Looking back now, so much of that time seems foggy. Some days I wasn't really living, I was just existing.....
photo : Chelsea Klette Photography
Last week my sweet baby turned one. He is a legit walking, talking (okay mostly babbling) little human being. A little human being who has amazed me, challenged me, and taught me more about life and love in the last year than I could have imagined possible.
Motherhood is way more than I thought it would be. It's all encompassing and it's full of surprises. It's exhausting, its thankless at times and it's FULL of rewards. In the last year I have experienced every emotion the human soul can, I've done things I didn't think I was capable of doing, I've felt like a superhero and I've been sure I was a failure. There are no parameters to motherhood, no hard and fast rules, and no way to be prepared for most of it. Motherhood is SO many things.
It's seeing the adoration in his bright little eyes when he looks at you like you are the only thing in his world.
It's eating bites of food off his highchair tray in between sips of re-heated coffee for breakfast. And sometimes lunch. And sometimes dinner.
It's a top knot and sweatpants. And probably food / milk / puke on your shirt.
It's turning absolutely anything you say into a song to calm the crying. Or whining. Or both.
It's waking up at 12am. And 3am. And 5am. Its learning to power through on broken, interrupted sleep.
It's seeing him take his first steps and cheering and clapping, and then bursting into tears.
It's struggling to accept that your body is forever changed. It's leaning into and celebrating the change.
It's being out for a much needed drink with your friends and praying the text that just came through says "He's fast asleep!" instead of "When can he have advil...?" #teethingmonster
It's wanting a break SO BAD and then missing him when you get it.
It's watching him sleep and listening to him breathe instead of looking at your to do list.
It's forgetting if you've done something/ bought something / called someone back.... seriously I can't remember shit... #imsotired
It's being exhausted and emotional and still being expected to be all of the things to all of the people.
It's learning to sleep sitting up with him on you, or beside you, or between you, because getting him to sleep trumps where he sleeps that night.
It's the feeling you get when he only wants his mama.
It's playing peekaboo through the shower curtain so you can wash your damn hair (but probably not blow dry it).
It's missing out on plans, and parties and spur of the moment things. And being totally okay with it (like 95% of the time).
It's asking for help. Because it really does take a village. And sometimes the village is family and friends.... and sometimes it is the Superstore click and collect and a Starbucks drive through #allofthecoffee.
It's your heart bursting and breaking at the same time. With love, and awe, and wistfulness at the time going by way too quickly.
It's a 24 hour a day gig. And it's the best gig I've ever had.
It just doesn't seem fair does it? You spend a portion of your life learning the importance of properly protecting yourself from unplanned pregnancies, use all the contraceptives, or perhaps you even abstain. Like how many times have you had a pregnancy scare and felt like your world might come crumbling to a halt!?! Fast forward a few years, perhaps even a decade and you literally couldn't get pregnant if you tried....like really tried. Everyday tried. Millions of doctors appointments, getting poked by needles, scheduled intercourse, more appointments, monitoring everything, waiting, disappointment, and more waiting. If you could only make money off all the times you were told, "Don't worry it will happen when it's supposed to". F*^$& that noise.
Que sadness, despair, resentment, and self-pity.
Infertility is a real thing. It's a really sad thing and I know way too many people in my life that have experienced it. No one tells you that your dreams of being a mother might not come true. What do you mean my ovaries are blocked and I have never been able to conceive? That would have been great to know 10 years ago! Could have saved lots of worry and some bucks. Yes, adoption is an option but it's not the idea you had in your head. And to start it all off you will wait months before the doctors will even look at you, then spend zillions of hours with specialists, now testing, waiting, hormones- great!, and more waiting. How far will you go to get that family you envisioned? Is IVF in your cards? And more importantly, how much can you endure to get there?
In 1984, the estimated percentage of couples with fertility problems was 5.4% [MediResource Inc. ]. In 1992, this number increased to 8.5%. And today, the estimated prevalence (total number of couples with infertility) is up to 15.7%. So whats up with that? Sources say that multiple factors could play a role into why we have literally tripled our numbers within my lifetime. Most noted would be the fact that women are simply waiting to have kids and as we age we become less fertile. Obesity, chronic diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase which can also play a vital role in these growing statistics.
Now, I personally don't know what infertility feels like - i'm speaking on behalf of the many women in my life that have recently gone through it. I do know what miscarriage looks like. It's equally as ugly. It is heart-breaking and in my opinion brings up a lot of the same feelings that goes along with it's nasty neighbor - infertility. My reproductive reality happens to be recurrent miscarriages. unexplained. I could simply get sneezed on and I will be pregnant. Keeping it just isn't in the cards. It has been one year to almost the day since the last one. I found myself in the same situation as the rest - trying to hold back the flood of emotion, keeping it together as essentially few people even knew I was pregnant, and just told myself to move one foot in front of the next. It's okay...you are a seasoned vet by now. It's gotta get easier, right?
Now the doctors will tell you that it is SOOO COMMON. Among women who know they are pregnant, 1 in 6 pregnancies (some studies say even 1 in 4) ends in miscarriage [NHS Choices. Miscarriage. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/Pages/Introduction.aspx]. Really? What is just no one talking about it then? After my first miscarriage I spent hours researching this bizarre phenomenon - but how does a fetus's heart just stop? I became obsessed....I had to know everything I could because I certainly didn't want to go through that again and I think I had to reassure myself that it was not something that I did.
