Oscillation

I know I’ve written before about the gratitude I feel about having a second child and how happy I am that our family can finally feel complete. But I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard sometimes to walk away from the idea of a third kid. I don’t know where it originally came from–I only have one living sibling so it’s not like I’m trying to recreate the kind of family I grew up in by having three kids. Maybe I’m trying to have the family my parents wanted but didn’t get. My mom wanted four kids and my dad wanted two so they settled on three. But then my sister died and my mother had three stillbirths so they stopped when my only living sister was born. Maybe I wanted three kids because they couldn’t have three themselves.

Three kids is not in the cards for us. And honestly, a lot of the time I’m totally okay with that. A lot of the time I actually think it’s what’s best for our family. We live in an expensive city. The only way we survive here financially is through the very generous help of family, family we can’t depend on forever. It would be selfish of us to ask them to help us with a third child and without their help, we absolutely couldn’t afford childcare for three children.

We can’t afford it, my husband doesn’t even want it, and our fertility issues make it all but impossible. Not having a third child isn’t even a choice for us. It isn’t meant to be. Our family is complete. And yet… it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to let go of that original dream. It’s hard not to wonder… what if?

I think it will be hard for me, when people I know start having third children. I almost asked my friends yesterday, the ones who have kids close in age to our own, if they were planning on having a third child (they have initiated the conversation in the past, which is the only reason I would ask now). I know they originally wanted four, but then decided that was too much and even said once that they might be done at two. I’m guessing they’ll have three. I’m guessing my cousin will have three. Probably quite a few of our friends will have three. It’s something I have to be ready for, people expanding their families while ours stays the same size. I will be very happy for them, but it will be hard not to consider our own family size and not think of my original dreams. Watching someone do what you can’t, but wanted to, do is difficult, even when you know in your mind that what they have isn’t what’s best for your family.

Our hearts are stubborn forces. I wish our minds held more sway over them. I wish all the rational thinking that helps me know it’s right for us to be a family of four could keep my heart convinced.

There are other feelings swirling around this issue too. One is the immense gratitude I feel that we even have two children. I really didn’t think we’d get to have a second child and then we did and he’s amazing and I am so thankful. There is also guilt, because I have TWO children and so many people want a second child, or any children at all, so who I am to want a third? And honestly, I know this isn’t a popular sentiment in this community but I truly believe that I SHOULD be grateful, JUST grateful for what I have when I know so many people who have less. I get that we all want what we want and we have our own dreams for our family and we can grieve those dreams. I get that, I do, but I also think it’s kind of selfish of me to wish I had more when so many people have less. This is just how I feel about myself, it’s a deeply personal expectation (as in, I don’t expect others to feel that way, nor do I think they should) and most of the time I live up to it, but sometimes I falter.

Like when Mi.Vida talks about scheduling his vasectomy (have I mentioned how much Mi.Vida DOESN’T want to have another kid?) and the finality of that action settles like cold stone in my stomach. I feel that tight weight when I get rid or something from Monito’s infancy, like the co-sleeper and bouncy chair I recently sold.

And then there are moments, like yesterday, when I pulled out the baby food ice trays and I thought, “When I stored these away I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to use them again. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m pureeing carrots for a second child.” In those moments I am flooded with this warmth of gratitude, I literally feel it wash through my body like a wave, emanating heat from deep within me. It’s an incredible feeling, one I can wrap myself in for week, and even months, at a time.

The feeling of wishing I could have a third child is murkier. It’s more distant, like a memory of something that happened in the distant past. It’s not usually a visceral reaction, like my gratitude, it’s more like that tingle you get in your jaws when you think of eating something sour. It’s intense for a short moment, but it fades quickly and then you barely even register that it’s there.

That is where my wanting a third child is now. Just a tingle in my jaw when I read a post, or see a family that might be announcing their third pregnancy. It’s a very dully ache that I can’t quite place and that disappears before my mind can linger on it.

I’m sure I’ll oscillate between these two feelings a lot in the coming years, as those we know build their families while we do not. I just hope that I swing to the side of gratitude and acceptance more than to the side of envy and wanting, because I do have so much and our family is so very lucky.

What is your experience with infertility and family size? How do you feel about it?

This, That and Thank You’s

Um, I’m coming up on 600 posts y’all! Any ideas on how I can mark the occasion? I like to do something when I hit the hundos.

