Categories
Children life

Musings of a New Mom

Parenthood is fulfilling. It’s surreal. It’s a blessing. Parenthood is frustrating. And exhausting. And anxiety fueling. Parenting, especially being a mom, is a never ending responsibility. Even when I’m not with her, I can’t help but wonder what she’s up to. And she’s only 10 months old. She’s not even able to leave the house or do anything on her own yet. How will it be in 10 more months? In five years? In ten years?

Being a mom is objectively the most fulfilling lifestyle I’ve incorporated. It’s enhanced my belief in the universe and a higher power. I don’t believe everyone should be a parent, nor that it is everyone’s purpose. I think the conversation about having children is too nuanced for this post, though I touch a little on it here. I do think being a mother is meant to be a part of my journey. Experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, and becoming a parent has given me a new perspective on life. It’s caused me to view other parents in a different light and has made it even easier for me to extend grace to others. It’s similar to how when you’re a child you view adults on a pedestal, looking up to them, only to grow up and realize everyone is really just trying their best and struggling in at least one area of their lives. There’s a different level of understanding of what parenthood is after being an active parent and caretaker.

Something I learned as a parent is that there really isn’t a right way to parent. Objectively there are “wrong” ways, because to a point human development is a science, we experience emotions, and trauma is everlasting, but there is no clear cut, one size fits all, way to parenting. People will shame and judge for minuscule things (like formula versus breast milk) and half of those people won’t even have kids of their own. What’s important is being active, present, and supportive for your child in whatever way works for your lifestyle and family.

Being a mom has given a new meaning to the word sacrifice, especially in the midst of covid. I spent nine months sacrificing my body for her. I’ll spend the rest of my life making decisions I hope benefits both of us. I’ve said “no” to outings I would have otherwise done in a heartbeat. Being a mom has made me more thoughtful and intentional in my actions. It’s made me want and hopefully succeed in being more present in my day to day life and spend less time on my phone and inside my inner world. It’s made me understand and become even more appreciative of the sacrifices and choices my parents have made throughout our lives to give my brother and I the lives they’ve given us.

Parenthood makes me anxious. Because what if one day she just stops breathing when she’s sleeping? (Luckily I think we’re past the SIDS phase). Or what if she hits her head too many times when she’s playing? Or what if I’m not doing enough to teach her and am stifling her development? What if I’m not spending enough time with her? And in this way, parenting really is a sort of projection. It forces you to look at yourself and your fears and your guilt and your boundaries. It forces you to look at how you were raised and decide how you want to parent.

Sometimes, I find myself comparing my daughter’s growth to the babies I’ve seen born around the same time. Sometimes I wonder if other people parent in similar ways than I do or if I’m just completely off mark in some respects. Sometimes, I feel guilty the few times I’m out with friends without her. Sometimes, I wish I had a little more free time and space to be carefree away from responsibilities.

In a few years there has to be studies on the effect the pandemic has made on babies and pregnancy. Being pregnant during a pandemic was experiencing two traumas at once. Being pregnant during a pandemic after graduating college, I could argue was experiencing three. I was experiencing three major changes in my life with little face to face contact with others. It felt like out of nowhere I popped up with a baby because few people actually saw me pregnant. Few people knew until late in my second trimester. And now I have a baby and we’re still in this weird standby with Covid, so few people have seen her in person. One of my friends was asking for more pictures of her, and it’s made me realize outside of social media, I really don’t think to send out pictures or updates of her in texts. I was thinking about why, and it is really for no other reason than the fact that I experienced pregnancy pretty isolated from people outside of my household. And now that the world is sort of opening up and I’m less isolated, I have to link the two realities.

The craziest part about parenting is seeing my little girl develop and do new things she wasn’t doing before. Before having a baby, I have been around babies and toddlers and children, but in their separate stages. I had never seen human development day by day with my own eyes before. Now she’s clapping and trying to stand all the time. She recognizes certain words. She knows her name. In ten plus months my baby went from a solely eating, sleeping, pooping newborn who couldn’t lift her head to a full blown baby who is starting to eat solids, who can crawl, and can sit up and stand by herself. Babies’ development is so drastic in the first year and it’s amazing to see it play out with my own eyes. She’s really growing and learning. She’s really almost a toddler.

Time has been moving so differently since the pandemic and my pregnancy. Sometimes, I worry I will blink and she’ll already be twenty one. She’s only a few months away from being a year, and I still look at her newborn pictures with nostalgia. It feels like it happened so long ago. It makes me want to freeze time.

Around this time (October 27th), a post has been going around Twitter from a mother who was struggling and unhappy in an attempt to shame her. I don’t have a picture of the post but it was a call for help. She was expressing some regrets and frustration about the reality of motherhood for her. And as parents, specifically mothers, it’s worth mentioning that society doesn’t often extend grace to us the way we deserve. The idea of being a super mom has become propaganda. People use the fact the most of the time motherhood is a choice as a weapon against mothers. People expect mothers to be at the top of their game all the time and to care for their kids without complaint or mentioning how their life has changed. (Please note, they don’t expect the same from fathers though).

Most people don’t genuinely know how or have the thought or time to be supportive of mothers. Unless you yourself are an active parent or caregiver, you will never fully understand that amount of physical, mental, and emotional energy that goes into caring for someone else. (Caring for pets can bring similar feelings but it’s different). And when you’re caring for someone else, you’re also caring for yourself and handling your own responsibilities too. That’s double on your plate, assuming you’re only responsible for one other person. I don’t know how people with multiple babies and toddlers do it. I don’t know how truly single mothers do it. I don’t know how teen mothers do it. I have newfound respect for parents and caregivers honestly. I can’t stress that enough.

It sucks that mothers, including myself, feel the need to shower the benefits of motherhood before talking about the harder parts. Why do we have to have the disclaimer– My kid is the best thing that has happened to me– before saying it hurt when she head butted me in the mouth while throwing a tantrum and caused my lip to bleed. Why do we feel so shamed to talk about the frustrations of raising and guiding another human being? Parenting is hard! You have to look at yourself and your boundaries and remember that your baby or toddler isn’t intentionally being harmful when they do hurtful things. One minute my baby is cute and precious and the next she’s testing my patience. I roll my eyes at every tantrum and cherish every moment of affection. No matter how she acts, I still love her the same and will always love her with my entire heart.

