Things I Wish I Wanted To Do

Things I Wish I Wanted To Do

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.”

– Paulo Coelho

My book club recently read and dissected The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  Over water and lime wedges (turns out that while I’m no longer pregnant, everyone else is), it became clear this writer’s year-long experiment culminated in a “love it or hate it” book for our little critics’ circle and beyond – as all pop culture hits seem to do to some degree.  What do they say – there’s no such thing as bad press?

While this book was a slow, underwhelming start for me, suddenly around April (the book and the topics and resolutions it entails are divided into months), it was as if a switch flipped and I was ravenously hooked on this Manhattan lawyer/writer/mom/wife’s musing on hundreds of minor tweaks we can make to our daily routines (no Eat, Pray, Love pilgrimage required) to partake in a more fully-examined existence, boost our quality of life, and thus that of those around us.  Things like buying the nice $4.00 pen instead of the crappy 25-cent pen that just feels cheap and always runs out of ink.  Changing the lightbulb yourself instead of nagging your husband to do it.  Listening contentedly to others and resisting the urge to jump in with a competing story of your own.  Accepting a limitation (or more positively, my God-given uniqueness) such as the fact that a certain hairstyle – try as I might – Will. Never. Look. Good. On. Me.

I could go on and on about the author’s simple yet pointed insights on things from learning to laugh at yourself and lighten up with your kids, to the liberation that comes from “tackling a nagging task,” be it a cluttered hall closet or a toxic relationship.  I was obviously in the “love it” camp.

But the section of the book that provided the biggest “aha moment” for me was about how to distinguish between things I truly want to do, and things I wish I wanted to do.

The phrase “I wish I wanted to do that” resonated with me so clearly.  How often do we trick not just others – but ourselves – into believing this forcefully painted picture of our supposed hobbies, inclinations, status, interests and overall identity?  Maybe you love the idea of buying everything organic but you hate the sticker shock you experience in the check-out line.  Or perhaps you think you want to take a big family vacation every summer, but spending a week with your in-laws/great-aunt/cousins/stepchildren actually induces widespread panic attacks.  You wish you wanted to do these things, but when it comes down to it, you just don’t.

True introverts may feel like they wish they wanted to get dolled up and mingle over cocktails and loud music on a Friday night, but what they really want to do is stay home with a book and pajamas, power off their phone and read until their quiet little heart’s content.  Can I get an Amen from all the introverts?

As this book goes on to point out, “…relinquishing my fantasies of what I wished I found fun allowed me more room to do the things that I did find fun.”

Being so struck by this notion of real vs. illusory desires, I couldn’t help but make my own list.  Without much thought and totally off the cuff, this is what I came up with:

Things I Wish I Wanted to Do:

*Work out more

*Not eat cookies for breakfast

*Play complex family board games (my in-laws are way into games and it’s freeing to admit I could spend the rest of my life mastering Scrabble)

*Chaotic playdates combining two or more of the following: toddlers, junk food, bouncy house, water parks or long car rides

*Camp (as in, outdoors, devoid of proper toilets, with the possibility of bear attacks)

*Go to a grad school (I must face the fact that a few proud extra letters after my name does not a happy homework-haver make)

*Have a third baby (our second is six months old and we’ve hired an overnight nanny and professional sleep coach in recent weeks – this talk is tabled for now.).

*Spend time on my hair (all roads lead to dry shampoo)

*Seek out cool indie music (Top 40 ‘til I die)

*Read classic literature (see grad school reference above)

*Embrace early mornings (maybe this will be The Happiness Project: Age 60)

As I immediately scribbled into my journal upon completion of this hasty (yet pretty darn honest) list:

Wow – there’s such a freedom to just admitting – if only to myself – “I don’t actually want to do any of these things!”

What would you not do, if you knew you could not fail?

Maybe it’s worth cancelling some unwanted plans and sticking around to find out.  Gretchen Rubin would definitely give you a gold star for that.

 

(*featured image by Anne Taintor*)

Welcome, Jude!

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I’m really, really tired as I write this.

