I just haven’t had the time or energy to write, and when I do, I haven’t been hitting publish because my story doesn’t seem to be tied up with a pretty bow yet. Bloggers are often guilty of telling a story with a “here is your moral of the story” slant. I don’t have that, sorry folks.
I believe we are gifted intricately crafted stories that allow us to learn about the strength and grace we possess . Each trial (sucky thing)teaches us that we can do really, really hard things. These findings are powerful and are not something we should be bashful about. If you have faith that is even a smear of a mustard seed – then you should believe you are a shining city on a hill. That light should explode like a firework and people from all over should be afforded the chance to play witness. When you realize you aren’t alone in this, then you have rocket fuel to keep going. To know why you are alive and to breathe in the very breath of life. For it is when we are hopeless that we can gain hope, right? My girl Glennon recently posted about an interdependence day — how we need to be weak so others can be strong. How sweet a sound that is. We can put our guard down and let our big girl panties fall to our ankles and be a mess. Because when we are a mess, someone else can soar. I read her words at 5 am on January 22, 2014 – 8 months to the day after I (we gave birth) to #4. Then I read a devotional called “Rebirth.” Then I had a colonoscopy. Then I woke up. We walked outside and the sunrise was a bright and luminous pink. Everything felt pink and OK that morning.
From my devotional that morning:
Renavatio: Rebirth: discarding the old and embracing the new. Breath of life, breathe into me Your sweet joy and peace. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Amen.
Here is my way of letting others see my mess, so feel free to soar as you read. Words that are finally ready to be born. It starts way back when I wanted a baby, and it just hasn’t finished yet. I don’t know how many parts this will have. I guess I’ll just keep writing until I have that bow to wrap around my words. Sit tight. That may be awhile.
But as I write, I feel like I am starting to just breathe again. So thank you.
I started to write and journal as a means to dumping out what was negative, back when all I wanted was a baby. I had blinders on and didn’t realize that my hunger was for so much more than a baby. It was fueled by want, romance and the unknown — all things that make sense after two exciting years of courting and then marrying the man I love with all my heart. The record had stopped on my fairytale and I wanted to turn the page to the happy ending.
I left my safe medical sales job to go work for a company called lululemon. You may know them, you know – the “tata tamers” and “no camel toe” yoga clothing? So I took this grass-roots marketing position and got to travel all over … Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver…and basically, well, do yoga, learn about myself and others and how to make all of them (including me) better, shinier and happier people. So as I recall, I was alone in Nashville one rainy afternoon in between hot vinyasa and my next shot of wheatgrass, and I wrote this piece on what I pictured the whole gig – motherhood that is – to be. At the time I was reading a book about how strong our minds are and it suggested that you make out the story and picture of what you really want and just start to believe it has already happened. In some neck of the woods, like mine, you could call this prayer. Prayer on paper, as it has always worked for me. Kind of funny, because while I was in Nashville, yoga studio and Whole Foods hopping, the week before Mother’s Day 2010 (Mother’s Day always sticks out like a sore thumb for me), I was already pregnant and didn’t yet know it. Like not kind of pregnant. Like three baby pregnant.
So the image, the dream, the prayer — went something like this:
I am sweaty and exhausted from labor. He is right next to me. The baby comes out all pink and screaming and warm. The baby is on my chest. Then the baby is held in the air, just like the lion king. And we are all so happy. He is crying. So am I. So is the baby. So warm. So good. The circle of life.
And then my image ended. I love. love.love my innocence. I really think I thought the circle of life was this bomb of emotion and everything from there on out would sort of fall under this extraordinary feeling and range of human emotion that surpassed all things wonderful. It must just be the holy grail of adult life. And if I can J.U.S.T. get there…all will be right.
So, now, every time my kids dance in a literal circle, holding hands, swaying around gently because moving in a circle and dancing is still relatively new to their three-year old legs, while our Disney CD belts Elton singing the “Circle of Life” , I tear up. Really, this is it. The circle is drawn and I’m in the middle of it. I’m dancing on the line. I’m falling off its rounded corners. I’m on the outside looking in. I drew it. I had nothing at all to do with the design. I was right. And I was all wrong.
In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life
Leap of faith. Band of hope. No truer words for this parenting planet.
You could guess on December 16, 2010 – the real life looked nothing like my forecasted image.