Before I start today’s post I want to thank everyone who commented on the Falling-Out-of-Favor Phenomena post. Not only did it make me feel less freakish and slightly less bitchy, it also helped me to understand better why it might be happening and gave me the courage I needed to pull the plug when necessary. It also made clear that I need to learn how to create folders in my Google reader and start organizing blogs accordingly.

I also wanted to make a final comment regarding my 2011: The Year of Meh post. I realize that the post, and especially the title, makes it seem like I didn’t enjoy the past year or consider it to be a “good” one. That is not the case at all. I thought 2011 was a great year. I thoroughly enjoyed growing as a mother, partner and friend.  I don’t believe that something extraordinary has to happen for a year to be a “good” one, that post was meant to be a reflection on how strange it is that the eventful years are mostly behind me and I’ve entered a new phase of my life. I’m quite content to mark my remaining years by my children’s milestones, while reveling in the day to day joys that being a mother, partner and friend bring. This is the life I always dreamed of and it’s just as wonderful as I’d always hoped it would be, if maybe a little less momentous.

I also want to take this opportunity to direct you to a really remarkable piece of writing by my friend Jjiraffe who profiled my other friend Bodega Bliss in response to the New York Times insistence on only presented the ALI stories of the rich and whimsical 1%. This post profiles an RPL survivor who struggles to afford complete testing and is prohibited from pursing ART because of it’s exorbitant costs. It’s a heartbreaking story of resilience in the face of loss and I’m so proud to call both it’s writer and subject friend. If you read one post today (other than the rest of this one of course) read this.

Finally I want to thank my top five commenters of 2011. I finally checked my wordpress blog-in-review report and I have to say I was impressed. Not only can they convince a small-time operation like this that a few people gave a damn (it would have taken how many sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House for that many people to see my blog?!) but they also kept track of how many people commented and told me the top five! So here they are in a very specific order!

1. Elizabeth from Snips, Snails and Puppydog Tails. If you want to read an incredible blog about an amazing mom and her extraordinary special needs son, then please go check her out. I have to admit, I don’t comment nearly enough on this blog because I’m usually so overwhelmed by the infinite love and undying patience she exhibits and I fear I’ll say something silly or trite (and certainly useless). I’ve promised her I’ll do a MUCH better job or repaying the courtesy she’s showed me in kind.

2. Justine from A Half Baked Life. Justine can intertwine prose about food and life almost as well as I can microwave a can of soup. Seriously, she’s that good. She’s also kind, smart, supportive and understanding. Her blog is truly a treasure – for your heart, mind and rumbling tummy.

3. Sarah at To Call Me Mama. Not that Sarah needs any traffic from my site (WordPress informed her that she got over 110,000 page views last year) but she earned this spot (even with a new baby to take care of) and I’m certainly not surprised. Sarah was the one who pushed me to start a blog when we met on the FFboards over two years ago and she was pretty much the only one who commented here for almost a year. She is one of the most thoughtful bloggers (and commenters) I know and I’m so thrilled for all the happiness she found in 2011.

4/5. And rounding out my top five, TIED for the 4th spot are my two besties, Jjiraffe at Too Many Fish To Fry and Courtney at Bodega Bliss (I love that you both tied! How perfect!) I know I already spent a paragraph singing their praises but I will say it one more time – these are two fabulous women who also happen to be talented writers. I know I’m a bit biased by my best friend status, but even if I weren’t I’d still tell you that they will most certainly rock your socks off so go check them out!

(I mean, I love them so much I drink out of a mug with their faces on it.)

So a special thanks to my top five commenters! And a huge thanks to everyone who has ever commented on a post – I can’t tell you how much it means to know that my words are heard and understood. I cherish each and every one of your responses in ways I can’t adequately express.

Time Warp Tuesday: Thanksgiving Gratitude

It’s Tuesday again people. Time to do the Time Warp! Today’s theme is Thanksgiving and gratitude. Luckily I’ve written a lot of posts on the subject of gratitude so I had plenty to choose from. The post I finally did pick is called A Token of my Gratitude (or Five). It was written on September 28, 2009 just one month after I started my blog and only a week before I found out I was pregnant a second time. During that time I was struggling very much to see the good in my life. I was still healing from my ectopic and wondering if I would ever have a child to call my own. I didn’t know how to live I had when the life I wanted seemed so unattainable. At the time I had no idea that I was already pregnant. That the tiny seed that would eventually grow into my daughter had already been planted and was starting to grow.

