The Benefit of the Doubt

Oh, hey there, friend.

First I want to say THANK YOU for yesterday.  I was overcome with emotion from all the kind, wise, loving words you all left here.  I am in a bad place right now, but you are all right, I am doing all the right things to get out of that place.  And I will.  Get out of that place.

So…today’s business…

It’s Wednesday.  That means it’s Sluiter Nation Recruit day.  Don’t know what a Recruit is?  Start here.

I am pretty dang excited about today’s Recruit.  I have probably been reading her blog for about a year and a half–although I was a lurker for a LONG time because I was a bit intimidated with her savvy awesomeness.  And then I started chatting with her on twitter here and there and realized that she is also very sweet and lovely.

And then I got to room with her at BlogHer.

And my head exploded.

Yes, it’s Gigi from Kludgy Mom.

And no, I don’t just like her because she laughed so hard she almost peed at some of my jokes.  (Don’t worry, that vlog is coming soon).

I LURVE her because she is smart and funny and a really awesome friend.

And she tells it like it is.

And here she is.  Telling it like it was…and is.

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Katie said, if you can’t figure out something to write about for me, write about belonging.

So I will.

Katie has Sluiter Nation. People who write for it belong to something.

For many of us, blogging creates a sense of belonging – whether it be a feeling that you’re part of a community, or a greater good, or just NOT feeling alone – part of the allure is this sense that you are one spoke in a very large wheel…but that without each and every spoke, the wheel doesn’t turn quite as well as it otherwise would.

What happens when you have an opportunity to meet part of your community in person?

It should feel like that wheel is rolling on the smoothest surface possible.

But guess what?

Sometimes, blog conferences or in-person meetings cause that wheel to hit a few bumps. Spokes get knocked out of whack.

Maybe a person feels like she doesn’t belong.

Maybe she has no real connection with a person that she expected to.

Maybe another blogger hurts her feelings.

Maybe she hurts someone else’s feelings unwittingly.

Maybe she is coming to the party with lots on her mind.

Maybe she is coming to accomplish goals that are different than her friends’.

Maybe she just feels “off.”

I read a lot of posts about BlogHer.

A lot of people had hurt feelings. Or felt left out. Or felt they didn’t belong. Or felt misjudged. Or they had more going on than met the eye. Or..or…or.

I experienced some of those feelings. I caused some of those feelings. And if you were there, or you’ve been at any blog conference, you likely have experienced or caused hurt feelings, too – intentionally or not.

It can cause a rift or make you feel out of sorts about your community.

 How do you keep your sense of belonging after that? How do you continue to feel like a critical spoke in the wheel?

I’ve concluded that it’s in how you handle all of that fallout – that shrapnel.

I could carry around that hurt.

I could bemoan how I was wronged.

I could profess shock that I would have wronged anybody. I’m a good person, dangit!

But I’ve decided that I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt. That people’s feelings and adrenaline and emotions were in high gear that weekend – mine included.

I am choosing to believe that under different circumstances, every single one of us would have done SOMETHING differently.

We all made mistakes.

I am choosing to believe that under different circumstances, we wouldn’t set our expectations of other people to a level that couldn’t possibly be met.

No one is perfect.

I am choosing to believe that no one can really understand exactly what each blogger brings with them to a conference – what pressures, insecurities, joys, goals, medical conditions, family issues.

We aren’t ever able to fully know – to walk in their pointy-toed stilettos.

So I am choosing to own my experience at BlogHer. No blame, no judging anymore. I am choosing to show compassion, forgiveness and patience for the people who may have hurt me. I am choosing to accept that I may have hurt others and by this post, apologize and ask for compassion, forgiveness and patience in return.

That’s how I will feel like I still belong. That’s how I will repair my own spoke and make that wheel turn again.

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See what I mean?  YES!  I had that same feeling when I flew home from BlogHer, but Gigi said it exactly right here.

So, you want more of the Kludgy Mom?  Yeah you do.

I read this post months ago, but when I found out we were having Baby #2, I went back and read Brother-Sister Language.

Gigi makes the most rocking, hilarious lists…check out Why Blogging is Good For You.

She also posts about food…and this has been on my crave list.  Now if I just wasn’t so dang lazy…Chocolate Angel Food Cake.

So there you go.  Check out Gigi on a daily basis.

You never know what you’re gonna get, but it will be GOOD.

We’re Not in Michigan Anymore, Toto

Well hello.  Welcome to Wednesday.  While I am face-deep in trying to get back to the job of being a teacher, it’s Sluiter Nation Recruit time here.  Don’t know what a Recruit is?  Start here.

Today’s Recruit is Melissa who writes A Wide Line.  Melissa is  fairly new to me as a blogger, but I read her words more than I think she knows (yeah, that’s right, Melissa.  I have been known to sneak over there).  She is sort of a hidden gem.  I don’t think enough people realized that she is really quite good at this whole writing thing.

