Books · Uncategorized

My 2015 Reading Log

GR book challenge

While I’m no longer in the book review world, I still love to read. That was with me way before the 3-year (awesomely fun) reviewing stint in my life, and it will remain with me for the rest of my life, no doubt.

I used to read a lot more than I am able to now, thanks to a small child and early work hours. I’m usually spent by the time I crawl into bed, and since that’s the only time I have to read, it’s not typically a marathon session by any stretch.

But looooooooook! I have almost completed my Goodreads book challenge for the year! I am 2 books away from 50, and I know I will beat that as I’m almost finished with my current read, and my audiobook will no doubt be finished by next week. Rad!

Audiobooks have saved my reading goals. I would only be able to read half this amount if it was regular ole reading. They also save my sanity on my commute to and from work. I really get into the book when there is a good narrator, and there are some brilliant narrators out there!

My 2015 Challenge Books

Currently reading and will be finished by year end.

Bared to You (Crossfire, #1) George

Read in 2015

 

         
    
        

I plan to do Book Bingo in 2016, which will help me try new genres. I also hope to stick to my massive collection of books, for the most part. I’ve done real well about not collecting new books like I used too, but I could do better. It is hard to stay away from new releases, but I’d prefer to binge read the series once they are all released.
At least, this is what I keep telling myself.
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Life · Parenting

It’s been a few months…

I can’t seem to stay on top of blogging. Mostly, I don’t feel inspired to write about my life, which is pretty damn normal and not very exciting. I’m a mother living with her family, working, and enjoying life when a free moment arises. I think when free time appears, I’d rather use it doing my 2 beloved hobbies, which are paper crafting and reading. Oh well…

Today, I have something worthy of writing, which is also cathartic for me. It’s a sucky thing to write about, but for every woman who does share her story, it helps all the ones who are suffering in silence. Now you may have guessed what I’m going to write about.

Yes, I had another miscarriage.

This time was not as simple as the first. Oh no. Mother Nature decided to scare the shit out of me, Todd, and my mom with her power of WTFkry. It was about as unpleasant and terrifying as any medical trauma could be, and I’m going tell you about it. It’s gross and scary and really gross.

You have been warned.

I was 9 weeks pregnant. I was feeling hopeful that we kept getting closer and closer to the end of the first trimester. At the beginning of last week, I started spotting dark brown blood. I know that spotting can be very normal during early pregnancy, but after having gone through the first miscarriage months earlier, I was trying to stay calm and collected. The midwife said to relax and keep watch for bright red blood and cramps. Saturday morning rolls along, and so does bright red blood. I threw my hands in the air. There’s nothing that can be done, so I let me body do its job. I still hadn’t experienced a single cramp, which I thought was odd.

Sunday afternoon, my mom and I went shopping so I could get out of the house. I suddenly had a sharp cramp and felt a gush of fluid. I told my mom we had to leave promptly, so we left our shopping cart in the aisle and walked to the car. My mom had the forethought to have me sit on her rain coat, which saved my car. The short drive home, I could feel liquid oozing out. It was terrifying, but not as terrifying as when I got out of the car at home. I stepped out the car and it was like a waterfall released down my legs. It seriously felt like your water breaking during labor. I started screaming for Todd, rushing up the front steps. He comes hauling ass down the stairs with the baby in tow. I’m screaming that there is blood everywhere.

I rush into the bathroom and remove my soaked garments, and I’m horrified at what is happening. Liquid and other stuff is coming out. I thought it was fetal tissue but I think it was mainly blood clots. They were the size of baseballs. I am passed the point of no return. Todd already had a call into the midwife. When she called back, she said at 9 weeks, I would likely bleed a lot upfront until the tissue passed. I thought I had passed tissue, and so was expecting it to slow down. It did not.

My intuition kicked in about 10 minutes later, and Todd placed another call into the midwife. By the time she called back, we were leaving for the hospital. I sat on a heavy towel and Todd navigated downtown traffic. We got to the ER and they checked my vitals, which were pretty normal. They moved me to the triage waiting room, and I started to decline. I got very nauseous and passed out. They got me into a room and noticed my blood pressure had dropped. No shit! I’m surprised I had any blood left. (I know, I know. It seemed more than it was, but I was hemorrhaging. That is scary shite, peeps.)

