Friday, August 10, 2012

My 30th birthday in three parts

I still have a few things from July that I want to blog, but my thirtieth birthday just came and went with lots of fun and a development, so I'm posting a little out of order.

Part I: The Day & The Celebration 
This year my birthday fell on a Saturday, which meant a) no work! yay! and b) AD was working, so I still had to get up with LG (is it wrong for the mother of a toddler to dream about sleeping in on their birthday?). My parents took LG and I out to a Cracker Barrel breakfast (LG's second for the day--have I mentioned that LG usually has two breakfasts on Saturdays? He's a man's man in that he loves himself some breakfast. I will also note here that he usually doesn't do lunch when there are two breakfasts; just a snack before nap. Anyways, enough of LG, this post is about me!) on our way to the outlets. My parents basically let me pick out some new clothes as a birthday gift. A surprise? No. Much needed and appreciated? Absolutely. I am a natural-born shopper and deal-finder, but due to financial and figure issues (i.e. I'm cheap and not exactly satisfied with my body right now), recent clothes shopping sessions have not been very successful. However, I'd say my birthday shopping trip was a success. And considering that I found a pair of jeans, three cardigans and three tops, along with two tops, a pair of overalls and two pairs of shoes for LG (boy is averaging two months per shoe size [whole, not half]!!) in about two hours, I'd even put the trip in the Power Shopping category. I'm back on my game and feeling good! 

AD got released from work and was back in the D by five, so we all went out to Buddy's for a pizza dinner, which was enjoyed by all. On Sunday, my parents had a small birthday get together with close family and friends. I knew about the party, but they surprised me with a Mexican food theme, for which there are many leftovers--a gift in itself, if you ask me.

The only pic of me from the party: my uncle, AD, and I getting our eat on

Part II: The Night
After a day of shopping and a nice dinner with your family, how would you spend the night of your birthday? Your thirtieth birthday. Go out dancing and drinking with friends to prove you can still party like a twenty-something (I dare not say 21-year old, because Lord knows I could really drink until I was about 22!)? Dessert, wine, and a movie at home with the hubs? Nah. Here's what my birthday night looked like:

Don't judge my jammies or the bags under my eyes; I'm keepin' it real round here.

I went for a sleep study. Other people might have been bummed to spend the night of their birthday by themselves in a strange place with electrodes attached to them with goop, but I was excited.

A little backstory. I snore. I think I've snored in some capacity throughout my entire life, but it had never really been brought to my attention as a problem until I was in a relationship with AD and we were sleeping in the same bed. My snoring has become progressively worse over the past several years, to the point where often times one of us ends up sleeping on the couch on the nights AD is not working because my snoring is so bad. Not an optimal arrangement in a marriage. At some point, someone suggested that I might want to have a sleep study done, as severe snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. When I was at our family doctor this past spring, I mentioned the snoring problem and he gave me a referral to a pulmonary/sleep doctor, which was taken home and shifted around in the family paperwork for several months. 

Well, I finally reached my breaking point about three weeks ago and made an appointment with the doctor. And because I've always been a good student, I started doing my homework on sleep apnea. Okay, so sleep apnea is where you stop breathing while you're sleeping, and  the symptoms are loud snoring, obesity, and persistent daytime sleepiness, which can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression if left untreated. Wait--you mean my being tired all . the . time and lack of motivation to get things done might not just be because I work full time, have a toddler, and manage said toddler and our home by myself 4-5 days a week, but because I might have sleep apnea? Whaaaat? So when I went to my appointment and the doctor prescribed a sleep study and the earliest opening was on my birthday, I took it. I wanted answers.

I had to report to the sleep clinic about an hour before I'd usually go to bed. They took me to my room and I got in my jammies, and then the technician came in to hook up all of the electrodes. I don't know exactly how many electrodes were attached to me, but I've read that it's a minimum of 22. I had two on each leg, one on each shoulder, some on my chin, some near my eyes, and then all over my scalp; there may have been some on my neck or collarbone, but I don't remember. There were belts around my chest and stomach, and a tube going to my nose to measure my breathing efforts, and then a sensor on my index finger to measure blood oxygenation. I laid down in bed and they had me move my legs, cough, look up, down, left, right, and blink several times to make sure everything was working. The technician explained that if you stop breathing a certain number of times an hour in the first few hours, they will come in and outfit you with a CPAP (Controlled Positive Airway Pressure) machine and see how you respond to it the rest of the night. 

