Words to Live and Write by

I am willing to fall Because I have learned how to rise.

I craft Love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure.

I am among the brave and brokenhearted, and I am rising strong.

(credit to Brene Brown)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ten years since high school graduation


My ten-year high school reunion is coming up. Sorry, but there's no way I'm paying $90 to go to a bar for it. So here's my reminiscing of 10 years ago.

Senior Portrait

Proof that I graduated

I don't know that I'd call these the "best" songs of 2003, but it is a good representation of what was popular.


Some of my favorite movies from 2003:





I wrote poetry. No, I won't share it. It was never very good.

Okay, technically this came out during freshman year of college, but it was still ten years ago.
My first class at BYU. I started college exactly one week after I graduated high school. This was the book that made me fall in love with Classics.
I wouldn't know how this would affect me until several years later.
Yeah, this happened at college. too. Ironically, almost exactly to the date of the mission release pictured next to it.






THESE are people I wouldn't mind seeing at a high school reunion. Somehow I doubt most of them will make it, either.


So... Happy 10-year Reunion, I guess.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Depression




Depression is a part of my life. Not in a passing way, but a constant one. It has been an active problem since I was seventeen, although I didn't recognize it at the time. Many years later, I've discovered that my depression can be managed by Zoloft. We call it my "happy pill," because it makes me feel more like myself—less prone to fits of irritability, frustration, or full-on meltdowns. That's a sure sign a medication is needed, I think: when it makes you feel like you.

I've had several episodes of serious, sometimes dangerous depression in my life.

The first major one was when my first engagement ended abruptly and brutally. (In hindsight it was for the best; at the time it was devastating.) I lived alone in the apartment we'd leased to move into just a few weeks later. My wedding dress, already fitted, hung in my closet alongside a good portion of my almost-husband's wardrobe, preemptively moved in. It was winter in Utah, and a very cold one at that, but although I trudged through the snow in no more winter gear than a scarf and sometimes gloves, I literally never felt the cold. I was numb even physically. So numb that, frustrated by the calluses on my feet from working long hours in a department store, one night I took a box of matches and burned them off. I don't recall that hurting one bit.

What did hurt was my ex-fiancé jumping back and forth between "I don't want to get married" and "I'm an idiot; please give me another chance." I always gave him another chance, which he always backed out of. I spent many nights awake, afraid of the dark, afraid of my thoughts (which tended towards romantic suicidal scenes), afraid of everything until I couldn't feel fear anymore. Then I felt grief. My mind has blocked out most of those months, but I have one distinct memory of getting out of the shower and being so suddenly overwhelmed that I crumpled to the cold floor in my towel, curled into the fetal position and sobbed—loudly—for hours. No one called to check on me. No neighbors knocked, wondering what the noise was. No one came to visit. My family and friends, and especially my ex-fiancé, had all turned away from me. I stopped going to class, I stopped sleeping, I stopped eating, I stopped going out. Life for me had stopped.

Eventually, I was sent back to my parents' house, where I lived like a zombie, emotionless and uncaring, for months. I don't remember much of those months either. I don't remember what really helped me out of that depression. But I do remember the first time I felt myself again. Back at college, my very patient roommates finally convinced me to go out with them. We went caving, exploring extensive, pitch black caves somewhere outside Provo. It was exhilarating. And when we finally emerged, I breathed in the fresh air and looked up and actually saw the stars. It felt like I'd just done the exact same thing emotionally—crawled out of the darkness, breathed deeply for the first time, and seen light, hope. I was back!

The second major episode with depression was much more subtle. Anthony and I had been trying to conceive for a year, and we'd been on the miserable Clomid cycles for almost eight months. My depression, instead of being abrupt, crept up and slowly loomed larger and larger. Infertility is stressful. (See this previous post for more about that.) I was working too long and hard at my job, and longer and harder at my last college classes. I was getting crippling migraines every day. I'd break down sobbing to Anthony about a Latin passage I couldn't translate. I would snap at my co-workers and boss. I finally told my doctor that I thought the infertility treatments and the major hormonal fluctuations accompanying them were too much. He said, "Oh! Well, here's some Zoloft. See if that helps." As if he should have seen it sooner. Within about a week, as I walked from work to campus, I found myself humming, unable to stop smiling, and turning my face upwards to bask in the sunlight. I was back again! Incidentally, I later got a copy of that doctor's notes and he'd noted on my next visit, "Hannah was actually smiling today. Marked improvement."

