The Bicycle and Moving Forward

I witnessed a middle-aged man fall of his bike today on the sidewalk of a busy main street. Luckily he wasn’t hurt physically but maybe had a few bruises to his knees and to his ego.  I had empathized with him. It was likely very embarrassing. I could see his red face from 20 feet away, and he shook his head as if to be saying to himself “I can’t believe I just did that.” But he got back on the bike and rode away, and I drove off thinking of God’s signs and the universe speaking to me in ways that I didn’t expect. He fell off his literal bike in ways that I have fallen off the proverbial bicycle of life in the last few days. Many of you who are close to me know that my life has been a whirlwind the last few years. Some days I feel so strong…so fierce…unstoppable. But other days I feel like a little girl crying inconsolably for her dad. A good friend (and a good therapist) tell me it’s ok to feel both ways. It’s ok to have good days. It’s ok to have bad days. It’s ok to have everything in between. Humanity is a funny thing. If these trials have taught me anything- it’s that despite what you’re dealing with in any given moment, there will always be someone fighting their own kind of battle. While their bikes look different in size, shape, speed, and type, they are still riding too…likely experiencing bumps (and falls) along the way as well. The battles are relative, and some handle battles with ease and grace one day, and the next day if may knock them on their ass. When I fall and feel as if I am spiraling out of control and cannot get my grip, I reach for my dad….my sister…my best friends and confidants….my therapist…my comfortable bed…a relatable Facebook post…and God’s signs.

The man riding the bike reminds me of something so simple and basic that my dad reminds me of: “Keep Moving Forward.” When I am feeling bad about myself, he gently (but also firmly) brings me back to present day….as a grounding force…as a stable rock. He pulls me up off the pavement and insists that I get back on the bike and start pedaling again. I have this small decorative sign on my desk at work with an adorable old fashioned bike with a basket and colorful flowers that says “Keep Moving.” Sometimes the gears are hard, and I am pushing myself to keep going faster. But sometimes after I fall off, I have to slowly stroll, legs more relaxed, allowing the wind to push me forward as I pause and take rest and be still in all that’s going on around me.

Life is the bicycle. I have to shift gears and slow down sometimes. Perhaps it’s quite alright to shift gears when the resistance is too difficult. If I listen to my dad (for once), I won’t be trying to back pedal anymore. It’s really not worthwhile, and he certainly will remind me of this. To the man who fell off your bike today in front of many people driving by, I see you, Dude. I see how embarrassing that was and how it hurt a little bit. But I commend you for getting back on and shrugging that shit off. That wasn’t easy. And you keep moving forward.

Unexpected Teachers and Bucket Lists

The dying teach us so much about living. What used to keep them up at night now pales in comparison to their newfound appreciation of what truly matters in the grand scheme of things. They realize their earthly time is a precious gift. If you know how limited your time was, how would you spend your time? What would you use your physical, emotional, and spiritual energy on?

They likely won’t regret eating the cake or co-sleeping with their babies. They won’t long for more time in the office. They won’t regret spending money on the last minute trip. They will savor the moments with people they love instead of compare the value of their homes or cars.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing the contents of peoples’ bucket lists…whether it was a trip to Dollywood…or riding one more roller coaster ride on the last day of the season…or going to their preferred restaurant for one more favorite meal with their family… I am continuously amazed by the power of the human spirit…

It’s an honor to sit with them in such vulnerable moments sharing life review…about how much they loved. Or on the contrary, how much they hurt. Is there someone they needed to reconcile with? Do they need to say, “I’m sorry…” or “I love you…” or “I forgive you?”

If anything has given me perspective on my own life, it’s my work with those at the end of their journeys. I will never take that perspective for granted. And if I start to, I will refer to notes I’ve taken along the way as memos to serve as reminders.

