I created this blog during my first two week wait, back in April of 2012, almost seven years ago. I did a lot of inner reflection on the name, wanting something that could carry me well into the future. I discussed many possibilities with my sister Beez, sitting on a bench next to a serene, goose-filled pond at he SF Botanical Gardens, a moment I’ve thought back to many times. I chose “The Solo Mama Project,” reasoning that it was open-ended enough to apply to whatever happened next, for many years into the future, and I was right.
I don’t remember coming up with the tagline, “one baby step at a time.” I think it came to me in a creative flash as I sat at my laptop building the blog on WordPress- so clever! A double meaning: I was trying to have a baby (thus all steps would be baby-related steps) and, also, the more common meaning: you have to break big projects down into baby steps. Although my younger baby is on the verge of no longer being a baby, this one magically still applies as well.
The giant life lesson here, which I continue to learn over and over, is: Every giant life goal needs to be broken down into steps. Baby steps, to be precise. I’m reasonably sure there are no exceptions to this!
When I created my blog, I was in the midst of managing a million and one details around the fertility process: charting my cycles, choosing a donor, getting tests done, managing my finances, researching insurance, building a community, and keeping my inner circle up to date. Women who start thinking about becoming an SMC have no idea yet about the daily fertility-related to-do list of an active tryer- you mostly feel overwhelmed by the weight of the decision and alllllll the questions. Once you make the leap into actually trying to conceive (a giant psychic leap not to be underestimated), you realize that your life is now dominated by a calendar of steps. Today, the way I put my intention toward having a baby is by calling UCSF to ask if it makes a difference what time of day I pee on a stick to see if I’m ovulating. Tomorrow, I’ll be trying to have a baby by researching how to transport sperm from the sperm bank to the location of my IUI. The next day, I’ll be having coffee with a new SMC friend who is pregnant to compare notes. There is SO much waiting and so many steps seem incredibly distant from giving birth, but they all added up to… giving birth!
As we walked in to an ultrasound appointment to see how my follicles were developing in the lead-up to IVF retrieval, my sister met my nervousness with pure calm, “Picture yourself having the baby.” I wasn’t even pregnant yet! It felt so far away, almost unrelated. I was so fixated on the sub-goal of having enough follicles developing eggs. I had my baby boy under a year later in 2014.
Beez started sending me books about writing books in 2016 and 2017. She knew I had a book in me and that I didn’t know where or how to start. One day, I looked at one of them, a self-published book by a friend of hers called Published. It provided the structure I needed to get started- essentially: define the topic of your book, freely brainstorm notes on every topic related to your topic, organize the topics into chapter topics, create a detailed outline, then devote some chunk of time every day to writing it from start to finish. It was so much easier to write once I had a plan, until I got pregnant again and was too sleepy to wake up early…and I fell off the wagon.
Then, early in 2018 while I was on maternity leave, my friend J started inquiring about my book and whether I could work on it a bit while I was off of work. It sounded crazy but I decided to start writing for five minutes a day. I got into that groove. I found a writing accountabilibuddy, childhood friend Wig. We promised each other twenty minutes of writing per day. We checked in and gently chastised each other for missing a a day. I finished my first draft at the end of 2018. (It’s rough, it needs a lot of work… but it is written. And now I don’t know what the next step is so I’ll be taking my own advice here.)
Believe me, I am in shock that I accomplished this given current demands on my time. But it’s ALL because of baby steps. It’s the ONLY way to give birth to any big idea: writing a book, running a marathon, buying a house, starting a company, or accomplishing any of the other big life-changing, bucket-list life experiences and dreams we all have. It’s so hard to remember this- like, where do I start?
Start with five minutes a day. Start by brainstorming some initial steps. Make one of the steps info-gathering. Break that down into sub-steps like internet research, informational interviews, and joining an online community… I mean- those first five minutes are going to determine some exciting future five-minutes, which will lead to something else great. Always holding the vision of your end goal- it feels so freaking good to do these little steps, no matter how teensy. You’re on your way.
I write all of this as I try to move forward on a million fronts all at once… Once you get a taste of how incremental progress adds up, it’s hard to keep focused! Today, it was blogging. So there ya go.
And with that, I’ll wrap my Saturday morning at the gym and trudge hope through the (massive amounts of snow) to the products of all my past to-do lists- my sweetest kiddos. xoxo