Now, strangely, I find myself in a similar predicament, unsure of how to proceed with my life when the life I dream of remains ever elusive. I suppose now is the perfect time to reflect, again, on five things I’m thankful for, to revel in the bounty of my life and not in what I perceive as its shortcomings.

These were my five tokens of gratitude over two years ago.

Here are my five tokens of gratitude today.

Today I am thankful for…

my daughter

Isa is the light of my life. She is my happiness, my joy, my inspiration. She has healed wounds I presumed incurable. She brings me happiness with every smile. She is my everything. Every. single. day. I thank the universe for entrusting her precious spirit into my care.

my partner

I love Mi.Vida very much and am so fortunate to have him in my life. I’m thankful that he’s willing to work through our difficulties and negotiate our differences. I delight in watching him with our daughter, who adores him more than anyone. My partner inspires me, supports me and loves me unconditionally. I am confident that we will do everything in our power to make our relationship work, now and in the future.

our families

I don’t know what we would do without the continued love and support from both our parents. They shower Isa with attention (and cloths and gifts) and they frequently watch her so we can enjoy much appreciated time to ourselves. If it weren’t for our parents we couldn’t go to couples counseling every other week, relish the occasional date night, make extra money tutoring, appreciate personal pleasures like yoga, heck, we couldn’t actually afford child care. We depend on our parents support and they provide it in spades. We are so fortunate to have the close by and willing and able to help us whenever they can.

(Isa with Mi.Vida’s parents.)

my friends

I must admit, I had lost hope that I’d ever make a good friend as an adult and now (miraculously!) I have two! I seriously don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t text or call these women (J and B – I ❤ you!) when my life is making me crazy or sad or… crazy sad. They are always there for me, to shit talk someone who’s pissed me off, to sympathize when I’m down, to support me when I’m overwhelmed and to celebrate when I’m in high spirits. They are they for me rain or shine and I am so very thankful for their presence in my life.

(I somehow don’t have a picture of the three of us so I thought I’d include a screen shot of my and Jjiraffe’s never ending text stream. Also, those heinous exercise class stories I’m mentioning above? They are up on her blog right now and I highly suggest you check them out. They are hilariously insane.)

my blog/the blogosphere/the twitterverse

When I started this blog I didn’t realize where it would end up taking me. I never, in my wildest dreams, expected this place to serve as a porthole to a community of women I so admire and respect. I am simultaneously proud and humbled to participate in the dialogue that happens here, and on the blogs of my peers, every day. Teaching and motherhood are such isolating endeavors, if it weren’t for this space I’d be a fundamentally different (and lonelier) person. This community is more supportive than any I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. I truly believe feeling accepted and supported by my online friends is one of the reasons I’m so much less scared to continue building my family. If this outlet had existed for me during my first loss, it would have been a less devastating experience, I’m sure.

And that is my top five list of things I am thankful for.

What in your life are you thankful for?

Gratitude and Regret

This is actually an apology note, but it’s also a thank you card of sorts. I want to apologize for yesterday’s post – for its dismissive, disrepectful tone and its divisive content. I also want to thank you for not only engaging in what I felt was a very interesting and constructive but dialogue, but also for calling me out on the inherent negativity of my post. I really, really appreciate the fact that instead of telling me off, as you had every right to do, you provided me with constructive criticism that allowed me to learn more myself and my thoughts and feelings.

In St. Louis I spent a week with my cousin and her baby. This is the cousin who got pregnant the first month she was “not trying but not not trying”. This is the cousin who just bought a house. This is the cousin who left her teaching job and is staying home indefinitely with her daughter. This is the cousin that I love dearly but that also awakens the green monster in me.

And I realize I feel a lot of jealousy towards other SAHMs too. I want to be a SAHM. I don’t think I realized, until this week, who worn down my WOHM schedule was making me. I don’t think I realized how little I was seeing my daughter until I started seeing her all the time. I don’t think I knew how great it would felt to be home with her again until I was home with her again.

I was so lucky to have almost six months off when Isa was born. I had my summer break and then my three months of FMLA leave. It was truly amazing to spend those months with her and I am forever grateful for them. And then I went back and it was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. But I sucked it up because I didn’t have a choice. I took comfort in the fact that my very capable and loving SIL was taking care of Isa and soldiered on. I even convinced myself I didn’t mind working so much, that it wasn’t that bad. I tried hard to adopt a Buddhist attitude of acceptance and mindfulness, getting through each day and being grateful for the good in those 24 hours. I cherished the time that I had with my daughter, but I was also, deep down, always wishing for more.

