2009 - What a tremendous year in our family. This has probably been the most exciting year of my life. There have been so many ups and downs (thankfully, more of the former, less of the latter) and my mind has never EVER been so inundated with new information, knowledge and experience, which will hopefully turn into wisdom some day. Earlier in the day I was reflecting on what my day-to-day was like before Mia, and it turns out, I was pretty stinkin' busy. Here's what I used to do:
For the months of January through mid-April of 2009, I:
worked 40 hrs a week as a middle school guidance counselor
was involved in 3 bible studies a week (aside from our normal church-going activities), one a Beth Moore bible study; one a study on Hebrews; and one a study on becoming parents...talk about a bit overwhelming!
went to prenatal yoga 1x a week
attended 2 massively intense childbirth class sessions
put together a nursery and got set up for a baby
redecorated the master bedroom and outfitted the guest bedroom
and took pictures of a growing belly :P
I assure you that my intent in sharing these is not to boast, but more like, what was I thinking?!? I knew when last January when I created my schedule for the rest of my prenatal life (those days were numbered), I'd be mega-busy, but I had no idea just how crazy things would get.
Fortunately, in February of 2009, Greg and I took advantage of Presidents' Day Weekend and got away to St. Augustine, FL. It was just what the doctor ordered. So many had recommended we take a final vacation as just the two of us before the baby arrived, and I'm so glad we took their advice. Even though my legs and hips hurt after walking around St. Augustine the entire weekend, it was worth it to create some final memories of just us, see someplace different, and stay in a lavish hotel. Honestly, it's probably the last time in quite some time we will ever drop that dough for such lodging. But as I say, totally worth it.
I really needed to slow down my life though, with that crazy schedule above, because when state testing took place at my job site in March, the HEAT was on. Probably literally, too. As a guidance counselor, there was a lot of pressure to make sure things were absolutely perfect. There was little room for error. This was indeed, stressful, and I believe contributed to the only pre-term hospital visit I had. At 34 weeks, I had blurry vision and extremely high blood pressure checks and went to the hospital around 11pm one Monday night. They admitted me to Labor & Delivery, monitored the baby, checked some labs, asked me about 5 billion unnecessary questions, also interrogated my choice of a birthing center, and then decided to let me go as I did not display all the qualifying symptoms for preeclampsia, thank goodness. If I had, it's possible I may have had to deliver Mia very, very early. And seeing how tiny a tot she was at her actual birth, who knows what complications she would have been riddled with so early on. So, after that, I spoke to my principal, my assistant principal, and my guidance team, and decided to slow things down. I almost considered quitting early, because there just seemed to be a LOT of stress at work. Yet, I hung on, worked a little over a month, through spring break, worked one more week after that, and called it quits (1.5 weeks before my EDD). I tried to wrap up any loose ends, make notes for my coworkers so they'd know how to handle my business, and said goodbye to my students. It was bittersweet, but I was determined to leave everything in a good spot, and with time to work on my own stuff at home.
I'm very glad I did that as well, because Mia arrived 3 days early and it was well worth it to have everything as much in place as I could have anticipated!
We had the best labor I could have imagined. Alright, I could have done without the throwing up in the early stages of labor, but the day itself was beautiful. It was sunny, breezy, very peaceful and not too hot. I labored at home and at the birth center with a sea of warm and supportive faces. Mia arrived healthily, albeit on the tiny side, and relief and awe washed over me. It was really just the beginning of a much, much more interesting journey. (Mia only a few hours old!)
Now, moving on...
If you've ever read The Twilight Saga, which I have, and feel sort of ridiculous for even acknowledging, then you'll understand how in book 2 (New Moon), how life just seems to stop for Bella after Edward leaves. The months following his departure are like a blur, and the author illustrates that by just marking a page for October, November, December, etc. That is how the months of June, July and August felt to me. The month of May was a bit more memorable as we stayed in the hospital for a week with Mia, we had many visitors at home, and then I went back to the hospital myself with that begrudged blood clot, and my mom returned for a week to help. I remember May. But, June, July, and August? Not so much! I know we celebrated Independence Day, drove to TN, bought a Honda Pilot, went to my friend Amy's wedding, and had some other friends and family in town, but that's about it. I was pretty much in the thick of newborn world. In some ways, I miss remembering just what Mia was like, being so small and so uni-dimensional, but in other ways, I don't miss it at all. It was very exhausting at times! Mentally and physically, I had read that it would/could be this way, but honestly, nothing ever prepares you for it all like the real thing.
(I look at this picture of the 3 of us and think, how was I even alive in this picture? I was exhausted...this was the first day my leg started to really hurt--first signal of the blood clot, and I was suffering from the all too common baby blues. Most definitely a pitiful attempt at a smile.)
Fast forward to now. There were also memorable events from September-December, mostly my brother's wedding and traveling up to MN, and then celebrating all the holidays with Mia. It seemed like getting to 5 or 6 months made a big difference with Mia and us. Routines started to fall into place, sleeping habits improved, and she became more independent in some ways. More infant, less newborn. More of her own person, you might say. And we really like her!
Even though some parts of the year were extremely difficult, I don't want that to tarnish one's perception of our entire experience as new parents. It weathered us, seasoned us, and forced us to grow. We are better people for it. We're not perfect, but I think we've become more compassionate, more centered, and hopefully, wiser. We're still have so much more to do and to grow, but we're getting there. As my wise younger bro once said, rehashing a quote from my own father, "We're all on the road to maturity, some just travel there more quickly."
I'm anxious to see what the year 2010 brings. In some ways, I'm very sad to see 2009 go, but in other ways, I can't wait to see what this road to maturity brings us to next!