A season of friendship…

david

Dear Christine!

It was Module 3 in Human Development, six years ago. As I continued reading The Learning Lotus (“A seed does not need to be taught how to grow.”). I knew that I had something special here. Academically it was very well written and appropriately documented. From a literary perspective, it was impressive. An enjoyable read. But it was the creativity tied to a good understanding of learning theory that distracted me. I was no longer “grading” an assignment. I was captivated. I read the paper a few more times. By the time I had finished grading all twenty or more assignments, I had moved on. I was back on task. As the term progressed I found myself looking forward to this particular student’s written assignments because each was unique. One would be a well written academic paper demonstrating a good understanding of the course material while also making for an impressive and enjoyable read. The next assignment would read like a well written story, an entry into a personal diary, also demonstrating an understanding of the course material as a way to make sense of the writer’s own personal experience. I felt as though I was reading an openly introspective and insightful autobiography written by a well-read behavioral scholar. Of course, there were also those papers in which this student chose to challenge the position established by the theorist under study, providing examples from personal experience or belief that contradicted the required reading. In short, I had a unique and talented student here. A good writer. A good thinker. A complex individual who wanted to learn and succeed, but on her own terms. Throughout the semester I came to know this A+ student as a person. A talented person. An open person who was willing to challenge the “experts”, as well as the “system.” It wasn’t about the grade. It was about learning and growing.

Somewhere along the line, somewhat after the fact, I came to realize that I was going to miss you after the semester had concluded. This was not an unusual experience for me but, in your case, it was more about a sense of truly knowing someone I had never met. Although I consider myself to be a pretty good psychologist, I still recognize that I cannot read minds. It was a pleasant surprise for me when you contacted me with some questions you had about a possible career in the same field as mine. At the very least, I knew that this was not an attempt to “kiss ass for a grade”. You already knew that was unnecessary. At some level there was trust here. You had already told me about yourself and apparently felt as though you could trust my opinions and advice. What I didn’t know at the time was the fact that, no matter what my advice would be, you weren’t looking for direction. You wanted information. This series of exchanges was enjoyable for me because the semester with you hadn’t ended my involvement in your career decisions. Better yet, this open book of a student was inviting me to contribute to her next chapter. I am unable to specify the point at which my world shifted from student to friend, but here’s where I could easily turn this letter into a book, my book. Instead, I had best stick with my original purpose…

As a way of wishing you all the best on your way up the mountain, I wanted to share with you my recollection of having met you in order to get to this point. I’m not a believer in Kismet, but this experience has made me wonder. Now that we are “family” and “grading” is a matter of the distant past, I feel a strong sense of gratitude in being able to climb that mountain with you. My fondest wish would be to give you a hug at the summit. That may come to pass. I certainly hope so. Sadly, my reality also recognizes that the years separating us may require me to leave your journey at one of the base camps. I will continue on in spirit beyond the point when you “retire” from your rural practice in clinical psychology. Perhaps Kismet will allow me to connect with you again, somewhere in the cosmos.

But for now, my purpose is to let you know how confident I am of your success in West Virginia. As has been true of your entire life, I am fully aware that your internship will not be free from challenges. I’m also aware that you would not want that. For you, the absence of challenge means a lack of opportunity, learning and accomplishment. Just as with your semester in my class, I know in my heart that your year away from home is not about a grade or a certificate. It is about the next mountain.

I treasure your friendship and am genuinely thankful for the opportunity to accompany you on this part of your journey, beginning with my having noticed something special about Module 3 in Human Development.

Love…

David

 

We recently discussed eulogies… how those words should be shared prior to the funeral. Perhaps you and I have both been to enough funerals to really understand this. However I understand, as I’m sure you do as well, that not everyone receives the opportunity to say what needs to be said…

A few years ago I promised to write you a letter of what you meant to me. You have waited more than patiently, though you have reminded me on more than one occasion. I did what I do – I took my own time, made it on my terms, and waited for the time to be right in me. I suppose you always knew I would do so. You know me well.

For one, I needed a break from dissertation writing. But as I took this break, I wanted it to be meaningful. I reflected on where I’ve been and where I’m going. You are a contributing factor to where I am. The whole idea of me writing a dissertation still blows me away. I know, hands down, without a doubt, that you are a major encourager in that arena.

Your birthday is also tomorrow… I missed a few that I tried to write this previously. It never flowed so I walked away. I am and always have been about the flow.