One dear lady I cared for had a voicemail greeting that said, “Stay strong, and keep shining.” Amidst fighting a debilitating and painful disease, that was her message to all who called her. It amazed me really. It showed me that despite the unfair shit life handed her, she still made a deliberate choice to carry that attitude with her until the end. I won’t forget her offering me food and beverages on my visits to her…intended to make her comfortable, not intended to meet my wants/needs. She was selfless, and in the week and a half I was able to care for her, she made a lasting impression. In my line of work, this happens fast. The time is short, but their impact is everlasting.

Caring for people that are close in age stops me in my tracks and really forces me to pause and reflect. This may be one of the strongest doses of perspective thrown at me.  To see someone with a similar upbringing, background, and shared life experiences (being a mother….sister….wife…) be dealt a completely different unfortunate hand makes me appreciate so much more the things I often take for granted. Why NOT me? The feelings are mixed—of both gratitude and thankfulness, but also guilt and sadness. 

In the month where we try to reflect on all the things for which we are grateful, I will say thank you to my teachers. They unintentionally and so beautifully have given me an astute awareness of what it means to have this time on earth. I will eat the cake. I will snuggle my babies. I will take that trip. And I won’t envy thy neighbors.

The Storms of Irreconcilable Differences: Navigating New Waters and Internal Depths

Today would have been our 11th wedding anniversary. The Facebook Memory feature reminds me of this. The photos bring me back to that day, and I can clearly remember so much of it. The colors. The vows. The speeches. The atypically warm autumn day. The songs. The cake. The dress. The ring. He seemed like home to me. He was comfortable and familiar. I didn’t have to search anymore. The nostalgia stings.

I’m confident nobody enters a legal commitment to another person with the intent of it being a ten-year gig or a temporary arrangement. Marriage is supposed to be a forever and ever thing.

I’ve been meaning to put my thoughts and feelings into words for some time, but every time I sit down to collect them, nothing seems right. I cannot adequately explain, but because I need an outlet, I try.

I’ve realized that divorce is much like a death. The grief comes in waves. One day, I’m good. I’m riding the wave.  I’m productive and content and OK with my life. The next day I’m ridden with regret, sadness, remorse, and the thoughts of “what if?” The wave is crashing down.

The legal jargon in the divorce decree makes me pause with its poignancy…“dissolution of marriage” and “irreconcilable differences.” The finality of the union that was meant to be forever is painful yet offers glimpses of hope at the same time. Can we be happier apart? Can we take our common ground- our three children- and make something different, healthy, and wonderful, even if marriage vows no longer unite us? Can our children witness us individually thriving in other relationships and learn what love is and model healthy relationships? One can only hope. I know I hold onto that hope.

Last year we did a 10 year photo shoot with our children and a new puppy in the beautiful fall colors- my favorite. I bought these expensive balloons for the occasion…a number 1 and a number 0. The 1 slipped out of his hands into the sky before the image could be captured. I’m not a superstitious person normally, but that made me wonder if it was foreshadowing our year to come.

Relationships are so complex. Marriage can be incredibly hard. People are imperfect and hurt one another. You hang on and try. Damn, you try. Until you can’t try anymore. You put the highlight reels up because when things are feeling good and comfortable and happy, you want to capture that moment. You want to share your happiness with others. But you don’t share the shitty parts. The arguments. The “irreconcilable differences.”

I do have regrets. But in this bittersweet end to one chapter of my life, one thing holds true—that union brought us three beautiful children who will continue to part of both of our chapters, even if it looks untraditional and different now. Navigating this new normal isn’t easy. Co-parenting in separate households is challenging.  But we all are working to adapt the best we know how.

In 2013, I wrote about my miscarriage even though it was taboo. I suppose I’m doing the same thing here. I’ve noticed very few really talk openly about divorce. I understand it’s a very private and personal matter. Many would come to reasonable assumptions based on the name change, lack of couple photos, etc, but I value transparency and openness. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and this season of my life is no different. Women came out of the wood work to share their experiences of loss me during that time, and I found such comfort in being able to relate to people. It made me feel less alone.

