Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Which Meganne Realizes She's Not an Island



I have a lot to say.  Life is large and full of things to talk about, but writing doesn't much happen as well or often as it should....  Or, in my case lately, there's a lot of anger leaking out around the edges that I'd prefer to start letting go of before opening my mouth on with certain subjects.

Instead I want to talk about joy.  I want to talk about something I've been mulling over in my head for a few weeks now.

I've been pretty open about being a solitary Pagan.  I didn't mesh well with the locals in Iowa, which isn't to say anything bad about the community there, but I just never felt particularly welcome there for some reason.  I think it was an extension of generally not feeling welcome in Iowa as a whole despite growing up there.  I'm not above thinking I wasn't coming at it at a completely open mind myself, but I feel like there was a definite lack of either side meeting in the middle.

But honestly?  I was at it as a Pagan for over a decade in Iowa, and despite having a friend or two who were of various Pagan faiths, I never really felt particularly compelled to be part of the community.  Maybe coming from it now at a different stage in my life would give me a new perspective, but I'm no longer there to test out this theory.  I'm somewhere different now: mentally, spiritually, and physically.

For the first few years of living in Missouri, I've been working through my faith.  I've been met with illness and motherhood.  I've spent a lot of time reading and evaluating what I believe.  I deepened my relationship with Apollon and renewed my vows to him (Both of which I've been very quiet about up until this point, but I will return to shortly in another post).

I am Pagan.  I am Polytheist.  I am Roman.  I am American...  I am everything and nothing.  It's wonderful and glorious.

And lonely.

One thing I've realized lately is that I am not an island.  With a call to ministry, it's probably more than a little amusing that up until this point I have been so solitary, except I think maybe this time has been spent evaluating myself as deeply as one can.  I've lived the Maxim of Know Thyself, and while I will continue to live it, it was time for me to reach out.

On Facebook, I mentioned that I was wishing I had a local community.  And much to my shock, some of my local friends started mentioning they had Earth-centered leanings...

Suddenly I was curious...  What did the local Pagans look like?  What were they into?  Did I already know them?

So I did what any rational socially anxious Matrona would do...  I packed up my mother and daughter, and I went to Pagan Pride.

Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride, by the way, is a nice little gathering.  I didn't get a chance to go to any workshops like I wanted to do, but it looked like a nice mix of subjects and faiths represented.  The local artisans are quite skilled and make beautiful pieces of art.  The local stores have a nice collection of books for those not up to their elbows in an ancient civilization.  My daughter enjoyed the music, and had she been just a bit older would have loved the activity table and face painting.

I'm not sure if my mind was more open that day; maybe I've been working on not rejecting others before they can reject me...  Maybe, but I like to imagine that the Pagans of Central Missouri are a better fit for me.  This area of the state is where my roots hail from; the land is undoubtedly in my blood.  The Missouri River calls to me.  This is my home.

I was getting the push to go to Pagan Pride.  I felt a great sense that I was supposed to be meeting at least one person there.  It didn't happen.  I volunteered to work the divination tent next year anyway.

I guess my swing further into the Cultus Deorum Romanium (or at least the study of it) has alienated me in a way, because I felt this weird mix of not having anything in common with anyone and excitement that I'd found my people.  I hadn't been in the company of another of the Roman persuasion since 2001, and back then I was decidedly not a cultor myself.

But I knew I was selling myself short, because I am still really socially anxious.  I didn't talk to too many people.  I understood that I didn't make any connections because that part of my brain said, “Relax, Meganne, I've got this” and then proceeded to flip the eff out and dump copious amounts of adrenaline into my body. (Note to self: Make the socially anxious part of the brain sit in the back seat next time.)

Anyway, I decided to reach out again.  This time I asked on Facebook in the local alliance group if there was anyone even remotely close to what I practice.  I didn't expect anything.

The gods are laughing at me.  Seriously.  I almost immediately got a response from another person who is a Gallo-Roman polytheist, which is where my gut tells me I'm going to end up myself eventually.  We've been out for tea.  It was awesome!  I'm doing my best to not wax on for 5 paragraphs about how awesome it was, because I'm afraid of being creepy.  Seriously.  I have not been this excited since...  Well, I don't even know when.

