My testimony (warning: TLDR)

Today I’m going to share my story. A lot of you may know my story, but most of you likely have only heard the highlights. The truth is not pretty and very real. I’ve joked a few times that my life could be a soap opera, or a tele nueva if you will. I’ve been listening to and reading some Trent Shelton lately and he’s inspired me to begin this new chapter by sharing my story.

When telling your life story, it’s hard to know where to begin. My life began as a happy accident. My parents found out they were expecting, and got married on February 14, 1986. Exactly 5 months before my debut. Everyday I thank them for choosing me. I grew up Catholic, attended a few Catholic schools and then switched to public schools and lots of CCD (Catholic Education). I went through all the normal Catholic rites, baptism, first communion, and confirmation. I knew Jesus and Mary and all the saints, but kind of took it for granted. When I moved away for undergrad, I stopped attending church. The guy I was dating told me he wanted me to know Jesus, so I dumped him. Thanks, but no thanks. After a scare with the police and being taken to the ER after what was mistakenly taken as a suicidal threat, I was shook. And lost. I was invited to a bible study by my dorm neighbor, and I tried it out mostly to just make some new friends. This became the beginning of my journey to truly find Jesus.

It didn’t happen overnight. I started dating a new guy who had a similar religious upbringing as me. He also didn’t really take it seriously, and we became comfortable with each other. But as I continued going to bible study and joining my new friends at Cru weekly, I started reading and learning more about this Jesus guy. He actually wasn’t all that bad. Spring break of my Sophomore year I attended a retreat in Panama City Beach where for the first time in my life everything came together for me. That week I accepted Jesus as my savior for the first (real) time. As an adult choosing to follow Him. I sent a really long and really hard email to my boyfriend at the time explaining what I had learned and inviting him to join me on my journey. I fully expected him to leave, but instead he signed up to try his best. Despite us growing in our faith together, we had too many holes in our relationship. There was a lack of trust on his end, and he never fully forgave my mother and me for events that occurred in the past. Our relationship was not a healthy one, so I ended it after 2 years and a few months.

Because I had invested and opened up fully to him, it took me just about a year to fully recover from the heart ache that ensued. It also didn’t help that his mother suddenly died about two months after we broke up. Her death threw us back together before either of us were ready. The pain, grief and sorrow surrounding that time in our lives made me just want to be there for him, despite all the unhealthiness that surrounded us. Thankfully, I was able to move on and thought I had finally found a healthy dating relationship about 9 to 10 months later.

I made the mistake of thinking the ex boyfriend and I could be friends. Y’all, this is not always possible and because of this, he grew jealous. A year after we broke up, he basically made fun of the guy I was seeing. Maybe the new guy felt threatened. Maybe he thought I wasn’t over the ex. Whatever it was, he basically told me to go fly a kite. So I went into my next dating relationship out of a mixture of desperation and revenge. I dated my ex’s best friend, and when I broke up with him I destroyed any and all friendship with my ex and his friends. I jumped right into another relationship that felt too soon and too fast. This guy kept pressuring me to have sex, which by the way I hadn’t done yet. I was waiting for marriage, which was reinforced by my relationship with Jesus. Even though at this point, I was falling away from church and reading the bible regularly. That was when Vince came into my life.

We had been acquaintances for about two years, we had met at a job I had in 2007 when I was still with my ex. He posted on Facebook in 2009 that his new company was hiring and I needed a job so I applied. I got the job and he became my boss. It wasn’t long before I was once again single (2009 was the year of the flings, I burned through about 3 or 4 guys within 9 months) and we started flirting. The only issue was, Vince was married. He was married when I had met him and he was still very much married. Actually, his wife worked at the same company as us. Needless to say, at this point in my life I was very far from my relationship with Jesus, and I used every excuse I could think of to accept Vince and tell myself his marriage was over anyways.

Long ass story short, we went to hell and back. He moved in way too soon. I broke my promise to myself and God. A year later he was divorced and we were officially a couple. I fought every sign God was throwing at me to stay with him. We had been dating for almost 3 years when he proposed to me. Since I was hell bent on making us work, I said yes. I really wanted to at least do the right thing, even if I didn’t wait for marriage I really wanted to just have on partner for life. I wanted to be married, have kids, and live happily ever after. We went through pre-marital bible study with our pastor, and Vince lit up for Jesus. It actually gave me hope that perhaps we could get back to faith and grow together with God.

This was, unfortunately, short-lived. It wasn’t long before no matter what church we tried, Vince was just not interested. Shortly after my mom, who was my best friend, passed away, I remember crying in the passenger seat of his car when he flat out told me if I wanted to attend church, I could go alone. Not long after, I discover he’s cheating on me with more than one person. He moves out and files for divorce. Despite me offering to go to couple’s therapy and make it work. Despite me telling him I love him and signed up for the long haul. See, I didn’t believe in divorce. I still don’t. But he didn’t choose me. He chose someone else. Just like he chose me over his first wife, he chose his third wife over me. In the midst of all the pain, I found myself having a panic attack. And after hyperventilating and nearly calling an ambulance, I heard God tell me He had someone better for me. He revealed to me His plan, and yet I still fought it.