Along this journey, I hold tightly to words of wisdom and inspiration from anywhere—friends, colleagues, family, quotes shared on social media. It gives me some peace and solace during uncertain and unstable times…

“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden, and soon. Sometimes the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometimes it was maddening to have and then to lose. You learn soon enough that it hardly ever goes as planned—gentle, easy, and smooth. But that, my friend, is what makes you fascinating.  You have something to tell. Something you’ve walked through. Something wild. Something courageous. Something true. You’re made of stories within stories within even more stories. Those quiet depths of you.” –Victoria Erickson

Daring to Serve Real Cheese

I am one of those women that sees some kind of meme, saying, quote, etc. on social media and saves it as it’s oh-so-true and relatable to my life. My phone gallery is plump full of them.  I re-posted one a few months ago that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Whitney Fleming on Playdates on Fridays wrote, “I want to be with moms who tell their stories from the trenches, the ones who talk about their struggles in their marriages or their fears for their kids. I love the women who openly share their miracle skin cream and admit their counters are only clean because they shove their stuff in a drawer. I need to be with people who don’t cringe when I say I’m fed up with my family and don’t judge when I fail. I want friendships that fill me up, because no one is ever satisfied after eating fake cheese.”

This really resonates with me. When I dig deep and am completely honest and vulnerable, I admit my presence on social media is equivalent to serving fake cheese sometimes. When reflecting on that, I know I truly didn’t intentionally get into the habit of only showing a highlight reel on the big broad web, but it just happened. I show pictures of my children laughing joyfully, but that might be after they just finished an epic meltdown because I wouldn’t give them another bag of fruit snacks.  I may show myself relaxing with a beer on the deck, but the truth is, it lasted 4.5 minutes, and I couldn’t truly enjoy it because I was too fixated on my phone and checking how many likes or loves I received on previous posts. I show pictures of my adventure traveling with three little kids to a fun destination, but the truth is, I really wanted a vacation from my vacation after the exhaustion of managing three little humans’ every need for 6 consecutive days without a break and also hating the sweltering heat making me incredibly irritable. I may show a picture of my daughter hugging a bush of beautiful hydrangeas, but the truth is, she is struggling with anxiety and panic and trying to learn how to handle big emotions and fears (and that exhausts me as a mom who really just wants her to feel better). I may show a picture of me and my husband on a date night enjoying a new restaurant, but the truth is, there is a lot of brokenness and strife, and we are trying hard to save our marriage. I may show a happy selfie, but the truth is I have been longing for a professional change in the last couple of years, and I recently  took a risk and leap of faith and changed jobs after over 9+ years, and that has also been scary and anxiety provoking.

The truth is the past 9 months have been anything but easy. I’ve had to dig deep to find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the path ahead seems much too daunting. There’s been a lot of heart ache, tears and frustration. The winter was harsh and long, both figuratively and literally. The summer was hot and exhausting.  Maybe it’s the start of a new school year and the temperature changing to my most comfortable 70 degrees or saying yes to new adventures, or committing to frequent and consistent marital therapy that has allowed me that boost, but I’m starting to feel more at peace. I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown (and I can tell you how much I love her?), and with all her research on shame and vulnerability, it served as the catalyst to me finally sitting down and putting these thoughts into words. I never mean to serve fake cheese on social media, but I think the fear of being vulnerable and “real” has held me back from being my most authentic self. I am so far from perfect, but I know in my heart of hearts, that is OK. And you are all OK with that because you yourself are imperfect in such beautiful ways. My new idol and friend (Brene…who doesn’t know we are friends) also writes about putting ourselves out there “in the arena,” and showing the world ourselves- the good, bad, and ugly. She is a PhD educated social worker, researcher and story teller who has done TED talks, written books, and has a Netflix special. And in each of her works, she comes back to her most favorite Teddy Roosevelt quote, “It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”