While we're at it, you should read his blog.

So allow to me encourage my fellow hermit-types out there to reach out.  If it doesn't work the first time reach out again.  And again.  And maybe again.  Eventually you're going to find someone you have things in common with out there.

We cannot build the community we want for ourselves without being involved in the community.  That is something the last year has taught me.  If I dream of temples built on the ground called the United States (and I do, I so very, very much do), I have to gather the community about me that will support such an undertaking.  Even if that wasn't the case, the human experience calls out to be shared and nurtured in a family of chosen kindred spirits.

The gods are patient, kind, and good.  They are amazing.

They have to be to put up with me.

And as a side note, Mid-Missouri Pagans who may or may not be reading this...  I genuinely and with all of my heart look forward to meeting more of you as soon as I can.  Even if I struggle making eye contact.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Last 7 Months in Review


Sheesh, I took a break on a negative note last year.  Things got stressful and crazy.  Things continued to be stressful and crazy.  Yet somehow my head didn't explode.  My goal at this point is to return to blogging with a post a week.  I have a two-month-old.  I'm not sure this is going to happen, but it's worth a shot.

Anyway, the wee one is sleeping, so I get a chance to try to give a quick update of life events in the last 7 months.

October:

I found out we were having a girl!  She quickly receives the nickname Pony, and this is most likely what I will refer to her as on this blog.

There was a knife fight in our cul-de-sac.

I get sick while in Kansas City taking classes and need to go home.  My mother drove to get me because Mr. NaW was unable to.  Her car broke down in the garage of the hotel.  We are unable to find a car to rent to get home, because Nascar is in the city for the weekend.  My friend from the program was leaving early that evening, and we were able to hitch a ride to a distance Mr. NaW was able to pick us up.

November:

We were looking to buy a house, but were turned down for a mortgage – Not surprising considering the amount of student loan debt involved, but disappointing since we'd found a place on the outskirts of town we really, really liked that we felt we could afford.

I start feeling really sick when eating.  I realize that I most likely have gestational diabetes, but my OB didn't seem too concerned with getting it diagnosed until further along in the pregnancy.

One night Mr. NaW and I are sitting in our living room and hear gunshots.  We call 911 after ducking for cover.  The police find unspent bullets in our front yard, because one of our (numerous) bad neighbors managed to drop them while shooting at whomever they were shooting at.

We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.  About ten minutes after getting home, the police are knocking on my door wanting to know if we knew anything about the burglary next door.  A week later the same thing happened.  It's at this point that we became desperate to find another place to live.  Fast.  We'd had enough.

We found an awesome duplex for cheap with a fenced in yard and beautiful view out the back window.  Best of all, we would be surrounded by couples and widows who are all older than us.  The family that is renting it approves us without even doing a background check.

December:

I manage to get through giving a 20 minute presentation on my business plan despite being unmedicated for my social anxiety disorder.  I graduate from my ag business program.

I am still really sick from food.  I'm not shocked when I'm diagnosed around Christmas with gestational diabetes.  I end up having to go onto medication because diet was unable to control it.

We start moving across town at the end of the month.  We don't finish until February.  We love our new place, but I will never move again while pregnant.

January:

I finally have my blood sugar under control, and am feeling better.  We're still stressing about moving.  My blood pressure starts looking kind of strange, but it's chalked up to my social anxiety disorder and my OB's waiting room.

February:

About the time I start nesting at the beginning of the month, I wind up in the hospital for observation due to my blood pressure.  I get diagnosed with gestational hypertension, which means I'll have to be induced a week earlier than my due date.  It also lands me in the full-blown high risk category for my pregnancy.  I have biophysical profiling and an appointment once a week because of it.  I also get stuck on bed rest.

The next day I go into latent labor that comes and goes for the next month.  Yes, I was technically in labor for a month.

March:

My glucose readings are no longer controlled by medication.  I have access amniotic fluid that makes me measure way beyond 42 weeks.  My blood pressure is a mess.  We bump up induction to the beginning of week 39.

I go in on a Sunday to be induced.  After 36 hours of labor with back labor that wasn't covered by the epidural and 3 hours of pushing, Pony is born via forceps delivery.  At some point I might just write out her birth story, but I'm currently pretty traumatized by it.

