Life’s dissapointments

This post is a little late, I’m aware. I couldn’t find the right words to express my feelings. As most of you may have guessed by now, I am not pregnant. I was so ready, and secretly a little excited already as well.

It’s weird when I got my period I was so incredibly disappointed, but weirdly enough I got over that fairly quickly and got excited for the next time. I was somehow able to hold on to the hope and the feeling that this is my path and therefore it will happen. However, the disappointment was quickly replaced by a sense of loneliness and the feeling I have lost something. It’s weird; I haven’t felt this kind of loneliness and longing for something I’ve lost for a very long time.

But I’m working hard on trying again and getting the means to do so. I am going to be a mom, somehow! And you know what, I’m going to be a great one too!!

The bold type

Starting next month, I want to make you all part of my journey towards motherhood. So, to start off with, I would like to introduce you to the outrageous person that is me.

 

“You are not your mother, your father, your history, or cultural influences. 

you are uniquely and originally you.

Be bold and daring and fearless and unconventional.

Be willing to use your voice in service of your soul.

Go on. Rock that damn boat

The wave you create might just change the world…”

~ Cheryl Richardson

 

I don’t think I have to tell you my name since it’s splattered all over this blog but to be sure, my name is Aura. I live in the Netherlands in a beautiful two bedroom, wheelchair accessible home with my service dog Aki. I am currently 23 years old and live by the idea that my wheelchair should adapt to my life and not the other way around. So I tend to make choices that are regarded as bold. With my service dog, I chose a breed that has never been used for this purpose before. When I moved out of my parent’s house, I decided to go live somewhere far away from my parents. Living on my own I chose to live a vegan lifestyle. Some of you may wonder if I’m just being difficult for the sake of it. To answer your silent question: no I most certainly am not! I love my life. I am aware it isn’t the path of least resistance. It is the path with the highest reward. I try to live every day in such a way that I never have regrets. Everything I do, I go for with everything I have, win or lose I will know I fought my hardest to reach those lofty goals.

Huge dreams, the long shot, I always go for the long shot. I mean the bigger the risk the higher the rewards, right? So, here we go. On the road to my biggest dream ever, the hardest road I ever traveled, the road to motherhood… And yes, you figured that out perfectly, I am single. So, I choose to become a single mother. I will be a single mother by choice. 

This choice was definitely not made overnight. It took me years, first I had a hard time letting go of the dream of the so-called “perfect family”. The idea formed because I knew I wanted to be a mom more than anything when I finally found what I wanted to do with my life. So I passionately started dating, desperately trying to find a partner to form that “perfect family” with. As you might guess, that didn’t work out so well. Lots of heartache later, I decided I didn’t want to be depended on anyone for my happiness. I tried adoption, called the local adoption agency and was discouraged in such an extremely negative way because of my age, single status and the wheelchair, which they were really negative about. I knew that convincing them I can be a good parent would be more than a long shot, It would be impossible. So, I decided this country isn’t ready for a single wheelchair using adopting mother and figured I could do foster-care…

However, I wanted a baby, an infant. Again with the long shot, right? Like with all the choices I make there’s an elaborate reasoning behind it. Single parenthood is hard. It is hard for everyone, almost impossibly hard for someone like me. So I figured a baby is born at a certain stage in its development for a reason, not only for the baby and the delivery but also to give the parents a doable learning curve in how to parent. In my opinion, I need that learning curve physically and emotionally more than anyone. And there’s another reason for the desire to get an infant in foster-care, I don’t know if I will ever be able to handle raising more than one child. So, If I’m only going to do this once I want the full journey. But I also really wanted to help a child. In my mind, there are already so many children without parents, the least I could do is give one a loving home. So, I went to the first mandatory meeting, I went by myself (and Aki of course) and people stared at me like I was an animal in a zoo. The hosts working for the agency treated me like I was a child with a cute infatuation. Because of all the research, I did (I have a slight obsession with being prepared) they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Even though I knew they weren’t taking me seriously,  they handed me the forms I needed to fill out at the end of the evening and I left. Excited as I was I filled in the forms the next morning and mailed them. My excitement was short-lived as I a person working for the foster-care agency called me to discuss my application. She said she saw I wanted an infant and that I was using a wheelchair in my daily life, she also said her colleague told her I am “severely disabled” so they were having a hard time with my application. I told her I don’t regard myself as being severely disabled and that she was being unfairly judgemental because she hadn’t even met me yet. The entire conversation was based on a huge prejudice but we decided to continue the discussion further at a later time and I ended the call. To make a long story short, the entire thing became a fight about me, about me right to become a parent, about their prejudices about my abilities. We lost sight of the most important thing, the child. So, a few weeks later when I decided to move house because I and my future child would have better living conditions and I had to start the process all over again with a different agency I chose to go a different route.