It looked bigger and better and scarier and just harder to catch that breath than I thought it would be . Different, but sweet and salty and full of what life is made of. Like the country song, “the good stuff.”
Hours after giving birth to the triplets, I was dazed. I really was. So happy and on the starting line waiting for the gun to go off so I could mother my life away. Poor girl, just look at me. I’m in no shape to run the race, but I did anyway. PS, I’ve never shared these pictures publically because of how SCARY I look. But maybe it’s time you saw the truth. I wasn’t one of those girls that you would say, “You looked beautiful after you delivered.” I just wasn’t.
What is really interesting is that my second delivery, fourth child, resembled my original dream with scary vivid outcome. The sweaty hair, the daddy right there crying, the pink and warm baby on my chest. I even had a vision board that showed a girl doing yoga while pregnant that said “May 2010 Baby”…only to laugh later that I didn’t get pregnant that September in Italy like I had planned in a tight ball of control, I did no yoga because I was on bed rest with triplets and the babIES came in December not May. Could we kind of laugh that the 2nd time around I did yoga each and every week, up until the point that I pushed her out, really, and she came in May…a couple years off?
God just knows way more than we do. I think it’s interesting that we sometimes think we are setting our own destiny, when in fact, there is a still small spirit that lives inside of us that whispers our heart’s desires. But here is what I learned, not one or the other tasted sweeter in the grand scheme of things. Both were real and rich and they are part of who I am now, forever and ever amen. In the wake of all the storms, I am so grateful and in awe of the storyline crafted just for me. For them. For all of us.
What is also part of me is the real life fact that I suffer from post permanent transformation. I really despise the word post partum depression. Depression claims lives in many ways, I know this to be true. So does anxiety. But what happens to you after you grow a life, offer every one of your hormones over and then in one flash give that all back to the world while handing over sleep, balanced nutrition and exercise, good dental health, adult social interaction, your once round unsucked boobs, once flat stomach and hips that I swear sat 2 inches higher along with chunks of the hair framing your face, and in some extreme cases, a car that doesn’t have sliding doors. Come on, this type of experience should NOT have a blanket medical diagnosis or type of general term.
Post partum depression, anxiety, guilt, exhaustion, mood swings, brain fog. Check, check, check… It is not that page tucked into your discharge folder that tells Daddy to “make sure it’s not just the blues.” It’s a feeling. A state of being. It’s a physical manifestation. It is a push and pull to be stubborn and pull through. It’s blaming yourself for not feeling like yourself. It’s wanting to say yes to dinner plans but not being able to. It’s wanting to remember things but living in a thick cloud of brain fog. The confusion of what you used to be and enjoy and what you look like now and take small pleasures in. It can also be allowing yourself to milk that emotional state for the good – to steal moments of tears while you stare at those little amazing lives dancing to their own rhythm. And maybe letting those tears flow to a stranger or a friend or that little baby, so they know real life. And it sucks and it’s OK. It is where I am. Its wherever you land, and I’m telling you, the more I ride the wave and let it be, and stop trying to dissect and analyze, the quicker the shore seems to show itself.
Have you seen Good Will Hunting? The movie? Where Robin Williams was the therapist and Matt Damon was his patient. Matt Damon was stubborn and didn’t think he needed therapy, but he was court mandated to see him due to anger, so there he sat, being counseled. Remember when the therapist corners the patient one therapy session by repeating over and over again, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault” in an effort to tell Matt Damon that, “Yes you are a screwed up tornado of DNA and scars and emotion – but some of that…it isn’t your fault!!???”
Well, as I sat in that doctor’s office, almost eight months post partum, I had my Good Will Hunting moment. It took me getting sick to realize that how I feel isn’t my fault. Hormones, thyroid, levels of random things in my blood like cortisol and vitamin D — all not normal. She actually said you are tougher than you know because all of this makes it harder for you to deal than the next person. You are fighting and you just don’t have the fight.
Wow. She just gave me permission to not blame myself. And wow, it isn’t my fault.
