Stress and anxiety

I have a problem with recurring anxiety attacks. Before kids, I'd get them once in a blue moon, never with any discernable cause. Usually they involve the fight-or-flight response going into overdrive, and generally there isn't any particular trigger. They were horrible right after Grant was born because of post-partum depression, but pretty much went away with anti-depressants and time. I hadn't had one in over a year and a half, and now lately I've been getting them again.

I'm not a fan of psychotropic drugs; I took the anti-depressants for the PPD and as soon as my hormones were regulated enough for the PPD to go away, I stopped taking them. I'm a big believer in trying to solve my problems on my own first. So, I'm not going to be taking any medication for the anxiety attacks unless they become debilitating. Still, they're frustrating to deal with. They make you feel pretty bad; I managed to fall asleep last night, but usually I have insomnia from them on top of everything else.

I'm thinking it's just general stress bringing them on. I've got all of the usual stuff that comes from working a full-time job and also trying to be a mom and a wife (oh, and attempting to keep the house sanitary and enough clean laundry around to go out in public), plus this lawsuit against Lennar, plus my reflux surgery. It's a lot of stress right now, so I guess my body is handling that by randomly giving me shots of adrenaline.

The lawsuit with Lennar is finally starting to move forward. They were officially sued in our county of residence, and have until tomorrow (9/13) at 10:00am to respond. We'll see exactly what this process is going to entail pretty soon. I'm guessing it will involve a lot of legal stalling and attempts at harassment in an effort to make us shut up and go away. I'm not particularly looking forward to all of it, but we really don't have a choice other than to move forward. If we don't, we'll never be able to sell this house. If we don't manage to get Lennar to either buy the house back or completely repair the foundation, we're going to be royally screwed. The only way we'd ever be able to recover from this house in that event would be to walk away and let the bank take it, and then rent for the 5-7 years it would take to get the foreclosure off of our credit. That is obviously not an option that we like. The frustrating thing is that we really have no control over this process at all. It's all up to our lawyers and God.

My reflux surgery is scheduled for 10/18. I'm going to be losing out on 3 weeks of work. I'm hoping that won't mean a huge loss of income for me since I have short-term disability insurance, but that only pays out 66% of my salary. We'll have to come up with a hospital co-pay which isn't a huge amount, but still high enough that our finances are going to be pretty tight for a while. Aside from all of the financial worries about it, I'm scared to death about the surgery itself. It needs to be done, but the recovery looks like it will be no picnic. I'll be on a liquid diet for a week or so, and then gradually increase the thickness of my food over a month to 6 weeks until I'm eating normally again. Since they'll be wrapping the upper part of my stomach around the esophagus in this surgery, my stomach will effectively be made smaller. This might not sound like a bad thing to worry about, but I just intentionally lost 25 pounds. The doctor said that I could expect to lose another 5% of my body weight after surgery. I really don't need to lose any more weight, and I can't afford to have to go buy another work wardrobe in a smaller size. Then, there are the small side-effects like the possibility I will lose my ability to vomit. Nice.

Yep. A bit of stress. Just a little bit. It explains why I'm having the anxiety attacks, but having an explanation doesn't do much to make them go away. I think I need an on-call massage therapist, or maybe a vacation of undetermined length to a place with sand and fruity umbrella drinks.

Keep your quiver full.

I have a morbid fascination with fundamentalism. I went to a "Fundamental Bible Church" in high school that was largely responsible for me avoiding church like the plague for most of my adult years. My younger siblings have all been homeschooled; I'm the only one out of the bunch to have graduated from a public high school.

