31 January 2011

Support Systems

This morning was a perfect example of a failed support system. Matt has an early morning class and the ideal time for him to leave the apartment is 7:30am. That gives him enough time to drive there, park, get to class, and set up his laptop, etc for class. When the alarm went off at 6:15am, which would give us plenty of time to get ready and eat breakfast, we both laid there for a moment. I remember thinking to myself, 'I'm just so comfy; one snooze won't hurt!' My lack of movement was all the motivation he needed, and Matt hit the 10 minute snooze button and crawled back into bed. This went on again, 1 maybe 2 times. When the cat finally jumped on the bed and woke us up, I asked Matt what time it was. "6:45, I think," he responded. He didn't seem eager to get up, and taking his lack of movement as my motivation, I went back to bed. The alarm didn't go off again. Finally, at 7:17am, I told him that I didn't think it was 6:45 anymore and we started scrambling. I made his lunch while he showered, then while he got dressed, he shouted to me which books he needed for class and I packed his backpack. Finally, I handed him some peanut butter toast as he headed out the door at approximately 7:40am.

We each failed one another by refusing to maintain discipline. I wasn't tired at 6:15am. In fact, it took me several minutes of shifting around and rolling over to get back to bed after he hit the snooze. The reason I stayed was because the bed was warm, cuddling with Matt was enjoyable, and being lazy sounded more appealing that being productive. I wasn't tired, we didn't stay up late, and about 2 minutes after I got out of bed, I am confident that I would have felt perfectly awake. I failed to support Matt and he failed to lead our family.

If this was a once-in-a-while event, it wouldn't be a very big deal. But we have an established pattern of behavior; all last week (including the weekend), we only got up on schedule once!

There are many other ways in which we are failing each other as well. I am not reminding him to make a daily to-do list (which I firmly believe is the solution to his time management issues), he is not remembering to clean the litter pan, I am interrupting him while he's reading to ask him questions or tell him stories instead of waiting until dinner or he's taking a break. I think these first few weeks without an externally mandated schedule are very crucial in forming habits, and I want to form good habits that help us to feel confident and productive.

We need to swallow our laziness and stop giving in to the temptations of sloth and gluttony. If we each do all that we can, then when one of us is having a rough day, the other one will be there to help carry the extra weight. But if neither one of us is disciplined enough to get out of bed, then both of us end up failing each other.

So, it is officially our goal to get up on time! I also solemnly vow that I will post again next Monday with a report of how we did. I will be completely honest and tell you if we fell flat on our faces or if we triumphantly succeeded and I invite you to yell at me if Monday's post reports a failing grade.

25 January 2011

Cheese!


Just in case you're one of those people who like ultrasound pictures, here's one from the 20 week ultrasound, taken about 2 weeks ago.

23 January 2011

Recovery

I've only been at home for three and a half days (two of which were weekend days), but I am already feeling a huge relief off my shoulders. Although I do have to get through my first week of non-employment, I can't believe how much more calm and peaceful I feel. Sometimes I forget that I quit my job and I think about going back on Monday and I can feel my shoulders tighten up and my stomach form knots. I really, really was hating my job, and I'm so thankful to be out of there. Everyone who knows my boss congratulated me when they found out. Those who don't know him ask what I'm going to do next. I know what I'm going to do, but I'm not ready to talk about it just yet. That will have to wait for a future blog post. For now, I just want to rest, enjoy my Sunday, and know that the stress-induced panic is over.

20 January 2011

Adios

I am no longer employed by the person who used to employ me. Yes, I quit my job today. It was a long time coming and I don't regret what I did.

I was in charge of the marketing and IT for a Realtor in Naples. I designed all of his advertising. For magazines, newspapers, mailings, special projects, etc. In the office, my boss was very verbally insulting. Sometimes it came to the point of verbal abuse. I was regularly told that I was not creative. That I didn't understand the creative process. I was told several times that I wasn't a good designer or a good writer. Especially ever since I told him I was pregnant, I feel like he was trying to squeeze me out of the job. He spoke with me about phasing out my position and about hiring a new person to cover my job, even though I was not expected to go on maternity leave for another almost 5 months. The straws that broke the camel's back started over the weekend when I informed that my boss wanted to do something that violated our photographer's copyright to her photography. Throughout the week, I informed him and the office manager that we would need her permission before moving forward. When they said they were going to move forward anyway, I told them I felt legally obligated to inform the photographer. The final straw fell today. A little past 10am, my boss announced that he wanted to discuss the photo issue. It started out civil enough, but when I refused to tell him that I was wrong in obeying the law over a business relationship, he, in front of nearly the entire office, he informed me that I handled the situation immaturely and that I was disloyal, among many other things. I never raised my voice, I never yelled, I never cried. After about a half an hour of discussion, I quietly packed up my things, said, "well maybe you should find someone who you feel is more loyal.” I pushed my chair to my desk and grabbed the knob to the door to leave the office. I looked at him straight in the eye and said in a clear but soft voice, “Because I’m done.” And I walked out.