Tonight it flows. So here goes…

Seven years ago I enrolled in SUNY Empire to complete my Bachelor’s degree. It was distance learning and I felt it fit with my life at that time. I took Human Development my very first semester. I had recently been restructured out of job, which was a nice way of saying I was let go of. I was feeling a little spunky, but perhaps, that is just part of my personality. I remember looking over the syllabus of Human Development and getting excited. It was not only learning about others developing through life, but also a serious reflection of ourselves. I never anticipated this and it wasn’t always easy, but I dove in. I took a hold of the reins and sometimes pushed boundaries. I used words that didn’t always fit into academic jargon. I wrote with my heart mixed with theory. I tried to make sense of what I was supposed to be learning. I am an experiential learner and had to fit this into what I experienced in some way – observation, engagement in my own life, etc. I’m sure it read for some interesting reads along the way. I’m also sure that the anonymity of distance learning contributed to this freedom. Distance learning has its pros and cons, but that is outside the scope of this note.

What first intrigued me was your feedback to my papers. You asked questions that created deep reflection of thought along with pointing out grammar mistakes. I found it a good balance. I have had a small number of teachers along my path that allowed me to think for myself and actually promoted this – you were one.

I boxed you up in my head into the “good teachers” box in my brain. And then… I was about to graduate a few years later. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out my next move. I knew I wanted more than a “human services” degree or job. I knew I wanted a private practice one day. I wasn’t sure of my options. I remembered that you were adjunct faculty with a private practice as a psychologist. I sent you an email requesting information about the field and options that were available. Initially, what struck me most was your willingness to offer what you knew. What began as a three hour phone consultation about the different avenues I could take, what each would entail etc., later evolved into the most unlikely of friendships.

I remember one conversation when I exclaimed that a doctorate in psychology required an additional statistics class. I nearly didn’t apply for graduate school based on that premise alone. In that moment, you grounded me more than you know. You rationalized and validated my fears, but also challenged me stating, “Do not let stats alone stop you.”

While I still believe it was the grace of God that got me in ‘A’ in stats in graduate school, I would never have applied had you not challenged me way back when. For that, I cannot thank you enough.

As I read your letter the first time, I cried. It felt like a goodbye letter. I read it to Aaron. He also cried. It was a hard one.

Sometimes I get mad at the irony that I met you at the winter stage of your life. And yet, I will always be forever grateful that you grew from a teacher, to a friend, to family within my life. In that perspective, it is better to have than to never have experienced.

We never had a ‘lifetime’ of friendship, but we were granted a season. I know after many conversations that our relationship has always been reciprocal –it was a prerequisite from the get-go. No masks. No beating around the bush. Thank you for always being real. Neither one of us have time for superficiality, nor do we enjoy it or have time for it. I will always cherish the season that you were part of my life.

There was one person that truly believed in my abilities prior to you that I remember fondly. My principal when I graduated high school. She wrote me a letter of recommendation to her Alma mater and after lengthy talks, an exploration of what I wanted, I applied for elementary education. I never quite made it through that journey and after a few weeks of class and learning the process that I didn’t quite agree with, I lost all motivation and drive. I assume you also understand this was just a contributing factor to a complexity of issues of a small town girl trying to get out of dodge and know something else.

Fast forward many years later…

I thank God for letting our paths cross. I don’t know why or how. I don’t care how or why. I just know you matter.

I think back to our many conversations about grace – what it means, how to encapsulate the meaning. I probably never quite did a great job at conveying that for you.

So grace…

We will continue that conversation until it makes sense. I pray that one day it will resonate with your heart and you will truly understand for yourself and also understand how difficult it is to put into words. Until then, we will have many bonfires attempting to describe.

Thank you for always being real. For meeting me wherever I was. For always being honest. For challenging and encouraging me. For believing in me. For being a true friend. For being the true meaning of family. For the many conversations and the fellowship we had along the way. For all that you are…

I hope more than anything that you will be there when I cross that stage. And I dream about a practice with you – we would’ve made a dynamic team. However, if you cross that great divide before I get there I want you to know I am a witness to your life and all that you are. I will not forget you. I am so grateful for the presence of you in my life. You brought me to this stage – whether you’re there or not. Your encouragement and challenging me pushed me onward. Thank you for also staying the course.

I love you David. You will always hold a special place in my heart.

Happy 80th Birthday!

Love,

Christine

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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Crazy things can and do happen…

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I tested positive at 349 ng/ml. The cutoff was 300 ng/ml. No other metabolites were found.