Lately the financial realities of our situation have become increasingly clear. We can barely afford the life we are living. Having another child, if we’re lucky enough to do so, will bring even more financial hardship. My big dream of staying at home for one year, with two children, looks less and less likely. Unless Mi.Vida finds a new job, I will never be able to stay home. I will have to say goodbye to what feels like a modest dream and I’m resentful of that.

Of course this is assuming we can get pregnant and have another healthy baby. I know I’m already asking for too much. I know I’m already asking for everything, and then I want even more.

But other people get to have it. Why not me? Why can’t I have two healthy children and my own year at home with them?

I think I’m mourning what I will probably never have. I’m mourning the chance to be a SAHM. My heart keeps saying that maybe we can make it happen, perhaps we can swing it, but my head sees that writing on the wall. We can’t afford it. We just can’t.

I’m trying to focus on what I do have, my healthy daughter, my loving husband, a FIL who is willing to watch Isa for us next year and a job that is allowing me a part time schedule… and of course the next six weeks of summer. I have so much. I am truly fortunate. I know this is in my head and in my heart and yet I still feel this emptiness, the place where “what I can’t have” lives.

It’s that empty place that drove me to write yesterday’s post. It’s “what I can’t have” that makes me feel those things. I love being home with Isa and I want it so much. Does it make it easier for me when I lash out at those that have what I want? No. In fact it makes me feel worse but I still seem to do it. Self-destructive behavior is so strange that way.

I apologize again to everyone who was rubbed the wrong way by Friday’s post, to all the SAHM and WOHM who don’t want to further fuel the war between two kinds of mothers that really aren’t all that different to be being with. I’m sorry for sinking to that level of antagonism and I thank you for helping me find my way back to the surface of understanding and acceptance.

I hope we can all remain friends.

Working Mama Mondays: Do we want too much?

Recently I read a very interesting article from the Atlantic (thank you Jirraffe!). The article is called How to Land Your Kid in Therapy and it asserts that the nurture-you’re-child’s-self-esteem-and-happiness-at-the-expense-of-everything-else culture of the past generation might actually have backfired. The author talks about a surprising number of adults, in therapy, “who reported that they, too, suffered from depression and anxiety, had difficulty choosing or committing to a satisfying career path, struggled with relationships, and just generally felt a sense of emptiness or lack of purpose.”

Now this article was interesting to me as a parent, who hopes to veer her own daughter away from a similar fate but by the end it was clear to me that I identified more with the adults in therapy affected by their own upbringing than the current parents concerned for their children. I saw myself in the author’s clients, sitting on her couch, battling depression and anxiety and struggling with a general state of “just not happy.” This article was about me.

Now my parents were not of the variety that sheltered me from the disappointments in life. Still, I will admit to expecting more happiness from my life, more fulfillment from my job, more general enjoyment from my days. I do assume that my life should make me happy. That it’s not only completely possible but that I absolutely and unequivocally  deserve it.

And you know why I believe that? Because I was I was told that, by everyone, all the time. I still am.

Except that the older I get and the more I learn about the world, the less I believe it. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect it’s all a load of crap. Where do we get off teaching our children that they can be whatever they want to be? Does it benefit them to believe that they can, and will, find a job that both fulfills them and affords them the quality of life they desire? Honestly, I don’t think many of those jobs exist and the people who are fortunate enough to have them are the exception, not the rule.

The reality seems to be – from what I have gleaned from my short three decades in this world – that most people trudge through 40-50 hours a week at a job they might like (if they’re lucky) but more likely tolerate, just to have a smidgen of free time on the weekends and the opportunity for a week away twice a year. Most of the time they are struggling to feed their family, provide healthcare coverage and keep a roof over their head. Having a job they love that also affords them a decent living is at best a luxury, at worst a dream-never-come-true.

I’m not blaming our parents for this discrepancy. Maybe they truly believed that we could have it all. They likely had so much more than their parents, if the trend continued their children could have their cake and eat it too. They didn’t foresee the economic crash and the continuing downturn. They weren’t told that their children’s generation would be the first to have less than they did. I don’t think they meant to lie to us, but in the end, I believe they did.