Plus she is from America’s High Five, Michigan.  Boom.

Michiganders unite!

Here’s Melissa!

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I’m honored to be a Sluiter Nation recruit and hanging out in Kate’s neck of the woods today. When she suggested I write about “belonging to something or being a part of something,” I knew right away what I would tell you about….

 Too Michigan for California. Too California for Michigan.

I moved from the Great Lakes State to the Golden State in 1999. Why? The same reason any 20-year-old girl packs up her whole life, transfers schools and migrates across the country. For a boy. A stupid, stupid boy. But that’s another post for another time. (Hmmm, or not…)

I transferred to Santa Clara University at the start of my junior year, and I didn’t know anyone. In college back in Michigan, I had lived on the same floor as my best friends. Many nights were spent laughing hysterically in one of our rooms. I took for granted the love and acceptance that awaited me right outside my door.

I desperately wanted to recreate that experience at SCU, but I didn’t live on campus (instead I lived with Stupid Boy), and I worked about thirty hours a week. Groups of friends had already been established and they weren’t taking applications for new members. Not being the offspring of a rich, Silicon Valley executive, combined with my overall culture shock, I had a hard time fitting in.

You know how sometimes when you watch episodes of The Office, Michael Scott makes such an a** out of himself, it actually hurts to watch? If you could’ve seen my pathetic attempts to fit in, you’d have the same reaction. (Hand over heart, eyes squinting in near pain, saying, “Oh no, girl, just stop. Turn this off, I can’t watch.”) It’s amazing what one will go along with when one’s self-esteem and youthful need for validation are at stake. I latched on to anyone who would pay attention to me. I was a needy friend-slut.

First was Elle, a beautiful rich girl whose idea of friendship included constantly weighing ourselves on her bathroom scale, followed by her trying to convince me to make myself throw up with her. (Don’t worry, I didn’t do it.)

Then there was Angela, a quiet, conservative intellectual by day and a wild, ecstasy-popping party girl by night. I allowed her to drag me to every dance club in San Francisco, plus a couple in Hollywood. I might as well have tattooed “I don’t belong here” across my forehead.

There was also Cassie, a cute, peppy little number who talked even faster than I do. She wanted me to try out for the dance squad with her, but it became immediately apparent that I wouldn’t fit in with that clique either.

(Each of those examples could be a post by themselves. Hmmm, maybe I’ll do that… )

Finally, I met Shawna in anthropology class. To this day, if you asked me who the nicest person I’ve ever known is, I would think of her first. We hit it off right away and became great friends.

One day, the guy behind me in that class said he noticed I had an accent and asked where I was from.

“Here we go.” I dreaded these conversations. This one went as usual.

“I’m from Michigan.”

“Detroit?”

“No, Flint.”

“Flint… hey, didn’t Michael Moore make a movie about that place?”

Yes, Michael-fricking-Moore made a movie about that place. And because these kids were forced to watch it in high school for one class or another, they immediately thought they knew everything about me.

“Do people really eat rabbits from their backyards?” (I wish I could say it was just this one guy who asked me that question, but no.)

“No, of course not.” (I resisted the urge to add “moron” to the end of that statement.)

“Well, now it makes sense that you and Shawna are such good friends.”

Huh??? “Why?”

“You know.” The guy started to look embarrassed. “Because she’s black.” He whispered the last word.

And some Californians think Midwesterners are ignorant. This was a whole new level of ignorant.

Since then, I’ve made many wonderful friends in California. But for that to happen, I had to stop trying so hard and start being a little pickier when establishing relationships. I also had to let go of a few ignorant prejudices of my own.

Twelve years later, I sometimes still feel too Michigan for California. I say “pop” instead of “soda,” I’m loyal to the Red Wings, and my accent hasn’t completely disappeared, but I know I’m where I belong. Nestled between the ocean and the mountains, beneath the California sun with my husband and baby boy, I’m finally home.

Thanks for having me, Kate. I’m thrilled to belong in Sluiter Nation!

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I will admit, the husband and I say “soda” even though it does not fit how we were raised.  There, my secret is out.

Anyway, isn’t Melissa lovely?

You need more of her, so you should read these posts…

This resonates with me big time because I am also a People Pleaser…but sometimes I think I also go too far the other way:  Pulling a Pam

Need a laugh?  This seems like the exact thing that would happen to me:  Okay, Come Look at My Butt

A decision every summer reminds me I will probably never make:  My New Office

Ack!  Her little boy is beyond cute! Not-so-wordy-Wednesday: Splitting Hairs

So there you go.  A new blogger to add to your reader.

I told you…she was all hidden…when she most certainly shouldn’t have been.

We’re All Toilet Trained. Almost.