Being a parent is a living oxymoron. When she’s fussy, I beg for her to take a nap. And when she’s asleep, I want her to wake up. My daughter makes me roll my eyes when she cries because she can’t chew on my glasses and in a moment can make me smile when she rests her head on me. She makes me laugh when she has a giggle fit. She makes me frustrated when she bites me cause she’s teething. She makes me proud when she babbles back in conversation and makes me grin when she starts bouncing to a song. And when I want a break and leave her with one of my family members, I have the urge to check in after a few minutes. This goes back to the guilt of experiencing things for and by myself. It’s like when it’s summer you want it to be winter. When it’s winter, you want it to be summer. It’s probably best just to embrace the moment.

The reality is once you become an active parent or caregiver, few things are ever just about you anymore. The only time I have completely by myself is in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep and on my commute to work. Any plans made requires approval for someone else to make sure they will watch the baby. Before, I wanted to succeed in my career; now I have to continue gaining experience so that I can thrive in it. Being a mom, for me, means she comes first. There’s a reason airplanes instruct parents to help themselves first, in case of an emergency; that’s not the instinct. Being a mom means I make sure she’s settled before I eat or leave for work. It means she’s asleep or someone’s with her before I go to sleep. It means I think twice before making plans and I give myself an extra hour to get ready to leave the house. It’s means I rush when I do anything that takes my attention away from her.

Being a parent can take away from your individuality. Children need pretty constant attention in the early years of childhood. Everything is about the baby for at least the first year- I’m not sure when that ends. Especially when the baby is a newborn, people will check in on the baby, before checking in on you. They’ll understandably ask to see the baby when making plans with you. And when other people see you taking time away from your child, whether they themselves are parents or not, they tend to have something negative to say. Again, this is more so directed at mothers than fathers.

I have support, so it’s not like I can never have time to myself, but it doesn’t shake the guilt that comes with even the thought of taking time for myself. It’s been ten almost eleven months and I’ve never been away from her for an entire day. The idea of leaving her for that long is still hard. My baby didn’t ask to be born into this world; the least I can do is be present for her. This doesn’t mean that I and other mothers and parents are not still our own people though. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve time away sometimes just because we chose to have children. It is so important to me that I and others don’t lose ourselves in parenthood and instead let it enhance us and became just another one of our identities.

My priorities, mindset, and perspective has completely changed from a year ago since becoming pregnant and a mother. Creating a happy and healthy life for my daughter and I is my goal in life. She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t think I can truly express how much I love her with words, even when she gets on my nerves.

Categories
Children life Pregnancy Self Love and Personal Growth

3 Months Post-Partum

It’s been three months, actually closer to four months by the time this is posted, since I gave birth. Giving birth via c-section was an experience to say the least. It was my third turning point on the ride that is the idea and reality of having children. (My first turning point was knowing I want children one day. The second was finding out I was pregnant). What came after were the first days of the rest of my life raising another human being.

My baby didn’t open her eyes for the first couple of weeks because the light was too bright. She was used to the darkness of the womb. For I don’t know how long, she’d eat and poop and pee and sleep. Then she’d wake up and cry because she’s hungry and drift off back to sleep, only to wake up and cry because she fell asleep too soon and was still hungry. Then, one day, she opened her eyes and it’s become a daily thing every time she is awake.

The thing I didn’t know until this experience is that parents lack sleep because babies need to eat every 2-4 hours, including during the middle of the night and early in the morning. If the baby doesn’t wake up by the 3-4 hour mark, you’re supposed to wake them up, and try to get them to eat. Call it efficient, or anxiety-fueled, or the steps a new mom would take, but for the first couple of weeks I set timers to ensure she was eating as often as recommended, especially at night, to make sure she was gaining weight. I don’t set timers anymore, mainly because she’s good at waking herself up when she’s hungry.

In the beginning, she would wake up anytime she was put down. She constantly wanted to be in someone’s arm and could tell when she wasn’t. As time goes on she gets more comfortable not being held all the time, though she prefers it. She still sleeps longer when she’s close to someone. You can tell when she’s knocked out cause her mouth will be open as she sleeps.

Week by week she stays awake a little longer and sleeps a little less. One day she smiled at me for the first time for no particular reason. Another day she laughed while she was awake, versus in her sleep, which was the only time I’d heard her laugh before. She tries to climb up me when we’re sitting down and bawls her eyes out when I clear out the mucus and boogers from her nose.

She’s developed different cries when she needs different things. She whines when she’s tired and is fighting sleep. She smiles when she sees a ceiling fan and the artwork on the walls. She’s curious when she’s in a new environment. She gets excited when she sees me or the friendly and familiar faces of our immediate family. She’s starting to babble more often and in response to us talking to her. She laughs when she’s amused and likes to stick her tongue out at us when she’s feeling playful. She chews on everything, especially her hands. She’s even trying to hold her own bottle.

In three months my baby has grown so much. She’s gained weight and gotten longer. Her eyebrows and eyelashes have grown in. Her umbilical cord fell off and her belly button, which was protruding, is slowly getting smaller and going in. She’s getting more hair on top of her head, which changes texture week by week. She’s gone up in diaper sizes. It’s surreal seeing her grow and noticing the changes in her physicality, personality, and development. She’s growing so fast it’s unreal. It makes my heart melt and ache.

I can talk about her all day. She’s allowed me to experience a different type of love. She’s allowed me to look at other children and other parents with more awe, respect, and understanding than I have in the past. Knowing she came from me is still surreal. She means more to me than I can put into words.

The c-section recovery was hard for me. My incision didn’t fully heal until 10 weeks, 2 1/2 months, after my delivery. It took 10 weeks, 2 1/2 months, for me to be cleared to exercise and go back to work.

