2014 in the Rearview Mirror

Man guys. 2014. Amirite?

It was such a doozy of a year, but as I go through all these questions I really feel like it was one of the best I’ve had. I feel like I’ve done a lot of fretting and worrying but I’ve also done so much growing and loving. I can’t really complain with that.

Apparently, sometimes it really is a good thing to look back and see how far you’ve come.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I attended a birth! I saw a real, live baby being born! I also had my first homebirth (!!!) and I attended my first cesarean section. Most of my firsts are firsts for my doula work. (First episotomy, first forceps etc, etc.) OH! I also took my FIRST, real adult vacation that wasn’t camping! How crazy is that!?

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for 2015?

I don’t even remember what mine were last year. Probably not. I will make some general intentions and a few longer term goals though this month. I think it is the right time for me to do so.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Weeeelllll, I saw a lot of births this year (17! SEVENTEEN!) , all people that were close to me by the end, but not family/friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, sadly. My Aunt Becky passed away in October after a long multi-year battle with aggressive ovarian cancer.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just the good ol’ US of A.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you didn’t have in 2014?

I would like to have more stability next year though with a large move on the horizon, I don’t see that happening. Oh, how I dream of feeling stable and having roots. I’d at the very least, like to have a more solid plan for the next 5 years of our lives together. Dare I say I would like a pregnancy as well or is that crazy talk?

7. What dates from 2014 will be etched upon your memory and why?

I’m so bad at remembering actual DATES, I’m more of a memories kind of gal. I’ll never forget my first birth, the homebirth, a few other doula related moments. I will never forget standing atop Rockefeller Center with my family in June, our vacation for my birthday and my Aunt Becky’s passing. Hearing that my father was officially cancer free!!!

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Becoming a doula. By far. BY. FAR. I still cannot believe it happened.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Gaining weight back and treating my body like garbage. It’s made me feel so terrible. Inside and out.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I got a pretty good cold before Christmas and I have been battling a few injuries that have kept me down, but nothing major. Thankfully!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A vacation. My grocery delivery. (Yes, really.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband’s. I’m not one to be all lovey-dovey on the interwebs but man, he really was pretty stellar this year. I worked 40 hour weeks, attended seventeen births (yes, I’m saying it again because OMG!!!1!), endless prenatal visits, interviews, postpartums and several TWO DAY births. I was ridden with anxiety and depression at times, I stressed, I struggled…and all along? He did the laundry, cleaned the house, cooked meals and held me while I cried. The guy even came to get me at work when I broke down late on Friday night and felt like I couldn’t go further. I mean…I just don’t know what I’d have done without him this year. It’s certainly given me some perspective.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Politicians. People on social media. Medical professionals. Anytime there’s an injustice – I feel so wounded for all involved. ALL.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Haa, oh NYC. My money all went to rent and cab fare. And dining out when I was too wasted and exhausted. Sadly it did NOT go to Broadway shows liked I would have preferred!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I got insanely excited about seeing Alan Cumming in Cabaret. Like…WOUND RIGHT UP excited. Andrew made us ‘take a walk’ when we got there because I just couldn’t settle down and sit still. Drinks may have been necessary to get me to just stop. But guys. ALAN CUMMING.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Ugh. Stupid old Taylor Swift, “Shake it Off”.  I really can’t stand her.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

a) Happier
b) Fatter. Ugh.
c) Oddly enough, richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I’d seen more movies and had more quiet time with Andrew. I wish I’d seen more friends and gone out more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. Working.

20: How did you spend Christmas?

With my family in Maine. So happy we did.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Yes. With birth. I really, truly did. I just fell unapologetically, head-over-heels in love with it all.  I see amazing things happen! Life!

22. What was your favorite TV Program?

The Blacklist. The Good Wife. White Collar (it’s gonnneee!?).

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is an ugly word.

24. What was the best book you read?

Baby Catcher, by far. It was so inspiring for me to read it! I was so grateful to get it as a CDP!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Eh. I’ll admit I haven’t discovered much. Jason Mraz’s album with Raining Jane called “YES”.

26. What did you want and get?

Experience. Confidence. Direction.

27. What did you want and not get?

Time to myself. Stability. More time in a day.

28. What was your favorite film of 2014?

Hah. I saw one movie in 2014 – American Hustle. No joke. ONE MOVIE.

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I turned 34 on July 6th and we went to Boston! It was SO. FUN. We’d never taken a vacation that wasn’t to see family or camping. We stayed in an ACTUAL hotel, rented a real rental car and did touristy things! We got room service! It was just a much needed break.

30. WHat one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More time to breathe.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2014?

Will blood wash out of it? Does it go with leggings? Will this work at the hospital?

32. What kept you sane?

Andrew. My birth friends.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Honestly? The police brutality issues. It’s hard being the wife of law enforcement and can feel incredibly isolating.

