Buddhism, family, gratitude, IVF, meditation, parenthood

6 months

Today at brunch, while holding Baby E, my friend Ms. R. looked at me and said, “Look at this beautiful baby. Do you remember when we first met??” And it was one of those moments that felt like jumping into a chilly lake–I was suddenly wide awake, and looking at my friend holding my beautiful boy, remembering how three years ago Ms. R. and I met for brunch and got teary over our scrambles as we discussed our plans to become single moms. And, in that moment today, it was like we had just fast-forwarded through three years of struggle, torment, pain, joy, and now a miracle, and we were teary again.

On some level, you can’t really believe it’s real. I remember looking at other people’s babies and thinking how proud the mom must be of every square inch of their bodies. But now that I’m a mom I really feel more like all I did was align with the universe somehow and nature did the rest. Which is weird to say, considering the extent of artificial procedures that went into the IVF process, but still–sperm meets egg and a person begins. The plan is locked into place from that moment and then you’re off and running.

So, as a parent, I am awestruck whenever I get more than two feet away from E and really take him in. He’s just miraculous. It’s completely overwhelming. I can’t believe that there’s a 6-month-old sleeping in my bed who is barreling toward becoming a man.

Wow, even writing that makes me reel a little bit.

At the six-month mark, we are going through all kinds of transitions. We’re getting used to our routine minus my parents, which means he’s spending all day with the nanny and I’m doing my own cooking and laundry and cleaning up and so far the household is running pretty smoothly but it’s really only been a few days. A half day of child care yesterday set me way ahead–I made lentil soup and pesto, froze turkey burgers, cleaned the house, did laundry, etc etc.

E definitely has the bottle mastered. Now we’re trying to introduce solid food (and by we I mean me) and he is pretty much nonplussed. It’s shocking how disinterested he is in food when every other thing I put in front of him goes straight into his mouth (including things that shouldn’t, like paper–he ate a little piece off our name card at Thanksgiving). He is studiously disinterested, meaning that he glares at the food and then purposely diverts his attention to something else nearby, like a drawer handle. I’ve put many foods in front of him, including sweet potato, yogurt, banana, avocado, eggs, chicken… Once he licked a little strip of pizza. This morning he opened his mouth exactly twice to let me give him a teeny forkful of hummus. Overall, I’m trying to do baby-led weaning but I’ve also wanted to feed him a taste to jump-start the process (seems to have done the opposite). We’ll see what happens next but, again–the guy is a strong consumer of breast milk so I’m not worried yet about his nutrition. I absolutely expected a lumberjack appetite out of this guy after months of him watching me eat with strong interest. But I guess this will just take time so another lesson in patience for me.

Sleep is another changing terrain. For months we’ve had a bedtime routine of bath (every other night), massage, jammies, book (if he still has attention span), then nurse to sleep. This worked like a charm starting at 4 months when he suddenly wouldn’t be rocked or bounced to sleep and set down. I had mild guilt about it since it’s supposedly a bad sleep association or crutch–but it worked and I’m a firm believer in ‘whatever works.’ But now it’s taking longer and longer for him to fall deeply asleep enough to let me go. It can take up to an hour of me unlatching and him insisting on relatching and even when I finally tiptoe away he will often wake up again 30 minutes later, and maybe again after that. Here’s the thing–I thought I’d be the no-nonsense single mom who says, Baby! You need to get on my program. And my program says you’re asleep at 7pm because mom needs her evening to relax and prep for tomorrow! So don’t get ideas about a protracted bedtime routine or me laying down with you for the night at 7pm! Etc.

Of course, way easier said than done, and I have mostly felt change-averse about making any adjustments. So we rode with that plan while it worked. And…now it’s not really working. So, I’m thinking a lot about sleep and trying to shut out all the ‘camps,’ because no matter what you do there’s a camp that thinks you’re a horrible parent. For now, though, I just may be going to bed at 7pm more often in the coming days–twist my arm!

The house is quiet and clean and I just had a piece of sweet potato pie. All of a sudden, it started pouring rain, like the heavens just turned on a shower with excellent water pressure. The baby hasn’t woken up tonight since I put him down, although I hear him yawning and cooing in his sleep. A bird randomly chirps, letting its friends or babies know where to seek shelter from the rain.

