Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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8 Months Pregnant & Crazy Busy!

It has been way too long since I’ve written on here so I figured I would at least attempt to get something written down! First of all, thank you to all the readers who are still checking out my older posts and showing them love! I appreciate you! 🙂

Ahhh life, it’s been insane lately! I’m currently 34 weeks and 5 days pregnant and I’m loving every second of it! Truly. I know that makes some pregnant women hate me but I can’t help it (nor would I want to). There’s nothing in this world like feeling my healthy, amazing daughter kick around and do somersaults in the very core of my being. She means the entire world to me and I don’t doubt that I would do absolutely anything for her. Due to my jacked up ovaries I get ultrasounds every 4 weeks (another thing mommies to be hate me for) and I love getting to see her beautiful little face and hear her strong heartbeat so often. I think I would go crazy if I didn’t get to. She always clocks in in the 140 range as far as beats per minute and she’s been steadily gaining weight the entire time. At our last U/S they said she weighed 4 pounds 13 ounces! I’m carrying that around; not to mention the puppies a little further up north! She’s such an active baby and I can’t express how supremely grateful I am for that. I struggled with crippling fear that something would go wrong in the beginning of my pregnancy. That subsided somewhat once I started being able to feel her move but really, I was still nervous until I hit the point where she was considered viable even outside of the womb. That helped a lot. The chances of anything going wrong are much slimmer now. But the birth? That’s where the fear lives now. However, I find myself feeling strangely calm about giving birth despite the many things that “could” go wrong. Granted that may very quickly disappear once the time comes haha. But so far I find myself feeling as if everything will be okay, and I have faith in my ability to bring my daughter safely into this world. I’m much more afraid of the hospital making a mistake or something happening to me than I am of anything happening to her. I just have this calming feeling that she will make it onto this plane of existence healthy and whole, without any hitches.

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The Single Greatest Love I’ve Ever Felt…

 

She is the light of my life. I questioned whether or not I would be able to have kids for many years due to my screwy ovaries but I don’t think anything in this world could’ve stopped her from being conceived. I believe with every inch of my being that she was truly meant to be here and it is my job to make sure she is healthy, loved, and cared for. It is my job to raise her into someone who will make this world better, not worse. It’s my job to give her a safe place to exist, to grow and develop, to learn and evolve. It is my greatest blessing to be the person who is to give her unconditional love and acceptance. It is my responsibility to provide her with an environment where honesty is acceptable, where her spirit can be exactly who it is and who it’s meant to be. And I have never felt more honored, or humbled, by anything else in my entire life. I believe that in some ways, people are who they are; but we’d be crazy to think that nature doesn’t play a significant role in the whole “nature vs. nurture” argument. Parents play an enormous role in what their children grow up to value, to appreciate, to believe in. Some of these things are left up to chance; but a portion of them are definitely instilled by the things and values that they’re raised around. My mommy raised me to value honesty above almost anything else. She also instilled in my siblings and I the importance of looking out for the little guy. To never be a bully, to defend the underdog. To be kind and strong. To stand up for ourselves without putting others down. To defend family; and that family does not always mean blood relation. She taught us many things and the older I get, the more I realize how much of who I am today I owe to her. I can only hope to have that same positive impact on my own child. God knows I’ve been shown a lot of what to do and what not to do.

The closer I get to these kicks and jabs and tumbles becoming a breathing, screaming, eating little person the more I can’t wait to meet her; and the more I know I’m going to miss being so close to her. Every night when I go to bed, I lie on my left side, place a pillow between my knees, wrap my right arm around my belly and tuck my right hand under the left side of my stomach. As I settle in, she does the same; slowly moving her body until her back is lying against the side of my stomach that’s touching the bed. She uses the side of my stomach as a hammock and kicks her little legs around until she gets in a comfortable position. Then she just relaxes, into the side of my stomach and the crook of the bed, her little hands and feet stretching out occasionally until she falls asleep. When I wake up in the morning I either roll onto my back or sit up and I feel her start to stir as she wakes up with me. Then she shimmies her way back to the middle of my stomach and does a bunch of twists and turns until she’s found her new comfortable position. As I wake up more, she wakes up more. Once I eat, she’s up and bouncing around, giving me many kicks and jabs to get to feel and smile at. I love this. I love it more than I’ve ever loved anything in the world.