Those were hard weeks because I couldn’t be self-sufficient. In the first couple of weeks it hurt to move, sleep, and laugh. It felt impossible to get comfortable. My autoimmune disease was also being a nuisance and I wasn’t cleared to breastfeed with the medication I needed to be on. That being said, I had to make the transition from breastfeeding to formula, which was something I wasn’t originally planning to do so soon.

Breastfeeding in itself is hard work. Breasts get engorged with milk which hurts, so you pump to store, which only stimulates more milk production. I had to ride out the engorging when I made the decision to stop breastfeeding because I was trying to lessen my supply. With breastfeeding it can be hard to get the baby to latch. Though my daughter didn’t have too much trouble with that, with the pain I was in, finding a comfortable position for the both of us was challenging. Also, being woken up every 2 hours, which was how often my daughter woke up to eat at first, was exhausting. It also hurt my nipples when she latched; nipple cream comes in handy with chafing.

I was sad about not being able to breastfeed for as long as I wanted, and held it off for as long as I could. On the upside, once I switched I didn’t have to deal with those challenges of breastfeeding anymore. Also, I have full autonomy of my body back. I can eat and drink anything without worrying if it is safe for the baby. I feel mobile again. I said bye bye to the nausea and the vomiting almost immediately after giving birth.

2 1/2 months later, about a month ago, I started working again. It was the first time I was away from my baby since giving birth. (And I started working sooner than I could have. I could have gone back in May). I mistakenly came back earlier than I was ready for and felt lost. Covid plays a role in all this too. I was on leave and social distancing for so long, it was hard to get into the rhythm of being around strangers and acquaintances. I got annoyed easier, especially when dealing with rude people. I would see children and think of my own baby. My hormones felt all over the place. I mean, I was still and still am producing milk. My breasts leak a little every once and a while and my period has yet to make an appearance. Needless to say, going back to work was a lot.

I rode it out though and am getting used to spending time away from my baby. Still, being a new mom and having a kid who is only a couple months old came with some baggage. I had some guilt about leaving her for work and not being home when she wakes up in the morning. I have trips planned without her to support my individuality but am worried about leaving and missing her. I constantly want to be around her. Sometimes, I need a break and am given one, only to miss her and want her back.

I also experienced anxiety specific to being a new mom. It gets better as time goes on. In the beginning I had a lot of anxiety throughout the day when I wasn’t with her, even if she was just a room away. I had/have anxiety about dropping her. Sometimes, the anxiety has affected my sleep; I wake up instantly thinking about her and go to check on her.

When people say it takes a village, they really aren’t lying. Raising another human being is a 24 hour gig. There’s no days or time off. And even though I go to work and have vacations planned without her, she was, is, and will always be there in the back of my mind. I’m so grateful for my parents and my brother who are always down to babysit when I’m working and watch her when I’m running an errand or sleeping. I can tell they love her as much as I do and that she feels the same about them. I know this experience would be ten times harder and more draining if I didn’t have their help and support.

I will say it is a little weird to call her my daughter still, mainly because of social distancing and the fact that I moved back to my hometown. And although I love speaking about her and my experience and sharing pictures, I don’t talk about her much to others daily, besides mentioning her existence, unless they bring her up first and ask questions. Most people I know don’t have kids and are in the “fuck them kids” stage of their life. Plus, I know it could get a little annoying. It’s also wild that I’m meeting people who will never know me when I wasn’t a mom. Like, every person I meet from now on will always know and see me as a mom among my other identities and qualities versus the person I was before I was pregnant. It’s wild and it just reaffirms that I’m in a new stage of my life. Because, let’s be real; having kids changes you. It’s changed me and given me a new outlook on life.

Society also has a weird thing against moms, especially single moms, especially black single moms. I don’t know exactly how to describe this disdain. I’m sure it’s rooted in misogyny and misogynoir. But there’s this pressure to be a “good” mom whatever that means. There’s pressure to give birth a certain way and to breastfeed. There’s pressure to go back to work quickly. There’s pressure to spend all of your time with your baby without any breaks or time without them. There’s pressure to endure a nine month pregnancy, birth a child, and raise a kid for the rest of your and their life while working and to make it appear as if all those things are done flawlessly, without breaking a sweat. There’s pressure to act a certain way because you’re a mother now. There’s pressure to raise your kids a certain way, especially by people who don’t even have children. There’s pressure to lose all of the baby weight and to lose it all quickly. Regardless, I have to remind myself that I am more than a mom and more than a single black mom. They are parts of me, but not all of me. My life encompasses my daughter’s, but they are still two separate lives. I don’t have to live up to the imaginary standards society places onto motherhood.

The hardest parts about being a mom so far has been the change in sleeping habits, accepting the change in my weight and my body, and the new mom anxiety. The best parts about being a mom are watching her grow before my eyes, experiencing this type of love, and honestly just her entire existence. These three/ four months have been a whirlwind. They’ve also been life changing and worthwhile. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything and it’s exciting to see where life will take us from here.

Categories
life Pregnancy

Let’s Talk About: Childbirth

After a long 39 weeks, I finally welcomed my baby girl into the world. For the sake of the transparency that I offer on my blog about topics I discuss, here’s what I have to say about childbirth, based on my experience.

For some reason I haven’t thoroughly researched, there’s discourse surrounding the way people give birth. I think generally speaking it doesn’t matter which way a person gives birth. It should be a choice made by the pregnant person. No one should be shamed for the way they give birth. It’s divisive for no reason.

There are benefits to both vaginal birth and c-sections. I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other; each one brings about its own risks and effects. Some are shamed for choosing to have a c section as if it’s not a “real” birth. Some are shamed for using pain medication during a vaginal birth. I find all of the discourse arbitrary. All I advise is you research both options and the use of pain medication as thoroughly as you can, talk to your doctor about your concerns, and make a decision from there.

