Me: [mee] - pronoun

native Seattle girl . 35 years old . blissfully married . city girl . wanderluster . interior designer . travel writer . cockeyed optimist . coloratura soprano . theatre enthusiast . proud police wife . zumba addict . architecture fiend . hopeless Anglophile . committed Christian . politically moderate . history nut . Starbucks addict . bookworm . wordsmith . filmophile . music geek . museum rat . not-so-closet shopaholic . student of drawing, dance, cooking, photography and languages . value life experience far above financial worth . appreciative of living healthy, but not at the expense of chocolate . never want to stop learning, laughing and seeing the beauty in all that is around me.

For more on that aforementioned wanderlust problem, click here.

23 February 2015

Falling through the cracks

I'm in awe of people who practice medicine for a living.  It amazes me.  And I'm definitely not one to disrespect a doctor or claim to know more than someone who has gone through specialized training.  But the system is so broken.  It has enormous cracks.  And I should know; Hubs and I fall right through one of them.  My fourth miscarriage started yesterday morning, and this post is the ugly truth about it that no one ever talks about.

I have no children, but I have been pregnant four times. I've spent a total of 16 weeks dealing with the early stages of pregnancy.  That's longer than a healthy pregnancy's entire first trimester.  But I've never had a real OB-GYN appointment.  Not ever.  I've only ever even talked to a real doctor once, and that was about 3 years ago.  Because in the world of pregnancy, OB-GYNs, their nurses, and their staff are only interested in seeing you if you have one of the following: 8 weeks of healthy pregnancy or 3 clinical miscarriages.  Note the word "clinical".

You see, our pregnancies are chemical.  Due to "chromosomal abnormalities", we only carry to about 6 weeks before we lose our baby...errr, non-viable embryo.  And apparently, these simply aren't worthy of real doctor's appointments.  Even when they happen 4 times in as many years, they don't count, and we've been made to realize that repeatedly.  I occasionally manage to reach a nurse on the phone; I chat briefly with the lab person who draws my blood every 48 hours.  But those are the only people who ever talk to me.  Everything else, we have to figure out for ourselves.  I understand why medically, but that doesn't change the fact that it's emotionally overwhelming. Every single time. We shouldn't have to do this alone.

I have to wait in the same waiting room, though.  Healthy pregnant women everywhere.  Newborns in carriers, crying and nursing.  Signs all over the walls saying, "Congratulations on your miracle!"  All the while, I sit in the chair, clinging to my husband's hand, enduring painful cramping and contractions that remind me that we were foolish to have gotten our hopes up again.  On the days you don't go to the OB-GYN's office, you're sent to the hospital lab, located directly across from the Birth Center.  Women walking around while they labor.  Newborns crying.  And you, miscarrying....again.  You fight the overwhelming thoughts that you will never have this.  THIS WILL NEVER BE YOU.

I realize this probably isn't the case with infertility specialists.  At least I hope it isn't.  And yes, we could pay the extra money to go there instead.  In fact, we will after this last loss.  But specialists can't do much for our specific problem.  The chance of success for our genetic-related issue is less than 4%, even with expensive specialist intervention.  And when specialists tell you you'd be wasting your money, you know your chances are slim.

I know what you're thinking now: faith.  Miracles, Lisa; they happen!  And it's not that I don't believe that is true.  But even when you believe in a higher power, four miscarriages puts your feet on the ground and makes you a realist.  I still believe God is in control, but simply asking God for something doesn't guarantee it.  It never has.  Yes, there is a reason God is allowing all this. Maybe I'll get to know what that reason is someday; maybe I won't.  But we have to learn to be happy no matter what happens, because we have no guarantees.  God's plan for our lives might not include children, and that doesn't make us inferior.  And people chastising or invalidating us for faith-related reasons doesn't help. At all. (And stop quoting Psalms 127:3. Seriously. Share it amongst yourselves all you want, but it is sincerely one of the most insensitive things you can say to someone struggling with infertility.)