Ok so it’s Wednesday again and that means I have another Sluiter Nation Recruit for you.  Need a reminder about what a Recruit is?  Start here.

So today is a little different.  I have a Recruit.  And she is a blogger, but she is MORE a tweeter than she is a blogger.

In fact, Jen has a few blogs that she claims to ignore.  Her least ignored one is The Martha Project.  I know, I know…some of you who know her from twitter are like, “Jen blogs?”

I have to say that even though she is not an avid blogger, she belongs here as a Recruit for so many reasons.

First of all she is funny.  I mean the things she says will make you spit out whatever is in your mouth at the time…including your own tongue.

She is also super sincere and passionate.  Jen is someone I can trust to tell me the truth, whip me back to reality, and then make my laugh.  Plus she is fiercely devoted to making sure her Gifted and Talented son gets the best education and is not just handed mediocrity because that is the level of the rest of the class.

The teacher in me gives a fist pump and a “hell YES!” whenever I read her education tweets.

And she is funny.

Wait.  Did I say that already?  Well I should remind you of that before you continue.

Set down your coffee and get ready. (and mom, you’ve been warned.)

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I always get a little freaked out about guest posts. I don’t claim to write well, and then I have Katie “recruiting “me. Just look at those other recruits. It’s like a game of “which one of these things is not like the other.” So here I am. I apologize in advance from your regular program of excellent writing.

I don’t have a stockpile of post ideas. I generally wait until something happens and the moon aligns before I actually take the time to do anything more than 140. This time around? It was especially hard. To relate to Katie, I could go the second kid route or even the school route, but neither worked for me. I sort of had an idea and was going to go with it until I was hit with something else.

I was in the kitchen and had to go to the bathroom. I decided to head upstairs for a little (ahem) privacy. As I was climbing up the stairs, it happened.

I pooped my pants.

Again.

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You see I haven’t always pooped my pants and I can’t say that it happens OFTEN. I can say that when you hear the obstetrician say to the nurse after labor:

“Can you hand me another spool of thread?”

It’s not going to be a good thing.

At the time you don’t really know what that even means. Two spools. I just thought

“Well, o.k. Dr. do your job and tighten it up good, I gots me a new baby!”

Life goes on, with no sleep, around the clock feedings, and the need to leave the house. It’s during one of these events that you realize maybe she didn’t tighten “it” up enough.

You start to think this at the local Target. I was out for one of my first trips without the newborn. I could not have been happier to know that I had 1 hr. and 43 minutes to myself until the baby needed to be fed again. I was just grabbing for my purse and opening the door when…

Oops, I just pooped my pants.

Well, that’s odd. Must be the hormones or something.

I then did what any other desperate mother who wanted 1 hour and 43minutes to herself.

I grabbed the baby wipes

Stripped

Cleaned

and threw away everything into a plastic bag right there in the parking lot.

So yeah. I was getting my 1 hr. and 23 minutes any way I could.

I threw my pants back on, rolled that shit into a ball, and threw it all out on my way in.

Surely, Target has this effect on others. There was alone shopping time to be had people.

Like I said, this isn’t a common thing with me. I can count on one hand how many times and I can’t even believe I’m admitting this.

Maybe you can relate maybe you can’t. Either way I’m here to say

I sometimes poop my pants……and that’s ok

I love my children and wouldn’t trade them for anything. Even if I DO have to pack two diaper bags to leave the house**

_______________________________________________

**I don’t really. Swear.

And this is the part of the internet that I love the “ME TOO!” part.

Please, please be at least one other who relates.

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Ok…so admit it.  Who here as pooped a little?  Raise of hands?  We won’t tell.  What is admitted in Sluiter Nation, stays in Sluiter Nation.  Maybe.

Ahem.

So you need to go follow Jen on twitter NOW.  (not on twitter?  You should join JUST to follow Jen.  I am not even kidding).

And I know you want to read some of my favorites from her blog, yes?

Ok, you have to know what Storm Meat is.

You should also read her reasons why she sucks at blogging.

And you need to know that her kids say the darndest things.

So there you have it.  Jen is awesome.

Now.  Go follow her on twitter.

Do it.

Oh, and just admit you pooped your pants.  Come on.

belonging

It’s Wednesday and that means I am bringing you another super blogger who I super love to be a Sluiter Nation Recruit.  Wait.  You don’t know what a Recruit is?  Well, check it out here.

I am beyond honored that my dear friend, Lori, is here today.  She is so very busy with her two blogs:  In Pursuit of It All and Your Child Talking.  She is hilarious, kind, and smart.  That’s right, she has the tri-fecta of awesome.  Oh, and did you hear?  She was one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year. Yeah, she is kind of a big deal.

But she is pretty humble about it all.   Instead she chooses to build up others.  She is by far one of the most supportive, lovely people I have met in these interwebs.  And I know I am not the only one who feels that way.

I am thrilled that she is here today…and you will be too.