To put it bluntly, childbirth isn’t easy. A pregnant body is able to change to carry a baby and deliver it, but that doesn’t make it easier or less painful. People downplay the dangers and pain that come with childbirth because there’s a beautiful outcome. Your brain also releases chemicals to make you forgot just how awful the experience was. I was asked by some friends how I rate the overall pregnancy and childbirth experience. I rate it a 2/10. It wasn’t fun for me at all, but I also shockingly would do it all again. I look at my daughter and would repeat it all again in a heartbeat.

If you don’t know by now, I’m not going to sugarcoat my thoughts or experience surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. If you’re looking for something to ease your mind surrounding this, don’t keep reading. Look somewhere else. I’m not saying this to be intimidating. Everyone’s experiences are different and there’s no point in psyching yourself out based on my own experience when you’re looking for comfort.

To me, childbirth is a trauma regardless of the way you deliver your baby. Vaginal birth comes with hours of labor and contractions and hours of pushing a six pound baby out of your vagina. For the people who do it without pain medication, I salute you, cause that could not be me. C-sections are quicker and less painful in terms of the initial delivery, but have other effects that don’t make it any less painful of a process.

I haven’t heard many people’s experiences with childbirth. Because of this, I will share mine. There shouldn’t be a mystery surrounding childbirth and pregnancy. I wholeheartedly believe it needs to be discussed with more authenticity. I think the reason it isn’t is so people don’t get turned off of having kids.

I got a C-section because of my autoimmune disease, but if I had a real choice, I would probably still choose a C-section. The idea of vaginal birth is too traumatizing to me; it scares me, especially when considering the tears that you can experience alongside of the delivery. The C-section I got was also traumatic in a different way though, so you really just need to pick what’s best for you and your situation and know that the pain and discomfort is temporary. The end will all be worth it.

My C-section was scheduled. The date was chosen by my Obgyn based on my due date. I researched what I could to have some sort of understanding about what I was going to experience, but stopped when I realized it was making me more anxious. I couldn’t eat when I woke up. I got to the hospital a couple hours earlier than the scheduled time. They gave me IVs, went through a bunch of health questions, discussed rules surrounding Covid, answered any of my questions, listened to the baby’s heartbeat, monitored me for contractions, and took my vitals. My c section got pushed back because of an emergency one. When the time came, they walked me to the operating room.

It’s cold in there, and not just because they regulate the temperature for the baby’s entrance. Everything’s sterile, the room is bright, and the instruments for the surgery were extra shiny. There was also a pediatrician, my obgyn, another obgyn who was helping with the procedure, an anesthesiologist, and three nurses compacted with me in this overly bright room. Eventually my mom would join us. Luckily, everyone was pretty welcoming.

The first thing that happened was the spinal injection. You have to hunch your back for the anesthesiologist to find the right spot to inject. I felt a spark rush through my thigh that scared me and brought tears to my eyes. The rest of the injection didn’t hurt too much. Almost instantly my legs felt tingly. They lied me on the table and hooked me up to more IVs and a heart rate monitor. They told me I shouldn’t feel any pain but I would feel touching, tugging, and pulling.

They did their various tests to ensure I couldn’t feel pain. I also couldn’t feel the difference between hot or cold below my chest; the blocker really worked. As I’ve said in my previous post, I’ve suffered from nausea my whole pregnancy. I was nauseous waiting for the c-section partly because there was no food in my stomach. The epidural is known to make people nauseous. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t move my body. I couldn’t hear out of one of my ears and when I told them, they assured me it wasn’t because of the epidural, that it was probably because of the environment. I realized I was having a little panic attack.

I tried to swallow the nausea but I couldn’t. I mustered enough strength to tell the anesthesiologist I was nauseous. He handed me a bag and I proceeded to throw up in it. But I couldn’t lift my head, so I was throwing up out of the side of my mouth. I barely made it into the bag. As this is happening my mom got brought it. The procedure had already started. My hearing came back, I continued to throw up, and I tried to stay calm. My mom and the anesthesiologist checked in with me periodically to make sure I was okay.

At some point I was warned I would start to feel some tugging. I could feel it as they reached in to pull out my baby. Before I knew it I heard her crying. I felt like crying but because of the shock of the situation I couldn’t. My mom went to cut the umbilical cord and talk with the pediatrician who did a routine check up. The doctors finished closing me up. I was too nauseous to hold my daughter, but I got to see her close by once the check up was done. After the procedure, they moved me to the recovery room where I stayed with my daughter and my mom for a while. They continued tracking my vitals and those of my newborn. I still felt out of it from the procedure.

People downplay the fact a c-section is a surgery. The spinal blocker didn’t wear off until the next day. I had a catheter put in and when it was taken out the next day I had to remind myself how to pee. It hurt to laugh, sneeze and cough, sit down, stand up, walk and do anything that required abdominal muscles. It’s been about two weeks since my surgery and it still hurts to do some of those things. After a c-section you’re instructed not to do anything pretty much. You can’t push or pull anything. You can’t lift anything heavier than your baby. You can’t do housework. You can’t drive. You can’t exercise. You can’t go up and down stairs too much. For me it was hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

Alongside the surgery recovery, is the recovery from childbirth and adjusting to a newborn in general. You start bleeding again as your uterus begins to shrink. You can feel cramping and contractions still. The colostrum from your breasts transitions to milk. The hormones are still there. The risk of postpartum depression exists. You learn more and more about your baby and engage in taking care of them day by day.

Childbirth is a whole spectacle no matter how you delivery. A lot goes into it and the recovery. Officially it’ll take about 6 weeks to be fully recovered from the c section. This is the most in depth I could explain

Categories
life Self Love and Personal Growth

Obligatory End of the Year Post

Time is an illusion, but the start of a new year can be symbolic if you choose to let it be. What better day to draft my last post of the year than on December 21st, the start of the Winter Solstice. This time period can be thought of as the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. If you enjoy this sort of symbolism, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and set groundwork for the next one.

Ah, 2020. Where to even begin. It feels like the first year where everyone around the world was simultaneously forced to slow down, look around, and reset. Some countries fought this harder than others. 2020 in the United States was a mess for various reasons including Covid, Trump, and the presidential election. Many admirable people, both in and out of the limelight, that will have a lasting impact, have died. Everyday life for people changed in one way or another. This paradoxical year has both flown by and been the longest year, at least of my life. so far.

