Monday, January 10, 2011

The Weight of It

As the days speed by me at the beginning of this new year, I find myself gasping for air, to find a moment of peace to reflect on the year that was....that I am leaving behind.

2010 was a Big year. It began with me joyfully entering my third trimester. For the first time in my life I was enjoying a healthy pregnancy and I was relishing every minute of it. The year also started with us taking on the project of turning our small one-car garage into a third bedroom, to expand our minuscule house in order to make more room for our growing family. All seemed well, like things couldn't be better. But it was soon clear that with all this expansion and joy, there would be some pain and sacrifice. It became obvious that I would have to make the very tough decision to close my business. A business that I had tended to and watched grow over some 13 or so years. But, due to the faltering economy, and the financial needs of an expanding family, the (mathematical) writing was on the wall. I would have to let it go. I could not afford (financially and energetically) support a business that was not supporting me. And so I grieved--really grieved-- the loss of my first "baby" and started transitioning my life and mind toward being a full-time mom. Of course, I did this with gratitude, too. Of course having this baby, and these two children, was what I always wanted, more than anything else in the world, and I was aware of that. But, still it was painful to say goodbye. Then, my darling Grace was born--a little earlier than expected. The C-section was not how I envisioned bringing my child into this world, and that too was a sadness, but again, I was aware of the big picture: A healthy baby, which was the most important thing of all! And, to my great surprise and immense joy, she was a SHE...the daughter I had long dreamed of. The next several weeks were more difficult than I could have imagined. Mister did not get a lot of time off of work, and I was overwhelmed with taking care of a newborn, and a three year old who was not reacting well to being an older brother. He reacted with anger, frustration and even violence (toward me) and I cried and cried, worrying that he would never come to love his little sister. Add to this the fact that in the early days Grace was not putting on weight, and we fretted. Breastfeeding didn't go well, and I hated my body once again for not doing what it was supposed to do. Add to this some postpartum depression, and the promise of help from my mother-in-law that did not materialize, and there were moments where I just didn't know if I could do it.

Somehow, like millions of women do every day, I did it.

Then as the spring turned into summer, we moved forward as a family, and I juggled the responsibility of being a full time mommy to two kids, while fulfilling the last of my work obligations and managed to produce about a dozen more weddings from May through October. It was clear, that I was making the right choice. It was no easy task. And what made it even more clear that I needed to be at home, was the realization and confirmation by professionals, that my son has ADHD. The diagnosis was at once a relief (ok I'm not crazy!) and a stress (holy crap, what do we do?) This is a question that we are still trying to answer, and as we move into 2011, will be at the top of my priority list. Many of my new year's goals (I don't make resolutions) will have to do with getting Handsome Man the help that he needs, and the help that we need as a family to cope with this the best way we can.

On the day that I completed the last wedding for my business, in October, my beautiful Grace turned 6 months old. And started crawling. I thanked God that I would be around this time to see every new accomplishment my baby would make--unlike with Handsome Man's first year, when I worked SO much.

Summer turned to Fall (my favorite time of year) and I enjoyed my newfound 'freedom' from work--I cooked, made home made baby foods, we carved pumpkins, I volunteered at preschool, and we looked forward to the coming Holiday season.

Then, the day before Thanksgiving, we discovered at once that I was pregnant, and that it was not to be. An emergency surgery, my second abdominal surgery in a year, and a cancelled Thanksgiving. I am still sad but at the same time grateful every time I look in the backseat as I drive down the road and see my two beautiful children sleeping in their carseats, or playing together on the living room floor. Every time I hear Grace giggle and every time Handsome Man runs up to me for an unsolicited hug.

We rang in the New Year on a happy note, celebrated with friends who also have a new baby. We made a trip to the snow and then cooked a beautiful meal together. I started out this year a totally new person. A much stronger person for the difficulties I've overcome. A happier person who is no longer carrying around the shroud of sadness about being infertile. I am not dragging around my envy and longing. I have everything I want, even if there is much that I would like to accomplish still, and like to have. Whatever happens, or doesn't happen, I know we'll be okay, that I'll be okay because I've made it this far. There are lots of struggles ahead. Ones that I'm aware of, and ones I haven't realized yet. I would like to say "I'm ready! Bring it on!" But the truth is, I don't know if I'm ready or not. I know I have limitations, but I also know that it will be fine because I'm starting 2011 liking myself a whole lot more than I used to. I am more aware than ever of my many shortcomings, but I'm more secure in my strengths. I am learning about myself.

Looking back on the year behind me, I acknowledge the losses, and accept them, because I have gained so much. When I weigh the sadnesses and the struggles against the joy and the gifts I've received, the scales are tipped well toward one direction. My cup runneth over.

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