My husband and I were very prepared for this situation. The tension and the insults had been building at the office. I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I came home from that office in tears. Financially, we're stable enough to survive on our own for quite a while without even touching a penny of student loan money. I do feel bad for my coworkers. I never wanted to leave them in this situation, especially as we begin season. But after the conversation reached a certain point, I realized that there was no way I would be able to comfortably work in that office again. Usually I always feel guilty and responsible when big things happen, but this time, I feel very satisfied. I am proud of what I did. I told the truth. I refused to break the law and I refused to watch someone else break the law. There were a lot of times during the course of this week that were very difficult. Times when I had to say things that required a lot of courage. I wanted to sit quietly and go about my job with my head down. But I was more scared of the regret I would feel over watching my boss break the law and run over the photographer than I was of speaking up. So I spoke up. And here we are today.

Even after having all day to think about it, I still don't regret my decision. I am starting to feel the weight of the time I am going to have on my hands. I have already started making lists of things that I want to do to keep me busy. I am also pretty sure that my church could use some helping in designing their weekly bulletin, so I am going to look into doing some volunteering. We'll see what happens and I will definitely keep everyone in the loop.

16 January 2011

Effects of the Beast - Emotional and Mental

"I want to record the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and financial stress that the brutal machine that is law school inflicts on a married couple, and I want to record how we come out stronger." That is what I said I wanted to do with my blog back when I first created it. Now that we have just passed the half-way mark, I thought it might be an interesting read to talk about each aspect a little deeper. I am going to combine emotional and mental aspects, as I'm not quite sure how they are different.

Emotional and Mental Effects
Narrowing down the ways in which I have grown emotionally and mentally throughout law school from the other aspects in our lives that has changed would be impossible. Moving so far away from family and friends, eeaking out a living in an environment so different from everything that we grew up knowing, and even being the age that we are (in our 20s), we're at a stage in life where there is still lots of learning to be done.

Mental/Emotional Lessons:
1. I am a whole lot stronger than I ever knew. Way stronger. Law school is definitely a marathon, not a sprint, so endurance is a much needed skill. It isn't about gearing yourself up, giving it your all, then going home and crashing at night. We came down here and had to create a new way of life. New habits, new stores, new streets, new friends. Even new trees. No matter how frustrated or tired or sick of this new life we were, there was no going home to refuel for the weekend. No taking refuge in something familiar or comforting. Since we sold most of what we owned in Michigan, thinking it would be cheaper to buy used than to ship, we couldn't even sit on our trusty old couch at the end of the day. I think we reacted quite well to the change. Instead of forming attachment or anxiety disorders, we learned to trust God and to look to each other for reliance and strength.

2. Life is a lot less scary when you have a goal for the future. When I think about all that we have done so far, sacrificed so far, struggled with so far, that's when I tend to get panicky. Our lives are SO different from where they were two years ago and all of our decisions so far tend to sneak up on me. So much is going to change again in the next two years, in ways I don't even know about, and I want them to turn out okay. So we have goals. We have goals for this summer, next year, life after graduation, we have 5-year and 10-year plans. We modify them as we grow and our life continues to change, but we always keep them in front of us so that we know where we're going. This reminds me of a story that I may have already posted, but here goes again. When I was in high school, I always wore a lot of black clothing and used it to hide my low-self esteem. Once I got to college, my life changed in a lot of ways and my confidence flourished and I became tired of wearing the old black and wanted to expand into something bright and colorful. I couldn't afford to buy an entirely new wardrobe, so each time I made a clothing purchase, I was careful to avoid black. I chose colorful tank tops and bright shirts. I bought fun socks and pink underwear. My wardrobe did expand, but because it did so one piece at a time, I didn't really notice. One day I showed up at Matt's house (this was back in our dating days) when it dawned on me: I was wearing a pink tank top under a brown long-sleeved shirt and stylish, flared jeans. I wasn't wearing any black! It took a while, but because I had a goal in mind, each time I made a decision, it brought me that much closer to my desired end result. I try to think with that mindset now. Okay, so maybe we don't know where we'll be this summer. Maybe I feel like we'll never settle down in a house. But with each person Matt meets, that is one more person who could lead to a summer internship or a post-graduation job.

3. Have a good balance of friends. I love my law school wife friends. They understand what I'm going through, they've either "been there done that" or are going through it with me. We talk coping strategies , we have inside jokes about the law school, we pray for each other during finals weeks. They help me through my daily struggles. But I also have friends who are completely unrelated to anything with Ave. They are working professionals in Collier County. We like books, or we're all pregnant, or we're learning Photoshop. These people show me that there is life outside of law school. There will come a day when I buy a house and a dog and a second car. They show me the bigger picture.