In 2020, we started a new decade. I achieved some of the goals, big and small, that I set for myself the previous year. I got promoted at my job. I finished my last college course and received my college diploma. I got pregnant and moved back to my hometown. I am lucky to have turned 23 and still be surviving a pandemic.

Reflecting on the year, a lot happened but it also feels like not much did at all. Some of the lessons from 2020 I have taken away are reminders from 2019. Some have been expanded upon. Here’s a few of them.

Be Thankful

If you don’t already, you should take more time to be thankful for what you have. I said the same thing in 2019. It’s something to be more conscious of. The parts of life that stress us tend to need our attention. Because of this, it is normal and easy to get caught up in the stressors of life. It is important, though, to actively recognize what we have going for us, especially this year, amidst so much tragedy. This does not mean our lives are perfect. This does not mean there are not problems that need fixing or uncontrollable situations that have or will knock us down. This is not promoting toxic positivity. It is just a reminder that chances are you or I have something someone else wishes for. It is a reminder not to take things for granted.

Toxic Positivity is Bad

Pretending like things are okay when they aren’t will leave you worse off than accepting you are upset. It is okay not to be positive all of the time. It is okay to say something is shitty if it is. Life is all about balance. Sometimes we just need to cry it out and dwell in our sadness. Sometimes we need to stew in our anger before we forgive, if we even decide to forgive. We feel what we feel and that’s human. (How we react may not be justifiable though.) Don’t force yourself to put on a show nor let anyone make you feel as though you’re complaining when you’re expressing how you feel.

Two Things Can Coexist

We are so used to viewing things in labels and boxes. Often times, concepts are explained or understood as this or that. An example that I grew up with is the idea that evolution and God are conflicting theories. Now some things innately have a line drawn in the sand. How can you be pro-life but believe in the death penalty? Those two ideas are conflicting since the death penalty takes away life.

However, I would argue that lots of concepts are not so easily conflicting. Covid spreading in the US can be the result of both government incompetence and human selfishness. If you believe in God, God could have been the designer of evolution. You can hate capitalism and still contribute to it. You can agree the political system needs to change and still vote. Etcetera, etcetera. Life is simple and complex, depending on how you look at it. Not everything is simple enough to be knocked into boxes when concepts can be a spectrum and/or situational and/or dependent on your own ethics and values. This is proved by the spectrum of sexuality, the ethics behind the trolley problem, and the age old question “Is it wrong to break into someone’s house for food? What if it’s to feed your starving family?”

Perspective Matters- One Size Does Not Fit All

I like to think there is the absolute truth and then there are the perspectives of the people involved. Sometimes, those perspectives line up with the truth. One person or both people can be completely off. Both can align with the truth to an extent. One (or both if they agree) can be completely right. We have a tendency to twist the words and situations of other people and project our own insecurities, experiences, and assumptions onto them. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we aren’t. Some of the time, our judgements do not matter.

Since two things can coexist, one size does not fit all. Perspective and intentions matter. “Money does not buy happiness” can mean that money won’t solve all your problems and instantly make you happy. At the same time, having money will mean no more of your concerns will come from a lack of money. Your current problems would be solved and you’d be happy. Your viewpoint and objectivity will determine which way you view the statement.

Say What You Need to Say

I am a big believer that it is important to get what you need to say off your chest. I feel like every year at least one post mentions communication. As I get older, I have come to see the importance of clear communication. I have learned to sit on my feelings and thoughts about a situation and communicate them if they continue to affect me. Whether it is a good or bad thing is subjective, but I always feel better after I say what it is I need to, whether positive or negative, whether it is received and received well or not. Whatever happens after that happens and it is important to be willing to accept and deal with the consequences of your words. If you’re not willing to, you shouldn’t say it.

Speaking up reinforces the idea that your feelings matter. It can clear up any confusion. It shows you parts of who the other party involved is. Just remember, other people’s feelings matter too. If they express discomfort with your words or tone, consider shifting your approach if you want to salvage the relationship.

People Come and Go

I used to be a pact person. I attached myself to people and, in doing so, subconsciously refused to be comfortable with and learn more about myself. In college, I went on a journey of self discovery and slowly grew out of the need to unhealthily attach myself to others. The mindset did have residual affects though.

It seems like a lesson I would’ve learned by now, but not everyone you encounter will or is meant to stay in your life forever. Social media makes it hard to forget that people come and go and that’s natural. Friendships begin, end, or become distant with time. Acquaintances and past coworkers move on with their lives, as do you, when the common denominator changes. In some ways, that is a blessing.

That’s not to say some relationships won’t be long or even lifelong. I’m still friends with people I met eleven years ago, in middle and high school. My dad is still friends with people he met in middle school. My mom still talks with her college friends often. I believe I have met and will continue to meet people for a reason, but not all of them are and will be meant to stay.

Boundaries are Necessary

Establishing healthy boundaries with people is a necessity. Knowing what lines you don’t want crossed and what lines not to cross can prevent a lot of arguments. It helps everyone involved feel comfortable and respected and be on the same page. Learn what your boundaries are. and then stick with them. Some of them form with time. Some are specific to certain people or situations. A boundary could be not lending any more money to a person who keeps asking. It could be not being available all the time. It could be not allowing someone to talk to or treat you a certain way. It could be ignoring work calls when you’re off the clock. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for making those boundaries. Don’t let anyone guilt you into allowing them to cross those boundaries. Don’t let them make you feel bad for enforcing those boundaries.

Anxiety Can Be Manageable

My anxiety became a little more constant at the end of the year with my unexpected pregnancy and all of its symptoms, Covid, the shutdown and decline of the hospitality industry (my major), and the bubble that comes with social distancing. With anxiety it can be second nature to have a spiral of thoughts that lead to a wave of fear and worry. I talked to a mental health coach, courtesy of my job benefits, and learned the root of where my anxiety comes from: the unknown of the future and not being or feeling in control.

