Unending Cycle

It’s Sunday. A day of football and relaxing. Time to reset for the week and enjoy your time off before starting over again on Monday.

It’s Sunday and here I sit in an apron, smelling strongly of bleach and cleaning supplies, sipping a mild tea meant to help boost my ability to conceive this month.

This month marks a year and a half of trying to have a baby. That’s 19 months or about 82 weeks. Roughly about 575 days of the same thing each cycle: hoping, wishing, trying, logging, monitoring, and then nothing.

My job changed recently. I left the high stress job sitting at a desk Monday through Friday, 7:30-4:30 to a little less pay but a much larger reward. I’m stressing less and I’m home more. Plus I’m doing what I love and have passion for. I’m in the classroom teaching and touching lives.

Even with this change, each month is the same. We try and hope, crossing our fingers for a positive. Then nothing but the silence of one single pink line and another month gone.

We’ve done a lot on our own. We’ve changed our lifestyles, we’re keeping healthy (as we can) and we’re adding natural supplements to help boost our chances. But I’ve got to be real and accept that we may need the help of a doctor.

It feels silly to need help. Jake came into my life so easily and without even trying. But this struggle after having had a healthy pregnancy years ago is real and painful. I feel I’m failing and that something is wrong with me. And in some dark corner of my mind I also feel that I’ve done something wrong and this is my punishment.

Thanks Catholic upbringing.

We’ve been open when people ask about our goal to have more kids and we’ve been even more open about the fact that we’ve been trying for some time. This tends to be met with incredulous stares and confusion. They look at me and ask “But you’ve been pregnant already” like I don’t remember or that the thought hasn’t crossed my own mind, too. I know they don’t mean harm but it sucks to hear.

Oddly, as open as we can be, we don’t share much without being prompted first. I doubt more than a handful of people close to us know we’re trying and have been for over a year now. It’s kept close to our vest and if asked, we’ll chat. Otherwise, it’s a battle we fight alone.

Here we start another year, 2015. Another year, another month, another day to try again.

Date Night

In the passing lights of the highway, the glint from his wedding ring catches my attention as we drive to the coast for a quiet dinner together. A dinner with no children, no diaper bags, no whining. Just us.

I tuck my hand into his as he speaks of his clients that day. Of the menial details of his Monday. The conversation is light and airy, flowing between us as we share the little things we forget during the weekly hustle at home due to the homework assignments that need to be checked and the bathtime antics that need to be mediated.

I lean back against the headrest and let his voice carry me down the motorway towards the grey sky of November hanging above us. He hasn’t told me where we are going but I know. It’s our place. A little harbor restaurant tucked away between the boats and jetties where we can dine on seafood and wine with real linens and a small candle lit between us. Tonight there is no worry of little curious fingers finding their way into the glass sconces or markers making a permanent drawing of Big Bird on the snow white table cloth.

Tonight there will be no kid’s menu and no macaroni and cheese to cool down with our gentle whispers. No hamburgers to order with only meat and cheese between two buns, preferably without seeds. No sippie cups or lidded cups of any kind to avoid spills. No fighting over the crayons brought to the table to placate the children as they wait for their food.

Instead I’m in my purple sweater dress. The one that hangs perfectly off my curves that are usually hidden beneath my comfortable, worn jeans and careless tee-shirts. I managed to dig up a pair of black nylons and heels to match so that I’m warm yet dressed up. And though we rushed from work to the bathrooms to ready ourselves to sit in traffic on our way to the shore after the exchange of offspring from parents to grandparents, I managed to put on makeup and let down my hair.

His smooth voice brings me back and I realize I miss hearing him speak without whispering after bedtime or raising his tone to be heard over the din. I laugh at his jokes and he asks me about work. He shares his opinion about a song on the radio and I joke about the video I saw at lunch. Then, without warning, a silent blanket falls around us as we coast along the ebbing sea of glowing taillights. Small rain drops pitter against the windshield as the tires beneath lull us into a comfortable silence.

