Our Daily PTSD Dance

We went to see American Sniper at the movie theater this weekend and I was a bit anxious for reasons much different from my Husband.  The first couple of theaters were sold out and we finally found one with tickets still available.  We grabbed popcorn and stood in line outside of the theater until they allowed us in for seating.

Waiting in line is a thing in itself with my Husband.  It is a winding line, that causes people to stand closely together.  People who tend to get anxious on their own and irritated from standing in line.  They breathe close to my Husband, they bump into him accidentally, someone might make a sudden movement or make a loud noise.  I’m thankful we are positioned in such a way so that he can turn his back into a corner (not to a person) and the exit door of the theater is 10 feet behind us.  We have 45 minutes to wait before we even enter the theater.  I also know he has a can of chew in his right jeans pocket and an empty water bottle in the inside of his jacket on the left side.  It will be a miracle if he makes it until the beginning  of the movie before he is desperately reaching for them both because you know, line.

Once inside, he is able to sit on the end of a row and I sit on the inside.  Because we know it is sold out our seating situation becomes more complicated than normal.  I pray no one obnoxious sits behind us, like the guy who was behind us in line.  I thought my Husband might deck him for commenting on a soldier in line, further behind us, who had a service dog.  These people felt inconvenienced for going to a movie with a dog in the same theater.  I look around and wonder how many other people are like us and have these seating problems?  What other wife has a jumpy Husband next to her?  How many veterans are sitting in this same theater scanning the room, memorizing their surroundings in a way much different from a civilian?

Like I said, I was anxious for this movie for reasons separate from my Husband.  He was anxious because after 12 years in the Army and 2 tours in Iraq he has PTSD.  And here we were, going to a movie about the same war that was sure to kick his PTSD in high gear.  I was nervous he wasn’t going to be able to make it through the whole movie, I was nervous his regular PTSD issues were going to affect him times 10, just knowing what we were about to see.

Once the movie started he lasted about 20 minutes before he reached for his chew, empty bottle, and my hand.  It was about the same time that Chris Kyle reached for his chew, in a scene, in the movie. While there were many times I heard my Husband hold his breath, adjust uncomfortably in his seat and squeeze my hand a bit too hard, he made it through the entire movie without walking out.

I nodded my head through out the entire movie as they showed scenes that clearly depicted issues that our soldiers have when they come back, issues that my Husband has daily.

The standing in line thing wasn’t because of the movie, no, that was just normal stuff.  The seating, also normal.  This is our normal.  These are the situations that we both automatically think about everyday when we go places or have people to our home, that most people never would realize we think about.  These are the situations that we have to think ahead on so my Husband doesn’t get into a position that he is uncomfortable by.  And then when his anxiety gets worse he, thankfully, knows his coping mechanisms quite well.

I am so thankful to Chris Kyle, not only for his service, but for sharing his story when he was alive.  I am also grateful for his wife for now continuing his story and their story.  It isn’t just about the soldier but it is also about the people standing behind them.  I’m not a political person and will rarely share my view on whatever topic is occupying CNN but I will say I really appreciate this movie showing the other side of war.  For once it isn’t just showing the hero walking off into the sunset but it is showing how that hero is really affected and how his life is forever altered.  And while I know some are discussing whether or not this man is a true hero, I say he is.  He did his job, he did it well and he saved countless American lives.

We left the movie theater and it was dark out so I drove. We went somewhere for dinner so I could have a drink that involved vodka because well, holy intense movie.  Waiting for our table, we sat at the bar where a guy the Hubby knew came up behind him and smacked him a hello on the back.  The Hubby jumped extra high and I rolled my eyes at the clueless other man.  When we were able finally to be seated, we annoyed the waitress by having to move around so he wasn’t positioned against a large group of people and knew where the door was.  Once we were finally settled he ordered a soda because he quit drinking alcohol awhile ago.

This is our life.  It is a daily dance, our way of living.  It is a dance that many of the men and women he was deployed with do as well.  Some handle it better than others.  Some acknowledge more than others. As far as our household, we will probably always live like this because it is now the only way we know how.

