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

Grief is A Cunt

June 24th of 2016 I was sitting on the balcony of my love’s parent’s beach house and I got the call. The call that every person who has ever loved an addict dreads getting. It was my mom and she asked me if I was sitting. I know what that question means. I expected to hear that maybe an aunt I didn’t really know or someone I went to school with had died. That is not what came out of her mouth. When she told me it was you I just sat there for a minute. I asked her if she meant YOU you, praying that she was talking about some other Joey, any other Joey besides my little brother. Anyone but the man who had a one year old at home, who had gotten clean before and was happy, who just one year prior had talked me off a ledge when I was freaking out. But she was talking about you.

You were found dead on your best friend’s couch, overdosed on heroin. My heart broke for him having to find you like that because I know that nothing in the world will ever scrub that image from his mind. My heart broke for your mother who just lost her youngest child, her baby boy. My heart broke for your brother who you idolized, followed, modeled yourself after, because I know that on some level he will always blame himself.  My heart broke for your son. Your beautiful one year old son who’d just been so prematurely robbed of all the amazing qualities you had to teach and pass on to him. Now he will only hear the stories…of how his father was as loyal as they make them and would go to war for any of the people he loved, how you were sometimes impulsive and reckless and would go to jail if it meant defending one of your own. He’ll only get to hear about your laugh that could light up an entire room, your smile that could drag anyone out of a dark place, your wild nature but soft heart. There are so many things that made you who you were, some good, some bad, some in between; but they were you. And I know you would’ve been an amazing force in that little boy’s life.. had you not died. THAT breaks my fucking heart. I’ve cycled between being in denial, devastated, depressed, angry, enraged, accepting, and then devastated all over again.

This month is dedicated to devastation. December 23rd marked the 6 month anniversary of your death and I’m stuck in the dreaded place of “what if?”. I sit in these meetings, the same meetings we went to together, and I feel like someone’s gutted me every time I hear the chairperson ask “Is this anyone’s first time at a meeting?”, “Is this anyone’s first time at this meeting?” I can’t wrap my head around why you can’t magically pop up in the back and say, “My name is Joey and I’m an addict.” I would kill to hear those words coming out of your mouth again. But you just had to have “one more”. And now you’re just fucking gone. No magic, no wishing, and no amount of praying in this world will ever bring you back. Your absence has just left this giant fucking hole in the lives of those who loved you. Your death had me staring at that last sentence trying to figure out if “love” or “loved” was the proper way to write it. “Loved” because you’re gone, “love” because the care people have for you didn’t die with you. I just left it the way it is because I couldn’t decide.

I’ve told myself that you’re not in pain or struggling anymore, I’ve tried to reason with the grief that everything happens for a reason, I’ve written about you, talked to you as I was falling asleep, replayed so many memories through my head in an attempt to celebrate your life instead of mourn your death. But you know what? It doesn’t fucking work. Grief doesn’t give a fuck that you’re not suffering anymore. Talking to you at night doesn’t magically give you the ability to talk back. Looking at your prayer card on my mirror every morning is not the fucking same as you being here. Death is unforgiving. I had only known I was pregnant for a month when you died and I was still in that place of not telling anyone because I was so afraid of losing her and god knows you weren’t always easy to track down. My brother died without ever knowing that I was blessed with the one thing I always wanted. You’ll never meet my baby or get to hold her. You’ll never sit back with me and watch our kids play together. You’ll never hear her laugh or get to make fun of me trying to make costumes for some school play some day. I’ll never get to punch you for busting my balls about being a stay at home mom or a housewife. There’s so much that you’re not going to see, that we’ll never get to share now, and I’m angry. I’m fucking angry because you got so close. You got that time clean two summers ago and you were happy. You had learned enough that you were actually able to help me instead of me helping you. I remember how amazed I was at how much you had grown in the months you’d been clean. You were living your life far away from the world of active addiction and you had this light in you that could actually match all the darkness you always seemed to carry with you. But that darkness won in the end, I guess. We all have it, that darkness; but you were always so sensitive to it. It just dug its way into you on so many different occasions, pushing you over the edge at the worst possible time. You would do good for a short while, but you always were your own worst enemy. You’d get so close to your life getting better and you’d hit the self destruct button because you didn’t know any other way. It was brutal to watch, enraging to try to talk you out of, and heartbreaking to see how badly it hurt you even though you always did it to yourself. You were never perfect but you never pretended to be. You owned your flaws, even if sometimes a little too much.

I never thought you would die.

You were my invincible little brother.

And you fucking died. And I can’t do anything to change it.

I handle hard things well but I can’t seem to find a way to swallow this one.