Having lived amongst all of that for a few years, there are varying degrees of  fundamentalists. There are those who live a relatively normal life that are just more conservative in their theology and their politics, there are those that my family has called the "long skirt brigade", and every shade in between. The "long skirt brigade" tends to be the ones in the ankle-length skirts or jumpers, long hair, no makeup, and frumpy tops. They adhere to a strict patriarchal world view. Many of them practice courtship, with some groups going so far as to say that single adult children should remain under their parent's authority until marriage. A semi-famous preacher of that school of thought is Bill Gothard of the Institute for Basic Life Principles (

If you've heard of the Duggars, you've heard of a "Gothardite" family. The Duggars link to IBLP materials on their website, and are also a part of the Quiverfull movement. The Quiverfull movement ( is of the belief that children are a blessing from God, so therefore a couple should have as many or as few as God decides to give them. The name of the movement comes from Psalm 127 3-5, which says "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them..." Birth control and fertility treatments are not to be practiced by a Quiverfull family, because to do so would take control of family size out of God's hands according to Quiverfull teachings.

Knowing about all of this, I decided to do some Googling tonight on the subject. It's very interesting to read the point of view of Quiverfull practitioners. They believe that a couple should be open to as many children as God chooses to give them. Sounds great on a surface level, doesn't it? Give control of your family size over to God, and show the ultimate faith. The Quiverfull movement neglects to address the very real spectre that until recently hung over every pregnancy and birth: that of complications, the death of mother and/or child, or birth defects.

I have strong feelings about a movement that would declare a couple sinful for choosing to stop bearing children because the health of the mother was at stake. I wonder about a theological position that would have a couple continue to concieve children even after they know that they have a high risk for repeatedly giving birth to children with fatal birth defects or degenerative diseases. I would never, ever tell a couple that they should avoid having children for those reasons, but to tell a couple that they are sinful because they choose NOT to continue having children for those reasons is reprehensible.

I have to wonder what a member of the Quiverfull movement would have to say to Jacob and I. We've decided that the next baby will most likely be our last, unless we end up with an "oopsie". Our reasoning has less to do with the number of children we want or don't want and more to do with our risk of having another heart baby. Recent studies have shown that HLHS is highly heritable; our risk of having another HLHS baby is 8%, while our risk of having another baby with an HLHS-related heart defect is a staggering 22% ( We've chosen to take the risk one more time so that Grant can grow up with a sibling, but we feel that more than that is like playing Russian Roulette with a four cylander revolver. After watching Kenneth go through everything he went through, the thought of doing it all over again is simply terrifying.

What would the people of the Quiverfull movement have to say to us, I wonder? Would they understand our decision, or would it be met with judgement and prayerful derision?

It would be interesting to find out.

Tell me something good

Good news: Little Adalyn had her surgery to repair her Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia yesterday. So far she's doing well. Her biggest hurdle is her lungs. CDH makes it so all of her organs were up in her chest cavity, which restricted the amount of growth her lungs could do. Continued prayers that Ady's lungs will be able to do their job would be greatly appreciated.

I met with the voice specialist on Monday. He went over my test results with me, and they were well outside of normal limits even though I did the PH probe while still taking my reflux meds twice a day as ordered. He said that since they're not working, he wanted to refer me onward to a surgeon to have the Nissen Fundoplication done. According to, this is what they'll be doing:

"During the fundoplication surgery, the surgeon improves the natural barrier between the stomach and the esophagus by wrapping a part of the stomach known as the gastric fundus around the lower esophagus. This prevents the flow of acids from the stomach into the esophagus, and strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach, which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily. This procedure is often done using a laparoscopic surgical technique. It can also be done as traditional (open) surgery."

From my reading, the surgery itself isn't the difficult part, it's eating afterwards. I'll be in the hospital for 1-3 nights depending on how things go. I'll be on a liquid diet to start and then very gradually increase the thicknessess of the foods I eat over a period of several weeks. Apparently if you try to eat normally too soon, you pay for it. Possible side effects include losing the ability to burp and losing the ability to vomit.

I'm really nervous about this, but since the meds aren't working I don't see that I have much of a choice in the matter. It's either do this and have my voice recover, or not do this and continue to have vocal damage. The voice specialist scoped my throat again on Monday and said that other than the swelling caused by the acid, my vocal cords were in perfect shape. That means that once they're no longer being bathed in acid all the time, they should recover.