I had been playing with this idea for a while, complaining to my best friend that no government agency would question my ability to parent if I just got pregnant, she said: “you don’t need a guy to get pregnant.” and something just clicked. I had researched pregnancy before and it always got my adrenaline pumping. Also when I researched parenting styles and came to The Continuum Concept, everything fell into place for me. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do parenthood the most natural minimalistic way. Breastfeeding, babywearing, elimination communication ánd a home birth. 

 

“Birth is not only about making babies.

Birth is about making mothers;

strong competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”

~ Barbara Katz Rothman

 

So, to conclude, I have decided I want to be a vegan, continuum concept, single wheelchair using mom by choice by a non-anonymous donor. And even though lots of people question my choices on this matter I’m determined to do it. I am sure that I can do it, without a doubt.

I am a woman of the bold type! Welcome to my journey…

 

“To me, freedom means having the power,

the inherent right,

the capacity and the ability to make choices that honor who I am.”

~ Iyanla Vanzant

 

My savior

So, let’s talk Aki, my hero in so many ways. He saved my life in so many ways I thought it was time to share my love and appreciation for this incredible soul that I am blessed to share every aspect of my life with.

About 5 years ago, I was in a dark place. I was bullied by classmates, best friends and people who I was supposed to be able to depend on. I’m not a person that is affected by name calling or physical bullying and abuse but I am a very social person, and I thrive on sociality. Bullies figure out where they can hit you the hardest pretty quickly, so when the name calling and physical bullying was not getting the expected results, they decided to just ignore me. They made most of my time in high school a living nightmare. It was like I was contagious. People only spoke to me out of obligation. I didn’t have any friends or anyone that enjoyed my company. I felt the loneliest I have ever felt in my life. So you can probably understand I was so happy when I graduated high school and could finally leave that place behind me, or at least that’s what I thought. Unfortunately, it was not that easy. Spending a few years in so much mental and emotional pain had taken its toll. Life was a little better, I had some social contacts studying law, but I still felt super lonely and never felt like I belonged. To be brutally honest, I was so depressed I couldn’t see a way out anymore.

Little did I know that seeing a movie would change all of that. I saw the movie Hachiko on tv with my parents, and I was hooked. That dog would’ve gone through fire for his owner, he loved him no matter what. The moment I saw that movie, I knew exactly what I needed; I needed an Akita, to train, to cherish, to spend my life with! However, my parents weren’t the type of people to just by a dog. They didn’t want a pet in the house, not a dog anyway. They perceived dogs as being annoying and badly-behaved, so I did all the research I could possibly find on training, the breed, and bonding. With all that information I went to my parents to make my case, they said no at first, but after lots of discussions, they agreed to buy me an Akita after all. While looking for breeders, I found one not so far from our family home and went for a visit. It seemed like a good fit from my perspective even though they were slightly hesitant because of me being in a wheelchair. But in the end, it didn’t matter.

I got to choose from 5 puppies, which was so hard, I went to visit them every week, held every single one of them. Because I knew I wanted male there were three left for me to chose from. One of them wasn’t for me at all, I knew that rather quickly, but the choice between the last two was a little hard. In the end, I have to say Aki chose me, and I couldn’t have made a better choice, he was so calm and content all the time, just what I needed.

