Time has a way of bringing significance to something that you never really considered in the moment. Seven hours and four minutes into the evening in 2018, our son was born. On July fourth, 7-04-2017 we found out we were expecting a child. Up until this moment, on our baby’s birthday, I had not realized the significance.
Life has a funny way of bringing things full circle. Here we are, numbers, moments and life at play later. These events roll past, the day moves by, and we look back over our shoulder at the impact these events have made in the tapestry of our lives.
I had not paid much attention to all of our little one’s numerology, but the idea behind the moment of his birth and the date we learned of his existence, is purely beshert.
Nothing can quite explain the feeling of hearing your child’s cry for the first time, and holding them close. I waited years for him to come. In the first moment he looked at me, and I at him, it felt as though time stood still, and spun around all at once. There are very few things in life that I am sure of, but one of those is the fact that I was always meant to be LDB’s mama. Thank you for choosing us as your parents little one.
What is the biggest risk you have taken in your life?
The first thing that comes to my mind is the risk to stop giving into fear and instead, turning around, metaphorically speaking, and facing it.
For the longest time I was fearful of a great number of things. These included but were not limited to: Saying no, standing up for myself, tolerating bullshit from friends and relationships, worrying about things I could not change, fearing the worst when falling ill, and reading articles about all the, “what if’s,” that could happen in my life.
Then, in the course of one month, over three weeks, I learned a lesson: all things can go wrong, shit has hit the fan, and I am still standing. I am still here.
I attempted to make lemonade out of the lemons I was dealt. Nothing motivates you more than facing that fear and realizing how ludicrous it is to give into it. Another motivating factor is realizing how imperative the nature of today, really is. The gift of this breath, and the moment you are being given when the person you love, whose hand you were holding, slipped away before your eyes. Life never simply prepares you to deal with the tragic, it merely provides you with experiences in which to learn that you are capable of handling it, because of the experiences that propelled you until you reached the edge of the mountain.
There were a few things that propelled me into 2016:
One: My sister’s death.
Two: Having two car accidents over the course of a month.
Three: Seeing a positive pregnancy result, seeing blood weeks later, and learning that it was not an actual viable pregnancy, but a molar one.
Four: Being told that the D&C was successful, only to find out that the betaHCG results had risen ten fold, I needed a chest X-ray to make sure cells had not traveled and multiplied in my body forming cancerous masses, receiving an internal ultrasound twice, and then taking chemotherapy shots in order to resolve the issue.
Five: Going weekly for six weeks to see an oncologist and receive chemo shots for an unviable pregnancy after walking similar pathways with my sister the year before for different reasons.
Life has a way of providing opportunities for rebirth.
That was my moment.
I hit my rock bottom on a cold, dreary day in January after leaving the hospital. I drove home in a wash of tears and bathed my sorrows away. Later, I found myself still grappling with many frustrations in the aftermath of grief for multiple reasons. I happened upon a video and blog that changed the course of my life. Gabrielle Bernstein’s work propelled me to make a dramatic shift. I cannot say how grateful I am for the book I read, May Cause Miracles, and the course work I practiced. I opened myself up to facing my ego, learning from my fears I had clung to, learning about my desire for control and deciding to grow as a human and not cower in the shadows of comfort.
Here’s the thing: it is never easy to take a risk. Be it in a small change, or a large shift in your life. However, in doing so, committing to the risk will invariably provide you with room for growth. Change does not happen over night. It happens in your daily thoughts, routines, and the patterns that you pave in life.
Risk is what you make of a situation, not what makes you falter.
This beach, this sand, these tides hold a sacred place in my heart.
Love, loss, healing and health are the key components to describe what this coast has helped me with. A year ago I sat on this beach contemplating what life as a mother would be like. I was full of hope, and nerves for what lay ahead. A small part of me had never fully released the fear that I might not have the chance to be in the position I was in, but it had happened and I was overwhelmed to share it all with the one person I couldn’t talk to. I cried, I breathed in and I breathed out. I let the waves drown out my remaining fear and the sea spray dry my tears.
Being able to bring our son to visit this beach makes me feel as though we are visiting Debbie, in a way. In my mind, a section of this beach, surrounded by the beautiful Neahkanie mountain and forest lays my sister’s beautiful spirit. She’s in the air and soaring over the trees. With each wave’s lap I felt the steady rhythm of my heart relax. I surrendered to the moment. I felt my breath, his heartbeat, and our love.
This past year I learned many a lesson as most of us do. I was propelled forward in a new pathway towards becoming a mother. I taught students, I learned what may come, and I healed, by releasing my fears.
Life is what you make of it, and in this year especially, I have learned what this truly means. It boils down to one word: Time.
Time is of the essence when you give birth to a little one. It seemingly ticks by slowly at first, but then suddenly two seasons have passed and your little one is literally crawling through life. It flashes, like bursts of light.
Flash, flash, my thoughts land on a memory…crystalized in my mind’s eye. Two eye lids, fluttering lashes, one tiny nose, and two small fists slowly uncurling along his mouth.