5 hours after birth.


I struggle with being a mom and recovering from a third degree laceration from delivery.  They only give me 3 days worth of pain medication.  I wind up in urgent care and on blood pressure medication, because my blood pressure is completely out of control.  I go back onto preclampsia watch for a month.

My mother stays with us for two weeks helping take care of the baby.  I am absolutely terrified when she finally starts going home at night instead of staying with us, because I am drugged to the gills and dealing with blood pressure issues.  On top of this, Pony is recovering from a broken collar bone from delivery and suffering from gastrointestinal distress.

We start what end up being weekly trips to the pediatrician because she is constantly screaming from gas and spitting up large amounts of breast milk when she eats.  We get told it's normal.  I already know at this point that it's not.

Her body breaks out in a rash.  I, once again, get told it's normal, but my gut tells me it's not.

Pony starts projectile vomiting towards the end of the month, and we find ourselves dealing with an inconsolable baby who is screaming and crying up to 20 hours a day.

April:

March blends into April.  At some point we rule out pyloric stenosis via ultrasound, but the reflux Pony is suffering continues to get worse.  I'm starting to suspect a food allergy.  The doctor had already suggested I cut out “gassy food,” but didn't really think that would help.

I cut out caffeine and obvious dairy.  Some symptoms get better.  Some continue to get worse.

The entire family comes down with a wicked RSV infection.  Pony gets her first trip to the ER at 6 weeks after breathing difficulty, but is not admitted for observation.  We spend the next 4 days wanting to die from our own illness while taking care of a miserable newborn.

Our doctor finally writes a prescription for Zantac for the reflux.  For the first time since she was born, we actually get to see a bit of Pony's personality instead of just a baby in terrible pain.  Some things get better.  Other things continue to get worse.

Pony is breastfeeding every 45 minutes to an hour and refuses to take a bottle so I can get some rest.  I get told that if I want to breastfeed, I won't be able to go back on medication for bipolar disorder.

By this point I'm convinced we have food allergies or sensitivities on our hands, but I can't get a single doctor to agree with us.  Our lactation consultant, however, completely agrees with us.  She also helps us start to teach Pony to drink from a cup after a supplemental feeder wouldn't work on Mr. NaW's finger.  And she shows me a list of medications I can safely take if I need to for my mental heath.

I begin working on correcting an oversupply issue and an overactive let-down.

I decide to cut hidden dairy and wheat out of my diet.  Pony gets slightly better and continues to after just a few days.  I eat soy sauce.  Things get ugly.  I cut soy, too.  Things start getting better again.

May:

We still have no idea exactly what we're dealing with in regards to our daughter's health, but we have all the symptoms of food allergies.  She is still in pain from the reflux and gas.  She doesn't spit up or vomit as much since cutting food out.

Two days ago we tried to start her on vitamins only to find blood in her stools and all the symptoms of an allergy come back in horrible ways.  We discontinued use and she's doing better.  I have yet to hear back from the company about what allergen derivatives are in their vitamins, but obviously there was something.

We have her 2-month appointment this week.  I will be pressing the allergy issue more and requesting testing for Celiac Disease be done for her.  Along with appointments for me, since I'm STILL dealing with postpartum issues physically.  I won't be tested for gluten-intolerance until after I'm done breastfeeding.  Having already cut it out, I think I'm actually starting to feel a bit better in regard to pain, but time will tell.

Say hello to Pony @ 2 months


Anyway...  That has been what I've been up to.  Hopefully at some point I'll catch up on others' blogs and see how everyone I've followed is doing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Call Me Grumpy Pants If You Want...

I’ve intended to blog more lately, but silence has kind of… Well, happened. As has life.

1. Pregnancy continues with little real problems. We hit 18 weeks, and next Monday we have another ultrasound and hopefully find out the sex of the baby. I should probably plan to blog more on this subject. Basically, though, my romanticized ideas of a spiritually-centered wonderful happy time pregnancy has actually been a time filled with fatigue (Really? Still?), aversions to 99% of vegetables, feeling incredibly tiny in a giant world, wondering when I’m going to actually start to feel excited about a baby instead of swinging between downright terrified and numb, reminding myself that I want children, and listening to every woman I encounter (no matter how little I know them) inform me that I’m insane for wanting a natural childbirth (along with a healthy dose of the opposite side of the camp basically saying I will never bond with my child among other horrible things should I NOT manage to get through the entire experience sans medical intervention). Funny thing is that I never actually say that I want to try for a natural childbirth.  They just volunteer this information on their own.