Okay, now for the unpopular opinion. While experiencing a miscarriage gives some women unique insight to this situation - and I give them full credit and appreciation for that empathy - it changes the minute they successfully have a child.  Sorry, guys, but even you don't get it any longer.  I realize you understand how much it hurts to lose a child, but you no longer relate to the absolute crisis of self to have never succeeded.  It's a completely different ball game.  I struggle with anger when moms tell me they relate to me because of their inability to have their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th child.  Are you kidding me???  You have a little hand to hold.  You've shared that moment with your spouse.  You've met that little person that is a merging of you and your spouse.  You are acknowledged on Mother's Day.  You've been given that gift.  You're a mom.

The two lines on the pregnancy test will never mean joy to us.  Not ever again.  Instead, it's anxiety, pain, anger.  That's what miscarriages do; they steal your joy and turn it to dread.  I've learned to dig my heels in when I see those two lines.  Telling my husband comes with tears, not of joy but of fear.  It's happening again.  Don't you dare get your hopes up. Stay logical, rational. And for goodness sake, make the nurse listen to you.  Once you get her to call you back, that is.  Yes, I'm pregnant again.  Yes, you monitored my hcG last time.  No, I've never seen the doctor.  No, this is not an ectopic.  Oh, the E word.  That's the one thing they're paranoid about.  It could always be ectopic.  You'll struggle to get them to call you back at all...until they think it might be ectopic.  In a single week, I've been told "You need to go to the ER immediately" twice.  No, I don't.  You're not listening to me.  WHY WON'T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME?

I never thought I'd lose four babies.  I never thought I'd be terrified that number could climb even higher.  I never thought I'd be the person who knows a failed implantation simply by the way it feels.  I never thought I'd hate a positive pregnancy test result.  I never thought I'd resent friends who have no idea what this feels like.  I never thought I'd second guess nurses.  I never thought I'd see my tiny embryo on a piece of toilet paper, and certainly not more than once.

This is what infertility is really all about.  Aside from the loss and the lack of the thing you're fighting so hard to achieve, the system is set up to constantly remind you of your failures.  You will be made to feel unbelievably inconsequential, and you have to fight to be heard.  It's not a safe place.  It will never be a safe place.

A paranoid nurse woke me up this morning, the 4th nurse I've spoken to over the last week.  They wouldn't even call me back last week; now, they're concerned.  But now, it's too late.  Now, I just want to be left alone.  Instead, I had to talk her down from rushing to the ER.  I also talked her down from rushing to a transvaginal ultrasound.  We compromised; I will go back to the lab today, my 3rd visit in less than a week.  I'll sit with the pregnant women, grinning from ear to ear. I will have more blood drawn from an arm that's already bruised and green from all the other blood draws.  I will not see a doctor; instead, I'll make small talk with the lab person and be sent home to wait for my results.  When they finally call, it will probably be a 5th and brand new nurse.  She'll tell me they realize I was right, this is not ectopic, just another chemical.  My file will return to its usual spot at the back of the drawer.  We're sorry, but there's nothing we can do.  Have a nice day.

This week, I will stay under my heating pad, breathing through the pain as I silently miscarry my 4th baby.  I will swallow back tears and anger, my helpless husband grabbing my hand silently every once and awhile to remind me that while there's not much he can do, he's here.  I'll silently fight the overwhelming waves of failure and pain as I hide all my friends on Facebook once again, the photos of their healthy pregnancies and happy children just too much to process repeatedly.  I will once again hide while I try to put myself back together, because this topic makes people uncomfortable.  Because it's shameful.  Because again, we don't matter.  And the next time I see two lines on a pregnancy test, this entire process will start all over again.

The world needs to realize: this is what infertility is really all about.  WE MATTER.  Please listen.

05 December 2014

I can't be quiet any longer

The man I married challenges me every single day to be a better person.  He doesn't even try; it's just in his nature.  He is the most patient, level-headed person I've ever known.  He grew up reading a lot of comics.  In his mid-thirties, he still loves Superman.  I'm pretty sure he wishes he could be Superman.  But since he isn't from the planet Krypton, he settles for his only option to be a hero: being a police officer.

