I remember when I wrote this post — about the autumn leaves crunching under my feet and the smell of firewood in the air. I remember it so vividly, yet it was over six years ago, when my daughter was not even six months old. She was just starting to speak, as she was an incredibly early (and eager) talker. I chronicled these milestones–and the mundane–with many loving snapshots of our life back then, during our “Happy Story”.
Things were so different back then. I was so different back then. At the end of 2010 I wrote wistfully about how hard it was for me to say goodbye to the year when I became a mother. I wrote about our New Year’s Eve with our best friends and it is dizzying to think how, though we still celebrate the night together, so much has changed.
Two extra human beings have been added to that part of the tribe. We have each welcomed a son into our families and while their baby is starting to stand up, babble meaningfully and transform from baby to tiny little kid, my son is…
and now I cry.
My son is past that stage. My son is not a baby. He is not a toddler. He walks with grace and runs with ease.
In 9 days, my son will celebrate his third birthday.
And now I cry some more.
I recently wrote about the lollipop bank, a sweet little story that highlights our love. Since I wrote that story we have been back to the lollipop bank, and my son was even more well behaved than the last time. This time he was very focused on getting coordinating lollipops to share with his sister. He referred to all of the colors as being “hot”, like, “I want a hot green and a hot orange lollipop for Boppy, and one for me, OK?”
And when I think of this and I try to type, tears blurring my vision, I have to be honest to myself and to you in saying that I know why I am so emotional. Three years ago right now I was very pregnant. Ridiculously so. If you had seen me back then, you would have most likely thought that I did not make sense; gravity should have won out, as I had the largest belly ever. My sister captured a photo of my weeks before delivery and just how striking my belly was.
I grabbed this photo from her Instagram account, as she did a side by side image of me from the front and then my body’s profile:
Her caption read, “She’s a real freak of nature now. #twelvedays”
Her friend commented and said, “Please don’t let her stand I’m worried she’ll fall over”
When this photo taken I did not have Instagram. Nor did I have emojis. Nor did I have Pic Stitch. Nor did I have a son.
And I had not yet experienced all of that joy…
or the Postpartum Depression that has defined my last three years.
It was exactly this time of year three years ago that I was making routine “false alarm” trips to the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital. I was contracting regularly but never dilated. My son was transverse, as neither of my children engaged in my t00-small pelvis (I used to call it defective; I have grown. Emotionally. My pelvis has not.)
and did end up delivering four days before my scheduled C-Section.
And because of what this time of year represents, I find myself feeling very emotional.
This happened last year, quite noticeably. My mood shifted in October of 2015 and I think that it was part of my grieving process, something that is ongoing, as it ebbs and flows.
This time of year, three year ago, I was very pregnant, experiencing the magic and excitement of that time. I will never have that again. If you have not read my many posts on this topic, then PLEASE know that I have made it incredibly clear that I realize how lucky I am for having had these times. My body grew two children.
It fed two children, one for 18 months and one for 10 weeks.
I do not take a second of that
or an ounce of that
But, for me, this is still a hard reality, and still, after all this time, I have not reached the acceptance phase.
I read posts, like this one, and I think about how much has changed, and how much has not.
This is why this time of year is so difficult for me.
I celebrate my son’s birthday and this is something that I look forward to doing and that he so deserves. But, in doing so, it highlights all of the hard.
The hard story.
This time of year three year ago I did not know that my son would come out with fine blonde hair like a baby chick. I did not know that he would latch on, nursing with ease, immediately. I did not know that, in a painkiller induced haze, I would think that all of my prenatal anxiety & depression was behind me, feeling a profound sense of well-being. I did not know that within a couple of weeks my euphoria would turn to numbness and then to the most intense pain imaginable. I did not know that I would spiral into a darkness so bleak that I could no longer see any light. I did not yet know that I would be hospitalized for side effects of my Postpartum Depression.
I did not know that I would have ups and downs, open up about my story, stop teaching, turn my blog into my job, get a book deal about my story, with actionable advice to help other sufferers, their caregivers, and members of the healthcare community—
and I did not know that some people who were in my life at that time, so salient to me, would leave.
Flake. Abandon. Die.
Three years ago, I was busy nesting. I folded every piece of baby laundry carefully with precision and placed it meticulously in drawers. I was savoring alone-time with my daughter while we were still a triangle. I was decorating the house that I thought would be my forever home.
This time of year, three years ago, there was so so so very much that I had not yet experienced and did not know.
But now I do.
And it is today. And my daughter is sitting next to me, her mannerisms mimicking those of a tween more than of a little girl. She has grown up so much, and I am so incredibly, amazingly proud of the human being she has become.
I am a completely different person than I was back then. My age now starts with a 3 and not a 2. I am a tree.
And then there is my son. The boy that this post, and so much of the evolution of this blog, is about.
I have written about my son a lot recently, and I do not want to dilute those posts with too much more here. He is a sensitive, sweet soul with tons of energy. He is fiercely stubborn and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, whether it is a sleepover with his sister or “MOreos”.
He has piercing blue eyes, strawberry blonde hair, a cleft chin and is very tall & solid. He is so handsome and so cute.
This time of year is his time of year. I will honor his birthday with tons of smiles and, most likely, a few tears.
I will bake him a rainbow-colored cake, as “rainbow” is his favorite color.
(And no, surprisingly it is not hot green.)
I will try to keep my feet facing forward, for if I plant them in that direction, then my body, and then my mind, will likely follow. I will try not to look back. I will try not to long for what has been — what could have been — what should have been.
This time of year is evocative. The autumn air has a crispness that is unparalleled. The color of the leaves is vibrant. The smell of cinnamon & displays of mums and pumpkins and Halloween decorations are around us.
And this time of year is heavy.
And I want to hold it and my children and be strong enough…
and now I cry. Again.
I feel blessed for all that the Fall brings, and I also know that it is also a time when I may struggle with ghosts, and not the kind that are hanging from golden-leaved trees, made from tattered white sheets and wire hangers, all around the neighborhood.
October brings us so much beauty. It affords us with fabulous excuses to eat, drink, be merry and spooky. And it reminds me of a time, three years ago, when I took the first step onto my new path.
And so, while change has always been hard for me, I am hopeful that recognition is the first step towards healing. Maybe even happiness.
I have a loving, warm family. My kids amaze me every day. I have been given incredible new opportunities professionally and I am growing.
(Unlike my pelvis.)
This year, I may look different than I used to. My tree has gotten older. I may have more leaves sometimes, and then, at other times, I may have less. There are more rings in my trunk.
But if I can muster up the strength, I will stand as tall as I possibly can. I can stay rooted with love. And I can shine with leaves of yellow and orange.
And this time of year, I will love.