Recently Mel asked “what’s the best and worst thing about being an adult.” Mi.Vida and I promptly agreed that financial responsibilities and stresses were the worst but when it came to the best, our opinions diverged drastically. Mi.Vida believes that the best part about being an adult is you can do or be, whatever you want. I couldn’t disagree with that more.

If that were true I could quit my job and become a writer. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow or next year, but some day, if I worked hard enough, I could do it. That is what I was taught and that is what my partner still believes. I used to believe that, I honestly did. Now, frankly, I don’t. My new goal is maybe, if I’m very lucky, I can make enough writing that I can teach part time and write part time. But be a writer? Have my writing pay my rent and insurance and childcare? That is anything but a given, no matter how hard I work. The idea that someone might assume so strikes me as absurd.

In more ways than not, I have lived a charmed life. I was given everything I needed and infinitely more. I set goals and worked hard to achieved them. I went to the university of my dreams. I became a teacher in a good district. I thought I was building the life I wanted. Now I’m not so sure that teaching is for me. I want to stay home with my daughter, I want to write. I want to take pictures and travel to Spanish-speaking countries. I want to do so many things but the reality is I can’t. I also can’t leave my job. And even though teaching is probably not what I want to do, deep down in my heart, the reality is it has to be enough. In all likelihood I am going to be teaching for the rest of my life and I will have to find a way for that to make me happy.

And why shouldn’t it? I enjoy my job as much as I don’t. It’s difficult and stressful and monotonous but it can also be fun and inspiring and challenging. And of course I have breaks during the year and the coveted two months of summer. I chose this profession because it was compatible with a family and when my kids are in school, it will be. And while I’ll never earn much, I can make choices that would ensure job security and the ability to pay my bills. That is more than a lot of people can say. Heck, that is more than 99% of the world can say, who am I to be disappointed?

I’m also fortunate enough to have the choice to write, in my free time, if I’m inspired to do so. Why don’t I focus on that luxury instead of wallowing in the fact that it can’t be my job? Why do I always want more? Was I taught seek unattainable fulfillment? I certainly wasn’t taught not to expect it.

I believe we are encouraged to want too much. Our consumer culture is driven by desire and as parents we haven’t and don’t do enough to counteract that. We need to teach qualities like “perseverance, resiliency, and reality-testing” which the Atlantic article asserts actually lead to success and fulfillment. We need to teach our children, and ourselves, to weather disappointment, to go without. We need to teach gratitude, appreciation, generosity and selflessness. These are skills that will benefit them and us, that might some day provide contentment.

The reality is, we might not get to be what we want to be, or we might have to sacrifice greatly to get there, and the same can befall our children. If certain lessons are learned; that frequently life brings disappointment, that sometimes their is no just reward for our efforts, that we must be grateful for what we have and stop continuously looking for more, that sometimes we won’t be happy, maybe, just maybe, we will wake up one day knowing how to be satisfied with our life.

And maybe some day, if we’re very lucky, we can learn to be truly happy with what we have.

Confessional Fridays: The State of my House (and Life)

I know most bloggers are doing a big end of the year post today. Maybe I should be too, but I can’t seem to think of anything clever to say. Besides, today is Confessional Fridays, and I’ve decided that I want Confessional Fridays to be as real as they can be. I want to be embarrassed by what I post here. I want to make sure that what happens here is brutally honest. So today, I will talk about, using words and pictures, the state of my house. This will easily segue into a discussion on the state of my life. I might even find a way to tie it all up into a nice, good-bye 2010, hello new year, post.

My house is a wreck right now. AN. ABSOLUTE. WRECK. We came home from our vacation to a clean, orderly apartment and in less than 24 hours we had thoroughly destroyed it. Some of this was (is) unpacking clutter. Some can be attributed to holiday loot that has not yet found a home. But most of it is just the sad state of my home. I am a messy, messy person and my house reflects that. Usually I can keep things manageable, but right now they are anything but.

My life seems to be paralleling the state of my house. I don’t know if the messiness of my house reflects the craziness of my life, or if my life feels inherently crazy when there is no sane space to come home to. Maybe it’s both. But right now they both feel a little overwhelming. I also feel too lazy to deal with either.

Now, this would not be a true Confessional Fridays post without a me really taking responsibility for the disaster that is my livings space. So here goes. Here is actual photo documentation of what I’ve allowed my house to become (sorry the first set of shots are so yellow, Hipstamatic put some weird lens on that I didn’t know about and I was too lazy to go around and take the shots again).