There’s so much we could all worry about all the time. We don’t know how it’s all going to turn out or how we’ll get from point A to point B or how to solve problems of baby transitions or how to achieve work/life balance or how to pay for everything or how to find a dream job or partner. But we can ask ourselves, “Am I OK right now?”

Right now I’m so grateful for all of the above (and below!).

xo

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Buddhism, family, gratitude, homebirth, Mother's Day, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

ready

Dear Baby Boy,

We’re ready for your arrival. We’re so excited to meet you! Here’s what being ready looks like on the outside:

20140510-222407.jpg Here are your new clothes, laundered and folded.

20140510-222703.jpg Here’s where you will spend many hours with Mommy, nursing.

20140510-222901.jpg Here’s a little birth shrine with items that will keep me feeling strong and reminded of you.

20140510-223046.jpg This is how Mimi organized the food that will nourish you through me.

20140510-223207.jpg

20140510-223216.jpg This is the new apartment-sized washer and dryer funded by generous benefactors, to keep all your baby clothes clean!

20140510-223348.jpg And the birth tub, which keeps us reminded every day that you’ll be here soon.

I’m ready in my heart, too, to move you through me and into this outside world. I will miss this lovely not-quite-one, not-quite-two symbiosis, but I also feel that you are strong and ready to make your grand entrance. It’s going to be more hospitable for you out here, baby. I’m working with my body through yoga, walking, and resting to offer you safe passage and I believe you also have some mysterious work of your own to do to make it possible. We’re ready! So let’s do it. Mothers Day would be fine, or whatever day this week works for you.

With love and great anticipation,
Mom

Buddhism, dating, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

closer

Well, this is exciting–I sat down not knowing what I would write about and we’ll just see where it goes.

Before this blog, I started a blog years ago called “I should be writing.” I know it, I feel it, it’s that thing that comes up for me when people ask–what do you really want to do? what’s your passion project? what’s your dream? Yet I somehow resist Annie Lamott’s advice: “butt in the chair.” So many things that must get done first–from enough sleep (which lately is #1), to work, to errands, to keeping up with friends. And no, I won’t get on my own case right now while I’m 30 weeks pregnant and am doing a generally impressive job of balancing it all. But, let’s be honest–this is an interesting time to write about. And, even though I have no visceral sense yet of the sleep deprivation and bodily fluids and overwhelming love about to take over my life, I hope I’ll keep finding the energy to write. Blogs, books, miscellaneous projects that lead in cool directions.

Right now, I’m watching Arcade Fire on Austin City Limits while the baby makes ripples on my belly.

I like it when I put my hand on my belly and it feels like the baby is feeling around on the other side, curious as me about who’s out there. Sometimes he does a booty shake. Sometimes it feels like he is purposely tickling me on the side. I think he already has a sense of humor.

He is my passion project right now, obviously. Nothing at all competes with that. I just watched an interview with Anna Daveare Smith, talking about her goal of making the world better. What am I doing to make the world better? I am working on putting another lovebug into the world.

I know it’s all bigger than my to-do list–I need less doing and more being as my due date approaches.

I visited two dear friends in the suburbs over the weekend, both with big houses and husbands and three kids each. I sometimes get so used to my alternative path that I forget how alternative it is, hanging out with my single mom friends, comparing notes on navigating the challenges of our expensive city. This is my new normal, the life I created, the life the universe provided. No, my son probably won’t have the backyard and excellent public schools and laundry rooms of my youth as long as we stay here. But he will have an incredible city full of opportunities at his doorstep, his own room (a miracle), and so much love.

Someone asked me recently if I felt miserable and couldn’t wait for the pregnancy to be over. I don’t even speak this language. Yes, I’ve been super lucky with an easy physical experience. But after all it took to get here I wouldn’t trade in one minute. I’m happy to be here, exactly here, with 2+ months to go. I have a bunch of visitors about to flood in over the next couple weeks. They will help me move furniture and organize closets and celebrate. This celebration feels bigger than all previous ones combined.

