The impossibility of having it all

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The idea came to me one day while I was driving (as all good ideas do!). My mind, which these days, as a new mom, feels so overloaded and exhausted – somehow pulled together all the thoughts and experiences I’d had over the past eight months into a a cohesive story.

I quickly dictated the ideas into my phone (seriously the best phone function ever!), and worked on it over the next couple of weeks until I felt satisfied with its message. I wrote it partly out of the need to get it out of my head and on paper – writing has always been therapeutic for me – and partly because I know I’m not the only mama out there to experience the extreme anxiety that can take hold after baby is born.

I figured if my story could help one person, the article would have done its job. So I submitted it to ScaryMommy.com, and they decided to publish it: The Impossibility of Having It All (And the Toll It Takes On Our Health When We Try).

Putting something so personal out there, and then sharing it with friends and family, was terrifying, but so rewarding… and so freeing. Both old and new friends have reached out to tell me they experience the same inner conflicts and challenges. A few have also battled anxiety their entire lives.

Some of the people who reached out gave up trying  a while ago, and some are still convincing themselves they need to. But regardless of their progress, there is a community out there, of mamas and non-mamas alike (and a few dads, too), who’ve helped me realize I no longer need to hide my anxiety anymore. There’s no need to be ashamed of it, and I’m not alone in my struggle to try to have it all.

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Hi, I’m new here. Kind of.

twins

Sharing photos of your kids becomes a mom reflex.

I have that disoriented feeling I’d get as a kid on the first day of school. After three months of reading, watching TV and enjoying the sunshine, navigating the same halls I’d walked earlier that year, under the humming fluorescent lights, felt…weird. But after a day or two, it was like I’d never left.

Returning to this blog after a two-year hiatus feels the same way. At first, my posts seemed to be written by a stranger. But as I continued to read, it all became familiar again – well, kind of. It’s only been two years, but I’m a completely different person in so many ways.

Right before my last post, my husband and I decided to begin trying for a baby. I knew from friends and family that getting pregnant for the first time didn’t always happen right away (knowing that back in my younger years would have saved me a lot of anxiety, by the way), but we had no idea it would become one of the most physically and emotionally difficult journeys we’d ever taken.

Against all medical odds (my doctor admitted she had no explanation for our success), I got pregnant during my first round of IVF – with twins. My pregnancy was an adventure, to say the least*, as was my life immediately after giving birth** and in the months following***.

But I’m grateful and happy to say things have settled down, and we have a beautiful 10-month-old boy and girl. J is a sweet, cuddly, laid-back and oh-so-happy little man. L came into this world making her presence known, and she hasn’t stopped. She is sassy, curious and has no problem recognizing what she wants and making it known – but also a total sweetheart.

While this blog’s focus won’t change (after all, the balancing act becomes even more challenging in motherhood), I do plan to use this space to share some of my pregnancy and new-mom experiences because I learned so much, beyond parenting skills, from each of them. I learned about myself, my needs and what’s truly important. And I’m hoping I can help others by passing on those stories.

More to come. For now, I’m off to feed some babies, then crash. At 8:30 p.m. (key learning #1: sleep when you can).

 

*More on that in a later post, but pregnancy rash is seriously the worst.
**More coming on that, too
***Read more on that here.

Lessons my cousin taught me

Julie and I at my 8th or 9th birthday party

I’ve been absent a while. This summer has been a whirlwind of fun – and tragedy. Beside the quick passing of my grandmother, my cousin, my hero growing up, passed away unexpectedly last week while on a business trip. We’re still waiting to find out how.

What we do know is she texted her aunt at 9:30 p.m. No one heard from her after that. She missed her morning meeting, and concerned co-workers asked hotel staff to check on her. They found her there.

Julie was 9 years older than me and the sister I never got but wanted desperately. She was beautiful, vivacious, dramatic and great at cracking people up with her witty, self-deprecating and sarcastic sense of humor. Growing up, my family spent many weekend evenings at her house. I would join her in the bathroom as she got ready for her night out, watching every move she made with her curling iron and makeup brush so that I could look just like her when I grew up. I would listen to the same 80s metal music she loved, tuning into MTV to stay up to speed on the latest hits. And when my mother would occasionally declare, “You’re acting just like your cousin,” during one of my dramatic moments, I took it as the highest compliment.

In her 20s, Julie contracted Lyme disease, and it advanced pretty far before it was caught. It affected her joints and brain. A pure miracle, the disease went into complete remission when she became pregnant at 29. But she continued to have health issues, many of which she chose to keep to herself. As a result, I saw her less and less as we grew older, and she frequently missed family events due to her battles.

Despite this, as I reflected on her life this week, I realized she was so much of who I strive to be every day, imparting lessons I want to share so that you can realize just how amazing she was:

1. Embrace who you are

Julie was always herself. She didn’t hold back if she was meeting someone new or adjust her behavior if someone had an issue with it. She cracked jokes, said what she wanted to say and, occasionally, would “chug” liquor-infused whipped cream – her favorite. For her 40th birthday, I even made her a “holster” attached to a necklace so that her whipped cream was never too far away at parties.

2. Don’t be afraid to change

Jules was an incredible entrepreneur. After college, she started a dog care/walking business that grew rapidly in just a few years, just before doggie daycare became a household term. After getting Lyme disease, she sold the business and pursued a career in HR consulting and job placement. When the economy took a turn for the worse and she was laid off, she started her own consulting company. Julie was a fighter and amazing problem solver.

3. Be nice

I never heard Julie say anything bad about anyone. Julie was one of those people who made everyone feel welcome and accepted. And she was the biggest sweetheart in the world, often texting me to tell me she loved me or I was her favorite cousin. Not surprisingly, she touched a lot of lives. Approximately 1,000 people came to her wake. The line was out the funeral home door for three hours.

4. Just smile

No matter what was happening in her life, Julie had a sense of humor about it. Her smile was infectious. I’m not sure why, but I can guess it’s because she knew what was truly important in life: her family and friends. She was an incredible mother, wife, sister, daughter, cousin, friend… you name it.

Facing everyday stresses, it’s easy to forget these simple lessons we’ve learned. But I ask you to honor my cousin and remind yourself to do these things today – at the very least. The world needs more Julies.