I’ve seen a meme circulating that if (during this pandemic) you don’t start a new hobby, improve yourself, or craft a new skill then it wasn’t about time, it’s a lack of discipline.
I have to be one of the most disciplined people I know. When I have a task, I am focused until I complete it. When I have a vision, I go after it with everything I have. It doesn’t matter if I have time or not, the time is created.
But when you are in the midst of chaos, the midst of CRISIS, there isn’t the space available to put towards self-actualization because your brain’s sole focus is surviving.
I sheltered my family in place on March 13. This pandemic brought up a fair amount of PTSD from having cancer and imagining what life would be like if one of us had to be hospitalized and facing death again. At that time with all the unknowns of this virus, it felt like a true risk. It was a true risk as many in our community experienced.
I didn’t want to take a chance. So, I kept myself and the boys home even before it was mandated. I asked Chris to stop working even before it was mandated. He didn’t want to but we know the severity and the reality of facing mortality so we sheltered in. And yes, we had more time. But we also returned to the fight or flight adrenaline in our bodies when your sole purpose is survival. Our bandwidth became shortened.
There was no space for creativity, other than creating a safe home and environment for our children. I couldn’t write, my brain would not allow me to go there. And it hasn’t been able to for a long time. I first attributed it to chemo brain, which is entirely possible. Then I attributed it to my inability to multitask since radiation, which is also entirely possible. Then I was wrapped up with school and all my creativity went to my job. And now, a pandemic.
But last night, I stumbled across Adam’s journal. The notebook I started when pregnant. My last entry was the night before I started chemo, just a few weeks after having two surgeries. It was a sweet entry, telling him of my courage and love for him. But it was also very sad. When his brother was little I wrote to him constantly. I did have more time but I was also healthy. I have TWO journals for Reid because one could not contain enough pages for all the writing I held for him. As a mom, that didn’t sit right with me that at some point one child may feel more loved than the other because I wrote about it more.
So after 6+ weeks of being home with my family, I wrote for the first time since January. But even that writing was only a brief moment of clarity. I couldn’t write before then because I was in the throes of a crisis (like we are now as a worldwide community) facing emotional, physical, financial worries. But since the boys went to sleep early, I spent an hour writing last night. It felt so good to write, to process.
This morning, I felt clear and motivated, compelled when I woke to write again. I feel relief. I feel a grounding. I feel a return to me.
It wasn’t time or discipline I was lacking the last 6 weeks, it was the safety of being in my body and in my home and not feeling a threat to my life and those who I love. It was feeling the realistic fear of my husband losing the business he loves so much. It wasn't me being lazy--and it isn't you being lazy either. In survival, higher-level thinking, motivation and determination no longer get a seat at the table. So give yourself some grace and scroll on past those presumptuous memes.
I know we are still facing risks of this virus, but I can finally see the flicker of light now. I see life returning and while I know it will be far from normal for some time, I feel a settling into what is and I am hopeful for what is to come.
I’ve been cleared for tomorrow’s chemo. I should feel excited or grateful or something, but I just feel pretty anxious. This is the final round. PHEW. I feel anxious knowing what I’m walking into, yet trying to remind myself that the meds they gave me last time worked wonders and I have no reason to think that that won't also be true tomorrow too. During Round 1 I thought I was “great” and it wasn’t til I was done taking the meds did I realize I couldn’t remember anything from the week. Except for ordering thinly sliced ham at the deli counter at Whole Foods?? I was really craving a ham sandwich...
So let this be a warning, don’t hold me accountable for anything for the next 7 days. If we talk, I probably won’t remember. If I don’t text back, don’t take it personal. If I overzealously commit to anything, chances are you’ll need to ask me again next week😂Maybe next Monday, we can recap the week prior and you can tell me how it went?!
But seriously, please hold hope alongside me that the week goes as seamless as the Round 1 when I really only had a terrible day 6. I keep reminding myself that this is the last time and when I’m 3 weeks out of Round 2 (like today), I’ll be done!!
My largest hesitation next week is my diet. I successfully maintained my weight this week entirely on liquids. It’s was HARD. But, I think I found a groove and am hoping to maintain weight as long as possible. But with chemo in the mix and my mind not as clear, that will mean lots of planning and help at home. Fingers crossed. My goal is to not lose more than 10 pounds during treatment. So far, I’ve only lost 2. I’m proud of me. That’s pretty darn good. And I keep envisioning all the delicious meals next month...or the month after when I’m able to eat normally again.
