Finding strength in the moment

I stood there and watched, my heart barely beating in my chest. Her little legs stepping up onto the box. Amazed with her graceful, surefootedness, not showing a sign of the weight she was bearing. The once vibrant, now muted from use, frock covered most of her little body. Heavy with the lead inside, but undeterred by the little body under it. She silently listened to the instructions.

“Place your hands here”

“Move you head here”

“Bite down like it is a cookie”

She complied with them all. From my vantage, standing in the doorway, I could see the wild inside of her being quelled. Self-restraint. Such a strange thing to see in a five year old. But then again, she has been full of surprises since the moment she was born.

In a flurry the staff exited the room. Stoically she stood there. Her hands exactly where she was told to leave them. Frozen in that moment. The small room looked so much bigger then it was just a second ago. Just outside the threshold my body remained still and imposing. But my heart, it was in that room with her.

“I am right here, you are doing so good, I am so proud of you my little one.”

I spoke to her in my calm, metered tone. She smiled, just a little as to not hold her position. But that smile, it was for me. She knew that I could see it. Then, a moment later there was a whirring sound. The device began to move slowly around her head. Then there was… the cry.

“Daddy! No!”

I could hear the fear, and it tore through me. My heart lurched as it began to beat again. Adrenaline flushing through my veins with a fiery burn. The attendants shut off the panoramic x-ray machine and I rushed to her. She jumped into my arms, the added weight of the lead vest being only an afterthought. The smile gone from her face she held me tightly, I could feel the tears soaking though my shirt, into my soul.

She tried to be brave.

For her entire life my daughter, Zoey, has been showing the world how strong and brave she is. She has not had a choice in the matter. But being so little, and having a machine move around her head was too much. Heck, even I hate those things. But, it is also in this moment that she showed be what she does best.

Finding strength in the moment

While the x-rays did not happen the way that the doctors had hoped, something amazing happened in that room. My daughter fought all that was in her, casting aside every reasonable fear. She stood on that box, and she listened. In that moment, she dug deep and found her own strength. Perhaps she knew that it was in her, perhaps she did not.

In addition to this, she has, yet again, helped me find strength as well. It is a daunting task, this role as a parent. Further complicated by things such as Craniosynostosis, it is a real struggle some days. The worry and fears that I have about what the future will be like for her is, well, there have been many sleepless nights.

It is an odd thing to be in a position that my daughter is showing me that I can be stronger than I think. But it is reassuring that she is going to do so well in life, digging deep, and finding strength in each moment.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Day 25: A Current Worry You Have.

Come on! Seriously! I am a dad and you want me to just haphazardly write about “A” current worry? You have got to be kidding me. How can I pick just one? There are new things every day that come to mind, and some that keep me up at night. I mean, did you read my Day 23 post “Something That You Miss”? That entire aspect is just a glimpse into the worry that I have these days. Well, this is my thing, so I am going to do my own thing. Settle in for a bit, dear readers, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I worry about my weight

Yep, why not start right there this morning. Worry is way too small of a word to use about the loathing feeling that I get when I look in the mirror. IF I had to narrow all of my worry into a zenith of epic proportions, this would be it (pun totally intended).  My weight impacts my ability to be a father, and husband, every single day. It has not always been this way. In fact, once I was in fantastic shape. Thanks to the Army, and being in a constant state of combat readiness, I could run for days. My strength was only outmatched by my determination to do it all.

Sadly, like many others, my body has not responded well to civilian life. Wholly, I admit that it should be said that I have failed my body in its attempt adjust. In the wake of deployments, divorce, death, and complete life changes, I became lazy. I succumbed to the futile idea that plagues the young, thinking that my body would always be the same. Now, the ever-present disgust in the way that I look has reached epic and dangerous levels.

I know what you are thinking about this worry.

I am not oblivious to the constant snicker that MANY have when people talk about their weight. It always follows the same train of thought. “If you are SOOOO upset, then do something about it”.  This sentiment has always angered me. The callousness towards a worry of this nature is part of the problem that we have today. The relentless self-image issues are causing so much pain. Many harbor pain and anguish as adults, feeling trapped under their own weight. When it comes to the young, God forbid that we do a better job helping, listening, reassuring. Every day kids are taking their lives for being picked on. Much of this starts from how they look, or what they weigh. But how much of this sits on our shoulders?

But, this is about me. Right now you are asking what I have done to make it better. Let me let you into the darkness that surrounds this worry for me. Something tells me it is the same for others. Perhaps your opinion of me will be shattered. But that is the risk I take in talking about this.

The ramification of this worry

Do you know what it is like to look in the mirror and EVERY time not believe what you see? Then, to instantly hate what you see? No, not your trifling dislike. Hate, resentment, rancor emitting with every breath. The unquenchable desire to slug the mirror, not just to shatter the image, but that which is causing it. Do you know that feeling? I do. It is how I feel, every single time that I look in the mirror, or at a picture of me. Every. Time.

