October 2014 archive

The Awesomeness Factor

My husband recently introduced me to the Freakonomics podcast, specifically the episode “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” He’s been reading the book entitled Freakonomics (and finding it fascinating) and has been listening to the podcast for a while. The reason this particular episode caught his attention to the point where he had to share it is the relationship advice that it contained. I decided to listen to the whole episode just to experience what my husband listens to each week (and it’s great to have something in common to talk about over dinner), and I found this episode very interesting as well. There are a tons of interesting facts throughout the episode, and besides the prohibition-style banning of pinball machines in New York until 1976, the factor determining why relationships are successful was the most interesting. I encourage you to listen to this podcast or read the transcript, and if you only want to listen to the part in which I am writing about, it begins around 28 minutes into the episode.

Melissa Schneider, a dating and relationship counselor, explained the “awesomeness factor” or “positive illusions.” Research was composed in 2010 to 37,000 dating couples in different countries, and the researchers were looking for what factor kept couples happy with one another and within the relationship and what made some couples break up. The factor that most determined happiness and contentment within a relationship wasn’t “commitment, or love, or trust.” It was something called the “awesomeness factor.” Here’s what this factor is: “the criteria was basically that you think your partner is great, you think your relationship is kind of better than all your friends’ relationships, but you wouldn’t tell them that. And you feel like your partner is close to like your quirky sense of ideal for you. And it didn’t just matter in dating. It actually also mattered in marriage. One study that looked at newlyweds and kind of evaluated this factor found that three years later satisfaction had dropped for everybody, except, one group. Guess who it was? The people who had a high awesomeness factor the day they walked down the aisle.” You believe your partner is awesome, you believe your relationship is better than most around you, and, therefore, your relationship is successful.

Does this mean that these people’s views of their partners are misleading or illusions? Schneider explains that it’s a “yes and no” answer. You believe your partner is more awesome than he/she actually is, but interestingly enough, if you believe this for an extended period of time your partner actually does become more awesome. Like if someone believes you are better than you actually are, you may strive to become that better person. Your partner may make you “want to be a better man,” to quote Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets.

So what does this mean for my relationship and your relationship? Are commitment, love, and trust just not that important? I believe those factors are still very important. How can you believe someone is awesome if you don’t have commitment from him/her, love and are loved by him/her, and can trust him/her? It is also important, according to this study, to also think your partner hangs the moon. Yes, it’s important to understand his/her flaws and faults because honesty with one’s self and how we perceive the world is important. However as Henri De Montherlant said, “We like someone because. We love someone although.” We decide to love someone even though we see their faults. We see beyond those and can still believe that person is pretty awesome.

After listening to this podcast, I reflected on my own relationship. Is the “awesomeness factor” why Hans and I work? Absolutely. It may sound bad, but we judge other relationships based on our own. We’re solid, we work, and when this is the case, it’s easy to see where other relationships are not as strong. Are we correct in the assumption that our relationship is superior? Probably not, but it is important that we believe it. We also see each other as more awesome than we probably are. However, I’ve seen us both grow into better, more confidant people than when we first met. That woman from my Facebook feed five years ago doesn’t even exist anymore. I don’t recognize her, and I believe this is a good thing. I’ve seen my husband grow into the man he is today, and I believe he is such an amazing human being that I’ve decided to make a baby with him. Are we the awesome people we believe each other to be? Again, probably not, but as long as we’re an awesome person in each other’s eyes, I will remain content with this wonderful man I’ve married.

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Whose Body is This?

As I announced in my previous post, I am pregnant. I am 11 weeks pregnant and could not be happier with this amazing blessing. That being said, pregnancy is a bitch with claws. Yep, it’s a blessed bitch or a bitchy blessing—however you wish to look at it. As time progresses, I realize more and more that my body is no longer my own. My body is the baby’s body. I’m bloated to the point where most of my pants no longer fit. Nausea hits me at all times of the day (although I am very thankful to not be vomiting with this nausea). My boobs are bigger already and so very sore. I’m peeing almost every other hour, and I hardly sleep through the night since I require at least one nightly jaunt to the potty. I get more headaches, and the migraines I had were quickly intense. I’m tired all the time, but at night, I hardly ever sleep that well when I can actually get to sleep. And I’m more emotional than usual, which leads to weeping at movies, crying when my mother calls, becoming irate at random irritations, and laughing uncontrollably at absolutely nothing. Embarrassed yet at reading this? Don’t be. This is all absolutely normal and even banal. I just want to give a realistic picture of pregnancy. No embellishing details here. Yet despite all this discomfort, I welcome all of these because they mean a blessing is being created within me.

There are also some things happening that are simply amazing. Here’s what I mean:

1)      In 40 weeks, my uterus will expand from the size of a pear (2 ½ oz.) to the size of a small watermelon (2 lb. 4 oz.).

