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“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Non-Fiction Category

Finding Balance in the Second Trimester: A Shadea and Emily Chat

Shadea and I sat down for another chat, this time with both of us fairly far along in our second trimesters. It’s always so refreshing to sit down and talk with this girl in a practical, humorous, and honest manner, and this session was no exception. Today’s topics include: transitioning from first to second trimester, finding both emotional and physical balance, feeling sexy and empowered while pregnant (or trying to!), and how to face your limits and accept help and support when it’s offered.

 

E: HI.

S: Hey girl!
Sorry to keep you waiting.

No, I literally forgot today.

When Lauren and I were making plans for tonight (she does her laundry here), I mentioned, I will have to chat with Shadea at seven, and she just now said, you’ve got to do that thing with Shadea, and I was like OH RIGHT, YES. I DO. I TOTALLY remembered on my own.

So no worries.

I just finished dinner and I guess I was eating slow
Because, you know, food tastes so hella good these days

YES MA’AM, everyone asks what I’m craving and I’m like FOOD IN GENERAL.

Same way here. “Oh you have banana pudding this weekend? I need banana pudding like NOW.”

I’m super pumped about this! Not sure if this is how you did things before, but I just have a general idea of things to cover.

I mean, we can talk about food first.

I’m always down to talk about food, and I love talking to you about ideas and whatnot, so I’m excited!! Ready when you are!

Well in general, I’ve had a pretty easy second trimester. It’s almost over and I feel like throughout this process I’ve been kind of waiting for the hammer to drop. And it finally did, and I guess I wanted to see if you’d had a similar experience or how stress has affected you.

Yes, OK! Remind me how many weeks you are now – 23?

Yes – 23 weeks and…..4 days.

Right, and I am 21 weeks and 6 days. (when this was written)

So, how did your first trimester transition into your second? Was there a noticeable difference or was it more of the same experience?

It was pretty seamless. I didn’t have any incredible sense of passage or demarcation between them. Honestly, it seems a little arbitrary.
You?

I’m kinda middle ground. It wasn’t a huge dramatic change, but I definitely noticed some changes. I think I didn’t really FEEL pregnant at all (since I was never sick) until week 12, and so moving into week 13 was like, Wow, suddenly pregnant! And that feeling only grew from there.

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“How to Be Zen AF During Your First Trimester or Die Trying”

In part-interview and part philosophical discussion, fellow first time mama-to-be and all-around inspiring lady friend Shadea took some time to have a talk with me about pregnancy, vulnerability, identity, support, and options. 

 


E: HI SHADEA.

S: HELLO EMILY!

So, first — will you tell anyone reading a little bit about you and your lovely husband, and basically about becoming pregnant for the first time?

Ah well. This will be hard not to run down a romantic memory lane and gush all over everyone in the most sickening way.

DO IT.

GAH
IT IS SO GROSS.

NO, it’s lovely!!! You two have such a luminous relationship. I went there, I said luminous.

*Blushes*
I’ll try to be brief because we have a lot to talk about – Davis and I met in college working at the same coffee shop.
I was madly infatuated with him and we fell in love in the winter during a snowstorm. My power went out and I stayed with him for a week.
OMG IT’S SO SAPPY.

Within a few months of dating, we made plans to travel together in the summer. We went to few countries in Europe and then lived in Morocco for a month while I studied Arabic and did some research for my senior thesis.
See, I can’t start from anywhere but the start!
Anyway – Long story short, we hit all the major testing points before getting married – we traveled together, lived together and lived away from each other.

Right — I think that’s why you want to start at the beginning — you formed such a deep, strong relationship before babies or even marriage were on the table — that’s super important, and I feel similarly about Shaun and me. It’s so important to have a strong foundation to build upon.

And you got married when?

We’ve been married for 3.5 years (4 in May).
So 2012.
JESUS. Time flies.

Good, you remembered your anniversary. Points.
So — now you’re knocked up, like me — which to me is a really cool experience to have together since we’ve known each other so long.

For background to anyone reading– you and I have known each other since fourth grade which GOOD LORD.

Here is my favourite elementary school memory of you and me —

Competing over how many books we read?
Because I was thinking about that last night.

The only reason I eeked out a win in 5th grade was because you had *literally* read every book in the library and there were no more left for you to take tests on.

For some weird reason, we were the only ones in 5th grad Social Studies GT, and on Thursday afternoons, we scampered off to GT all by ourselves — and I was SO AWKWARD that year, with the Horrible Glasses and Tragic Bangs and a tacky church camp beaded necklace I would never take off. And you had that — knee thing? The issue with your knee and you wore a knee brace that made your one leg straight all the time, so you had to hobble?