So, yes–we’re back to gratitude. We have everything we need. “The love you seek is already here.” good night xo

 

anxiety, Buddhism, family, IUI, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

sicker

I made a quick recovery from the stomach bug but the cough got worse. I steamed, drank a special concoction from my dad (hot water with honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper), ate cough drops, drank lots of fluids, rested as much as I could. But it was time to go to the sales meeting and I depended the cough to neatly resolve itself which…it didn’t. During the first full day, I drank much hot water with honey and lemon, but I kept breaking into coughing fits and people were starting to give me that alarmed look like I should be quarantined. By full day 2, I lost my voice. I was hosting strategy breakfast and was almost unable to communicate in anything but a growl. Finally, I texted Em who wanted me to go to urgent care to have a doctor listen to my lungs.

Fortunately, the disruption to my team was minor because we were well-staffed. I waited 3 hours in urgent care to see the doctor because they only had one doctor on and there were many people waiting. When the doc finally listened to my lungs, I couldn’t take a full deep breath without lots of coughing and he stepped away and said, “You sound TERRIBLE.” He told me that if I don’t already have pneumonia I would soon, and that if I already wasn’t in such good shape I would be knocked out. No more sales meeting–rest, fluids, and a strong antibiotic.

Of course I wasn’t thrilled to have to take medicine, but triple-checked it with Em, Dr. B., and the doctor here confirmed it was a B-class drug for pregnancy, meaning the safest. And the alternative would be to get sicker, an obvious risk in itself. So I went to Walgreens and got the prescription, Emergen-C, Ricola drops, water. Then my phone died so I couldn’t call a cab and the nice people at Walgreens let me use their phone. The hotel sent a woman named Veronica in a black car to get me and I was noting how relatively luxurious it is to be sick on a work trip with an Am Ex corporate card.

My room is comfy (I’m in a JW Marriott) and I spent a while watching junky TV before landing on the season premiere of Downton Abbey. While I had missed the third season, I heard how it ended (thanks to facebook) and found this premiere to be really tepid with no compelling storylines. I hung in there hoping it would get better (it didn’t) before falling asleep for close to 10 hours.

A series of room service orders, naps, and baths later and I am in bed in my bathrobe listening to ambient spa music being piped outside my the open sliding door to the balcony. The antibiotic will take 24-48 hrs to kick in, so the deep wheezy cough is still there, but I don’t feel too miserable. In a few hours, I’ll put on my formal dress and heels and go down to the awards banquet for a little while–there’s lots to celebrate with my team and I want to at least make an appearance and exchange some hugs and high-fives. But not overdo it. And I definitely want to be sitting down the whole time.

At this meeting of nearly a thousand colleagues, there are many hugs and congratulations and everyone seems to already know my circumstances as I’m sure that part of the story travels like wildfire (since it’s unorthodox and therefore interesting). Only once was I asked if it was intentional, and only once was I asked if I’ll be coming back to work–aren’t these question off limits?? There was one colleague who very studiously was not acknowledging my news, and I realized he was waiting for me to tell him–good policy! Another friend told me over and over how proud she is of me for making it happen. Feels nice.

While here, I had two women tell me they’d be interested in knowing more about how I went about getting pregnant on my own because they may end up doing the same. I strive to be a good example to women like this–it helps to get serious about it when you know someone else’s story (for me, it was my friend C). I had another woman get teary and tell me how happy she was for me–and then confided that she’s been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for years and is in the process of trying to adopt. I always want to make it clear that this did not happen easily or quickly for me either–but, then again, what is easily or quickly? It’s all relative, everyone’s story and struggle is unique, and I remember looking at pregnant women on the ‘other side’ and wondering if I’d ever get there, almost disregarding how long her road had been. Does it matter how hard it was if you got there? (I recently told someone it took me “a long time” and she said, “Me too, ten years!” and I instantly felt like OMG–it didn’t take me long at all.) Rather than compare numbers of IUIs and IVF transfers, I can sincerely tell women that if you are totally committed to making it happen, it will happen, one way or another. Just keep trying.