Also, I’m apparently less of a woman if I don’t feel completely comfortable with the thought of breastfeeding at this point as a first-time-mother, and to make things better I have no self-esteem because I cover my hair and would never feel comfortable not having a cover for my breasts when publicly feeding my child. Seriously, ladies… Can we lay off the judgmental negativity on blogs and more importantly in real life? While I admit that I may not have the greatest self-esteem, my religious practices of dressing (semi)modestly and levels of comfort in letting body parts I consider sacred be on full display for anyone walking by to see has nothing to do with lacking in a concept of self-worth and confidence. In fact, it has everything to do with the fact that I have a personal concept of it – Just like you do. It’s just we see things differently. And yes, I belly dance. And yes, I think the female body is one of the most beautiful things the Gods created. But just like a mystery cult or what happens in the Temple of Vesta, I don’t particularly want the uninitiated knowing what’s going on, if you know what I’m saying. Think of me as a prude, but please shut up with the public judgment. If that’s what self-esteem looks like, I don’t want it.

2. I have a month-and-a-half to come up with a business plan for the classes that I’m taking. I have spent the last 4 months having no clue what I’m doing. I have few assets. I have no start-up capital. And it will be more than a year until I can even start working on said plan. Oh, and it’s for farming and I have no land… The plan was to work internships (typically unpaid and living on-farm) for a couple years, but the baby on the way has sort of thrown a wrench in that plan. I’m not really upset, because the reason for having to re-plan is a happy one. However, I found out I was pregnant a week before this program started, so I’ve not had time to regroup… Never mind how hard it is finding land to lease. Especially when you want to start urban and small.

3. We are looking to buy a house. We can no longer stand living where we do due to our neighbors constantly playing music too loudly and our property manager and police apparently not being able to (or are they just unwilling?) to help us with it. We’ve exhausted every option short of a lawsuit, and I’m just too tired to deal with that unless it’s a matter of getting out of our lease. We want to buy so we can do what we want on our property and not have to rely on others not fixing things when we could do it ourselves. (Hello leaky faucet I can't seem to get anyone to fix but could easily do myself...)

Considering the rate this is going, we’ll be moving this next summer… And I’m seriously starting to wonder if with everything else happening (house and baby?) if we’ll be able to afford the small wedding we were planning on. I am so miserable in this duplex that I’m torn as to how I feel about it, and now I’m having to fight off the suggestion (from my fiancé of all people) to just go to the courthouse and get it done. I’m getting promised a big party when we can afford it, but I know how this goes… The party never happens. Never mind that the party isn’t the only part of a wedding to me… The, you know, ceremony part is the big deal.

So yes, gentle readers, I am stressed and unhappy at this point. And, despite my tendency to rant, I don’t feel right putting my negativity out publicly to the world day in and day out. I’m personally a little baffled as to how things can actually be going so well (these are happy situations for the most part!) and I can be simultaneously happy and unhappy or excited and unenthused. Is it pregnancy? Is it bipolar disorder? Can I write it off as being a Libra? Who the hell knows.

What I can tell you is that I’m more than willing to just keep trudging on to see where all of these things take me in the upcoming year. And I promise to let you know what our ultrasound reveals about the baby we have taken to calling Pony, because early on when asked whether we wanted a boy or girl we just replied with, “We really hope it’s a pony.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Evidence of What I Did to Celebrate Summer Solstice... *Cough*

Baby Not a Wiccan, 11 Weeks
Note to Facebook friends: This is a secret you’re getting clued into about a month early! I’m waiting a few more weeks to blab to the general world about this news, but I’m going to explode if I don’t actually write about it now. So please, if you’d kindly not mention it and bask in the glory of the smug satisfaction of knowing something most people don’t, I’d appreciate it. Grazie.