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A girl walks to the library, shoes worn on the inner edge of the sole from her pidgeon-toed-ness, clothes faded, tight in some places and short in others, from many years of wear. Awkward in her loudness and uncomfortable in her roundness, she opts for the company of books over games where she is clumsy and uncertain.

 A young lady walks to the library, shoes several years removed from stylish, clothes selected carefully to avoid tightness over a body several birthdays ahead of her age. Awkward in her intelligence and uncomfortable in her maturity, she opts for the company of books over relationships where she is clumsy and uncertain.

 A woman sits in front of a keyboard, barefooted toes curled around the base of an office chair, clothes picked for comfort to prevent distraction from a narrative running in her mind. Agile in her vocabulary and nimble in her descriptions, a life-long love affair with words comes to passionate fruition as she pours out a memory of a life-changing gift.

A woman stands at a podium, shoes elegant and heeled, clothes chosen and rejected a half-dozen times in effort to manifest the perfect communication. Confident in her voice and buoyed by her community, she speaks words out loud to a welcoming audience of hundreds that she once upon a time meant for only two or three.

 I have not written yet about speaking as one of the Voices of the Year at BlogHer. Trapped in a paradoxical conflict between thrill beyond description for myself, and ache that what I had received others had not rendered me mute. But when asked to write a piece about belonging, this came pouring out.

If I could bottle that feeling – of sharing beyond giving, of connecting beyond commonalities – I would gather glass containers until I was dropping them and fill every last one to the very top. I would pass them out as fast as my hands could deliver, then I’d gather them back up, refill them all and hand them out again.

In a community of wordsmiths and writers where we seek to reach, to bond, to communicate and to express, every last one of us is worthy of such a moment. Every last one of us deserves a celebration and an occasion of reach beyond our grasp. And whether that moment comes on a stage with bright lights, in print pages turned and savored, or in the quiet lightning strike of strangers becoming united over a shared experience, it will come. We are worthy, and so it will come.

I hope I am there with you when it does. I will cheer, and I will stand. Because we belong together in this place, you and I. And we are worthy.

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Do you still have dry eyes?  You do?  Well, then you need more Lori.

Here is the piece she read for Voice of the Year at BlogHer.  I can’t read it without weeping:  The Red Underwear

This is the piece that inspired me to look at myself from Eddie’s eyes:  The Letter Your Child Would Write

A reminder that the small things in life are, well, not so small.  They are what connect the big stuff:  Pebbles

And to leave you with tears of laughter, a sampling of Lori’s amazing artistic skils:  BlogHer11 in Pictures

I know.  She is amazing.

I know.

 

community

Welcome to Wednesday and Sluiter Nation Recruit time!  Don’t know what a Recruit is?  Start here.
Today’s post is from the lovely CDG who writes her lovely words at Move Over Mary Poppins.  I met this lovely lady via The Red Dress Club.  She writes some of the only online fiction I can read…it is that good.  And it’s a romance series!  I usually HATE romance!  So yes, she rocks my face.  But she is also a boy mom and someone who I am pretty sure would be a great friend in real life.

We love to chat it up on twitter and we share a love of the men of SNL.  You can’t beat that with a stick.

She lifts me up when I feel bad about myself and she makes me laugh when I don’t want to.  She is exactly what I need in a friend.  I can’t wait to someday share a beer and some yummy East Coast seafood with her.

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 My internet is a city.

My blog is a walk-up. The sidewalks are cobbled like Beacon Hill, but the heartbeat of the neighborhood is more like Greenwich Village. Here I have my own space. I choose the art on the walls and the words I put out for my guests. I come and go as I please.

Most mornings, I sit with my breakfast and dip into the conversation on Twitter. It’s a little coffee shop–the one with the green striped awning and the wrought iron chairs outside, the one with really good muffins. There’s a regular crowd, and we catch up, we laugh, we tease and play ad confide and move along with our days. If I need to pop back in for a refill on my coffee? Someone is always there to chat with.

I go visiting. In between the necessary things–banking, shopping, researching, and of course, creating!–I visit my favorite blogs. As I make the rounds, leaving little notes to say hello, I am reminded of the vibrant diversity of my community. And it fuels my desire to write, to connect, to give friends a reason to come back to my house.

There are neighborhoods in this city, and as I wander from one to another, I see familiar faces, common threads and gathering places. I walk in this city knowing who I am and comfortable in my skin.

A little over a year ago, after more than four years of blogging, I really started delving into Twitter, reaching out of a long, dark winter, seeking something. I don’t know that I could have said at the time what exactly that something was.

What I was looking for was a community.

It happened in a flash, as Twitter does. I followed the right person, and suddenly there were conversations, discoveries, new blogs and voices in my solitude. And these voices heard me and identified with me.