This is the playroom portion of the playroom/office. As you can see the Linking Letters have not been put away and books are strewn all about. A common occurrence in these parts.

The office portion of the playroom/office. At least it’s my part of the office portion. It’s actually much messier than it looks in the picture. Those are dirty sports bras on the chair (from a power walk I did days ago) and the pile in front of the chair is things my partner cleaned off the kitchen table that I need to put away. I realize the desk didn’t make it into the shot, and I wish it had. My desk is a total disaster.

This poor corner of my kitchen is housing the empty bucket for Isa’s cloth diapers, a Costco sized bag of dirty sheets, a bag of freshly laundered cloth diapers and the two huge pots I bought to strip diapers (that I’ve only used once in two months). There is also a HUGE Nordstrom bag full of recyclables and a stack of boxes that are also destine for the big blue bin downstairs.

Ah the living room. Notice the TV tray with last night’s dinner dishes still on it. I would also like to draw your attention to the myriad junk lying on the floor. That pillow on the couch smells like mildew and I can’t decide if I should just throw it out or try to salvage it. The throw is coming off the glider (put there to protect it from projectile (and any other form of) vomit). One good thing: the two remote controls are still sitting on the couch and have not yet been consumed by the cushions.

The running stroller, effectively blocking the front door and holding us captive in the case of any kind of emergency.

And now the for grand finale.

Now for the really bad stuff.

Now for my bedroom.

(Man, this is so embarrassing.)

I might as well start with worst of it. If you can’t tell what the following photo is depicting, well, that is pretty much how it feels in real life too. You see these many piles when you walk into my room and look left. That bottom drawer houses my nursing apparel and is perpetually open (to be fair, it easily and frequently jams if I close it all the way). Other things found in this shot: two backpacks; the grocery bag I used as a carryon when I came home from St. Louis; a bag of Christmas presents (to me) from the in-laws; a plastic bag with my shoes; my Ugg slippers (LOVE!); Isa’s diaper bag (which is sitting on top of an open suitcase overflowing with clothes); and myriad onsies, bras, underwear and other apparel littering the floor.

Close up on the HUGE piece of luggage I have still not unpacked. Not only have I not unpacked it, but I’ve been piling stuff in it since we got home. I have to win this battle by tomorrow morning, or I miss my chance to return it to my in-laws. I will not miss that chance. Behind the suitcase is the overflowing laundry hamper. I really need to do colors.

While the previous messes do not necessarily represent the status quo, these next shots are of spots that always look as bad as they are being portrayed today. They are perpetually on my list of “things to conquer” but by default they always win, because I’m constantly raising the white flag of surrender. Someday I’ll hit each of these spots with a sneak attack. Some day.

This particular corner includes a box under a hanging clothes organizer. That box contains all manner of socks, bras, the pads to push-up bras (that I take out because my tatas are huge), knee and ankle braces (????), picture frames, lingerie (that hasn’t been worn in over a year), tights, leggings (almost all still in their packaging) and possibly dozens of things I don’t know about. I haven’t actually used anything from that box in at least three years, though I have searched it a handful of times. You’ll also notice the red backpack on the floor. This is full of emergency supplies. I love my father-in-law and I love that he’s thinking of us, but where.am.I.going.to.put.that.bag?! I’m sure you already noticed that two drawers are slightly ajar – these ones do NOT jam when closed correctly.

This is that same, corner, just panned out some. That is my purse on the floor, which I don’t use regularly any more and so I don’t know what to do with it. I use it when I’m at work, but not when I’m with Isa. I don’t even know what is next to it. I probably wouldn’t know if I went into my room right now and checked.

Ah the top of my dresser. Always reminiscent of a disaster site of some kind. Can you find: Birthday Bear. Four disposable diapers (from our trip). The AT&T bag from my iPhone (purchased over a month ago). The tupperware where we keep quarters (and is ominously empty right now). A UCBerkeley 101 board book. Folded money. My Stop Overshopping Workbook (I really need to dust that off). Empty quarter roll sleeves? A knocked over pictures frame.

There are still one or two more photos I could share but I think you get the point. My house is a total disaster area right now. That is a fact. I have a lot of work to do in the new year.

But I welcome it.

