Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 AM... Insomnia... What do you do?

Sleepy-Time Tea, a boring book, counting sheep... I don't think I'd put "blogging" too terribly high on that list! Writing tends to stir up emotions, and I theorize that the glow of the computer screen before bed makes sleep difficult. But hey, here I am! I went to bed at 11:30 pm, fell right asleep, then BOOM! Awake at 3 AM with mind on hyperspeed.

Perhaps my recent re-emphasis on blogging has stirred my mind's juices and I just need to get my thoughts out of my brain so it can relax. Whatever the reason, I've got some insomnia going on, and I'm gonna try and write it out (then I'll pick up this god-awful book I started so I can go to sleep!)

I think what triggered this bout of sleeplessness is the little bit of depression I felt right before I went to bed. I was chatting with a few friends, making plans for the weekend, and after I signed off, it hit me that there's a very good chance I'm going to spend the rest of my life alone, serial dating! It sounds silly, I'm sure, but I felt that unless I'm willing to "settle" for someone who isn't my "soul match", I might not ever be in a long term relationship again.

Problem is, I'm not willing to settle! I've done so in the past, and all it got me was years spent with someone I knew wasn't right for me.

Admit it or not, we all have a need to be in a relationship. We want to have someone to come home to, to connect with, to be a couple with. Where we often fail is, we settle for Mr. Wrong just to have Mr. Someone. It's a slippery slope, and one I've slid down far too many times. Instead of working on a relationship, we fight FOR a relationship, knowing it's wrong, knowing it's not a match, but wanting too badly to be part of the all-powerful couple.

The temptation to settle is strong. When you're over 40, the pool of single men is small. Every criteria you have shrinks that already small pool. When you live in an area known for hunting, fishing, and big trucks - and that just isn't your thing - the pool shrinks further. When intelligent and insightful are high on your priority list, it becomes a search for a needle in a haystack. When as a woman you're independent, strong and have no drama - wow, your pool of male friends is large - but do they want to pursue a relationship? No, they want you to be their friend, their adivisor, their shoulder to cry on... as they pursue the woman with constant drama, young children, the jerk of an ex-husband, and a daily need to be "fixed". She may be more attractive, or less - but more often than not, her life's a mess. These men swear up and down they despise drama, but when they're in it - they don't refer to it as drama - they're subconsciously living out their knight in shining armor fantasy.

So, what to do? Dumb it down? Nope. Play helpless? Nope. Compromise my standards? Well, we all need to compromise in some ways, but my core needs? Nope.

Stay single? Maybe.

I've recently reconnected with a few men that I briefly dated in the past. When we dated, it just wasn't a click, and to be honest, it was often on my part. Something was missing - and most often, it was strength. I consider myself strong in many ways, but even I need to be taken care of on occasion, and I feel a great need to be with someone stronger than I am. I asked a few of these men why they were contacting me again. Other than the typical "I was just thinking of you", I heard, "I just didn't feel I was in the right place to pursue a relationship with you". One used the word, "intimidated" because my life seemed so "together". I felt then, as I do now, that if they'd demonstrated true strength, they would have seen my vulnerability.

Do I need to change? I'm not sure what I need to change, so I can't answer that. I'm far from perfect, but I'm me... do I want to go into a relationship being someone I'm not?

It's often said "there's someone for everyone". I think I believe it, but I have my doubts. When I was willing to "settle" in my life, I was always in a relationship. When I decided my life was too important to settle in my choice of partner through it, that stopped. I can't say I've been in a real relationship for over four years. I've dated, but not one has come close to what I'm seeking.

All around me my single friends are dropping like flies. They become single, and BOOM, before they know it, they're back in a relationship. My initial emotion was a bit of jealousy, "why her? why not me?" But as time has gone on, I've seen that they have settled. My jealousy has gone away, replaced by sadness for them. I wish them happiness, but I can't imagine they'll have the true happiness they would have, had they held out for Mr. Right, instead of settling for Mr. Somebody.