I had been so lonely. My friendships were in flux, my best friends scattered far and wide, in some cases lost for good, and I had turned inward.

From the safety of my laptop, I forged new connections. They introduced me around, helped me find my voice after a lot of uncertainty and silence .And they began to matter.

I began to offer up more of myself, to take chances and risks in my writing. And instead of doubt, there was interest and feedback and encouragement. My little walk-up got some new paint, a few new houseplants, and it’s inspiration back.

For a long time, I worried that I was only setting myself up for more loneliness. After all, real and rewarding friendships with people based on a tiny avatar photo and a typing style? Unlikely.

Not so much, because here I am.

Here we all are.

A community, woven by comments and tweets and email. My friends, my neighborhood. My home.

The internet is my city.

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See?  Beautiful words.  Gorgeous in fact.

So go follow CDG on twitter and chat with her about Boston, SNL, and beer.

Then go read this sampling of lovey.  It will make you instantly follow her blog, Move Over, Mary Poppins.

She does stuff like this…this is why I love her:  This is Crazy

She writes sentimental stuff like this…this is why I want to hug her…and then go on a road trip with her:  He’s Totally Cheat at Car Bingo

She writes mad awesome fiction that makes me feel her characters as if they are real…this is why I will say, “I knew her when…”:  Adjusting the Phrasing

She is a boy mom who says the things I don’t know how to say…this is what we bond over:  Penny For My Heart

So go forth and love my East Coast friend.  I can share.

Shut up, I can.

Baby Lusting

Oh hi.

Yes, I am back from BlogHer.  But I am all kinds of exhausted (at least I am guessing.  I am writing this on Tuesday before I go).

So I have a lovely guest post for you.

Her name is Taryn and she writes at Mama’s Got Wanderlust.

Taryn is a Canadian expat living in Moscow, and she has the hankerin’ for another little beh beh.

Here is her story.

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I remember the day it happened. It was a crisp spring afternoon shortly after my 29th birthday, and suddenly everything changed.
I was walking around downtown and spotted across the street from me a young woman with a big round preggers belly. Sure, I’d seen tons of preggos in my life before, but for some reason this one caught my eye. And suddenly my feet stopped moving and my breath caught in my throat. And a hunger like I’ve never known swam up from the pit of my belly and swallowed me whole. I needed to have a baby.

My mom must have given quite the safe-sex talk when I was a teenager, because up to this point I had been something akin to terrified of getting pregnant. And seriously paranoid about it too: when I was in my early twenties, despite being on the birth control pill and using condoms, more months than I care to count I found myself peeing on a stick while my boyfriend freaked out on the other side of the bathroom door. It was always negative, of course.
You know when you have PMS and you get that chocolate craving? It’s not the regular had-a-bad-day chocolate craving, but the kind where you feel like you might stop breathing if you dont get some right this minute, right? Well that’s what this new urge felt like, but multiplied by 10. And that day on the street, I know it sounds completely cliché, but a strong biological urge took hold of me and whispered in my ear “reproducccccce. Reproducccccce.”
Why the sudden onset of baby lust? Maybe it was because of the big 3-0 looming around the corner. Maybe it was all that societal pressure, as a woman, to have it all, nuclear family included. Or maybe it was because I finally found myself feeling like a real grown-up: I had a good job with a great salary and promising long-term prospects; I was in a healthy committed relationship (with my now husband); I was content all around.
So we talked, my potential baby daddy and I. And talked and talked and talked. And then we took a break for some love-making, after which we agreed that we were ready for parenthood and would start trying to get pregnant. Good thing too, because two weeks later I once again found myself peeing on a stick. And this time it was positive.
I was one of those lucky women who loved being pregnant. Sure, I constantly complained about aches and pains, and lived on crackers and apricots for a month, but I also felt better than I ever have in my entire life. And happier too.
And then Charlotte was born, and whatever semblance of happiness I had previously felt was completely eclipsed by the unfathomable joy that this little person has brought to our lives.
Typical man that he is, hubby immediately started talking about baby #2. He got the evil eye from me, and learned to shut his mouth.
But Charlotte is now 18 months old. And the other day, I noticed a preggers down the platform from me at the metro station. And that old familiar feeling came over me, the whole throat-closing, feet-like-stone, delicious whispering in my ear. And I swear I felt my uterus poke me, telling me it was time for some more baby-making.
I guess it’s time for me and the hubby to sit down for another talk.

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Thank you, Taryn for bringing your baby yearns to Sluiter Nation.  We have a bit ‘o the baby dust here and hopefully it will rub off on you!

Oh, and thanks for saving my tired, BlogHer butt.  Your words were beautiful.  Mine would have been an incoherent pile.

Come on peeps, give Taryn the encouragement she needs!

Mesothelioma Mom

Today I am attending my very first BlogHer sessions!  Actually, today is Pathfinders Day, where you can choose a “path” to learn about in morning sessions and afternoon discussions.