The first few weeks were hard, he was happy spending his life with me, but physically he was not doing so well. He was sick all the time. I knew something was wrong and in the end that gut feeling I had turned out to be correct. After I got him treated and listened to my instincts more, he started thriving, pushing me and enjoying life to the fullest. He thought me what pure happiness looks like. To not worry about the past or the future but just living in the moment and enjoying that. His love for me despite my flaws and imperfections helped me to find the confidence that I lost. He showed me I didn’t need to change for people to like me if they didn’t that know was and is their issue.

He also paved the road to a vegan lifestyle for me. After getting to know him better than I knew myself, I understood that he had such an amazing personality and wasn’t and still isn’t any less worthy then we humans are. So then the question arose: If he is my equal, why aren’t all those other animals that are being slaughtered for my food? After that, I couldn’t come up with a justifiable answer to continue consuming animal products. Human, animal, tree we are not the same, but we are equal.

Aki thaught me that and I am forever grateful that he made me let go of my ego, my shallowness, my prejudice and taught me compassion and empathy instead. It has made me a better person, he has made me a better person. Now I am proud of who I have become and am excited to see what the future holds for the both of us…

Pain, the slain dragon (2)

A few weeks ago I faced my biggest challenge yet. The surgery that has changed my life in more ways than I could ever imagine.

It was one hell of a fight; sometimes the pain would be so severe all I could feel was my mind entering this black hole. At that point, there was no past or future, just pain. Only pain. It reached into every corner of my mind, turning off all the lights one by one. Just before I lost my mind and all the lights were gone, I found a way, some small crack in the darkness to fight back and be the master of my pain.

The days in the hospital were hard, tedious and extremely painful. I kept getting sick and vomited for days. It made me weak and unable to heal. My body was fighting to repair the damage done to its sacred self. My heart rate was very high for days, and so was my temperature. My body was craving nutrients, but I couldn’t keep anything down. I found out the painkillers were what made me sick, so I stopped taking them. During those days I found the corners of my mind. The edges I never needed to visit before. Although the pain was excruciating, I could feel my body recover. I managed to keep some food down. I was craving my whole foods plant-based diet. But couldn’t muster the strength to fight for it. The hospital did provide me with vegan meals, which I am very grateful for. But it just wasn’t the same. I craved my fruits and at the same time didn’t have the strength or energy to eat much.

After a while, the doctors found me a painkiller that didn’t make me sick. So the day before going home I could finally leave the four walls of my room to go for a walk around the hospital. It was so wonderful to take Aki, my service dog for a walk. He supported me every single minute I needed it. He never once complained although it must’ve been hard for him to spend day after day confined in such a small space. He helped me deal with the pain; he cheered me up when I needed it and brought me peace when I felt overwhelmed.

Discharged from the hospital, I spend some time with my parents. I needed to, I was in too much pain to be able to go home and take care of myself. I couldn’t even sit in my wheelchair for an hour. The first few days were great, having my mother take care of me like that. We all know the feeling when life sucks, and you’re sick and feeling sorry for yourself you crave motherlove. However, after a while, I was longing for my own personal space as well. I mean, I was feeling better every day, and the house was getting a little crowded since my sister was also staying there with her awesome son. I mean I love the little guy to pieces but I needed everything I had in me for my recovery and to then also have a two-year-old running around was just way too much. At some point, I could feel myself losing it a little bit, that is when I knew it was time for me to go home. I needed my own space. Unfortunately, I needed my mom to help me get settled back in, and she was swamped for a few days, so I had to wait. Waiting is not my strongest suit…

Those last few days of waiting were hard, I was mentally exhausted and very emotional because of the exhaustion. At night, when everyone was in bed, I would text with my best friend and just cry silently of exhaustion, unhappiness, and sadness. I reached my breaking point, and there was nothing else to do but hold on and hope life would get better soon.

So now I’m home. Been home for a few weeks now. It was and still is so good to be in my own home again. It does come with its own struggles, I mean I can’t wait for my recovery to go faster. I want my life back, I am so damn tired all the time it’s hard for me to even make food and eat it sometimes. But let’s be honest here, there are good days, and there are bad days. I do have some days where I almost feel like myself again. Like I can take on the world (read: finally get pregnant). But those are not most days. I still have a long road ahead. But I am grateful and determined to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity I have been given by this fantastic surgeon who has changed my life in more ways than I can count.