34. Who did you miss?

My family. So hard. SO hard.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

My doula mentor and my childbirth ed instructor. Both are AMAZING women. One is a midwife now and one is just my best friend. Honestly. They were rocks for me and amazing resources. I wish I could hug them daily.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014?

Even when you aren’t sure of your purpose, you may be just exactly what someone needed.

All I know

It seems like I only ever come here to post lately, when I need help. When I’m heavy and struggling. When I need people. And I’m sorry for that. I hate people to feel like they NEED to respond or reply, but honestly? It’s so hard for me to reach out for that reason exactly. I never want anyone to feel burdened by me or heavy. Ever. Regardless, I still need people.

For many years, I felt heavy and neglected. My husband worked a stressful, demanding job, 12-13 hour days where I wouldn’t hear from him. Where he would potentially be in dangerous situations, dealing with awful situations. I mean, I still remember the 1am phone call that he had been punched in the face and I was to meet him at the hospital. It was one of the most terrifying and life-altering moments that I’ve ever had, followed by facial reconstructive surgery two weeks later. He attended school full time in a prestigious, yet again, demanding program. There was no time left for us. For me. For a while – that was okay. I worked too. I missed my family but couldn’t reach out without hearing, “chin up!” I missed him. I missed us.

After we got married, I became a full time housewife for a couple years and for a while, that was okay too. We fought as I begged him to spend time with me. To take a semester off. As I noticed the changes in him the longer he worked a job where he had to shut off his feelings. As he denied the changes and blamed me. I cooked because I loved it. I provided. My heart on a plate because that was what I could do. I could show my love and care in carefully constructed meals. I could provide some love at lunch time for him, even if I wasn’t there. I worked out. I obsessed about food. I lost weight. I put too much value in my appearance. I dreamed of what I wanted to do with my life but couldn’t yet.

When we moved to New York, it was tumultuous. If I am completely honest, we were openly talking separation before we both decided to put TWO FEET IN and make it work. Even now, I admit that when we fight, I worry that we’re still there despite making big leaps and taking great steps. The move shook things up and settled the all the same. I somehow, by the grace of…who knows, finally took steps to enter in a career that I’d felt absolutely compelled to be in for years. Finally.

The pieces started falling into place after I took the training. I got another job. I was accepted into a collective of amazing doulas with mentorship. I started taking clients. I got promoted to office manager. My office grew and grew and I got a raise. I found an amazing childbirth educator and she started referring me fabulous clients.

And here I am.

I am emptier than empty. I’m still charging very low rates due to my membership in this group. I am running all over, answering multiple emails from multiple accounts daily, all hours. I feel like I can recharge a little bit, but then each interaction takes more than I was able to recharge. I keep talking about it and talking about it – but I don’t know how to change it. I can’t figure out what I can possibly drop as the sole earner right now. I am useless when I get home and that certainly doesn’t help my relationship no matter how badly I wish it could be different.

I love giving to people. Supporting my clients feels so good. I get to see new life. I get to cut cords. I get to tell people how much I really do believe in them, that they CAN do this. I get to watch people become pain free and live their lives healthier. I truly, in my heart LOVE helping people so, so much. But…I just don’t know how I am finding the energy to keep giving. It’s all coming at a cost that I quickly am becoming unable to pay.

Pressing the publish button is really difficult for this post. I feel like I am just whining and people are rolling their eyes but…this is really hard. It’s just so, so hard to love what you do but still feel completely worn out and exhausted by it all.

I don’t have answers on how to fix it and you don’t have to respond.

It’s just all really heavy right now and all I know is to talk about it.

Tired.

Have you ever felt so tired inside and out that you just wanted to cry but…couldn’t? 

It’s not depression. I’m not depressed. I get out of bed. I go through with my day. I find enjoyment in small things. I just feel…exhausted.

This isn’t news either, I realize. I’m working a 40-hour a week job in which I see an average of 35 patients a day, I commute 40 minutes by public transit each way, I’m taking a class every Sunday for three hours and I am actively interviewing, meeting with clients and attending births at all hours. Even as I write this, I feel guilty saying that this is ‘busy’ since I’m not shuttling kids around all day. Still, I feel so busy and just tired.

I’m doing such awesome things though you guys. I am seeing BABIES BORN. I’m watching moms become moms and dads become dads. I get to see dads go from disinterested or unsure to, “HOLY CRAP!? That’s my SON!” then racing to cut the cord.  I talk to loving nurses and doctors who very clearly want the best for my clients, regardless of what they’d do.  I get to help women see how amazingly capable they are and see them fall in love within seconds. It’s so ridiculously wonderful and by far some of the best moments of my work.

