Wrecking Ball Wrecked

So in case the last two weeks haven’t been intense enough, Truman decided to throw us for a medical mystery roller coaster these last two days.

When I got back home from DC last Friday, he was already showing signs of a head cold which continued all weekend with your basic runny nose and cough that kept him (and Ben) from sleeping well at night. Even though he didn’t seem terrible, we kept him home Tuesday from preschool in hopes of not over extending him, but I decided Tuesday afternoon to take him in to the doctor because something just didn’t seem right.

Except nothing really turned out to be that wrong either (nose, throat, ears, etc. all checked out OK), so “rest and recover” was the treatment given and on we went. My mama intuition may have been bruised a bit, but OK.

img_1809Well, sure enough, Wednesday afternoon brought an out-of-left-field fever that left my normally all over the place wrecking ball boy tuckered out on the couch, snoozing on and off from late afternoon through supper. Nothing crazy, but nothing good either. [By the way, that blue thing is the crazy cool little fever wrap that my friend K told me about that is meant to make kids more comfortable when feverish (it draws out the heat but not in a freaky fast way). We thankfully haven’t had to use it a ton, but Truman seemed to like it these last couple days.]

This morning, he looked like thisimg_1825 and ate some cereal, so we thought the worst was behind us, but again this afternoon, he came up and asked for me to make him a nest (what we call a rest spot in our house) so he could sleep.

Clearly I could tell the fever was back, but didn’t even check it because I just wanted him to sleep a bit; however, a little while later after messaging with a friend, I decided to get an actual temp and my heart about stopped. His temperature, the very first time I took it today, was 104! I have never ever in my mamahood had a baby with a temp that high.

From there, frantic phone calls ensued including one to the doctor’s office where they asked for me to bring him back in which I was more than happy to do because honestly – WHAT?! Where did that come from?! But unfortunately, we still don’t actually know.

I was able to get him in and they were able to get the temp down (you guys, the official read out at the office was 104.7 and if I wasn’t already freaked the hell out, you can bet that number sealed the deal) with some medicine and cool water to drink, but everything else in his system – ears, nose, throat, lungs, etc. – still checks out pretty much mostly OK.

So maybe it was a cold followed by a virus that caused the fever? Or maybe we’ll be right back there tomorrow if anything else changes or the fever persists or we can’t get enough fluids in him because who the heck knows.

For now, he’s doing much better. After the meds kicked in and we got home, he wanted to eat and drink more than he had all day (yay!!). He also wanted to run around the house like a wild man with his siblings (heaven help me), which definitely makes him seem like his normal self, but wow. What a day.

Fingers and toes crossed and prayers lifted that the fever is on its way out and that whatever caused it is going, too, and withOUT any other flare ups in our house on its way out the door.

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Four Weeks

Tuesdays.

Oh, Tuesdays.

Historically, these are my challenge days. Sometimes I meet them with grace. Sometimes I meet them with chocolate. Sometimes meeting them with chocolate IS meeting them with grace.

Today is rainy (again) and cold (again) and it seems that Mother Nature is really feeling me on this Tuesday.

It’s been one week since I found out that I was going to DC to lobby and in that week I am fairly certain I have lived 1,000 lifetimes. I have certainly experienced 1,000 emotions, and continue to do so on this Tuesday that feels weepy and a little bit hard and a whole lot gray.

But here’s the deal. You know I am all for feeling all the feels. I am a firm believer through my yoga teaching/practice, through my therapy, and through my parenting, that you can’t live without ALL the emotions, even the difficult ones. It is what you do with them, how you move through them, how you use them that matters, and you are not a failure for experiencing the hard ones.

So even though today feels like it landed on the heavy end of the emotional spectrum, that doesn’t mean all is lost. I know that I’m going to feel a million different pieces of life today, and if some of them – many of them – are the processing and purging of all the intensity I have lived in the last seven days, so be it. Like so many others, I have been re-traumatized by recent national events and I am doing all that I can to give myself grace right now, as I hope you are, too.

I thought that grace might look like stepping away. Away from social media, away from the public, just away.

And while we did take some much needed buffer/family time over the weekend, I have not gone in to complete hiding mode. For one, I am not ashamed that our trip did not result in the changes we hoped to see, and I am for sure not letting that defeat silence me. For another, I know that we have – from this very Tuesday – only four weeks left until the mid-terms elections, and I don’t know about you, but they feel like the most important mid-terms of my life.

So I am here and I am going to continue to show up here and other places online (and eventually in public when my introverted heart feels ready to do so) to remind everyone of that important, impending deadline of November 6. And I am going to encourage you – all of you – including those of you who don’t agree with my politically (which, if you’re even still reading this, thank you, because the need to see each other as human even though we differ in public policies is so necessary right now) to vote. Educate yourself on your candidates. Ask questions. Mark your calendars. And use your (in many cases, hard fought) right to case your ballot in four short weeks.

Because not all Tuesdays have to suck and we CAN be the change we do desperately desire to see in this world. We just have to show up for it.

Side note: this was clearly not taken on this particular rainy Tuesday.

