A Rainbow Pumpkin Birthday Story

Since I've neglected to write about Abigail's birth thus far, it seems fitting to do so on the eve of her first birthday. It still seems so strange to think not only that she's here but that she's been here with us for one whole year.

Prior to active labor starting, I had been in prodromal labor for about 4 weeks. The contractions would come and go nearly on a daily basis, none strong enough to really get things going, though. The weekend before she was born I was particularly frustrated. I had contractions for hours at a time only for them to completely vanish as quickly as they began. As much as I really wanted to be in labor that weekend, I was also concerned about going into labor. That weekend was Joe's first weekend of drill with his national guard unit. I was worried about contacting him should something happen. (Even though his unit is 30 minutes away... The hormones...) Unbeknownst to me, a friend of mine had actually been praying that Abigail wouldn't make her appearance until after his weekend of drill.

Joe came home from drill Sunday evening, and we went to his grandparent's house for a big family pizza dinner. When we left, the sun had set and the supermoon was brightly shining. Secretly I hoped that all those old wives' tales about full moons and birth were true. We went home, had a normal evening, and I probably went to bed later than I should have.

At 4:45am I woke out of a sound sleep (which is rare) to a very strong contraction. You know how "they" always say you'll know when you're in labor? I'll be darned if "they" weren't right... Again. ;-) They came pretty regularly, though I didn't keep an eye on the timing. I knew they would get rough soon so I tried to rest, and breathe through them without waking anyone. A little before 6am, I decided to wake Joe. His alarm was going to go off in a few minutes anyway. I gave him a nudge and said, "So if you want to get a shower, you better get one now. We're going to the hospital." He ran to get in the shower, and I attempted to throw some clothes on. He had asked me if I wanted one, and I almost laughed. (Thanks, contractions.) I knew we didn't have time for all that. In between contractions, I called my MIL to let her know it was "baby day." 

After Joe was dressed, I sat on the exercise ball and attempted to eat (ha) while we waited on his parents to arrive and take care of the big girls. In reality it was probably only 10 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. Eating made me feel sick (hello, active labor) so I tried to move and breathe. We left as soon as his parents arrived, at about 7am. I had forgotten it was Monday, but was quickly reminded as we pulled into traffic on the highway. Fortunately it wasn't too bad, and we made pretty good time. Extra fortunate because I was beginning to realize that I was having back labor and sitting actually made things hurt worse. 

We finally get into the hospital and checked in around 7:30. I was at 7cm (what I was with Millie, too!) so we got moved to an actual room. I had to decline a wheelchair because sitting made the contractions worse...and every single nurse looked at me with crazy eyes. *sigh* I basically labored standing up, with the exception of being forced to sit while they assaulted me with needles in an attempt to set up an IV. (5 tries. FIVE. TRIES.) One of my favorite doctors happened to be on call, which was such a relief to me. He came in once or twice to check on me. There were nurses in and out, too, but I don't remember too much of it. 

I go to "labor land" after a certain point, so all I remember was laboring with Joe's help. We stood and swayed for the most part. I do remember that he tried to do counter pressure on my back once (this helped a lot in labor with Millie) and I all but yelled at him. Unfortunately, not much helped the back labor. Around 9am a nurse came in and I begged her to ask my doctor to break my water to speed things along. There was a bit of a concern since I was GBS+ and had only been there 2 hours with antibiotics in. Thankfully, my doctor trusted me when I told him breaking my waters usually speeds labor along. And he was confident that I'd gotten enough antibiotics to be safe. So we prepped for that. 

He broke my water and then began to explain how the contractions would be much more intense, etc. I knew this, and he knew I knew this, but I was actually still appreciative of that. He left and about a minute later I had the worst contraction ever. It was crazy painful and I thought I was going to break Joe's hand (poor guy). After that, I realized.... I could feel her head in the birth canal. So I'm in pain, but I mention this to my nurse because....um....WOW. She says, in disbelief, "okay, well let me just check to see if I can feel what you're feeling." She checks. She runs out of the room. Meanwhile I'm thinking, this is not my first baby. I know what I'm talking about here. 

She comes back, followed by I don't know how many people, and my doctor. He assumes the position and 2 instinctive pushes later... She's here. She's pink, and screaming, and beautiful....and I see her cord flop out onto her belly as he holds her up for me to see. Shock. Disbelief. Relief. JOY. Welcome to the world, Abigail Siobhan-Maebh; our BIG little miracle.

Happy first birthday, Pumpkin. (We call her that because she was born in October. :)) I can't believe you've been with us this long! And yet I can't imagine our home without you in it. 


Seeing the Light & Unraveling the Lies

When you go through hard times, the people who love you and the people who don't become clearly marked. They show themselves whether they mean to or not. 

If you've been a follower for a while, you know that my life has been forever marked by the loss of our daughter, Eleanor. She was born sleeping on September 22, 2015. Her name, Eleanor, means light. I feel that it is only because of her that I now see the people who raised me for who they truly are. 