Daring greatly for me personally can entail a lot of different things as of late, but it could also mean simply putting out this blog entry, a creative piece of work, a little glimpse into my heart and soul, allowing you to be the critic and judge…or inspire your own personal “aha moment” or epiphany….or make you think  “oversharer!” or “drama!” or whatever it may be….but also knowing I’m standing up in the arena with my face marred with dust, sweat, and blood….and being my most authentic self, serving real good cheese, not that fake Velveeta processed stuff (unless it’s in a grilled cheese, then it’s ooey-gooey and comforting in a yummy way). And if you don’t like cheese at all or are just not in the mood for it, that’s OK! To you, my friends, cheers to daring greatly, owning your truth, and sharing (or not sharing) real good cheese, and most importantly of all, finding peace and joy amidst some of your hardest life struggles.

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Califargo: Sense of Self

One of my dear friends inspired these thoughts when she randomly asked me the other day, “Do you ever miss you Minneapolis or California self? I’ve lost my sense of self lately.”

I’ve grown close to this friend in the past couple of years as we work together in hospice care but also have a lot in common with being moms to three young kids. I find myself being able to be refreshingly honest with her, and I hope she finds the same with me.

Her comment made me reflect on how life was so different just ten years ago. Do I miss those days? Yes, there are certain parts of my young adult days that I miss. I miss the freedom of being able to pick up go….to be able to plan a trip in a few days and not have to worry about arranging child care or pet care. I miss being able to spend more money on new shoes or buy yet another cute outfit with that hard earned money. I  miss being able to have more than one drink with friends without dreading the recovery the entire next day (plus who really wants to be hung over while tending to and chasing two little kids and toting around an infant). I miss concerts in the bigger city venues. I miss the ocean (Half Moon Bay near San Francisco is magical). I miss fresh seafood. I miss late night cramming sessions with nursing friends sharing not only facts for the exam the next day but also a lot of laughter. I miss movies at the theater. I  miss being able to watch my niece and nephews as much as my sister requested.

You know what though? Although those pieces of my life are more so part of my past now, I know they hold a special place in my heart…those experiences that helped shape me into who I am now and allow me to appreciate them even more. Yes, I have many more responsibilities these days, but what I find relieving is that I’m not alone. My village of hard working mamas also share these sentiments and sometimes reminisce about these days as well. I can also trust this same village of women will be there for one another and help each other when we just need a break from our responsibilities to remember, even for a few hours, what our old selves used to look like….from getting all dolled up for a date night with the spouse (and being able to eat a warm dinner with both hands) ….or breaking away for a weekend get-away. And just maybe this is not “our older selves” that have disappeared completely, rather still there but with additional factors that enrich us even more.

I know that in ten years from now,  I will miss other parts of my younger self as well, such as the scent of a newborn baby….frequent snuggles with babes and toddlers….teaching my first born how to read….witnessing my youngest learn how to walk…and so much more.

Because really, it all contributes to who we are…So when when my good friend and I are missing our younger, more free and careless selves, we should take a moment to remind each other that we will one day miss this part of ourselves too….this sleep deprived bliss.

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Thoughts On Three

I have been pondering about my thoughts on three for about four months now. On November 7th, 2017, I gave birth to our final baby, Thomas Jordan Miosek, or “Tommy.” Perhaps it’s the chaos around here that’s prevented me from finishing the draft I started when he was just one week old…or the broken sleep…or having to really choose wisely when I get precious free time…or a combination of it all…but regardless, today I attempt again. Much like my piles of clean laundry on the couch waiting to be folded and put away, most of the tasks on my “to do list” take many attempts these days.