American Sniper

The Calm After the Storm

It seems every January brings this calm into our household.  We hole ourselves up to hibernate, having grown tired of being social over the Holiday’s.  We find ourselves with little to no plans on the weekends and just the chance to be by alone.  Which honestly, this is the first time we have fully had that chance, without some sort of distraction placed in front of us, since the baby.  At first I was nervous about this and it was making me quite emotional.  I knew we were going to have to bring the baby topic back to the table and I didn’t feel ready.  I was simply freaking out about it.  Whenever it came to my mind I quickly pushed it right back out.

This past weekend we spent our time, once again, having no agenda.  There was nothing to schedule, sleeping in, daytime movies, pj’s wearing till late, time spent wandering the mall and random dinners out.  In the middle of all this calm nothingness, something happened.  I finally felt ready to start again.  I finally feel like I have the strength to start all over.  There was no magical moment, instead I was just ready to have the conversation with my Husband and it all felt clear.  We brought the topic back to the table and I didn’t lose it.  I didn’t panic. We just walked ourselves through what we feel might be the next, best step.

Of course, I’m scared.  If I wasn’t, I would be worried.  I feel like I can mentally and physically start this again but with much more caution.  I’m not getting any younger.  I don’t know what is going to happen and I can’t sit here and continue to guess.  We know we want to try again, we know we haven’t completely given up, and now suddenly feels like a good time.

With that being said I will be calling my fertility specialist in the next couple weeks, pending my cycle, to go back in and get back on the lovely infertility schedule.  There are a lot of what if’s out there and a lot of unknowns but I think we are ready to see what the next step holds for us, good or bad.

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The Holidays Can’t All Be Perfect

I have always been one of those who really gets into the Christmas season.  Once everyone leaves Thanksgiving night I declare it “game on” and I’m full on into the songs, decorating and shopping.  I love everything about it and always try to really slow down and enjoy every bit of it.  Until this year.

Once Thanksgiving night came this year it was more of a “game on” situation to pack up our summer clothes and say fuck it to winter weather.  We headed far south to find warm weather and to give ourselves a chance to breathe.

I came back thinking it would be exciting to have the distraction of the holidays and I found it was quite the opposite.  I was an emotional wreck when we came back.  It turns out that when I was pregnant, I was looking forward to the holidays to hit up those baby sales much more than I realized.  The Husband and I had talked about how it would be the perfect time to buy the crib and other nursery items.  Because hello, sale.  Suddenly, there was none of that.  Sure, there were sales in every ad for the crib we had in mind but we weren’t needing to make that purchase or any others.  All the cute “First Christmas” items, that are now on clearance, are something we don’t need to bother with either.  We were excited to have an 8 month old baby to dote on next Christmas but once again- NO.

And that was when I realized just how hard the Christmas season can be for a lot of people and for many reasons.  It is a huge reminder of what hasn’t happened or what is lost for so many.  There are many families that celebrated this season with one less at their table.  Many that celebrated with broken hearts of what might have been.  There were couples that may have felt the weight of pain and struggle from the year.  Others tried to find the spirit of the season only to be met with a maddening feeling that they have lost so much faith. For some it isn’t a reminder of all the good but all that hasn’t been good.

To all of you I want to say how sorry I am.  For those who wavered, cried, lost it, struggled, and just tried to get through the holidays, you are not the only one.

The New Year should be a chance to start fresh and I know that isn’t as easy for some.  I have pulled the baby topic off the table until after the New Year and that deadline is quickly approaching.  We have conversations that we need to start having and I don’t know how to sort all of that.  I don’t know what I’m ready for because there is no answer.

My hope for everyone in the New Year that is struggling with infertility is that you get the gift that you have been longing for.  For everyone that has been struggling with miscarriages and/or the loss of a child(ren), may you find the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  For all of those who feel like you are drowning beneath the weight of decisions and uncertainty, may you find peace with where the road is taking you.  For those that feel like they lost all hope, may you find faith.  May there be joy in the small achievements, hurdles crossed, and chances to breathe.