The transition from civilian family to law enforcement family was a hard one, learning with every call just how awful people could be to each other.  Knowing what humans are capable of leaves absolutely no room for ignorance.  He would come home and silently hug me after working truly heinous crimes as our naivety slowly faded away.  We realized we'd need to grow tough skin, or we'd never make it.  But as his wife, I took comfort in knowing that, when trouble arose, I was married to the man who went running toward the danger to help, to fix it, to keep people safe and stop the people who were trying to hurt or steal.  I have always taken an insane amount of pride in that, to the point that it was worth the possible threat to his life someday.

However, that is no longer the hardest part of this life.  Watching people break laws and hurt each other has actually become the easy part; even the criminals understand the reasons for the law and the repercussions when they break it.  It's logical, and it makes sense.  Instead, nowadays, it's everyone else who seems to have abandoned logic.  And no matter how much I try to wrap my head around it, I can't understand what is going on.

One day, soon after M was accepted to the academy, I stood in the living room of an old friend and shared the great news of his new job.  M was going to be trained to serve and protect.  To keep people safe.  To be his own version of Superman.  I was enormously proud to share this news, both because I was proud of him and because she was an old friend.

Her entire demeanor changed immediately.  Her face twisted, her body cocked to one side.  "Oh, he must be an asshole."

That was it.  She was done.  With those six words, she'd made up her mind on someone she'd never met, never mind the fact that he mattered very much to me.  The respect I had earned in decades of friendship didn't matter.  Giving this person the opportunity to earn his own respect wasn't even an option for her.  She'd already decided.  My entire life changed standing in that living room listening to an old friend slander my husband with zero provocation.  I would've been more livid if I wasn't so completely confused.

Little did I know, however, this unfair mindset would become my new reality.  To look at my husband, a man I admire over all other men on this planet, and hear thousands of people accuse him of horrible things he wouldn't even consider.  To see it on the news, as if it's fact.  To watch people actually believe it.  It never gets easier.  In fact, every time these skewed accusations rise to the surface, it's harder than the last.

I know my husband.  I know his partner.  I know their squad mates.  I know their spouses, held their children.  I know their training.  I know the reasons behind their training.  I know their morning briefings.  I know their daily interactions.  I've watched them maintain steady control while facing frightening odds.  I know the laws.  I know how the justice system works, and I know the reasons why.  This is my life.  I live and breathe this stuff.  And I have absolutely 100% faith in these people.

And yet, my husband, who chose to protect and serve, is forced to stand in a line receiving heinous, untrue accusations for hours on end, bricks and large rocks thrown at his head. Legally, he could arrest these people; they are breaking laws.  But he's been told not to.  Instead, just stand there and take it.  Don't offend anyone.  Seattle civilians got a tiny taste of it at our annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony last week, when the officers were ordered to stand down and allow the group of demonstrators to rush the stage and frighten the children's choir singing carols.

That was 5 measly minutes.  This has been my and my husband's 24/7 since last Tuesday afternoon.  And before that, when an ignorant society decided they knew better about other incidents, as well. They even scheduled their first destructive "rally" in our city before the courts even announced their verdict.  Do facts and law and logic even matter anymore?  Or do people just care about whatever they're told to care about through their televisions and newspapers? Because the news media and politicians only care about one thing: ratings.

I'm not even trying to tell people what to think.  My request is simple: stop listening to shock media, get your hands on actual depositions and court documents, do proper, thorough research, think critically, and decide for your yourself.  That is how confident I am that the truth speaks for itself.

But so many people don't do any of that.  Instead they continue watching, spouting speculation and conjecture.  Things that have been proven to be downright lies are being touted as truths.  Even high ranking politicians seem more interested in the people's approval than actual facts.  In the meantime, my husband crawls home exhausted and dejected every morning around 2am.  He leaves again at 9am for another 16 hour day of the same, knowing today might be the day he might have to choose to be executed in the street or executed by the media.  There is nothing in between anymore.

