Monday, June 22, 2015

The Journey, Part VI (6) - Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town

The next morning, we all headed to church. In our church, we have on Sunday each month that is set aside as "Fast and Testimony Meeting". Instead of the Bishopric choosing the speakers and topic to be taught during our Sacrament meeting (much like communion), the members of the congregation fast for two meals, and the meeting is left open to anyone who would like to stand and bear their own, personal testimony of the principles of the Gospel, and to bear personal witness of their relationship with Christ. The meeting is open to everyone, even small children.

My niece, "J", hopped up and offered a beautiful testimony on her feelings. I honestly don't remember what she said, but I remember the feeling that I had while she was speaking. I really appreciated what she had to say... until she got to the end... it seemed like she was done speaking, but for some reason, instead of ending, she spoke back up and said,

"...and, I'm so happy for my aunt because she is going to have a baby soon."

And I felt the floor drop out from under me. 

I began to see everything in a shade of pink, and I'm sure that anyone looking at me might have been concerned about the crimson red shade that must have suddenly replaced my usually peachy complexion. I suddenly found the very simple act of breathing was becoming something that I had to consciously tell myself to do, and I became aware that my body was doing some type of crazy convulsion, which, I'm sure, was it's way of saying, "Keep it together girl" as I was fighting off this other natural instinct to either run away and hide, or stand up and tear apart everything around me. I think it's referred to as 'the fight or flight response'. I also became increasingly aware that my emotions were very confused as well, and, to this day, I am still not sure whether what happened on the church bench that day was me sobbing inconsolably or laughing hysterically, but I knew that whatever was happening was completely out of my control, so I sat helplessly as tears streamed down my cheeks and soft broken sputtering sounds escaped from my clenched lips.

AND, not to mention the fact that, were there not already enough attention drawn to me at this point, a dear elderly sister of the congregation whom I have known for years was next in line after, J, and she walked up to the pulpit and said, "Well, looks like the cat's out of the bag whether it was intended to be or not!" While she demonstrated a very impressive wink and point at me, before proceeding into her own testimony. I'm just glad we were sitting fairly close to the front, so there were very few opportunities for me to steal a glance from those who had actually turned around in their seats to crack a huge grin, or a thumbs up and my husband and me.

Still, it didn't help from the searing I felt as I knew that there were people sitting behind me watching my weird convulsion episode taking place.

I have no idea what was going on in Andrew's mind. All I remember is him burying his face into his hands and practicing what looked like the commonly recognized coping mechanism for someone going into shock, or hyper-ventilation... You know, where you bend over as far as you can and breath between your knees... Yup... I'm pretty sure that's what he was doing, but I can't be positive... it was all a blur. 

Luckily, the meeting got a move on and proceeded quite well. We had the chance to recoup, and then, it ended... and we had to deal with all the "congrats" and questions, and jeers from those who actually had the courage to approach us after the meeting. 

Sometime shortly after we calmed down a bit, it occurred to me that Andrew's sister is expecting, and is due a month before we are. I instantly passed news down the bench that if anyone were to ask, the family would respond that it was Sarah whom "J" was so excited for, and not me... maybe we could hold this out a little longer.

This just happened to confuse a bunch of people and I don't think that most of them believed us anyway. 

I guess that's what comes with the territory of living in a tight-knit community. It seems like everyone knows what you're doing before you even really know what you're doing. We always joked in high school that if we were going to do something we shouldn't, our parents would find out before we even made it home. News just kinda seems to travel like wildfire, but no wonder when people are making announcements like that in public meetings!

Looking back, now, it's something we laugh about. I'm sure that there really wasn't even that much attention drawn to us. Most people are only half-awake through meetings like that, anyway, aren't they? I'll always have something to smile about in the future when I think about that story, but I'm also glad for the lesson I learned on just how careful I need to be with the information I feed to my little ones. Out of the mouths of babes, right?

The Journey, Part V (5) - Things Get Funny

Once we found out we were pregnant, things started getting really funny for multiple reasons...