The “path” that I chose was how to use my blog as an agent of change.  Some of you know that I want to do MORE with Sluiter Nation.  I want this to be how our children know their family once that family is gone.  Cort’s dad died the year we were married, so our kids won’t ever have met him here on Earth.  We try to support cancer awareness and research efforts, but I want to do MORE.

Today I am hoping to learn about how to do that through my blog.

While I am busy scribbling notes and asking questions and eating saltines to keep my tummy under control, I am pleased to have Heather Von St James here to share her powerfully miraculous story of struggle and success.

Please giver her your love.

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A new baby brings with it so many changes. The first few months are crazy, filled with no sleep, adorable little clothes, and late night feedings. Unlike most new moms I was diagnosed with a mesothelioma prognosis 3 ½ months into raising my daughter. Yeah, not exactly what most people go through when a new baby comes into their life, but it happened to me and I had no other choice but to fight.

Lily was born on August 4th, 2005. Our whole family welcomed her especially because she was first and only grandchild on my side of the family. Although she was not the first grandchild, or even the 10th on my husband Cameron’s side of the family they were all beyond excited to welcome her into our lives. It didn’t take long before we got into a little bit of a routine. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to work, but because of the line of work I was in, I had to get back part time when she was only 4 weeks old. I was part owner in a large salon company and had a full book of clients to get back to.

During the month of September I noticed how tired I was. I pushed it off as just having a baby, via c-section, no less, since she was a frank breach… No wonder why I was tired! In October in went back almost full time, 36 hours a week to be exact. Yet, my fatigue issues seemed to persist. I had healed well from the c-section, and just chalked it up once again as having a new baby was exhausting.

In addition to my fatigue, I was losing weight, and I mean a lot if weight. I had only gained 5 lbs during the pregnancy, which was odd to begin with. I had always been a full-bodied woman. I was 5’10” and 225 pounds when I got pregnant. My husband and I believed the weight loss was due to a healthier diet and taking better care of myself. We had devised an ulterior answer to everything, or so we thought.

However, after the pregnancy the weight literally melted off. On average I was losing around 5- 7 lbs a week. I had heard that breast-feeding helps you lose weight, and thought that must be the reason. As October went on, I continued to lose weight, felt lethargic, and then the fever started. Everyday, at the same time I would get a low-grade fever. Finally, after one scary incident of waking up to get ready for work, getting Lily up, feeding her, putting her in her swing I sat on the couch, barely able to lift my arms. I couldn’t catch my breath; it felt like a truck had raked on my chest. I sat back on the couch and fell asleep. I woke up 2 hours later. Little Lily just looked at me from her swing, cooing and gurgling like the happy baby she was.

This scared me! I was scared enough to call my doctor and begin to find out what was wrong with me. I called in sick to work that day and went to see my doctor. His initial thought was that I had a heart virus. Due to the fact that I was breast-feeding he was reluctant to give me antibiotics. He told me to take some time off of work, and come back next week if I didn’t get better and he would do some tests. I was back a week later, feeling just as bad. He ordered some blood tests and when they showed some abnormalities he sent me for a chest x-ray. It was then that we knew we were up against more than postpartum symptoms.

I was a new mother with a terminal cancer. I beat the odds. I may have missed part my baby girls childhood, but I am able to celebrate her 6th birthday on August 4. Her birth was what got me through the most difficult time in my life. She is the reason I am a proud and healthy mesothelioma mom.

*************

Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your story!

To read more about Heather and how she got mesothelioma and being a mesothelioma mom, you can click here.

you can also follow her on twitter.

Blogging Friends are Real

Woot to Wednesday!  In a few hours I will be climbing on a plane all by myself for the first time ever and jetting off to BlogHer.

While I am gone, you can read about my childhood travel memories at Kludgy Mom’s place.  And of course you should stick around here and meet my newest Sluiter Nation Recruit!

Wait.  You don’t know what a Recruit is?  Well start here!

Today’s Recruit is Jessica from Four Plus an Angel. I met Jessica through The Red Dress Club.  I remember the first time I read her writing my jaw hit the floor.  She write so beautifully about the wonderful things in her life…but also about the stuff that is hard. 

Jessica became a mom when she was just a teenager to a beautiful daughter with autism.  She also gave birth to triplets, but lost one.  And then she had a handsome little rainbow baby.  She has so much that has been hard in her life, yet her writing has hope surging through it.

Jessica is one of the most beautiful souls I have met here on the interwebs, which is why her post today is so perfect.

Enjoy.  I know you will.

*************

I have heard it said that blogging is like high school but I don’t see it.

I have seen cliques here and there and competition and bloggers jealous of the amount of friends another blogger may have.

But I have also seen support and honesty and lifting each other up instead of putting each other down.

