2019 Reflections

2019 will always be the year of ultimate change, as it was the year I became a mother. Over the last 12 months, I’ve experienced some of the most beautiful moments ever, as well as some of the darkest. There was a lot of change, beyond motherhood, along with anxiety, downright depression, and then a happiness that seemed almost too good to be true. 

2018 was the year of hope, and it ended with news of my pregnancy after years of infertility treatments. I was full of hope, love, and gratitude, but I was also scared. When 2019 rolled around, I still had hope but the fear started to make itself more known. When my water broke, although I was calmer than I would have ever thought imaginable to the outside world, inside I was freaking out. I was terrified of what I didn’t know. If we were ready or not (we weren’t, and you can never be apparently), if we would know what to do (we figured it out), and in that pressing moment, the biggest fear of all was the pain. Would I be able to handle it? More importantly, would my baby, due in four weeks, be ready for the world? And why oh why was she four weeks early?

I survived the birth of my daughter, and the traumatic experience that followed, which only strengthened our resolve to get out of Maryland. The city we lived in was and will probably always be toxic, the place I worked, toxic. I remember going into my office for the last time, no one but me knew it yet, but I went in about a month postpartum and cleaned it out. I left feeling elated. I was thrilled to never have to set foot in that building again. In order to fix the problems in my world, we had to uproot our life and start anew. Something I would not advise after just having a baby, yet was so necessary for us. 

Six months later and we’re settled in our new home/new city/new state, and on some days it still feels like I’m simply trying to survive, but it’s different. Motherhood is still hard, and one of the hardest lessons I learned this year was also a blessing. Sometimes people closest to you will hurt you the way no one else can, be it supposed friends or family. This is just life. You can’t get hung up over it, though it would be hypocritical for me not to admit I did get hung up on it. I didn’t speak to two people who’ve been my world my entire life for a very long time. The relationship is beyond repair at this point because of the result of their actions.

Still, it could be worse. It was a good lesson to learn, however painful. On the other end of the spectrum, I was showered with so much love by people in my life, and some I worked with, it blew my mind. No one in the building I left behind, of course. But across the country (and world), people ordered gifts, sent me love, and well wishes towards the end of my pregnancy until around 2 months postpartum.

While I was solo parenting with my two month old, a small group of friends, whom I should really refer to as family, would drop by, bring me lunch, hold the baby, change diapers, and keep me company for a short time. When one friend came over, I had no idea how badly I needed a break until she whisked my daughter away to change her diaper. When she left, I sat alone on the couch, holding my daughter, and cried.

We had one couple, who had their baby the same day as us, drop by multiple times, and even took me to dinner near my condo. For these seemingly small gestures of kindness, I was simply overwhelmed with gratitude. I was too emotional, too exhausted, and still recovering from the labor to properly express it, but I am eternally grateful to all the individuals who contributed in some way. Motherhood takes a village, I’ve heard this my entire life, but sadly it didn’t make sense until I was in the trenches myself.

Even though people who should have been in my corner from the beginning of this pregnancy weren’t, or some simply changed their minds following my birth for reasons unknown to me, I am infinitely grateful for the friendship that my friends, some family, coworkers, and bosses showed. It may sound cheesy, but they taught me that despite all the darkness in my life during those early days of motherhood, there are still people who can surprise you, even when everyone else is nothing more than a disappointment. For this, my cup overfloweth with love and gratitude.

Adventure & Motherhood

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels.com

Adventure is something I crave. My husband and I love exploring this grand planet God created. We are risk takers. Adventure looks different though, now that I’m a mother.

When we hiked pre-motherhood, my biggest worry was whether or not I took any decent photos to document said adventure. Now? Now, I don’t have enough hours in the day to list all the concerns and worry that cloud my mind more often than not.

One advantage of hiking is being forced to be present. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty surrounding you, if you’re constantly focusing on unrealistic “what if’s.” Nevertheless, I’ve accepted that some of this worry is inevitable and part of the parenthood package.

A few weeks ago, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. I was so stoked, as I’d been looking forward to that day for months. I was Googling “how soon can I hike?,” while still pregnant what seemed like only weeks ago.

I checked the diaper bag several times before we left, even though I packed it the night before. My daughter had enough diapers and clothing for several blowouts. Clearly, I was ready. When we reached the trailhead, I was unprepared for how cold it felt versus what my Google’s weather report had told me. How could it be so icy? Where was the trail? Where are my gloves? How could I forget such a basic item?

Cold air aside, not long after beginning I was completely taken over with the fear of falling. My husband was wearing the baby carrier, so I only had myself to worry about but even so, I was terrified. What if I fell and brought down all of us? What if someone ran into us and pushed us over the mountain? These weren’t rational fears.

But, when is fear rational?

We pressed on, and I tried desperately to push these scenarios to the farthest corner of my mind. After all, we didn’t drive 3 hours, stop twice to feed my wailing baby, and then wait for an hour on the side of the road for the road to the trailhead to be re-opened, just for me to be paralyzed in fear the entire hike.

So, I made it a point to look around me. When I did this, I was astonished by the beauty that surrounded the four of us. Were the leaves this rust amber every fall? Did the lake always form a reflective solid barrier when the weather dipped below freezing? Is that the entire mountain staring back at me in the lake? There was so much beauty, far more beauty than fear, so I pressed on. Instead, I thought about how I’d tell my daughter about this day, when she is older. Tell her how her mom braved sheets of ice, just to prove that we don’t have to live in a bubble of fear. We have you, and that is an adventure I’m intent on embracing.