A peek behind the curtains…

People often have a misconception on why life in a wheelchair is so hard sometimes (read: most of the time). Usually, it’s not because being in a wheelchair is hard… 95% of the time it’s because of all the hassle we have to go through to have a fun and fulfilling life.

Yesterday was a fun day! A happy day, we had a birthday party at my best friends’ house. I can hear everyone thinking ”what is she going on about, the only thing she had to do that day was a birthday party, that isn’t so difficult is it?’ Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but unfortunately, life just isn’t that simple when you’re me…

The day before I had lots of errands to run, so my body needed every bit of rest I could give it. Which meant I spent all morning in bed and got up around noon, I called for assistance with showering and getting dressed. Unfortunately, they were busy, so I had to wait for 20 minutes or so. By the time I was dressed and had done my hair it was 1:30 pm. So I went out to take Aki for a walk. By the way, did you notice I didn’t mention breakfast anywhere? Well, that’s because I time flies and I didn’t have time. While outside I ran into a friend, so the walk took a little longer than planned. On my way home I went to the bookstore to buy a birthday present…

The bookstore is small, and the isles are narrow it is hard for me to maneuver through it with my chair. But I won’t let that stop me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to shop anywhere. So I find the book I’m looking for and go to the counter to pay for it, but the counter is so high I can’t even reach it! So I tell the lady standing behind the impossibly high counter ”this thing sure isn’t made for midgets!” she looks at me like ”WTF?” and takes the book from my hands. I tell her I don’t want to pay cash when she asks, and I can see her wondering how she’s going to fix this because the pin machine is so damn high, so like they always do in severely inaccessible places like this she pulls on the machine like crazy wishing the cord was just a few centimeters longer… I look at her with a crooked smile on my face and tell her I’ll manage. So I reach for the machine, put my card on top. Fortunately, I don’t have to spend 10 minutes trying to get my card to fit in that tiny opening in the front, thank God for technology! Anyway, after my card connected, I needed to punch in my code without being able to see the buttons because they were so freaking high. Finally having paid for my purchase, the lady behind the counter was kind enough to bring the books to me in person instead of reaching over that giant counter.

By the time I came home, I was tired but still hadn’t had any breakfast, so I called for assistance. Like the lucky person that I am I had to wait for another 30 minutes for help because they were extremely busy. I’m not the kind of person that then sits around waiting for 30 minutes, in the meantime, I gave Aki his lunch, booted my MacBook to see what time I needed to take the train and logged in to book the assistance I need to get in and out of the train since Dutch trains still are not wheelchair accessible. I mean seriously, the 1990’s just called, they want their trains back. Anyway, I fixed that, and while I was busy, the woman who’d be assisting me came in and asked for instruction. I told her what quick very late breakfast to make me and went on preparing my trip to my friends’ birthday party. The taxi I decided to book for the journey home I booked for 2 minutes after midnight because it was a few euros cheaper if I did so, yes, crazy I’m aware!

Before I called for assistance, yet again, I Facetimed my mom real quick to let her know I’d be at my friends’ house, because my mom worries a lot. After changing clothes…

I had to hurry up like a mad person to be able to catch that train, but we did. Arriving at the station, I even had a few minutes to spare, and by the grace of God, the person who has to help me get on the train was there as well. Because 80% of the time they are not and then there’s even more hassle, but apparently I was lucky that day.

After I arrived at The Hague Central station, I had to take a bus to get to my friends’ house. After having waited for 20 minutes, the bus arrived, and when I saw a female bus driver who wasn’t looking all that happy, I knew she was going to make some issue about my wheelchair on her bus. She did. She made a whole point about me not being allowed on her bus if I wasn’t going to be strapped in like I made an issue about it, which I didn’t. So everyone on the bus was looking at me… Strangers started to touch me trying to get me strapped in because that bus driver couldn’t even make an effort to do it herself. Anyway, after lots of fussing, they got me strapped in, I couldn’t see which stop we were at or where we were going in that position, but I tried my hardest not to get annoyed until some concerned citizen kept asking me a hundred question in a very degrading way about where I was headed and explaining how public transport works. I tried to tell her I go with public means of transportation all the time, but she just wouldn’t listen to a word I said. To make matters worse, she asked me if I am blind…

So I got out of the bus and had to walk 5 minutes or so to the party. On my way there the sidewalk was blocked by a street light in the middle. So I had to go on the road in the dark until I reached an accessible path. Dangerous of course, but it happens all the time. The people planning these pavements don’t seem to have a logic bone in their body.