As a singer, this is really a no-brainer. I'll have the surgery and protect my voice. I'm just scared about the whole process and everything that it will entail. This is going to be a permanent change to my anatomy, after all. I'm going to have to live with the results for the rest of my life. I'm not even 30 yet, so that is quite a long time to live with side effects if I end up with them.

On a professional level, things are looking good for this school year. It looks like my student teacher will be coming to me during the first half of the fall semester, which is perfect since I need to have the surgery. I also got a letter in the mail regarding a proposal that the PE teacher I work with and I put together for a session at this organization's big conference in December. Our proposal was accepted, so we'll be doing that in December. The only potential hurdle on a professional level for this year is our new administrative team, but I've been hearing good things so I'm hopeful.

4 more days of summer freedom, and then it's back to the grind.

Some things just don't make sense.

There are some things I don't think I'll ever understand. A friend of mine just had a baby girl last week. Little Adalyn has a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, meaning that there is a hole in her diaphragm that allowed her organs to all congregate in her chest cavity. When this happens, it stunts the growth of the baby's lungs. Ady is in the NICU awaiting surgery right now; at the hospital she's at, babies are in beds numbered from 1-50 something, with bed one being the most severely ill. Ady is in bed 3. She should be having surgery to repair her diaphragm and move her organs back to where they belong on either Monday or Tuesday, provided she's healthy enough. She's facing a very long road.

Her mom is a friend that I've known casually since college. She's close to a close friend of mine and is a teacher. We all went to dinner on Friday night and talked for a while, and then I came home and cried. She's pretty much in the exact same place I was in three years ago, and seeing her shell-shocked look and the fear in her eyes brought a lot back. It really sucks that someone else has to watch their baby go through hell. It really sucks that someone else has to wonder if she'll get to bring her baby home or not.

I don't understand it. Why this happens to parents who have babies that were planned for and eagerly anticipated is beyond me. I see these good people going through hell, and then I read news stories about people who abuse or kill their children, and it makes my head spin. Why are evil, abusive people able to have children that they subject to a lifetime of suffering? Why do innocent babies have to struggle for life while evil people have perfect health?

I hope that I was able to be of some help to Adalyn's mom. It's hard to know if the things you're saying are helping or making things worse. I hope that my experiences with Kenneth are able to help other people. It helps me to think that there was some sort of good purpose in all of the bad.

One week, two weeks, who's counting?

Alright, so it's been two weeks. So much for once a week updates! The highlights:

*I had my 24 hour esophageal PH test done last week and should have the results on the 9th. We'll see what the doctor has to say and whether I have to have surgery, more tests, or if I'm going to just stay on the meds.

*Our lawyer found some information that might be helpful in our lawsuit against Lennar, so he delayed filing until today so that he could get that information included in our suit papers. I don't want to go into the details on my blog, but I think it'll be a good thing for us. I have no idea how long it will take from this point to get a court date and all that good stuff. I'm going to guess that Lennar will do their best to stall things as much as possible and harass us legally however they can, but that's to be expected. If they admit that there's a problem or are forced by the courts to admit that there's a problem, the other people in the neighborhood that are having issues will then have a very good precedent already established so that they can get their homes fixed. Since the repairs are going to be in the $50,000-100,000 range, I can understand why Lennar would want to do their best to avoid honoring the warranty.

*I go back to work in a little over a week. I'm glad to get back into a routine, but I'm going to miss being home with Grant. If anyone wants to send a winning lottery ticket my way, I won't object!

Finding a home

I think I might have found a church. It feels strange to say that. I haven't wanted to go to church in a very long time. I want Grant to be raised going to church, to know the hymns and the traditions and yes, the beliefs. I just don't want him to go through what I went through at churches as a kid.

The church that I've been to twice now is a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. I went to a MS Lutheran church when I was in middle school and for my freshman year of high school, and I was confirmed as a Lutheran. The liturgy at the church I've been visiting is the same as the one I went to in HS. It's very comforting. Lutherans sing quite a bit during their services, and the music is traditional. For this classically trained singer, singing that sort of music feels very good. I've always felt like I worshipped best through music.

