Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Darker Shade of Gray

Not to state the obvious, but the title of this blog is "Shades of Gray." The purpose of this blog is stated as "my effort to make sense out of a world that think's its black and white but never can be... etc. etc." - an exploration of space in-between, if you will.

In general, my posts lean towards the positive, the comical, the sentimental, and occasionally the lightly sardonic. However, let's face it. I wouldn't have a blog called "Shades of Gray" if I didn't occasionally go through periods in my life that were a bit darker (otherwise this blog would be titled Sunshine and Puppies). In the past, this has been a significant issue for me (us). There have been periods where depression has had a rather severe impact on my life, my health and the lives of my loved ones.

I think we all have periods of darkness and periods of light. The goal, which is easier for some than others, is to keep the darkness from suffocating and the light from blinding. For me, it has been almost two years since I've really struggled with depression in a way that has left me feeling, in hindsight, terrified. Its been a gradual process, painstakingly gradual really, but over the years, with maturity, love, support and a little perspective, I've (we've) managed to get a decent handle on my emotions or brain chemistry, or whatever you want to call it.

(side note on the 'us' and the 'we' above - I have an incredible spouse/partner who has been with me through every single up and down as though he were experiencing them himself... He has done so with a level of patience, understanding, unwavering clarity, and devotion that defies comprehension. Without him.. well, there is no 'without him'.)

One of the key components in this delicate balance between light and dark has been to recognize the path that you're on, acknowledge it and find some diversions to keep you from going too far down the path and getting lost. One of those outlets for me is and has always been writing. Its undoubtedly a form of therapy - an anonymous ear whose soul purpose is to listen while I talk myself into making sense again. All this said, I'm using you as an outlet and a diversion today... its been a rough couple of weeks.

So, I mentioned above, we feel like we have a better handle on my depression than ever before. I think we understand it better, we have more coping mechanisms and we're better equipped to deal with the blah days. For me, this was a critical component in our decision to go ahead and have a child. Don't get me wrong, its not like the thought process was "hey, I'll never be sad again, lets have a baby and live happily ever after." It was more "I am confident that I am emotionally equipped and stable enough to be responsible for the emotional health and well being of another person forever - wow... holy crap that's huge." With that realization, I knew that there would be new emotional challenges on a level of which I was incapable of even beginning to comprehend. She's not even here yet and I'm getting a taste of that dynamic.

Gestational Diabetes (yes - I'm back to the GD Dilemma), in the scheme of life and pregnancy, is really NOT A HUGE DEAL. Its not. I'm not just saying that. I know this and tell myself this hundreds of times a day, I could be dealing with issues so very much more significant and severe. At the end of the day I have phenomenal medical care, this baby is being monitored twice a week and all of the odds say everything will be absolutely fine. The problem is, I have been tasked with the responsibility of monitoring this dilemma and keeping it in check and I am starting to feel like I have been given a completely impossible, truly insurmountable task. Not a good feeling under any circumstances - but really not a good feeling when the well being of your own helpless child is involved.

When your boss gives you a completely impossible, truly insurmountable task, chances are you start muttering obscenities, call your friends/family, vent about what an unreasonable (-insert your favorite derogatory name here) he/she is, suck it up, do your best, and at the end of the day it works out. Other than elevated blood pressure, loss of sleep, and perhaps an unexpected deficit in the liquor cabinet, no harm, no foul. When its your unborn child, however.... well for one thing, you can't go near the liquor cabinet. You feel like its life and death, there's no one to blame, there's no one to call names and no one who can really step in and help you own it. Maybe its just because I tend to be a little type-A and can be a little extreme but at the end of the day its like having a gun pointed at your child and you either pass or fail.

Okay - that is a bit extreme, no one is going to die here, but let me explain the analogy. I am maintaining an unbelievably restricted diet. I pour over nutrition facts, I keep a calculator in the kitchen, I keep a timer in my pocket, I have a color coded spreadsheet that would blow your mind. I analyse every drop of sustenance that I put into my mouth trying to find the balance between getting enough sustenance for the two of us and keeping my blood sugar low enough to keep her healthy. Every meal feels like a gamble. One hour after each meal I prick my finger, take my glucose levels, hold my breath and for the past two and a half weeks, 75 percent of the time, I have failed. I can not tell you how much stress and anxiety I have developed as a result of this insanity. Now, my logical mind says - you're eating a perfect diet and your blood sugar is still high, its not your fault. I finally came to terms with that this week, threw up my hands, acknowledged that I had done everything I could have done, and went on a low dose of medication. My doctor assured me it was safe for the baby, its only 8 weeks, it will lower my stress and anxiety (which is also good for the baby) its the right thing to do... not... my... fault. This morning I woke up and realized that I was in ketosis. For those of you who did not spend part of the last decade on the Atkins diet, that essentially means (in terms of pregnancy) I'm not getting enough sustenance. I'm eating what I'm supposed to be eating, my blood sugar is still high, and now, I'm essentially starving... all at the same time.