Stronger
I think I've learned a lot about who I want to be and what my priorities are now because I grew emotionally and mentally. Our outlooks have significantly strengthened our marriage too. Whenever Matt and I do something mushy, I often hear people make jokes about being newly married or being in the honeymoon stages. Now, we haven't clocked any serious milemarkers together yet, but with 2.5 years (3 in April!) behind us, we certainly aren't newly weds anymore. It makes me proud that our love is such that it is often mistaken for those who have just wed. We don't go to bed angry, we try to find the "deeper reason" that we're upset when we do argue, we pray for each other, and we uplift each other. I feel blessed that we learned those lessons so early in our marriage. I think the honeymoon comments will die off once we have the baby and mature in new ways, but I still don't doubt that we will continue to have a  solid relationship.

14 January 2011

Home Sick, Again

*Note, this post is going to be almost entirely about being sick and being pregnant. I'll return to the law school topics again next time.

After my wonderful day off on Wednesday, I was feeling much better, but that evening I received a very polite text that informed me that I was not allowed to take off Thursday from work. Since I had a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day, I didn't put up a fight. However, after the doctor's appointment, I found myself at a photoshoot until about 1.5 hours after I was supposed to get off work. Needless to say, I feel significantly worse today and also my back hurts from the minor moving and lugging I did. I gave the office a shot this morning, but felt and sounded pretty bad, so after I got the high priority tasks accomplished, I headed home. I do feel bad for my short-staffed colleagues, but there really isn't much I can do.

In other news, yesterday was our 20 week appointment. We had the ultrasound done, which was very exciting. I still haven't felt any movement yet, but we sure saw plenty of it on the ultrasound! The baby was very cooperative and the tech was able to determine that the heartbeat was strong and steady, and got lots of shots of the brain, spine, and other important organs. For the most part, everything was good. Our baby for sure does not have down syndrome, which honestly, I hadn't even really thought about. But there were a few concerns. There is a speck in the heart, and in the part of the brain where spinal fluid is produced, there is also a build up. These are two soft markers for a particular chromosomal defect. However, during part of the ultra sound, the baby was holding the umbilical cord and the tech got a good shot when s/he let go and had all of her/his fingers straight up. Apparently, babies with said defect are not able to move their hands in such a way, so this is a good, hard marker that the baby is fine. But they bumped me up one "risk level" and will keep an eye on things as the pregnancy progresses, which also means that the insurance will cover more tests and another ultrasound. The doctor also said that there is a cyst on the brain, but advised us not to worry at all about the cyst as apparently they are fairly common and almost always disappear by the third trimester. The doctor even informed us that her daughter had the same speck in the heart throughout the entire pregnancy, but was born completely healthy with a solid heart. More good news is that the baby is a healthy size and weight for 20 weeks along, which is another good indicator that the defect doesn't exist.

So anyway, these tests are so frustrating because they just tell you if your baby has a higher or lower chance of having an issue and so many soft markers that occur early on disappear by the third trimester anyway. So I'm trying to focus my amazing worrying powers on which state we'll be giving birth instead.

PS, can you believe that nowhere between Ft Myers (pop nearly 600,000 including the metro area) and Marco Island (that is a 60 mile stretch), not a single church has perpetual adoration? The nearest location is about an hour's drive inland at Ave Maria, the town, where Ave Maria University is located. Between the seven churches in Naples alone, there are a few adoration schedules, but unless I want to go Monday-Friday between 9am-5pm or every first Saturday of the month in the morning during season on a blue moon, I'm out of luck.

12 January 2011

Home Sick

I appear to have the common cold. Sore throat, runny nose, etc. This is the first time I have gotten the common cold since we moved to Florida and it coincidentally fell on day after my first prenatal fitness class. So not only are my back and legs sore from working out, but I am also sick. A bit unfair, but I guess this way I can get it all over with at once. I am desperately hoping Matt doesn't get sick too, since classes just started and missing the first few classes would not be good. We have our 20-week appointment tomorrow, so I guess maybe now is a convenient time to be sick since I already have a Dr's appointment, even if we are already short-staffed at work. I am having a hard time sleeping with all the uncomfortableness of being pregnant combined with being sick, but hopefully it will get easier once Matt gets home with some baby-friendly medicine. I am looking forward to spending the day playing computer games, reading, and crocheting. The stress of working is making some of my pregnancy side-effects worse, so I am glad for a small break. I am planning to talk to the Dr about them tomorrow. Any chance she can prescribe my co-works to swear and scream less?

Anyway, blah, blah, blah, that is all rather boring, but that is what is going on right now.