I would be lying if I said it’s easy with three kids. In all honesty, I was on the brink of a mini breakdown a couple months ago. It was a Saturday afternoon in the dead of winter. The two older kids were obviously feeling cooped up with pent up energy, cabin fever at its finest. The baby needed a nap. The husband was running an errand. Gulp. As I leave my mischievous three-year-old unsupervised for about ten minutes to nurse the baby and put him down for a nap, I cross my fingers that all hell won’t break loose while he runs free. I call him my Dennis the Menace after all. I had set out all the ingredients to bake chocolate chip cookies once the baby fell asleep. As he fell asleep, I realized the house was much too quiet for my liking, as that almost always means I will be welcomed with some kind of messy surprise. Sure enough, my Dennis poured all of the baking ingredients on the kitchen floor. I am greeted by him standing on mounds of flour mixed with a carton of cracked eggs, a bottle of vanilla extract, and a bag of chocolate chips. My angry response triggers a full meltdown complete with him throwing handfuls up in the air, leaving a trail down the hallway. If that wasn’t enough, he decides to go back to the mound and pee on it. Yes. He peed on the already goopy, sticky mess. And the baby starts to cry. Again. My six-year-old promised to alert me when her brother was getting into mischief, but she became absorbed with her tablet. As I hold the crying baby and scrub the floors while desperately waiting for the husband to come home, I can feel each muscle of my body tighten and my blood pressure rise twenty points. Once he arrives, he sees the sight and offers some unwelcome feedback. We argue about the situation and how it could have been prevented.

I will share this story years down the road and will likely do so with a smile on my face or giggle as I tell the details. But in the meantime, it serves as just a common occurrence of what life with three kids is like now. There are moments like those that make me weep with frustration and exhaustion. But then I get a moment or a gentle reminder that while this life is chaotic and messy (pee mixed with flour and eggs kind of messy)….I also get so much more to hold onto. From bedtime snuggles… to huge toothless grins… to the sound of genuine belly laughter, I get it all. Beautiful. Messy. Chaotic. Loud. Zoo-like. Blissful. Annoying. Frustrating. Joyful. Because really, if it takes an unexpected mess by the idle hands of a wild threenager to show me that life is beautiful in a messy unpredictable way, so be it.

Do I share all the mishaps and stressful moments? No. But I should share more. Because in a world of perfectly crafted social media posts depicting we all have our shit together, let us be more real. Sticky mounds of pee infused flour and all.

The Wee Hours of Mommyhood

As I sit here awake in the wee morning hours sipping on coffee uninterrupted, I decide to take advantage of my sleeplessness. It’s been quite a while since I’ve put my thoughts into written words. Normally after a 4am feeding, I can crawl back into the warm cozy bed and I’m quick succumbed by much needed slumber. But this morning is different. Today the entire family sleeps peacefully as I sit with many thoughts swirling around in my head.  I rarely have this time by myself alone with my thoughts.

My feet are sore and cracked, and I desperately need a pedicure. I should really use that gift certificate my boss gave me for my birthday. Remnants of last night’s dinner dirty the counter tops, and the dishes pile up in the sink. My shoulders and neck feel tight and heavy. I should really use that massage gift card my mom gave me for my birthday. I’m going to be very tired by 1pm today. Violet’s book order is due today. Tommy needs more clothes at daycare. Charlie forgot his favorite cars at daycare, so I need to be sure to get them later today. Will everyone be healthy at work today? I really need to watch my eating again and start losing this baby weight. Will I have enough milk for Tommy? I need to pick up the groceries for Tommy’s baptism lunch. Winter is getting so old…when will summer finally be here? I crave lake time!

Life is busy and hard. It’s messy and chaotic. It’s exhausting at times. But when I sit back this morning allowing the thoughts to just swirl around in my brain, then flowing onto the keyboard, I can’t help but be extremely grateful with many blessings. I’ve read mom blogs that I’ve liked, loved, and shared. I love being able to relate with others. But one of them recently spoke to me. A mom shared about her sacred early morning times by herself. Initially I thought, “Yeah right, that is WAY too early for my eyes to be open and my brain to be functioning.” But she’s on to something. There’s something so serene and peaceful being alone this morning with my laptop and coffee. I’m not going to lie; I hope the day goes smoothly so I’m not regretting my decision to stay awake! But really, this time is good for the soul.