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Bebe girl using the left side of my stomach as hammock 🙂

My mom says she hasn’t seen anyone love being pregnant so much since my grandmother, and I feel honored to have that in common with her. My grandmother was one of the most incredible women I’ve ever met. She was endlessly loving and accepting and she had this way about her that put everyone around her at ease.  I remember the first time I met her (she was my foster grandmother mind you), I walked into her house and she greeted my mom and I at the door. She looked me up and down for a moment, gave me the warmest smile and a hug, and said “So you’re my new grand daughter? Are you hungry?” And then she fed me. We spent the afternoon talking about things I’d never discussed with adults before; like why Italian sculptures of men always have such tiny penises (they kept the rooms cold so no one would pop a boner) and what kinds of stupid and embarrassing things my new foster brother and sister had done in the past. Then as I was about to leave, my new grandmother stuck out her chest and said “Guess which one’s fake! Go ahead you can touch them!” See, I had just learned that afternoon that this incredibly warm woman had stage 4 breast cancer and had been fighting it for many years. She had gotten a single mastectomy at that point and was given a bra with one fake boob in it to hide the lack of breast tissue from her surgery. And she wanted to know if I could tell which boob was fake. So I grabbed a 60 something year old woman’s breasts. And the real kicker? I guessed the wrong one. I will never forget that woman for the rest of my life. Even in her last few years of life she never stopped smiling, she never withheld her love, she always hid her pain. Even when the neuropathy in her hands was so bad that soft fabric felt like razorblades, she still refused to let anyone else fold her towels. She was a powerhouse of a woman and she was just so fucking good. Everything about her was so good. If I can end up being half as strong, half as loving, half as incredible as her and my mother then my daughter will be just fine and will always know just how much she is loved. This is the legacy I want to carry on. Strong, loving women who take no shit from anyone and who defend their families. I am honored to be a part of this family and I am excited to bring my daughter into it. I can’t wait to see what kind of person she becomes with the many incredible influences that are going to be in her life. And I’m proud to say that today, I am one of those good influences. I have survived and overcome so much and I’ve done so without becoming a broken person. I can be a little rough around the edges and I’m definitely somewhat damaged but I am strong and loyal and compassionate. I am a survivor and a mother by nature and I will bend the earth over backwards and break it for this little girl. That is the least of what she deserves and the smallest bit of what I want to give her.

 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Gratitude for My Bebe Girl

My little girl continues to grow every day 😍. We had a tiny scare recently when the last ultrasound said that she was 12 days too small and that the blood pressure in the umbilical cord was too high and could be stopping her from getting enough nutrients and oxygen. As it turns out though, they messed up my due date. So now Bebe V is due 1/18/17 instead of 1/7; which is fine by me because I’m still loving being pregnant. She was so active today and it was amazing. Granted she’s a very active Bebe as is, but I swear today she was making up for sleeping most of yesterday. It felt like someone was drumming their fingers all down the inside of my belly at one point.

I quite literally “lol’ed” because it tickled. I love it. I love this. I am so incredibly blessed and I refuse to lose sight of that. I feel like it is far too easy to get something you never thought you’d have and then take it for granted because you finally have it. Right now it’s easy for that not to happen because she amazes me everyday and this is all still so new and fun and beautiful. But I am determined to remain just as grateful even when it’s been 5 days since I’ve slept 3 hours in a row and she just threw up down my shirt…

I vividly remember being in the midst of thinking I couldn’t have children and seeing moms who were completely oblivious to how great of a gift they’d been given. I hated it. I hated that people who never wanted children (some even after they had them) seemed to get pregnant the easiest. I hated that they favored their phones and whatever man was in their life over their child. And I’m not a nazi people; we all need a break to just hang out and Facebook sometimes. But that is not the kind of people I’m talking about here. I watched one woman literally throw her child 5-6 feet away from her onto a couch because the little girl wanted a hug after the mom had been gone at work (and the boyfriend’s) for the last 15 hours and it annoyed her that her child wanted love. Because God forbid your flesh and blood miss you right?

