Archive for 2013

Surrendering…

December 10th, 2013 | Josie

“Pregnancy is a process that invites you to surrender to the unseen force behind all life.”  ~Judy Ford

109 days. In just a little over 3 months, we get to meet our amazing little boy, this tiny human being that we fought so hard to make, so hard to keep safe, and I can still hardly believe it. Even as he stomps and rolls his way through my belly, making waves and wonder all the while, I still feel dumbstruck by the hugeness of it. We are going to be parents; the unexpected and oh-so-needed happiness I’ve found with Charlie, a happiness I didn’t even know I was looking for until it found me… in a short 109 days that happiness is going to take the shape of a baby boy, we’re going to give that happiness a name. It completely overwhelms me and fills me with such awe, I feel like I might break from joy.

2013 has been a rough year, one that has shaped our marriage, has shaped me, and one that has taught us so much. Just before we rang in the New Year, in the fading days of 2012, we found out we were pregnant. We hadn’t anticipated it happening so fast; in fact, with my health history, we were fully prepared for it to take a good long while, and had settled in to enjoy the process. When that little plus sign appeared, 2013 exploded into view with infinite possibilities. So much was going on all at once (new house, new studio, new baby!), and January flew by in a flash. Then we went for our first ultrasound, and as quickly and as unexpectedly as our miracle came into being, it was gone. The happiest 4 weeks we’d ever known came crashing to an abrupt and life-shattering halt: there was no heartbeat.

Even now, 10 months later, I still don’t have the words to explain our sadness. Our world, our faith in everything, had been rocked like it never had been before. Even when I nearly lost my life to a blood clot in 2010, I’d never felt so shattered. In some ways we were lucky; we got a diagnosis, a reason for our tragedy, which so many people never get. Our baby, tests revealed, suffered from triploidy, a genetic anomaly that caused her (yes, testing also showed that. It’s amazing what science can do, how much we can know and how little we can know at the same time) to have 69 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. It is “incompatible with life,” but even knowing that she couldn’t have survived didn’t dull the ache, the emptiness I felt. The doctors kept telling us that it was an accident of nature, that it was nothing we did or didn’t do, but I remember thinking that it was my fault. Not so much my fault as my body’s fault; for the second time in 3 years, my body had failed, had thrown me a curve ball, and I felt so betrayed.

The months that followed were some of the toughest on our marriage. I was lost, drifting in a sadness I couldn’t shake; I had completely lost hope. Charlie was a rock, weathering the blows as I railed against him and the universe as a whole, but even a rock will start to crumble under a constant onslaught. I was broken, and I didn’t know how to fix myself this time, and couldn’t let Charlie fix me. Still, we struggled through the storm and came out the other side whole as my heart began to mend. I still felt an emptiness inside that I knew would not be filled, but I was slowly able to feel something other than sadness or anger. Mostly though, I felt an overwhelming need to fill the hole in my heart, a need to have another baby to hope for and dream of. So we tried in earnest.

Trying to have a baby, really trying, with all the clinical timing and total loss of romance, is not a picnic. There is no “enjoying the ride” when you are all-consumed, when lovemaking becomes only about babymaking. Those months weren’t any easier on us, and looking back on them now I cringe a little, remembering what I put us through with my need. Every month I wasn’t pregnant I felt like  a failure, and my newly mending heart would break all over again. The monthly heartbreak only hardened my resolve though, and we were on to another month of endless testing and timing. Everyone kept saying to me, with all the best intentions, that it would happen when we relaxed. But I didn’t know how to relax, couldn’t un-know what I’d learned about my body, about conception. Every month I would try to let nature take it’s course, and every month I was equally obsessed. I heard all the stories of people who would take a break from trying only to fall pregnant, the anecdotes that it was the stress of trying itself that was keeping our miracle from happening, but I couldn’t de-stress my thoughts or my life. I was a ball of determination and stress, and it wasn’t going to go away until I had that positive test in my hands.