And you were super tall and I was super short, and I would help you hobble off to GT where we tried to convince Mrs. Brown to let us email the White House.

OMG. OMG OMG
I completely forgot about that!
We were such an amazing pair.

We really were — I think we were the quintessential Weird Eccentric Girls who grow up to be Cool, Empowered Women. (I hope, anyway.)

For the record – I was mostly in awe of you, because I thought *I* read a lot.

My other favourite memory is EVERY TIME someone cast us in the high school play together and we couldn’t get through ANY SCENE without laughing, and on dress rehearsal, we laughed so hard, your mom yelled, “SHADEA!” from the audience.

I cannot even with this reliving shit. I’m crying over here.

I KNOW, it makes me weep thinking about it.

Anyway — back to babies — so you started messaging me shortly after I announced that I was pregnant. Which — you are actually 2 or 3 weeks ahead of me, correct? But you announced later than I did. What week are you/what’s your due date?

I’m in week 17, so I’m like 2 weeks ahead of you.

Yes, good. (I’m 15 weeks.)

And going back to that (hopefully) Cool, Empowered Women thing —  we’ve had a lot of conversations about being pregnant/birth/parenting, and it’s been nice because we’re similarly minded on a lot of topics, which can sometimes be hard to find.

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Reasons Not To Ask People, When Are You Gonna Have Kids?

How to Be an Adult, Opinion Piece - Emily - January 16, 2016

Trigger warning: mentions of infertility, infant loss.

When are you {two] gonna have kids?

The people asking this question are normally well-intentioned, bless them. They mean well, they really do. They’re just so excited about children and people having children and how happy the children in their lives  have made them, so why wouldn’t everyone else share in that joy? Why wouldn’t everyone else want to join in the amazing experience of having offspring?

The askers of this question, I’ve noticed, tend to be middle-aged people past their own childbearing years and into the grandparent stage, or else recent parents who are happily and suitably babied or currently with-child or trailing a few adorable children behind them. And there’s nothing wrong with – any of that. Kids are great. Having a baby is amazing. Raising your own little ones is an incredible experience.

The problem with this question, and asking it of anyone between the ages of 21 and 35 – particularly the latter, as it’s usually followed up with a You know you’re running out of time? – is that it tends to be a near-sighted question. In the asker’s obvious excitement about the prospect of someone else having a child, the asker tends to forget that this can be a sensitive subject for some – many – most people – and there are many reasons that, no matter how well-intentioned, you should probably think twice before actually asking this.

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Going Home

Florida, Life, Memoir, My Little Family, Our Marriage, Shaun, Travel - Emily - December 4, 2015

Nearly ten years had passed since I’d last been down this way.

Shaun and I had spent hours on I-65, but at the tail end of Alabama, we took an exit and wound around to newly finished country highways, the asphalt black and smooth with fresh paint.

He’d never been to this part of country before, and our GPS didn’t recognize it either. The highways had changed since the maps had been updated, the little screen blinked and skewed wide, showed us driving over nothing land, no roads and no direction.

I felt a flicker of worry – it had been nearly ten years since I’d made the drive to this part of Florida, and I’d never been the driver, the navigator, the one responsible for finding our way there. I’d always been a child, before, or a teenager. A passenger.

But my phone picked up right where the actual GPS freaked out, and we sped along, through little Alabama towns only miles apart. What little city there was faded away the longer we drove, here and there veering off a junction onto a different little highway.

Did we pass the Florida border yet? Shaun asked, and I shook my head.

I don’t think so, yet. But I dunno, I dunno if they’d have border signs way out here.

We’d taken a picture at every state line we’d passed, on our first long road trip together; at the rest stop in Tennessee we were so familiar with, at the Huntsville rest stop with the old space shuttle in Alabama. I didn’t plan on making us stop for a Florida picture – there’d be no rest stop, this far off the beaten path, and I knew we’d be taking plenty of Florida-themed pictures during our week there.

tn
al

The land had changed, all throughout our drive. The gentle hills and autumn-hued trees of Kentucky gave way to sharply rising gorges in Tennessee, the trees slightly greener, only tipped with red. Alabama seemed like such a strange place, long flat stretches of mostly empty land, the billboard on one mile proclaiming GO TO CHURCH OR THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU, and the next mile advertising strip clubs, adult bookstores. Over and over again.