Alas, after many attempts at cobbling this together in countless small shifts at the keyboard over many caffeinated weeks – I’ve actually completed a writing assignment! (self-imposed, but nonetheless…). I now present you with a sleep-deprived, sugar-buzzed account of our first weeks with Baby Jude, beginning with his entrance into the world…

***

I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant… 3 days shy of our due date. I was SO ready to meet our second baby boy and for Aaron and me to start our journey as parents of two. I had been pregnant the entire calendar year, up until late September. It had felt like a loooonnng, loooonnng pregnancy – more challenging than my first with the added responsibility of chasing after a toddler while I waddled through my days, heavy, sore and slow. The last few weeks were tough and I was really, really ready to go into labor! I had been induced with Anderson so had never experienced going into labor spontaneously. There were days I thought it was never going to happen… that this baby was never going to come out on his own!

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Enter: Old Wives Tales.

I had heard stories of people who swear (among many other things, like jalapeno lemonade, and jumping on trampolines) that a good brisk walk launched them into labor. I’m always skeptical of these “It worked for me!” claims, but feeling exceptionally motivated that pre-due date Saturday morning, I thought to myself, “it couldn’t hurt!” and Aaron and I set out to tackle the hilly sidewalks of our neighborhood. About a half hour into our walk, it was clear something was happening – I was pretty sure I was actually having true labor contractions! By the time I got home I was on my couch timing them at 5 minutes apart, and the rest is history…

Aaron and I checked into hospital triage like we were moving in – with overnight bags, slippers and pillows in hand. Though contractions were still getting stronger, my body still wasn’t far enough along to be admitted. I was so disappointed and couldn’t imagine having to return home and wait it out… The doctor told us to try walking the hospital halls for two hours to trigger stronger contractions and more labor progression. Boy did that do the trick! Two hours later after enduring staggering, much stronger contractions everywhere imaginable (the elevator, the bathroom, the cafeteria, the street corner…) to what I’m sure were either concerned or confused audiences, we were given the green light for admission to our birthing suite – sweet indeed!! I burst into tears of relief at this news and exclaimed, “Praise the Lord!” I would have joined a gospel choir at that moment had a sign-up sheet presented itself. I was THAT happy. This baby was officially on his way.

A few short hours later and after a lightning quick delivery (thankful what they say about second children being quicker was very true in my case!) Jude Emerson Morris emerged at 9:50 p.m. a big and healthy boy, weighing in at a hunky 10 pounds, 2 ounces!

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*A quick note about his name:  As you know, we struggle/borderline obsess with deciding on names.  I wish I had some story about the magical moment we decided on this name, or some amazing significance it has played in our life, but I don’t.  I think Aaron suggested it, possibly over breakfast, sometime in the last month of pregnancy.  I honestly don’t remember. We liked that is was rare, yet rooted in some history (Bible book, Beatles song), and short to Anderson’s long.  Emerson is a main street in the part of Seattle where we live, and the street Aaron lived on in college, when he first moved to Seattle.  We actually went to the hospital with two names:  Emmett Blaine and Jude Emerson.  We had been leaning toward Jude, and our British nurse helped push it over the edge.

Proud papa.

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He was placed on my chest right away – so soft and warm, his skin was like butter and radiated heat. We spent another day and night in the hospital, and then we were sent home, to start real life as a family of four…

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^^This was our first outing as a family of four, to our niece Margot’s birthday dinner.  This felt like a huge accomplishment at the time!

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^^This was one of the two times I’ve worn my hair in something other than an unwashed bun.

***

And now we’re home! And the highs and the lows and the lessons and the learning curves and God’s mercy….they are all new every morning. EVERY morning…

I try to keep a sense of humor about it all. When Jude pukes down my shirt during a particularly silent portion of a church service (yep, this happened), I may think to myself, “Maybe he wishes we were Catholic?” When he cries incessantly through extra innings of the final game of the World Series, I’ll say, “Must be a Mets fan?”