You’re supposed to fucking be here! To raise your son, to talk shit with me, to meet my beautiful daughter, to go fishing and rafting and swimming. You always had this light inside you and the world just isn’t quite as bright without you in it. I know that’s cliché and you’d kick me in the face if you were here to hear it, but it’s actually true with you. You’re supposed to be here, laughing and learning, loving and living. When people say that life isn’t fair they always forget to mention that sometimes it’s just outright fucking cruel.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

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.

bebe-2
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.

bebe-1
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….
But as I 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

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 cuddling me, 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

For My Daughter…

Being pregnant has brought up so much for me. Mostly, my childhood. Yeesh. I could spend hours thinking about the great multitude of things that I had to experience that my child absolutely will not. I learned many things growing up but most of them fall within two categories: what to do and what not to do. 

I will always put this little girl first. 

I will never invalidate her feelings. 

I will always show her respect, regardless of her age. 

I will never put her in a position to betray her own conscience, beliefs, or heart. 

I will create an environment where honesty is acceptable. 

I will never punish her for not reading my mind or for telling the truth. 

I will always protect her to the best of my ability. Completely and fiercely

I will never choose a man over her. 

I will teach her how a woman deserves to be treated. 

I will raise her to be worthy of other’s respect. 

I will teach her to be strong without being a bitch, how to be compassionate without being naive, how to be giving without becoming a doormat. 

I will explain to her all the things that were never explained to me. I won’t leave her just barely treading water in a sea of new experiences and questions. She’ll be taught about periods and boys (or girls) and sex. She’ll know what’s okay and what’s not. I will be someone she can always talk to (even if she refuses to.) She’ll be taught to follow her gut, because it will guide her long after she buries me. 

I will pass along the words of my mommy, my grandma, my friends. I will do my best to pass along my years of hard earned wisdom, to help her learn from my mistakes… and to take a step back and let her learn from her own. 

I will do her the favor of not always breaking her fall, for she has to hit her knees if she’s to learn how to get back up. But I will also be there to catch her when she needs it. 

I will not abandon her. 

I will never give her reason to question my love for her. I will challenge her to question her motives though, and the motives of those around her. 

I will protect her innocence. 

But I won’t let her walk into the world blind and unprepared. 

I will teach her that “No is a complete sentence”. It requires no explanations, no qualifiers, no fuss. I will teach her how to use this word to protect and defend herself. 

I will balance as much of her life and upbringing as I can. 

I promise her, and myself, that I will do all these things; but I’ll do them without being a control freak (most of the time). 

I will show her (and remind her) how deeply loved, immensely adored, and uniquely special she is.

I won’t take her shit. I won’t turn a blind eye. I will be her mother, not her friend (at least until she’s an adult anyway, at which point I’ll still be “mommy” whenever she needs). 

I will give her fair rules and the consequences will always be the same; not changing by the day leaving her not knowing what to expect. 

I will be loving, consistent, kind, patient, and understanding.

I will always accept her truth. 

I will never make her feel like she has to hide herself from me. 

I will teach her how to love herself. 

Raise her to have a strong backbone. 

I will show her how to define herself; so that she never allows the world, a man, an experience, to define her.

I will raise her to believe in herself, enough so that she challenges even me when she believes in something. 

I will be her mother, her confidante, her shoulder to cry on, the ear that listens to her, connected to a heart that will never judge her. 

I will give her everything I can that I never got, or got so late. I will live up to the mother that my mommy has been. 

I will raise her to be a good woman and a good person. 

I will give her the best of me that exists within the deepest pits of my bare soul. 

I will treat her as my daughter, the love of my life, my flesh and blood, the greatest gift I’ve ever been blessed with. 

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Afternoon Kicks 

Feeling this life that’s cradled inside me, is the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be. Her squirms and her punches, she kicks and she lunges. I never could’ve imagined being this lucky. This life inside me is nothing short of a blessing. 

I never thought I would get to have kids and then she surprised me, so unexpected. Now I’ve been blessed to feel her movements, and nothing so little has ever felt so big. It’s truly mind blowing that this is my kid. 

I wait for it each day, for her to wake up, and with each little kick, I fall more in love. She’s literally a part of me and part of me can’t grasp that, cause years ago I truly believed, that I would never really have this. 

I remember being bitter, jealous of other moms. It always seemed they took for granted, this gift I prayed to love. But the timing wasn’t right, I took a “not yet” as a “no”, and now my heart bleeds for those who will never get to know. I remember that pain all too well; and on some nights, it creeps in still. It tells me I’ll lose her, that she isn’t mine to keep, so I hold my belly and pray to God, to keep her healthy. However, part of me honestly believes, that this gift wouldn’t be given, to then be retrieved. So I talk to her and sing to her and revel in her kicks, praying every single day, that she survives until she lives. 

I love you Bebe. 

by Ashley Hebner 

© All Rights Reserved 2016