I am barely eating during the week due to trying to get work done. I am EXHAUSTED.  Not just like, a little tired every once and a while. I mean to the point that there is worry about my lack of sleep affecting my mental and physical health. A person can only survive on five or less hours of interrupted sleep for but so long… and it I has been about 10 year thus far.  I have tried biking, going to the gym, watching what I eat, meditating, swimming, and much more. Progress is there, but it is slow.

I hate the way that I look and feel. There is a constant level of disgust in myself that I have. It is bad.

Absolution of this worry.

Every day I have lived in this world. Surrounded by my self-inflicted abhorrence for what I look like. It is a dark and scary place that worries those who know about it. Looks like that circle may have gotten a bit bigger because of this post. I can live with that.

My beloved bride, is a saint. She is the most reassuring and amazing person I know. She FIGHTS me on this worry, every day. It is a weird place to be in to know that the love of your life only has one thing that she would change about you. That thing being the repugnance that you have for yourself and your looks. She hates that I hate myself, and tries all the time to counter this with love. She is awesome.

I am trying. I want to get healthier. To be able to play longer with my kids, hell to be around longer with my kids. This is a relentless uphill battle, and I never truly talk about it. It is my cross to bear, but perhaps putting it here will spark a change in me that is needed.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Day 20: One of Your Fears

As it should have been made evident over the last few posts, time is the essence of my fears.  One of my fears is that my time will not be well spent. I think that most parents have this fear, but seldom speak about it. I can understand why. There is something triste in mentioning fears of this nature. I mean, if everyone feels it, what is the point? But, I think that IS the point. We assume that others have the same fear, and that means that no one needs to talk about it.

Far be it for me to decry from the social norms.

Just kidding!

I am terrified about what it is going to be like for my kids when I am no longer here. I worry about making sure that they are ready.  Not for the event of my passing, but for the time after. We never know when our time is up. But the only fear of death that I have does not reside in my untimely demise, but in the pain that it may bring upon others.

I could live in fear of this time. Many that I know, do just that. Having shared in this fear, and the counter of it, I do my best. I try to resolve this fear by watching my children learn, grow, and reach new heights. I teach them. Taking on the full mantle of fatherhood, I try to be the dad that they need now, so they will not need me later.

Sucks when you think about it that way.

Oh, the counter of this fear, makes it so much worse. That I will outlive any of my children. But, nothing needs to be said on that. Honestly. In this case the norms are ok, for now.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

A new day, a new fear arises.

“Courage is resistance to fear, master of fear, not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain

A new, and great, fear that just came across my inbox, is the potential changes that are being discussed for Medicaid.  Five years ago, I would have paid it no mind, but now I have no choice.

Though nothing is final (let alone 100% confirmed) there has been talk about changing Medicaid to a block grant system.  This would (potentially) reduce the funding that states receive, and heavily effect medical waivers. How can this be? After reading the article in Disability Scoop “With Talk Of Medicaid Changes, Waiver Services May Be At Risk” (Link HERE)  I find myself, yet again, typing in a flurry.

My daughter receives the amazing care that she does thanks to a medical waiver for her Craniosynostosis. There are countless ways (too long to discuss here) that her waiver has helped her, and our family.  It was also no easy task working through the waiver. Not because my daughter does not qualify, but because the system was a little broken when we first tried.

After many months, and moving out of a county which we will most likely never move back to (#grudgeholder), our fighting paid off and a waiver was granted. The sigh of relief has yet to cease from this moment. I broke down in tears over reading the letter letting us know Zoey was now covered. Not figurative tears, full on, fall to my knees, hold my baby, rocking back and fourth tears of joy.

So, what am I going to do about it?

First and foremost, I am going to pray.  My prayer is for clarity and discernment for those having these discussions. This includes myself.

Second is that I will continue to speak.  My journey has been to create a place of light, support, and strengthen.  I am unwavering in that.  I also realize my place as a voice for the voiceless.  Even though my daughter is making leaps and bounds in her ability to speak, my voice has yet to grow tired.

Finally, I will research and fight when needed. As I stated, this is not something that is confirmed will happen.  There is a good deal of, shall we call it, “early information” that seems to be making its way to news desks. More needs to be known.  If, as more is known, it becomes clear that this may happen, I need to make my voice louder.  Exactly how, that remains to be seen.

For nearly five years I have fought too long and very hard for my daughter to have a ‘normal’ life, to have a pen stroke take that away…. armor up, it is going to be a heck of a fight.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

I do not know….