Anderson has found his sense of humor with Jude as well, while learning babies can double as human canvases:

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But humor aside, there are parts of raising a newborn that are just undeniably HARD. Oh the sleep deprivation…it’s so real. No matter how many books you read or preparation you try to do or kids you have, I don’t think it will ever feel natural to be yanked awake countless times throughout the night, sometimes for hours at a time. But you just do what you have to do and make it through, one day and one night at a time… As I write this Jude is eight weeks old, and I don’t think there have been more than five nights since he’s been born that I’ve scrapped together much more than six total hours of sleep. On a particularly torturous night when Aaron and I were up for hours and hours through endless cycles of feeding, crying, burping…feeding, crying, burping… I described the experience like this:

“Waking up almost every hour most of the night to a screaming baby is kind of like…..taking a long confusing cab ride through deep headache-inducing potholes with death metal blaring on the speakers, only to be thrown out of the car while it’s still moving. And the driver is surprisingly commanding though he speaks no English and is only 20″ tall…”

It’s hard you guys. The nights are soooo crazy sometimes. But you get up, you get coffee and you get through it. One of the silver linings as I learn to juggle caring for two kids, is I’m truly so much BUSIER, that the days fill up and fly by and I simply don’t have the time to sit around dwelling on how tired I am or should be. So, in a way, the busy-ness has been a blessing. Its sink or swim and you just have to keep on swimming.

So there’s that.

It’s interesting – in some ways having a second child, so far, is all I expected it to be – overwhelming and exhausting, but rewarding, super chaotic at times, but so sweet seeing siblings interact (the boys’ initial meeting was indescribably precious…).

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^^Anderson fawning over his brother the day they met.  He still does this daily.

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It is all those things people told me it would be, but at the same time, nothing could truly prepare me for my own unique experience I’m having. And sometimes I feel like no one else could totally understand it – but maybe everyone feels that way about their own particular lot in life?

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^^Jude has THE funniest pouty little fish lips.  We love them.

I see Anderson differently now as he’s growing so much, both independently and within the new dynamics of our household. So much newness with him alone – he is suddenly enormous! (at least compared to Jude…), he is defiant and opinionated and can make me want to pull my hair out when he simply Will. Not. Listen. (hello, age 2½!). But he still has his sweet moments and it’s all so confusing – is he still my sweet baby, or 2 going on 12?? So he’s different, and the way I see babies is different. I’m more confident in my parenting abilities this time around, which is a plus, but also don’t have the luxury to just sit around and bask in that confidence, because I’m so BUSY! The bonding and connecting with Jude comes more in bits and pieces throughout the day when I’m not trying to entertain a toddler or make dinner or take the world’s fastest shower (I think I’ve properly dried and styled my hair twice in the last two months…).

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^^A typical “work day” for me.  At least my bosses allow for a pretty lax dress code…

I don’t think I could have quite imagined how vastly different my entire life feels from the life I had two months ago. It has taken me MANY attempts to sit down and finish this blog entry. Free time is so precious and hard to come by with a toddler that will get into anything and everything, and a baby who just wants to be held, held and held some more (dirty dishes, be damned).

So that’s where I’m at. I’m tired and tested, but I’m also really proud of myself. I’m doing a hard thing every day and it’s given me perspective and grace for myself, and for every parent who does this work of raising children. And if it wasn’t hard at least some of the time, it wouldn’t be rewarding, right?

I could write an entire book called “I don’t know how single parents do it.” Earlier this month I was sick with a nasty head cold for exactly as many days as Aaron was out of town, waking up almost every two hours at night to a baby making his needs LOUDLY known. Thankful I’ve had support to pitch in and help me – I think I’d barely be standing if I had to do this completely alone. So true how they say it takes a village… I’m so thankful for mine!

And the journey continues…one cab ride at a time.

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**photo credit for some photos: heleyna holmes photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While You’re Still My Baby…

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I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Tuesday afternoon when I was admitted to the hospital to begin the last leg of the long journey to your birth. Giddy with anticipation, in near disbelief I was finally going to meet YOU – I didn’t sleep a wink all night. The next morning, the long and winding road of pregnancy was over. YOU were in my arms.  AMAZING!

I would never be the same again.