And there between us, our hands clasped casually over the center console full of nurse rhymes on CD and pacifiers, we fall in love all over again. In that brief moment of silence with only our palms resting together do we remember why we are here. Without a word, only a sigh from both of us, we find our romance tucked within the crumb covered seats, a lone shoe, and the toys that have been “lost”.

Letter To My Child: Aching For You

Dear Peanut,

The other day your big brother Jake asked me if you could be born on his birthday. I looked down at him, his big eyes gleaming back at me while he waited patiently to hear my answer. My heart heaved with a sigh and my soul ached for him.

Oh how I wished I could say yes. How I wished I could grant him this wish. I hated to tell him that no, at this moment you wouldn’t be here in time. His 8th birthday was only a few months away and you were not ready yet. We had not been blessed with any news of your coming. Instead we were waiting, again, for another cycle of trying. A cycle of hoping and crossing fingers for that faint second line.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and told him soon, hopefully sooner than later, we’ll tell him that he was going to be a big brother. Maybe not now but soon.

We are all very ready to find out that you will be joining our family. That you will make us a family of four. We can’t wait to read the pink lines, to celebrate, to hear your first heartbeat, then to begin the long process of growing along with you.

Your dad can’t wait. Your brother can’t wait. Without words and with only looks, I can read their thoughts and wishes and hopes. Their hearts opened on their sleeves and beating for you to come along and join us.

And my heart breaks a little each time the tests tell me no, not this month. No not this time. One more month. One more cycle. A little more waiting. I ache a little more each time I have to say to your dad and your brother “Not yet…”.

Peanut, we are all waiting, rather impatiently, for you to be here. The dreamy look in your dad’s eyes as we talk about future plans and try to imagine what your eyes will look like and whether you’ll have his nose or mine. And you brother, well, he can’t wait to hold you, to kiss you and to teach you all the things a big brother should.

And I can’t wait to hear your cries for the first time telling me that my waiting is over.

Impatiently yours,

Mama

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Your family awaits…

Letter To My Son: The Hairy Summer

Dear Jacob,

When you were seven, we had a very big, busy summer as a family. It was the summer we got married. And by we, I mean me, your dad, and you. It was also the summer that you came into your own.

You discovered your hair.

Your hair was a beast unto itself. It didn’t curl like mine but laid straight against your head in a perfect shag. It grew more and more blonde with each passing warm summer day in the pool and outside playing with friends. Your perfectly chestnut hair changed over the summer to a perfect golden hue.

That summer, you were determined to grow it out long and you wanted so very badly for it to curl. Every other day or so you’d plead for me to curl your hair with a curling iron. Of course, those requests came at a time when I was busy cooking or doing something else so I had to say “not right now” more often than not. Even though it wouldn’t do it on its own and I wasn’t available to curl it for you, you found that your sleep habits helped create that wave and style you so hoped for.

I’ll be curious to know, when you read this as a grow adult, what your memories are.

Do you remember, as I do, the tangle that was your hair most mornings?
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The way it would flip out and scrunch up all over your head?
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It had a life of its own.

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Along with your hair, you also discovered your own style. You preferred a hat and jacket on most days. Your nice dinner jacket had become more of a costume piece. You wore it so often it had tears and rips in the lining. So many that I couldn’t keep up with them so I just let them go, figuring no one would notice…

Some days you were a super spy.

 photo null_zpsf2ea54f6.jpgAnd boy, were you a stylish super spy.

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And other days…well…I guess you went for that lazy beach bum look.

Other times you straight up wore a costume, becoming someone completely different. Comic book heroes were a big hit for you.

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As were comic books. That was the summer you discovered reading and the joy that a book could bring.

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Even if you read at the most inopportune places like in line at the grocery store or well past your bedtime. Many nights we’d find you wide awake with a book in hand and flashlight to guide your eyes when you should have been fast asleep.

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And just between us, I got a kick out of it. It brought me a special kind of joy to find you still reading when you should have been asleep. Though I had to act like an adult and take the books away so that you would go to sleep, I secret was dancing a little happy jig in my heart.