Tomorrow, J and I will head back to my parents’ place for one more relaxing day, then fly back to SF. What a trip. I hope I can manage to stay healthy after this–extensive travel is not promoting good pregnancy health. Only one two-hour flight to go.

I had so much I wanted to say about the silent retreat but the experience got kind of blasted out of the water by all this illness–I never ‘transitioned out,’ I just barreled into survival mode. People have asked me how it went and I have a hard time putting it into words, and no one who hasn’t experienced it can really get it. In fact, I think most people think it sounds nuts to spend money on nothingness and silence. I’ll just say that while it’s happening, it’s intense, enlightening, intimidating, big–all stimulations and distractions are inside your own head. You face the stuff that stays buried underground most days but inevitably causes intermittent or unrelenting stress, anxiety, dread, etc–and it evolves and turns into an action-packed movie with rich visuals, a swirling sea of rising and falling emotions, and a series of surprising visitors, all punctuated by many, many moments of stillness and peace. All I can say is: give it a try.

My boy is growing and moving and I’m shifting into a new level of thinking and planning–it’s the new year, the year he will be born!

New Year’s resolution: clear time and space for new life!

xo

Buddhism, family, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

sick

Hi! I am out of the retreat as of yesterday and, while I don’t have time to write a full post, I am inspired by friends A and V who are committed to writing every day, even if it’s short. The short story is: I am sick.

At the retreat, about which I have lots to say but will have to be bookmarked for later, I started on day 2 or so with a dry cough which graduated into a hacking cough. It felt triggered by new climates and heaters and freezing cold. Then, on the last night, I caught a stomach bug that hit 3-4 of the retreatants, plus one of the teachers, Jonathan Faust (who detailed his ordeal in a dharma talk) and also likely his wife, Tara Brach, the teacher I flew there to see and who disappeared in the last 24 hours. Yes–on New Year’s Eve, I woke up to be sick every hour and sent a mental Happy New Year to each time zone in succession. The next afternoon, mere hours after successfully keeping fluids down, I flew to Phoenix. I ate six crackers and kept drinking water and my parents picked me up and I’ve never been so happy to arrive at Sky Harbor Airport.

I made it without incident! (aside from my exit row seat back which wouldn’t recline which was terribly uncomfortable.) Now my cough is worse and I have to go into my sales meeting tomorrow (mercifully shorter than usual, running from tomorrow night until Tuesday morning), a notoriously packed event and another petri dish. All this air travel is tough on the immune system, despite militant washing my hands, taking my vitamins, and drinking as much water as I can. Looking forward to being grounded after just a couple more trips.

Baby boy seems happy despite these trials, wiggling and thumping away, and growing. It’s a lot for one body, all this!

So, more soon on everything but I am mentally good and just hoping I get all healthy again soon. Meanwhile, I wanted to share the latest belly shot since I think I’m totally off my weekly schedule: my parents and I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens, amazing blown-glass sculptures placed around the gardens and lit up at night. My dad caught this belly shot with a sculpture in the background like a fireball and a gorgeous Arizona sunset which didn’t quite come through:

22weeks

I’m going to breathe some more steam and then take my sick self to bed. Much love!

Buddhism, family, gratitude, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

heading east

Guys! I have been wrapping up the year at work and sleeping a lot, and somehow have slipped into a less frequent writing schedule–but, as with so many things (exercise, meditation, baby prep), I intend to improve my writing habits in the New Year! Many more reflections to come; for tonight, I need to focus on packing for my 2-week trip: to see my family, to a 5-day silent meditation retreat, and to a sales meeting. (hoping I can get away with the same outfits to all three–possible?). But first:

I still have my belly shot from LAST Sunday, taken by my sister in Japantown right before we saw Catching Fire–so this shot is 20 weeks. It looks here like I’m ginormous–in reality, I think we can still say the belly is “cute.”

20wks

Tomorrow is the ‘big’ ultrasound, the 20-week (actually 21) anatomy scan. For all the excitement around the gender reveal, I (of course) only care that the baby is healthy. I feel good, and babe is doing backflips a lot (including right now), so as far as my internal checkpoints, all is well. Just bracing myself for what can be a LOT of information (the scan takes up to an hour) and hoping we come out with a great report card.

