Moving Again?

We may have found a house to rent for the next year. It would actually be rent-free (WHEN does that happen?!), and we would do some work on the house (written down before moving in).

Right now we are going over pros and cons of moving to a place of our own before Jacob leaves, or staying with my parents and saving money. I have to say, moving out is really tempting today.

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Leave Date

Jacob’s leaving for basic December 7th. We tentatively asked  for October (that way basic would be done and we could at least Skype on Christmas) or after the New Year, because Christmas is important.

What do we get, December 7th, with maybe a phone call for Christmas. Jacob will be graduating Basic February 3rd. Done with Tech School mid-August.

Very clearly I understand from Jacob’s family that they will be going to Jacob’s graduation too, and will want to be with him the whole time. AND frankly it bothers me. I don’t want to share my husband after not seeing him for almost 9 weeks. I don’t want Peter to have to share his father after missing and crying for him for almost 9 weeks. I also feel like I it would be different if he was coming home straight away, but he’s not. He has another training that lasts for 21 weeks. I think we need to soak up that time as a family. To let Peter have every opportunity to have Jacob’s EVERY attention. But I feel like I can’t tell them to come. And I won’t, their son/grandson/brother is graduating from basic, it’s a big deal for them too. Feeling like I’m going to have to share what little time we have with Jacob is almost too much to think about right now.

We got his leave date almost two weeks ago. I thought I was going to jump on here and excitedly write down how excited we were, but I’m feeling divided. I’m relieved we now have a leave date for Jacob, but sad that it will be over Christmas. I’m happy to be able to pay off bills, but almost nauseous thinking about parenting Peter alone for 10 months. With every happy/excited reaction I think of something I dread.

I’m trying hard to sort out my feelings. Feelings that I thought I would already know what I was going to feel. But here I am, raw and scared.

Yesterday I posted on facebook: is feeling unsettled today. I hate days where I can’t figure out my own feelings, let alone deal with Peter’s big feelings.

Today I woke up and was still feeling off balance, and I sat down to read a quick page in one of my religious books, “Daily Visitor” from 2002 (different things for different days with a mini-homily that matches up with today’s Mass readings).

The Psalm of the day, “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord.”

Mass readings: Acts 16:22-34/John 16:5-11

The Homily was Titled: Absence Means Growth

What it resonated deeply within me today was when you let someone go there’s a ministry called, ‘ministry of absence.’ In the absence of a beloved, we turn to God for help. We develop bonds with other people. We learn new coping skills, seek new ways of growth, do things we otherwise would not have attempted.

What God is giving me with Jacob leaving is a time to Grow, to Deeply depend on Him, and to be able to humble myself to say, “I need help.” I know I won’t be able to do it alone. I know I will have to ask for help and I know I can’t do with without Praying and believing that nothing comes to me without God’s knowledge, instead of being raw and scared I find myself hopeful of the great things God has planned for me for the next year.

Lord, let my ears be open to hear Your Directions. Let my eyes be open to Your Truth. Let my mouth only speak Your Praises. Let my hand only give loving touches. Amen. Alleluia.

ICAN two

ICAN!

Tuesday, I attended my second meeting of ICAN of Central Des Moines. I came to the first meeting ready to run or pass out from having to say out-loud that Peter was an emergency c-section and I left on almost a high.

Tuesday… I didn’t want to attend. I remember the excitement I had when I left the meeting, but I was still weary. We already had some emotional things happen this week, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to handle it.

Thank goodness my Mom is my mom. Jacob didn’t want to drive the 1.5 hours to the meeting, and frankly neither did I! I wanted an out and was looking for one. My mom said, that she would watch Jacob and that (pretty much) she was making me attend the meeting. She’s my Momma and she still knows what’s best for me (apparently. 😉 ) Now the only way I could sneak out was going to Des Moines and just going shopping for several hours.

I knew once I was there I would be fine, but I was anxious about again telling Peter’s story. I thought if I went alone I would get all the way to Des Moines and then hang out at the library until the meeting was over! I explained to Jacob my fear and he said he would come for support.