This memory helps me slide into the vault of best kept experiences this year. Most of them firsts, naturally, with the introduction of our first child. I sift through the pictures and suddenly these, “firsts,” come into view…
The first time I felt a complete baby roll in my tummy, the first time I could not get out of bed until I rolled sideways, the first time I identify with turtles, completely but in reverse shell to tummy placement, the first time I felt contractions hit and knew that life would never be the same again, the first time I heard my baby cry, the first time I held him close, the first time he nursed with me, the first diapers, the first daddy hugs, the first cries where panic set in but I did not relinquish to the fear in my tummy, the first time I saw my parents as grandparents to our child, the first time he looked at me, the first time he smiled, the first time he sat up, the first time he reached for me, the first giggles, the first time I left our babe for work, the first separation feels of mommy baby heart tugs, the first time he laughed with us, the first time he crowed for his fur sisters, the first time he clapped, the list is a long endless one of beauty and gifts from life.
There was never a time that I truly felt as raw, as out of control, and as completely content as I did this year. Surrendering to the unknown is utterly frightening and also comforting. The realized I did not have to feel in control any longer, and that there was no room for manipulation of choices with the time I am allotted. I learned to withdraw from the desire to control completely, focus on my breath, and see the scene with fresh eyes.
The gift of tomorrow sheds new light upon today. The sky has opened up, blueness poured forth and the light crept in whilst I typed. The babe stirred, and the dog yawned, time began to click again, slowly but surely, a steady rhythm always balancing out the the days and the light. Renewed opportunity lies ahead. Go forth and obtain your firsts. A bouquet full of them awaits.
When our son was born I had no idea what nursing would entail. Like many ventures in life, my motto was: take it one day at a time. Then days became weeks and weeks became months. I realized how much bonding time it was with not only my son, but also myself.
At about one month of age, I decided to start a new goal along with breast feeding, a reading goal. I lacked time, and stamina once baby was sleeping, to focus on reading. I needed to find a time when I was am to concentrate and could enjoy reading. I also realized what a better use of my time it was to read while feeding my baby versus wasting time on social media.
I started out by picking up, A Dog’s Purpose, and found myself glancing at our dog Kimmy who was always by my side. What was she thinking? I would wonder, as she curled herself in behind the rocking chair while LDB napped in my arms.
Next up was, My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. I felt a strong connection to the narrator. Perhaps it was her spunk or lack of tact, but she reminded me of someone. I could never put my finger on it. Perhaps it was a combination of many children I had taught all rolled into one glorious creation of a fictional character.
Following that up with the next novel was a startling contrast, but great read none the less. The Alice Network, painted a world I had known little of. Set during WWI France the web of characters, strong heroines and unlikely combinations of people, I was enthralled with the plot from start to finish. Albeit it intriguing, there were parts of this novel I found challenging to read, especially descriptions of pain or torture. I found myself wondering about the next part each time I put the book down.
I made the smooth transition out of WWI and into WWII with, The Clockmakers Daughter. One of my favorite authors is Kate Morton. I always feel so connected to her characters that they seem almost tangible to me. Whispering voices of a cast running through my mind, I closed the last chapter and was ready to read more. My mom and I agreed that perhaps there will be more to it? Time will tell.
I made a swift shift into the decade of the 1990’s, set in the Middle East in the next novel, Reading Lolita in Tehran. Currently I am engaged in reading of this book club of book clubs, I feel ever grateful to be a woman who does not live under a totalitarian regime.
I took a brief pause on that book to start and end, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I can say I am in love with Dawsey and the whole of the island itself. I would take an excursion there in a heartbeat, and I can still hear Juliet’s narrative voice in my head.
It’s back to the streets of Tehran for now, and many more books rise on the horizon. I thank my baby, and my body for allowing us this simple time to bond, read, and nourish body and soul with love and literature.
Perhaps I’ll inspire you to pick up a new book? You can always find a few minutes here, or there. 📚
Sometimes someone who knows you well says just what your heart needs to hear. “Don’t let yourself be hardened by the world Rachel. Don’t close yourself off from those feelings. Enjoy those times and keep your heart open.”
(Insert tears that spring forward.)
Something about this time of year is challenging for me, for a number of reasons. So I reflected and realized a few things.
Each school year I am reminded of the fresh opportunity I have to work with the next generation. I am so reminded and reminisce on how I would share with my sister our plans for the next school year. To say that miss her is an understatement, it is a yearning I feel in my soul and always will.
Everything changes in an instant, in a moment. The only constant is change, this I know. I have watched my baby boy growing like a weed over the last five months and it feels like just yesterday he was in the womb kicking me to let me know he was there. I look at him and I wonder who this little person will be. I watch him in wonderment as he observes the world.
Whenever I read a new book or see a, back to school book list, I stop and think about Debbie. Occasionally I still have a mind slip and think of telling her something. It’s like a small heart tug when that happens. A little pull each time I long for communication.
This school year I am excited for the new group of students to work with, the new and old book friends that I will get to share with them are inspirations from Debbie. I can’t wait to share with my students and continue to tell our son how this amazing librarian auntie of his still touches lives today.