Depression attack number three came within another year. I was still on Zoloft, but the cause of this one was beyond what that meds ability to help. After ten weeks of joyful pregnancy (no nausea except around bacon), we had an ultrasound that brought my world crashing down. No heartbeat. No baby. The miscarriage was so painful. On bed rest for two weeks, I sank deeper and deeper into my personal darkness. I blamed all our fertility troubles on myself. I got really angry with God. I can't number the times I cried over news that yet someone else was expecting. I stayed in that darkness, unable to admit to anyone that's where I was. Anthony lost his job, we moved twice, and I played a very convincing "fine." But I wasn't. I hadn't been able to sleep since that miscarriage. I turned to Tylenol PM and then to Ambien to mask the insomnia. Coming out of that depression was so slow. There was no "I'm back!" moment. But it came as I learned to love my Primary class, and then my Seminary class. Teaching Seminary was probably the most healing thing I could have done. Slowly, my spirit strengthened, my heart grew stronger and broader, and I became the me I knew again.

Episode number four is discussed in detail in Our Pregnancy Story. Truthfully, not much detail, but the story seemed so long that I left out a lot. Physically, I was sick and in constant, excruciating pain. No numbness this time, not even on morphine, oxycodone, codene, hydrocodone, etc. It got so severe that my brain turned to survival mode. In my life of plenty, I never expected to experience that; I never want to again. All higher thought ceased: I couldn't read, I couldn't listen to music, I couldn't engage in conversation, and I really couldn't force myself to think positively. There was only pain. My entire world was pain. Nothing else mattered to me but making that pain stop. Anything to make it stop. Literally, anything. Throwing myself down the stairs,  "accidentally" slipping in the shower, taking an entire bottle of painkillers, ramming myself belly-first into the corner of a dresser, finding a knife and bleeding out. Those thoughts were real, and they were forceful. It was the most frightened I have ever been, and I was frightened of myself. Except it wasn't me—not the me I know. Because in survival mode my brain had turned off all the parts that made me me. And I was terrified that I would be stuck that way permanently. Always in the darkest abyss; never able to feel happy, or light, or breathe deeply again. And I lived with that terror for months.

Fortunately, the end came. They cut Lana out of me, and suddenly this tiny person whom I'd hated for eight months became the most perfectly loved person in my universe. Deepest darkness to brightest light in one newborn scream. This time, it was Anthony who looked at me in wonder, about two weeks later after I'd gone off on some random tangent while reading scriptures. With wide eyes, he simply said, "You're back!"

Yes, depression for me is something I get lost in. It's a darkness that settles over my whole soul and binds me so perfectly that I cannot break free. This happens in smaller ways very frequently, especially when I forget to take my "happy pill" regularly. It is a part of my life I have to accept. I'm not broken—that seems too cruel—I just need a little help.

Recently, there has been much news about the risks of taking Zoloft during pregnancy. I never took any while I was pregnant with Lana until after they removed my ovary and through my post-surgery grogginess I heard the doctors confer. "She's been through enough trauma." "She's predisposed." "Let's not risk post-partum depression." So I began taking it for the last month and following delivery. Which meant no PPD, hooray!

Now, however, as we consider adding another Trujillo (seems insane, doesn't it?), I worry about my necessary "happy pill." My OB, one of the best and who was there through the whole mess last time, advised me that the risk of birth defect is very, very small, and given my history she would highly recommend I keep taking Zoloft. But, seeing my concerned look, she added, "If you really want, you can wean yourself off for the first 12 weeks. After that, there's no risk, so go back on it." That sounded like good advice.

So wanting to be free-and-clear of Zoloft for the first trimester—whenever that happens—I've spent the last couple months weaning myself off of Zoloft. I now vividly remember why we call it my "happy pill." I am not me. And I hate it. I'm short-tempered, irritable, lethargic, and seem to fail at every coping strategy I've learned. It's disrupting my ability to be a wife, a mother, a friend, a teacher, or anything else I try to be.

