on unplanned pregnancy

Are you still there?

Is this still a safe space?

I keep a list in my heart, of those I know who are trying or hoping or hurting. I carry it with me – heavy – every day and in everything I do. Like a precious heirloom locket I hold it closely, protectively and whisper fervent prayer for each of their names. Small breaths of love, the only thing I can offer them. I’ve been there and I know. 

To those, warriors of women, I can only hope my words do not claw at you and sting. But if they do, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

I hate being pregnant.


My skin crawls and turns to ice at the realization that my body is not my own for the next two years, at least. There is an ever present lump in my throat, threatening to turn my churning stomach inside out. My hips and back ache as my body swells and shifts to create room, to create a home. I try to swallow back the acid bubbling up and out over my tongue. Vivid nightmares filled with guns and babies and bullets wrench me awake each night; I shake and tears burn my face as I try to come back down to reality. I have panicky flashbacks to the traumatic birth and newbornhood of my first. I wonder daily if we will bring home a new member of our family or if I’m walking through hell only to return empty handed.

My depression, anxiety, and eating disorder start to pull me down as I mourn control; I see my daughter watching my every move and try to find some sort of resolve – No, they cannot have her, too. I will not let them.

With Rosalyn, every week that I progressed and remained with a tiny heart still beating within my womb was celebration enough to carry me through. I wish it were enough right now. Right now, as I work my way through the third month all I can see is the miles that stretch out before me and I just. don’t. want to do it. I know (I hope?) that this will change as we move forward. It has to. For both our sakes.

This fruit-sized, unknown babe is taking everything I have. I end most days in tears at the thought of having to wake up and repeat what I’ve just done. Barely able to make it through work, nauseated beyond relief, completely unable to be present for my toddler or husband. It’s too much. I cannot possibly continue on.

Yet, that’s what we do, isn’t it? We keep on. We get up and just fucking do it, every day. Sun up to sun up we keep running. 

How dare I, though. Complain about this gift and privilege. Not choose to focus on my blessings. Consider this honor an inconvenience or a bother. Guilt consumes me. 

I’m in a dark place right now. But it will change. It has to. 

daydreaming

Going back to work after Rosalyn was born was never a question. I had no qualms about answering, “Yeah, I’ll miss her of course. But I’m definitely going back to work.” The end.

Then maternity leave ended and the time came for me to actually go. I braced myself for broken hearted goodbyes and a tearful transition. I would read stories from working moms online about how leaving their babies each morning was the hardest thing they had to do. So, I braced.

I braced, and I braced, and.. it wasn’t that bad? Actually it was pretty good? I expected to cry on my drive in but mainly I was just overcome with the relief that it wasn’t my responsibility to coax a squalling, infuriated infant down for a wickedly short nap 3-4 times a day. Jesus, that was hard. She was hard. I’m sorry, baby. It pains me to say that. You are so completely wonderful and you were also so, so very hard. Work was so, so easy.

Life is different now. She is older and curious and fun and even our worst days aren’t spent crying for HOURS until I also devolve into tears. And the decision to leave her every damn day is becoming a little bit harder to stomach. Now, before we go any further, let me be clear that I won’t be staying home. I can’t stay home. Not right now. I recently received a promotion that I’ve been working my ass off for and I’m so excited and proud of myself. The fact of the matter is, even though my take home pay after the cost of daycare is barely enough to cover just one bill, we cannot financially move to one income. When our family grows (whenever that is? five months? five years? no idea, let me know if you know, ok?) it may force my hand a bit. Right now though? It’s absolutely not an option.

And maybe that’s why it hurts so much? Because I don’t get to make a choice. It just is. I’m not my best self when I dwell on this and get upset. I get mad. And incredibly sad. I feel like throwing myself on the floor and kicking my legs while I scream. It’s not fair. It’s NOT. FAIR.

I want to wake up stupid early (because even in my fantasy we get up at 5am – I’m not silly enough to dream of 7am or even 8am???) and have breakfast before other people’s alarm clocks go off. I want to pack up the car and get to the park when it’s still misty and the swings are all ours. I want to dole out hemp milk and raisins and re-tie tiny shoes a hundred times. I want to load the car back up and go home for lunch. I want to do laundry while she naps. I want to pick up the toys ten times and sweep the floor fifteen. I want to eye the clock at 3pm and count down the seconds until Andrew gets home. I want to watch her squishy legs run to him when he walks in the door. I want to tell him how her day was because I know because I WAS THERE, not because I’m reading a piece of paper that I paid over $1000 a month for.

I’m getting upset again so I’ll stop.

Life is good right now. Better than it has been in a long time. And it’s best when I get to spend the day with her. So I want more of that. The good and the hard of that. Maybe one day I can.

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the first day of spring

   
    

 
  

    
 

Warmth in the sun and cool in the shade. Bonfire smoke in your face. Kids running and giggling and plucking beautiful weeds by the fistful for their mothers. Grandfathers and great grandfathers and the clink of horseshoes in the lawn; gruff and gentle. Chocolate cake smeared on baby-turned-toddler faces because first birthdays deserve to be celebrated at least twice. Celebrated with bright new dresses and stacks of wooden puzzles. Sugar crash nap in daddy’s arms. A newly planted redbud tree, a sapling meant to grow alongside you. Jonquil and clover. 

