At the end of every year, I reflect and look forward to what lies ahead. I am one of those people who tends to set goals for myself, usually small and incremental. Or at least that used to be the case before Nelle died and I spent Christmas of 2015 and 2016 with only one thought: for a healthy pregnancy. The months following Christmas of 2015 brought only more heartache in losing Iris, and while the months following Christmas of 2016 ushered in nearly unmanageable anxiety, at the end of that pregnancy I brought my rainbow baby home.
Last year, with a four-month old baby asleep at my side, my wish for myself for the new year was the following:
May 2018 be a year of peace. May I find some peace after experiencing heartache, grief, and anxiety for the past several years. May I allow myself peace amidst some of the demons I have been wrestling inwardly: guilt, anger, mistakes, among others.
I cannot say that 2018 was a year of peace. It was difficult in many unexpected ways. There was a lot of uncertainty, sleepless nights, and feeling out of control. While that part of my world has kept marching forward, in a positive manner, toward the end of the year I found that I lost a little bit of myself.
I spent so much time focused on other people that I put myself last. Something I haven’t done since Nelle died. I fiercely and unapologetically put myself first – self-care, self-preservation, and then on behalf of my baby during pregnancy after loss. Adding a new human on top of other stressors in our home and I look at the year and now think “what happened?” Did I make it to yoga regularly? No, because I was often spending more time with the kids than I had been previously. Did I carve out time to write, as I had been doing so diligently before? No, because usually someone would need my attention. Did I make any progress in the book that I someday want to publish? No, because often I would choose sleep over staying awake an extra hour to squeeze in the work.
I said to my OBGYN back in November, when he asked me how I am doing: “I am doing the best that I can with the time and energy that I have.” And that is a true statement. Keeping everything in the air is nonstop and draining.
But I also recognize that if I don’t take the time to recharge myself, I will burn out. I won’t be able to give myself to my family and work in the way that I want, because there will be nothing left.
If I were to choose a word for 2018, it would be strength. Holding myself together, drawing the parts of my family closer and trying to nourish that source that makes us a unit.
I managed to read much more in 2018 than I had since Nelle died and that was huge. For so long, hearing anything “new” was not something I could process. Reading – or listening to audiobooks in my case most of the time – opens up worlds and thoughts that I have craved ever since I was a child. Reading used to bring me so much joy and it is starting to again.
Now if I can only take that and apply it toward other things I love: writing and yoga. This morning I went to yoga, for the first time in weeks. And I wrote this instead of doing laundry. If I can find a small bit of time and make it consistent, it will become as natural as the time I spend making dinner at night. May 2019 be the year of routine.