In the end, I never did end up slowing down. For us it wasn’t a matter of sitting back and letting nature take it’s course. Stress consumed me right up to the day I got that magic little second line. I was able to calm down for about 5 minutes, then the panic kicked in: what if it happened again? I was so nervous, so scared, that I missed out on a lot of the excitement I’d felt the first time around, when I’d been too naive to expect the worse. I was a nervous wreck, even as the tell-tale morning sickness kicked in, a supposed sign that things were going well. Seeing that little flickering heartbeat on the screen at 7 weeks eased my mind a lot, I was so happy. But still I knew that we weren’t out of the woods yet, and I worried.

Fast forward 4.5 months, and while I still find myself worrying probably more than is healthy, I made a conscious decision months ago to love this little baby with all my heart and to try not to worry about things that may never come to pass. Instead of filling up his world with fear and doubt, I’ve been making every effort to let him know that he is loved every second of the day. Admittedly, it is easier not to let my mind wander into the land of worry as often now that I can feel him move so much, that I get that regular reassurance that he is there, that he’s ok and alive. Still, it sometimes happens, and I find myself doubting, fearing for the worst. At these times, I have to surrender my fears, my doubts, myself even, and trust that everything will be fine, that in a few short months we’ll be holding this miracle child in our arms. It’s not easy, but every day it gets easier to trust in my body and myself and know that I can do this, that we can do this. To trust that in about 109 days, happiness will be named Max!

Worrying the worrier…

September 9th, 2013 | Josie

“Nerves provide me with energy.  They work for me.  It’s when I don’t have them, when I feel at ease, that I get worried.”  ~Mike Nichols

There is something wrong with me, I think, something totally, completely off with the way I think. I spend too much of my life worrying, planning and perseverating on the nuances of my worry. It’s become an actual lifestyle for me, this life of worry and doubt. I never think anything is good enough (especially not me), and I devote my energy and time trying to change the not-good-enough into enough. I think I realized a long time ago that this is probably an impossible task, and I think that very impossibility is what makes me continue to do it. This worry is a never-ending project, something to keep me busy even in my sleep.

The past few years have been marked by legitimate and illegitimate worries and doubts alike, but through all the uncertainty, I’ve also found the kind of happiness I never thought I would. That happiness comes most definitely in spite of my worries rather than because of them, so while I still find myself (often) slipping back into my old ways and tallying up my worries on some sort of perverse score card, I’m trying harder than ever to let the worries roll off, and to just take these amazing days ahead as they come… even though I’m worried I won’t be able to quell the worry!

 

Tick-tock goes the clock…

April 26th, 2013 | Josie

“Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror.  It’s passing, yet I’m the one who’s doing all the moving.”  ~Martin Amis

 

I remember how slowly the clock used to tick, the minutes moving at a snails pace. From the time I was small, I was always looking to the next thing, the greater adventure just waiting for me to hurry up and embark, and I would impatiently watch the time trickle by in anticipation. Time was infinitely slow, an endless commodity, and there was always plenty of it to go around. Even at times that things seemed to speed up, times when I wanted to world to slow down to give me a few more precious seconds in a particular moment, I never felt like I was losing myself in its passing. I felt as if I had to find ways to fill the time with as much potential as I could cram in, until my life was bursting at the seams. Give me six months and I could visit four countries, make a fool of myself countless times, make ten new friends, and fall in love at least twice. I could fit more life into two years than some might expect to experience in fifty, and I definitely felt the emotional strain for compressing a lifetime into a moment. But I kept on going, because there was so much more to do and see and be.

 

My life has calmed down considerably in the past few years. I no longer feel the urge to burn the candle at both ends, to stuff experiences into my repertoire like a child hoarding candy. Now that I’m content to let life run its course, to stop forcing the issues at hand and just try to enjoy what time has in store,  now that I’m comfortable with its plodding passage, time seems to pass by faster than I can blink, and before I can think to enjoy a moment, it’s gone. I turn my head and a month has passed, or five, and I can’t remember what I did with that time or how it flew by so fast. I feel as if all the big things in life  are coming at me all at once. A new home, an exciting step.  A miracle made and lost. Sisters grown and growing every day. A new endeavor, with increasing responsibilities and opportunities. Another birthday come and gone. These things all whiz by with a whir and a flash, and I’m left confused as I try to keep up with a life that won’t slow down to meet me at my own pace. The girl who once begged the clock to tick faster, for more to fill the days and weeks, she is now scrambling for purchase in a life that is overflowing with possibilities and coming at the speed of light.