 

 

our little shamrock

And now for some birthday weekend photo overload!

Andrew and I both took Friday off from work so we could have her actual birthday to spend just us all day. We started out with her one year check-up with the following stats:

  • 20 lbs / 33rd percentile
  • 30 inches / 83rd percentile
  • Cute as a fucking button / 100 percentile

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Shots are never fun but Rosalyn always enjoys a chance to really show off what her lungs can do. We then had to celebrate with some birthday donuts from DaVinci’s. A DaVinci Dozen is actually 16 donuts because why not? I’m a fan. Naturally, we got Ros a birthday sprinkle donut and naturally she tasted it once before demolishing it with her tiny fists of curious rage.

We try our best to be polite and not leave a Hansel & Gretel trail of crumbs wherever we go. I wish I could say I do this because I’m a good person, but its really because I’m an anxious mess. The sweet ladies at DaVinci’s absolutely denied our request for a broom. But not to worry, Rosalyn did her part by picking up pieces off the floor to snack on.

We headed home for a post-donut nap for the tiny human while we worked on some birthday cake action. Her birthday party was St Paddy’s themed and I had these lofty dreams of decorating a cake with a sliced fruit rainbow to accompany the little gold coin cupcakes. But when I was removing the cakes from the pans it quickly became a giant crumbly mess due to my impatience. Enter sprinkles. Sprinkles hide a multitude of baking sins. Sprinkles on everything!

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Later that afternoon we headed to the aquarium and it suddenly hit me that our time with her as a freebie ticket to places like this is starting to run out. We need to go to the zoo ASAP.

Did you know Rosalyn is incredibly tiny compared to a Beluga whale?

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Now you do.

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Her favorite part was the moving sidewalk. I can’t even blame her, it’s like magic.

The morning we relaxed at home with some oatmeal nut waffles (of course) before her birthday party that afternoon. The waffles were a big hit – steel cut oats, oven toasted pecans, a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. Rosalyn cared not at all about my pretty table setting.

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Her birthday party was so much fun. She loved doling out the tissue paper, squishing fistfuls of sprinkles, and watching her older/cooler cousin Rylee with much adoration of both her motor skills and hair length. One day, Ros.. one day.

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Uh, no thanks.

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And then I made her do this:

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Best. Birthday. Ever. Welcome to one, sweetheart!

 

 

rosalyn virginia: eleven months

This started out as an attempt to squeeze in some eleven month photos juuuuuust before she turns twelve. Honest. But I found myself a bit distracted with these lovely little pockets of light in our house at dusk. Forgive me, baby girl. Your mother was first a photographer. They have yet to find a cure.

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There are so many would-be sources of anxiety in this. The house is a mess. I didn’t take the photos “on time”. They weren’t taken in the same style as the previous months. Etc, etc. There are several expected ways in which becoming her mother has “tied” me down or limited my choices. But it is in this way that she has gifted me freedom. She has taught me acceptance. She has empowered me to say to these suffocating demons of mine, “No, thank you. Not right now.”

So this is what life at eleven months has looked like. A little of this, a little of that. Happy chaos. Disordered joy. It has looked like me beginning to melt back into the places I once was; stretching and wriggling into me. My fingers tingle as the blood rushes through.

rosalyn virginia: ten months

Time is slipping away so fast and we’re slipping away with it. So here we are, a week from turning eleven months and trying to squeak out a ten month photo series. Taken with a phone. At dinner. Tonight. Forgive me, future Rosalyn who is reading this. You’re a bit of a wild child and I love you for it. 

   
 It is an appropriate theme, however. Because ten months was all about the food. She was RAVENOUS out of nowhere and has begun eating three full meals + snacks almost every day. It’s been so much fun but also added another element of chaos to our days. I used to be able to just nurse her every night and worry about our dinner after her bedtime. Now we’re forced to create a new routine that includes family dinner before bed. All in all, not a bad problem to have. 

Ten months has also brought a few new things: lots of walking, learning sippy cups, and 1-2 naps a day. All of this means? Someone is graduating to the Junior Toddler room at daycare soon! As of right now she still eats and sleeps with the infants but takes a little across-the-hall field trip to the one year olds for playtime. 

  And all the little babies rejoiced because Ros has become a bit of a bruiser with the younger babes. Biting, sitting on, pacifier stealing. Yup, she’s a total sweetheart. One day she came home with a scratch on the back of her neck. I have this vision of the babies plotting a mutiny and devising a complicated plan to exact revenge on the reigning tyrant Ros. One baby distracts the teacher while three others tackle Rosalyn to the ground, barely leaving a mark before having to abort mission.

   
 She turned her bib into a cape and then styled her hair with some avocado. She turns eleven months soon. And then a year. I couldn’t be more excited for her.