I swore to myself that if I ever got the chance, I would embrace every moment, the marvelous and the maddening. And so far I have. Obviously I’m very early on in this journey through parenthood and I’m sure my sanity, my will, my everything will be tested within an inch of it’s life; but I won’t allow that to turn my child into my enemy or something that I take for granted. That sentence doesn’t even make sense to me honestly. I’ve seen people who act like that, but I just don’t get it. Being a parent is the highest honor and greatest responsibility that life has to offer. So why do so many lose sight of that? Or maybe they just never saw it that way to begin with….<<<<<<
lie here in my safe, comfortable home and giggle as the life inside me makes my belly morph into insane shapes and practically vibrate from her furious kicking, I can't help but feel like the luckiest woman alive. This child is a gift and a miracle. And I adore her more than anything or anyone in this world…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2016<<<<<<
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Morning Mindfulness

I fell asleep last night with my hands on my belly; one next to my left hip bone and the other on my right side, near the bottom of my ribs. I peacefully drifted to sleep to the feeling of my daughter’s hiccups. Her entire tiny little body jumping, making either side of my belly quickly expand and then retreat. I then woke this morning to way too many alarms and that little girl’s father prodding me to leave our warm bed. And as I woke up, so did our baby; her tiny movements becoming bigger kicks, reminding me that I have to pee (yet again) and that a pregnant woman’s bladder waits for no man. 

So out of bed we got, mercilessly greeted by the cold tile of the bathroom floor, and the warm retreat of my first world white lady slippers in Soccer Mom Grey. My belly starts to grumble causing my daughter to kick up a storm; all to remind me that I am no longer “not a breakfast eater”. My whole life I could never eat in the morning; it made me sick, as it was just too much too early. Now? I wake up ravenous.

So I write this to you, hunched over my kitchen counter, as I munch on these mini cinnamon Eggo waffles that I’m obsessed with (along with thousands of elementary school children across the globe). And as I eat my blood sugar rises, causing this little bundle of life in me to fully wake up and start kicking even more. See, what I eat, she eats. What I feel, she feels. When I become really stressed out or something scares me I now have her kicking feet to match the beat of my accelerated heart. When I’m hungry and my stomach grumbles, those same little limbs flail around reminding me that I can’t put off the next meal because she needs it, as well as me. And once I’ve eaten and she’s returned to bouncing happily in her warm home inside my being, I write short pieces about how this connection with her warrants me writing said pieces before I’ve even opened both eyes.

It’s the most incredible gift I’ve ever been given. She’s the most incredible gift I’ve ever been given. To be so tied to someone, their life intertwined with yours, their body dependent on yours, their movements to be felt in the core of your being, that is magic. This is the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be. And I have been tasked with the great honor of raising her, loving her, bringing up to be like the best women I know so that maybe when I die, I’ve left the world a slightly better place and her an incredible part of it.

And so it’s morning like these, when I’m up too early and the air’s too cold, when I’m too hungry and I’m running behind, when she’s jumping around like a kid in a kick boxing class, that I am reminded that I am so incredibly blessed. That I’ve been given something I never thought I would have, that many women would die to have a chance at. And I’ll never forget those women, because I was once one of them. The broken and pained who believe (or who know) that they can’t have children. I never expected to be carrying this little bundle of life in the center of my being. But now that I am? I will love, protect, and cherish her with everything that I have. Because that is the gift I’ve been given. To have this little person who depends on me so much, who I will always put first, slowly growing inside my being, just waiting to escape to the outside world. Someday soon. ❤️

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016<<
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The Pregnant Woman’s Burden

Men and women experience pregnancy completely differently. This may seem like an obvious statement but ask any woman who has ever tried to explain “being tired” whilst pregnant to their partner and you’ll see what I mean… They don’t get it. I’m not sure they can get it. To them “tired” means a bad nights sleep; to the mama it means a profound form of exhaustion that’s equivalent to the 59th gate of hell. When they hear “hungry” they think of the hunger that comes with skipping lunch; meanwhile their wife just went from completely content to “need a 5 course meal or I will die” in 6.4 seconds. When they hear “I’m afraid something will go wrong” they think, “Everything is fine” and say as much. But I don’t think a person who has never carried a child could understand the fear, the obsession, the outright terror, and the painstaking attention spent on every minute bodily change that a pregnant woman goes through. What I’m about to write is just MY experience. But I know many women who’ve thought and felt the same as me. Maybe not all, but for those of you that can relate, you’ll get it. I need to write this here, because if I don’t put it somewhere, I may not make it to tomorrow without losing my mind.