It took me a year to get over my first unhealthy dating relationship. This time instead of just working on myself, I made poor choices to find redemption in all the wrong places. I dated around. I found a friend with benefits situation, a guy who would come over most nights just to keep me company. While I finally found my church home while going through my divorce, I still didn’t allow Jesus to be enough. I still wanted more. I still wanted to pave my own path. I “dated” the wrong guy for almost 8 months. I let him be my crutch until I was fed up and left him. And once again, instead of turning my ears and heart towards Jesus, I turned to all the wrong places. I started dating again, and sold myself short. Before I knew it, I was in a situation I never imagined happening.

I was pregnant with someone’s baby who didn’t care about me at all. I was facing the scary and all too real situation of single motherhood. I was scared and alone. I had tried my hardest to create my own life plan, and here I was messing everything up. A beautiful mess. A happy accident. My beautiful and life-changing daughter was born in April 2019. And if you read my last post, you know what happened next. I found myself falling for someone who didn’t love me. I was once again, stubbornly trying to pave my own path. I kept telling myself that he will wake up one day and see how amazing I am.

What I didn’t realize was that I was wasting my time and breath. I was delaying the inevitable. He can’t see me. He doesn’t want to see me. I can’t make anyone love me. I couldn’t make my ex-boyfriend love me in a healthy way. I couldn’t make my ex-husband love me in a health way. I can’t make the father of my baby love me. I had chosen to put myself in unhealthy relationships my entire adult life. I had chosen to be miserable and not listen to what God has for me.

I knew what I had to do. And that’s where I am now. I am making time daily to spend time reading God’s words. I am making time daily to pray and worship. I’m writing so much (this is literally the shortest thing I’ve written in weeks, YIKES!) and setting my eyes and sight towards Him and what He has for me. I am willing to be single for the rest of my life, for the love of God is enough for me. No longer am I looking to these puny humans to fulfill my needs. Instead, I find everything I need in Jesus and my relationship with him.

I’m still writing my testimony. I’m still on the path towards recovery. I’m still writing out and imagining what a healthy dating relationship even looks like. Thanks for reading this, if you made it this far I am forever grateful.

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My journey to squat out a baby

After nearly 42 weeks of being pregnant, the time had finally come to evict baby girl Brice. Of course, she couldn’t just come out easily. This is my labor story.

At 41 weeks pregnant, my midwife scheduled my induction for Monday April 29th, with me going in Sunday night to start Cervidil. But my body had other plans. I went into early labor on Friday night. Contractions were coming every 8 to 10 minutes or so. But once I fell asleep, they were virtually non-existent most of both Friday and Saturday nights (despite walking as much as I could during the day). So Sunday rolls around, and same thing. Contractions every 6 to 8 minutes despite walking all over Oak Park and Forest Park. We pack up and head to the hospital around 7pm. I’m sure to bring my laptop so I don’t miss Game of Thrones.

The receptionist at the hospital mentions the midwife on duty is Jenna, the same midwife who told me not once but twice to watch my weight as I was gaining a little too much according to the amount she wanted me to gain. I take a deep breath and start praying internally so that everything goes well and that I look past Jenna’s shortcomings. As we wait for the nurses, we squeeze in the Game of Thrones episode, you know the one where Arya takes out the Night King. Holy shit! But the nurse checks a few things and tells me that my water has broken. I did notice a little trickle earlier in the day but just thought I was randomly peeing myself. Due to my water being broken, Jenna says we can’t do the Cervidil but can start the induction right away.

Thankfully my cousin Shawna shows up and she helps me by getting my lazy bum to walk laps around the hospital with my IV line of pitocin going. This is fun and dandy as she helps me breathe through the contractions which are definitely getting stronger and more consistent. We take selfies and we talk about how perfect the verse of the day is since it’s now Monday:

Matthew 11:28 King James Version (KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

But then the battery dies on the wireless monitor, and I’m forced back to the room. This is where things head south. Once back in the room, Jenna comes in with some bad news. Baby’s heart rate keeps dropping during the contractions. The likely culprit is the umbilical cord, which could be wrapped around baby’s neck or leg or something that is causing this to happen. If this trend continues, the likelihood of a C-Section is high. Baby’s health is number one priority. I start crying, balling my eyes out. I can’t afford a C-Section, the recovery time alone will deplete my savings and then some (unpaid maternity leave sucks by the way, but that’s another topic). Jenna suggests we try a procedure to help relieve the pressure on the umbilical cord. There’s no guarantee it’ll work but she will try it twice in case the first time doesn’t work.