Here I am facing an interesting dilemma.  To be honest, this is a multi-faceted dilemma.  There is the physical and the spiritual side of some stuff that I am working through.  I think that for this portion, I am going to take a look at the physical side.  This is, after all, due completely to the fact that the spiritual side is going to be long and exhausting to delve into….

I have been reading many blogs over the last few weeks about diet, exercise, weight loss and the like.  Some of them are shockingly honest… and my heart goes out to them.  Others are more of the mantra that we are all so use to hearing though out our lives.  You know the ones I am talking about, no pain no gain, it is all for good reason, sweat is the nectar of the future godlike body you will have… blah, blah, blah.  Let me be blunt, honest, and very… very real.  I HATE the way that I look.  This is not in regards to something so vain in nature as… let’s say…. My many times broken American Indian blessed nose.  This is about my physique.  I know that some of the baggage that I carry around with me from my first marriage is a TON of self hating rhetoric that I had to hear from time to time.  But, plain and simple… I HATE THE WAY THAT I LOOK.  I cannot stand to look in the mirror anymore, for any reason.  Even spending the 20 seconds to ‘style’ my hair before work, or my once a week 5 minuet shave is sometimes too much.  Now, I am not saying that I am going to start to have an eating disorder, damage myself or hurt myself more than I can see as logical and reasonable (think about it… workouts can be HELL).  But I can start to understand what some of the formerly mentioned bloggers are talking about.  Diets of 1000 calories, 90 min work out sessions… daily… all for what? A skinner self.  Now, I, again, am not going to go to that extreme.  After all… I have a beautiful wife and an daughter-to-be to think of and take care of.  But something NEEDS to change.  So, my next blog will have my logic and break-down.

Catch-Up: Part 3

It may have been only one or two nightmares to blame but there are times that I can feel the pressure of the surmounting fatherhood making sure that I remember that there is a clock that is ticking that is not my own.  There are moments, ever so fleeting, that there is a pang of worry.  The heart skipping a beat as the cry of a child in the distance. The stomach dropping at the realization that there is less than three months.  The excitement over the gifts, the items, the ‘stuff’ a constant.   But then I come back to the reality that I am going to be a father.  That in a few weeks time I am going to be able to hold my little girl in my arms, dancing with her, singing to her, talking to her and watching her grow.  All that time… she will be watching me, learning from me, examining me.  I know that these darling eyes will not be the eyes of malice, but hopefully of wonder.  But what is there for me to teach her, what will she learn from me? There are many things that I would like to make sure that she knows about me, about her amazing mother, and about life.  But there are things that I do not want her to know about… not yet… preferably never.  There are the other nightmares of my life hence that I will continue to fight with such vigor as to prevent them when she is here… a fight that I have been having for years, just with a new standard.  There is so much good that can be in this life, and that is what I want her to know… and it is the fear of not being able to show her the good that has been picking at me lately… oh well, enough of this rant I guess.  I AM GOING TO BE A DAD, I am scared out of my mind and fear can shake us to the core sometimes… just be mindful of what falls out.

Baby Alert

Well, here we are waiting for our second ultrasound… and waiting…. and waiting. As if this last month has not been stressfull enough, sitting and waiting for our names to be called so we can make sure our little girl is ok is AWESOME. Granted, forgetting to pull out cash for parking, and when en route to the bank remembering the flip camcorder was still at home (having to turn around and get it) fighting lunch traffic to downtown, driving through the ENTIRE parking garage only to find it wad full, going to valet parking… I then rushed upstairs expecting to be late. I fully expected to turn the corner into the waiting room, scan the sea of faces, and then find that my wife had been removed by security because she refused to go back without me. INSTEAD, here we both sit waiting to be called. Our appointment was 21 min ago……… let the stress continue to build, the fear creep into the back of my throat, the anger pulsate at my temples, and my wifes hand slowly crush mine….. more when I can.

And then there our old friend fear….

So, the big week is here…. So much going on that, yes, I feel like I am drowning from time to time.  My wife has her centering pregnancy group meeting this week.  This group is comprised of many women that have roughly the same due dates.  They check in with each other and see how their pregnancies are going.  I think that this is a brilliant idea.  This allows some of the women who are going through their first pregnancies to find support in what some of the other women are experiencing.  It is also awesome that we get to hear our little girls heartbeat once a month, and are able to gauge my wife’s progress.  The following day we are going back for a follow up ultrasound.  With the numbers not quite adding up we (the doctors, my wife and myself) deemed it important to give it a few weeks and see what is going on.  Though the tension and stress of thinking that we were at 21 weeks and our daughter measuring at 17-18 weeks has never really gone away, up until last night I think that I have done a good job not letting that stress surface.  However, now that the week is upon us… I find that all of the bottled up stress and worry is hitting me like a ton of bricks.  I am CERTAIN that things are fine, but I still worry.  This is my wife and my little girl that we are talking about.  I know that I must be positive for so many reasons… but tonight I am finding it rather difficult.  I have been under a large amount of stress at work, I am falling behind in school, and there is just so much going on that I find it hard (if not sometimes impossible) to keep my head above water.  Just a little venting I suppose.