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Anderson, you’ve been my baby for the last two and a half years. The only baby I’ve ever raised, and the one who will always get full credit for making me a mom – the proudest title I’ll ever wear. You’re the one I’ll compare any future babies with. How could I not? Your sleep patterns, how soon you rolled and crawled and walked, your laugh, your cry, your way with words…it’s the only ‘normal’ I’ve ever known.

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If you were the only child I ever had, surely I have already been blessed far beyond what I deserve. That I get to experience the magic of brand new life again, all those “firsts” through a brand new set of eyes, and give you the gift of a brother to grow up with, is an extravagant gift.

Your little brother will be here in our home and in our arms, in just a matter of days. I am SO excited for us all to meet him and smother him in love. But before we do, I just wanted to pause and pay tribute to YOU.

YOU are still the baby of this family, for however many more hours or days that may be. YOU are an amazing boy, with a heart of gold, a razor sharp mind, a joyful sense of humor, and an infectious zeal for life.

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300You remind me to greet each day with excitement, and end it with gratitude. To see the possibilities in a box of blocks, the joy of running with nowhere to be, the peace that comes with going with the flow and trusting your instincts.

We’ve taught each other so much.

I’ve spent the last weeks putting together your baby book, tearfully re-watching video of your first cries and first bath, washing and folding tiny clothing that used to be yours. The fact that I even have time to write all this right now is due only to you being at PRESCHOOL, for exactly 52 more minutes.  I still can’t believe it, and am so proud of how you’ve grown.

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Thank you for making me a mom, for making your dad a dad, and for teaching us more than we could teach you. I can’t wait to see the incredible big brother you are going to be. Even though you won’t be the littlest around here for much longer…you’ll always be my baby. When I go to pick you up soon, and you run out to greet me with that big smile, your art project of the day proudly flapping in the breeze, I’ll remember that.

I love you Anderson, and I will always treasure these years of you and me.

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TAKEN: Why Choosing a Name is Scarier than a Liam Neeson Movie

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At my baby shower last month, each guest submitted a “name suggestion” in this cute little keepsake jar, hoping to spur me along on the journey toward solidifying this first permanent piece of my new son’s identity. Great names abounded, and for almost every one my obsessive, skeptical mind immediately came up with a reason why that name couldn’t possible work. It’s too common! It’s too rare! It’s the name of my neighbor’s dog! It’s DIAMOND! (Incredibly, that person and I are still friends.) ; )

As my due date looms closely overhead, a mere 15 days away (which could really mean one day away, or almost 30, but who’s counting…), it is inescapably sinking in that we still don’t have a name for our child. And sometimes it feels like we’re actually drifting further away from a decision than getting closer. We have about a zillion options of course – many, many fine, acceptable, lovely options. The world is our oyster, right? We can choose ANY name we want!

Or can we? And if we can, why do I feel more restricted than a size 2 bride-to-be at an all-you-can-eat buffet?

In today’s parenting world, there seems to be this intense, mounting pressure to come up with not only The Perfect Name, but The Perfect Name that no one in your family, friends circle, school district, zip code, book club, PEPS group or social media stratosphere has already – brace yourself – laid claim to.

It’s exhausting. And bordering on impossible. And there’s no rulebook! I thought deciding on Anderson’s name was hard, but this is double duty, semi anxiety-inducing business. I am not in school, speak toddler for a living, am 8.7 months pregnant barely waddling around, and should not have to think this hard.

In addition to the normal criteria one must dissect when choosing a name (Are the initials embarrassing? Will people latch on to obnoxious nicknames? Will this naming trend be So. Over. by the time this kid hits kindergarten? Will he really be taken seriously when he’s 40 years old if I name him Rudy?), the second kid naming process brings with it its own unique naming dilemmas, as outlined by my own personal obsessive criteria:

1) Can’t start with M. All of Anderson’s Morris cousins have ‘M’ names. They got there first, and they chose great ‘M’ names that work beautifully for their families, but I feel it is our family’s turn to branch out a bit and diversify beyond the M.M. I began this branching out with Anderson and feel compelled to continue.