I think I'm going to focus on letting go, and letting God take care of this part of my life. He knows me, and he knows the kind of partner that will bring me joy, and accept me for who I am.

I'm not going to say I won't still feel some frustration, depression and loneliness - but like every negative emotion, it's short lived.

Right now I have a wonderful family, a beautiful new grandson to love on, and fabulous friends who already accept me for who I am. Might as well focus on those beautiful parts of my life, because I absolutely, positively, REFUSE TO SETTLE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coming to Peace with our Bodies

Some years ago I wrote what I felt to be my best blog ever. I was inspired by the Dove commercials that celebrated the beauty of all women, regardless of body shape. To this day, I gravitate toward buying Dove products because they were the first company to publicly celebrate curves, and I admire that so much. Yes, a marketing "ploy", but someone who cared came up with it.

In that blog I mentioned how disappointed I was that friends of mine who very clearly were in no need of a "diet", would comment on the "junk in their trunk" and need to lose weight. I commented that my daughter refused to go to parties at their homes because she felt uncomfortable eating around people for whom food deprivation and being thin was an obsession. I admired then, and do now, how comfortable she has always been with her body, regardless of size.

Recently my mind went back to that blog... for a different reason.

Ever since I was a teen, my reaction to stress has been a loss of appetite. In my entire life, I have deliberately dieted once, and hated it. I have never been what I term heavy, just have vacillated generally between a size 4/6 and 8/10. In high school I was 5'6", weighed 125 and wore a size 5 jean.

My mother was 5'7" and weighed 115 - 125 lbs, my father was 6'3" and weighed around 180. My brother was nearly discharged from the Air Force for failing to make minimum weight, so there's a natural long leanness in our family.

At my heaviest, which wasn't heavy, I tended to look larger than I was because it wasn't natural for my body - but honestly, I didn't care, because I have always enjoyed the curvy look! My role models for the sexiest female body tended to be Penelope Cruz as opposed to Jennifer Aniston, and to this day I think Queen Latifah is one of the sexiest women ever! Her love of life and confidence in herself are so very attractive!

Throughout my teen and adult years I went through a couple periods of "anorexia". Not "anorexia nervosa" because I didn't deliberately starve myself in an attempt to lose weight, but as the doctors termed it, "stress induced anorexia". Once during a painful breakup with a high school boyfriend, again at the end of my first marriage as I was faced with a painful divorce and the thought of being a single parent. The first time, natural teen resilience snapped me out of it, the second, it took the threat of hospitalization and prescription anti-nausea drugs to get me over the hump. I won't lie and say I didn't enjoy the "Wow, you look great!" comments as I became thinner, but when a cardiologist was able to see where to place the electrodes for a cardiogram, I didn't care that others thought I looked great, I didn't like it.

So there's the history...

I'm in the mortgage industry and have been for several years. A few years ago started what we now call "The Mortgage Meltdown". My world as I knew it, my career as I loved it, was reviled, and rules were tightened that kept me from doing the best for my clients. My income began to drop. I accepted a management position in my field to keep my income up - things continued to change and the stress continued.

During that time my father's illness with Parkinson's and Dementia worsened. We were facing his deterioration and death. The only thing I knew to do was support, research, help and try to cope.

My natural reaction, to lose my appetite, kicked in. Recognizing that it was happening, I decided that since I couldn't force myself to eat, I made a conscious decision to make every bite I was able to swallow, the best for my body. I went back to the way of eating that had always kept my hypoglycemia in check, which is similar to a diabetic diet. The meats I ate were lean, I emphasized protein in my diet, I avoided sugar, and I ate lots and lots of vegetables. I avoided sugar, processed foods and fruits, as they caused severe blood sugar spikes and crashes, and since I wasn't consuming enough to counteract it, I had to cut them out. If I knew a food would cause a blood sugar issue, I simply didn't eat it.

I ate healthy, and I ate often - even setting my alarm to remind me to eat. Problem with such healthy eating (problem?) you don't gain weight. I didn't lose much more, because I didn't exercise much, but I didn't gain either.