First off, at a funeral a few days earlier, I had walked into the kitchen where my mother-in-law was working. As soon as I opened the door, she asked me if I had been feeling better at all that morning. I replied that I had eaten and apple and a couple of pickles and felt OK, but still not normal. (Pickles are a staple food for me... I wasn't eating pickles because of cravings).

Without missing a beat, a family friend turned and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" This was the only time pregnancy had come up before that morning revelation had happened to me. We shrugged it off and told her that I was having problems digesting protein. (I now wish I had dwelt a little longer on her question)!

The next thing that happened was the decision to tell our parents about it. The thing was, Andrew had told his buddy, Brian, about an hour after we found out. I was concerned because Brian told his family and I didn't want them saying anything to our folks if they happened to see each other. (We grew up in a REALLY small town). Also, Andrew's brother made a last minute decision to come visit while we were there, and we never really talked about if we were going to wait to tell siblings or others... I think Jonathon and his family had been there for about 4 hours by the time they figured out what was going on. So, we found out on Thursday morning, and by Friday, the news was spreading quickly through our family. This was definitely NOT how I planned on things going. We still weren't even sure if that's what was going on... I know it's hard to deny a positive test (or four), but I had hoped that we would at least see a doctor before we told our parents, and now all of our siblings and a few close friends new within 24 hours!

That weekend, I did a lot of sleeping and praying to the porcelain gods. It was crazy... we had, at any given time, between nine and 16 people in a one bathroom house. My nieces and nephew started noticing that I was not being very fun, and on Saturday morning, one of my nieces came up to me and said, "Aunt Cheltzey, you're having a baby?" when I replied with an affirmation to her question, she proceeded with, "Is that why you're so lazy?"!!! I got the biggest laugh out of that one... but it was nothing to prepare me for what would come out her mouth at church the next day...!

The Journey, Part IIII... I Get My Husband Back!

Finally, Andrew came down, and we decided to take a little trip to Utah to visit some friends and family. We went to the Provo and Salt Lake Temples and it was a really fun little get-away. The first night we were there, I ordered a dry baked potato from the restaurant we ate and but felt so sick, I couldn't finish it. I was concerned, because we had plans to meet up with some friends at Tucanos the next night. I had no idea how I was supposed to get through and evening of all you can eat meat being passed to me, but, surprisingly, I felt amazing during our dinner. I didn't get sick at all, and ate meat for the first time in about 2 weeks.

This is when I started thinking that maybe what we had initially thought was going on wasn't right. I figured that the excitement and fun of seeing our friends had caused enough of a distraction for me that I wasn't experiencing that plaguing sick feeling. We drove back to my mom's that night, and I woke up sicker than a dog the next morning, though. 

"What is going on with me?" I was thinking that maybe the idea to wait to see a doctor in Kalispell was a bad idea. I crawled out of bed and began brushing my teeth, and it was like this light bulb went off in my head. I knew that I needed to take a pregnancy test. The whole idea of pregnancy had NEVER crossed anyone's mind. We had pushed it so far out of the picture... it was an odd feeling. Andrew and I headed out again to visit his folks, and I had him stop at the grocery store in Blackfoot. I told him I needed crackers and a soda to calm my stomach. He stayed in the car and I ran in and grabbed the cheapest test I could find and went straight to the bathroom after making my purchase. I have never been more nervous to pee on a stick before. I've taken tests before, but this time felt so different. I gathered up my barrings and did what I had to do... and this THICK, DARK line suddenly appeared next to the control line. It happened so quickly, I thought maybe I had misused the test. (They are so adamant about the wait period while it rests on a flat surface)!

I went out the car and waited until Andrew was headed down the road. I had always planned on waiting to tell him, and our family, but this was just so crazy... I needed him to know what was going on, so I grabbed it out of the bag and said, "Hey, can you check something out for me?" I handed it to him and watched him process everything. After a few seconds he looked at me with a huge grin on his face and said, "Oh, great!... Is this serious?!?!?"

He didn't believe me and pulled off of the interstate in Idaho Falls so I could buy a more expensive test. Looking back now, we laugh about it. It was the weirdest drive I have ever taken from Blackfoot to Monteview and it felt like a dream... like an out of body experience almost. We took three more tests, though, and they all did the same thing with the bold, dark line.