I’ve wanted children for as long as I can remember. When I was 11 years old I told my mom that I was “put here to be a mom”. You can’t imagine the devastation I felt when at 17 I was told that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the leading cause of infertility in America. I spent the next 7-8 years getting a period every 9-18 months. I cringed when other women acted as if the absence of a period was a luxury to be had. My ex and I spent 2 years trying to conceive with no luck. I started to resent my body, hate it in fact. I wanted to will it to work. I wanted to curse it for failing to do “what all women should be able to do”. I felt like a failure; as a partner, as a woman, as a human being. I felt it to the core of my being with absolutely no compassion for myself. I openly admitted that if I was ever told I could not conceive that I would eat a bullet, because that would be a lesser pain than living in that reality. I also felt like a selfish bitch for being so disheartened when other women had spent their entire lives trying to get pregnant, had been told they were sterile, or had lost multiple babies. I knew if I ever did become pregnant that I would be at a much higher risk of miscarriage because of the PCOS and I knew I would obsess about it neurotically. I envied women who had kids without trying, I resented women who took their children for granted, and I wouldn’t walk anywhere near the baby section of any store for five fucking years. I cried, I prayed, I cursed the Gods. I thought it was impossible, tried to tell myself I could adopt, tried to make it something I could live with. All of this by 24 fucking years old. God forbid I had cut myself a break, right?

Then something crazy happened. My cycle went back to normal. I know that’s a lot of information, but this post isn’t for the faint of heart. For 10 months it was completely normal and the hope that I could be a mother someday, the same hope that had refused to die but instead remained hidden in the very bottom corner of my heart, started to blossom again. Every month I was the slightest bit late became a game of “You’re pregnant”, “No I’m not” between my partner and I. I just wasn’t willing to believe it was possible; at least not out loud. If it happened that was fine, a miracle really; but getting my hopes up all to have them dashed on the rocks of a negative pregnancy test? That was a pain I was unwilling to walk face first into. So I just assumed that month would come whenever it felt like, and it did. Then May 17th of 2016 happened. I was late and had all the usual symptoms of Aunt Flo being on her way; meaning my boobs hurt, I was bloated, I was eating way more, and was moody. My love was convinced I was pregnant, but he always was. Then all of the sudden my friends were too. Eventually I started to wonder myself. One day I noticed my ankles were swollen, on top of the rest of my symptoms, and I chose to buy the tests. Spending that money was immediately followed by constantly refusing to take them because “I didn’t have to pee” or “It wasn’t first thing in the morning”. Needless to say, my partner cracked and begged me to take one and said he would buy more if it was negative and my period still didn’t come. So I do the usual routine of peeing on the stick, saw that it said it had a “negative” symbol, and set it on the toilet bowl behind me. I got myself situated and turned around to grab it so I could show him and it wasn’t fucking negative anymore!

I always thought I would cry, or maybe scream, or possibly just pass out where I stood. I did none of the above. I just stared at it, squinting at the little plus sign like it would disappear if I blinked. And my jaw dropped. I walked into the living room with my hand over my mouth. My love is a decent sized man, more bulk muscle than lean. I have never seen a big man jump up and run over to me as fast as he did. The light in his eyes when he saw my face and said “WELL?!?!” was a sight I’ll never forget. I showed him the test, he smiled this enormous smile, and proceeded to just hold me for a few minutes. The first thing I remember saying was “Is that thing real?! That says pregnant!” And that’s how it started. 1,047 words later and I am finally at what I really want to write about. Are you one of those people who ignores a post that says it will take more than 4-5 minutes to read? Because I am some days. So if you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you. Thank you for reading this. You’ll be one of the few to know what it’s really like to be pregnant, in my head. This is my life today…

Being pregnant is feeling like I can’t do one more thing in the day, like I will absolutely crumble if I have to go on… this generally occurs around 11am. That’s slowly getting better but I seriously doubt I will ever go back to “normal” again. Being pregnant is despising the fact that I work at an onsite office with only 1 porta potty, that I share with 10 other men, when I have to pee 15 times a day. I drive to Wawa Monday through Wednesday. Being pregnant is being gut level terrified that something will go wrong. It’s being worried that I don’t eat enough dark green vegetables, that I ate too much cheesecake last month, or don’t consume enough protein. I’ve never obsessed about every single thing I put in my mouth so much. “Is shellfish okay? Can I survive without caffeine? Is two cups of coffee too much? Will it really hurt if I eat Ramen just this once because I’m too tired to function?” This is my life now. If I forget my prenantals for two days in a row (which has happened all of once) then I feel like I’ve irreparably damaged my baby. I have found myself absolutely hysterical while driving down the road, in the middle of my workday, because I am so afraid that when I go to this doctor’s appointment tomorrow this baby won’t have a heartbeat. I cycle between having faith and believing everything is okay, and being convinced that something is wrong. I then have to talk myself out of believing that because I’m worried that the stress of believing that will hurt the baby. I’m a fucking lunatic. I am terrified of losing this child. It is my greatest fear every single day.