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I got mad.

Life, Non-Fiction, Opinion Piece, Thoughts - Emily - November 16, 2015

This is a thought that I’ve had many times over the past couple years, and I’ve never quite taken the time to articulate it, thinking perhaps no one would listen, or no one would care, or that I would be attacked for expressing it this way. Now, in light of recent crises in Paris and Beirut and the refugees fleeing ISIS, not to mention the growing violence and disregard for minorities in our own country, I have to verbalize it.

I don’t claim to be a politically-savvy person. I will admit that sometimes I bury my head in the sand rather than stare down situations that often require choosing the lesser of two equals, because no real clear good choice exists.

But I have been a student of history, and more so, I have been a student of Germany – its language, its people, its history. I once took a course entirely dedicate to Berlin through the 20th Century, starting in 1900 and working all the way up to the year 2000 – which means I spent a lot of time studying World War II.

I remember, in high school particularly, hearing fellow students wonder how in the hell Germans allowed the Holocaust to happen. Couldn’t they see what was happening? How could they let this atrocity happen right under their noses? Surely they were partially to blame, if they didn’t try and stop it. Surely they knew, surely they just let this happen, let all of these innocent people die, all these millions – millions – of Jews and other minorities. How could they let this happen?

You know how this happened? Hitler and the Nazi party used propaganda. Propaganda, in case you’re just a bit fuzzy, is inflated, intentional use of opinionated, sometimes – oftentimes – even falsified information to sway public opinion towards a particular direction. Hitler and the Nazi party used propaganda to blame the Jews for everything, from the crucifixion of Christ to the economic downfall of Germany after World War I.

Hitler blamed the Jews for all major issues in modern day Germany, he made them scapegoats, and he made them easy to blame for all the hard times German felt as the Third Reich rose to power – so much so that the Nazi Party seemed like a reasonable choice, getting those villains out of the picture, and giving their jobs, their homes to “true” German citizens. So much so that when the Jews were rounded up and forced into ghettos, people could feel it was for their own safety. So much so that after the ghettos, most citizens could turn a blind eye to what happened to the Jews after they left the ghettos and headed to the work camps, and could remain unaware as they moved from the work camps into the gas chambers, and the ovens.. The Jewish people were so marginalized in their own society, their humanity was so reduced that they stopped being humans in the eyes of those who wanted to be rid of them.

If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, I’m worried about you. I’m scared about you.

In light of recent upheavals in all areas of the world but particularly here at home, in the States – there is a growing movement to marginalize those who would call out injustice, either aimed at themselves, or behalf of others. Those who would call racism. Those who are not content to sit idly by and let the majority steamroll anyone who dares to stop and ask questions, who stops to say, hey, something about this doesn’t seem right, something about this seems scary.

Now, far be it from me to call our current situation anything remotely like the Third Reich in its hey-day. Our modern day Hitler is hopefully not in power yet. But the pieces are in place. The climate is right, the water is boiling, and every day, we are turning up the heat.

We’re not there, thank God. But to me, a sometime student of history and a one-time, long-term student of Germany – it’s not difficult to see how it began, all those years ago. It’s not difficult to compare the marginalization of Muslim lives, black lives, Mexican lives – to the marginalization of Jewish lives in the twenties and thirties. It needs to stop here. We need to wake up. We need to stop the train from rolling forward. We need to stop ourselves from become so desensitized from human suffering that we say certain lives don’t matter because they’re not like us. We need to stop saying the lives of women and children don’t matter because they were born in a country that – like ours – is also home to religious extremists who will stop at nothing to promote hate and violence. We need to stop ourselves from becoming so indoctrinated that we are unable to see lies presented as truths, and demonize anyone who dares to differ from public opinion.

That is scary to me, and it is scarily familiar. Nazi Germany is only one of many historical examples, and look what a great and beautiful nation they have become since that dark time. Look at their industry, their accomplishments, their people – how all of it is grown. This can be us. We can stop this parade of hatred and drawing hard lines to separate humanity – and we can stop it before we too become a black mark on history’s page.

Clear and shining moments of humanity happen not when we stick to our guns and demand that things stay the same because that makes us feel safe. Clear and shining moments of humanity happen when we choose to look past borders, past creeds and ethnicities and genders, and choose to see human beings for what they actually are – human beings, just like us.

In conclusion, I can only end with a quote so frequently used by a great professor and a great woman. She used it in almost every course she taught me, and it has stuck with me. It sticks with me now:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
-Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

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