After that happened though, we didn't know what to do...

The Journey, Part III

So, January and February came, and things started looking up. Andrew and I began looking at our future with new eyes... practicing the idea of planning with a different family dynamic than we had originally dreamed up. It was just figuring out how I could either cope with, or kick the depression to the curb. I was reading scriptures and all sorts of books in an attempt to lift my spirits, but nothing seemed to be working. Life was interesting... each day would come and go, but I don't really remember living it... we had some good moments, but it seemed like life was moving on, and I was just there. Floating. I had no idea who I was and I felt like I couldn't identify myself. This was hard for a 24 year old kid... it seems like my generation is ALL about labeling and uniqueness... about pointing out what we share, and what sets us apart from others... and I just felt like a nobody. That was hard. 

Finally, in March, my mom came up to visit with my brother and his wife and daughter. About two days before they arrived, I got this crazy feeling that I should go home with them. Then, Andrew would come pick me up a few weeks later. My mom was getting married and it was a perfect excuse for me... I could go home and help her pack her things and move her to her new home. It scared the daylights out of me, too, though, because Andrew and I had never been apart for more than a couple of nights and this would be a 2.5 week separation for us. I cried when we left Bigfork and Andrew and Ruger stayed behind, but I felt wholeheartedly that this was the right thing for me to do.

I spent my time in Idaho going through old memories with my mom's belongings. We got rid of some things, and relived some good times. It was very therapeutic for me. I also spent time in the temple, and worked on some personal energy work. The week that my mom had come to visit, I had passed a kidney stone, which I thought was odd because it had been almost two years since the last time that had happened. Then I passed three more my first couple of weeks in Idaho. I also began experiencing what I thought were gallbladder attacks. I was frustrated and felt like I had taken about 10 steps backwards with my health. The 'gallbladder attacks' started getting worse though. I knew that something just wasn't right and I needed some outside opinions. I was 400+ miles away from my doctor, though. What ended up happening was we weren't really sure how to explain my symptoms, and there was concern that I was having a reaction to protein... In essence, my body was going into toxicity from an over abundance of protein, and this can cause major problems to the liver, gallbladder and kidneys. I didn't get tested, though, and made the decision to change my diet for a few days to see if that helped at all. I learned about how our blood type can determine what type of foods work best for our body systems, and basically cut out breads and meats, dairy and eggs for a while. I felt WAY better, but there was still unexplainable queasiness/nausea that I couldn't seem to get to go away....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Journey, Part II

January of 2015 came, and went... and still, no signs of pregnancy. 

Sometime around the middle of the month, we began talking about what it would be like if we never had kids. It wasn't an easy conversation to have, but it was oddly comforting to think that there might be other avenues for us... that we could really make of our future whatever we wanted.

Still, I was having a hard time accepting that I might never carry and nurture my own children. Andrew gave me a Priesthood blessing on February 12th. I have never received such clear guidance before, but I am so grateful for it, because I felt the Spirit so strongly and I was comforted by it. He said I needed to be prepared for what is to come and that I had great things in store for my future, but there was also much guidance towards focusing on Beachbody, and that I have many things to learn from this company. I stepped away from that blessing feeling that the answer was that now was not the time for me to be focusing on bringing children into our home, but ultimately, the choice was mine, and Heavenly Father would buoy me up in whatever I decided. (I am so grateful for the Priesthood, and for the Love that our Father In Heaven has for us. I promise you, if you are lacking in anything, just know that He understands, but most importantly, know that you have Heavenly Parents who love you. Their love for you is greater than anyone can comprehend in this life. Sometimes, though, they let us make bad decisions, or be affected by the bad decisions of others because they can see our potential, and they know that those experiences offer us opportunity for growth. It isn't always easy, but if we learn from these 'trials' we will see blessings stream forth in our own personal growth and understanding).