I was desperately trying to figure this out. My whole world was about to crash down, everything I have worked so hard for over the last four and a half years. My stomach had been in knots since 5 pm the previous day.

There’s another angle.

My internship is located in what has been documented as “the most opiate addicted/overdose city in the United States”. The stories have been on NPR, PBS, and other news sources.

Based on my observations from interactions, two out of the three individuals’ involved so far, did not believe me. And I understood why they didn’t.

What’s the first thing an addict would say? I didn’t do anything.

I already felt the stigma and disbelief.

There was no official policy for this. All I knew is that I had to get another drug test. The Chief Medical Examiner, the RN, suggested I go request a blood test specifically looking for morphine.

I was still thinking at this point that it was human error and the last place in the world I wanted to perform the new test, was the lab that tested my urine sample the first time.

I called Quest Diagnostics.

The closest location to me did not perform actual testing, nor did they take samples. They suggested I drive to Charleston – roughly an hour away.

I thanked them and hung up. I drove to the closest urgent care. The waiting room was full of people. I can’t quite describe the unwarranted humiliation I felt when I walked up to the window and told them I wanted a drug test to screen for morphine.

They initially were skeptical of me, explaining how court-ordered tests, blah blah blah. I zoned out because the shame and humiliation was growing. It was becoming more than I could take.

At the end of her speech, she informed me that they only do alcohol screenings. She also explained that without a doctor’s order, it’s next to impossible to get a drug test. I explained I was new to the area and didn’t have so much as a dentist set up yet. She suggested I go to the lab at the hospital.

I drove to one of the hospital’s in the area and went straight to their lab, again requesting a voluntarily drug screen for morphine.

By this time, I was about to lose it. I felt like scarlet letters had been burned in my forehead and being falsely accused of something I know I didn’t do. Trying to jump all the hoops to clear my name, if that was an option (it was not yet decided), was proving to be even more difficult.

I never broke down crying, but honestly, if I had, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten up. I knew that I could not just surrender and lose everything, but in that moment I was silently screaming at God, the universe and anything else I could think of.

The dark haired woman at the hospital lab held me together. She listened to my story and vowed to help me. She made phone calls, some of which took her over an hour. She finally confirmed there was absolutely no way I could get a drug test without a doctor’s order.

I asked about the ER. She got back on the phone and called the ER charge nurse. Within 10 minutes, I was in the ER, again explaining my story.

Imagine my shock, yet strangely, encouragement when the ER nurse there shared that her niece went through an eerily similar experience. My blood was drawn and it was sent to Quest Diagnostics.

They told me it would take 5-7 business days to receive the results. There was no way to expedite the service.

I was not allowed to return to my internship without proof that there was not morphine in my system. It was also not clear what exactly would happen if I could prove it. I sat at home for a week immersed in literature relevant to my experience.

I had gone through all medications I consumed or used topically, which basically was narrowed down to rubbing Aspercreme on my neck during my road trip to move south. I can’t even remember the last time I took an Ibuprofen.

I went through the list of vitamins I take daily.

I finally began to think about what I ate…

The day before the drug testing, our supervisors provided breakfast and lunch during orientation.

You’ll never guess what I ate.

An everything bagel with poppy seeds.

Sound crazy?

Yeah, I thought so too, until I started to look up the information.

There’s probably more scientific literature on poppy seeds and positive morphine results than there is rural mental health care literature. It’s been noted on Seinfeld and tested with Mythbusters.

I never would’ve believed this was possible until I found myself in this position. But I assure you it is.

In 1998, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) raised the federally mandated cutoff concentration limits for morphine and codeine from 300 ng/ml to 2,000 ng/ml in order to minimize positive results caused by poppy seed consumption. Apparently the lab that performed my initial urinalysis, still uses the 300 ng/ml cutoff.

I was on a mission, printing, reading, and highlighting literature on poppy seeds. This was my life for 9 days.

My blood work came back negative and I returned to my site to complete my internship. I had to sign paperwork to allow them to random drug test me from here on out, due to the first screener. It was humiliating, but I understood their position.

Few things have rattled me quite like this experience has. And to be honest I’m still not quite sure as to why… the false accusations, the looks, the stigma I felt, the nearly losing everything… maybe it was a combination of factors.

It saddens me that my patients had to be rescheduled and it was not just my life impacted by this. I can say that I learned some things through this process, about the science of drug testing, poppy seeds, myself, as well as a greater compassion for those who experience this stigma.