I have these nightmarish daydreams of waking up covered in blood because I’ve lost my baby. Every single time I pee I check it for that same blood and then think about what a mess I would be if I was a woman who spotted throughout my pregnancy. I fall asleep every night praying to every God there is and to every dead relative I have to keep this baby safe. I lie there and try to will the Gods to make this baby move. I swear I felt “him” at 13 weeks; which is possible, but also unlikely. I wish I could just feel that again though. It gave me peace. My friend Lauren says I’ll feel better once I can feel him move but I’m afraid I’ll never make it there. I’m 16 weeks and 7 days pregnant. Women without PCOS are at a 15-25% risk of miscarriage; with PCOS, it’s closer to 45-50%. At 17 weeks, without PCOS, a woman is at a 3% risk of miscarriage. Since I have Type 2 PCOS, meaning no insulin resistance and no obesity, I shouldn’t have quite as high of a risk of miscarriage as some women, especially since I’ve gotten past the first trimester. But you know what? My mind doesn’t give a single flying fuck. I am still plagued with this gut wrenching, hysteria inducing, uncontrollable fear that the world’s greatest gift to be given will be taken from me. I pray to reach the day where my baby is in my arms, where he is “real” and tangible, where these fears transform into a world of other fears about actually raising and protecting him. I constantly struggle with feeling like this pregnancy “isn’t real yet”, despite my ever growing belly and boobs. I’ve only had one ultrasound and that was 8 weeks ago to confirm the pregnancy. Now I have another appointment tomorrow. I have been counting down the days for the last month, becoming more insane by the day. I want nothing more than to hear his heartbeat, to see him move, to know he is real; to hear and see that he IS there and he’s alive. I want that more than I have ever wanted anything.

But I’m not there yet. I’m here, typing to you in an attempt to not lose my fucking mind in the next 16 hours and 21 minutes until I am at the hospital, ready to be called in to find out the fate of this baby that I’ve done everything I could to protect. I am a breathing ball of fear and nerves and palpable insanity. I am a mother, for today at least…

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

2016 Liebster Blog Award

So I am actually a few days behind on writing this here post because work and life have been so completely insane but, here goes nothing! So, the lovely Jessica nominated me for the 2016 Liebster Blog Award; so from me to you Jessica, THANK YOU! Naturally I was like “Awesome!….. what the fuck is that?” I followed the link back to her page and quickly learned what it is. Liebster is German for the word “beloved” and the award is given to newer bloggers with under 200 followers who have awesome blogs that are…you guessed it, beloved! So, that’s pretty damn cool 🙂

Now this award here has a couple of rules so I will post them below…

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Now, I’ve thanked Jessica for nominating me. I’m also going to take a hint from her and go to the people’s blogs I want to nominate and let them know personally because let’s be honest, that is so much easier than trying to tag 11 people in this post. Plus, I have to do some reading and deciding on the topic of who I want to nominate… I’m coming for you my fellow bloggers 😉 Moving forward…

 ~THE QUESTIONS JESSICA ASKED OF ME~

   1. What is your go-to comfort food?

Okay this is a hard one for me. I was raised Southern, therefore I have quite a few comfort foods. But for this question I’m going to have to go with tacos, Lupi’s cheesesteaks, and Rosemary bread with seasoned olive oil. I have a bipolar palate.

2. Is there a favorite plant or flower that makes you stop and appreciate its beauty? What is it? If not, what does spark that reaction in you?

I am absolutely obsessed with Willow Trees. Every time I pass a decent sized one with it’s beautiful, low hanging branches swaying in the wind it always makes me pause, even if it’s just for a moment. One day I would love to get married underneath one.

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  3. What makes you feel connected with the world when you feel out-of-place?

My family has a tradition of telling each other to “just walk outside and put your bare feet in the grass/sand/dirt”. We believe that grounding ourselves with nature is the easiest way to become grounded within ourselves. Oftentimes though I can’t stop long enough to do this so when that isn’t an option I drive and listen to music. That’s like church for me, it makes it easier to slow down and breathe most days.

   4. If you have children, what have you learned about yourself through raising them? If you don’t have children, have you been personally affected by a child and how?