In January 2009 I discovered running when I signed up for Team in Training and committed to train for the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After a few months, I found that running cleared my head - it helped me focus, and it brought me wonderful new friendships. I was hooked! When I ran my marathon in May, it was the most exhilerating feeling in the world! I memorialized that feeling, and my father, who had passed away during my training, with a tattoo on my foot.

Since then I've continued to run. I feel wonderful, feel healthy, so I'm on the go a lot. I hike, I bike, I run, I snowshoe... and I feel wonderful doing all these things. I feel healthy, I feel strong, I feel energetic.

The problem... yes, comparitively, I am now considered thin. I am almost 5'7" and weigh between 115 and 120 pounds. I wear a size 3 jean, or 0 in adults. It ain't as "wonderful" as people want to think, because I have a 34" inseam, and it's almost impossible to find pants that fit well. But that's not really the problem.

The problem is people around me - actually the problem is my reaction to them.

I know I feel healthy, I know I eat, I have no jutting bones, no knobby knees or elbows, by no one's measure do I look emaciated. I run, I am genetically long and lean, and my body has found it's natural niche.

People who haven't seen me in a while will invariably comment, "You look great", but it's often followed with, "are you eating?" or "you're so tiny, you need to eat more", or worse yet, even in front of my daughter, "Kim, are you anorexic?" It got to where I doubted how good I felt - and that's my problem.

First stop: my doctor's office - specifically because I was concerned they were right, that I was too thin. Comprehensive exam, followed by a thyroid test, a cardiogram and finally the diagnosis, "You're not bony, you are 100% healthy, this is just where you naturally fit". Next, I visited a naturopath because of my weight concerns, who said, "You have pent up stress, but honestly, I'm not the least concerned about your weight. You're healthy, you're not bony, focus on your stress and don't worry about your weight."

I've been asked if I'm on meth (that one makes me LAUGH!), cocaine (I can't even IMAGINE sniffing something up my nose! OUCH!), because I'm so naturally hyper, people assume I must be on some sort of speed. Nope... I did finally get meds for my ADHD, but I won't take them unti after I've eaten, and only in the morning so I can get my focus work done with minimal appetite interference.

I've become obsessed with others' perception of my "problem", and have lost sight of what's important. I've cried because I was embarrassed at the "Girl, you need to eat!" or "Oh, Kim's anorexic" comments... in some cases I've avoided gatherings because I can't stand the feeling that people are watching to be sure I eat. I've found myself eating myself sick just to prove that I do eat. I've sacrificed my enjoyment so that others can feel justified.

Recently I heard that some of my friends are "concerned" about my weight. No one asked me how I was doing, they just voiced concerns when I wasn't around. I talked to a dear friend about it, and shared how I was so tired of having to prove myself to everyone instead of just enjoy who and what I am. I appreciated their concern, but wasn't sure that concern was the root of the comments. In a society obsessed with thinness, and in a group of friends where some see thinness as a competition - I wonder if the underlying issue is a feeling some have that I'm winning some sort of contest? This dear friend, who is one of the sexiest, most vibrant women I have ever known, gave me the best advice ever. In essence she said, "F* 'em. You know you're healthy, you know this is just the way you genetically are, and you deserve to enjoy the body you're in!". Just as an aside, she's not a "thin" woman - she's healthy, athletic, strong, and has a beautiful body. She reminds me of a Nordic goddess. Blond, strong looking, glowing with health - one of those women you could look at forever. She's 30 years old and has the self confidence of a woman twice her age.

Last night I shared my frustration with another beautiful young woman. She's 23, strong, athletic, healthy, and when I look at her, the word that comes to mind is "life"! She appreciates and loves her body (which is absolutely beautiful!) and most of all, the pleasure it gives her as she scales rocks, rafts rivers, skis, hikes and all the myriad of activities she does.

Thinking about these wonderful women who don't share the obsession of many woman, brought me to a decision.

I'm no longer going to worry about what others think or say about my weight. I'm not going to make self-deprecating comments or apologetic ones. I'm going to take the advice I've given friends in the past and just say, "Thanks!" When they say, "You look great", I'm going to say "Thanks!" and leave it at that.