I am also pretty much convinced that crazy things can and do happen.

Note to others…

DO NOT EAT POPPY SEEDS PRIOR TO DRUG TESTING.

 

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

“Christine, you tested positive for morphine.”

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I never ate dinner that night. I went back to my apartment in the heart of the city and attempted to collect information. Not exactly knowing what the results made that nearly impossible, but in that moment I had to do something.

I reached out to some friends and family. One of my friends works at a methadone clinic as a substance abuse counselor. I didn’t even know what a “split specimen” meant. That was my first goal. I needed to understand what the process was and how it worked.

My first thought is this has to be human error. Nothing else made sense.

I didn’t sleep much that night, maybe a few hours. I remember thinking, I may as well sleep in because the medical exam officer doesn’t arrive to the psychiatric center until around 8 am. My body, brain, or spirit defied me. I woke up at nearly 6 am, thinking once again this must be a bad dream. It wasn’t.

I was well aware of the consequences of failing a drug test for pre-internship requirements. We had discussed it nearly six months prior in seminar back in Buffalo. It meant losing one’s internship. It meant delaying graduation for a year. It meant getting out of a year lease. It meant going through the whole internship application and interview process all over again.

I thought of all of this and remembered the words of my main supervisor, “Christine, if you’re legit, fight this”.

There was no way I was going to go down for something I did not do. I needed to find out what the results showed.

I began calling at 8:34 am. I know the exact time because I began to log everything. I left a voicemail because she didn’t answer the phone. Nearly an hour later, at 9:34, I again called back – did not leave another message, but still no answer. At 9:35 am, I called the main switchboard and had the medical review officer paged. She did not respond to the page, however the receptionist provided me her direct extension. At 9:40 am, I tried the direct number. Again I received voicemail. At 10:34 am, I tried again – voicemail.

At nearly 11 am, she finally called me back.

“Christine, you tested positive for morphine.”

“That’s impossible. I’ve had morphine one time in my life, in 1992, after nearly dying from a motor vehicle accident. I don’t even know how someone “does” morphine, other than a morphine drip in the hospital!”

I inquired about the chain of custody (COC), a new term that I had recently learned the night before. I inquired the confirmation levels, another new process that I was new to understanding.

The cutoff level for the testing lab was 300 ng per ml. I tested at 349 ng per ml.

The whole situation was bizarre. I could barely grasp this was my reality.

I told her I would be challenging this and asked what the policy was. She indicated that there was not a policy in place for psychology internship. She advised me that I could go get another test, which I was financially responsible for, and send her the results.

I hung up the phone and remembered my asking my training supervisor to hold off on calling my Director of Clinical Training at my school. The minute I knew what I was up against, and the craziness of it all… I dialed his number.

TBC…

 

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

felt like the twilight zone…

 

twilight_zone_1050x700It was near 3:00 pm. She came to my office and handed me a yellow sticky note. On it, she had written to meet her (in third person) and another individual at 5 pm. She didn’t say much else.

Immediately I knew something was off – and not in a good way. Most of my life, my intuition has been pretty good at predicting events – not always, but often.

I wracked my brain.

Did I do something wrong? Did I do something unethical? Was there a problem with the paperwork?

My last appointment of the day showed up. Within the first five minutes, they looked at me and said, “You are so strong”.

I gave nothing to imply that. But those words, burned into my memory. Looking back, it felt like a prelude of things to come. Life is funny sometimes.

At 5 pm, my supervisor met me at my office with two words, “You ready?”

We walked down to the other side of the building.

I sat down in a chair. It was the office manager’s office.

“We received your drug screen results. You failed.”

I immediately got defensive, “Well there’s a mistake”.

“It’s a split specimen. There is little to zero room for mistakes.”

My supervisor chimed in, “I will have to call your director of training”.

I requested she wait. I knew what that meant.

I informed them that I was challenging this.

My head was swimming.

“What does the test show?”

“We don’t know, it’s against HIPPA for us to know. You’ll have to call the RN in charge.”

She handed me a number. That number turned out to be a fax number. I know because I tried calling it about a dozen times – it was a fax every single time.

I asked if they wanted me to clean out my office. My supervisor said, “Christine, I am surprised as you. If you are legitimate, fight this”. She was as supportive as she could be, with the limited information she had. I will always be grateful for that. I held onto those words in the darkest moments. I doubt she will ever know that.