I just believe that the way we often feel after this whole wanting a baby, picturing your perfect everything, having that first trimester of ups of “how exciting I can buy pregnancy magazines and eat extra calories” and the downs of “holy shit what did I just get myself into and I’m so sick that I don’t even care if I eat McDonalds for breakfast lunch or dinner and can I please just take a nap”?? To the second trimester of kicks and incredible belly growing to the third trimester of nesting and dreaming and fretting. Then to the moment it happens, where it is so big that you just can’t be present enough to soak it all in, to the special and magical hospital stay where it’s all quiet and slow and all about you and baby. To the homecoming where you think the outfit matters but all that really matters is how safe the trip home is and how “am I really taking this small new life home to be under my care” ? And then the first weeks of figuring it all out, the adrenaline, the power surge to do it all, the crash, that first cry in the shower where you really hope Daddy and Grandma have it under control because you are planning your exit strategy. To that first trip to Target with the new baby, that first trip to Target without baby, the full boobs, the bleeding! (yep, I’ll say it), the puddles of night sweats, the mixed emotion of rubbing your empty belly in the shower 2 days after the baby is born, the joys and the fears… the real life of getting to know the eyes, the nose and the smell of someone new…
The way you feel, good or bad or indifferent. It’s just OK. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.
We mamas like to blame ourselves…but I wanted a baby. I just always feel tired. I keep walking over the same toy and I can’t pick it up. I exploded at a three-year old. I thought I was off the clock at 3 am, why am I so selfish? Why can that mom attend play dates so effortlessly? Why can’t I say yes more? Why does my brain fog allow me to think I’m cooking eggs when the gas skillet has never been turned on? Why can Daddy have so much energy to chase and tumble? Why me? Why am I just always a bit under the bar?
All of it. It’s so big. It’s a rebirth. You really are an awkward baby learning the way. And no one is there to change your diaper when you shit your pants out of fear.
Realizing it’s not all a dream or a vision. It’s real. And here you sit. Having done all of that. Having all these expectations of you. And it’s time to take a breath.
For me, both pregnancies ended in what felt like a half breath. I couldn’t quite catch it both times. Maybe like I just kept breathing in but just forget or am not capable of getting it all out. I dont’ want to miss this short all-inclusive first year of sweet honey bee Josie, my fourth precious gift in this life. Nor do I want to forget the magic of a little life just because they are three and seem so grown up — those toes and fingers are the same toes and fingers that kicked my inner belly and twinkled in the sun when they were days old. Sometimes my body and mind aren’t in the game, so I try to pull from behind that distraction of an ego.
So sometimes I stare at things like her little fuzzy sleeper covered feet, the wide open cracks between her toes, smell her neck behind her hair extra long. Sing to her and really watch her eyes. Let her nurse herself to sleep every night, listening to Jewel sing lullabies to us both…lingering in the presence of angels and a drowsy, dependent baby. Stop what I’m doing and let all three get a little too close, act a little too dangerous with her, because she is just as much their’s as she is mine. I cuddle her in. I call her baby, knowing you just don’t freaking get babies very long – something I didn’t grasp my first rodeo round. I hold her up and out and dance her. I hold her longer. touch my nose to her nose. I let him, the boy, turn Captain Fantastic on my phone and dance his lawnmower and close his eyes and sway to the music, and I watch him like a piece of art. I sit really still when Gracie girl looks at me with wide and wise eyes while she brushes the hair back from my face over and over again, like she is the mommy and I am the baby. I silence the voice to get one more thing done when all Harper wants is to follow me, be with me and just be a kid. Oh God, I may implode and bust at the seams and act like a mutant mommy sometimes, but thank you for your grace — they are perfect in your sight.
Through pleading to the still spirit inside, while physically telling the ball in my stomach to release, I can do this. Days look like this – we wake up and I am ready to hammer out the day. Then the day happens. So my prayer looks like this often – “Please God. God. Please.” My physical and mental state don’t match my gratitude or desires. The plan is to look back to this blurry time of my life and know I was there. I was a crazy mess, but I was still in those moments and I drank them in, even in the dark. My friend who has also had some bananas medical issues after babies has often said when she has a bad day she just can’t see her kids. When it’s a good day it’s like looking at them through different glasses. I try to put my reading glasses on so I can see the book, even if I can’t make out the letters.
Somedays I don’t think I can survive. I just want to curl up in a ball and close my eyes until everything fades away. But behind and in front and around the corner, there is a story. So, in my 5 minutes here and my 3 minutes there, I will attempt to share the journey. I have some healing to do, lucky you, I’m going to open up and share it here. It’s scary telling the truth…I have never really been nervous to hit the “publish” button, and this morning I am. But you know, sometimes I listen when God whispers. The whisper to share is getting annoying… So here it goes.
And the story unfolds…I am starting to exhale.