Fun fact: radiation affects my salivary glands (amongst other things) and sipping water all day is mandatory. My mouth is dry....and mucous-y gross and the mouth sores make most anything difficult. But today when my cousin opened her salad, the pepperoncinis made my mouth WATER...so much so that Chris may or may not have caught me smelling a jar to get the juices rolling! Whatever works!! I can’t wait to eat again...
Separate from what’s to come, after my blood draw today my girlfriend took me to meet the boys at a pumpkin patch and I was able to watch them play for a short while. It’s moments like those that keep me focused and moving forward. The sweet breaks from counting calories, blending foods, checking mouth sores and keeping track of medications. I can’t wait to watch them trick or treat at Halloween and by then, this treatment will be a memory. Not a distant one yet, but completed at least on Friday, October 26th. I have been told the recovery is more brutal than the treatment itself but at least the days will be clicking ahead...
One day at a time.
And today was a good day.
Here’s to tomorrow. Let’s get Round 2 done, too!!
I have always (in my adult years) believed that these two cannot reside in the same space, they are opposite forces so you cannot hold one if you are in the midst of another. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real and Faith is the ability believe in something that you cannot yet see. Both are beliefs, both require a ton of energy.
I have tried, am trying, and will continue to try to sit in faith that all is well with this baby. It is my constant struggle. I feel this baby move in my belly and I want to believe with all my heart that there is nothing but perfection growing inside me which I know to be true because my other two babies were also perfection. But, then again, one of my perfect babies died.
The fear that lives inside my soul runs deeper than I can explain in words. My daughter whom I carried under my heart and in my arms, who I loved and love, died as we held her. It is terrifying, it is overwhelming, it is nothing I want to re-live ever again. And so, for the most part, my fear is best kept at bay. When it rises, I work through it. When I know I am being neurotic, unreasonable and illogical I acknowledge that I am experiencing fear and process it, giving honor to the work that I have done on my heart while also accepting that this work may never fully be done. How could you ever be done processing that your child has died? You can't. You absolutely can be healthy and live in this world again and even find joy in your heart again, but there is no understanding or rationalizing the death of your baby.
In normal life, I can manage. I can talk myself out of the irrational fears that I hold regarding Reid and the potential unsafe situations that could befall him. I remind myself that he is safe and I do not project my fear into him, that is my burden to bear, not his to carry. But this pregnancy, as was with Reid's, is traumatic in ways that I wish I never had to experience, both for me and this baby.
Being pregnant when your baby has died, is like being in the same car accident and knowing the outcome but expecting different results. It is putting your whole faith and trust into something that you have already bet on but lost, and hoping that this time is different. It's truly not fair. Not for me and not for this baby.
I am spending the last days of this pregnancy wanting this baby to arrive so fervently that I am not even enjoying the miracle that this life brings. I love being pregnant, I even love giving birth and I am letting my fear steal that joy from me. This is my last baby, I want to savor this time, these kicks, these special moments that I hold this baby before anyone else in the world gets to meet him/her. I already know this baby, right now this baby is mine and soon enough I will have to share and I want to treasure this special time. But, I also need to acknowledge aloud that this fear is real.
I wish that others could acknowledge this fear with me. I am tired of the check-ins and small talk of this pregnancy. The daily messages that are innocent and kind but ultimately feel stressful. It's not that I don't appreciate them, I am just tired, also anxious, emotional and hormonal. I am anxious, too... Yes, I am huge. No, I am not overdue. Of course, I am ready. All that chitter chatter just mounts my anxiety of the real words that I want to hear.
"I am scared, too."
"I hold the space for you."
"I am hoping for life with you."
"I don't know if it will be ok, but I love you."
I am not (really) physically uncomfortable. I am not "over" this pregnancy yet. If I could be certain that the outcome is positive then I would actually want a little more time in this sacred place of growing a human. But ultimately, I just want to know that this baby will survive delivery and be healthy to live a long life that we have imagined in our family. I also want to feel sane. Not be reassured that everything will be ok when there is not one person (other than this baby) who can know that for sure. And for that, I must wait.
As we have been for months, I am still waiting....
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.