2) Can’t start with A. I just don’t like the idea of three of the four names in our family starting with A. Plus, let’s face it – there is an undeniable convenience factor to being able to text your husband mid-day and quickly write, “Need help with A tonight, J is sick” instead of having to spell out, “Need help with Anderson tonight, Augustus is sick.”   Yes, this is what my level of technical laziness/time efficiency has come to.

3) Can’t rhyme with/be too similar to Anderson. We like the name Emerson, but “Anderson and Emerson” is just too much “erson” for any one family.

4) Can’t be too dissimilar to Anderson. I think of Anderson as this clean cut, familiar all-American name. To each their own, but that’s how I personally think of it. To go with a name for a second child that is too exotic, Old Testament, oddly spelled, or edgy, just doesn’t jive. I need the names to feel like a cohesive set. Like we pre-purchased them as a bundle from a cute little everything-is-name-embroidered Pottery Barn catalog and just had to wait 2.5 years to unveil the second one.

So. These are JUST SOME of the factors that go through my mind with every single name we deign to consider for our second child.

And I haven’t even gotten to the biggest, most tedious and exhausting hurdle we face with (almost) Every. Single. Name.

THEY’RE ALL TAKEN!!!

So friends, please help aid me in maintaining my sanity by joining me in a discussion over what “taken” does or should mean. OK? OK.

Obviously, a name is “taken” if it is being used by one of Anderson’s cousins, or closest friends, or one of our closest friends’ kids. These are all people who are a regular part of our life and parenting journey. These kiddos’ names are safe. I’m not some brazen name thief.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. Say we were considering the name Henry. I have multiple Facebook friends who I haven’t seen in person in years, who named a child Henry. Will they feel like I’m stepping on their toes if I dare to give my son the same name? Will it upset our civil, if rare, Facebook chatter? What about the parents of the two older Henrys in Anderson’s preschool? Will they be like, “Don’t they know this preschool has enough Henrys? What are they thinking?”

Now, Henry isn’t actually on our short list, but it represents many, many, many names that are, have been, or could be – but are clouded by this self-imposed, oversensitive, ultra-accommodating conviction that thou shalt not consider any name that anyone you have ever brushed shoulders with has bestowed upon their child.

This sounds so ridiculous when I actually say it out loud. But it’s a true feeling, and I’m guessing I’m not the first second-time parent of our generation to experience it. When you’ve been immersed in the parenting community for a couple of years, you have so much more exposure to kids’ names than you did before you became a parent. You learn the other kids’ names at church, in your neighborhood, at the playground. The names of your husband’s employee’s kids, your son’s new classmates in preschool and – let’s not forget – the names chosen by your dozens or hundreds of internet-based acquaintances, nevermind you only see 5% of them in person on any sort of a regular basis.

When I try to accommodate all these distant connections in my life, my list of viable names dwindles from about 95 to 3.

Something’s got to give.

So I’m giving myself a break. I am no longer promising that if I have been acquainted with you in some way in the last decade of my life, our children won’t possibly share a name. If I’ve passed you three times in the hallway at church, our kids might share a name. If we had a class together in college, our kids might share a name. If you worked with me seven years ago and we haven’t seen each other since, our kids might share a name. If I see you less than once a year, I might consider your name fair game.

If this happens to you, please take it as a most sincere compliment on your naming abilities. And if our kids ever end up in the same classroom, I’ll let you have the first crack at your choice of nickname.

Bottom line – I recognize that if choosing a name is our biggest problem right now, we’re in good shape. And I do know somewhere deep down that we will settle into “that perfect one.” I just need to know that I’m not alone on the neurotic journey to get to that settled place. So when you see that confident, joyful announcement of our son’s arrival and his name sometime in the (hopefully very near) future, please tell us it’s the most brilliant name you’ve ever heard, and pat yourself on the back for being just as brilliant…if you happened to have arrived at it first. : )

I hope you feel as good reading this as I do writing it. I will now return to aggressively dog-earring baby name books and picking apart every moniker in existence… Wish me luck, and please, submit your criteria-approved name suggestions here.  🙂