So I have a call into the doctor. I have my second weekly appointment this afternoon with an RN to make sure Moon Pie's heart rate, etc. are perfect. I know we will find a good solution for what I now refer to exclusively and not-so-affectionately as the GD Dilemma. I know, 8 weeks from now this will all seem like a distant memory and a whole lot of stress over nothing. Right now though, it just feels all consuming.

The point of all of this (if you're still with me, that is) is I just needed to vent.... to vent and vent and vent. I need to unload and not be consumed. I need to drop this burden off in the ether, take a hot shower, and go spend an hour in a local book store, treat myself to an exceptional cup of decaf (they do exist, you just have to really seek them out) and keep myself from diving down the rabbit hole.

I do, however, want to end on a slightly more positive note. So we had birthing class again last night. Hunter will be at a conference for the last session of class and won't be able to attend. We were trying to figure out what was on the syllabus for that class and whether or not he would miss the tour of the hospital. All of a sudden his eyes got as big as saucers and he got this panicked look on his face and said "Is there a test that night!?!?!? Am I going to miss a test?!?!". As if they're not going to let us birth the baby if we fail birthing class??? You'd have to know Hunter to really appreciate how hysterical this actually was. If you do know my brilliant, over achieving, uber competitive, professional test-taking, geneticist husband, you will understand why I started cackling and almost fell out of my chair. I'm pretty sure he gets to audit this one. Hope you enjoyed the chuckle and thank you for listening. I'm going to go eat a half a banana with a 1/2 a tablespoon of some all natural peanut butter for a total of 15 carbs, take a super hot shower and point myself in the direction of that book store.

So very much love.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthing Class Part I (**Warning some content and language may be slightly graphic - but absolutely nothing compared to the real thing**)

Me again! This is 3 days in a row.... can you believe it? It's because I'm sleep deprived and oxygen deprived and therefore feel the need to prattle on endlessly into the ether. The cold is better but I'm pretty sure its stagnated. I'm not "balled-up-in-a-helpless-whining mass" sick, but I'm maintaining "just sick enough to be pissed off about it". You know, where you're still going through tissues like a bulimic goes through gummy bears on a road trip, where you just know that the next time you blow your nose you're going to end up with a hernia (which is a very disconcerting sensation when pregnant, let me tell you) and you wake up every morning and the first though in your head is "oh crap, did I accidentally swallow the cat in my sleep last night?" Point is - I'm going to live.

In other super exciting news, Hunter and I went to the first in a series of 6 birthing classes last night. You would think that, to a certain extent, birthing would be intuitive. I don't know, I've never done it before. However, after staring at numerous 3-D, life sized models of the different stages involved in this oh-so-pleasant process and five or six re-enactments with props - some things might be better left with a smidge of mystique surrounding them. Don't get me wrong.... I'm all about prepping for what I'm sure will be the most amazing and beautiful and spectacular and magnificent and oh-my-god-traumatic experience of my life. I'm pumped we're taking this class, I've just recently decided that some things you just really can't truly prepare for - no matter how many times you see the creepy baby doll with the plastic head and the 360 degree arms and legs shoved through the birth canal and fake pelvis.

Our instructor is 'a character' to say the least. She has a very dry (slightly disturbing) sense of humor (she's have to though, wouldn't she?). More often than not, it seems like Hunter and I are the only ones who get her jokes, which is in itself entertaining. I think she really zeroed in on that - or the fact that Hunter had this look of catastrophic mortification plastered on his face through much of the class to the extent that I was becoming concerned that his face would get stuck like that. She kept glancing our way and occasionally asking things like, "are you okay", "you should have some candy", "do you need a break", and "are you still breathing?". At one point, about 15 minutes into this demonstration, the creepy doll made its 3rd rotation in an effort to squeeze through the fake pelvis. Hunt was looking particularly squeamish and frankly, somewhat panicked. He leaned over to me and in a slightly insane whisper said, "Oh My God, just get the f***er out!". To which I replied in a not-so-hushed-voice, "Hunter!!!! Don't call the baby a f***er!". To which he replied, "I wasn't calling OUR baby a f***er! I was calling the freaky doll a f***er!" At which point I shook my head and thought... "This really is going to be our greatest adventure".