My dear friend S is accompanying me and I think the universe aligned to send me this particular friend for this particular event–just seems perfect. We’ll have the radiologist write down the gender. After the appt, S will read the result and, of the two onesies I’ll have with me, she will put either the pink one or the blue one in the box (with the radiologist note for confirmation!), and take the other one home so I can’t see it and deduce the result by the process of elimination. I’m bringing lots of tape so I won’t be tempted to peek. I don’t actually think I’ll be tempted to peek–I’ve waited this long, what’s two more days? On Christmas, with the whole fam together, my nieces will open it. This will be a very exciting moment which I can barely think about without bursting into tears.

OK–I wrote more than I had time for–stay tuned for Christmas belly shot, gender reveal, 2013 gratitude, and reflections on 2014.

I wish each of you a joyous holiday season full of peace and love!

xo

onesies)

 

Buddhism, family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

13 weeks

Hi guys,

I had the best weekend. Now I’m sitting on the couch listening to the wind in the leaves outside on this stormy evening, woke up a couple of hours ago from a 3.5 hour nap and ate a big bowl of pasta. Watched a West Wing episode in which (spoiler alert) Matt Santos won the California primary, now I’m listening to Lou Reed’s Take a Walk on the Wild Side.

Started off with my beloved restorative yoga class which is geniusly timed at 6:30pm on Fridays and helps me let go of the work week and melt into a puddle (according to my teacher V, one class can make up for four hours of sleep). Dear friend C stopped by with amazing treats from Clement Street and we drank tea and caught up on the craziness of life–love it when friends stop by (please do).

On Saturday, I got up early and baked, picked up my laundry, and headed to prenatal yoga. It was only my second time attending and the teacher Jane knows my name and calls out adjustments to protect my lower back (which has not been doing great–I’m going to try swimming). I learn so much from the intros and what women at 26 weeks and 34 weeks and 19 weeks report is going on with their bodies, and the energy in the room is intense, pregnant mamas and dozens of gestating babies. We picture the babies, we connect with them. Namaste, the lights within me bow to the lights within you.

My new friend J is so sweet, it’s so instantly bonding to share the timing of our pregnancies, and I’m not just saying it because she started reading my blog! She brought her friend N, also on a similar schedule, also working with Em as her midwife, and we trekked together afterward to a potluck lunch of the SF Homebirth Collective.

We walked in, and there’s our yoga teacher Jane, midwife Bee, midwife Em, and it’s like I know everyone and am already showing up with two friends. All this has happened just over the last 2-3 weeks–I’m in a new club. After catching up with those three, we predictably camped out by the buffet and grazed. N tells me that Em will start having me keep a food journal so I am consciously enjoying all the bad stuff I’m craving (mostly lots of sugar, carbs, and dairy) while no one is monitoring me. (By the way, when I said Em strives for smaller babies I meant just not overly big babies, of which there seems to be a growing number.)

After being so strongly identified as a Single Mom by Choice and attending SMC meetings in SF, it felt really strange to have men around. These were doting dads, sensitive guys, the kind my sister would call “lesbros.” A whole different dynamic and sweet how the dads factored into the birth stories–the spiritual connection, the way the dad never really knows what’s going on until afterward but is in the birth tub doing his best to help. A different vibe, not alienating, just different, like oh yeah–men. I am part of these two niche groups–SMCs and homebirthers–maybe at some point I’ll meet someone who is part of both and meanwhile am just grateful for what I have in common with both communities.

We heard four different birth stories, each around 10-15 minutes each, each totally unique and beautiful and dramatic, each moving. MAN you just don’t know how it will go until it’s happening.  All the babies were there and doing great and the moms were teary and grateful. Their midwives smiled listening and filled in details when asked. One woman was in labor for three days, one had her water break at 34 weeks and had to be induced in the hospital, one knew she’d have a big baby and had choreographed and memorized the maneuvers for shoulder distocia–and then it actually happened and they did the dance as planned and got the 9.5-lb baby out in 1.5 minutes.