Under normal circumstances, I can usually fall asleep anytime, virtually anywhere, but with all the stuff hooked up to me and a little bit of performance anxiety, it took me a lot longer than normal to fall asleep. The tech came in once to reattach a leg sensor, once to hook up the CPAP, and once to adjust the CPAP. That's right, y'all, I've got sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, to be exact.

The tech told me that they will hook up the CPAP to a patient if they stop breathing 75 times an hour in the first few hours of a sleep study, but that my doctor had instructed them to hook me up to the CPAP if I stopped breathing 15 times in an hour, I guess because he was concerned about the quality of sleep I'm getting. I've now read that 15 times is borderline between mild and moderate sleep apnea. The tech also told me that I was snoring pretty badly and did not go into any REM sleep cycles prior to the CPAP, but stopped snoring and had several REM cycles after they hooked up the CPAP. I should get a call about the actual results of the study within 1-3 weeks and another from a medical equipment company about getting my very own CPAP, and I have a follow up appointment with the doc in a month. I'm hopeful that getting treatment will improve my quality of life (and my husband's).

Part III: Thoughts About Getting Older
Our culture makes a big deal out of turning thirty; just Google it and you'll find that there are books, websites, a musical, a movie, articles, lists, and a lot of blog posts like this one. Like any other birthday ending in a 0, thirty represents one decade of your life coming to a close and another just beginning, but what I think makes thirty so terrifying for some people and gratifying for others is that it's a distinct point in time when people judge themselves, holding their life up to the expectations and realities of their culture, their family, their friends, and their own ideas and hopes about who/where they should be in their lives. 

When I graduated high school [at almost 18], I was going to get a degree in marketing, get a job in the automotive industry, have fashionable clothes, car, place to live in a city. I didn't know if there would be a boyfriend or husband or children.  

When I graduated college [at almost 22], I was going to get my MFA, get some stories published, find a teaching job somewhere, and maybe find an artsy/hipster boyfriend (ha!).

When I finished grad school [at almost 24], I was going to move back to Kalamazoo to be with AD, find a job, and get married.

Notice how my plans got less and less detailed? I think my plans at 18 were based on my interests, not on my talents, and certainly did not take the process of getting from point A to point B into consideration (read: business school wasn't for me). At 22, I had found something that I was good at and other people thought I was good at, and I think there was comfort in the fact that there was a very well drawn-out path that I should follow if I wanted to be successful in that career. Around 24, I realized a few things. I was in love with AD, and now plans were no longer "mine," but "ours." The recession was starting, and people, including a lot of my students at the community college who were in their 40s and 50s, had lost their jobs. These people had devoted 15-30 years of their life to one field or even one employer (obviously workplace dynamics had changed during those years), but where did it put them? At that point I finally stopped trying to make myself choose a specific career (then or ever), believed that what I do for a living doesn't wholly define me, and realized that if I were to put my self-worth in those things, I'd probably be setting myself up to feel unfulfilled. In the battle of overachiever vs. free spirit, free spirit won out. Or maybe, in the battle my/our plans vs. God's will for us, God's will won out. 
So, here I am, at thirty. I am: A wife. A mom to one kid, thinking about another. A daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, aunt, and friend. A follower of Jesus and a member of a Christian community. A master's graduate. A full time employee. I have: As illuded to earlier, a husband, son, mom and dad, grandmother, aunts and uncles, brother, cousins, a niece and nephews (blood and in-law), and friends. A Savior and God's grace. A home with heat, AC, and running water. A job with benefits. Two cars that are totally paid off. A stocked pantry, fridge, and freezer. Clothes to wear. Material things that make my life easier and more enjoyable. Intelligence, creativity, a sense of humor, compassion. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

Where do I think I'll be at forty? Married to AD of course, and hopefully by that time either he will be able to get more weekends off or I will be able to have a more flexible work schedule. Mom to two to three kids, who have hopefully grown to be respectful, kind, helpful, creative, and more self-sufficient [than LG is now]. Probably living in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, or Pennsylvania on a decent piece of land in a house that we've either built or can truly make ours (AD is currently itching to move back east, and won't let/help me do anything to our current house that is not directly tied to resale. Ugh!). Working outside the home, but maybe less than forty hours a week; maybe splitting my time between a "regular" job and some sort of creative endeavor. Active in a Christian community, though maybe in a more volunteer or support role as a teacher or mentor.

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