You want to know about me? OK, settle in. I tend to ramble on. And on. Just warning you.
I'm 28 years old. I was born and raised in Indiana, and I hate the cold. Hate it. Did I mention the hate for the cold? I mean, I like to look at snow, but I don't like being cold, so...yeah. Hate the cold. I went to school in Fort Wayne except for a couple of years in high school we lived in Champaign, Illinois, and that place still holds very fond memories for me.
I'm terrible at all sports except for horseback riding, which I am very good at. Or used to be. Growing up I was very involved in the hunter/jumper circuit and basically lived at the barn. I always thought I'd compete and teach professionally, and I did teach lessons for a while after I aged out of juniors, but then life (read: five pregnancies) got in the way. In high school, I was pretty much a band geek, although I don't actually play an instrument. I was in the color guard, though, and therefore basically exclusively dated drummers in high school. Actually, I think I only dated drummers. My best friend from high school would probably remember that better than I would.
In high school, I was part of a very fancy club called JELKS. I know, it's an amazing name, and very original...it was the acronym for the first letter from each of our names. Our activities basically consisted of making fun of other people while pretending we were joking and sneaking around at night...not to drink or do drugs, but to TP our friends' houses and sidewalk chalk their driveways. And decorate their cars.And eat at IHOP. We also wrote very dramatically in a top secret notebook called...wait for it..."The Notebook" that we passed back and forth between each other, filling it up with long, painfully melodramatic prose about living through a break up even though he was your soulmate or how we disapproved of something. Boys always tried to steal The Notebook to find out who we liked, so we had to make up code names for the ones we talked about. We also made up a lot of random dances that we would perform spontaneously at red lights after jumping out of the car.
In college, I tried to go to school at the same time as working a really demanding job at Abercrombie and Fitch, with middling success. Are you done laughing? I was serious. I was promoted to store manager really quickly and it was insanely hard, mostly because I was 18 or 19 and in charge of other managers much older than me. I pretty much had to be a complete jerk. And let's not even get into what it was like to be in charge of a bunch of 17 year olds who were totally hired for their looks. It was both the most entertaining and hardest job I'd ever had, and I pretty much worked all the time. Literally.
I met my husband while running a group interview at Hollister one day, and he basically followed me around until I agreed to start dating him. It was maybe more romantic than that, but that was the gist of it. We had a great time together, and that was basically that. It wasn't long before we were married, moved to Florida, and had our first baby, Ava. She totally rocked both of our worlds in the greatest possible way, and that could be why just five months later we found ourselves expecting again, very unexpectedly.
That's when things started to get tough. My water broke, and Jace was born prematurely. He contracted pneumonia. He was unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator. 23 years of age, John and I were completely blindsided...it had never even crossed our minds that babies were born unhealthy. Luckily, Jace recovered fully and went on to come home from the hospital a couple of weeks later with no issues. He's been keeping us running ever since.
I loved having two kids so close in age. I had never experienced anything different, so I thought it was easy. My husband was great with them both, and it was a really fun time in our lives. We had great friends and always had a blast getting out and about with the babies and having dinner parties with our friends, putting all of our kids down in pack n plays and getting a chance to hang out and decompress together.
About a year after Jace was born, we started talking about having a third baby. Apparently all we needed to do was talk about it, because we found out within weeks that we were, in fact, expecting number three. This time, things were tough from the beginning. I went on bed rest at nineteen weeks due to pre-term labor and was admitted to the hospital at 30 weeks for lots of magnesium sulfate and other drugs to stop labor. We held things off until 35 weeks, when our son, Eli, died very unexpectedly after my water broke. Once again, my husband and I were dealing with something we had never even realized actually happened in everyday life. Losing our son was the hardest thing I've ever gone through, until recently, and I spent months in a fog. All I wanted was another baby...not to replace Eli, but to fill my empty arms. After several months of trying to conceive, we were finally expecting once again.
My pregnancy with Seth was the absolute best pregnancy I've ever had. We found a treatment plan that worked great for me, so I had no early labor at all, and spent my entire pregnancy feeling great. We were all surprised when (wait for it!) my water broke at 34 weeks. Seth was born crying, and it was one of the best moments I remember. Everyone in the room was crying, including my OB and random nurses, as we finally welcomed another living baby.
Seth followed right in Jace's footsteps, and he was soon in the NICU on a ventilator. He had about a million complications and ended up losing his hearing due to a very strong antibiotic he was on. When Seth was just a few weeks old, we found out that he was profoundly deaf.
That started out journey into learning about hearing loss and raising the money to help pay for our son's bilateral cochlear implant surgery, which he received when he was eight months of age. For some reason, I never doubted that everything would fall into place for Seth, and it did. Today he is a happy, mostly healthy baby boy who hears very, very well with the aid of his "jetpacks" as his sister's friends call them.
For me, it's been six years of back to back pregnancy and nursing and babies and health issues and exhaustion. I think I dealt with post partum depression multiple times, and in hindsight I'm amazed I was as functional as I was considering how out of whack all my emotions were. Once Seth's health issues were added to the mix, I became consumed with finding a way to help him. I wasn't going to fail him the way I felt likeol I'd failed Eli by not delivering him safely. I thought I would have time to focus on my marriage after Seth got older, got caught up, could hear.
Unfortunately, that wasn't an option for me. By the time Seth was turning one and finally turning a corner, my husband had already decided he was done waiting for me to pay attention to him, found someone who would, and moved out, regardless of the fact that I was expecting once again. It was the single biggest wake up call of my life, and the past five months without him have been both terrible and incredibly enlightening.
There are lots of things I've learned about myself since my husband left that I wouldn't take back. There are many things that I've done that I thought I'd never be able to do on my own, and I have. I'm proud of myself and the way I've handled things since he left. I never ever thought I would be here. I thought he was the person I would be with forever, and I still have a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I'm s divorced single mom. I'm angry, and sad, and frustrated, and upset and relieved and happy to be with my kids and I tend to vacillate through all those emotions daily, which is lots of fun, let me tell you! Luckily, as time goes on, I am also happy, and content, and thrilled to have my kids to get me through even though this is a season I would never, ever have asked for.
On Thanksgiving night, my water broke, and on November 30th, my daughter, Evany, was born at 32 weeks by emergency C-Section. She was in distress and they needed to get her out right away. She's been so blessed...she was released from the NICU after just 11 days, and once again, I can't imagine life without this little girl. I'd go through it all again to get her out of it.
So basically that's where I am at this point in my life. waiting on God to make the purpose of all of this clear, to bring something redeeming from this mess. I don't know where we'll go from here, but if there's one thing I do know, it's that my kids are great, godly kids who understand what family means, and really, what else could I ask for?
This was supposed to be about me, and the funny thing is, it was all about my kids, and my husband. I think it's so easy to lose our identities in our families as women, that our call to nurture and care for our families can swallow us whole sometimes. I'm looking forward to finding out who I am again someday, but in the meantime, I'm okay with being defined by my family. I mean really, what is more important than that?
William Holden Stamps
1 day ago