So birthing class was at the very least, entertaining. We will have the same instructor for our breast feeding class, which I have almost conned Hunter into taking with me (because he is an awesome husband who is very secure in his masculinity).... (and because the instructor bribed him with chocolate and he'll do damn near anything for chocolate).

Until next time.... enjoy the rest of your week!



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Arm Chair 2 Cents (Because I'm such an expert on winter sports.... or winter... for that matter.. um... yeah)

Okay, so yesterday I mentioned that I haven’t exactly been feeling 100% lately. (Okay, so I moaned and groaned and threw myself an all out pity party. Whatever.) The point is, I’ve been feeling “a little punk”, as my Grandmother Glasgow used to say, for a week and a half now.Because I’ve been feeling “a little punk”, and Hunter has been feeling sympathetically “punk”, we have found ourselves glued to the couch since last Friday taking in every single moment of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

As a child, I always watched the winter Olympics. Actually, that’s not entirely true… my mother and I used to watch the opening ceremony and the figure skating. As any of my aunts or uncles will tell you, my mother’s entire family is genetically required to tune in to every major pop-culture event. As much as I rail against this aspect of my DNA – it has been bred into me to a certain extent as well, though I try very hard to keep it on the periphery. You know, manage my outbreaks with the visits so as to only have one or two outbreaks a year (Golden Globes, Oscars, the occasional fund raiser sponsored by George Clooney) So, as a child, I watched the opening ceremonies because they were essentially like the Super Bowl half-time show minus the football, Budweiser commercials, steroids, and Janet Jackson’s left nip…well you know) and we watched the figure skating because, well, let’s face it Dorothy Hamilll and Scott Hamilton were the 80’s precursor to Dancing With the Stars…. And to carry that analogy further – weren’t Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding the 90’s precursor to Survivor??? (For the record I do not watch either of these shows) I digress… So I was madly in love with Scott Hamilton (and still kind of am) and was going to name my daughter Katarina, after Katarina Witt. Seriously. I was.(Nope, not disclosing any proprietary info here – I outgrew the ‘Katarina’ thing around ’89 and Moon Pie’s name is quintessentially American). Hunter never really watched the Olympics before this year, so this is our first full on exposure to the wonderful world of legitimate athleticism.

I have to say – we’re sucked in.

Part of our motivation for tuning in this year is, it’s an armchair way for us to get involved in the SLC Culture. As you might have noticed, we’re both very excited about finding new ways to immerse ourselves in our new world. Hunter is very much into skiing and I’ve been delving into all sorts of literature, etc. about SLC history, politics, etc. etc. The cool thing about the Olympics is that, not only are most of the sports accessible to us out here, but most of the athletes have some sort of ties to our area.So, when it comes to all of the ski events, the snowboarding, the figure skating (of course) and even the speed skating we’re hanging on every moment. That said, I need to raise some questions about a few things.

Biathlon: So, let me get this straight. You strap sticks to your feet, grab some poles, stuff a large shotgun behind your head and start sprinting through the snow. You sprint until you’re so exhausted you can’t see straight and then you throw yourself on the ground, grab your gun, fire a weapon, stuff your gun back behind your head and start sprinting on sticks through the snow again. I have an open mind. I do but does this seem… at best: antiquated and at worst… dare I say: silly??? I don’t mean to judge… there’s obvious skill involved here – I’m just a little confused as to how this became such a legitimate combo. It just seems like the pickles and ice cream of the Olympics – The Julia Roberts/Lyle Lovett of the Olympics – the Elton John/Lady Gaga of the Olympics (okay, so I watched 5 little teensy minutes of this year’s Grammy’s…. (I was flipping… it was on…)) Its the pairing that just kind of leaves the rest of the world shrugging their shoulders.