Slodge Podge

The last week or so I’ve more or less been running on fumes. Anything I’ve posted online definitely has not included my face, house, laundry pile, or choice of clothing in which I’ve been lounging around the house. Not sleeping well due to a combo of pregnancy aches and pains and a high-maintenance dog, begging my husband to take the morning toddler shift so I can scrap together a few extra zzzz’s, and living in his t-shirts (husband’s, not toddler’s – do I look like Bethenny Frankel?) – have been the common threads of this last week. I’m not looking for sympathy, as I know we all have days/weeks/seasons where we feel like we are “slodging through life.” Like our feet our constantly stuck in the mud and we just can’t find that light and easy pace we had the week before. Just keeping it real, and writing….which has happened like twice this year I think, but that could be overestimating.

Early today my sweet neighbor emailed and asked if Anderson and I would like to come over for a visit this morning or this afternoon. I thought to myself: “There is not a remote possibility I will be showered, out of my husband’s XL graphic tee and even remotely presentable to anyone outside my home until at least the mid-afternoon hours.” I said: “Later this afternoon is probably best for us.” No need to scare the woman.

On his way out the door this morning when Aaron asked me and my son, who was at the time very evenly alternating between bursting into PMS-like tears and exclaiming, “All done crying!” with a tear-streaked, semi-creepy smile on his face, what we were doing today, I said, “Surviving.” He patted me on the head like a lost puppy and told me to enjoy surviving, or good luck, or something like that. I can’t remember and/or didn’t really hear him at the time because I hadn’t had coffee yet.

On days like this, perspective is our friend. I may have almost thrown up from record-disgusting diapers, and I’m starting to stick to my clothing (OK, my husband’s clothing), I need to shower so bad – BUT –would you believe I still polished our stainless steel appliances, taught Anderson to ride a balance bike (he kept exclaiming, “I’m riding a bike! I’m riding a bike!” It was so cute I almost felt human again.), AND served both of us warm food today? I know. Please excuse me while I go find that gold star….the first place I’m looking is the shower.

PS – In addition, have I mentioned we’ve reverted to blow-outs this week? If you don’t know what this is, bless you. If you do, sorry for the TMI. But seriously, it’s like Anderson’s 6 months old again and I’ve actually lost count of how many pairs of shorts, blankets, sheets and sleep sacks I’ve had to shower with shout this week like I’ve been fighting wildfires. I guess he’s just doing his part to grease my wheels for baby #2.

PPS – Here’s a cute pic of Anderson on his bike AFTER I cleaned up approximately 700 toys…. total failure on my part.  This blog post obviously merits a “before” pic.  I would say use your imagination, but I know most of you have been there, and don’t have to.  🙂

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I’m Pregnant: It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

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Being pregnant again is, for me, a flurry of contradictions:

So familiar, yet so different.

Easier mentally; harder phyically.

Less mysterious yet more out of my control.

I own so many maternity clothes, yet seem to need all new ones (winter vs. summer baby)

To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” See? My summary quote doesn’t even make sense.

I realize I have a ton to be thankful for with this pregnancy. Nausea, stay in the dugout for now – we’ll get to you later.

When Aaron and I decided to “try” for Baby #2 – it went something like this:

  • Obsessively re-read my highlighted sections of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” (my super retro, yet incomparable conception bible).
  • Plan, chart, pray and calendar accordingly (Can you tell I’m Type A?).
  • Immediately get pregnant on the first try, as we did with Anderson, though I of course lost sleep worrying over every possible reason why it might not be that easy, could take months, or years, etc etc… We were lucky twice, and I am very grateful. God has gracefully withheld some lessons on patience that I probably deserve to learn… maybe that’s what the 9 months are for?

The best part of being a repeat pregnant woman is that I am so much more confident this time around. I don’t worry nearly as much about what foods I eat and the word “pasteurized” is once again an annoyingly regular part of my vocabulary. I am better educated on what my body is going through, what is within the range of normal, and what might be cause for concern. I understand the highs and lows of the different trimesters and so far, have had pretty similar pregnancies.