She taught me to actively be aware of and change my thoughts when I felt overwhelmed. We discussed ways to cut off the spiraling thoughts and shift directions by literally doing something else instead. She helped me see that, like with concepts, with myself and my life, it doesn’t have to be this or that, all or nothing. You can start working on parts of a goal without finishing the whole thing in one sitting. Having a few setbacks doesn’t mean everything is going to shit. Your projects don’t have to be 100% perfect to be shared, especially on the first go around.

Most importantly, she helped me realize I need to be more aware of and live in the present. Worrying about the future, though seemingly natural to me, does nothing. Doing so is based off of assumptions, not absolute truth or reality. It wastes time and energy and forces you to live through a situation twice if it happens to come to fruition. Accepting and releasing fear, accepting whatever comes, knowing I’m equipped enough to handle it, and believing everything will work out in my favor are all things I’ve been and will continue to work on.

We’re All Different

Not everyone will treat situations the same as you. Not everyone will treat you the way you would treat them. Releasing the expectation that people will handle things the same way you do makes life easier and will help prevent the feeling of betrayal.

Also, the fact that we’re all different plays into the subjectivity of situations. Some people are content to be in the situations they are in. Just because you say you wouldn’t be or want to be in that situation doesn’t mean a) you won’t ever be there and b) that person is unhappy in that situation. We all need to work on not projecting, assuming we’re always right, and being judgey of others.

Final Thoughts

A few more things to leave you with before I end the last post of 2020.

1. Clean up your social media, especially by unfollowing celebrities. It can help your mindset. Also set app limits.

2. Set goals for the new year. It’ll help you get an idea of how you want the year to go.

3. Celebrate your wins. It’s not bragging as long as you watch your tone. You really accomplished that, possibly in a pandemic. It’s worth celebrating.

4. People’s opinions really don’t matter. It can feel like they do but they only hold as much power as you give them. At the end of the day, it’s your life. If you’re cool with it and it’s not offensive or hurting anyone, including yourself, do and say what you want.

5. People can make it seem like you are different than you are to others. This is on a case by case basis and you have to be able to accurately hold yourself accountable to discern appropriately. Still, sometimes people will paint you in a different light than you actually are in. Sometimes, it’s to make themselves feel better about how they acted or treated you. Sometimes, there’s confusion on intentions and wires get crossed. Sometimes, they’re just assholes who want to feel like the victim because they can’t take responsibility for their actions.

6. What you accept is not always what you think you deserve. It can simply be what you want or are willing to handle. It can be a reflection of your subconscious thoughts and fears. After self-reflection, I realized I accepted less than I deserved because it was what I wanted at the time, even though I claimed, to others and myself, to want something more or something different. I knew I deserved and could have better. People would tell me that to reinforce it. But I didn’t actually want better or more. It served its purpose until it didn’t. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, that depends on your perspective. To me, it just is.

7. Allow yourself to be unproductive without feeling guilty. Productivity is a product of capitalism. You don’t always have to be doing something related to work, money, or your goals. Chill out and relax whenever you can and want to.

8. If you have any regrets, let them go and forgive yourself. You wouldn’t be who you are or where you are without all of your experiences. You might say that’s the point of your regret, but regret won’t change anything. Accept what’s happened, show yourself grace, and make movements forward.

A lot can change in a year. A lot has changed for me this year. Securing my college degree was the end of a cycle. Giving birth by the start of the new year will be another one. What are the chances life would align symbolically for me like that?

I recommend you reflect back on the year and take note of how you and your life has changed. I would avoid going into the new year with unrealistic or pessimistic expectations of how it’ll go. Don’t assume it’ll be as taxing as 2020 (don’t speak that into existence), but don’t think everything will return to the way it was (because it won’t). Set your desires for the year, and then just live day by day. You never know what’ll happen.

Categories
Food For Thought Kinda not really life Politics

Oh ‘rona: Part II

It’s been a whole seven, eight months since I made the first post about coronavirus. Oh, how much has changed. Not corona though; it is still here. In fact, its gotten even worse in the past seven months and will probably continue to grow in intensity with Thanksgiving passing and Christmas approaching. I have many thoughts regarding this pandemic, the government’s response or lack thereof, and people’s individual responses. So here we are. Another post so I can rant.

Almost everything, if not everything, I stated in the first post I still believe. We are living through history. I’ll look back years from now and tell my daughter about what we all can collectively agree is the shit show of 2020. These past seven months in the United States have been a whole mess for a variety of reasons. There’s fear in being unsure of how long it will take to clean all of it up. Let’s focus on the coronavirus part of it though. 

When corona first hit the US and places were starting to close, I felt differently about this whole pandemic. I still thought it was terrible, but I understood why essential businesses were open. I understood why my place of employment was open. I understood people’s concerns of the economy crashing. I understood the hesitation to accept what felt like the world ending because our world was experiencing something most haven’t before. Although I wholeheartedly disagreed with people who didn’t believe it existed, I, like many, didn’t fully understand the severity of it. Regardless, I took it seriously. I only saw one person outside of my job and my household. I wore masks and sanitized frequently. I figured it would be eradicated within a couple of months. I was wrong about corona’s presence diminishing.

According to the CDC website as of November 18th, at 1:07 pm, there have been 11,300,635 cases. There have been 247,834 deaths related to coronavirus. As of December 6th, the number of cases increased to 14.462,527 with 280,135 deaths. That’s about a 3,000,000 increase in cases and over 30,000 deaths in just under three weeks. In one day, about 260,000 more cases were reported along with a little over 2,300 deaths. These are the numbers since the states began reporting in late January. They might be higher. 

Why has this happened? I say there are three main reasons: government response, the spread of misinformation, and people’s personal choices. 

Government Response

At first, I thought Trump was simply unsure of how to handle the whole pandemic thing but would figure it out. When the US found out he actually knew the severity of coronavirus when it was first known to be in the US in January, we learned he chose to do very little to nothing. Mind you, it wasn’t until mid March that coronavirus was established as a national emergency. March, about a month and a half later after it was first established in the US, is when states began to shutdown.

