Put Your Damn Pants On!

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I’m Still Here.


Today, I reached a milestone in my life. Today marks a year since the day I stopped drinking. It’s been a year, but it’s also been a lifetime, the blink of an eye, a long sigh and small voice saying “I knew you could do it!’.

I didn’t tell anyone that I was stopping. I didn’t even tell my husband. I didn’t want it to be A Thing. I didn’t want to chance failing and having people look at me thinking “Ha! Remember that time she said she was going to quit drinking?” because people are judgmental dicks and they do things like that if you fail. I didn’t want to answer the repeated “Ohhhhhh are you pregnant? Are you trying to be?” questions that always follow up declining a drink because that’s the only reason you wouldn’t be drinking, right? After a few months, I slowly told one or two people, making jokes about being “Late-Edge”, but the momentum felt good. It felt like I had made the right choice for once. When I hit the six month mark, I was at wedding for one of my favorite people and I had the best time. I danced, I sang, I smiled, I laughed and I didn’t drink. Tiny victories. Small steps.

At one year, I’ve learned that those lists that always appear around the New Year, “I Quit Drinking for One Year and Everything Is Awesome!” aren’t quite true. My life did not immediately become easy. In actuality, it became much harder. I drank a lot to deal with depression, even before I knew I was dealing with long-standing depression. I drank to deal with anxiety and sleeplessness. I drank when I was happy about something and I absolutely drank when I was sad. I drank because it was Tuesday and the sun came up. When I stopped drinking, I had to deal with all the feelings I had been trying to suffocate. After years of trying to ignore and displace ugly feelings, now I have to feel them all of the time. It sucks, to be quite honest. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication has helped immensely, as has my incredibly supportive husband and friends, but it’s sucked having to relearn how to deal with things like a normal human being.

I did not lose a large amount of deadweight friends, thankfully. Most of the people who abandoned the S.S. Friendship boarded their lifeboats back when I had a baby. Apparently, babies are kryptonite to people who like fun. This actually worked in my favor because by the time I came out as sober, the friends that were around were friends that I knew were friends regardless of what I did or did not do. This is definitely not to say that I didn’t get the occasional “But, you’re not done drinking forever, right??” or “Ugh. I miss Fun Erin.” to which I patiently explain that Fun Erin may have been fun for you, but Fun Erin was torture for me.

I also did not quit drinking and magically lose all of the weight. I am not a lithe swan of a woman, but to be honest, I hated being a lithe swan of a woman when I was skinny and drinking. I’d much rather be where I am now, stress-eating and dealing with all of the feelings, but way more comfortable in my skin. I’m cool with my higher jean size and fatter ass if it comes with fatter self-esteem and the ability to validate myself.

This has definitely not been easy. My city is a city of Lost Boys and Neverland. It’s a city that encourages and glorifies those that haven’t grown up and don’t need to. It’s a city that loves to hold a fundraiser but can’t figure out how to do it without a bar. It’s a city punctuated by pitchers of mimosas at brunch every Sunday and dollar beer night and endless summer afternoons at the river with beers and that’s awesome. But it’s not for me. I can’t handle it and that’s ok. I’m slowly finding my way without it. In the meantime, if you want to hang out and play board games, go fishing, see movies, eat delicious food and make fun of everything, I’m here.

I’m still here.

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Advice for the Daughter I’ll Probably Never Have

I’ve discussed the fact that I (probably) can’t have kids, and how much it sucks. I mean, I’ve mostly come to terms with it – but there is a neverending grieving process involved. I want a daughter who’ll kick ass and end up running the world. I like to imagine her, this funny, smart, brave kid – and all of the things I want to teach her. Since it doesn’t look like I’ll ever get that opportunity, I still want to share my philosophies with y’all, because they’re a damn good way to live your life and I think every child, especially the girl chirren, should have these words of wisdom spoken to them from birth.

Don’t let others define you.  Your life is going to be full of people attempting to tell you who you are – they’re going to try to label you so you fit into a category in their life. The problem with that is you can start believing the labels, tailoring who you are to fit someone else, everyone else. You are your own person, you define who you are, labels are bullshit. Embrace all of the wonderful complexity of you and defy anyone who tries to simplify you – their inability to accept life fully is not your problem, don’t reduce yourself to make things easier for the unimaginative.

You make your own joy. Every day, every moment, is filled with choices – choose joy as often as you can. Don’t rely on others to make you happy, you’ll always be disappointed. But if you’re already happy, you’ll shine brighter than everyone around you. Find what brings you peace and happiness and pursue it fiercely. Encourage others to do the same. Be a beacon of joy.

Don’t hide from pain. You’re going to get hurt – physically, mentally, emotionally. Don’t let the fear of pain keep you from chasing life. You might end up with some scars, be proud of them. A scar means you won, you survived, you’re still here. Scars are never ugly. Protect yourself as best you can, but at the end of the day, take the risk for what you want. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Get That Baby To Sleep

Today’s guest post comes from Althea Egon: I am a crafty geek, toddler wrangler and artist who is prone to wild fits of kitchen singing. I have been a bicycle mechanic, a teacher and a cubicle slave. Identity crisis is my middle name… My friends say I’m restless. Huzzah!