Here is what I know about miscarriage and/or infertility, like the #truthbombs:
1) If you have experienced either, you literally will resent people that announce they are having a baby. It's okay! If 1 in 6 of us are going through this just imagine all the fake smiles and forced (but also well intended) congratulations that are happening. You are not alone. Grin and bare it girl!
2) Having scheduled sex is hard on your relationship. And so is peeing on a stick every month to only see one line. Also those sticks are over priced and there isn't one that is better than the rest. Ohhh digital...must be more advanced...sure charge double. If it gives me two lines then sure! Let me try it.
3) You become slightly crazy after a miscarriage and/or fertility drugs. I'm not sure if its the combination of grief/anger and the hormone changes but like bat shit crazy nuts. It goes away, you will eventually feel normal again. Soon you won't cry at a drop of a hat or lose your mind because the laundry didn't get folded.
4) It's 100% not easy and you are not alone (see stats above). There are forums, chat rooms, and support groups. It feels better to know that someone is feeling the same way as you. It takes a little bit of that pain away. Source one out or talk to someone that understands.
5) For those of you that haven't experienced infertility or miscarriages - thank your lucky stars and be mindful of others. It seems common to ask, "Why don't you have kids?" Just don't ever ask that. Like ever! To answer your question, they either don't want kids or are trying.
6) Life is precious. The experience makes you realize how bizarre this whole livin thing really is! Our bodies are so complicated and it really is a miracle to be able to conceive and give birth to a healthy human. Slow your roll and enjoy life. We get wrapped up in our own ideologies and "our plans" that we forget that today is as important as tomorrow. So live it.
There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes - David Platt
Supporting those you know that have suffered a miscarriage or battling with infertility can be difficult but it's important for the healing process. Even if you don't know what to say making yourself present goes a long way. To all those that are fighting the fight - stay strong - we are standing with you.
Today I turn 34 years old (happy birthday to me!). Birthdays are milestones, and milestones cause reflection for me, this year perhaps more than usual.
Flashback to one year ago today- I had just days before my 33rd birthday found out I was pregnant (surprise!), and my entire life shifted in every way possible. The year to follow would turn out to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my entire life. I met the love of my life almost 5 months ago... his name is Asher, he is an amazing and beautiful tiny human and he is my son.
Last March I was running a business, managing a team and creating jewelry on the side. Fast forward one year.... I spend my days nursing, changing diapers, singing rounds of "How funky is your chicken" and making faces to get giant smiles out of my little mister. I get puked on roughly 12 times a day. All of my clothes were black...now they are puke stained black. I am a different person now that I have a child. I didn't think I would be, but it is impossible not to be - I have another human being who is an extension of me. Through the ups and downs of the last year, going through a not so comfortable pregnancy ( that is a whole other blog post!), and navigating the early days of parenthood with my partner, I have learned many things - and many things have shifted.
Most of my life I struggled with saying yes - to people, projects, plans. I wanted to do #allofthethings, and I wanted to do them myself. Instead of delegating tasks and projects at work -something my boss had been trying to teach me for months (hi Anna!)-I hoarded them all because I wanted to be a part of everything. It wasn't really working for me then, and it very quickly stopped working for me when I became pregnant. It was then that I (finally) learned a very beautiful thing... I learned to say no. I learned to delegate to my team, and how to lift people up and help them grow by playing to their strengths. I learned how to put myself first, because now I really had to... and I learned that is not selfish, it is powerful.
Asking for help has never been my forte, in any setting. I could do #allofthethings myself, and handle any curve-ball life threw at me alone, why would I ask for help?! Another beautiful lesson that I learned this past year. You know what happens when you ask people for help? They help you. I know right?! Whether I needed help with a project at work, moving into our house before baby came, or now needing support in taking steps to deal with post partum anxiety - I learned asking for help means my people will help me. With love, and without judgement.
"Living in the moment" has taken on a new meaning to me. What used to mean spur of the moment plans, or turning a morning breakfast date into afternoon patio drinks and laughs with my bestie, became letting Asher nap on me for 2 hours and soaking in his little baby snores. It's pressing pause on writing this blog post 5 times to bring him laughing onto my lap and play with his little baby feet. While I miss those all day adventures, and staying up late laughing into the night, I know they will come again. This little man will not cuddle me all day forever (whyyyyy?!), and so I pause, and I enjoy. Most days don't go according to plan right now. Plans go awry, tasks don't get done on time and now? I go with it.
I've always found the little things in life to bring the most joy, and I've realized a new appreciation for those little things in the last year. A full cup of hot coffee, an extra long hug, five more minutes of sleep (any more minutes of sleep!). A partner who tidies the house as he walks in the door from work, a friend who sends a simple heart emoji in the middle of a rough day, a gummy baby smile from my son. I have found that these little things are the big things to me now. A year ago I packed a million tasks and plans into my days, rarely taking the time to slow down and pay attention, opting instead for the self inflicted busy-ness I thrived on. In the past year, I have discovered a newfound appreciation for my partner, for myself, for time. These days I find supreme excitement in purchasing the stroller I wanted instead of new suede booties for myself, I plan Asher's outfits for outings instead of my own (because I will be wearing puke stained all black, obviously). Social engagements after 7:30pm require more planning and a breast pump and wandering the aisles at Superstore doubles as "me time". I find myself content and really, I wouldn't change a thing.... except the puke stained clothes.