Finally, A Win

I started this blog just after learning I had miscarried in 2015.

Eight months ago, I just stopped posting. In my mind, I had figured this was just another blog that fell by the wayside. People say if you are still blogging 6 months after you start, then it was meant to be, or something whimsical like that. The truth is, as things in my life got more awful, I just didn’t feel like sharing. To write down my thoughts, would be to acknowledge them, and I wasn’t ready.

But, I just got off the phone with my lawyer, and this was the first window I opened in my browser. I wanted to share with you again, not a loss this time, but a win.

And I have to say after being gone so long, it was really nice to see that people had visited this blog while I was off going through my trials and tribulations. Thank you.

My lawyer had called to let me know that my long fight with my company over my worker’s compensation claim had been ruled on, and it was in my favor. It isn’t a large sum of money, but it filled in the missing income while I was out of work, getting treatment for my injury.

I’ll make a post this week, for those that want all the sordid details of this drama that has been unfolding in my life since 2014. But right now, all I can think about is my kids. As the breadwinner and supermom wannabe, my family relies heavily on me. I bear that burden gladly, I cherish it. Maybe I’m not so thrilled at changing stinky diapers and dealing with teen angst, but celebrating my successes of my children and family as a whole, makes me feel whole.

So, tonight, we celebrate being whole. Cheers!

How to Stay Strong in the Face of Bad News

There will always be times in your life when things do not go your way. To be able to move forward despite your disappointment is a skill that any supermom, or any one for that matter, needs to master.

For many years, this was a skill that eluded me. I looked to my brother and his struggles and learned from his example. He never let obstacles slow him down, he would just adjust course. To read more about his story, please read my post Loss of a Sibling.

It would seem that recently, life has been testing my ability to stay strong in the face of utter defeats. I think I’ve done well coping with my new struggles this year, and I hope you can employ these tips and stay strong.

#1. Reach out for support.

It is my time to shine. I had a good year at work. I met my goals, I even surpassed some. I did get a “Good job.” from my boss for the marked improvement in report submission. The improvement is appreciated. Perfect time to ask for that promotion, right?

Maybe not. But next year looks good.

I was crushed. I held it together, and finished the meeting with my boss. We finished with a strategy to get me that promotion, next year. After she left my office, though, it was time to call in my support group. I called my husband first, who promptly called my boss a jerk. After, I called my mom, who of course decided that my boss was only trying to keep me down because I was her work horse, her secret weapon. I made her look good, and it just wouldn’t do to have me be promoted out of there.

These things aren’t true, of course. But in that moment, it’s what I really needed. Because I didn’t want to end that meeting with a smile and a handshake, I wanted to scream in her face! Doesn’t she know how expensive things are? How hard I’ve worked? How much I needed that raise? How can I work properly when I’m constantly worried about providing for my family? I can’t even afford their health insurance benefit anymore. Each year the premium has risen, so they are taking more and more out of my check. A small raise would help at least cover their expensive premiums, but without one, my check gets smaller and smaller.

But your support group shouldn’t just put down those that disappoint you. Nothing will show my boss that I deserve that promotion more than taking her constructive criticism and coming back more dedicated than ever. After that initial emotionally charged period, your support network will help you move on to the next step. From the extra hug I got from my husband the next morning before work, to a coworker that gave me tips on how she got her promotion when she was in a similar situation at our office, they give you the support to come back strong.

#2. Be sad.

Sometimes, I just have myself a little cry. It may not sound like something a strong person would do, but to keep your emotions stuffed down in side you is not good for you. A very smart lady said “It takes a shit ton of strength and courage to be a sensitive person in this world.” (Thanks Hattie Cooper/The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Dating in 2013)

People tend to give you space and time to be sad when catastrophic events occur. I still shed a tear for my brother at random moments. Misting up over the miscarriage is more difficult, because I didn’t tell people at work what had happened, and I don’t want to. Taking those few moments to have a cry can reinforce you. It is a release of the stress and emotion building up inside you. Let it go, let it out, and you’ll feel better.

For smaller disappointments, this strategy still works. Give yourself a little time to release the emotion from each small disappointment. If you are a private person, that is fine. Excuse yourself and find a space where you can release the emotion. This leaves you unfettered and ready to handle the next emotional thing that will happen in your day.