So here's my conclusion. Judge me as you will. I have to do what seems best for my family and for me. I'm going to take that Zoloft—be me—until l see that first positive pregnancy test. THEN I will drop it for three months, trying to do what's best for unborn baby, and hop back on in the second trimester with hopes it can help me cope with the stresses inevitable from motherhood and pregnancy. No one needs me to go back to that dark abyss. No one. (I think I learned that lesson, God. Let's not repeat the test, okay? Seriously. Please?) 

No, my depression's not gone. It never entirely is. I don't know why I drew that straw in life. But if there's a way to manage it, to feel like I have some control, than I am one to adamantly say, "Take it!" God made man to have joy; some trials, too, to learn and grow; but mostly joy. I choose to see Zoloft as God's tool for me to help me experience joy.

I guess I shared all this because I know so many people suffer from depression. In different ways and for different reasons than I do. And it gets lonely down there. There's no room for anyone or anything else in that cave. The best we can do is try to find our way out of the blackness, breathe deeply, and rejoice when you can finally say, "I'm back!"

Dancing Feet

This is why I insist that dance will be Lana's first organized activity. Watch her feet.

video
 I see potential for that fancy River Dance stuff.

She even has rhythm! (She definitely got that from Anthony.)

video

 
Her feet have always, always been this active, including all 8 months in utero. You can watch her newborn busy feet here. The nurses always asked (every day for the month I spent in the hospital before delivery) if I'd felt the baby moving. My answer was always the same: "She never stops!"
There was a reason why before the c-section an ultrasound in the morning showed her head down by my hips, one an hour before showed her breech (head up under my ribs), and by noon she was transverse (sideways).



Friday, August 23, 2013

Hugs & Kisses



  As I was putting away some laundry in our bedroom, I noticed Lana had spent a bit too much time quietly in the other room. I hurry out, and on my way call out, "What are you doing, babe?"
   She answers with a delighted, "Mmmmm!" Which is when I see she has open bags of both Hershey's kisses and hugs in front of her and chocolate dripping down her chin.
   Yup, I'd accidentally left the safety locks on our pantry cupboards undone. This girl is an opportunist!
   She was less than thrilled when I stuffed my fingers into her mouth trying to retrieve as much foil as possible. She doesn't understand the concept of unwrapping yet.
 
This picture is about 8 months old.
I was too busy prying foil wrappers out of her mouth to take one, but the chocolate-look is about the same.
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cuando Me Miras Asi



In honor of our eighth anniversary, here is our song. So beautiful. Lyrics in Spanish below (I gave a rough English translation, but the Spanish is so much better, really).








Cuando me miras así,
perdido estoy
cuando me miras así,
contigo voy
que puedo hacer tus ojos son,
el imán de mi corazón.
Cuando me miras así,
completo estoy
cuando me miras así,
yo se quien soy
no pido mas es lo mejor
eres el ángel luz de mi amor
en ti puedo ver la libertad
tu me haces sentir que puedo volar
y se que aquí es mi lugar
y se que a ti yo quiero amar
Cuando tu me miras así
cuando tu me miras así
no se falta nada mas
solo ganas siento de amar
Cuando me miras así,
perdido estoy
cuando me miras así,
contigo voy
que puedo hacer tus ojos son,
el imán de mi corazón.
Cuando me miras así,
completo estoy
cuando me miras así,
yo se quien soy
no pido mas es lo mejor
eres el ángel luz de mi amor
En ti puedo ver la libertad
tu me haces sentir que puedo volar
y se que aquí es mi lugar
y se que a ti yo quiero amar
Cuando tu me miras así
cuando tu me miras así
no se falta nada mas
solo ganas siento de amar
En ti puedo ver la libertad
tu me haces sentir que puedo volar
y se que aquí es mi lugar
y se que a ti yo quiero amar
En ti puedo ver la libertad
tu me haces sentir que puedo volar
y se que aquí es mi lugar
y se que a ti yo quiero amar.




When you look at me that way
I am lost.
When you look at me that way
I go with you.
What can I do? Your eyes are
a magnet for my heart.
When you look at me that way
I am complete.
When you look at me that way
I know who I am.
I ask no more, it is the best.
You are the angel light of my love.
In you I can see freedom.
You make me feel like I can fly.
And I know my place is here.
And I know it's you I want to love.
When you look at me that way...
When you look at me that way...
nothing else is missing.
The only desire I feel is to love.
In you I can see freedom.
You make me feel like I can fly.
And I know my place is here.
And I know it's you I want to love.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hey, America, I've got Talent, too!