By the end of the lunch, I think J and N and I were saucer-eyed after hearing so much about pregnancy and then so much about birth and also seeing the babies and the kids and even an 11-year-old boy running around.  We needed naps. But I was off to the next thing.

First, though, J took my belly photo because my sister is out of town. I couldn’t crop my head without cutting out Sutro Tower, so fortunately a little cloud blew by and obscured my face as I strive to maintain online anonymity!

10/26/13, Twin Peaks:

10-27-2013 8-11-29 PM

If I had any photoshop skills I was going to make that a Halloween mask, but I do not. I did want to keep my happy smile.

Next, feeling very sleepy, I drove across the Bay Bridge to Oakland to see Thich Nhat Hanh. He is an 87-year-old Buddhist teacher from Vietnam who looks maybe 63 and has had an extremely long and influential career (e.g. he convinced MLK Jr. to come out against the Vietnam War)–he has over 800 monastics in Southern California and France, many of whom were on stage behind him. TNH (or Thay (pronounced Tie) which means Teacher in Vietnamese) is a diminutive, handsome man with a twinkle in his eye. He has a very soft voice which matches his humble demeanor and a Vietnamese accent that reminded me affectionately of Dr. Tran. Despite his quiet voice, his words were so powerful and poignant. At one point, I started crying and had to hold my breath to keep from inappropriately sobbing in the theater. It’s all OK. It’s all going to be OK. Some highlights:

  • Our mother, our father, and all our ancestors all live within every cell of our bodies. Even after your grandmother is gone, you can apologize to her for something you said that was unkind. You can let her know you’re sorry and you won’t say something unkind like that to anyone else. And you can see your grandmother smiling to you, forgiving you. In this way, you can transform the past.
  • TNH gestured to the sunflowers beside him on the stage and said that they were evidence of the kingdom of God, that the kingdom of God is available to us every moment of every day if we are mindful. What is the sunflower made of? Non-sunflower elements: the sunshine, the rain, the minerals in the soil. What are you made of? Non-you elements: your ancestors, your experiences, your community. And what is happiness made of? Non-happiness elements: and this includes suffering. You cannot know happiness until you know suffering.
  • And this is where I lost it, because it feels like all the imperfections and frustrations and challenges are part of the road to happiness–we’re all right on track. He said that experiencing suffering makes us more understanding and compassionate to others, and when we share our suffering it can ease the suffering of others. This is when I thought of my blog. It seemed to bring so much meaning to what I’m trying to do here.
  • TNH said that when we send our children to places where they are too sheltered from suffering, they won’t learn the elements of happiness. They won’t learn how to be understanding and compassionate. And this is the cause of so many conflicts and crimes…
  • He told a story of a German woman who came to one of his retreats. She was married to a business man, very happy at first but then he was away and working all the time. She needed surgery in the hospital and he couldn’t even be there. He said that he was planning, in two years, to transition out of his job and spend more time with their family. Then their son was in the hospital and he couldn’t be there again. Soon after that, the husband was killed in a car accident. A reminder to not lose sight of what’s really important–money and fame and prestige are not what bring happiness. Love and understanding bring happiness. Time with family.
  • He talked about how couples communicate and that you can’t love someone you don’t understand, “Darling, do I understand you well enough? If not, help me to understand you better.”
  • Another theme was consumption–think about what you eat. Think about what you read, watch, listen to. If you watch scary shows, it might exacerbate your fears. He said there are different seeds–and we should practice “selective watering.” On the way home, I listened to jazz instead of junky pop.

I ended this epic day at the beautiful new house of M and P and their two kids under two–they made an amazing dinner of which I certainly ate more than my share.  M can’t wait to give me all her mom and baby gear as soon as she’s done with it (last night it was post-pregnancy clothes and a boppy pillow), and I’m so grateful for her generosity and also those who heard my plea and offered me maternity clothes, thank you A and L and D!

Today I had no plans, a luxurious gift. Big week to come: my first midwife checkup is on Tuesday.

Grow, baby, grow!