Without going into too much detail as to what happened after Eleanor passed away, suffice it to say that my mother and stepfather showed themselves. My mother, especially, behaved irrationally and erratically. For someone in deep, deep grief this was extremely difficult to handle. Several months after losing Eleanor, she would be the person to ask me, "are you sure you want more kids?" Not only did this feel like a knife in the heart after our loss, but I had also just found out that I was pregnant again. I didn't tell her about my pregnancy for 2 more months. When I did tell her - or rather, Charlotte told her - I was met with a cold, blank stare. She never said "congratulations." She never said she was excited. There was nothing. It was chilling and disturbing.

Not too much time passed by before I stumbled upon an article about Narcissistic Rage, and how damaging it can be to children. This article very accurately described my mother and stepfather. I was intrigued, so I did more research. I spent most of the next few weeks digging up articles on Narcissistic mothers and fathers. In doing so, I discovered the truth of my past.

I was verbally and emotionally abused 
throughout my childhood, adolescence, 
and adulthood. 
My parents are Narcissistic. 

While digging through boxes after our most recent move, I discovered journals I'd kept in middle school, high school, and college. In them there is a theme of, "what did I do wrong," "why are they treating me this way," "I shouldn't have said anything," "why can't they understand," "I wish I could make things better." Reading these entries have made it all the more obvious. 

I blamed myself for their bad attitudes, cruel speech, and erratic behavior. They grounded me for "bad grades" (in reality they were never under C), tossed me out on the side of the road for saying something I shouldn't, yelled at me for any and everything I did, and threatened physical violence. They taught me to blame myself. They told me how bad I was -- I had a bad attitude, I was ungrateful, lazy, forgetful, and "too book smart" to care for myself. "Oh, you're smart, but you don't have enough common sense to save your life." I was stupid, ungrateful, and "just like [my] father." If only I could be better, they wouldn't treat me that way. 

The TRUTH is that I was a child. Full stop. Children make mistakes. Children having difficulty learning sometimes. Children need someone to guide and help them. 

As a teenager and adult, they have been unable to understand me and/or my decisions. Instead of questioning, they ridiculed. They alienated me from friends that they didn't like. They twisted my friends' words and actions so I'd believe that they either didn't like me, or that they were a bad influence. Instead of teaching me conflict resolution, they told me I was "better off without them." 

They interfered in my romantic relationships in college, convincing me somehow that one of them didn't love me. (When I spoke to him about this much later, he told me the exact opposite.) They told me that I would never find someone to put up with me. I had such a bad attitude that only they could possibly love me. But if I didn't behave the way they wanted, they would kick me out.

While Joe and I were dating, a situation arose that they literally could not understand. I had told them I was leaving it up to God. Being that we went to church for as long as I could remember, I had thought that they would understand this. The opposite was true. They could not even fathom that I was not doing a single thing to resolve this issue. Oh, I was praying, but I wasn't doing anything. For weeks (no exaggeration) they ridiculed me. "Oh, it's a 'God thing', huh? What does that even mean? What are you doing? Have you done this? Have you done that? WHY NOT?!" 

When Joe and I decided we were going to move to North Carolina after we were married, it only got worse. They threatened to kick me out. They told me they would PAY ME to leave now (2 months prior to our wedding). My mother got mad about something (I don't remember what) and told me she didn't want to shop for wedding dresses with me. I didn't take her that weekend and went with my maid of honor instead. Afterward, my mother was extremely furious....that I didn't take her. If you're confused reading this, imagine how it felt to live it

I've come to believe now that all of this abuse 
took place for two reasons: 
1) they have a serious mental issue. 
2) they do not believe in God, 
are not saved....and I am.

Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! John 8:42-45 {NLT}

 ...they [the unbelievers] are resentful and surprised that you do not [think like them, value their values and] run [hand in hand] with them into the same excesses of dissipation and immoral freedom, and they criticize and abuse and ridicule you and make fun of your values. 1 Peter 4:4 [AMP]

They couldn't understand my decisions to leave things to God, so they abused and ridiculed me. They couldn't understand my decision to follow my future husband, so they abused me. When I was a child, I was trusting and loving. They could easily feed me lies and they would become my truth. 

I am of God, so they abused me. They couldn't understand me so they abused me. They are children of the father of lies, so they created lies and taught me to believe them. BUT. GOD. He saved me. He loves me. He protected me because I AM HIS.

All of this has always been true. It was only after losing Eleanor that I was finally able to see it. Loss changes you in ways I could never have imagined. While I would much rather have my baby girl with me, I am grateful that God used her death to free me from the abuse I'd experienced throughout my life. I may have come to it eventually without losing her, but we'll never know. Since her loss was the catalyst for all of this....I can only be grateful for that part of it. 

You may be wondering why I'm sharing this. Honestly, I've debated sharing all of this, too. I finally came to the conclusion that it needs to be shared not just for people like me to know that they aren't alone, but so the world can see what God has done FOR me. So they can see that He can change their lives, their circumstances, and their hearts. I was in danger of becoming just like the people who raised me. But God. He changed me; He saved me. It is because of Him that I am where I am today. Despite all the hardships, I am grateful for the change in my life and heart.