06 January 2011

The Grand Finale

Matt and I came up with our Law School Grand Finale: a Caribbean cruise.

Cruises don't have to be all that expensive; air travel to get to the departure location is half the cost of the trip. (For a 5 day Caribbean cruise anyway). Being so close to the port-of-call for a lot of cruise lines puts us in a wonderful position. Also, we don't need a room with a private balcony or window. An interior room is about the cost of a hotel, and it includes food.

Anyway, when Matt graduates from law school, we and our almost one-year-old will take a Caribbean cruise.

I can't wait : )

04 January 2011

Health Insurance

Health insurance is NO fun. When I was growing up, health care was just always something we magically got when we went to the doctor. If anything ever went wrong, we went to the doctor, paid a $20 copay, and life was perfect. Even after I got married and left my dad's insurance, I was covered through Matt, who worked for a corporate office with wonderful health insurance and we continued to live in bliss. When I had a kidney stone, we went to the doctor, paid a copay, and went on our merry way. Even my trip to the hospital when I had a bad reaction to the medication had a minimal cost. But now that I am 1099-ed (despite the fact that my employer is breaking a handful of laws in employing us that way), I am on my own. Finding decent maternity coverage is IMPOSSIBLE without paying several hundred dollars a month. Throw my pre-existing colon disease, and we found ourselves in the un-insurable category. We eventually found some coverage underwritten by UnitedHealthcare designed for students and their families, although they do not cover pre-existing conditions. (Actually, that is fine with me because I do not seek medical treatment for my disease). The plan is pretty basic, it doesn't cover preventative care, vision or dental care, and a whole list of random things including foot care and organ transplants, but it gets us what we need and it is affordable.

Now that we are pregnant, we are beginning to test its bounds. We have a 90%/10% plan (for in-network providers), $100,000 max benefit, and a $150 deductible. We have to reapply/repurchase every year and our currently policy is set to expire in mid-September. The "fine print" that the insurance company sent us when we bought the policy does not detail the maternity coverage, so when I make plans, I have been going off of what my obgyn's office told me when they called for billing information.

I don't know how normal this is, but my obgyn has an office completely unrelated to the hospital. We have to pay them (we'll call them EFW) to use their services during the birth. We also have to pay the hospital separately to use their facilities. From what I can tell, what the insurance company allots for EFW will more than cover their expenses, and what the Ins Co allots to the hospital should more than cover us, and I believe that an epidural is covered, although I haven't yet decided if I even want one.

Wow, I never in a million years would have thought that I would understand all that nonsense.

So, do you see why I am not eager to call the insurance company to clarify the details? From where we stand now, life is perfect. However, I need to clarify that the limits for EFW and the hospital are separate. I need to clarify if they really do cover epidurals. I need to find out if they have in-network providers in Michigan. I need to know if they cover one or two ultrasounds (EFW says two, the fine print for the tiny bit of maternity talk says one). I need to find most of this out before my 20 week appointment on January 13th. EFW needs to know what I can be scheduled for, etc. I am not excited about the complicated and confusing conversation that I'm sure I will have when I call the Ins C0 to clarify. I am very worried that I will end up speaking with some random phone answerer who won't give me reliable information. I am not excited about the possibility they'll tell me that nothing is covered and I'm on my own.

I am REALLY learning how to trust God with this issue because there is no way that I can plan every little detail in something this big and complicated. To be honest, I don't even want to. Taking care of a baby and trying to pay medical bills is a really big deal and I don't want to screw it up. I want God in control, I do; I just wish I could keep my controlling, planning nature in check.

02 January 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Bright and early this morning, WordPress sent me a year-end email outlining various statistics about the readers of my blog. As a result, I would just like to take this time to say THANK YOU, READERS! I also want to discuss some of the ways I envision this blog changing in the new year as a result of those stats.

Since switching to WordPress in mid-September, I have had 1,300 views of my blog. I have no idea if that is a lot in the grand scheme of blogs, but in my world, that is a lot of views and I can't believe how many people have read/do read this! I'm touched to touch people! Thank you to those who have me "favorited" on your blogs; a huge source of traffic to my blog are such references. Also, I have never heard of Google Reader, but apparently, scores of people find it very useful.

People do link to my blog from search engines after typing in a few key words. Four out of the top five phrases that link people to my blog include  the words "pregnant," and "law school." Also, two of my top five most read posts are pregnancy related. So I'm going to try to talk a little bit more about the pregnancy aspect, but I'll make sure I keep it tied into the law school experience. I've even asked Matt to guest blog about how he balances school and home and things I do that are helpful or that I could do to improve. Also, apparently people do read the "Background" and "About" tabs at the top of the blog, so I am going to update those today and also try to check their accuracy periodically.

Anyway, I've been thinking/we've been talking about some post topics, so expect more posts in the up-and-coming future!