In these past eightish months, Trump told people corona was a hoax, knowing it wasn’t. He went against the advice of and aimed to discredit experts. He refused to wear a mask, and told people he didn’t think it was necessary. He made a pandemic a political chess piece to use in his re-election campaign. It became apparent he, and other members of the government who found time to dabble in the stock market with information of Covid, didn’t and don’t care about the effect of the virus on the country and its citizens. Even after Trump caught it and supposedly recovered, due to the fact he has the best access to doctors and healthcare in the US, he didn’t care. He said it wasn’t that bad and prioritized the economy over people’s lives. He couldn’t admit he was wrong to downplay the pandemic.

Instead of Trump and the government prioritizing citizens, they prioritized money, re-election, and their own self-interests. In these eight months since states began locking down, some in the US have only received $1,200. For a while, some of the unemployed received an additional $600 with their unemployment checks, but that stopped at the end of July. People still remained unemployed due to the pandemic. People were still getting less hours at work. People still had bills to pay and themselves to feed. Other countries’ citizens received more than this and got a handle of the virus.

Some states began slowly reopening some time in May. That’s about two months of a shelter in place order. Not every state required masks at any time during the pandemic. Over time, pretty much everywhere in the US began at least lightly reopening. Let’s face it, eight months is a long time to be stuck in the house. Naturally people were getting restless and when their county began opening up, they also individually eased up on the precautions they had because of a false sense of security. Some traveled between counties and states if they could or needed to, some went to the nail or hair salon, people began eating in restaurants, others started going to the gym and so on. Schools reopened and people went back to work in their offices. Sports decided to risk it all and come back on television and Covid became a normal thing. 

I will say that, for all intents and purposes, for many, shelter in place never completely meant never leaving the house, and understandably so. I am guilty of this as well. Some people cannot work at home. Not everyone was or is able to stop working. People go to work because they have bills to pay; some even have or will work knowing they have coronavirus. Not every state froze rent or bills, and even those that did still expect payments to cover it in the future. People still go out to the grocery store or to pick up food, and understandably so. Ya need to eat. People still take walks or spend time in nature. People still go to the doctor’s office or the hospital. Not everyone has the opportunity to completely stay home. These actions cannot be faulted. Sheltering in place is about not going anywhere you don’t have to be at, social distancing from everyone outside of your household and workplace, and taking necessary precautions in the places you go.

As seven months went on, a sense of “normalcy” came back. People stopped social distancing intensely, if they ever did, whether by force or not, and cases only continued to go up. Now, in December, cases per day are increasing drastically across the country. This week we will probably continue to see a surge in cases because of people who did not social distance for Thanksgiving. People have and are struggling with the decision between staying home for the holidays or traveling/meeting up with their families. Experts are urging people to stay home. The federal government isn’t saying much.

People’s Thoughts and The Spread of Misinformation 

As much as I would love to say we are where we are now with Covid solely because of the government, that’s not true. They set the precedent and the standards, but other factors have influenced this outcome. The spread of misinformation through social media and less than factual news sources as well as a lack of education are playing a role too, though this can also be credited back to Trump.

Nonbelievers and those who are lax about the of the severity of corona like to compare Covid to the flu to support their claim. It’s easier to visualize something that is unknown when you compare it to something that is known. The comparison was meant to exist as a base level understanding, not a full description encompassing every part of Covid. “The flu is not that bad,” or “the death rate for the flu is higher and it’s not a big deal,” are rationales people spread without considering that the flu has been around, has a working vaccine out that enough of the population takes, and the fact that viruses affect everyone differently. They also do not take into account that, for example, one percent of a million is still ten thousand. Applying this math to our population will equal an outrageous amount of people dying from a single source that could have been controllable.

As far as education goes, we are learning more about coronavirus as time goes on. Coronavirus is contagious and spread through droplets. You’re more likely to get it when in close contact with people. You can test negative for coronavirus but still have it. Testing negative just means at the time you took the test you did not have it. If you know you were exposed, you should still actively social distance and get tested within 10 days. Tests also aren’t perfect, which is why being mindful of social distancing is important whether you are negative or positive. Being asymptomatic means you won’t develop symptoms, it doesn’t mean you can’t spread the virus. Social distancing is being pushed so hard because you could have it, spread it to others, who spread it to others, who spread it to others etc. and not know, which is why large gatherings are still frowned upon.

It is also easy to forget the strain this disease is putting on hospitals and healthcare workers. Some have left because the experience has been overwhelming and traumatizing. Some have gotten sick caring for others. Most are overworked, risking their health and lives to do their job while the country carelessly makes their jobs harder. Coronavirus has made it seem like the world has stopped, but it evidently has not. People are still hospitalized for non-coronavirus related health concerns. As the number of cases grow, hospitals will not have enough beds for everyone who needs one.

For me, the scariest part about coronavirus is the fact that a severe case can mean being in a hospital for months and potentially dying, but surviving even a more mild case can mean dealing with pre-existing conditions. We do not know all of the long term affects of the virus, because long term hasn’t happened yet. As someone who already has a pre-existing condition, technically two throughout this pandemic because of pregnancy, I would not like to willingly pile on more. The idea of living with brain fog, heart and lung problems, and who knows what else is unappealing to me. I also don’t want to put my baby or my family at risk. I don’t want the people they come in contact with at work or the grocery store to be at risk. I don’t want to put my doctor, the nurses, or a stranger at my doctor’s office at risk. I’m not saying I have been a saint, but it is why I choose to let it affect my daily life. Since I am able to right now, it’s why I stay home unless I can’t.

The nonbelievers spread their beliefs, much as I am now, but rely on the politicization of the virus. Coronavirus was and is bigotedly referred to as the “China virus” as if it that isn’t xenophobic, as if it hasn’t affected every country in the world. As if blaming China for this virus will change the fact that it is here. Like we don’t blame the ocean for hurricanes, why are we blaming a country for a disease? 

