Motivated by Emotion

I have a confession: I have always been fascinated by human emotions and relationships.  My earliest training, if you will, was in theatre.  I was graced with entry into a local high school with an arts program that raised up many, many creative people, some of which went on to work in the arts.  The others went on to bring their experiences with art to other things.  I obviously belong to the latter category!  

After my experience in theatre, I spent a year abroad.  I will say that this honestly taught me more about culture than emotions per se, but they share many common themes, and thus are interrelated.  I soaked up foreign television, watched interesting interpersonal exchanges with a perhaps excessive interest, and generally soaked up every drop of  'people' I could. I learned probably as much about others as I did about myself that year.

And returning home I learned even more.  I was inspired to become an EMT and volunteer with my local rescue squad (the precursor to my nursing career!) as well as suffered an immense bout of reverse culture shock.  This phenomenon is characterized by the cognitive dissonance of difference between our expectation of home versus how we experience it once we return.  It is both jarring and difficult to address, on an intra- and inter-personal level.  I found myself feeling guilty that I so strongly disliked certain aspects of Americanism, as if I was a 'bad' American--or if I had become, instead, more African than American (gasp! I did honestly feel this way--for months.) 

Many of these feelings I stumbled through, as I was only 17 and still immature.  It was hard for me to reconcile these new parts of me, and attitudes.  Africa was not the most liberal of environments, and yet I felt African and identify as bisexual.  This felt absolutely contradictory at the time.  Living in a home with close to thirty people had left me craving domestic tranquility in the form of seven--yes, you read that correctly--children (any parent will agree that this is impossible) and yet I was still only 17, on birth control pills, and not ready for marriage to my high school beau.  (Thank goodness for THAT foresight.)  I was caught in a cultural purgatory that my biological parents and peers were mostly unable to understand, much less help with.  I had complicated feelings about my sexuality resulting from the African emphasis on virginity, sexual restraint, and necessity of marriage that I don't think I really shook for the better part of a year.  This was a lot of big concepts for someone to wrap their brain around, while approaching the wise (/sarcasm) age of eighteen.

The next turn in my career was law enforcement.  Incidentally, this path brought me face-to-face with people experiencing many of the most raw emotions, specifically fear and anger.  It was primal and whenever I felt like I helped, I was incredibly happy.  However, the gratitude-to-helping ratio in this profession is dismal, so it was not a great path for me in the long run.  I joke with people that I am like a Hooters waitress: I am flattery operated. (Because feelings-operated does not have the same ring to it.)

This is why I think I am so drawn to nursing as a whole.  Feelings and gratitude are my bread and butter.  Of course, I take care of medical needs, and this is essential, but I love my emotional connections with the women and families that cross my path.  I love holding hands and rubbing backs and witnessing them evolve.  I'm paid to be emotionally involved with many people, and it is honestly incredible.  I love being a nurse, even when it is messy and strange and sad, but especially when it is inspiring.

Struggling--not only to relate, but to cope. (Miscarriage Part I)

This post has been a long time in the making.  I started writing it in March of 2012, shortly before I became pregnant again.  I have not edited my content since I picked it back up, I have simply added references at the end.  I want to preserve the raw emotions as they bleed through into what is supposed to be quasi-academic-styled writing.  I know that it is incomplete, a part II will be written at some point.

I've classically been a person who doesn't tolerate my own failures well.  I'd like to think that this is what drives me to succeed, but I'll be honest, and say that it's caused a few of my "characteristic" (according to my mother) meltdowns.

I truly felt that when I miscarried my baby, I had failed.  I had not only failed myself, but I had failed my fiance and my baby by being incapable of doing the one thing my body was made to do--to bring new life into this world.  I agonized over it for months.  I felt terribly alone, despite support from almost everyone I shared my story with.  It wasn't until recently that I decided to look at it a little more objectively, and see what kind of structured research had been done on the topic.

The overarching themes surprised me.  Some of them I understood--and some of them caused a subtle 'ah-ha' shift in my thinking. The most significant, however, was the sense of a loss of control.  Losing that baby--having your baby die inside of you--has no solution.  When people suggested that I replace the baby that I was pregnant with, by having another, I felt so misunderstood.  I didn't want any baby, I wanted that baby, my baby that my husband and I had named.

 A popular internet site,, has a sub-category (known as a subreddit) exclusively for miscarriage.  I found it while casually surfing, but one quote really struck home with me.  A man had posted how his marriage was struggling after their miscarriage, because his wife was continually talking about the baby they had lost, and what point in the pregnancy she would be if she had not lost it.  Another user replied that by talking about the baby and the pregnancy, what the woman was really trying to say was:

"I still miss this baby, I still think about him every day, its not over for me." -Vexwyf

Even for the most intimate couple, it can be taxing to talk about something so difficult and painful repeatedly, especially when the physical aspects of the loss are limited to the female partner.  However, the studies I found covering this topic found that medical providers are not adequately addressing the psychological aspect of loss of a pregnancy.