May the New Year be bright, magical, and full of happiness for you all.

New Year

 

The Vacation-Dominican Republic

The day of my surgery I was in a hospital bed emailing my travel agent.  We needed a vacation.  Whenever life gets really tough for me, I take flight.  I run somewhere that I can breathe and take a step back.  By just booking a trip it gives me something to focus on.  Not that I’m trying to run from dealing with life in general but I need to go to a  place where I know I can find myself again.  The ocean does it for me every time.  So we booked the next place on our travel list and the first week in December we left the beginnings of holiday chaos behind for 82 degrees and a beach.

I was stressed before we left.  A stress that left me feeling like I couldn’t get a grip on anything.  I couldn’t even get excited for my trip because life was happening and details that I couldn’t get to were sending me over the edge.  I didn’t get a manicure, I didn’t get a wax, I didn’t swing in for a few tanning bed sessions, I didn’t acknowledge the state of my toes and I didn’t bother shopping for anything new and fun to wear.  I threw old swimsuits in a bag along with my go-to summer dresses and a bottle of nail polish and called it good.  My Husband questioned why I, for once, didn’t over pack.

There is that moment when you get on a plane and turn off your phone for an entire week, that moment, that is where I exhaled that early morning.  I exhaled for the first time in a long time.  There was nothing I could do about anything at that point.  If it wasn’t taken care of or finished then it would have to wait until we got back.  We unplugged.  I found the first mimosa I could at our layover and sipped it happily.  I looked at my Husband and truly smiled at him.

I know we all say it on vacations or at least we should, we found ourselves again on this vacation.  I look at our pictures and can see we look five years younger.  The stress of the past couple of months slowly faded from our faces.  The color came back to us and not just in the form of a tan.

During the day we spent our time at the beach and I couldn’t even bother to read a book.  I just sat, soaking up the sun, listening to the ocean, drinking rum.  Just being still.  Every evening we sat on our balcony and talked, the stress so far behind us.  There wasn’t the ghost of a baby in the room with us and I didn’t feel like people were walking on egg shells around me.  There was no Facebook to throw another pregnancy announcement in my face or any other social media to remind me that I should be nearing the end of my second trimester.  Instead I was fine being in the moment with my Husband.  I was fine with being us and not keeping track of time.  I was fine keeping life simple and unapologetic.

Here is the thing about coming back to reality though.  The beach doesn’t solve everything. Yes, it gave us space in between breaths that we needed.  But, it doesn’t take away this ache of how I miss my baby, a feeling I never thought I would have and can’t explain.  It didn’t give me an answer on what to do next.  That is okay though because there are no answers and only time will get us where we need to be next.  This trip just gave us a new starting point.

 

Divorce vs. Miscarriage

We sat around my living room, 3 women,  with loaded glasses of wine, on a Friday night.  We were way past due for a wine night and had lots to catch up on.  I had not told these girls about my miscarriage, one woman had yet to fill us in on the night her Husband left her after 6 months of marriage and another was stressing about her son that needed testing in school.  That is a lot of heavy talk in one evening and we each sat with our own bottles of wine on the end tables next to us.  By 2 am they were each empty.

As everyone’s stories were discussed at length I was asked a very tough question.

What do you think has been harder to go through in your life, your divorce or the miscarriage?

Old emotions had been brought up through the night discussing the one woman’s divorce.  Emotions that never seem far away.  And there are no scars covering the current emotions of my recent miscarriage.  I sat, staring at my glass of wine, thinking, while they sat in silence waiting for the answer.

The basic answer: my divorce was harder.

My divorce was a time that I had to suffer greatly on my own.  A world where the nights seemed endless, everything was falling apart, and nothing was once what it was.  The whole process to grieve and move forward was partially on someone elses time frame.  I couldn’t control my future because my entire life was pending the decisions of many others, including lawyers and the court.  It took forever to gain some sort of footing and when I did it was on entirely new ground.  Everything in my entire life changed and I only had myself.