The truth is I would only be writing a post about the mess that is my daily existence today, on the last day of 2010, if I weren’t in a really, really good place in my life right now. I feel like I’ve finally arrived at the person I’ve always wanted to be. Through the decade that was my late teens and early to mid-twenties I went through some very dark times. I battled depression and food/body issues that threatened to cripple me. Throughout those dark days I wrote in many journals and a constant topic in those entries were about how I was meant to be a mother and I’d be much happier when I blossomed into the adult I was to become. Of course, I wrote those entries terrified that I’d never find a partner to share my life with (Mi.Vida was my first real relationship and I met him when I was almost 25). I was also fearful that I’d never get pregnant or get pregnant only to lose my babies, like my mother had so many times. Still, despite my paralyzing fear that I’d never get here, I knew, just knew deep in my heart, that this was the part of my life I was meant to live. This was the part that would inherently make me happy.

And it has.

There are still rough parts. I still struggle with my finances and worry about how we’ll pay all our bills. I still agonize over all the parts of my daughter’s life that I’m missing while I’m at work. I still fret over how to let Mi.Vida know that he is still a huge priority in my life even though his needs are many times pushed to the back of the line, behind cloth diapers, laundry, grading papers, doing dishes and just plain needing to sleep. I don’t want to say that this life is always easy, because it’s not. But I do want to express how grateful I am for everything I have. How fulfilled I feel with the life I lead. How hopeful I am for the future.

I know that every woman who reads my blog is in a different place in their life. Some are cautiously cradling the hope of a fledgling pregnancy, others are optimistically awaiting a child they’ve nourished for many months. Some have just welcomed their child into the world and others have had weeks and months to become acquainted. Some are embracing the miracle of adoption and still others are embarking on fresh cycles, hoping that a new protocol will bring them what they want, what they need. And some are just hoping against hope that 2011 will be their year, even though they don’t yet know what it will bring them. I also know that some women, too many women, are carrying new grief, and that the new year seems more difficult than they can comprehend.

Please know that I hold each and every one of you close to my heart and I hope with every fiber of my being that this new year makes all of your wishes come true, even if right now that feels impossible.

Happy New Year.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Thankful

Again, I’m sorry to post so late. Isa had a difficult day today, she seemed at least partially upset pretty much all day. I’m not sure what was going on, but she was not a very happy baby and would only nap (and do anything else for that matter) whilst next to me. As you can probably imagine, it’s difficult to type with a fidgety baby on your lap.

But enough of that. On to the proper post…

I’ve been thinking about writing a post on loss for a little while now. I read some baby loss blogs and in the past two weeks news of infant loss has reached me from a few different places in the blog-o-sphere. These two stories, one of a 4.5 month old boy dying of SIDS and one of a 6 month old girl dying of medical complications, left me feeling exquisite despair. I read the posts of these mothers and just wept uncontrollably. I thought breathlessly, selfishly, “What if that happens to me? What if I lose Isa?” But after the initial shock passed all I could do was feel immense grief for these families. I can’t wrap my head around that kind of loss and I’m sure they are struggling with it as well. While many people turn to faith in a higher being to bring them comfort, I do not have that. I try to turn to Buddhism’s many teachings on attachment and suffering but it does little to console me (just as I’m sure a faith in God doesn’t initially ease the sting).

What has helped me is my daughter. My daughter’s presence has been such a comfort to me in these past weeks. Not only have I checked on her more while she’s sleeping, but I’ve also basked in her presence more when she’s awake. I’ve gazed longer into her eyes. I’ve cuddled her longer in the glider. I’ve kissed her forehead more while she’s breastfeeding and rolled her tiny hand into mine with greater frequency throughout the day. I’ve closed my eyes to take in the smell of her hair and skin stopped to listen to her gentle coos or forceful vocalizations. Basically I’ve just been more aware of her and how amazing she is and how fiercely I love her.

And as I’ve wondered what we should do to help Isa sleep longer, in the back of my mind I’ve known that it really doesn’t matter, as long as she’s happy and healthy and here with us each and every day.

I don’t know why some people lose their babies. I do know I feel enormous guilt sometimes, that I haven’t lost mine. I do know I feel pain for them. I do know I feel sorrow. And of course, I cannot know that Isa will be alright, that she will grow up to have her own family someday and then die contentedly of old age. I can’t know that I’ll always be here to share in the life I hope she’ll be lucky enough to lead.

I never knew the babies who were taken from their parents, not in real life. I knew them from pictures and from the stories their parent’s told, but I didn’t know them. And while I can’t remember them or love them the way their parents did, I can honor their memory by living life more fully, by enjoying my daughter more completely and by feeling grateful, each and every day, for what I have.