#3. Process what happened.

After you let out the emotion, there is more room in your brain for making plans.

At a recent doctor appointment for my chronic knee pain, the doctor let me know at the end of my visit that I had a tumor on my femur. His attitude was laid-back, meant to keep me calm about what he was telling me. They wanted an MRI of my femur, so they could better judge if it was benign or malignant, but I shouldn’t go home and worry because they were confident it was benign.

Well, Google isn’t so confident. It seems these types of tumors are more common in young people who are still growing. So, to have developed this in my late 30’s tells me (again the source being Google) that it is most likely malignant. Freak out time!

Nope, I’m going to stay strong. The fact is, it could be malignant, but all the Googling in the world won’t diagnose my tumor. I need to get an MRI, and then maybe a biopsy, gather the data to determine what type of tumor it is. Either way, some type of treatment will be called for, and I can deal with it when that happens.

To try to process something that hasn’t happened yet can just drive you crazy. There are so many ‘what ifs’ out there, it’s a miracle we make it through each day. But we do, most times without incident. So, stick to the facts.

#4. Make a plan.

Plans are great. They can fill you with energy. It is like looking up at an insurmountable peak, and then seeing that around the corner, there are steps that you can take to the top. The steps are your plan. My boss and I made goals for the coming year. Reaching those goals will make it easier to get a promotion. So, I made plans on things I can do at work that will help me reach those goals. My husband and I, though crushed by our loss this past summer, plan to continue to try for another baby. Just making that decision helped me recover some of my strength. We have also planned a memorial on what would have been the baby’s birth date. He wants us to get matching tattoos to remember our son – that plan isn’t final yet. My doctor and I have a plan for my femur. I’m going to get an MRI and see him again at the end of the month.

Having a plan can make you feel in control over a situation that may have left you feeling helpless. You are not helpless, make a plan, or adjustments to your previous plans, to get to where you want to be.

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Moms are pure strength. We have to be strong for many reasons. But it isn’t something that just happens overnight. If you are feeling downtrodden, reach out to your support network, feel all the feels, but keep your focus on the facts of what happened, then, make a plan to get yourself back on track. This will lead you to see the strength that is within you.

How do you stay strong? Please share in the comments.

It’s a bunch of shift work

Today, Oz Spies has a great article for New York Magazine that speaks to the ever-increasing trend of tag-team parenting. With the cost of childcare skyrocketing, it really makes it quite impossible for myself and my peers to afford having children in daycare, so that both spouses can work during the week. It seems that tag team parenting is the direction more and more families are headed in.

I work a full-time 9 to 5 office job, that provides my family with our health benefits. My job is important to me, not only as my chosen career path, but to provide a stable life for my family. Therefore, everything must fit around my work schedule, as I can’t lose my job. If my boss wants me to work late, I’ve got to be there, or risk being expendable when budget cuts come around. This severely limits the job opportunities my husband can pursue. If you are putting your spouse’s career and your children before your own career, many employers do not see that as an asset to their company.

My good friend finds herself in the same position. Before the birth of her second child, she had great success as an RN. However, her husband handles state contracts to clear snow. Once the New England winter starts in earnest, her husband will be working 16+ hours a day, to make sure his small company is completing the work set for them by their contract. He makes the majority of his annual pay in this manner. The money she would make working would barely cover the daycare costs of her two small children, so she has been working 3 or 4 days a month, just enough to keep herself in practice and licensed as a nurse.

At times, it can seem not worth the effort, as our family has lost having even one day of the week when everyone is at home. My husband had to take one weekend off to take care of me, and we worried endlessly that his boss would call and fire him. Now that the fall is coming, I thought it would be nice if we could take the kids apple picking or for a hay ride, but then the obstacle appeared – when could we go? By October it will be dark when I come home from work. We could go in the morning on the weekend, but my husband has to be at work by 10 a.m. and doesn’t get off until 6 p.m. Who’s up for some 7 a.m. pumpkin shopping?

It can be frustrating, but we tell ourselves that it is only while the baby is small. Once he goes to school, there will be more opportunities. We make sure when we are all together that we make the most of it. In the meantime, it’s all a bunch of shift work.