Jacob and I talked about all the stuff we needed to talk about (it was a good talk) on the way up. He walked inside with me and high-fived me as I turned to go into the meeting. ::This makes me wish that we dated in college, he would have walked me to class::

I wasn’t as fearful this meeting. I was able to take deep breathes while the introductions were made, and I made mine without freaking out mentally. I was asked towards the end if I had any questions, and I didn’t. I checked out FIVE books from their library to review and take in.

I did learn two new things from this meeting: 1) Because I pushed with Peter the next labor will be a traditional length second pregnancy. I thought I would have another typical longer first birth experience again.  SUPER exciting news to me.  2) Peter was posterior. I didn’t learn this until much much later. Tuesday I learned that it’s super hard to give birth to a posterior baby on your back (like I was told to do). Most woman will have to push for a long time with posterior babies (I pushed 3-4 hours) and if I have another baby that is posterior, there are actions I can take to help move him!

I also made new friend who’s husband joined the military after they were married and is willing to be another support for me. She also lives 30 minutes away from Hometown, so we can have playdates sometime! I was also given a number to an ICAN member who lives in Rural Hometown. The name sounded really familiar to me, but I can’t place her. So I’ll be calling her later today to talk to her about her c-section and then her other three births. Then share about Peter’s birth.

I was also given contact of a midwife who would do home-births for VBAC moms! I’m making an appointment with her to talk about fears, Jacob’s reservations about a home-birth, and information/research I can give to people how are questioning having a home-birth or even a VBAC. I plan on making an appointment soon!

ICAN

I’ve been to two ICAN meetings. This is about the first meeting.

The first time I thought maybe I would throw up. Not because I was nervous meeting people, but rather acknowledging Peter’s birth in public with people I didn’t know.

I remember sitting down and having people go around the table. All you have to say is your name, your kids’ name/age and if you want if your child was a section or vaginal birth. I was in the middle of room, so it didn’t matter I wouldn’t be first or last. I didn’t take in any of the introductions. I was trying hard not to hyperventilate or start crying.

How hard it was just to say: I’m Tiffany, I have one son -Peter. He’s two and he was born via emergency c-section.

After I said my statement I breathed a sigh of relief and was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I had every muscle in my body tensed, as ready for a fight. That night there were a lot of  birth stories and support for pregnant woman. They got to the newbies at the very end. I was asked if I wanted to share anything about Peter’s birth.

Looking around the room and seeing woman who have all had c-sections, and I don’t want to do it. I’d rather look like a fool and run screaming from the room. But I take a breath and start.

I only have enough in me to give some of the ‘highlights.’ I cry and cry. I apologize and was accepted. I was told that tears are often shed there and that it was a safe spot.

I asked what to do to help in the healing process: Telling Peter’s birth story who will accept the pain and not gloss over it would help, Posting my birth story on the forums, Reading information about c-sections and seeking out information about peaceful c-sections and VBAC, and Coming to meetings. Another things that is hard to do, but will help in the healing process is access my hospital records and find out more information about Peter’s delivery.

I also remember one woman telling me that even though Peter’s delivery was traumatic that I also needed to look at the positives of his birth, because there were some positives. I wasn’t under general anesthesia, so I was able to hear Peter’s first cries. I was able to have a labor with Peter and be active (to a point) in his delivery.

And some of the best points: I was a good candidate for a VBAC! I was reassured that even though I have a vertical scar on the outside, because I have a transverse scar on the inside, that’s all that matters. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to try again because of my scar. Because I progressed to a 10 and pushed, that was a big plus! It shows that my cervix can dilate!

What a difference between entering and exiting the meeting. I came so overwhelmed that I thought I would pass out, and I left in almost a high! I talked Jacob’s ear off on the way home and we excitedly talked about the birth of our next child.

It’s the first time that I talked joyfully about the BIRTH of our next child. I long to hold another one of our children in my arms, but terrified about prospects of another horrible c-section.

If you had a traumatic birth or a c-section, I implore you to find help and an ICAN meeting. The peace you find crazy awesome. 🙂

Living with and Learning about Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia. Saying this term brings to mind the movies: A Beautiful Mind, Donnie Darko, and The Soloist.

I watched ‘A Beautiful Mind’ before my brother was committed and before he had major signs of Schizophrenia. When I watched the movie I felt uncomfortable and uneasy, but I never knew why. Until it was made clear later with JJ’s (WHAT”S THE WORD???).