His demeanor is changing.  He's slowly deflating.  The man I admire more than anyone I've ever known is slowly having the life beaten out of him by the people he has sworn to protect.  By the people he willingly chose to put his life on the line for.  They spit, they insult, they attack, they accuse of horrible and downright false things, they shove phones in his face, hoping to catch him doing something awful that they can post to YouTube, which they never do. Forget the fact that his goal was to keep 300 armed people from storming onto Interstate 5, a major 6-lane freeway, endangering the lives of thousands of unsuspecting drivers.  300 angry people with weapons against 30 officers backed up against a freeway on-ramp.  One of the few times my husband was actually scared on the job.  But the news-watchers didn't see that; all they saw was the fact that the officers were wearing riot gear, and that made them uncomfortable. And somehow, that was the end of the conversation.

It breaks my heart and makes me angry.  They're there to keep us safe; we're not only making their jobs impossible, we're allowing them to be put in even more danger.  Legally, police are not allowed to be victimized, but I am.  And I am.  Ethically, this behavior isn't just disgusting; it's dangerous.  Not only have he and his partners done nothing to deserve this, but these are the people we need more of in this world, not less.

The new media argument is "respect".  This scares me more than anything, this concept that blatant disrespect for law enforcement is even a viable option.  My husband carries firearms every day because he has a target on his back.  All officers do.  But they're doing it to protect you.  To serve you.  They're willingly standing between you and people who would hurt you.  They have established training so that they can maintain order in a world without order.  However, the moment civilians start to think they can interfere or question that authority is the moment everyone's lives are in danger.  Civilians, criminals, bystanders, and especially the officers.  Interfering in police business is putting actual human lives in jeopardy.

There are established and approved Facebook groups that support and celebrate murdering officers.  They post graphic images of officers killed in the line of duty, and followers celebrate it.  People chant and threaten to rape and murder me simply because I'm an officer's wife on a daily basis.  Is the general public even aware of that?  And if so, where is the outrage for that disrespect?  No death or attack should be celebrated.  Ever.  Isn't that exactly the same behavior they're accusing the officers of?  Seeing nothing more than the uniform and operating in some kind of homicidal fervor, solely in their skewed perception of what that means?

I know very intimately the oath my husband has taken, exactly what it means, exactly what standard he is held to.  I also know what incredible weight that responsibility adds to his shoulders every single day.  I know the load those accused officers are likely feeling right now, completely aside from all the additional drama.  I know how much these officers don't want to shoot their firearms each and every single day.  I hear the accusations ignorant people hurl, I look at my husband and his coworkers, and they don't line up at all. These people are wrong. THEY'RE WRONG.

If it is laws people don't agree with, I have good news: we live in a democracy.  By all means, exercise your rights, obtain the paperwork, sign petitions, take the proper steps to try to change that law.  God knows there are laws I don't agree with.  But never lash out and destroy other people's property because you're angry.  And furthermore, I challenge you to ask yourself why that law exists in the first place. The most recent cop hater I've dealt with has decided all cops are jerks because he always get speeding tickets.  So I asked him: are you speeding?  Does it even occur to you that a particular speed limit might have been established after a child was killed by a speeding car?  Or that an out of control vehicle broke through the barrier and plunged down the embankment, killing the driver?  And that officer issuing that citation was the one who held that person as they took their last breath?  Because this is their reality, guys.  They see the stuff we pretend exists only in the periphery, and they see it every single day.

Finally, officers don't have any more influence in making the laws than you or me. Their only job is to enforce the laws we have all voted into power. They're not even allowed to be personally offended by a law; it's in their oath. In many cases, they're forced to protect a law they don't agree with, and they do it because they honor the concept of democracy and order.  The amount of restraint my husband displays on a daily basis astounds me; I know I couldn't do it.  And yet, people have ignorantly decided to continually remind both of us that he is nothing more than a power hungry asshole.