Sure enough, the first attempt didn’t work. As I’m laying in bad (due to this procedure), the contractions are getting more intense and painful. Also, Jenna mentions if we do go down the C Section route, I may consider getting the epidural sooner to help with the surgery. Due to this, in the middle of a contraction, I tell Shawna that I want the epidural. Thankfully, she says “We don’t make decisions during contractions.” Also, she determines we should give the procedure a 2nd chance, in hopes that it works. Thankfully it does. With Shawna’s help, I’m able to breathe through the contractions and I don’t fight the pain.

They move me to a delivery room and the first thing I notice is no tub. I had planned on and hoped for a water birth, but it looked like that was no longer an option. It was later determined that I couldn’t even get into the shower due to my IV and the fluid line going into my uterus. 7am comes a different midwife: it’s Mary and she’s my favorite. Around 8am, I asked for some rest. The nurse gave me a dose of Fentanyl to help me doze off for about 45 minutes or so. It was the perfect power nap I needed to make it through to the end. After that, I finally asked for a squat bar since they weren’t bringing one when Shawna asked for it. I had to get out of the bed. Being in bed was making everything worse for me. I felt like I had to be up and doing something to help this baby out. So with Shawna and Remi’s help, I get into a low squat with every contraction.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, those contractions sucked balls. I squat during them for about an hour and a half. At some point I ask for the stool to sit on as well. They put liners on it since I’m basically leaking fluids with each contraction. It was right around this point when the urge to push overtook me during the contractions. That’s how I knew it was go time. Mary makes me get back on the bed, and sure enough there’s a baby head. Up until this point I had been stuck around 6cm or so, but the hour and half of squatting helped get me fully dilated and ready to go. Mary coaches me on where and how to push. I’m pulling my legs up to my chest and giving it all I’ve got. Another hour and a half go by, of pushing this time. And then there’s a baby girl. And she’s perfect. And her name is Aria Lee. 6 lbs 14 oz 20 inches of amazing little baby girl.

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And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. No epidural. It’s been a week and 5 days since she was born and I already feel nearly back to normal. Recovery hasn’t been bad. The first few days I was sore everywhere. Even my arms from holding up and pulling up my legs. But I was thankful to be able to walk right afterwards. And I was blessed to have nothing tear.

Overall, I would give Elmhurst Hospital and my experience a 4 out of 5. I was not impressed with the first midwife who did bring up C-section and epidural multiple times. But I know they are just doing their jobs and usually don’t deal with patients who choose to give birth naturally. Especially when pitocin is involved. I think a lot of people just assumed I would get the epidural once they induced me. But I fought hard to try to stick to my original plan. And despite taking a hypnobirthing class, I didn’t quite use the techniques but still feel like the class helped prepare me mentally for childbirth.

So I guess my two cents of this entire birthing experience is: squat it out. And prepare yourself mentally for the physical side of childbirth.

What not to say after the first Hello

This past weekend I was out and about much more than I normally am since I had a few extra days off and no marathon to train for. Also, the weather could not be more perfect. I took advantage and explored many areas of the city. I got to see many lights on trees, sip some hot cider at Christkindlmarket, and I even visited my old stompin’ grounds Holiday Club to dance the night away to 80’s hits. While out and about, I also got to meet a few new friendly faces. One in particular struck me as extra-odd and has inspired me to write a little bit about what not to say when you first meet someone.

I’m talking we literally just met, face to face, for the first time. He introduces himself, I already forgot his name, and he starts telling me about what he does and asks me the same. Everything’s fine and dandy, I love talking about what I studied in school or what jobs I have. And I enjoy learning about other people as well; I enjoy networking and growing my social circle. Oh that’s a cool job, I say. I hear that’s a great company to work for.

Then he drops the bomb

The songs didn’t stop playing, the dancing continued on around us, but I took a double look at this guy. What did you just say? You’ve never kissed anyone before? You’re a virgin? How old are you? And why are you telling me this? Of all things, to a perfect stranger.

But then again maybe it’s how he weeds people out. Perhaps there will be one person out of a hundred or a few hundred who’d be like “OH me too!” Okay, maybe more like one out of a few thousand. I know because I’ve been in his shoes. Or close. I was a virgin for a long time (many years), and I also was waiting for marriage (yes, that’s what he told me). But I don’t think I walked around at a bar telling people that. It’s just not a topic that comes to mind when I first meet someone. I’m thinking that’s something that shouldn’t be addressed until you establish and both agree on dating exclusively. Not sure if he thought there was a chance of dating or not, but whatever chance there was burned up once he told me that.

And me, being the ultra-honest female I am, gave him some pointers and feedback afterwards. I told him in the future to keep the facts of his sex life private upon first meeting someone. No one needs to know your entire life story after saying hi at a bar or in a social setting. Not sure he appreciated the feedback, but I told him I was trying to help him out. For the next time he meets a beautiful woman. 😉

You’re welcome!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard upon meeting someone new? I know this doesn’t just go one-way, and that it can be applied to men and women alike.

Running

Running adrift, free from the chains this world tries to put on me.
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