They immediately hooked me up to 2 bags of IV fluids, which helped stabilize me. The ER doc came in and did an ultrasound, and she couldn’t really see anything. At that point, they needed to do a trans vaginal ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy, which can be pretty dangerous for the woman. I didn’t have a lick of pain, however, so I didn’t think it was that.

This was the long waiting period. I was still bleeding and they had to clean me up every so often. It was the most horrible thing to lay in that bed and feel blood continuously come out, along with clots. They finally wheeled me down to the ultrasound, and the nurse asked me to use the bathroom first since my bladder was full. Todd assisted me and everything was ok. I had the ultrasound, all the while feeling life slipping from my body. No kidding, that’s exactly what it feels like. After the ultrasound, she sent me back into the bathroom to clean up. Todd assisted, and I passed out on the toilet.

Things started to move quicker at this point. They got 2 more bags of IV fluids going, and retested my hemoglobin levels. They were an 8, which is reaching an ugly level. They made the call to give me 2 units of blood. I had a freaking blood transfusion, ya’ll. That is how bad it was. The OB doc came in to tell me the ultrasound didn’t show anything major, but they felt a D&C was the only way to stop the bleeding. There was likely fetal tissue still in the uterus, and the body wouldn’t stop bleeding until it was cleared out. I did not want to go under anesthesia but I wanted the bleeding to stop more.

By the time I got in the operating room, I had been bleeding for about 7 hours. 7 friggn hours! The operation went smoothly. It’s a pretty simple procedure where they open up the cervix and scrape the walls of the uterus. I didn’t experience any pain afterwards, thankfully. The OR nurse was awesome. I remember the conversation we had before I went under. We were talking about my line of work and she told me to read the book Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol. I asked Todd to order it when I woke up from the surgery, and I have it to read now. 🙂

After the surgery, I had to get a RhoGAM shot, just like I did with Gage. The blood bank does not play when releasing blood products! It took them forever to get the shot (it’s made from blood products) and it also took  forever to get the 2 units of blood before surgery.  They initially only had one unit of blood to give me, and Todd was not ok with this. He told the nurse that the OB doc said I was to get 2 units of blood before surgery, and she stated she could only get one from the blood bank. Todd got heated and said the OB doc needed to know that her directive was not being fulfilled. I had to tell him to chill out. I know it was his emotions running high and his doctor instincts kicking in. They finally got the second bag and all was good.

Phew. I feel like I just ran a marathon.

I stayed home from work through today and will return tomorrow. I’m feeling better physically, but I know the emotional part will take time. Todd and I went to my midwife yesterday and talked to their OB/GYN on staff. She examined my pelvic area and I had some slight pain on the right side, so she decided to go look and make sure I wasn’t showing signs of infection. Thankfully not. I have to go back in 2 weeks for a follow-up appointment. Todd and I also talked to her about some testing to find out why this has happened twice now. There is some blood work we can do and a special ultrasound. The fact that I’ve had a child bodes well. It’s also awesome that Todd and I have gotten pregnant naturally twice now.

So, I’m looking towards the future as much as possible, but taking it a day at a time. I have moments of sadness, usually when I’m alone, but they pass quickly. I hate that any woman has to experience this type of loss and it pains me to know I have loved ones who have experienced a pregnancy loss. It sucks and it’s unfair but we need to talk about it more. We are not alone in this pain.

I’m very thankful for my mom, who was available to care for Gage. I don’t know what we would have done. I’m also thankful Todd was not working so he could be with me at the hospital. I know my mom would’ve had a very difficult time in that situation, and I know staying behind was also difficult for her. Todd checked in with her often. They are both my rocks of support, in different ways, but all very much needed. I love you!

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Social Work

#StopTraffick

Today was enlightening. I attended the United Way Convening on Human Trafficking in Atlanta. I attended because I work with middle schoolers and feel like I need to be aware and on top of this global issue. Not only that, but is a major hub for human trafficking because we have one of the largest international airports in the world. I also believe that as a citizen of this country and member of my community, I need to join the discussion and use my voice to bring light to the issue, hold our leaders accountable for strengthening laws and services. I also need to educate these kids!