I am not excusing racism.  I am not giving police free reign.  Far from that, actually.  I'm trying to point out that statistically, police are the ones that can and should be trusted.  The majority of law enforcement are racially diverse people who became officers because they respect law and order and want to help others. Do they intimidate you?  Do you think them unapproachable?  Consider what kind of danger and mistrust these men and women encounter hundreds of times a day. If they have their badge on, they will have their guard up.  This does not make them bad people.  It keeps them alive; it keeps you alive, because if you are a law-abiding citizen, they consider your life and safety their personal responsibility.  And if you approach them with respect for their position, you'll quickly find how open and helpful they are and want to be.

Finally, and I can't say this loud enough: on the rare occasions that an officer is acting out of conduct, no one wants to catch and stop them more than all the other officers out there.  Upholding the honor of their profession is a solemn issue to them.  This is the truth; this is the majority of these men and women in blue. Officer profiling is just as unfair and unjust as racial, sexual, or gender profiling, prejudging based solely on a minority stereotype.  However, we as civilians cannot even begin to comprehend the intricacies of the situations they are faced with.  They are judged by a jury of their peers for a reason; their reality is very different from ours.  We must realize we can't relate, because unless we've worn a badge and felt the weight of that Kevlar vest, we simply can't.

You do not want a world without police officers, nor do you want a police officer whose hands are completely tied.  And if you think you do, you don't get it.  I'm not talking about no more speeding tickets or jaywalking warnings.  I'm talking about execution style murder in the middle of the night over $50.  I'm talking about someone raping your daughter.  I'm talking about bomb threats at libraries.  I'm talking about a man tripping on acid with a loaded firearm.  I'm talking about being pushed in front of a train to steal your purse or getting shivved for a single smart phone.  I'm talking about convincing your friend on the roof line not to jump.  I'm talking about kidnapped children and human trafficking.  I'm talking about very real, very possible, very terrifying things that no one else is going to throw themselves in front of for you and those you love.  This isn't just my husband's 9-to-5; this is his oath to you.

Officers are people.  Real people.  With heartbeats and families and dreams and hurts and lives, just like you.  Just like the people you think you're defending.  An officer dies in the line of duty every other day, and I guarantee the majority of those deaths were entirely unjust and unnecessary.  Does my heart break for the families of those civilians who've recently died?  Of course it does.  But these men's lives are over because they made poor choices and broke the law.  This was not forced upon them (and if you don't agree, I once again challenge you to read the court documents).  Yet,  despite being proven innocent, the lives of those officers are over, as well.  They were thrown into a situation by someone else's poor choices, and now their honor, their livelihoods, and their families are done.  They have to go into hiding as if they should be ashamed.  And the very same could happen to my well-intended husband and therefore to me.  Today, tomorrow, any day.  And not because of the law or logic, but because of people's complete disregard of it.  Because of this overwhelming mob mentality that everyone has subscribed to.  Despite making the best choices we know to make, our lives could be ruined at any moment by people who don't know and don't care, and all because my husband chose to make a career of helping others.  It doesn't make sense.

As a police wife whose every breath is under a microscope, I feel I only have one option: sit back and watch it happen. The more I attempt to defend myself, the more seething hatred is dumped on me.  So I hide, trying not to let it make me bitter and hateful.  Attempt to ignore the wall of uninformed anger pointed at me and my spouse, even though these people don't even know us, and we've done absolutely nothing to deserve it. To try to deflect the ignorant vitriol that tries to seep into my life everywhere I turn, especially online. To silently remind myself that we're not bad people, even if we've lost friends because they've wrongly decided my husband's paycheck make us assholes.  To tell myself just because the respect we've earned isn't recognized doesn't mean it isn't valid to the people that care to look for it.

Every night, despite everything he faces on a daily basis, my husband prays for peace and comfort for the families of those who've died recently.  He leaves a shockingly unbalanced atmosphere of anger, blame, and destruction, and he still prays for them.  It astounds me.  He is still inspiring me to be a better person every single day.  This, dear world, is a police officer.