We always read one of her favorite books to LDB each day, The Very Hungry Caterpillar 🐛. Much like in the book, I felt enveloped in a cocoon these past five months. I am ready to spread my wings and fly, but unfurling the wings and jumping off is always the hardest part. 🦋
My current thoughts include but are not limited to…new mommy funnies:
-When you go to turn the pump machine off and turn the dial up to the next level at 1am with less than functionable fingers… unexpected surprises await!
-Walking in the dark to the kitchen and back becomes your new stealth mode ability.
-Deciphering breathing patterns and the rate to which they dispell how much time you have before a cry is heard.
-You’re used to hearing, “You look good for…” from other adult humans when not asking for said feedback.
-You take pleasure in pottying alone and unaccompanied!
-A trip to the mailbox is delightful!
-You make friends withe late night creatures crawling along your walls and consider how much effort it would be to remove them… and then… you let it be.
-The rapid joy to which you feel when the first few ounces of milk are pumped more quickly than expected.
-You watch for the rapid fire eye movements under the eye lids and know that REM sleep has finally been achieved. Huzzah!
-When you can finally lay down on a yoga mat and not think of labor.
-Discovering spit up down your back after you’ve left the house.
-Considering how many sheets of tissue equate to a baby wipe when desperation sets in.
-When you lie awake and cannot fall asleep because the babe is sleeping. 🤦🏻♀️
-When you find yourself swaying, shushing, or rocking, when alone.
-Talking body functions and minutes asleep is critical conversation between yourself and your partner.
-Your high fives with your partner feel like gold medals of success.
-Making up songs about everything you’re doing.
-Describing aloud your actions so your babe can learn what is what and why.
-Releasing my introverted tendencies for verbal processing techniques.
-When you close your eyes and see your babe’s smile and the flashes of contentment set in.
When I was a little girl I would play a wide variety of imagination games. I grew up bouncing around the house, creating games with my friends, and pretending I was most often times Laura Ingalls Wilder. My closest friend from Kindergarten through middle school and I would often argue about who would play Mary Wilder and who would be Laura. I vividly recall arguing amongst the vegetable boxes in our backyard while popping raspberries into our mouths. “You were Laura LAST time!” definitely came out of my mouth.
Growing up I never envisioned my wedding day, or marriage for that matter. I always felt like I knew that I would find a partner one day who would be the person I would love for life. One thing I did envision was a child. I grew into a full fledged babysitter when I was in sixth grade. I worked a full summer between eighth and ninth grade caring for three families children. I absolutely loved it. I would pretend what I would do if they were my child, I gave them their supper, helped with the jammies, read stories, and tucked them into bed. All the while I would wonder, one day, what a child of my own would be like.
Watching my nephew and nieces grow over the last twelve to fifteen years has been a remarkable experience. Being an aunt is hands down, the best role I was given in life. I had the benefit of loving, participating, and giggling with three adorable and loving children, but not having to do any of the tough parenting business.
Now, holding our three month old son, life seems completely surreal at times. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep and the settling hormones, but my feelings have shifted. At first mamma and baby hold there was an instant connection of, “I know you, but not your face yet…” and those moments turned to minutes, to hours, and then days of care for the tiny human. Now watching him develop and grow out of infant stages I find myself feeling more connected to our tiny babe. Is that possible? To feel more receptive, loved, and dare I say possessive of? I sit and rock him to sleep and don’t want to put him down. If I just hold him he’ll stay little forever right?!
The answer is yes. Just yes. Yes to all of it. A remarkable friend of mine said, “You’re in the middle of the emotion ocean of motherhood.” Hands down, this woman knows, and gets my current state.
Emotion ocean waves are strong. The fierce feels of concern, love, fear, and the balance of it all is mind boggling at times. Then there’s the surrealism aspect. Those breaths in between the shushing, the nursing, the burping and the rocking when I catch myself in the act of mothering and realize, “Wow. I really am a momma after all.” It makes me cry tears of gratitude for the little life in our hands, and also tears for each small milestone he accomplishes and realizing just how much he has grown, and how fast it all seems to go.
The other day we were driving home and had just pulled off the highway when it hit me in the heart. I was gazing out the window and I suddenly felt this intense wave of emotion.
It was triggered by something as funny as, hair. There had been a woman at a gathering we had been at with curly hair. Not even hair the same color as my sister’s, but still curly nonetheless.
It is amazing and bizarre how our minds work isn’t it? I thought of her for some reason and my mind went to a memory of seeing her curly hair. That interconnected immediately to Debbie.
Henceforth the wave of emotion. It flowed right through me and then lifted. Taking off into the universal space around me.
Sometimes I’ll look at our son and think of something humorous. I then turn in my mind to that yearning desire to tell her, Debbie, because I know she’d laugh too. I stop suddenly and take a deep breath.
These waves have come less, but just as intensely. What I have learned from these recent waves is this: I know it’s ok, it’s honest, and it’s essential that I honor my feelings as they rise and acknowledge them. I know that even though she is not here to hold our baby boy, I can feel her presence holding us in her heart. I still see her in my nephew’s smile and I can feel that connection always pulse. Because, love never dies, it just transforms.