Although my husband and I didn’t choose to bed share with S…we ended up doing so because of her needs/temperament. I must admit that I didn’t even know what bed sharing or cosleeping was prior to having my own child! I thought that, “Duh! Babies sleep in cribs!” But try as we might a crib was not in the cards for our first born.

There are some benefits of bed sharing and this article does a good job explaining that it is not unsafe or detrimental. Western culture made the shift away from bed sharing, a practice the rest of the world uses in the majority. There seems to be lot of hostility and misinformation directed towards parents who do bed share or cosleep in the USA.

Obviously my daughter will not sleep with me forever and yes it can be exhausting. However because I choose to breastfeed (still going strong at almost 20 months) bed sharing makes night parenting much easier on me. Studies have shown that breastfeeding bedsharing parents/child are awake no more than children who sleep in their own rooms.

It has been hard because when I mention that I am exhausted… And well meaning people tend to judge our decision to bed share (a decision that developed organically) as detrimental to me and my daughter. I don’t agree with this theory. I am tired because I am a parent. Continue reading

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Oh, NOW I Get It…

So for the past year, I’ve been in the process of becoming a giant, feelings-having sap. I didn’t know that I was capable of such mushiness, nor that I ever wanted any of that…stuff. The gentleman with whom I’ve chosen to spend my time is wonderful in all the ways, and I could not be happier. Nor did I realize just how much easier life is with a fucking good partner. Of course, I mean this for day-to-day things (like cooking and doing the dishes and taking the goddamn recycling out in the rain, and is it raining literally every time we have to go outside for something? I think so.) But I also mean it as a parent.

Accurate representation of my insides now.

Accurate representation of my insides now.

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Well. I’m Never Doing THAT Again.

I must be softening in my old age because my son somehow conned me into throwing a sleepover for his birthday. Which, you can gauge from the title of this piece, is something that I am never doing again. The experience could have been way worse, to be sure. But my house and my heart are too small to put myself through it again. Lessons learned, people. LESSONS LEARNED. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Running While Female

This blog entry will actually be about putting your damn pants on, no matter what kind of pants they may be. Plenty of people wear pants, and more often than not, those pants are put on the same way by all kinds of different people.

I am a runner. When running, my pants (or shorts) of choice are primarily made of lycra and/or spandex. This is not an uncommon selection, no matter where your gender identity lies (which is on the female scale, for me). When I run, I don’t like to have loose fabric weighing me down or creating wind resistance. Minimalism in clothing is important in running, ranging from shorty shorts in the summer and tight pants in the winter. While I am nowhere near elite status, you will see this type of clothing amongst the most decorated runners.

When I run, I am disgusting. I sweat, I wheeze, I spit, I wipe my nose on my shirt. Any sort of “ladylike” manners get thrown out the proverbial window when I run, and I don’t care. I have a mission to complete. Over time, I have added another non-ladylike mannerism to my oh-so-appealing running persona – the middle finger.
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How about a happy post?

So, I just had another baby. You think I’m crazy, right? I am crazy. But, I am also happy, so at least there’s that.

Now, let’s start from the beginning. I already have two kids. I thought that for sure I was done. My husband and I had the conversation about the vasectomy and he decided that he would get one. Three days after said conversation, I wake up to my 10 month old baby fussing, wanting to nurse. I roll over and nurse him, but something is weird. It feels like my boobs are empty…what the hell happened to my supply? I figure that it’s just my period about to come into fruition and think nothing more of it (except, hopefully I’m actually providing my 10 month old with some nutrition from my boobs). My 4 year old wakes up and comes into bed with us. My husband is still snoring. The kids and I get up, I make coffee, make them breakfast, it’s a normal day. My husband decides to mosey on out of bed two hours later (in fairness, he works late nights, so this is totally normal and part of our routine). This is the time of day that I get to leave reality and do something for myself. I decide to go to this awesome outside yoga class right down the street from our house. It’s a beautiful day outside, I get on my bike with my cute little yoga mat and start pedaling away. But, I feel weird. Something is off. I get to yoga and everything is great, I’m in my happy zen place, and then, I am in some twisting move and I feel the familiar pull in my uterus.

I knew right then that I was pregnant. I chose to stay in denial for a little bit longer, but I knew.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the day, but it ends with me going to Target with both kids, buying a two pack of the crappy Target brand pregnancy tests, taking one of the tests in the handicap stall of the Target restroom (because how else am I going to fit myself and two kids into a stall), and getting the goddamn positive result. That unholy little cross.

Fuck. That’s all I’m thinking. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Everything else goes blank. My hands are shaking. Pull it together, Amie. You’re at Target with your two kids. Pull it together.

So, I do, and get myself and the kids out of the bathroom and to the car. I don’t remember doing that. It’s like when you have too much to drink and you remember being at the party and the next thing you know, you are waking up in your own bed.