‘Donnie Darko’ was a movie I loved. Throughout the whole thing. I just loved it. It’s super weird, but I still enjoyed it. One of my favorite songs came from that movie, Mad World.

I have to admit, watching ‘The Soloist’ was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I sobbed and sobbed through the movie. Thank goodness I watched it at home. Imaging what my brother’s reality is and how it’s different then mine is mind-boggling.

If you have a loved one with Schizophrenia, it will be different then my brother’s. There is a guideline that most schizophrenics follow, but they can obsess over different things.

My brother feels as though we had a trail without him and he’s in jail-time. He thinks that he did something and now he’s being held responsible for it. No one knows exactly what it is, but every so often at night he’ll get in your face about it.

I’m not going to lie. It’s scary. I will say JJ never does it when I’m with Peter or Jacob. He only does it to me when I’m alone.

For the most part he’s focused on food too. Putting something in his food, or taking something out of his food (or the nicotine in cigarettes or alcohol in booze). He thinks that my parents control whether or not he gets the nicotine or alcohol. He can go to a random gas station and buy cigarettes, but doesn’t think there is nicotine in them because my parents told them to withhold it from him. It seems unimaginable to me, but it’s his reality.

 

The first time he did this to me was New Year’s Eve, ’06. I had Jacob over and we were drinking. JJ also had some to drink. I was in the kitchen alone with him and he turned really angrily towards me and demands that I drink his shot. I said I couldn’t drink shots (they make me sick instantly). I think in his head, this conformed what he believed: I put my dog’s poop in his drink. He was drinking straight vodka, clear vodka. I tried to explain there was no way that I could put poop in his drink for a couple reasons: I would never do that, I didn’t think it was funny even as a bad joke, and if I did (which I didn’t) he would be able to see the poop particles floating in the glass.

It didn’t matter what I said, he believed it. Nothing I could do or say would change it. He still believes that to this day.

He once took a picture of the bathroom mirror that said, “Watch Your back” and said that I wrote it. I saw the picture and I was really deeply sadden. It wasn’t my handwriting, but his.

His medication did a good job from the outside. JJ didn’t like the feelings he felt while he was on it and at one time when off of them. After a couple weeks it was clear that he was off his meds. I read somewhere that it was typical for a Schizophrenic to go off their meds and be hospitalized at least three times.

The second time he was committed was bad. (I was already living in Topeka.) While he was in the hospital he had a chair thrown at him by another committed person. It cut his head in his hair so bad that he needed several stitches. They also said that if he went off this meds again they would get a court order to put him on a med that was a shot that lasted a longer period of time. The only problem was the side effects were way worse then the other medicine he was on. He was one of the rare people who had an extreme reaction to it. Part of his body he couldn’t control and he had bad ticks to go along with it (so bad he couldn’t talk). It was worse for the first couple days, but wore off little by little after that. I think that scared him (and all of the family) that he has been taking his meds everyday now.

 

My brother has a hard time going out in public, but is very lonely. He verbally attacks the people he feels safest around. Since moving back home and living with him we’ve learned that he has issues, even with his meds, during the evening and night. He can’t tolerate whispering at all, because he’s told my mom that he can’t tell the difference between us talking quietly and the voices in his head. If you have your back to him and he’s already having problems that day, he hears you talking about him, even though you never are.

My brother will make farting noises with his mouth when he’s starting to have issues. It’s an indication to us that we need to give him space and quiet. He has a hard time eating with the family and will either eat really fast and first or eat after the rest of the family is done. Thus making sure he can pick the food he eats. He’s told me numerous time (since we’ve moved down the past month) that he doesn’t want to eat the food I make because you can’t trust what I put in it.

I miss the conversations I had with my brother. I know I will probably never be able to talk freely with him again. It’s like that part of him is gone and will never return. I mourn our relationship and how I feel like I always have to measure every word and sound I make around him. He’s my brother, I see him now everyday, but can’t talk to him.

There are times when I can see in his eyes that he’s here, coherent, and like my old brother again. I relish those times. I stop with whatever I’m doing and I talk to him again. I connect and share things. Sometimes it lasts a couple minutes or sometimes it lasts for almost a whole day. I’m now able to see JJ’s face and tell if it’s a good time or not. He’s eyes have a flat mean look to them if it’s a bad time. When it’s a good time I’m almost able to see my brother again. I smile back and talk.