I learned about a website that is like CraigsList, though it is a major hub for adolescent sexual exploitation. I’m not sure how this website is legal (at least in this particular area), but I did find out that American Express, MasterCard and Visa will no longer allow their cards to be used to purchase adult ads. “Adult ads.” Sure.

I listened to Dr. Alex Trouteaud, a sociologist that works at youthSpark, discuss the supply and demand of sex trafficking. It was fascinating! He spoke about it from an economical standpoint, as it is a $150 BILLION (annual!!) industry. He referred to the victims as “supply”, the pimps as “market facilitators” and the johns as “demanders”. [He assured us he was empathetic towards the plight of these people, which we all knew].

The average age for entry into sex slavery is 12 years old. Yes, I typed that correctly. TWELVE. A  lot these kids have sexual abuse histories, which probably isn’t surprising. Many of them have shitty home lives, filled with poverty, violence and absolutely no support. Some are runaways, some homeless, some still live at home! the life expectancy once you enter “the life” is 7 years. If you enter at 12 and see your 20th birthday, you are the exception.

Obviously most demanders are men. Not all of them are pedophiles, and not all of them know they are buying service from a child. In Atlanta, the demand for sex services from females under 23 is 50% and 10-20% under 18. 15% of men in the U.S. exploit children for sex. 56% of demanders are married and 24% have children.

He shared that research shows that arresting a man for buying sex results in 70% recidivism reduction. That shaming piece is apparently a big deal, especially since many men are prominent figures in their community. I’m talking lawyers, teachers, doctors, clergymen, coaches, political figures.

He also mentioned that child labor in cocoa harvesting is a major issue. God. How many of us love chocolate?  A good 95% of the world, at least. I had no idea. Now I want to hold these chocolate companies accountable and plan to look for chocolate suppliers that have appropriate labor policies. It will mean spending more for chocolate, but so be it. We need to demand more transparency in supply chains!

Speaking of the money issue, do you know how much we perpetuate human slavery every day, as consumers? We want a shirt for $5, but that shirt had to be sewn by someone. I know there are tons of machines that make things for us, but that isn’t totally the case in clothing and textiles. Lots of that shit is handmade still. If we buy it for $5, and the company had to make a profit, how much do you think that employee got for their time and work? We’ve all heard stories about sweatshops and dirty labor practices. That shit happens in America, too, as does “domestic servitude.”

Dr. Brook Bello from More Too Life spoke. I can’t even begin to explain all the feels I felt. I had no ideas she was a survivor, and while her talk was not about her personal experiences, she threw in some tidbits throughout her presentation that took my breath away. She is truly a beacon of hope for survivors.

She talked about how survivors can get their innocence back when they realize they are not to blame and are not the guilty party. She also talked about how you can’t buy sex, because sex is consensual and passionate, and that sex via slavery is never that. She also said that there’s a misconception that we can help restore these people’s self-identities , but she said you can’t restore something that was never there to begin with. If you think about, the beginning of identity development happens in early adolescence. If the average entry age into the life is 12, then those kids aren’t forming a positive identity. In fact, they are being dehumanized, which leads to no identity formation. Big problem. She talked about how we can help victims survive and thrive by helping them form an identity through self-discovery.

She also mentioned that since men are a large part of the problem, they need to be a large part of the solution. Amen.  We need to teach boys not to view females as sex objects. Dads, stop making oogly eyes at your son when the Hooters commercial comes on TV. Don’t teach him that it’s ok to think she looks like vagina on legs. Women are MORE than tits and ass, and these young boys, full of hormones, need the adult men in their lives to model this way of thinking. Don’t eat at those establishments. Don’t buy products that objectify women in their ads. Talk to your kids about their icons – movie stars, celebrities, music stars – and how they may not portray women in a good light. I immediately think of this ad and this picture of a musician. Media has completely skewed our ideals about sex, relationships and love!

We learned a lot of the federal, state and local initiatives to combat human trafficking, but as citizens of the United States, it is OUR job to use our voice to make OUR world a better place. 