The flip side to that is…I see a lot of not so fun stuff.  I am having trouble walking away from each birth after seeing care providers disrespect my clients, knowing it didn’t have to be like that. Hearing someone say, “Well you’re ONLY three centimeters…” and then walk out of the room. Seeing them perform vaginal exams without even asking before penetration. I see family members trying so hard to convince their daughters to just, ‘take the drugs’ and ‘why do you want to suffer?’  I see a lack of lactation support in hospitals, a lack of true, unbiased childbirth education, I see a lot of scared women who are not being helped by their friends’ horror stories of how awful their labor was, how tired they were after their baby was born, how badly it will hurt and how their life is over.

So. Naturally. Sometimes, the bad outweighs the good. I can’t seem to step away from each birth and feel like I really helped. Instead, I walk away feeling like it could have been different and I couldn’t help MORE.  This is primarily why I suspect I’ll be applying to Midwifery School in the next couple years. Once I get some other things settled – I really think it’s the only way for me to really change the system. As a mentor of mine said, at least if I were their care provider, I’d know that they were treated with respect and would be heard.  I at least would know that someone believed in their bodies. 

What I am finding is that…I am struggling to open up. I’m struggling with all of this inside. The good, the bad and the ugly – all wrapped up inside.  I sat in a circle of amazing doulas last night, listening to birth stories. Some were so beautiful and wonderful, while others were absolutely tragic.  I was so proud to listen to these beautiful women tell the stories they’d been a part of and was blessed to support them. Even through all of this – I felt alone. I felt like I didn’t belong and didn’t fit in. I found myself wanting to share but not being able to figure out WHY I wanted to share. I just wanted to talk. As a particularly hard memory from my last birth popped up, someone I didn’t know well looked me in the eye and said, “You know, if you need one of us to cover you for even an hour during a birth, so you can take care of yourself, you need to do it.”

In that moment, I wanted to go off and talk to her. There was something about this person’s energy and spirit that I just…felt safe with. I had felt so alone that night, in the midst of all this love, but in that moment I just felt like I needed to cling to her.  Instead, I gave her a hug before I left and made a note to email her a thank you today.  I cried when I left the workshop because I felt like I didn’t know how to make deep, meaningful friendships. The kind where I don’t feel guilty calling them and needing them. I NEVER feel bad when someone needs me, but…it’s different. It’s me. I’m too much for anyone.

So. I’m struggling with just being emotionally tired. Exhausted. Worn out. I can’t stop being a doula, taking classes or reading about birth because it really feels like who I am inside. I can’t stop working the paying job even though it’s crazy because I make decent money for us and they love me there. I love my patients. I’m not quite sure where to go.

I just am finding it hard to reach out and say I need a hug – without some REASON for needing to talk and hug. Just because isn’t enough for me. I had no idea I struggled so hard with being vulnerable but apparently I do.  I worry too intensely about what someone will think of me, will my thoughts be crazy or too spinny. I don’t even contact my own mentor that gets PAID to help me because…I just don’t know what to do. What to say. Why we are meeting.  Then it makes me anxious.

I came home early from work today at 3pm and crashed. For 2 hours. I’ve been weepy ever since but I think it will pass. 

I’m just really tired y’all.  Thanks for keeping this space open for me.  

What’s the Plan?

It’s been a while since I posted anything about what I’ve been eating (or planning to eat) so I figured I’d give you all and update!

It really has been quite the transition from basically being a homemaker to working not only nearly full time, but also an unpredictable and odd schedule. I’ll be honest, it’s sucked. Some nights I get home at 9pm or later. Some days I leave the house at 6am. It’s kind of all over the place and I’ve really struggled to figure out not only what to eat, but how and when to eat. Mix in trying to get back into some sort of fitness routine and well…like I said before, you parents are amazing. Multitaskers to the MAX and I am so impressed.

That said, I’ve been really trying hard to eat at least 4 times a day. Breakfast, a shake, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast has generally been a couple of scrambled eggs with a piece of toast. I’ve experimented with having loaded oatmeal but it just doesn’t hold me like eggs do. Oh, and coffee. I love my coffee. I don’t feel like a zombie without it, but I really just love the smell, taste and the ritual of coffee.

Lunch has been a bit harder since on most days, I start work at 2pm. Often I’ll sip on my smoothie for a couple hours, then go to my lunch around 4pm. Different types of ‘loaded’ salads have been great. Romaine, edamame, almonds and cabbage with carrot-ginger-miso dressing. Spinach with feta, cranberries, almonds and chickpeas with a balsamic or orange vinaigrette. Kale with black beans, tomatoes, baked yams, corn and bbq tofu with a homemade tofu ranch. They are filling and have really worked!

But. I’m getting bored. What do you do for lunch?

Dinners are the hardest thing. I’m so used to cooking at night. I love it. I love the time spent making nutritious food but getting home after 8pm just…doesn’t work. So I’ve had to really be better about meal planning and preparing recipes that my husband can help with so that I don’t turn into a hypoglycemia-monster when I get home at 8:30pm.

SO! Without further rambling – here is the plan for this week:

What’s on your menu? Do you have any favorite fast-and-furious meals that you can toss together in an instant?