Curling: Okay – Seriously? This has to be a joke. I’ll admit; I’m judging here. Are there even enough people in the world who are into curling to justify it being an Olympic sport? I mean, I seriously wonder, if I decided tomorrow I wanted to get into curling (ain’t happenin’) – I bet there’d be a spot open for the 2014 games on Friday.So, my understanding is (and I’ve researched this): one person gets down on all fours, essentially, and shoves a rock (literally – a hunk of granite) across a sheet of ice and a group of other people wearing bowling shoes hustle in front of the rock sweeping a path ahead of said rock in the hopes that it will land in a circle and maybe bump the other team’s rock out of the way in the process. The group of people with the brooms really and truly look like part of the Queen’s Court from Alice In Wonderland, I feel like they should be dressed like playing cards. To me, this ‘sport’ is some sort of bizarre cross between bumper cars, life-sized pin ball and… um… spring cleaning? I know I sound negative here, but really, I fail to see the skill/athletic prowess required to push a rock and then sweep a path. I watched curling for about 45 minutes today… trying… so… hard…. To get it. I don’t get it. I’ll move on now. To you curler’s out there – please forgive the offense – and if you can help me make sense of this absurd phenomenon, please, reach out to me and I’ll give you my undivided attention. I promise, I always welcome a little more logic in my universe.

Figure Skating Scoring: I’m not going to spend too much time one this one, but I’ve noticed a trend in this year’s figure skating scoring – that it’s completely arbitrary. I mean, you can skate a decent run and make a mediocre score, you can fall on your face and be scored into 2nd place…. All I’m saying is Scott Hamilton is a commentator and he seems both confused and annoyed and that is not okay with me.

Conditions: I know nothing about snow sports and the way that different types of snow affect your performance. I’m still getting acquainted with snow period, so I’m staying out of that. I mean, I understand that you can’t control the weather (unless you’re a member of The Cauldron), but if you’re having a tough time with the outdoor sports, you’d think you’d go to great lengths to make sure theindoor sports (like speed skating) are in line. When the ice on your indoor rink looks like the ice covering alley behind my garage… really?

So there you have it – my armchair 2 cents on the Olympics. Again, sincere apologies to any gun-toting cross-country skiers, rock path sweepers, figure skating judges or Canadian Zamboni drivers I might have offended in the writing of this blog.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just realized that Dr. Best failed to tape last night’s Olympics (HELLO!?!MEN’S FIGURE SKATING SHORT PROGRAM AND SNOWBOARDING!?!?!). I have a scathing phone call to make and a remote control to permanently commandeer. Mutiny of the DVR! WHOO HOO!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mother-Cold-To-End-All-Colds, Weekend Ski Widow, The G. D. and A General Absence of Perk

You’ll notice my last post is backdated a little over a week. That’s because by the time I got off of the plane I was literally on the verge of collapse from both exhaustion and what was soon to morph into ‘the mother-cold-to-end-all-colds’. It started Monday, 9 days ago with a sore throat so horrendous that I finally broke down and started popping Tylenol. This cold, this ‘mother-cold-to-end-all-colds’ and has since taken on every single manifestation that a cold can possibly manifest. It’s hopped around from my throat, to sinuses, to my nose, to my chest, back to my throat, to my nose, last night, I woke up and my eyes were crusted shut, I mean really… I haven’t had a voice for three days, I’ve spent at least 4 days (if not 5) on the couch. Oh yes, and it’s also hopped to my husband, bless his heart… Speaking of... allow me to digress for just a moment…

So – it would be super easy for me to say, “well, if you hadn’t spent all day Saturday playing in the snow maybe you wouldn’t have gotten sick,” but the truth is, that would sound catty and I would be nagging and – well – I’ve already said it. (I was in a mood). Truth is, for the most part, I’m totally fine with becoming a weekend window to Hunter’s new found obsession – Skiing. I’m super thrilled that he’s embraced the local past time and is spending so much time outdoors getting fresh air, hanging out with new people and developing a new skill. Notice I said skill – not hobby. The thing about Hunter is that he’s incapable of having a causal hobby like say knitting is for me … where ½ way through I decide I’m pretty much over that red sweater I spent the last 6 months on, so whatever, maybe I’ll pick it up after I finish this book. No, Hunter doesn’t do causal. After his 5th weekend out, he came home and announced that he had conquered the green and moved up to a few blue runs with some success. He followed this by saying “if I keep going like this I’ll know how to ski pretty soon”. It was then that I realized he had been infected. His drive had taken over and there was nothing I could do about it. Still I said, “you just told me that you skied some blue runs today – doesn’t that pretty much mean you know how to ski?” – wait for it – there we go – insert incredulous look here. “No,” he says, “I mean the goal is to ski blacks.” As if everyone knows this. Though it was pointless, I couldn’t stop myself “actually, I think for most people learning how to ski, the goal is to successfully get down the hill without significantly injuring yourself and if you can do so vertically its like a double score.” But it was too late. I could see the visions of two black diamonds dancing in his head. Yes, I’ll admit – I’m a smidge jealous, having to sit this winter out, but its also very exciting. Plus, at least its a seasonal obsession.