Nonbelievers have compared mask mandates to the government stepping on people’s freedoms and the difficulty breathing while wearing masks to unarmed black people dying by the hands of police. Honestly, Covid is a nuisance and wearing a mask is an inconvenience, but if it means protecting people’s lives, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about (aside from the fact some government officials set it up this way). People even claim Covid is a distraction from some hidden agenda and that it is a way for liberals to push universal healthcare. A worldwide health crisis became something to be debated among American politics. It’s a mess.

Nonbelievers and people who don’t want a shutdown again, tend to believe all of this is fearmongering. They tell people to get over it. They say wearing masks makes people sheep as if we don’t follow basic traffic rules everyday because it’s the law. They claim taking precautions are cowardly and say we can’t let this virus run our lives. They push herd immunity and say if you feel unsafe you should take the necessary precautions but fail to realize I or anyone can do everything “right,” but still end up sick because someone else was not being cautious. Some people think coronavirus does not exist or is being hyped up because they haven’t had it or known anyone who has. Some have had coronavirus and gotten better, saying it is overdramatized. Some have it, are dying, and still say coronavirus isn’t real or a big deal. This pandemic has made me realize how selfish we Americans can be in the name “freedom.”

14,000,000, as well as 280,000, are large numbers, so it can create a dissonance, apparently even if you are and, or know someone who is counted into those numbers. Those numbers can seem like “not a big deal” if you want to continue on with your life without regard for anyone else. People have become so desperate to “return back to normal” that they fail to realize they are making living with a pandemic normal. It is something I think about daily because it frustrates and annoys me. There are so many active cases that it’s becoming harder not to get the virus. You can really social distance, sanitize frequently, and wear a mask and still get sick because a coworker, a fellow customer, or an infected employee who needs the money, wasn’t doing the same. It didn’t have to get this bad.

Personal Choices

I’m not gonna lie. Telling people the best way not to catch or spread the virus is social distancing gives of “the safest sex is abstinence” vibes. Naturally, not everyone can be in the house 24/7, only surrounded by their household, especially for over seven months. Isolating can be damaging to mental health, especially if you’ve been doing it since the beginning. However, when you keep in mind the safety of yourself, the people you love, and strangers you encounter, it doesn’t make sense to me why people are so against another, hopefully a more sincere, lockdown. If we’re being honest, most states never had a real lockdown. It leads me to question what people are doing, other than working, that would lead them to be upset about a lockdown.

Even though I am not getting restless with social distancing partly because I live with my family, I understand why people are. I understand the desire to be physically close to loved ones, to travel, to party, and to pretend like the virus doesn’t exist. Some are getting tired of being restricted. Being over it doesn’t mean it’s over though. Being careless with your actions because you want to move on with your life doesn’t free you from putting people at risk. Covid exists and will continue to until we all get it together. It’s easy to excuse your actions when it’s something you want to do. It’s gotten to the point where I and people who are isolating outside of the necessities feel ridiculous because we see people who aren’t. Clearly not everyone is taking the necessary precautions and too many people have thought they have “taken the necessary precautions” but were probably asymptomatic because otherwise cases wouldn’t be getting worse.

Our personal choices have affected and will continue to affect what is happening with the pandemic. How much we decide to learn about coronavirus, what we think about the virus, and how the government, shoutout Mitch McConnell, continues to act will all influence what you and I decide to do. It is unfair that the government prioritized jobs and the economy over everything else. It is fucked up that people are being asked to keep their distance from their friends, parents, grandparents, etc., but are expected to work or not get paid. There are ways to keep a small circle of people you see safely or see family safely, as long as you’re all on the same page and honest about how you are operating during the pandemic. All of this doesn’t change that social distancing and stay at home orders are being advised for a reason. It is just as true to say people catch coronavirus at work as it is to say people catch it during their off times. Pretending like everyone catches coronavirus at work and no one catches coronavirus by meeting up with family and friends or traveling is false. It’s why there have been increases in cases after every maskless Trump rally and after every holiday.

Us choosing to wear a mask or argue about it, meeting up with people because with think it’s safe versus going without, traveling across the state or country when we don’t have to, going to parties, the club, the bars or wherever just because it’s open, and accidently mass gathering in public places when we want to get out of the house, will all have an affect how much longer this pandemic goes on. We individually are not necessarily the cause of where we are with Covid in the US, but we are individually either hindering the progress or helping it. Are you willingly choosing to live with a pandemic or are you choosing to help flatten the curve?

My Final Thoughts

In the time I drafted this to December 4th, my mom got exposed to Covid and spent Thanksgiving quarantined alone in her room in case she caught it. She runs a community health care clinic and got exposed by someone else who works there. That person recently had a family reunion and that’s where they contracted it. They didn’t know they had it so continued to work up until finding out. This is what I mean when I say someone can socially distance and still get sick because of someone else’s actions.

We’re fortunate because that person was showing enough symptoms to know something was off. We’re fortunate because that person got tested. We’re fortunate because my mom and that person were both wearing masks when they carpooled. My mom thankfully tested negative. Masks do make a difference. Our own choices do matter.

I wish those who run the country would understand how interconnected this all is. The economy cannot improve without the stability of the people who live here. We, the people, make the economy grow and I only mention this because the economy seems to be of utmost importance to them. If that’s the case, then people are also important! We are important! Supporting us through stimulus checks, paying us to stay home, and paying small businesses to help them stay afloat, will ultimately benefit the country more than it will harm it. The idea that “handouts” or “helping us” is stupid because the government and its officials are meant to serve us, the people, not corporations. Getting control of the virus to lessen the load on hospitals, to keep businesses open, and to allow people to return safely back to work, will benefit the country more than pretending it doesn’t exist and attempting to continue on. The health crisis, the economy, and government leadership are all interconnected and help shape how we as a society will get through this. It does start with us, but the government needs to get it together too. Their lack of support and guidance is the main reason we are in the position we are in today.

There’s been so much on my mind regarding Covid and I’m not even sure this encompasses it all. Seeing people’s selfishness and inability to emphasize or even sympathize with others has been disheartening. Hopefully, this will be my last post about Covid, but the way this has been going it probably won’t be.