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Paper Crafts

The Happy Planner by MAMBI

I. Am. So. Addicted.

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I bought this planner with the sole intention of using as a scrapbook. I knew that with my limited amount of time, this planner was possibly the answer to all my scrapbooking woes. I knew that it would help me stay on top of memory keeping, even better than Project Life and other methods I’ve tried.

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I. Was. Right.

It has been gloriously fun to sit down at the end of a week and take an hour or 2 to document my memories. I print out the pictures at home on thick paper and decorate in my random, collage style. It’s so easy and I’m so thankful. Of course, I did fall behind when family visited, but it’s been easy to catch up. I ain’t skerred no more!

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As far as planning, I currently use my gorgeous large gold Kikki K, with awesome inserts from The Planner Market. However, I’ve decided that I want to use a spiral-bound planner for this upcoming year, and have ordered this Plum Paper Planner. This picture of Gage will be on the front. Squee!

Gage hat

Do you have a Happy Planner?

Do you use it for traditional planning, for memory keeping, or both?

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Parenting

This post is going to be hard to write…

but I’m going to do it, for my own sanity and for many others who want to speak up but are overwhelmed by feelings of shame, guilt and grief.

I had a miscarriage.

There. I said it. It’s out in the universe.

A few weeks ago I learned I was pregnant. I had my well woman exam and told them I was 1 day late with my cycle. This was no big deal and I was certainly not getting my hopes up. They decided to do a pregnancy test, and sure enough, it was positive. Faint, but positive. There were lots of congratulations and I walked out of there like a deer in headlights. I told Todd and my mom that night by showing them the prenatal vitamin bottle and telling them I needed to get some more. I think they were just as shocked as I. We were all expecting it to be difficult again. This time, it was going to be difficult in an entirely different way.

5 days later, I woke up in the middle of the night with serious gastrointestinal issues. And then I saw the blood. It was faint at first, so I didn’t freak because spotting happens. The next time I was in the bathroom, I noticed it was heavier, and it proceeded that way through the night. I knew instinctively what was happening. When I finally woke up to the alarm, I ran to the bathroom. It wasn’t all a dream. In fact, it was a terrible nightmare. I told Todd I was bleeding, and he shot out of bed. I called my midwife’s office and told them what was happening. They said it sounded pretty textbook miscarriage, to take care of myself physically and emotionally, and to take a pregnancy test a week after the last day of bleeding. That will be this Saturday. A negative will confirm that my hormones are back in sync. A positive will send me up the river, because that could mean procedures that I don’t want to deal with. And it will just prolong it. I want to move on.

I called into work that day, and Todd also called in because he was sick, as well. I moped around the house through my discomfort, and stared into space. I went to a training the next day because I knew it was better than sitting around thinking about it. When I saw tissue in the toilet, it took all of my mental strength to return to the training smiling. I got through that day just fine, but I was certainly not my normal, happy self. I was quite subdued and didn’t come out of my shell much.

Last week sucked, to put it mildly. I know I only knew about the pregnancy for 5 days, but even 5 seconds would have been enough to bring the pain. I wish I would have never told them to go ahead with the pregnancy test. A late period would have been far less distressing. It was very early in the pregnancy, and that helps me feel better about the baby’s suffering. I know this shit happens for a reason. I am 36 so my eggs might not be in the best shape. The body sometimes aborts the fetus because of abnormalities, or there are other reasons.

Gage wasn’t meant to meet this sibling. Todd and I weren’t meant to parent him/her. It wasn’t meant to be.

The upside to this experience is that Todd and I got pregnant naturally! We had such trouble with Gage, and finally had to seek professional help. This time around, it happened about 6 months into trying. I am holding on tightly to this thought because it is helping me handle this emotionally. There will be a next time, and I will try not to hold my breath the entire pregnancy. Once this happens to a woman, I don’t think there is anything you can do to lessen the anxiety going into a new pregnancy. There are women in my family and close friends who have experienced miscarriages, and some much farther along or more physically scary.

Society doesn’t want to talk about this occurrence. It’s very uncomfortable. For someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with grief, I’ve never known how to talk to my loved ones about this topic. I just try to listen and be a positive, reassuring person in their life. I want women to feel empowered to talk about this issue that plagues so many of us.

Tell your story. Don’t go through this alone.

-Ash