Lots of love and Happy Halloween to you xo

anxiety, Buddhism, dating, family, gratitude, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

fearless

I came really close to writing this at 3:45am as I was in the living room having a middle-of-the-night snack for the third night in a row, but wisely decided to go back to bed. Now it’s 8:25am and my living room is blazing with sunlight. I’m sitting in my purple loveseat in the corner bay window with my back to the sun–it’s not high enough yet to shine onto the screen. I can see the shadow of myself on the sofa across from me, twirling its hair, thinking.

Yesterday, I went on a glorious hike at Lands End with my friend K. She told me about attending a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh recently and how she had multiple epiphanies while there, realizing that she never has to be scared again. Then, as soon as the wheels of her plane touched down at SFO, real life came rushing back with all the fears and stresses of real life, and rather than staying mindful she found herself spending hours and hours catching up on the final season of Breaking Bad.

This sparked so many important thoughts for me. In a flash, I sort of had the same epiphany–we’re stuck in the mire of fear-thinking so much of the time, and for what? Does worrying make anything turn out differently? Does anxiety give us more control? I awakened into that moment–to my own fears, to the warm, sunny air, to the vibrant colors of the ocean, the cypress trees, the families out walking, the parking lot closed due to the federal shutdown. As long as we are mindful, we can choose; and we can choose not to be afraid.

In the next moment, I started cataloging my fears and realized just how scared I am, all the time, about so many things. Absolute baseline is: is the baby OK? I just read in What to Expect that a common feeling in the third month of pregnancy is, “Still, a sense of unreality about the pregnancy (‘Is there really a baby in there?’).” Symptoms are real, and also maddeningly variable, but the interpretation of what’s actually going on inside is extremely virtual. After seeing the heartbeat, it’s much more real, confirmed by medical technology. Then, as time goes by between appointments, more and more uncertain. I find myself making bargains with whoever’s in charge, “If the baby is OK, I can deal with anything else.”

But let’s discuss the everything else, because it’s not insignificant. While it would be imprudent of me to write in detail here about work, let’s just say that in the past week it has become clear that my job will be exponentially more stressful and difficult between now and the end of the year. I really wish this wasn’t happening now, but it is, in my first trimester, and I have to power through. There is no partner to lean on or less stressful job to apply for, this is the deal, this was part of the bargain. I can do it, and I will, but it makes me tremble like a little girl with monsters in her closet.

And what about once the baby is here–what if I can’t do this job? What job will I do? Recently, new SMC mom C who runs her own business looked at me across a café table and told me how well set up I am with a corporate job and benefits. Yet what about the travel, stress, long hours? So many trade-offs. I dream of a more flexible work schedule but remind myself that I choose to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Of course I think I deserve a year off to figure it out… (Kickstarter campaign? Move to Canada?)

Then there’s the wildcard of–what if I never meet a dude? K just told me about a woman she met who was 4 months pregnant as an SMC when she met her husband on match.com. Now their kid is 14. I am taking exactly zero steps to solve this given its relative low priority at the moment, but it’s still big fear that somehow I will continuously make wrong turns and not bump into him for decades longer.

As I sat in the dark at 3:45am wrapped in a blanket, eating cereal, and looking at my laptop blinking on the coffee table, this post started to form in my mind, in the voice of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. A small, vulnerable, scared voice. I am scared of all this! And I didn’t even add in all the random terrible things that can happen, to me or those I love, that are the inevitable last stop of the fear spiral.

K and Thich Nhat Hanh remind me that everyone, EVERYONE, lives with these fears, about money, work, health matters, relationships, family issues, etc etc and if you don’t then it’s because the bottom has never dropped out, and it always drops out eventually. We all have a choice when we’re mindful and present. Am I OK, right now? OK. Call off the fight or flight. There is a lot to be grateful for.

With this post, I am manually shifting into feeling more like a strong woman who acknowledges her fears, her almost complete lack of control of outcomes, her commitment to doing her best with whatever arises, and her faith that things find a way to work out. And things are great today. I woke up 10 weeks pregnant. I put my hands in prayer to say THANK YOU for another beautiful day in my amazing apartment with a baby on the way and everything I need, including you, my dear readers and community of lovebugs.

May your Sunday be fearless. xo

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