I left, bought a bottle of wine and two packs of cigarettes. I was in the middle of quitting – had made it down to 8 smokes a day. It flew out the window in that moment.

I was alone – in the middle of what felt like the twilight zone, in a different place in the country, without supports, where they spoke a different language, being accused of something I knew with every part of my being I did not do.

Problem was… I did not yet know what I was being accused of.

My head was swimming.

That night I immersed myself in the scientific literature – all the ways one could fail a drug test without consuming drugs.

I was ready to fight a battle, but I had yet to know what battle I would be fighting.

TBC…

 

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Zero tolerance is black and white thinking…

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Perhaps it is a conversation for the bonfire, but even so, it is worth thought and discussion.

Can we talk a minute and think about this?

I am and always have been a muller. Someone may say something to me, I may experience something, or it may simply be an observation …but I mull – sometimes long after the moment has passed.

I have come to the conclusion that zero tolerance policy was originally designed and/or set in place with good intentions. I 100% believe it was originally set in motion as a way to prevent something, to set the ground rules, to keep things in order.

Zero tolerance…

Take a minute and consider the angles, if you can.

I find it can be unjust and without mercy.

Maybe you wonder why?

In order for zero tolerance to work…to be just …there has to be zero ways for it to occur in ANY other manner other than the policy it stands for. It HAS to be an absolute.

If you are not sure what an absolute is, please inquiry and understand it. It matters.

There cannot be any other explanation, no other causation, no other possible way – ZERO WAY- that the “thing”  not tolerated can occur.

Zero tolerance is black and white thinking.

Can I repeat that? Can you sit with that for a minute? Can you digest it?

Zero tolerance is black and white thinking.

How many things in this life are black and white? Without a doubt, an absolute?

We are alive – that’s an absolute. We will die – that’s an absolute.

The rest?

It may come down to faith, beliefs, opinions, theories, etc.

Maybe you came up with more absolutes… but the point is, there are still very few absolutes in this thing we call life.

In which case, how does zero tolerance help? Is it not unjust and without mercy when it occurs without absolutes? Perhaps grace is a better term than mercy…I’m not quite sure on that yet and will continue to mull it over.

We judge based on zero tolerance. It has become a common policy throughout our land. We make decisions, rulings, and change lives based on zero tolerance… but did they think this through all the way before it became policy in so many places, in so many areas across our land?

TBC…

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

He never caged me…

this one

I was sitting in advanced family therapy class. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I remember the context. We were discussing our significant others – basically what made them significant.

“He’s like my favorite pair of warm, cozy socks”

I wasn’t sure if they would understand.

My professor looked at me when I tried to justify and interrupted me,

“Christine, I think that makes all of us wish we had our own favorite pair of warm, cozy socks”.

She was in the middle of a divorce. I think she got it.

It took a while for me to tell him this. I was afraid he wouldn’t quite understand.

He took offense. He didn’t get it.

He never caged me.

He sure as hell wasn’t perfect, though I tried to make him be. About six months in, I learned to either lean into the imperfection or let go.

I leaned in. It was not an easy process.

But he never caged me.

The writer in me wants to leave it at that.

But I know there will be questions. I know some need more.

He never impeded my growth. He challenged me to rise. He encouraged me to believe in myself. He advocated that I go on, even if I grew ahead of him – and asked that he never hold me back from being the best version of me that I can be. And he always wanted me to make it. Without a doubt, I know he wants to make it with me, but I also know his heart. I know he wants me to make it – with or without him. I also know that he hopes I hold on until he catches up, if he delays. I know him well.

He never caged me.

There is something else.

Although no single force has grounded me quite like having children did, he is the first love that ever made me grow roots.

Maybe you don’t understand this.

If life were up to me – I’d be a gypsy.  A little unorthodox, but unorthodox never scared me.

If you’ve been following along with my writing, perhaps you understand this aspect, or maybe not.

Regardless, that’s a story for another day.

I was never a fan of roots. Oh, I get the importance of them and all that. But my experiences never provided me the sense that roots were the be-all-end-all. In order for me to grow – I had to go beyond the roots. I had to see what else there was, what else was there to know, how else do people do it.

Ducks don’t have to follow ducks, and sometimes…they shouldn’t.

He grounded me. He made me grow roots. No matter how hard I fought it – and I assure you I did.

He never left the small town. God, I wanted him to. But his argument was always legit. I wanted to sell the house, move on, and experience more. He wanted me to remember what it was and what it meant.