In high school, I never quite found my place. As much as I tried, I was always at the edge of one crowd or another but never in the center.

I was not the first one to be called when plans were being made and I’m sure there was plenty of talk about my monstrous glasses and clothes that were not always name brand.

But in blogging I have found my place, I have trusted the blogosphere with the most fragile details of my life and I have always been handled with care.

I have found women who so closely relate to my life that I wish they lived next door and women who are my complete opposite but can keep me laughing or tweeting for hours.

I have put myself out there and socialized with big bloggers and have been welcomed with writing tips and nods in the world of social media.

I have poured my heart out on my own site only to find virtual hugs and the most beautiful words I have ever read, all just for me.

This week so many of you are heading to Blogher. I won’t lie and say that I do not feel like I am missing the biggest party of the year but I will say that I am okay with staying home.

There is not a single part of me that is worried my blogging friends will be discussing what I wore during my last vlog or whether my header and my sidebar coordinate because blogging is about so much more than that. It is about sharing and relationships and finding people who you see yourself in and putting yourself out there in hopes that someone sees themselves in you too.

Now I know when you all return you will be talking about the good times that were had, the bottles of wine that were consumed and the last one to leave the dance floor but I also know that I have made true friends in this blogging world. And when I ask you how much fun you had you will say that you wish I was there too.

and you will mean it.

Because I’ve made life long friends around here.

*************

You are right, Jessica.  We DO wish you were going.

You need more Jessica in your life.  You so do.  First go follow her on twitter and add her blog to your reader.

Then try this sampling of Jessica’s work.  You will be hooked!

Not just another baby bump post…In a Heartbeat (waring:  read with a tissue)

Her oldest, beautiful daughter–who happens to have autism…My One (warning: don’t throw the tissue away)

And to end in a pile of cute, a vlog…My First Vlog

Thank you, Jessica for coming to be a part of Sluiter Nation!  I will drink a lemonade for you at BlogHer!

My Teenager is Good and it’s All My Fault

Annnd it’s Wednesday again!  That means it’s time for another blogger to be recruited into the Nation.  Don’t know what a Sluiter Nation Recruit is?  Start here before moving on.

Today I am excited to recruit a DUDE into the Nation!  I met Lance via twitter…and when he commented on my blog once I almost had a heart attack because the only other Lance I know is an ex-boyfriend.  This Lance is way cooler.

I mean, his blog is called My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.  If that is not awesome?  I don’t know what is.

Anyway, he’s cool and he’s a parent and sometimes those lines get fuzzy…so he’s here to talk about it.

*************

I have been waiting three years for a disaster. My daughter, Tay, is 5’1″, barely over 100 pounds, with long blonde hair, and sparkling blue eyes of wonder. One minute she’s quiet, the next she’s embullient. Without warning she can strike. She’s fifteen years old.

I’m still waiting.

“What’s on your mind, baby.” My wife asked.

“Our daughter isn’t rebellious. She’s too good to be true. Where’s the crazy hairstyle, the out of control attitude, the unacceptable friends, the piercing we can’t believe?” I bemoaned.

“Are you really hoping Tay misbehaves? Be thankful she’s sooo good!” My wife told me.

A little over three years ago I met a 12 year old Taylor aka Tay, her now 6 year old sister Carly aka “the Goose”, and their mom, my wife, Deana aka Bobina. Everyone told me that what the Tay thought of me would determine my relationship with her mom. They were right. Tay and I got a long brilliantly. We were friends. Then, I married Bobina in November 2008 and everything changed. Tay didn’t like me anymore. I became her dad.

I started fearing her teenage years and high school. Twenty six years ago I was 15. That’s a generation ago. When I was 15 my parents took away my Whitesnake Slide It In cassette, calling it “trash”. They were strict and authoritarian. We never talked about music or sports or sex. I lived in fear of them. That sparked rebellion. I drank some, I made a few bad grades, I dated some awful girls, and I acted out. Tay does none of this.

“Don’t you think Tay is kind of boring?” I asked my wife?

“No, I think she’s 15, not like you or me at that age, and she’s amazing.” Bobina responded.

Then I talked to my daughter and found out the real reason rebellion has been squashed in my home.

“You and mom act sorta young . You joke, you’re dorky and you’re all dumb and stuff. It’s hard for me to walk around mad or rebel. Things are cool.” Tay revealed.

You’re reading that right. Because her mom and I are so awesome, Tay has no choice but to be a good kid. That’s how I took it. Ok, maybe that’s presumptuous and sarcastic.

My parents did a good job raising me. I became the first person to graduate college in my entire family. By 18 years old, I was living on my own, earning my way, and considered mature. What I didn’t get from my folks that Tay and her two sisters (we have a 7 year old named Lyla aka Bug) get is affection, heart to heart talks, and understanding. My mom and dad didn’t get me or give me break. I didn’t begin talking to them about my life until 5 years ago, when I was well in my thirties and divorced. My father and I are friends now. I didn’t see that coming.