I raised my little brother and sister along with a few other children who had absent parents over the years. They taught me to be mature, responsible, caring, tolerant, patient, and forgiving. They taught me what happens when a parent doesn’t put their own child first; the pain and lifelong damage that can cause is very hard to watch. They taught me how to be a mother. Something that will come in handy now that I’m 10 weeks pregnant with a child of my own. Words can’t describe how long I’ve waited to have a child and how much fear I had about my ability to conceive (I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). But now that my one greatest wish has come true all I can do is pray that I make it to full term and that my child is healthy. All of the lessons these other children taught me, in combination with the many things having my own child will teach me, are what I will use to be the best parent I possibly can be.

   5. Do you think you could handle being a special needs parent? Why?

I think it would be naïve to pretend that I can completely answer this question without having been in the situation myself. I have friends who are parents to special needs children and while it is incredibly rewarding and their children are amazing, it is also challenging and exhausting. I know that I have enough love in my heart, strength in my spirit, and openness in my mind to treat and raise a special needs child the way they deserve to be. One of my favorite little boys in the entire world has ASD and I absolutely adore him. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I already know how much his parents and many other parents struggle with the ups and downs of raising a SN child. So yes, I do think I could do it but I won’t pretend to know all of the hurdles that would be thrown at me. I won’t pretend that I would do it perfectly because NO PARENT of ANY child “does it perfectly. They just do it to the best of their ability and that is something I can say I would do.

   6. Who is someone in your life that you’ve lost that resulted in a total change in you? How did you change? Note: The loss can be due to death but doesn’t have to be.

I’ve lost so many people, in so many different ways, that this is a difficult question to answer. I could go with my grandfather, my first love, my last love, my best friends throughout the years, the 30 some odd people I’ve known personally who’ve died because of addiction in the last 10 years. So many options and each one played their part is shaping different pieces of me. So I’m not going to pick one. I’ll pick pieces of each. Losing my grandfather was my first real loss. He was the first one that hurt so bad I was sure I had broken in half. I went off the deep end and did a lot of drugs for awhile. I had already been taught in life that no one stays but he was a big hurt piece. We never saw it coming. Next was my first love. I absolutely adored him. He fucked my best friend in the entire world in my house, in my bed, where I gave them permission to hang out and party with a bunch of our other friends while I went to Vermont for 4 days. Why was I away? Because my mom and step dad had gotten locked up on the same day and left me with a house that was $3,000 in debt when I was 14 years old. Needless to say, I needed a break. What I got was heartbreak. I never really let anyone in after him for about 6 years until my ex and I got together. We had known each other since we were 15 and 17 and he was the only person who bothered to tell me that my first love had cheated on me as soon as he found out. All of my other friends knew because they were at the party when it happened and no one told me. But Gunner did. Gunner and I got together and stayed together for 4 years or so; through his PTSD, my active addiction, and so many struggles. We survived it all and when we finally reached the place of peace that we had aimed for the entire time… well, there was so much damage that we didn’t have the ability to maintain a healthy relationship anymore. We wanted to save the friendship above everything else, including the relationship, so we cut off the arm to save the body. We are still friends to this day, but that was an earth shattering, life altering pain like I had never known. It took me a great deal of time to heal and on some days it still stings like it’s fresh. I imagine it’s like that whenever you’ve truly loved someone. None the less, he taught me how much a relationship can survive and what things will break it in the end, no matter how much you love someone. That relationship forever changed me in more ways than I could ever write here. Last, but most certainly not least, all those I’ve lost to the disease of addiction. Each one was too soon, each one broke my heart, and each one is another reason that I stay clean. I will live the life they never got to see. I will stay clean to honor the lives they lost.

   7. If Earth was due to explode in 1 week would you seek out a new planet or hang out and explode with Earth? Why?

I would seek out another planet simply because finally, for once in my life, I have too much to lose to give it up so easily.

   8. Name a special memory you have that’s tied to the weather or a season.

Being with my ex and friends so many times, all around a bonfire, in the heart of fall. The smell of fire, leaves, and burning wood all around us. The dark night, bright stars, and their flame lit faces, all laughing and screaming so happily. I miss having bonfires. I would love to do it with the people in my life today.

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   9. Do you verbally communicate as well as you write? Why or why not?

Hahahaha no. I do speak pretty well these days but I’ll always express myself more honestly in my writing. Honesty=better. I tend to be shut off when speaking to people in person. I’m a bit defensive and careful about who I tell my stuff to because I have ridiculous trust issues.