In other news… as a follow up to Ahhhh Sugar Sugar I did get a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. So far, well, I mean… I’m not going to sugar coat it (tee hee) it sucks. What pregnant woman wants to be on a strict diet of lean meats & veggies with occasional splurge of whole grains and fruits when pregnant???? I mean – my favorite past time is watching food network and baking. I’ve been indulging in fresh cherries with yogurt as “desert” at night and that just got nixed. I’m also set for weekly Dr. visits and weekly ultrasounds from now until d-day. At least we’ll fill up our ultrasound dvd and will be well acquainted with little moon pie when she arrives. Speaking of, upon finding out the diagnosis my dad suggested that we might want to consider a new nick-name. Poor child probably is not going to end up with her daddy's metabolisim. Truth is, ‘mother-cold-to-end-all-colds’ and diabetes aside, all signs point to a very healthy baby and a slightly inconvenienced mama so I really have no complaints. If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it is that with the proper motivation, any amount of self restraint and accomplishment is possible, so 9 more weeks of salads and turkey bacon are really not a problem – as long as someone hooks up some Tulie’s upon my arrival home. Seriously. I mean it about the Tulie's.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gratitude, Love, and Things to Come

Feb 7th, 2010

This is coming to you from about 3,000 feet over Paduka Kentucky. I’ve been so excited to get this written, I really just could not wait until I created some sort of zen space at home, so you’re getting me on about 4 hours of sleep at around 3,000 feet. If it weren’t for the absolute tool sitting next to me, this would actually be a great Zen space (yeah that’s right, buddy – go ahead, keep taking up my personal space and reading over my shoulder… yes, I’m writing about you; because of your complete deficit of manners, you will live on in blogosphere infamy.)

Okay – now that we’ve solved that problem, we can move on. So, I’m flying home from my last trip for the next 8 months. 8 months off of the road. I haven’t done that in 4 years! There is so much to process and I couldn’t sleep last night despite the fact that I also couldn’t keep my eyes open. My thoughts were just cranked up to a hard boil; exited, and wild. I’m coming home from my last visit with friends and family before the baby is born, my last trip home for almost a year, a reunion with a lifetime of friends and a truly perfect weekend. I’m warning you, this is going to be a super sappy one. Forgive me, but I warned you!

More than anything, I am just so completely swept away by the amount of pure love surrounding me and this little girl who none of us have even met yet. Two of the most amazing women on this earth hosted what has got to be the most special baby shower ever given yesterday. The thoughtfulness that was put into this event was nothing short of an absolute homage to love and friendship. As I’m typing this, I’m realizing that I am having a very hard time verbalizing how much it meant to me. ‘Thank you’ will never adequately express my gratitude, but rest assured, this child will be born knowing that her aunts will always be two of the most powerfully important and positive forces in her life.

The other thing that astounded me this weekend is what an amazing and beautifully eclectic group of loved ones I have in my life and how undeniably fortunate I am to have collected such a beautiful and warm patchwork of friends. I spent my Saturday with three generations of simply gorgeous matrilineal family… Friends from a childhood that was so pure and innocent that, as we tooled around town singing at the top of our lungs on a bicycle built for two, we were incapable of dreaming that we’d be so blessed to share in a day like yesterday almost 20 years later. I wish for a childhood filled with moments like those that we shared accompanied by a friend that special for our daughters. There were friends that have been brought to me through Hunter and who never fail to bring laughter and joy. There were friends who are a shining beacon and often my life raft between the hours of nine to five and Monday through Friday week after week after week. My entire god-family was there, who will always be and have always been one of the most special and dynamic influences in my life - as any family should be. For those who were unable to make it, please know that you are loved and were missed but you were definitely there in spirit. I just can not tell you how excited I am to be able to share each and everyone one of you with our daughter and I wish I could tell you how much you all mean to me.

Okay, I’m finished gushing now and I promise I will try to make my next few blogs will be a little less overboard sentimental as Hunter and I start settling in to a life that no longer involves suitcases (or things like buttons and lace up shoes).

I’m looking forward to staying in touch with you next week and appreciate your sticking with me through what has obviously been a sappy couple of weeks. But hey – at least my hormonal psychoses have all been stupidly blissful and radiating positivity! I could be pulling a Linda Blair for the next 3 months! (Don’t you know Hunter has his fingers crossed that this maintains every single moment of every single day!)

So much love to all and have a magnificent week!