I’m hoping you have a great day filled with caffeine and chocolate chip cookies (because those are just a few of my favorite things).

Catch the Moments

I decided to put my insomnia to good use today on this Thanksgiving morning. Was I frantically cooking turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes? No. Thankfully my mother-in-law is an excellent cook. I was catching up on my new favorite T.V show, This is Us. It turned out this was the Thanksgiving episode I had recorded a couple days ago. To say it moved me profoundly is an understatement. How a fictional show can portray such real life issues really astounds me. The characters and plot are nothing but perfectly beautiful; whether the scenes are heartwarming or heart wrenching, I’m hooked. Some shows make you laugh. Some shows may you cry. Some shows make you sit in numbness not asking you to feel or think anything at all. But this show is so much more. If you haven’t watched it, I invite you to my home to watch all the episodes recorded on my DVR! This particular episode inspired me to reflect on the beautiful chaos of life and my gratitude for it all.

Thankfulness. It’s what ties us together as humans and fills us with gratitude for all we’ve been blessed with. But it goes beyond that. It fills us with even deeper gratitude for all the sorrows, stress, chaos, and hardships we bared that have molded us into who we are and brought us to where we are today. Without it all, we wouldn’t have our complete story, filled with each chapter of our interesting and unique lives. Each of us has a different story unlike any other. Today I am thankful for it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly, for it’s the blend of it all that has me sitting here reflective and infinitely grateful.

Today I am thankful for my husband. He’s the most stubborn man I think I have ever met. He stands firm in what he believes in, and it takes a miracle to persuade that man or change his mind the slightest. He’s gruff yet soft. He has a kind and generous heart, and it fills his soul to give unexpectedly to those who are least expecting of gifts. He is hard working and reliable, rarely ever missing out on doing something he has promised to do. He likes organization, order, and plans, unlike his somewhat disorganized, forgetful, and spontaneous wife. He is a wonderful father, striving to start traditions with his children they will remember for all their days to come.

Today I am thankful for my daughter. She has inherited her dad’s eyes and lips along with his fierce strong willed nature and persistence. She doesn’t back down when she wants something bad enough, even if this will quickly cause gray hair for her mom and dad. She is fun, loud, vivacious, and the life of the party. She is friendly and warm, introducing herself to new people, asking them to be her friend. She is articulate at the young age of four and never ceases to entertain her parents with her witty one-liners and entertaining questions. She is the best snuggler, and 8:30 pm has become her mom’s absolute favorite part of the day, as that’s when she always wants a “tighter” snuggle.

Today I am thankful for my son. He is our very own toe-headed “Dennis the Menace” with his mischievous grin and ability to get into almost anything, regardless of the best of child-proofing efforts. He is wildly fast and loves all things “boy,” from cars to trucks to “choo choo” trains and airplanes. He loves his dad so much that it sometimes makes his mom jealous until she sits and watches them together, and her heart fills with such joy. He is loving and sensitive, giving slobbery kisses, bear hugs, and saying “wuv you” and “ary” (sorry) when he knows he’s in the wrong. He is our rainbow baby after our angel baby.

Today I am thankful for all my family and friends. The list would be a long and very full to name them all, but I hope each of them knows how much I care and love them, as I try to tell and show them every day.

Today I am thankful for my job and wonderful coworkers. The sense of teamwork is amazing sometimes, and they make me strive to be the best I can be.

Today I am thankful for my health and my family’s health. Life is so precious, and we never really know when our health could fail, so I try to appreciate our breathing lungs and beating hearts.