When they ask how I did it, I'll just say, "I enjoy healthy food, I exercise and my body reverted back to it's genetically natural type".

When I get the "pseudo" compliments, I'm going to say... well, I'm not really sure what I'm going to say. But I do know one thing, I'm going to let the veiled negativism roll off my back.

I'm going to take the advice I give my friends all the time, which is to love and enjoy my body as it is. I'll continue to focus on my health and my life, and not let others' dictate my feelings. I'm going to work on my own insecurities - worrying less about others, and focusing just a little more on me.

I'm going to enjoy life - with one less worry in it!

So to all of you, curvy or thin, tall or short, I ask you to join me on this journey of "love who you are!" It ain't always an easy journey, but it's one more step toward becoming the best "us" we can be!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime

I have been so terribly remiss in my blogging. Not that I have nothing to write about, but my life has been such a whirlwind, my emotions all over the board, that it's been impossible to focus on a subject. I have settled for snippets posted on facebook. Little bits here and there to relieve the pressure cooker of my mind and soul.

Recently I experienced the most wonderful event of my life, and it deserves to be posted and acknowledged on it's own. This event was the birth of my first grandchild.

I will never forget how stunned I was when my daughter announced she was pregnant. It was unplanned, an "accident" if you will - although I believe true accidents of pregnancy are extremely rare. There was no question that she was going to proceed to motherhood, and I committed to supporting my daughter in this new phase of her life.

Over the next eight months, I watched her grow - I shared her fears and concerns, answered her questions as best I could, and attended some doctor appointments and birthing classes with her. I was there when the ultrasound definitively showed that she was having a son.

On September 24th about five weeks before her due date, we spent the evening with my dear friend Holly, a professional photographer, who took her pregnancy intimacy photos. To say the pictures were stunning is an understatement. Kayte is by all accounts a lovely young woman, but to see her in this way, and the absolute beauty of her eight months pregnant body, with the accompanying glow (yes, they really DO glow!) was amazing! I would share pictures here, but it isn't my place, and some will be posted soon on her photographer's website:

The next morning Kayte called me - she was having severe heartburn and cramping, but didn't feel it was labor - besides, she had almost five weeks to go, right? She wanted me to bring her some soup, I told her I would do so, but she was to be packed for me to take her to the hospital for a checkup. She already was dilated to over a centimeter, and I wasn't taking any chances. We arrived at St. Luke's and she was hooked up to monitors. The monitors showed the baby's heartbeat was fine, there were some contractions, but she wasn't dilating, so she was given IV fluids. Shortly thereafter she began vomiting. Still no dilation, only heartburn and all over cramping, so the doctor decided he wanted her kept overnight for observation. God bless her doctor, he told her honestly that he had no idea why she was feeling the way she was, so he preferred to keep her in a safe place. She was given their entire repertoire of anti-nausea and heartburn medications, even a numbing agent for her stomach - finally the nausea and heartburn were under control and she could rest.

During the evening and night there were three incidents where the baby's heartrate dropped and the only way to get it back up was to put Kayte on her hands and knees with an oxygen mask. I was blown away at the response of the St. Luke's nurses! Within 15 seconds of a heartrate drop, three nurses would be rushing through the door to respond to the emergency! Each time it happened, they called her doctor to keep him informed.

The next morning the doctor advised her he wanted an amniocentesis and if the baby's lungs were developed he wanted to induce labor. Either way, he said, chances of her going home without having given birth were very slim. At 10:30 AM on September 26th she had amniotic fluid drawn and at 11:30 AM the results showed the lungs were developed. I contacted the baby's father to let him know what was going on and he arrived shortly thereafter.

The baby's father... the most difficult part of the equation. He screwed up. He couldn't decide if he wanted to be "with" her, but wanted to be part of the baby's life. I chalked some up to immaturity, but even more to weakness of character. I knew Kayte's burning desire for an intact family, so I supported her as best I could. I knew that soon, very soon, would be the time for a frank discussion between him and me, but at this time, he needed to be there, and in her heart, she wanted him there.