Anyway… The party was fun! Amazing, kind, gentle and caring people. I stayed until my taxi came at midnight and brought me home. Once I was home an hour later, you’d think I wanted to go straight to bed. You’re right. I did. But I had to wait another 20 minutes for assistance to get ready for bed.

As you can see just a birthday party is never just a party for me… As you can see the wheelchair is not the issue here. It’s the rest of the hassle that comes with it, so this is precisely the reason why being in a wheelchair is so damn tiring and hard sometimes!

Decisions, decisions…

Voor Nederlands zie de vertaling onder aan de pagina.

Today a question arose which has caused lots of issues in my life over the last few years. But before today I didn’t dare to face the problem in my life that is pointed out by the question.

How is a person supposed to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives when they are in their teens? I was 17 when I started studying law. I was confident that was the right choice. I knew what I wanted to specialize in and why. I was the kind of person who had their whole life mapped out. I was going to study law, graduate Suma cum laude, work at a prestigious law firm specialized in corporate law and become rich and powerful. Saying this now I feel ridiculous, but I had a good reason for such a huge goal… Being differently abled and a wheelchair user I am and feel treated as worthless and stupid or underdeveloped. My opinion often is interpreted as ill-founded or not relevant, which is why I wanted to become rich and powerful professionally because I believed then people would finally see me for what I was and treat me as a valued, worthy and intelligent person. I was sure that was the way to make people treat me respectfully. After two years of studying, I had to quit because I had Pfeiffer decease and failed too many exams. Which sucked of course but I wasn’t going to let that stop me! So I decided I was going to study international law in The Hague. I was still confident I wanted to study law, but I didn’t want to do the same program because I knew that would demotivate me even more. So I started in the Hague ready to kick ass; however, a month into the program I realized the traveling was taking its toll on Aki, my service dog and me. The only solution I saw was to move house, which meant moving out of my parents’ house. That decision has changed my life and personality in such an extreme way I never could’ve foreseen.

Because I moved so far away from everyone, I was depended entirely on my self. Being so alone gave me the time, space and opportunity to develop my way of life, my opinions and morals. Listening to the quiet of being alone is such a valuable lesson in life. It gives you the possibility to look in the mirror and evaluate your life.

I always was an eco-friendly person. I always believed in the natural way of things, but when I was on my own without so many influences of others, all those interests were magnified and morphed into a strong desire to become entirely in tune with mother nature which also morphed in a firm belief in empathy and strive to achieve complete empathy. If you look at yourself in such a naked way and start to believe in the natural way of life in such an absolute way you have to learn to love yourself for who you are as well. In the last three years of living alone, I gained confidence and love myself on the inside and out. Because of the increase in self-confidence, I could finally see that my goal of becoming rich and powerful had nothing to do with my dreams but had everything to do with how I perceived myself because I believed I needed the approval of others. Once I let go of that need, I lost my reasons to study law.

So I think there’s something wrong with the system. Making a teenager choose what they want to do with the rest of their life is insane. I made that choice, and I made the right one at that time but the wrong one for who I am today and now I will be drowning in student loans for the next 15 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can we know who we are when we haven’t even lived yet?

 

Translation/vertaling:

Vandaag hield een vraag mij bezig die al jaren voor veel problemen in mijn leven zorgt, maar voor vandaag durfde ik het achterliggende probleem niet onder ogen te komen.