In This is Us, Olivia asks William, “How does it feel to be dying?” William thinks about it for a moment and poetically responds, “It feels like all these beautiful pieces of life are flying around me, and I’m trying to catch them…when my granddaughter falls asleep in my lap, I try to catch the feeling of her breathing…and when I make my son laugh, I try to catch the sound of him laughing, how it rolls up from his chest. But the pieces are moving faster now, and I can’t catch them all. I can feel them slipping through my fingertips. And soon where there used to be my granddaughter breathing and my son laughing, there will be nothing. I know it feels like you have all the time in the world, but you don’t. So stop playing it so cool. Catch the moments of your life while you’re young and quick because soon you will be old and slow, and there will be no more to catch. And when a nice boy who adores you offers you pie, say thank you.”

Today, my hope for you is that you take some time to catch the beautiful moments and eat that delicious pie.

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Mother of Two: Thoughts On Sleep Deprived Bliss

These thoughts have been swirling around in my sleep deprived brain for six weeks. I started putting them into words on the fourth day of my son’s life, but as many mothers of newborns can relate to, I’ve been consumed with this almost 13 pound human being and also with a wildly active toddler. Oh how our lives have changed so much once again. It’s not “my first rodeo,” this time, but I have come upon some reminders of the challenges posed to new (again) mommies. The very first reminders were of course the physical ones. The physical challenges alone zap a woman almost completely; I would venture to say that giving birth takes the same amount of energy as running a marathon without training, but I could be wrong. Regardless, I’ll just go with it so I feel very powerful and physically capable of anything! But let’s be real…it’s out-of-your-own-body painful (before the heavenly epidural)…the copious amount of blood afterwards, perhaps even for weeks (I apologize for this over-share)…the general soreness/cramping…sore boobs/nipples…just to name a few! But amazingly, women all around the world decide to do it again. Maybe the loss of these memories is nature’s way of promoting women to continue to procreate!

During my 31 hour labor with Violet, I vividly recall telling Jordan, “This will be our only child. I will never do this again….labor is a b****, and labor is for the birds…etc.” I had a surprisingly different experience with Charlie’s labor. It was much shorter (just under 6 hours), I felt more prepared mentally and physically, and I also very much respected the physician and appreciated the education he has provided throughout all my prenatal care. The only time I did not like him is when he made me wait for about 2 hours to get my epidural as the longest, most painful transition was from 3 cm to 4cm. That being said, although the Pitocin contractions were intense, they were shorter lived than with Vi’s labor, so thank God for that. Some women opt out of epidurals. First of all—WHY!?!? Secondly—are you gluttons for punishment!?!? Ok, I do respect your choice. And I also think you are super women with a much higher pain tolerance than me.

Since marrying Jordan, I’ve envisioned three children completing our family. If you would have asked me if this was still the plan about four weeks ago, I would have said, “no.” To be honest (and real again), the sleep deprivation hits me HARD. It affects my mood significantly, and I did experience some postpartum blues (debatable depression). In addition, challenges keeping up with Charlie’s need for milk made me guilty and inadequate (but these issues have since resolved). I have found that postpartum blues and depression are another topic women don’t often discuss openly. It’s more common than I had originally thought, so again, for the sake of relating and helping others feel less alone, I’ll talk about it. I’m incredibly thankful for helpful resources and village of family and friends to get me through that first month. The hormones quickly dive down like a steep roller coaster…the very same hormones that gradually increased and protected me and my mood during the pregnancy. Thankfully once they leveled off, I started feeling like myself again. Another helpful factor was learning Charlie’s “schedule” (if you can say babies that young have one), and I started taking advantage of his longer naps by napping with him at least once during the day. Then there’s coffee…that’s a necessity.

Despite the physical and emotional challenges that naturally follow a delivery, I am grateful to have a healthy chunky baby boy with a double chin and arm rolls. The baby scent, goat sounding cries, and first smiles are filling my days now. For the next month or so, I will savor those until I have to go back to a different “work” and adjust to working full-time with two children. But our rainbow is here shining brightly in our lives.

Charlie (Newborn) (50)