My old voice teacher from college is the choir director there. The music is good. He invited me to sing with the church choir, which I think I'm going to do just so that I can sing music that isn't designed for the elementary school crowd. This church just feels right. I'm going to drag Jacob with me next Sunday when he's got a day off; hopefully he'll like it.

I still struggle with feelings of being let down by God, and being angry with God, but I'm trying. I'm finally at a point in my journey where I can say, "I don't understand why you took my baby away, and I'm angry about it, but I'm willing to try to mend the relationship".

Here's to trying.

Been a long time

I took a long blogging break without really meaning to. Life just seems to have gotten in the way, and I've not really been feeling like blogging until tonight.

I've been making some changes in myself. I've been having vocal problems, so to make a long story short, I've been seeing doctors to treat LPR (a "silent" form of reflux that doesn't cause heartburn but does cause damage to the voice). Since soda is a reflux trigger, I stopped drinking it. Since I had to stop drinking soda, I decided to start watching my calorie intake. I wasn't happy with how I looked before. I was wearing a 10 in most of my clothes, which isn't huge I know, but it made me feel like I was letting myself go. So, I started working on losing weight and now I'm wearing a size 4 comfortably. I have NEVER worn a 4, even back in my skinny college days. Total weight loss is 21 pounds, and I think I'll stop when I've lost an even 25.

The medication the doctor has me taking for the reflux can't be taken during pregnancy, so we're putting off trying for another baby until the reflux stuff is resolved. There's a chance I'll be having a surgery called a Nissen Fundoplication, but I won't know for sure until they run some more tests. The meds, weight loss, and diet changes haven't really made much of a difference, so I'm guessing I'll be having the surgery. The whole thing has been stressing me out, but when it comes down to it, I'll do just about anything to preserve my singing voice. I'm a bit bummed out about waiting for another baby, but at the same time I'm relieved. Pregnancy is stressful for anybody, and even more so for us with a history of a child with a severe congenital heart defect and a mommy with pre-term labor. I have the baby bug BAD, but at least I can put off some of the fear that another pregnancy will bring with it.

Professionally, things are moving in a positive direction. I'm getting a student teacher in the fall-- my first one ever. I'm looking forward to it. Not to toot my own horn too too much, but I think I'll be a good cooperating teacher. Hopefully the student teacher feels the same way! I also found out recently that a local university offers a Master of Music Education with a concentration in Choral Conducting, and they have it structured so that the bulk of the coursework is during the summer. I'm excited that there's a possibility for me to go back to school without either quitting my job (not so financially feasable) or killing myself by teaching full-time while going to school in the evenings/on the weekends, all while also being a wife and mommy. Summers would be perfect! I'd lose out on my days of lazy freedom for a few summers, but then I'd have the tools and the degree to move my career in the direction I want it to go in.

The house...ahhhh, the house. We got the suit papers from our lawyer earlier this week, and it should be filed with the county by the end of the week. With any luck we'll have some resolution on that front soon.

On a completely different topic altogether, I'm working on trying to get back into church. It's hard. I find myself angry with God over a lot of different things-- the way I've been treated by Christians in the past and losing Kenneth being top on the list. I went to a Lutheran church here in town last week and it was nice. I went to a Lutheran church for several years as a kid and was confirmed Lutheran, so the service was very familiar and comforting. The person who was my voice teacher in college happens to lead the choir there, so that would give me an opportunity to sing outside of what I do with my kids at work. I'm really hoping that it's a place that I can bring Grant to. I want him to be brought up in church, but I don't want him to experience the hypocracy that I did. I want to be able to have the faith I used to have, without all of the doubts that I've had over the past few years.

There's the long and short of the past few months. My goal is to try to force myself to update this blog once a week at the least. Let's see if I can stick with it.

*pictures used with permission from