So, anyway, I get both kids buckled in their car seats and I take out the pregnancy test and stare at it agian. As if I didn’t see it correctly the first time. I take a picture of it and send it via text to my husband. He respnods back with the laughing, smiley face emoticon. He thinks I’m joking. I tell him it’s real. He responds back with “Fuck.” Yep, this is how it all started.

So, at this point you all are thinking birth control, right? Why the fuck didn’t you use birth control? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I didn’t think I needed to. Famous last words.

But, listen, my other two pregnancies (you know, the ones we planned) were difficult to conceive. It took 8 months of continuous (well maybe not continuous, but A LOT) unprotected sex to conceive my daughter and 6 months of the same to conceive my son, so I was pretty sure that I was in the clear. I mean, we had two kids. I don’t even remember the last time we had sex. Plus, I hadn’t gotten a period yet and I was still nursing on demand, all the fucking time, so what gives? How the hell did I get pregnant?

This was the stage I went through after the denial. Anger. What the fuck? This is all my husbands fault. Why didn’t he get the damn vastectomy sooner? I’ve already pushed two babies out of my vagina…naturally…without drugs…and then let them use my boobs to nourish their little bodies until they were done with them. Haven’t I been through enough? Apparently not.

Then, out of nowhere, my mind decided to be rational and I considered my options. ALL of them. I started freaking the fuck out. I decided to call my college roommate. The one person that I knew would understand what this meant to me and give me an honest opinion. She told me to listen to my gut.

That’s the best fucking advice anyone has given to me in a long time. I had actually forgotten what that meant. When was the last time I listened to myself?

When I became a mother, my whole world became about my children. My first thought, my intuition, is always geared toward my kids. I had forgotten about myself for the last few years and now I really needed to check in. So, I did. I thought about what this decision would do to me. I thought about what it would do to my family. And then I remembered that there was once a time when I let life happen to me. It was such a beautiful, happy time in my life. After college, before kids, when life was really just about me. I let life happen, without trying to control everything. I realized that I could do that again. I could just let life happen. This happened. And I could let it happen, instead of trying to control it.

So, I did. I went to Planned Parenthood, got a “legitimate” pregnancy test, listened to my options again, and decided ultimately to keep the baby.

The pregnancy was pretty easy. The first trimester sucked, they always do, but the rest was fairly straight forward.

My family and I moved three times. I had three different “care providers” and envisioned three very different ways of giving birth.

I ended up having Blaise in a very small hospital in Santa Paula, CA with an OB that I like very much. I had my other two babies in a big hospital in Colorado with midwives, so this birth was very different. But, it was great. I got to have him naturally, and he came just when I needed him to. He came out perfect. Beautiful, tiny, and perfect.

This experience definitely transformed me. Changed my perspective. Made me less tightly wound. I am more present. Less worried. Less stressed. Blaise is such a peaceful baby and has brought a sense of calm into all of our lives. I am grateful for that.

I am grateful to be a mother, to be a woman, to have a choice in what I do with my life and my body. The world is a crazy place right now. The thought of bringing new life into this chaos is scary. But, I am happy that I made the choice that I did. While the world is still spinning, we have to figure out how to live in it, right? We might as well be happy while we do that.

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Parenting While Crazy

I’ve mentioned a time or two that I struggle with depression. It’s a lifelong thing, I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t depressed. Sometimes are worse than others, but mostly, it’s basically like this: if there was a scale from -10 to 10, with -10 being superduper depressed and 10 being superduper manic, most people are at a base line of 0. My emotional grid’s baseline is, like, -2. Sometimes I dip low, sometimes I swing high, but day to day, I’m always a little depressed. Depression is my normal. My medication works as a…smoother, it bumps me to a -1 and keeps the lows brief and shallow so now I rarely get past a -3. Still, my outlook is always a little blue.

You as a 0 may ask, what’s that like? Well, let’s see. Imagine your mind is the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek (I’m a nerd, but my Star Trek knowledge is limited, so this isn’t going to get super out there for you non-nerds). There’s the big screen in front showing what’s going on, you are the Captain, and your emotions are manning all of the different stations and giving constant input and advice on how you go about doing things. I assume that in your mind, you as Captain, well, you stay in the big chair in the middle and you get the information you need to make decisions and your crew supports you and does as they’re told and mostly things go according to plan. And in those times that things go haywire, you and your crew work together to get back on course.

My mind, well, there’s a lot more chaos. A lot of the data I get isn’t right so I can’t make the best decisions to steer my ship. I have to get out of my chair to try and fix things, and my Spock is pretty incompetent. My crew doesn’t always speak the same language and they definitely don’t get along. There’s a lot of arguing and sabotage and laziness and things just don’t work right. There’s usually a mutiny brewing. My ship takes a lot longer to get to its destination, if it ever makes it there. Captain Me spends a lot of time and energy on keeping the ship going and so anything external can’t be dealt with properly. But, I’ve been captain of this ship for a long time, so I’ve gotten good with duct tape repairs and corralling the crew to get me where I need to go.
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