My wife and I do act young. We have tattoos. We listen to better music than my teenager. Most of all, we talk and love our girls with as little judgment as necessary. This seed planting is bearing fruit in the form of Tay, our level-headed 15 year old.

I’m not declaring mission accomplished. The disaster could happen tomorrow. Tay has a friend who is a boy. I doubt that will end well. It rarely does. There will be harder classes, college, a challenging cheerleading schedule, driving, and the unexpected you’re never ready to face. But, I am satisfied that my differing style of parenting from my parents is working, for now. On the ride home from cheerleading practice I broke down and talked to Tay about what I was writing. Her answer blew me away

“Well, you know, I’m kind of happy most of the time. You and mom don’t make me mad that much. You listen to me. You let me talk. Even when I get grounded, it’s because I did something worth getting grounded. You don’t have better music than me. My music is the best because it’s good not shocking with bad words. I mean if you want me color my hair and my finger nails black and yell at you, I’ll do it, but whatever. I want some Doritos.”

Cue the Rage Against the Machine.

Thank you Katie, for letting me write for your awesome blog. I’m honored.

*************

No thank YOU, Lance!

You know you want to follow his blog and his tweets.

Lance is quite the fiction author, but he has a sweet spot for his girls:  Fake Plastic Trees.

And the guy LOVES music (which is probably part of why I love his blog): Moving Like Jagger.

He makes me giggle when he talks about how embarrassing it can be to live amongst privacy-ignoring women: She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.

And the man can run like Forrest.  What?  Independence Day.

grace

Hooray for Wednesday…and another Sluiter Nation Recruit!  Don’t know what the mess a Recruit even is?  Check here for the 411 (do people even say that anymore?)
This week’s Recruit is one of my very first bloggy friends.  Her name is Grace and I truly believe it was grace that brought her to me.  She was in the first wave of people to find Sluiter Nation after I admitted I suffer from postpartum depression.  She does too.  She blogs about it at Arms Wide Open.  She and I very quickly bonded over our little boys, our ppd experience, the fact that she lives in Mexico and I wish I could visit and practice my Spanish, and just trying to make it through this life with a smile.

She is probably one of the most beautiful souls I have ever “met”.  So here she is, sharing something very close to me…

*************

I remember.
January.
Nights and days passed without sleep. I was imagining what it would be like to not exist. To simply vanish.
I remember.
In the mornings I was hysterical. My husband tried to rationalize with me. He was slowly sinking into himself, and me? I was disappearing.
I remember.
It got so bad that he took me to Urgent Care.
“We need help. She has lost her ability to sleep. She is going crazy.”
I frantically told the doctor I could only take something safe for breastfeeding. I cannot stop breastfeeding. I cannot hurt my baby. I cannot take medication.
I remember.
We left with a prescription for Valerian Root. An herb.
I took it and cried. I felt nothing. I paced the cold tile floors. I hid from the shadows. I stared into the streetlights. I slowly disappeared.
I remember.
I ventured out to a playdate.
February.
By now I was on a strong sedative to survive. No more herbs. No more homeopathic droplets that vanished from my body like fingerprints on a steamy shower door.
I remember.
Somehow the evil words emerged. I don’t remember how they oozed into the conversation like poison. Postpartum Depression. Anxiety.
“I just don’t understand it. I have never felt anxiety about being a mom. I want four kids! Or maybe I’ll just keep having kids until we have a girl!” She said matter-of-factly.
I remember.
I slowly disappeared.
And that night I tossed and turned and tears peeked out from the corner of my eyes, quickly stifled by the little white pill I reluctantly swallowed.
I remember.
I told my psychiatrist it wasn’t really getting better. I still had anxiety almost every single night when it was time for bed. My bed was my trigger. I couldn’t shake it. I confided in him what my husband had earlier told me.
“You have to just get better. You have to.”
May.
I remember.
He pulled out his prescription pad and wrote me another pass. Another pill. Capsules this time. Green and Blue.
“You’ll be back to yourself in no time at all. I give it four months. Tops.”
I remember.
August came and went. September was washed away with the rain.
I wasn’t better.
And even more…I slowly disappeared.
Today, Two years later
I have a 3-year-old beautiful boy and new life in my womb. The tiny kicks remind me I survived. I am healthy. I am happy. I am present. I am mom. I cannot imagine my life any other way.
I am proof that this, too, shall pass.

*************

Sigh.  Grace is such an inspiration.  You should follow her on twitter and read her blog.   Here is a sampling of her lovely…

Her recent thoughts on our babies growing up…stages.

On being a boy mom…times TWO…the reveal.

On healing from depression…a heart melting kind of love.

See?  Beautiful.  Thank you, Grace, for always being you and for being such a lovely friend.

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