So, in February, I really started looking into personal development, and learning about myself. I didn't jump into my Beachbody business, though. I was still fighting that depression and I was struggling with being that leader that my team needed me to be. That is one regret that I do have, because, honestly, I have found that reaching outside of ourselves is really the best medicine to mental-illness. It's like running on a rat-wheel, though... You know that if you just hop off, and start helping others, your own life becomes so much simpler and livable, but that initial step off of the wheel, when it's spinning like crazy around you, that's the scariest part. You get stuck in this place where it's almost easier to just suffer from the whirlwind around you than it is to step off into the unknown... into unfamiliar territory, where you are vulnerable and you are open to others hurting you. It only makes sense if you've been on the wheel yourself, though.

The Journey

I have been meaning to write about this for a long time... I want to get it out before I forget!

So, here's how the story goes...

Andrew and I have been hoping for kids for a while now. In 2013, we decided to go off of birth-control. I remember that in October 2012 we had talked about dropping it in January, but January came really fast, and I wasn't sure if we were ready yet, so we waited until my next appointment with my OBGYN which took place in May of 2013. 

I was working at Pollywog's daycare at this time and I loved my job. I dreamt of what it would be like to have kids of our own running around. We went off of the pill, but I was having a few physical issues with my kidneys and gallbladder, and the hormone change from dropping the pill had a bad reaction with my body. I was tired and sick, and I have dealt with depression before, but it seemed to hit super hard with the changes I was going through that summer.

The next few months were a roller-coaster of emotions. We weren't specifically 'trying' to conceive, but we also weren't doing anything to prevent it, either. I thought it was odd that we had gone so long without seeing any signs of pregnancy, and I began experiencing pains in my lower abdomen, as well as irregular menstruation, which was odd because I had always worked like clockwork before.

It was about January of 2014 when I actually began tracking my cycles and we started talking with specialists about infertility. Andrew and I began throwing around the idea that we might be searching for alternative solutions to starting our own little family. 

In April, we went and picked up a little puppy for some company and to add a little energy into our life. Infertility is hard. We were just trying to take it day-by-day, but Ruger really helped to lighten things up for us, and I am so grateful for that dog!

The rest of 2014 was a whirlwind. We had so many changes in our family, with Andrew switching careers and starting up his own business, and us moving closer to his shop. It kept us busy and the change was welcome. I started helping him out with book balancing and the numbers side of the business... Andrew's work started slowing down in the winter, though, and I realized mid-December that I was starting to slip back into that depression that I had been fighting.
There are so many emotions, and it's hard to tell my story without writing a novel about it. Each day is different, and it's difficult to express the journey, especially to someone who hasn't experienced it for themselves. The most interesting thing to me about our story is that it got better, then it got bad... before it got really good...

Monday, July 14, 2014

The day I learned that I am a fighter...

The past couple of weeks, Andrew and I have been taking Ruger out for a swim almost daily. It's been so nice, especially considering that last year, it was September by the time we actually even got out on the lake! I felt that we had jipped ourselves and promised that we would definitely be taking advantage of the water this year! So far, we've lived up to that promise!

I noticed at the beginning of the season that Ruger was a little unsure of himself in the water, but I thought he would eventually grow into it, so I wasn't worried. Last week, though, Andrew and I started taking him out into deeper waters, and as I watched him struggle, I began to think it wouldn't be a bad idea to go into town to get him a life jacket, just so he would have a bit more confidence in the water.

We ran into town the night I had that thought to grab a jacket from Cabela's, but when we showed up, they didn't have the right size, and we were late enough that PetCo was closed. We just figured we'd be back into town over the weekend and grab one then... That was Thursday night.

The next day, Friday, Andrew didn't have too much work to do, so we decided to go to the lake early and buzz around on the Sea Doo for a while. We left Ruger in the bed of the pickup while we zipped around the lake, then I talked Andrew into taking me back to shore so I could swim and play with Ruger while he could have some 'manly' fun out on the jet ski. That was mistake number one... thinking that it would be OK for me to be swimming with no one else around.

When I got back, I meant to take my wedding ring off, but got distracted, and just headed down to our swim cove with the ring on my finger. By the time I got Ruger down there with our towels and things, I didn't want to walk all the way back to the pickup to take off my ring... It's too big, though and falls off when I am in the water. This was mistake number two. I took the ring off and stuck it in a little pocket on my own life jacket. I didn't want it to fall out in the water, so I took the life jacket off, and left it hanging on a branch with our towels.