Through my miscarriage I have had my Husband.  We get through each day together, we still have one another, we still have love, and we still have our home.  We can grieve on our own terms.  As much as we didn’t have control over what happened to our baby we have control of how we want to move forward.  Our life will never be the same but we still have one another and it has made us stronger than ever.

Isn’t that the best part of having a strong marriage?  When life gets hard you have someone to turn to. You don’t have to face the tough times by yourself.

My divorce was one of the most life altering things to happen in my life and it is amazing how often I turn back to the life lessons I learned then and pertain them my new life today.  At the end of our lives I’m sure we can look back and see how all of our ups and downs were actually so intricately woven together to make the perfect story of how we are our own heros.

 

 

8 Weeks Later

It has been 8 weeks from that horrible Thursday that altered our world.  These are the things I can tell you about.

I can tell you that lately the days have gotten easier.

The nightmares are slowing and I’m starting to get more good nights of sleep than bad.

The Summer feels like it happened forever ago.

My body is back to normal and I have thrown myself back in to working out.

I can talk about my miscarriage and my current feelings without sobbing.

I will bring up my miscarriage if need be with no regard for how it might make those around me uncomfortable.

I have held my friend’s newborn on several occasions and it makes me ache.

I still can’t go near the baby section of any store.

We still measure time with, when I was pregnant, before I was pregnant, and after the baby.  It is hard not to.

We are not using any form of birth control and I know how slim the chances are of us just getting pregnant on a whim.  I am still scared to death that I will get pregnant. I know I am emotionally not ready for this.

There is now a photo from the Carly Marie Project hanging on the wall in our bedroom.  I needed something tangible.  A reminder.  A memory.  I have found her website to be so helpful.

I want to punch people when they make comments about the Husband and I not having kids yet or asking when we will.  I have had to excuse myself from many tables, conversations and rooms to avoid this.

I turned down additional blood testing that was offered by my doctor to figure out what else may have caused my miscarriage.  My insurance won’t cover it and it is something I can choose to look at later but right now I am trying to ignore the hospital at all costs.

The hospital bills have started coming in from my surgery, ultrasounds, appointments.  If that doesn’t piss a person off, I don’t know what does.

I have found that distractions help me move forward.  At first it was a costume party, now it is a trip to the Dominican Republic. The Husband has been drowning in work which has helped him.

Friends that are due at the same time I was are starting to post their gender reveals on FB.  I realize I will forever look at that baby of theirs and think that I should have one the same age.  I realize that you can’t get rid of every reminder.  Hell, even Princess Kate and Carrie Underwood are due the same time I was, there is no hiding from that media reminder.

The most important thing I can say, that is always the hardest to realize in bad times, is Life Goes On.  It does.  We move forward and it gets easier to breathe.  And for those moments where it is hard to breathe, I can step back, acknowledge, inhale, exhale, and find stillness.

This is how we are eight weeks later.

 

 

 

 

 

This is Our Marriage – Two Years.

I have spent two weeks trying to come up with something meaningful and heartfelt for our two-year anniversary post.  You know, something tear jerker worthy.

I’ve got nothing.

Our anniversary was pretty tame as the Husband has been stuck working 80+ hour weeks and it’s fair to say, he is exhausted.  We settled for a night of shopping for our upcoming trip, dinner, and then dessert at home with the dog.

We sat at dinner discussing how the past two years has flown, which it has.  About how much life has happened to us in the short amount of time.  You think you get married and then the fairytale begins.  Everything should be rainbows and butterflies but it isn’t.  Not that either of us expected it to be like that.

You know, you grow up and you have this picture in your mind of what your future Husband will be like, what your marriage will be like, how you will love him, where you will live, how many kids you will have and when.  It was all a game of MASH back then.  Simply put on paper at recess with some giggles.  I can tell you that none of that will happen.  At least not how you expect it to.  It is something so much greater than that, much sweeter, much more chaotic and unplanned but damn it is all worth it.

Our  marriage is not the stuff fairy tales are made of but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it is still our story.  He was the greatest surprise in my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  The best part is knowing, no matter what happens, I will have him there, next to me, holding my hand.  Here is to many more years together.  Through the good, bad, ugly and beautiful.