Up for Air

I’m not known for my poker face. I’m terrible at pranks or practical jokes that require me to fabricate and sell a story. I can’t feign happiness or shock or sympathy if it’s not the emotion I’m actually feeling. Because faking how I feel is difficult for me, I’m always a little nervous around people who can smile and stuff their feelings down. It seems scary to me. What are they actually thinking right now? Of course, they’re probably thinking it’s scary that I don’t tone down my face and stop revealing every thought I have via my expressions.

It turns out that I also have no poker face when I write. (Or would that be poker fingers?) For the past year or so, every time I sat down to my computer to blog, sadness and anger and disappoitment spilled out onto the screen. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly. I couldn’t seem to put a positive spin on anything, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to let people outside of my circle in to what I was dealing with. So this little blog sat blank and neglected. I did write throughout the last year, but I kept those things for myself.

Since Lincoln was born in 2010, we’ve battled kidney disease, gone through a transplant, given a year of our lives to two foster kids, been blindsided by family crises, and dealt with the low blow of secondary infertility to top it all off. Besides a brief reprieve in the months immediately following Mike’s transplant where everything felt beautiful and blissful, the last 6 years of adulthood kicked my butt and left me feeling broken. That’s not to say that everything was bad all the time. It definitely wasn’t like that. Overall, I just felt exhausted by encountering situation after situation that I felt unprepared to handle. We all have a picture in our heads of how we think life will pan out, and my picture was pretty much ripped to shreds. Over and over.

I was angry. Kidney disease was our thing. That was the hardship I didn’t sign up for, but had to endure. All of this? No. I was finished struggling. We were supposed to be “on the other side,” not still in the trenches. All the hurt that followed and feeling like my world kept crumbling and then being unable to have a baby was too much. I wanted to feel normal and be normal and worry about normal things instead of big things. I just wanted a break. I can’t count how many times I said, “I’m just so tired.” Tired of being knocked down, tired of being disappointed, tired of crises. Just tired. And then when you feel like that, you also feel guilty, because you know it could be worse and here you are fretting over your life situations when you could be homeless or living without clean water or so many other things people around the globe endure. Now you are exhausted, frustrated, and feeling like a crappy person for feeling exhausted and frustrated by your middle class life. It’s a fun little cycle of emotions.

When I found out our fertility treatment in the fall had been successful and I was finally pregnant, I was a mixture of pure joy and fear. I don’t think I relaxed and accepted that our bad luck had stopped until our third ultrasound at 11 weeks. I was a bundle of nerves that day when we arrived at the office. My blood pressure was high, which is extremely unusual for me. When I told the midwife I was having a hard time functioning because of the anxiety over losing the baby, she gave me one of those long, motherly talks where someone tells you what you already know, but you decide it’s time to act like you know it. We left the office that afternoon, and I immediately posted our social media announcement, realizing it was time to celebrate and breathe instead of giving in to the constant worry about what may or may not happen in the future.

The months since then have been better. I’m finding myself coming out of the fog of depression and anxiety. Of course it can still creep in some days because I’m human, and being pregnant isn’t always the most fun thing in the world even if you prayed, hoped, and invested some serious time and money into getting there. (Hello, heart burn and hormones and fatigue and weird things happening to my body.) I am truly grateful though. Thankful for a healthy pregnancy after all the heartache, and thankful that this baby boy feels like a ray of hope after all the things we’ve walked through. He’s a new chapter in our complicated, but still beautiful story. This season is my coming up for air season. I’m getting back to my old self, or rather, my new self, because everyone knows that struggle changes you. Hopefully for the better. I know that we haven’t seen the last of hard times. Nobody gets to coast through and live fully carefree. I just want to enjoy this part of life and find the good where I can find it after a stretch of time where that felt really difficult to do. This space is my creative outlet and my place to document our little family. I’m hoping I can get back to that in the coming months, and hopeful that there are good things on the horizon that I’ll be eager to share.

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