11:50 AM, Dr. Weyrich arrived to break Kayte's water and start her labor. He told us he would be going home once her labor started, and would be signing off duty at 6 pm that night to spend the evening with his wife. If the baby was born before then, he'd be back to deliver, if not, the resident obstetrician would, but either way, she was in good hands. He also advised her that if the baby's heartrate did one more prolonged drop, she would be undergoing an emergency C-Section.

After about three hours of heavy, Pitocin assisted contractions, Kayte decided she was ready for an epidural. Throughout her labor she hadn't screamed, hadn't yelled, had remained relatively calm, and at her last cervical check was at 3 1/2 centimeters, so the nurse didn't see the necessity of checking to be sure it wasn't too late for the epidural. Typically they don't give one after 6 cm dilation because it can slow down labor, but none of us thought she was even remotely close to that. So she got her epidural. After it was in place, she was checked and to all our surprise, EIGHT CENTIMETERS!!! We were all stunned! She had blown through over four centimeters of dilation with relative calm! She even commented that she was afraid she was getting her epidural too early and being wimpy!

Half an hour later she commented she felt some pressure in her bottom, Becky, her nurse checked her again and it was time to push already! Baby's heartrate, so far, so good - one or two minor drops, but for no more than a few seconds. So, daddy at one leg, me at the other, and we were ready to go. The plan was to push with the nurse's guidance until the baby's head was showing, then call the doctor to come for the end. So she pushed, and I counted, and we encouraged, and she pushed harder... and after about half an hour it was time to call Dr. Weyrich. He arrived at about 5:20, and...

At 5:38 PM, weighing a respectable 5 lb 7 oz and at 18 1/2 inches long, Kyler Lee Trilby entered the world! Daddy cut the cord to make him his own, separate person.

He was immediately whisked to the waiting table for the neonatal team to work on him. They pounded, they suctioned, they stuck little tubes down his nose... he mewled, he grunted, and finally... he cried.

After about 20 minutes of working on him, they finally put little Kyler in his mommy's arms.
Well done, mommy...

I'm not sure who felt more emotional. Kayte for the experience she went through, or me, watching my beautiful daughter take this final step to true motherhood.

I shared the physical part of the experience, but the emotional experience was so much more intense.

Over the past eight months I watched my daughter go through nearly every emotional and physical experience a woman can go through. At times I felt helpless because I couldn't make her world right, but most of all I felt pride. Kayte was taking a difficult, emotionally charged time in her life, and handling it with grace and strength. Her focus stayed on doing all she could to ensure her son the healthiest start in life she could give him, regardless of where her life was going.

Seeing her push my grandson into the world was yes, the experience of a lifetime. I cried, I laughed, I felt so much joy I thought my heart would literally burst from it. I fell instantly in love...

Being the grandmother is so different from being the mother. Your heart hurts seeing your child in pain, you remember everything you went through, you want to lie there and take the pain away from her. Most of all, there is pride. Pride in your daughter's strength, pride in her womanhood. No longer is she just my child, she is now a woman in her own right, and my equal.

And daddy? Well, he fell in love too, with the little boy who looks just like him. He was supportive and caring during Kayte's hospital stay, but the story didn't end there. That frank discussion? It happened. I talked to that young man more harshly and strongly than I have ever talked to anyone in my life. Honestly, he showed his true character during that discussion - he listened, he absorbed, and he shared. He demonstrated that he is committing to his family. Am I convinced it will all work out? Well, it could... it might... and if it doesn't, I don't think it will be for lack of trying. Whatever happens, good or bad, my job is to support, not to judge. I will love and support them as long as they are together. They know I will always be upfront and honest, but will not make life difficult on them by holding grudges, being judgmental, or causing conflict. No one is perfect, all make mistakes, and the true test of character is how you move on and learn from those mistakes.

I am blessed to be a part of this lovely family and a supporter on their journey.

And that, my friends... is the experience of a lifetime.