The hardest part of being pregnant again – I’m already a mom! So long “sick days” that involved just me spending all day on the couch (and I thought THAT was rough!). Yes, I am fortunate to have some help from family and sitters, but the majority of the time it is still just me on duty with a very energetic 2-year-old – whether I feel up to the challenge or not. He is hungry and hyper and talkative whether I’m nauseous or not. I’ve struggled with guilt over not “keeping up with him” as my energy and health haven’t been consistently up to par for the last 2 ½ months. I have a “menu board” in our kitchen that has been used about twice since February. Easy dinner, takeout, cereal, or husband cooking have been my go-to meal plans on the many days I’ve felt like I’m just getting by and counting down to bedtime.

Just as I was getting past two months of almost daily nausea, I came down with a three-week (and counting…) head cold, and an excruciating ear infection that landed me in the ER at 1am, by myself (when you already have a kid at home sleeping, your husband can’t drive you…). That was one of the worst nights of my life. Truly an Easter weekend to remember.

So. Those are probably the main lowlights for me. It hasn’t been easy, but it also hasn’t been terrible… just moderately annoying/nauseating/tiring/uncomfortable symptoms that have lasted for weeks on end. Mild enough that I can still function in most of my normal day-to-day activities, but significant enough that I just really miss feeling like my true, best self. That’s as best I can explain it.

Writing, for example, is a part of who I am, and I haven’t written on this blog for OVER THREE MONTHS!! I can’t believe it.. I miss it. And I feel rusty, and like this isn’t good or unique or interesting at all. But you have to start somewhere when you get back on the horse.

What keeps me going is those glimpses – however short or long-lived – that remind me it is all so, so worth it. The nausea makes me appreciate good health SO much more. Fatigue makes me so thankful for a comfortable bed and the nights I do get good sleep. And already having a child is a constant reminder of the reward to come.

I think we (Women! Moms! Humans!) often make two mistakes in how we see ourselves: Taking ourselves too seriously, or not taking ourselves seriously enough. As it applies to pregnancy – it is a journey, a rollercoaster, a marathon – not a sprint! And such is life.

For me, this means I fluctuate between remembering to validate my feelings, and to keep them in perspective. My feelings are mine, and they’re real, and they deserve my attention and care. BUT – it also helps when I remember things could be so much worse, and to be grateful for all the things I can do, and still have (even when I really miss a killer glass of red wine…).

Aaron and I had the great fortune of getting away last weekend (thanks, Grandma Sue!), and spent two blissful days relaxing in a secluded mountain cabin, reading by the fire, playing board games while watching deer out the window…it was really great. One of the innkeepers at our lodge, Kathy, ended up sharing with me some health struggles she’d had. In short, she is on her third heart, and has “died” (and been resuscitated) four times.

Suddenly my pregnancy problems and endless cold seemed pretty trivial compared to someone who DIED four times, spent six months in a hospital with an artificial heart, and can’t eat undercooked food FOREVER.

Perspective. Balance. Gratitude. And once Baby #2 comes…. Chaos! I kid… kind of… not really.

Bring it on. I’ve made it this far. I know I can handle it, as others before me have handled it, and so much more.

Hibernation

FullSizeRender(3)I’m going to share something personal with you. Which is ironic because it has to do with my not wanting to share personal things.

The photo above is part of a journal entry I wrote on New Year’s Eve. I like to carve out time on the last day of the year, to reflect on the previous 12 months – things I feel good about, and things I want to improve upon – and lay out a plan of attack (aka resolutions) for the new year. This year those hopes and goals largely revolved around a theme of practicing quality over quantity – in things ranging from my relationships to time spent online and in social settings. We’ll see how that all fleshes out, but I promise my intentions are good.

I’ve been using this blog as a personal writing and reflection platform for a little over two years now. Though I may only post once or twice a month, I think about writing all the time. For those who don’t know me as well as others, I am painstakingly aware of my conscience, agonize over things like, “Did I say that right?” or “Did she understand where I was coming from?” am an obsessively thorough proof-reader and perfectionist editor. And I struggle with guilt over really wanting to write when the urge strikes, while also really wanting to be a devoted, undistracted mother who doesn’t get enveloped in a heated essay-writing spree while her son watches reruns of Sesame Street.