The best part about it was watching you develop before our very eyes. Rarely did you care what others thought about you. You did your own thing and walked your own road.

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Like the time you wanted blue hair.

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Or the time you dressed in long pants and a collared shirt in 90 degree weather.

You looked so spiffy even though I knew you’d be super warm and sweaty when I picked you up later that day.

Living life to the fullest, you pushed boundaries and found your own pace. Much of the time, it was appreciated by your dad and me. Other times, well…you’d push those boundaries and we’d push back only to find ourselves in a deadlock with you, head to head. It was at those times I’d remind myself that it was good for you to have a strong personality. It would serve you well as an adult, even if it would make your dad and me go grey early.

This was the summer you discovered more about yourself, about your interests, and about your personal tastes.

This was the summer I fell more in love with you, my son. I didn’t think it was possible because I loved you so much already. And I also worried, with the big responsibilities that came with a marriage, that I’d somehow fail you in some way. Instead I found new ways to love you than I had before. I loved your ingenuity, you curiosity, your creativity and I loved watching you discover new interests.

This was the summer you discovered your hair and it was the summer I discovered my love for you was endless.

xoxoxo,

Mama

Yours. Mine. Ours.

When you become married, life suddenly goes from being singular to being pluralized. It’s no longer me or I. It’s we and us. We will be available next weekend. This gift is from us. What was mine is now ours and the same goes for him. What was his is ours. That couch I bought years before? It’s ours. His colorful fiesta mugs? Those are ours too.

While these little things are small and insignificant, it does take some brain work to adjust our vocabulary. To remember to use inclusive language when, for so long, you spoke only of yourself. And maybe, though the ring is on your finger and the memories of the wedding day are still lingering, you still don’t quite believe that you made the plunge. That somewhere in your mind you still don’t believe you’ll ever get married even if you have the documents to prove that you have, in fact, been hitched recently.

I’m finding for myself that the hardest part is actually referring to Jake as “our” son. The Mr. has been raising him for sometime with me and we all feel that he’s as much a father as anyone else. He loves deeply and thoroughly and he worries just as any father would.

It’s not that I don’t want to share, it’s just an adjustment of vernacular. Instead of “my” son, it’s “our” son. Our son finished first grade today. Our son left his towel on the floor again. Our son has grown another inch and needs new pants that fit him.

Our son. Our home. Our life. Our dreams.

Ours.

And Then There Was A Wedding

This weekend ended the 7 month road I’ve been walking with my best friend. We are no longer bride and groom, we are now husband and wife.

The day was gloomy with a slight breeze. I was ok with this because I know that for photography’s sake, an overcast day is actually better for picture taking. Less glare and direct sunlight to contend with.

I woke up, made some coffee and breakfast then sat down to watch Wild Kratts with my son. It was like any other Saturday except that in a matter of a few hours, I’d be a Mrs. Something I’d been wanting for a long time.

Soon the rush began. Hair appointments, collecting the last little tidbits. Writing vows that wouldn’t write themselves. Makeup and 4 pairs of eyelashes to attached. Practicing the vows aloud and packing up the emergency bag for any little missteps that would happen.

Then we were off. My girls, my parents, my brother and my son. We all piled into a car along with tuxes and dresses and my gown. There, in the bubble of that car I realized it would be the last time we were all together with the same last name and I began to cry. The car wept silently as my jittery hands held a tissue up against my eyes to hold back the tears that threatened to ruin my makeup.

Before long we were at the site and realized we forgot the veil and the maid-of-honor speech. Oddly, while I tend to be the perfectionist, it didn’t bother me. I was ok with it because I knew that veil or no veil, I’d still end up married to The Guy.

Into the old house we went, carrying my gown aloft. And there we waited. We waited for the flowers to be delivered and the photographer to make her way into the house. We watched as the reception was set up on the patio behind us and as a flurry of activity bustled below, readying our wedding.