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What Comes Next

The last four days have been a whirlwind. In an unfortunate twist of irony, I had my worst night of sleep last night, AFTER everything was all said and done. So in case I wasn’t going to be feeling it today anyway, I definitely am now after my whopping two hours of “rest” before my early morning wake up call to make it to the airport on time. I am already on my second set of tears for the day and I doubt they are my last.

The IT I am feeling? It has many forms.

For start, I am exhausted both in the physical sense but also, clearly, in the emotional, too. I moved mothering mountains to make this DC trip happen and the effort of trying to hold my shit together for so many days as I traveled and trained and lobbied (and pumped) was intense. Even all the yoga I know and do couldn’t keep tension from settling in to my jaw and shoulders (& also, how did I get shin splints?).

The “it”ness of emotions has been a roller coaster. I have been anxious, proud, determined, nervous, sad, pissed off, empowered, grateful, shocked, loved, hurt, bolstered, undone, hopeful, disappointed, and hangry (which I will argue belongs on this list), and often I have moved from one to the next and the next and then back again through this list and all the other emotions I can’t even name right now.

Whatever comes of the vote in the Senate, I can remain proud of the fact that I came and shared my experience, strength, and courage not only in those Senate offices but will all the amazing survivor sisters that I met. I have a forever place in my heart for all of them and all of you who reached out to share stories of your own with me. I hope you know I carried you in my pocket, in my heart, and in my prayers.

I also hope you all can see how the real effort here was in humanizing our experiences. Yes, we had a goal of encouraging our Senators to pick another judge. I’m not saying that the judge who fills this SCOTUS seat has to share my political beliefs, but I am saying that I don’t believe Kavanaugh is the right judge for the job. It is in that spirit that I hope everyone reading this can understand that at the core of it, many survivors like myself want to be seen as human beings worthy of respect and this nominee and how the situation has been handled feels very disrespectful. You do not have to agree with my politics to support what I did this week. It was an act of courage and that alone was a remarkable feat for each of us on this trip. We are worthy of being seen for our efforts, no mater the outcome.

If you know a survivor, and I am willing to bet you know several, even if they haven’t been as vocal as I have been lately, reach out. Don’t tell them what you need. Ask them what they need. We are raw right now and we all have our own way to process; please ask your people what you can do to support them and then do you damndest to make that happen. You humanize us when you give us choice and power like that. You help IT feel just a little bit lighter when you do that.

Yesterday, during our second meeting, I found my eyes wandering at times around the beautiful conference room in which we sat. I mean, do you see this chandelier? It is gorgeous. In seriousness, though, I had to remind myself in those moments to stay present, stay focused on the intensity. As I move through the coming days I hope to stay present for my family and for myself as I allow all of this – all of it – to become a little less intense. A little more settled. May we all find little ways to feel just a little more peace. If you can, be that for each other.

How It Went

Friends, I cannot tell you how moved I am right now. Today I watched these women, myself included, speak their truths with courage, compassion, honesty, and strength.

All of you who reached out to share support prior to our meetings? We felt that. You wrapped us in love and with the help of the ACLU and each other, we went forward to the offices of BOTH our Senators today to meet with their staff members. As I said in a post or two ago, this is not a political party thing for me. So I am not going to berate the elected officials from my state here, but I am going to tell you that we were received differently by the two groups of staffers and that it was in the second meeting with Sen. Sasse’s office where we felt seen and maybe, just maybe, heard.

{OK, I am going to go political for a moment. As many of you know Ben Sasse likes to speak and loves rhetoric. It would be super, super great if he would take his words from the Senate Floor from last night and apply them in action to his vote on Kavanaugh. You can call him and tell him that (please).}

When we left the second meeting, which began just 10 minutes after the end of the first one (so, hello whirlwind), there was a collective sigh of relief that we had just done that. We shared our stories. We shared our views. We asked questions. We carried all our sister survivors with us, including the ones who have not been given an opportunity to speak.

And it. Was. Powerful.

I am in awe of the fortitude I saw in those women today. There were moments of intense emotion, yes, and there is no need to apologize for that. What we brought was real and what we shared touches so many of our lives because what impacts a survivor impacts everyone around them.

My part was both short but of value and meant the world to me in terms of using my voice, even in small ways.

Several of us agreed to start off the whole process by shaking the staffer’s hand and saying something of the following:

“Hello. My name is Jennifer Welsch. I am a constituent and a sexual assault survivor. I request a meeting with the Senator.”

I was the first one in line to do this for both sessions.

In the Fischer meeting I did not speak another word. In the Sasse one I did.

Y’all, it was beyond empowering to take back my power and give a face and a voice – my face and my voice – to this movement. I have been keeping myself small in public spaces on this trip but after we finished today, I walked out of the Russell Building with my head held freaking HIGH.

I was given shitty circumstances by being assaulted. All of the women in my group were, too. But from that dust and ash, we rise, and we will continue to rise until we are seen and heard and believed by all.

Our pictures taken afterward (seen above) were full of power. The hands in the air? All the better for you to see us, my dears.

And because I adore Nahko and his song “Love Letters to God” (see lyrics below) I kept my palm open because, yes. Yes I can fight with an open fist, a loud voice, a brave heart, and a peaceful purpose.