I AM GOING TO BE A DAD, and I am scared out of my mind.

Family Time this weekend!

We had an unexpected and amazing surprise this weekend.  One of my brothers called and mentioned that his family was in town this weekend and was wondering what we were up too.  They recently had their second child, a beautiful girl.  Sure of the fact that my brother wanted an excuse to show off my niece, and as we (my wife and I) were dying to meet her… they came over yesterday.  Ladies and gentlemen, first and foremost, my nephew (their oldest) is a beautiful and amazing little boy.  He has gotten so big and it was fun to play with him… trust me the time flew by as I was lost in the world of my nephew, playing trucks and peek-a-boo around to coffee table.  My brother and sister (I do not like the term “in-law” when it comes to siblings) have done such an amazing job raising him.  then the time came that I was able to hold my little 2 week old niece.  That little girl consumed me.  Holding her in my warms I felt so big and so small all at once.  She fussed a little, the snuggled in.  perhaps my heart was feeling to foreshadowing, but it was surreal and amazing.  It was a little hard to give up holding her so that my wife could have her turn, but worth it.  There is something that I have noticed about my wife since we started dating.  We went on this “across the entire country” flight and trip so that I could meet her family and while we were visiting there was this moment that she was able to hold her little nephew.  There was no doubt in my mind then, and there still is not to this day, that when I looked at her holding that little baby (and again today with our niece) that my wife is going to be a beautiful and amazing mother.  There was just something about the picture of that moment, and to see it again today was breathtaking.  The hard part about being so close to family is that when they leave… it always feels too soon.  But I was able to sit back and reflect for a bit on what it was like to hold my little niece.  In doing so, I came to this conclusion; I AM GOING TO BE A DAD, I am scared out of my mind, and even a big oaf like me finds peace and surreal joy in holding an infant.

p.s. It was also brought to my attention by my amazing wife that perhaps posting on my iPad, in bed, in the middle of the night was not a ‘brilliant’ idea.  I say this to let all of you know that I have gone back and edited the posting titled “Toastmasters”.  Feel free to give it a re-read.

Getting back into the swing of things…..

So, on Tuesday we are reaching the half way point in this amazing ride of becoming parents.  As I mentioned there has been some changes that have caused for the temporary lack of energy, as well as the lack of posting.  But, as anticipated, there seems to be a bit of a revival taking place in the energy that I am able to maintain through a given day.  This move has been the source of some great excitement for us as we unpack, go through the things that we have collected during the last (almost) 11 months of marriage, and are working at making this barren apartment a home.  My wife is still having some slight issues with some of the textures of the foods that she is trying to eat, and that can be a little funny to experience on my end.  Not that I would laugh, but her reactions to certain foods are priceless.  I think that she is starting to gain some of her energy back, and I cannot get over how impressed I am with all that she is doing.  Still trying to get back on track is only part of the fun.  We recently picked out some design and color ideas for our nursery.  We are anxiously awaiting for the next 6 days to fly by so we can make it to the doctor’s appointment at which time we will be doing our first ultrasound!  For the men reading this, I want to take a moment to discuss some of what I am feeling about this event.  I am willing to wager that some of you may have been through this, and may have some additional insight.  Some of you may be going through this, and can feel the same emotions that I currently coalesce in.  As for those of you that have not yet gone down this road… take note.

In six long days I am going to get the opportunity to not only hear my child’s heartbeat, but to see my child for the first time.  There is so much that has been running though my head, predominantly the action of love.  Regardless of so many things, I have loved this child since the moment my wife and I looked and saw the word “pregnant”.  Love never ceasing is what I have for this child, and I long for the chance to begin to show this to them when I get the chance to meet them.   Though I know that I do all I can now, from talking to the baby when I get the chance, to praying over the baby at night, I am honestly excited about the chance to do more.  Then, there is my long time friend, fear.  In six short days I will be able to see the child that I will be responsible for, that I will be the father of, that will be watching every little thing that I do, and listening to every little word I say (until adolescence) and figuring out what this whole crazy thing called life is.  Will I do well enough, will I work hard enough, will I play often enough, will l love enough.  These are just a few of the questions that wake me up in the middle of the night from time to time.

I am, as mentioned, getting back into the swing of things, and hope that the frequency as well as depth of my postings will increase in short order.  I AM GOING TO BE A DAD, I am scared out of my mind, and I never thought it possible to be ecstatically terrified to meet someone.