This last year, I wrote some stuff that really put my heart, insecurities, flaws and personal beliefs out on the line. I think that’s hard for anyone to do, but I always tell myself that some things are just important, even if they’re not fun, easy or comfortable. The reason I know that wearing my heart on my sleeve is important, is because I know how important it is when others do that for me. The truth is, I know I am my own worst critic, and it’s been a while since I’ve written something I was really totally pleased with. And then sometimes, when I feel like I actually really poured my heart, brain and time into something important and said what I wanted to say – **vulnerability alert** – I’m disappointed because it gets two likes on Facebook and I feel totally unvalidated, OR what I wrote is apparently important enough to be controversial and I get super stressed out if I sense conflict or disapproval.

Deep exhale…

Here’s what I actually set out to write: I’ve learned that in the month of December, I get busy, busy, busy! And festive, festive, festive! It’s Christmas and everything is so put together and pretty and peaceful (OK so not really 100% of the time, but I keep telling myself that it is to keep the Christmas spirit meter up) and I just want to soak it in and pack my calendar with red and green frosted social engagements and I think to myself, “What am I ever going to do when Christmas lights are down and we’re just stuck with drab, gray, uneventful January?” It always sounds so depressing!

And THEN – all I want to do is go into hibernation mode. Meaning – I basically just want to disconnect my phone and computer, pull out my best apron, be a June Cleaver mom and wife, and bake apple pies all day while no one bothers me or picks my brain.

This year as I seeped deeper and deeper into the holidays, I was all busy and social and Mrs. Party Planner and Ugly Christmas Sweater on the outside – and I’m not knocking that stuff; it was festive and great and important in its own right and I’ll probably be just as excited to do it all again next year- but on the INSIDE, I felt like I was burrowing deeper and deeper into an introverted, “don’t look at me,” “don’t analyze me” hole. I realized that this year I had made myself and my real, fragile emotions available possibly more than ever, through essays I published, through sharing personal struggles with people I barely knew, through hot button issues I weighed in on over Facebook, and even in smaller scale personal conversations.

By the end of the year I found myself feeling a little proud and brave, but A LOT over-exposed, drained from “putting myself out there” and kind of just wanting to hibernate. I felt sort of emotionally spent. And I still kind of do.

I had extreme visions of ending my blog after two years (my husband says he won’t let me), closing my Facebook account (but that’s such a dramatic thing to do, and I’ve already done that before – it didn’t fix life), and fleeing to Amish country where they don’t have the burden of electricity (OK I made up that last part, I probably couldn’t handle the early mornings, and actually really like electricity).

I’ve spent the last few weeks being less connected to social media than I have been in years, without quitting cold turkey. I’ve genuinely tried to be more unplugged, less reactive and more intentional with how I set out to spend my time each day. I’ve tried to step back and do a cost-benefit analysis of being emotionally naked.

I happened to briefly log on to Facebook tonight, which has been a refreshing rarity for me in recent weeks, and two of the first things that caught my eye were posts from fellow blogger friends (Abby and Emily, I’m calling you out – I loved reading both of your posts and they made me drag my butt out of bed and get my laptop out to write this).

So in reality I have felt like I have had writer’s block THE ENTIRE time I’ve been writing this, but here’s to being imperfect and posting it any way.

The truth is, I don’t want to stop writing. I know I would regret it. Maybe it can be hard, and maybe it can be draining, and definitely it is hard to balance with everything else as someone who struggles to be disciplined with her time.  Maybe I’ll write more privately and less publicly this year.  I don’t know yet what the right decision is for me.  But I’m making this public so you know my intentions to figure it out.

But I have to believe that it’s worth it. That it’s worth slogging through the writer’s block and the half-finished stories and the endless rough drafts, for the unbeatable feeling of FINALLY writing something that makes you lean back, look at your monitor with sheer amazement and say, “That’s it.”

A really great baseball player still only gets on base a third of the time. And a world-renowned surgeon may only cure a fraction of the patients she treats. Why should it be any different for writing? The only way to get better is to write. And you can’t hit a homerun by hibernating.

“Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.