He made me grow roots.

He never caged me.

He will always be my favorite pair of warm, cozy socks.

And I will always love him for that – all of that.

© LifeasChristine, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She will learn. She will grow. And she will be okay…

23514763_10214453718834808_1116343915_o.jpgI never gave three days.

I decided then that I would figure out why she needed to talk to me – and honestly pregnancy was the last thing on my mind.

There was a reason she hadn’t come to me.

I remember the day she told me she lost her virginity. I remember she cried and told me she was sorry. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that was a hard confession for her. We had a long talk that day.

Looking ahead, I’m pretty sure this also would’ve been pretty difficult to tell me.

It was a Walmart bag in my camping book bag, inside the trunk of her car.

Do you know what was in that bag?

It was a dead giveaway.

Prenatal vitamins.

I was twenty-one when I gave birth to my first child. I had zero idea what I was doing or what I was in for.

I was also married at nineteen.

That’s a piece of it. She’s a teenager, unmarried, still has to finish her schooling.

It’s the unwed pregnant teenager that got me initially. Man, I grappled with this one. Initially, I felt shame.

We live in a small town where people love to talk. It’s part of the reason I left at nineteen.

Many talk and few listen. And vision is sometimes clouded by small towns.

About six months prior, my daughter returned from California. A place I never wanted her to go to. She grew up a lot in California. She experienced more than she ever should’ve and it hurt her more than she knew it would.

When she left, not many noticed. When she returned I heard various comments from people in the village, “Wow. Sadie is soo skinny”.

Unspoken suggestions or truly a concern for a young girl’s weight is yet to be determined.

They all come in different constructs of sentences, but the gist was the same.

Ya know the kicker? For years my daughter would debate me about abortion. We had multiple conversations about it. She had said from the get-go that she never wanted children. She also said that if she ever got pregnant she would get an abortion.

Perhaps it was the freedom of choice that she was ultimately debating with me. I’m not really sure.

That first week I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wanted to run so badly. I needed space to figure out what I felt, what mattered, and how I would act. 

Maybe you wonder why this was so difficult for me.

I gave birth four times and had two mothers during that time in my life. Neither of them showed up for any birth.

In their defense, I never asked.

In my defense, neither did they.

Being a “good mom” was always on my list of things to do well. I question myself from time to time, but it’s mattered to me from the first day I found out I was pregnant.

So how do I do this?

It’s a rhetorical question.

She made a comment to me one night that I didn’t “like” her Facebook status when she posted a picture of the ultrasound.

I sat on her bed and gave her a hug.

“Sade, this is hard for me. I will support you and your decision, but you have to give me a little bit of time.”

I don’t know if she truly understood in that moment.

I told a few people initially. When I got the words, “Congratulations Grandma”.

I wanted to punch them.

I told my cohort and I got a lot of “babies are a blessing”.

I wanted to puke.

I wasn’t feeling celebratory. I wasn’t feeling blessed.

One friend had recently lost her daughter. Initially she said “Congratulations”, but she followed it up with “better than a funeral”.

That hit me – hard. Talk about perspective.

I went out the next day and bought two little onesies and a sleeper.

It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

A few weeks later, my daughter had a melt-down. She sat on her floor in her bathroom and sobbed.

“Mom, I’m not ready to be a mom. I don’t know how to be mom. I don’t know what I’m doing. Alex isn’t ready to be a dad. I’m so scared Mom”.

It’s hard to describe what that moment was like for me.

I hugged her and I reassured her. Hell, I have never met a mother yet that knew what they were doing from the get-go.

I told her she will learn. She will grow. And she will be okay.

That was hard, but that was needed. Maybe for both of us.

I helped her find a mid-wife. I went to her first appointment. I set her up with a program where she can ‘learn to earn’ baby necessities. And later on, I will be her birth coach when the time comes.

There’s another angle.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, it was baby #4. I wrote about it in Friendship, Strippers, and Rainbows…

Not many were happy about my pregnancy. I had just given birth to baby #3 prior. Life was difficult.

I stood alone. It was beyond challenging.

I never regretted my choice. Not once.

And later, others thanked me for standing alone. Had I not, Sadie would not be here and they would never have had a chance to love her.

I never want my daughter to feel that. I never want her to stand alone.

I don’t always agree with the choices she makes, but I will always believe in her. I will always love her. And I know she has great things to come.

 

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