"Your Turn" is a series of posts where readers share their stories of parenthood, work, the struggle for a balance, or just life generally. If you are interested in contributing a story, please email me at email@example.com, or click here.
Awoke from 4-5 hours of disrupted sleep on time – check. Got self and 1.5 year old up, dressed, fed, lunch packed, pee-peed, washed out potty, out the door by 8am – check. One daycare drop off, one temp training session for my upcoming maternity leave, two hours of fighting spontaneous cubicle nap – check, check and check.
As my 37 week OB appointment was wrapping up I was mentally checking off all my usuals. It had been a good day. Until Dr. Sabado asked something I was never asked during my last pregnancy – “Um… Are you dieting?”
Under any other circumstance this question would be met with smiles, thanks and a glance at my skinny jeans which must be really working. But during a trimester in which I’m to be gaining about a pound a week, I had apparently lost weight since last week’s appointment. This question had me in tears in .4 seconds. It was the pointing out by an unbiased, unassuming party that despite my best efforts, I was not doing so well.
The Thursday prior to this appointment I had entered a dark hospital room with soft music playing and all my local relatives crammed in standing around, most in tears. My dad’s health had taken a sudden and unexpected turn for the worst. He suddenly went from a Niagara Falls expedition to an upcoming Panama Canal Cruise to a terminal cancer diagnosis with a 4-6 month life expectancy two weeks prior. But looking at him with closed eyes, head slumped to the side and a large oxygen mask over him, it was clear that there was no way this was going on for 3.5-6 more months.
We all held his hands and told him we loved him, but mostly we just all stood there watching him slowly and very intentionally breathing for about an hour until he suddenly and quietly just stopped. He was gone.
My uncle, aunt, cousins, sisters, and mother cried. I cried. My confused little daughter cried at my crying.
After that night what I really need is to just check out, disconnect, and cry for as long as needed to pull myself back together. But my roles as mom, wife, full time graphic designer and 9 month pregnant woman don’t allow me to really do any of those. A one year old doesn’t understand “Let’s just take it easy today.” The house doesn’t feel sympathy and clean itself or make us dinners. Having just started a new job, maternity leave is going to be difficult and short anyway as it is - taking time off now isn't an option. And as nice as a break for me physically would be, I can’t take off the 9 month pregnant belly.
The demanding roles I play can be difficult even on my best days, but on my worst days playing them can seem to be an insurmountable task. Singing “EIEIO” for the 12th time in a row, trying to be interested (and interesting) in conversation with my husband, being mentally and physically present in a long winded meeting at work that I’m only half certain I need to be at, and having to walk slowly and delicately to the bathroom every two hours to avoid a hip giving out, all the while performing all of these usual tasks while feeling hurt, shocked, lost, empty, scared, and just trying not to cry at any given moment – lately doing it all has felt like too much.
These past few weeks have been more difficult on me than a blog can describe. But I have to say, the thing that keeps me going - the thing that makes it all worth it - is remembering the mental state I was in just a couple months prior to today.
I was sitting on my daughter’s bedroom floor with my husband, watching her play with the 8 dollar little bubble blower we got for her 1st birthday. She was laughing hysterically, which made Jon and I laugh hysterically which made both of our long days at work seem like a distant memory. And at that time I remember thinking of my various friend’s Facebook statuses showing them in exotic locales, fulfilling their performer dreams like I had, being gorgeous and having these thriving city night lives. My knee jerk reaction had always been jealousy, but as I sat there totally captivated by my adorable little girl; feeling loved, safe and happy, I thought – wait a minute, I’m not jealous at all.
It was in that moment I realized that I had done what I set out to do. I aimed, shot and fired at happiness through marriage and kids and (with many blessings and the grace of God) accomplished it. I didn’t need any of those other things to feel fulfilled. I was already there.
And today as things are a bit greyer than they were just a couple months ago, I anxiously await (and am confident I will be) getting back to that same content and peaceful place again very soon.
This post was written by Karin Richey.
** To everyone who has expressed an interest in contributing to this series, thank you so much! I aim to get everyone's post included. I will email you a few days before I post your story to let you know it's coming up soon.**