A 3 a.m. epiphany


 I go to bed when I am tired. After a rushed evening of feeding my family, helping my toddler get pajamas on, teeth brushed, hair combed, I read stories, pray, and sing to my daughter until she is ready to sleep. I clean up her toys and the dinner dishes if I'm ambitious, and try to squeeze in a few minutes for my husband before he, too, is ready to sleep.

And because I am tired, I go to bed, too. But I do not sleep. My ear is trained to pick up the tiniest sound from the baby monitor, just in case. My mind races through a commentary and critique of the day—I measure how my child has grown and developed, and I begin creating new ways to keep her challenged and entertained. I review my own actions and omissions as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and sometimes even a friend. I try to find ways I can be more of what people need from me. I plan a lesson, a new project, or even work on the never-ending writing of my novel.

All this until the baby monitor calls me back to the present. My baby needs me now. While my husband slumbers on so he can be rested for his meetings tomorrow, I slip out of bed. On the hard, 2-a.m.-cold kitchen floor, I wash, fill, and warm a bottle. I tiptoe past my bedroom where my husband snores and open the door to my baby's room.

She reaches out to me, distressed, so I hold her close until she is soothed. A quick diaper change in the dark, and once again she is in my arms, cradled close, safe, and filling her tummy with warm milk while I sing.

It's then that my active, critical brain realizes I'm not very good at singing. No one would pay or cheer to hear me sing. If I sang this very same lullaby on "America's Got Talent," I would be laughed at, "X"-ed, and jeered off the stage. I'd be told by America at large that I have no talent.


 But my baby has finished her bottle. With drooping eyelids she smiles at me, thankful that I've sung to her. She relaxes in my arms and trusts me to carry her back to bed, where she will sleep soundly until she needs me again, knowing I will be there when she calls.

I slip back into bed, roll my husband over to muffle his snores, and train my ear once more to the monitor. That's when I realize—I do have talent. It's not a particularly unique one, not one crowds are prone to cheer. No, it's the talent of being a mother. I sing, and my daughter is soothed. She loves my voice, regardless of what any critic might call it. My voice, off-key and wobbly, is the most beautiful sound in her universe. My arms, which cannot bench-press anything, lift heavy things, or juggle, to her represent comfort, safety, and true strength. To her, my wisdom and knowledge are endless. My body, which any fashion designer or fitness guru would scoff at, is my daughter's most perfect example of beauty and grace.


 Oh yes, I am talented. I must be, if such a pure, honest person can see me that way. For her I will sing, I will dance, I will bask in my body's beauty and my mind's capabilities.

 No woman will ever see herself as she truly is until she sees herself through the eyes of her child.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Make this reality!

THIS is, I'm pretty sure, the best article I've read since having Lana.
 Please, please read it. It's beautiful. Especially this:

"I dream of a world where a new mother can leave the house in the morning -- in ill-fitting maternity clothes because nothing else fits her large and slowly deflating belly, with greasy hair and puffy eyes from the hours/days/weeks she's been functioning without sleep, with a leaking shirt from her breasts that are constantly churning and adjusting to make just the right amount of milk for the tiny young babe who depends on her for every last thing -- a world where this woman can leave the house with her babies in tow (up and out in the world because her toddler's need for playtime trumped her need for a blow dry. Or a nap)
-- And this woman TURNS OUR HEADS (not out of pity "oh bless her heart") and TAKES OUR BREATH AWAY (not because we think she looks like the "before" picture of an ambush makeover) but because she is LITERALLY The Most Beautiful Thing We've Ever Seen.
She is a superhero
She is a goddess
She is a Mother

Drop-dead gorgeous not in spite of the things that make her so, but because of them.
This is the woman I want my daughter to see when she touches my belly. This is the woman I want to see when I look in the mirror. Not the ugly truth. But the beautiful reality."

Can we make this reality?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joy-gabriel/kate-middleton-and-the-mom-in-the-mirror_b_3672553.html