In my own experience, I was seeing a midwife when I found out that my baby had died in utero.  When I called to schedule a follow up appointment at six weeks, to make sure that everything had gone as expected and that my medications had worked, they refused to let me see my midwife anymore, and insisted on scheduling me with the doctor who had confirmed my baby had died via ultrasound.  He had been callous and awkward, so I simply refused a follow up.  All I had wanted was to see my midwife, who looked almost as crestfallen as I had felt when we realized my baby was dead.  All I really wanted was a healthcare provider who not only acknowledged the physical aspect of my condition, but the mental one as well.

This actually turned out to be another of the overarching themes that emerged from interviews with women after miscarriage.   

Adolfsson, A., Swanson, K. M., Wojnar, D. M. (2011). Confronting the inevitable: a conceptual model of miscarriage for use in clinical practice and research. Death Studies, 35: 536-558.  Accessed April 2nd, 2011.

Comment by Vexwyf on Sub-Reddit: Miscarriage. (2011).  Accessed April  4th, 2011.

New Beginnings

I can't believe how busy the past year and a half has been.  Reading the last entry here fills me with excitement like running into an old friend that I haven't seen in forever, who needs to be updated on major life events.  First of all, I found out I was pregnant just days after posting my last blog entry.  However, when I went in for my twelve week prenatal appointment with a midwife in a local hospital, we discovered that the baby had died.  I went into a pretty significant depression, struggling with just about everything for a good while.  Joe and I had bumped up our wedding date after discovering the pregnancy, so we ended up getting married six weeks after the miscarriage.  The wedding was small, almost exclusively family, and thankfully, very quick.  That baby was supposed to be born around March 3rd, and incidentally, shortly after that date, Joseph and I conceived again--a charming consequence of our trip to Princeton, New Jersey.  Just over two weeks ago, I gave birth to that baby--a 9 lbs., 3 oz baby boy--in a tub in my living room, without drugs, interventions, or coersion (like my first son's birth).

So how's that for an update?  It's been a very full year and a half, not even including the three semesters of nursing school that I've been trudging through... But a very, very interesting one.  There are many doors opening for me in these next eight months as a mother reborn, a first-time stay at home mom, and an entrepreneur of my very own custom cloth diaper store! 

Image of multiple open doors. Accessed 01/13/2013.

A Whole New Turn

I think that this next posting will not come as a very big surprise to anyone who has read previous entries here in my blog.  You see, I have already touched on the topics of remarriage, marriage for mixed-sexuality couples, and the effect of children on new relationships.  The difference now, for me at least, is that all of these issues (and a whole new set!) are facing me, because I am now engaged--and quite happily, I might add.   

My issue now, of course, is how I project myself into the role of the modern bride.  The first go-round, I sort of copped out.  I was in the Army, and even younger than I am now, and instead of blaming myself for being unromantic for practical reasons, I tried to tell myself that I didn't need a dress or my family to be married.  Well, soon after this wedding that was held on my lunch break with only my coworkers in attendance, with no photos taken to document the event, I regretted my decision.

My fiance knew how this first wedding occurred, and he told me that even though a WEDDING-wedding (as we affectionately refer to it) wasn't high on his priority list, it would be fine by him, because he knew I felt like I had missed out.  At first, I was relieved (how thoughtful!) but soon after launching myself into the planning, even 14 months ahead of our projected wedding date, I realized that the WEDDING-wedding might be too large a task for me to tackle.

Now, in my defense, I am a very detail-oriented person.  I was crowned Soldier of the Quarter for my brigade as a private.  But to commit my intellectual energy to napkin designs, flower types, color schemes, cake flavors, and hors oeuvres?  It was absolutely exhausting.  Exhausting is actually an understatement.  I've been engaged for almost three months now, and I'm dreading the 11 months of planning ahead of me.

You know what is absolutely ridiculous?  The average American wedding now costs just a shade under $25,000, according to, which shows charted fluctuations in the wedding industry over time.  My wedding budget seems impractically low, considering that number, as I'm sure many Americans are thinking the same in such tough economic times.

I'm thinking that this blog will nicely serve to catalog my process of wedding planning, and its effects on my relationships with the people around me.  Stay tuned...

Avg wedding cost 1945-2010 in thousands.  Accessed 18 May 2011.

Image of crying bride with tulle veil and white lace dress.  Accessed 18 May 2011.