   10. What is your favorite animal and why?

Snakes. I just love them. They’re pure instinct and I respect that. They’re fast, powerful, and unable to be manipulated. They just are what they are. They grow to know their owner’s scent and won’t bite if trained and cared for properly. That is as long as we’re talking about snakes that are normally owned like Pythons and Boas. If you decide to raise Cobras or Vipers then getting bit will always be a very likely possibility as they’re more aggressive and less tamable by nature. I love all snakes though and at one point owned quite a few. Now however, my significant other absolutely HATES them so I don’t get to have them anymore 😦

   11. What would need to change in your life in order for you to truly live out your dreams?

So many of my dreams have already come true. As far as the ones that haven’t, most of them require money I haven’t made yet. It’s a fucking shame how many things come back to money.

Whoo! That was a lot more than it seemed like when I started this post and now I still have to give you 11 random facts about myself (as if I haven’t spent forever writing about myself already) and then ask 11 questions of the people I will nominate. I guess we’ll do the 11 facts first. Here goes nothing…

11 FACTS ABOUT MYSELF

  1. I was born in Florida but have lived all over the East Coast and Kansas.
  2. I have 22 piercings and 19 tattoos.
  3. I have 4 sisters and 5 brothers.
  4. I switched schools more than 19 times between grades 1 and 10.
  5. I am a tattoo artist and a body piercer. I absolutely LOVE it.
  6. Writing has literally saved my life and my sanity on more than 1 occasion.
  7. I drive stick shift and get massively bored while driving automatic cars.
  8. I graduated from an online charter school because I couldn’t stop moving long enough to get established in any one school.
  9. I’m a survivor, of so many things and that’s an essential part of who I am.
  10. I fucking despise sauerkraut. The smell alone will make me projectile vomit.
  11. I didn’t see The Goonies until I was 22 years old.

What questions to ask the people I nominate? Hmmm… there’s so many things I could ask! I think I’m just going to wing it.

THE NOMINEE’S 11 QUESTIONS!!

  1. What do you think is the most important quality/spiritual principle to live your life with? For example, honesty, humor, forgiveness, etc.
  2. What really pisses you off? Makes your skin crawl, ears steam, head explode?
  3. Why do you think we (humans) are put on this earth? Are we here by accident or to achieve some greater purpose?
  4. Why do you write? What motivates you, inspires, you, or keeps you going?
  5. Describe one memory from your life that to this day you think of and replaying in your head often. It can be anything and can reoccur for any reason, it just has to be honest.
  6. What makes you feel at peace?
  7. What is one of the greatest struggles you’ve ever overcome? Describe.
  8. What’s your poison? (Everyone has one.)
  9. What kind of person are you really? No sugarcoating, no fluff, who are you really when no one is watching?
  10. What kind of person do you want to be?
  11. Write a song lyric that really resonates with you and tell us why 🙂

I’m excited to go nominate everyone for this award and I hope ya’ll enjoyed this post. A huge kudos goes out to anyone who made it through allll of that and actually survived to the end. I know she’s a long one! I can’t wait to read all your responses (a lovely pasttime for my vacation at the beach). Thank you all for reading and for participating! Support your fellow bloggers!!

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

DO NOT Touch The Belly!

Pregnancy. The gift of life. The duty and honor of raising a child. Something I believe to be one of the purest, most beautiful things that can happen to a woman. Feeling that baby kick inside your belly, knowing that you’re growing a life within you. That’s something that they just don’t make words for. Even the people around pregnant women tend to get smiles on their faces as they imagine beautiful newborns who smell just like “baby” and Johnson & Johnson shampoo. Pregnancy draws people in, making them curious with questions and leaving them wanting to be a part of something magical. Even if it’s just to ask a woman her due date or the gender of her baby, they can’t help but want to know. But why? I’m talking about complete strangers who are in no way effected by the gender of this woman’s baby or when it’s due. What makes them so curious? We are attracted to the beautiful, the innocent, the pure. We see something incredible and we can’t help but want to be a part of it. This is a magical thing.