I played close to shore with Ruger for a few minutes, then proceeded to get ready to swim to this little island like I had done everyday for the past week. It's about 75 yards, but the water is extremely deep. Ruger usually will swim about 20-25 yards out, get scared and go back... but USUALLY Andrew is there with us... 

I began swimming out and when I got about halfway, I noticed that Ruger was getting REALLY close to me. I could see in his face that he was panicking, and I braced myself for what was coming next.

It's interesting, when you have times in your life where you aren't sure your are going to make it... it seems that time slows down and you become very aware of everything that is taking place around you. At the same time, though, it seems that you are dazed and confused, and not sure what to do until the fight or flight instinct kicks in. This was one of those moments!

Ruger lunged forward and pushed me down under the water. I fought to get my head back up where I could see and breathe, and shoved him away from me, but he was moving faster than I could. Before I could think about what to do next, he was right next to me trying to climb back up on me again. I was under water a second time.

I remember thinking "You have to make a decision; either you both go down, or you save yourself and try to get him taken care of later." It was heartbreaking, though to think of what the outcome of this situation might be, but I didn't have time to think of that. The only thing that I could do was kick, and fight, and PRAY. I began to pray hard! I prayed that God would help me stay calm and know what to do. I prayed that Andrew would come back on the jet ski, to pull Ruger from the water. I prayed that Ruger would see how close we were to the shore, instead of only seeing me as his way out of the water. None of my prayers were being answered, and I knew that if I kept being pushed down like I was, it wouldn't be long until I wouldn't be able to fight anymore. I could feel my body cramping, and begging for air. I knew that it was starting to give up. This is when I PRAYED to know how I could save my life. What could I possibly DO to get out of this terrible situation I had gotten myself into?

Suddenly, I grabbed Rugers jaw to push him away from me yet again, and realized that I could hold him out away from me and POINT his face toward the island! He was still looking at me, but I was able to keep him off of me, and move forward with my other arm and kicking my legs harder than I thought I could... and FINALLY Ruger looked forward, and saw the edge of the water. He took off and I was able to slow down a little and try to catch my breath. I knew it wasn't over yet, but I felt like my saving grace had come... I paddled my way to the shore, and just as I reached it, I looked up and saw Andrew driving toward me. 
I got to a point where I could reach and just sat down. By this time, I was hyperventilating and a little in shock over what just happened. I nearly passed out into the water, but Andrew was there, and I was safe. All I could do was cry tears of gratitude.

I had made it through one of the scariest experiences of my life. 

As I drove home, I thought about life over the last 10 or so years. Through my teenage years, I would often wish that I would get into some freak-accident. I was so depressed, but I knew that suicide was not the answer. I just wanted some way to end the pain. I often thought about how I would react if I got into a life-or-death situation. I never thought that I would fight for my life!

I know that over the past few years, I have grown so much. Especially over the past year. My life has changed LEAPS AND BOUNDS!!! I now value my life and my time! I am SO GRATEFUL for the time I have been given and I have realized something; God is aware of you. He loves you and wants you to succeed. I have learned however, that He won't do everything for you. This life is about gaining experience, and learning and growing. I prayed from Him to save me, but it wasn't until I thought of what I could do to help myself through my situation that I received inspiration that lead me out of my predicament. 

It's like a parent teaching a child to ride a bicycle. You can't do it for them. They'll never learn that way. Instead, you push them into the direction you need them to go, then you hope that they will keep their end of the deal and pedal to stay on the path that you have put them on. 

I am so grateful that I have kept my ears opened to the direction from my Heavenly Father, and that I have chosen to keep peddling to stay on the path that He has placed me on.Because of my choices, there have been times when I have strayed, but always, I am lead back to where I need to be. 

I am so grateful that I made it through this experience, and that it didn't turn out differently than it did. 

*Disclaimer, we got Ruger a life jacket the next day. He is a much better swimmer now.