That is what keeps you going. The moments of clarity when you have your brother back.

 

I lost my brother in 2009

I should run down my family before I get into the meat of this post. I should also note that this will be spread out in a couple different posts.

My parents: B and K

Older brother by 20 months: TA

Younger brother by 17 months: JJ

Younger brother by 5 years: JC

Younger and only sister by 7 years: CJ

My brother, JJ, and I were two peas in a pod. We were often confused as twins as we looked alike and were around the same height and weight. I played war with my brothers and they played house with me. I’m not saying our life was perfect (far from it), but we always stuck together. My mom once told me that they (my parents) were called home from a date when CJ was a year old because the five of us got on top of the clubhouse and wouldn’t come down for the babysitter. In our defense, the babysitter was mean. In the babysitters defense, we could be a handful. My mom was always confused and scared about how we got CJ on the roof, as we had to climb up the side through a window and it was several feet off the ground…

My brother was my best friend in high school. We often sat up almost all night talking and watching movies. I was one of the first people he told when his girlfriend was pregnant when he was 21. I was hopeful, JJ started to really get into drugs and I was praying that since he was having a child it would straighten him out. His girlfriend was… tactless, redneck, but I loved her. She was a lot of fun and told you exactly what was what. When ‘little jj’ came along my brother was off drugs and working hard. Though things started to fall apart. JJ’s girlfriend and him broke up, he moved back home, and had joint-custody of ‘little jj.’

JJ also started to change. He was around 22 years old and started to get mean. JJ could cause problems, but he wasn’t mean. He was the kind of kid that would bring home hurt animals to help heal and then release them. He started to distance himself from all of us.

In 2006, on my little sister’s 19th birthday, my brother had a break from reality. He got drunk and tried to commit suicide.

My dad was woken up from sleep to my mom yelling for him. My brother was trying to get into the gun cabinet. My dad wrestled him to the floor and was holding him there as my mom called the cops. My brother was fighting, asking why he couldn’t kill himself. My dad told him that he loved him like my brother loved his son and he wouldn’t let him die.

My brother relaxed and my dad held him until the cops came.

My brother was never the same after that day. He was changing before that time, but it was a pivotal time in our family.

I had my first official teaching job. I came back from a vacation to hear that my brother tried to commit suicide and I had be in the classroom with kids 30 minutes later. My life changed that day, and it will never go back.

We slowly started to lose JJ. He had more periods of time where he wasn’t making any sense. I was interested in psychology (I was either going to be a child psychologist or a teacher when I was little), and so I started to search. I searched and looked. I talked to my mom and I said with the little knowledge that I had, that I thought JJ had drug induced schizophrenia. Time went on and as my parents tried to get help for my brother it was clear they needed more help.

I don’t remember the exact date, but my parents committed my brother. He was held for evaluation and after numerous tests they concluded that he had paranoid schizophrenia with panic attacks. He was put on medicine to control the disease.

But my brother never came fully back.

Continued in next post: Learning and Living with Schizophrenia.

Becoming Military

is hard.

I haven’t given a lot of information about it lately. Mostly because I haven’t had any updates…

What we know: Jacob’s enlisted, for some reason Jacob’s security clearance was messed up and he just finished putting it in the computer, Jacob was asked when he would like to leave for basic (by someone higher up) and he said October.

That’s all we know. I’ve been told that after the security clearance goes through he can leave at anytime. Technically Jacob can still be leaving in October and we just don’t have a leave date.

I’m having issues with this. Jacob said to leave it in God’s hands and it’s going to work out. I understand that. I know that deep within myself. However, I also feel like I need to be proactive. We have a list of things that we want to do before Jacob leaves. We also have a list of things that we HAVE to do before Jacob leaves. I feel like we need to start on that list and get it all done. Jacob feels like we can wait to start the list when he gets a leave date. Meaning that it may not be October when he leaves, so why get very busy right now?

 

This month for Drill there is a family day, I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I can meet some Moms that are like me and they can give me some more information. Also, I feel a little nervous about meeting all these new people. :S