“Don’t believe all you’re told/and open/open up your fist/ it’s a misconception, you can fight like this/and praise/with the power of prayer/if God’s on our side we can take the stairs/to the heavens” – Nahko & MFTP “Love Letters to God”

Late Night Update

Y’all, today has been intense. I hope to sleep soon. We had an incredible meeting with the ACLU and all the women from the five (?) states who are here. Over 20 of us are from NE.

We made our plan for tomorrow but as of now, Senator Fisher does not plan to meet with us, nor does Senator Sasse. Senator Fisher’s staff will see us. I will have a small speaking part in tomorrow’s events and will leave a copy of this letter behind when I go (see below).

Please feel free to call our Senators or email them or tweet them or whatever you can do to help support survivors. There are plenty of good judges out there (& no, I don’t believe they all have to agree with me politically, although judges are supposed to be a bit above politics (& so I digress)).

Senator Fisher,

My name is Jennifer Welsch. I am a constituent from Hastings, NE and a sexual assault survivor. I would like to request a meeting with you to discuss the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

As a survivor it troubles me greatly that you are not representing my voice when you say that you will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for a lifetime to the Supreme Court, or the voice of any person in Nebraska who has been affected by sexual violence.

Sexual assault is not a political talking point or battle; it is a humanitarian crisis, and how we – how you – respond in this particular moment speaks volumes about our values and our support for Nebraskans and all Americans. Survivors have no choice but to live with the ramifications of their attacker’s actions for the rest of their lives. But you, Senator, can make the choice to stand up for all survivors, all people, who do not wish to see someone with the temperament and accused history of Brett Kavanaugh, who, if appointed, will make choices that will impact all of us for the rest of his life.

Best,

Jennifer Welsch

On a Wing and a Prayer (with a Pump)

Do you have rituals when you fly?

Although I have taken some long flights in my life (getting to Tanzania takes time, my friends), my frequency isn’t terribly high, especially in recent years. I bet I can count on one hand the times I have flown since kids.

That being said, at some point in my life, I started a take off and landing ritual that to this day, I do every time. Every leg of a trip.

I say the Lord’s Prayer.

I’m not saying I am a terrible flyer but traveling is stressful and repeating those familiar words in my head as we leave and return to earth grounds me (pun very much intended).

On today’s flight, the added stresser to an already intense trip is the need to pump as I am flying for the first time while still having a breastfeeding baby at home.

Because my friends kick ass, I was able to borrow a pump much smaller than mine for the next few days. Never mind the fact that my first time using it while waiting for my first flight to leave took me just as long to figure out as it did to pump (& made me very sweaty in the process, but thank goodness for small blessings like no one in the seat next to me). I still got it to work and that is winning. And now that that learning curve is done (whew), I should be good to go from here.

On a (literal) wing and prayer with hope for the days to come to be of purpose (& with time to pump)…the journey continues.

Called to Action

So sometimes, when you put yourself out there in big ways, you are presented with big opportunities in response, and such is my experience this week.

First of all, let me begin by saying thank you for all the love, support, and kindness that you all showed after my last post. Your comments and private messages made me cry – in the good way – and filled my heart to the brim. Thank. You.

One of the messages that floored me the most came almost 24 hours after the posting and was from a friend I know via the yoga world here in Nebraska. In it, she asked me if I would be willing to share, via the ACLU of NE/ACLU national office, my story with our state’s Senators, Deb Fisher and Ben Sasse. At their offices. In Washington, DC.

To be perfectly honest, I had to read the email more than once to comprehend what it was asking of me. Fly to DC? Meet with members of Congress on The Hill? THIS WEEK?!

But of course it is this week when such meetings are needed, and because my support system here at home – Ben, my friends, my family – is amazing, I said yes.

Even though I have never done anything remotely like this before.

Even though I am 99.9% sure that I will cry at some point during the meetings.

Even though I have to leave my still nursing, Velcro baby for 48+ hours.

Even though I don’t think much will change because of my doing all this.

I am going to go.

If my horrible experience and anger can be turned and channeled into a force for good at a time when the ACLU is willing to help me do that (weighing in on judiciary nominees is not their normal tendency) in the hopes of effecting real change, the change I want to see for my children, then my answer had to be YES. There was no doubt.

I will be honest when I say that I am nervous and I will be honest when I say that I don’t believe sexual assault is a political divide, even though our country seems to be trying to make it into one here recently. Survivors come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and political parties; that much is clear. So, no. I am not traveling to DC as a member of a political party, even though it is a political action I seek. I cannot speak for all survivors when I speak out against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh because like all other categories of humanity, we are not all the same. But given the opportunity to use my experience and my voice to speak out for those who do not wish to see that particular judge confirmed for a lifetime to the highest court in the all the land? I am taking it.

Of course I cannot control the responses or words of others, so how people choose to react to my choice is up to them. I would ask that if you’re going to comment, you do so in kindness or please keep it to yourself. My bags aren’t packed yet, but we’re working on that and I am going where my heart is called to go. As always, for those willing to extend it, your support is greatly, totally appreciated. After all, it is for their future that all this is worth it:

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