After almost a month of having no energy at all and doing very little housework, a week of my chest feeling like Wee Folk had been kicking me in my sleep, and a vast array of general weirdness I chalked up to my first hardcore fibro flare-up in half a year, I was cooking green beans one night and nearly threw up on the stove. The next day the nausea kicked in full blast after a nap, just about the time I needed to cook dinner again. It was at that point that I decided to immediately go out and get a pregnancy test, gingerale, and soda crackers, sparing the fiancé the fact that I was getting a pregnancy test.

When the test’s confirmation line turned before the control line, I thought to myself Shit, this thing is broken. Then a second or two later, I realized that the stick was telling me that I was, in fact, pregnant.

It wasn’t denial, and I wasn’t completely clueless as to what was going on. The cravings kicking in almost immediately gave me pause. Just a few days before I took the test, I was joking with my mother about all of the problems I was having and that maybe I was pregnant. We’d been cleaning a house that day, and a cowbird spent the entire five hours I was there flying from window to window following my movement and pecking on the glass; when I got home to research into what cowbirds mean, part of it was about neglecting children… Neglecting? Not exactly. Or, well, okay, neglecting the signs and lacking the bravery to confirm things. The thing is that I was trying not to set myself up for disappointment.

There came a point sometime last year where every time my period started, I felt a stab of disappointment. We weren’t trying to conceive, but we weren’t trying to prevent it either. I was getting tired of hoping only to turn around and start the cycle of let-down a few weeks later. So I guess when combined with my cycle being off whack from a car accident in February, I just managed to convince myself that I was being neurotic. I was used to being late. I was used to heinous PMS. And I was used to experiencing something I can liken to opening every single present under the Christmas tree only to find the one thing you really, really wanted and asked for repeatedly wasn’t there as a child.

So on July 16th, I took a pregnancy test. I’ve taken a lot of them in my life (irregularity plus general neurosis = I should have bought stock in pregnancy tests), but this was the first time I had a positive result. I was over-the-moon for a few days before I got really, really sick from it all. The week after that found me in St Louis taking agri-business classes and traipsing around farms in the area in the middle of a heatwave. Then upon returning home, I just continued to sleep all day and night, finding when I was sleeping I was sick to my stomach constantly. I’ve yet to throw up, but you spend 4 weeks constantly nauseated, eventually you find yourself kind of wishing you just would.

On top of being sick, I’ve constantly worried that something was going to happen. The most amusing part of this is that I’m slowly starting to feel better, and I find myself even more worried… My symptoms are going away!!! What does that mean?! The rational side of my brain obviously tells me that my body is finally adjusting to massive hormones. However, I come from a family filled with difficult pregnancies and heartbreaking endings in regard to them, so I have almost an inherited fear of something happening that I’m trying my best to work through. This is a new level to the battle for mindfulness and self-awareness that I’m swinging through. Observing these thoughts and feelings then letting them move on has not been easy. I keep practicing. It’s all I can do.

This pregnancy, despite me feeling like crap, is going great. Today, as I said, I hit 11 weeks. My doctor was incredibly excited to pick up the heartbeat on Doppler (170bpm) at 10 weeks through my chub (though she didn’t say the chub part… That’s me. Ha!). The dating ultrasound the next day revealed a kicking, hiccupping miracle living inside me.

And this is a miracle, as far as I’m concerned, or a very large blessing from the gods… Or both.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Meet Opal!

The car ride to her new home.
Yesterday after waiting patiently for quite some time, we introduced a new member to our family.  This is Opal, who is already turning into a mama's girl.

She is nothing short of fearless (except for big dogs, which we have none of).  And her meow is so quiet sometimes it's almost silent.  She is also constantly purring.

I'm sure Opal's antics and adventures will be documented here in full as she grows up.  For now she simply wanted to say hi to you.  We have to go play and take a nap now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And the Winner Is...

 

Today was the last day of my giveaway, and I let folks know on my Facebook page that I'd be random.orging a number for the winner tonight after dinner.  Amusingly, I drew my favorite number and one that shows up regularly in my life - 11...

So the winner is...

Danni of The Whimsical Cottage! If you haven't checked out her blog, I'd suggest it. She's a highly creative lady, and I've enjoyed her blog for quite some time now. She also has an Etsy shop, which is on vacation right now, but very much worth checking out when it's up!

Congrats again, Danni!

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