But, what happens when the line is crossed? There’s really nothing wrong with asking a pregnant woman when she’s due (so long as you’re absolutely sure she’s actually pregnant). There’s nothing wrong with being curious about the gender of the baby. That does not however make it appropriate to reach out and touch that poor pregnant woman’s unsuspecting stomach. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is the topic of this post. I realize this has been examined and discussed to death but I can’t help wanting to add my two cents. There’s something about a woman being pregnant that seems to make people think they have the right to touch a stranger. I have read multiple articles and discussion forums about this and to be honest, the comments seriously fucking worry me. You would be amazed how many people, even women, told the person complaining about it to “stop being selfish”, “stop being a bitch”, or to “stop robbing people of the joy of experiencing a baby kicking”. I’m sorry… maybe I missed something here, but that baby that’s kicking? IT’S INSIDE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING WHO HAS A VOICE TO EXPRESS WHETHER OR NOT SHE WANTS TO BE TOUCHED!!!!

I realize how excited people (even strangers) get when they see a woman carrying another life inside her. Especially other women who may have children of their own or perhaps aren’t able to have children at all. However, at the bare minimum, you should at least ask. Not only are you touching a complete stranger’s body, you are touching her child. Her literal flesh and blood. How would you feel if someone walked up to your child in the mall and just started rubbing his/her head? Probably a little freaked out, maybe enraged, or perhaps mama/papa bear protective? That’s because we are protective of our offspring. A pregnant woman (especially one who’s close to giving birth) is obviously more vulnerable than she normally would be. She can’t move as fast, fight as hard, or be as aggressive as she normally would be if she felt threatened. So when you touch her (which by the way, is threatening) you are showing aggressive behavior (whether innocent or not) to a person who is already in a vulnerable position. So, should she reach out and smack your hand or start rubbing your belly in return, you had it coming! People do this without even thinking twice and that is the problem, they don’t think! Or worse yet, they see nothing wrong with it. Judging by the number of uncomfortable reactions pregnant women say they’ve gotten when they rubbed a stranger’s stomach in return, I’m going to guess this isn’t too hard of a concept to understand. Pregnant or not, it is not okay to touch a woman anywhere that she didn’t give you direct permission to. It is in no way different from walking up to any woman in a shopping mall and rubbing her very not pregnant belly. A baby makes no difference to the level of inappropriateness. Sure the baby makes you want to touch the woman more, but it doesn’t give you any right to.

The fact that we live in a society that thinks pregnant women are being bitchy or too sensitive because they don’t want a stranger to touch their stomach, a body part that’s very close to their genitals and is inherently a sensitive region, is disgusting. The idea that pregnancy makes a woman public property literally makes me nauseous. The fact that men take part in this uninvited rubbing as well as women is a bit frightening. Even in my wildest imagination I can’t comprehend what it’s like to walk up to a complete stranger and touch not only their belly, but their baby, without any invitation or forewarning. I would simply never, ever do that. It’s just completely inappropriate, wildly disrespectful, and obviously invasive. Have some respect people. Smile sweetly, don’t reach your hand out, engage in a conversation that doesn’t involve questions like “Do internal ultrasounds hurt?”, and MAYBE that woman won’t become immediately defensive just because you walked within 3 feet of her. You never know someone’s history. Even if you completely ignore the fact that its inappropriate to start with you still have to consider that this woman may be a sexual abuse or rape survivor. For all you know that baby exists because she was raped and you just walked up and touched her without her permission. I realize that may be a harsh example but the sad truth is that it has absolutely happened to multiple people.

Think before you act. A pregnant belly is not a “Touch Me” sign. A woman’s body is not your playground. If you’re one of the people who thinks this isn’t a big deal then I challenge you to think about how you would feel if I walked up to you in front of a bunch of strangers and started rubbing your belly whilst smiling at you or maybe talking to your stomach, not your face. Some people would say “It’s different, I’m not pregnant”; to which I would reply “So it’s not okay for me to touch your stomach, a part of you that’s not exactly sexual but you can touch someone else’s child?” A stomach is hardly as grave a faux pas as a child, a human being, right? If you wouldn’t walk up and touch a woman who isn’t pregnant and you wouldn’t touch someone else’s child then don’t touch the belly!

I apologize for the rant but this really disturbs me. It’s not okay and the fact that women are attacked for saying what they are and are not okay with happening to their own bodies just shows another one of the big problems in our society today. It’s just another example of how women are expected to smile sweetly and not object to something that makes them feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s another way that our wants, our needs, and our rights (like to personal space), are not respected. Well, let me be the first to say, should a stranger ever touch my stomach without asking or after I’ve already asked them not to, I can and will punch them directly in the face, promptly.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016