Then time stopped. I realized this was it. This was the day I never thought would come. The day I almost compromised with others because I was willing to settled and get it over with. The day I wanted so badly I was willing to ignore warnings and what my heart truly wanted because I didn’t believe I deserved it.

My heart wanted everything: love, understanding, honesty, passion, acceptance, integrity, encouragement, and a future we dreamed of together. But I hadn’t found someone who fulfilled all these requirements so I sacrificed one or another to make it fit, never thinking someone out there could be all these things for me, could love me and accept me without question and without asking me to sacrifice any of my dreams or his.

As I stood in that 130 year old house, I realized how peaceful I was. And for every moment for that whole day, I was there. I was awake. I was present and living every second of that day. I had found that person who was everything to me because he made me feel like I was his everything.

Things weren’t perfect that day but it didn’t matter. I was marrying my best friend and in the end, all the small details and the big plans melted into nothing as I turned the corner and saw him standing there. Then nothing mattered and everything WAS perfect.

We were married in front of 110 of our closest friends and family. People flew in from out of town and mingled like they were made to be one big family. The food was spectacular, the music was wonderful and everything came together beautifully. The day was amazing and better than I could have ever dreamed of.

And I’d do it over again in a heartbeat. After all the stress and tears and frustrations and worry about planning something so tremendous, I’d do it all over again. As long as when I turn that corner, he’s still there, waiting for me.

The day was better than either of us could have imagined.

It was beautiful.

It was special.

It was quirky.

And it was us.

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Letter To My Son: The Adventure

Jacob,

Today I read back through some of the letters I’ve written to you over time. Letters about your strong-will and intelligence. Letters about my feelings on raising you alone. A letter about what your birthday means to us, especially to me.

I hope you’ve had the chance to read them. To know that in those moments, it was important for me to stop, write to you while my memories are still fresh and to share what was in my heart at that time. I hope these letters mean as much to you as they do to me, these little pieces of our past.

I thought about all our time together as mother and son. We’ve had 7 years, just us. 7 years of stories, heartache, lessons and lots of love. It’s been an incredible adventure.

The Two Of Us

We’ve run races together and dipped our toes in the Black Sea. I took you to your first symphony concert and introduced you to The Beatles. We’ve seen wild animals at the zoo and pretended we were on safari together and discovered some of our favorites books during our bedtime stories.

Together, we’ve learned how to love through the tough times and how strong we are when we are side by side. I watched you huddle against me, listening to my breathing and heartbeat as you slept peacefully, so close and so trusting.

Then, slowly, I watched you venture away from me with tentative steps. Your small feet would carry you away but after discovering something new, you always returned for comfort and to share.

Now you walk away from me with confidence and I couldn’t be more proud.

Being your mom has been an amazing adventure. One I will cherish and share with you over and over, even when you are grown and able to read these letters yourself.

In a few short weeks, you and I will begin a whole new adventure. We will become a bigger family. Our journey as mother and son will come to an end and we’ll cross over into unfamiliar territory. While change in general can be unnerving, this is an adventure we won’t go at alone. We’ll still be together, still mother and son.

But when we walk down our new path, you’ll no longer only have one hand to hold, there will be another. We won’t be just us but a family of three. You will have two parents to kiss you good night and two parents to hold you when you are scared. Two parents to teach you how to be a kind and strong human. Two parents to listen when you have concerns.

Us Three

Our first adventure together may be coming to an end, but just over the horizon is a whole new one.

Know this, my son, that this new adventure never diminished anything we went through on our own. When you read this, I hope you know that what we had was special and just ours. It was our foundation and our beginning. It was a chapter in our story. A long story for us, I hope, with many chapters and new characters along the way.

I loved you more everyday which to me seemed impossible. I thought the day they handed you to me, my heart would explode from the deep love I felt for you instantly. It didn’t and still to this day, I love you more and more. No matter how grown up you are reading this, you are still my little man.

Now we turn the page and start off fresh. Off to discover new things to share with each other and laugh together the whole way.

Together on our new adventure.

Your partner in crime,

Mom