Friday, October 23, 2020 – I interupted Rich’s work day for a quick conversation I know he wasn’t expecting. It went like this:

    ME: “I’m not trying to run away but I really need to move somewhere else.”

    RICH: “Okay, find us a house and we’ll move.”

    ME: “That’s it? If I find us a house we can move?”

    Rich: “Yep, find us a house and we’ll move.”

    ME: “Alright, I’ll find us a house.”

    Rich: “Make it happen cap’n.”

    With nothing more than that, I headed back to my spot in the basement and started searching in Washington State. We’d talked for a few years about “What if…” ideas of moving away, but talked ourselves out of it every time. Maybe we’d just do a vacation house somewhere that we could rent out and visit, but where we wanted to be was too far away from where we were in Salt Lake for it to make sense. We knew we wanted to be in the Pacific Northwest, and the Puget Sound area specifically, and that wasn’t going to work as a weekend getaway spot from where we were.

    Now, as adults with adult children and flexible careers, the idea of jumping ship and moving away seemed possible. And with everything brought to light through 2020, it seemed foolish to keep putting off what we knew would make us truly happy. So, I started the search that Friday and by this date a year ago – October 29, 2020 – we’d made the list, hired a real estate agent, and were waiting for word on the offer we’d made on a house we thought would be a good fit for us. The acceptance came through in the afternoon and set a whirlwind into motion.

    Salt Lake was the only home I’d ever known. I was born there, and Rich moved from Texas at 12 years old. We met years later after we’d had kids and tried to make a go of it with other people. We came together in 2004 and built a life that was good. Our marriage was solid, our kids were figuring out their own situations, and Rich’s work made it possible to dream about moving to a place we really wanted to be. For the longest time though, I couldn’t make the jump. I wasn’t sure I could be the type of person who moved away from home. But something about last year made me decide I needed to try.

    The news was a shock to most people who knew us. To be honest, it was a little bit of a shock for us as well! Telling people we decided to move to a different state, found a house, hired an agent, got approved for our loan, and had our offer accepted on a house we’d never been in makes the whole thing sound crazy. When we add the fact that the house we’re in was under contract when we first put it on our list, and that the first buyers walked away the same morning we made our offer because they decided it wasn’t a starter home, it almost feels like fate. If you believe in that kind of thing… That we did it all in six days was hilarious to the two of us. We still laugh about it sometimes.

    Although our offer was accepted on this date, we didn’t close and move in until the first week of December. But the past ten months in our new home have been everything we hoped for. The house’s 1990’s design isn’t perfect but it will be when we’re done. Living away from my family has not been easy; I miss them all and I miss being able to get together without using vacation days. But distance doesn’t lessen love, and there’s something to be said about living in the place that makes you happiest. Still, I never imagined I’d move away from home to find where home was meant to be.