Hoe moet een tiener op zo een jonge leeftijd beslissen wat ze met de rest van hun leven willen doen? Ik was 17 toen ik begon aan mijn studie Rechten. Ik was er volledig van overtuigd dat ik advocaat wilden worden. Ik wist precies in welk vakgebied ik mezelf wilde specialiseren en waarom. Ik was het soort persoon dat haar hele leven al voor zichzelf uitgestippeld had. Ik zou Rechten studeren, daarna rechtsgeleerdheid aan een universiteit, Suma Cum Laude afstuderen en bij een hoog aangeschreven advocatenkantoor gaan werken specialiserend in bedrijfsrecht waar ik macht en rijkdom mee zou vergaren. Nu realiseer ik me hoe belachelijk dat plan was, maar ik had een goede reden voor die hoge lat… Als rolstoelgebruiker zijnde word ik vaak gezien als minder waard, dom of onbelangrijk en dat was precies de reden voor mijn droom naar rijkdom en status, ik geloofde dat mensen mij dan eindelijk voor vol zouden aanzien omdat ze er dan niet meer omheen konden, die status zou mijn manier worden van respect afdwingen. Na twee jaar Rechten studeren moest ik stoppen omdat ik de Ziekte van Pfeiffer kreeg en daardoor zakte voor teveel tentamens. Dat was natuurlijk balen maar dat zou mij niet stoppen die droom te verwezenlijken! Dus besloot ik International and European Law te gaan doen aan de Haagse Hogeschool omdat ik niet twee keer dezelfde opleiding wilde doen, dat zou alleen maar demotiverend werken maar ik was er nog steeds wel van overtuigd dat ik rechten wilde studeren. Dus begon ik in Den Haag vol goede moed klaar om dat klusje te klaren; na een maand begon ik me te realiseren dat het heen en weer reizen te zwaar werd en ook zijn tol begon te eisen bij Aki, mijn assistentiehond.

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De enige oplossing die ik zag was verhuizen, dat betekende dus voor het eerst op mezelf wonen. Dat besluit heeft mijn leven en persoonlijkheid op zo een drastische wijze veranderd, dat had ik absoluut niet zien aankomen.

Omdat ik zo ver van al mijn bekende ging wonen, was ik vanaf dat moment volledig op mezelf aangewezen. Het alleen zijn gaf me de tijd, ruimte en mogelijkheid om mijn eigen levenswijze, meningen en normen en waarden te ontwikkelen. Luisteren naar de stilte in het alleen zijn is volgens mij een belangrijke les in het leven. Het geeft je de mogelijkheid om in de spiegel te kijken en je leven te evalueren.

Ik was altijd al een ecologisch ingesteld persoon. Ik geloofde altijd al in dingen op de natuurlijke wijze doen, maar toen ik eenmaal alleen was zonder al die invloeden van anderen zijn die intresses vergroot en vervormd in een sterk verlangen om helemaal in evenwicht te komen met moedernatuur, dat vervormde zich weer naar een sterk geloof in empatie en een streven naar het bereiken van complete empatie.

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Als je op zo een naakte manier naar jezelf kijkt en begint te geloven in de natuurlijke gang van het leven op een absolute manier dan moet je ook leren om van jezelf te houden voor wie je bent. In de laatste 3 jaar van op mezelf wonen, ben ik gegroeid in zelfvertrouwen en kan ik nu zeggen dat ik van mezelf hou voor wie ik ben, van binnen en van buiten. Door het verkrijgen van meer zelfvertrouwen kon ik eindelijk zien dat mijn droom naar rijkdom, status en macht niks te maken had met mijn dromen maar alles te maken had met de manier waarop ik mezelf zag omdat ik dacht dat ik de goedkeuring van andere nodig had. Toen ik die gedachtegang losliet verloor ik dus ook mijn redenen om Rechten te gaan studeren.

Dus denk ik dat er iets mis is met het systeem. Tieners dwingen om op die leeftijd te kiezen wat ze willen doen met de rest van hun lezen is gestoord. Ik heb die keus gemaakt en op dat moment was dat de juiste keuze maar het is de verkeerde keuze voor wie ik nu ben en nu verdrink ik voor de komende 15 jaar in studieschulden.

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Hoe kunnen we weten wie we zijn als we nog niet eens geleefd hebben?