2)      My body is creating a new organ—the placenta—and this is the only organ that the body gets rid of after use.

3)      I will have 50% more blood by week 20, and my cardiac output will be 40% higher.

4)      My liver and heart will grow during pregnancy to meet their growing demands and will then shrink back to size after I give birth.

5)      My bones are becoming more flexible for both the pelvis for delivery and the ribcage to accommodate increased lung capacity.

6)      My smell is heightened. This is thought to have evolved to help mothers detect toxins in food and drink that may be dangerous to the baby.

(All of these facts were taken from this amazing pregnancy book that I highly recommend. It doesn’t overwhelm a first-time expectant mother, and the information is presented in both an aesthetically pleasing way and in a useful format.)

I had no idea all this stuff happened internally when a woman is pregnant. Amazing! It kind of makes sense why I’m thirsty all the time (increased blood volume), and the increased hormones to make all this awesomeness happen just add to my discomfort. However, if my body is not my own, I’m glad it’s yours, baby! Now, to the toilet I go…

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A Pregnant Pause Before An Announcement

I am pregnant. The woman who thought she may never have kids. The woman who was told it would be difficult to get pregnant even if she wanted. The woman who thought she was happy to not have children. The woman who suffered a miscarriage in June. Is pregnant. Again.

My husband and I have always talked about having children but in more of an abstract-idea way. Sure, children would be great for the most part, but we just were not there yet. That all changed, though. In December sitting in our red car outside a theater in the cold, winter air, we talked about children as a concrete possibility. I told Hans that I wanted children in my life, one way or another, and that this was a necessity rather than a desire. We broke down crying because we both had had this idea in our heads for a long time. It was the moment we decided kids would be in our future.

However, I had surgery on my foot in January and was recovering in February, so there was no conscious trying for children then. That all changed in March, though. The birth control was out of my system for a month, and we were fully prepared to try for children for a year, two years, three years as we heard and read different stories of how difficult it is to conceive. I had even been told by my gynecologist that it would be even more difficult for me to conceive than others given my weight and my body’s dislike for ovulation (too much information yet?). However, God works in mysterious ways, and within three months I was testing for pregnancy after a missed period.

This pregnancy, sadly, did not stick. When we went in for my nine-week checkup, we discovered that the baby had died somewhere in the seventh week. We induced a medical miscarriage and dealt with the emotional and physical blow of that. We were told that we’d have to wait until after my next normal cycle to try again and that it was likely it may take a while.

We didn’t have to wait long, though. Within that first month after my first normal cycle after the miscarriage, I was pregnant. The joy of seeing that positive sign on the pee stick is one I struggle to explain. It was like getting a new car from your parents at seventeen because you’ve earned it with your straight A’s. It’s like getting that admission letter to your first-pick college. It’s like being five years old and waking up to presents on Christmas day. And yet, it was something more magical than that. Some joy so inexplicable and so unlike any other I have ever experienced.

It was also the start of worry and doubt since I had already lost one baby. I prayed, and am still praying, for the safety and health of the child. We went into the doctor’s office yesterday for our nine-week check-up, and we got to see the baby with his/her tiny heart beating on the ultrasound. We also discovered that he/she is slightly bigger than a nine-week-old baby should be, so I was bumped up to being ten weeks along and my due date bumped from May 2nd to April 27th.

My husband and I discussed whether or not to keep it a secret until I was well within my second trimester. One of the hardest parts of miscarrying is having to tell people what happened and then their subsequent disappointment. Dealing with other people being upset and having to help them through their grief is the last thing one should deal with when grieving. It sounds cold, but it’s true. However, we decided to not keep this a secret any longer. Firstly, our joy can barely be contained even if it is tinged with a hint of worry, and secondly, we refuse to live in fear. This is something that should be celebrated, so we want to celebrate it with the people in our lives.

Pregnancy so far hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns, though. I am constantly reminded how my body is no longer mine; it is the baby’s body, the body that protects our future son or daughter. I’ve been blessed not to have vomiting, but I’m nauseated every day. I’m constantly bloated and making frequent trips to the bathroom already. I’m tired all the time to the point where I need a nap most days especially because I’m having such difficulty sleeping at night. I can cry for what seems like hours or I can laugh at absolutely nothing, thanks to the abundance of hormones. I also have constant headaches. They start in my neck and shoulders and work their way up. I have at least one a day, if not several. I’m guessing this is because of my increasing bust size pulling on my bra straps and/or the abundance of hormones having a field day. I was hoping with pregnancy that my migraines would hide out for nine months. No luck. I have had two migraines in ten days, and since I cannot take my usual Imitrex for the pain, I’m left taking an anti-nausea medicine and hydrocodone. I’m so looking forward to the second trimester with longing when hopefully a lot of these symptoms will subside. However, I will happily take the bad and uncomfortable with the enormous blessing that is growing inside of me. Praise for a second chance!

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