Listen to Your Mother!
I had the opportunity to be part of Evansville's LTYM this past weekend. I really just auditioned to prove to myself that I could and would audition; being chosen was icing on the cake. Then I suddenly had the anxiety and stress to deal with along with this unexpected pregnancy (oh yeah, I'm pregnant again... baby #5 coming in November), but with support from David, and the show's director and producer, I managed to see it through.
Below is the piece I wrote and read for the show. I was the closer of the evening, so as each performer finished their piece and then came backstage and breathed a big sigh of relief, I only became more and more anxious! It went great. My mom and stepdad came, as well as four friends, plus David and the kids. I think Jacinda fell asleep but woke up when it was my turn.
This was actually my second topic choice. At first I tried writing about my own mother; I soon realized that there was no way in hell I could read that aloud without ugly-crying through the whole thing, and switched gears. This one was more lighthearted and funny, but still hopefully conveys the emotion of the experience. The other ladies' (and one gentleman's) pieces were on varying topics - but all were beautiful and wonderful and it was a treat to be a part of this. I will definitely encourage my friends to audition next year.
Reversal: a change to an opposite attitude or situation.
I never wanted to be married, and I definitely never wanted children. But when I was in college, I converted to Mormonism, a subculture of America that highly values marriage (and reveres it as the only acceptable time for sex, kind of a big deal to a 19 year old girl). So I had a reversal in my attitude toward marriage. I did marry young, and we also had children. They came faster than we maybe had planned, and we were stressed, poor, quickly outnumbered. After our third was born a mere 13 months after our second, we were terrified by the rapid pace of our procreation, and my sweet husband had a vasectomy. We decided three was right for us.
In the years that followed, I would at times have pangs of longing for another baby. My husband would have these thoughts as well, and in 2014, seven years after the original vasectomy, we both felt strongly that we should pursue this crazy idea of turning back the tide and trying for another baby.
We had to travel out of state and pay out of pocket for the surgery, and vasectomy reversal isn’t a sure thing. Cases like ours only have about a 60% chance of a return of sperm, and an even lower chance of pregnancy. About two months after the reversal, my husband and I surreptitiously dusted off the microscope that my in-laws bought for our homeschooled children and excitedly peered into samples of semen, delighted to see hundreds of little sperm swimming around. However, months passed and still no pregnancy. I was 36 by this time and with the clock ticking, we decided to see a fertility specialist for extra help. Thus began about two months of early morning temperature taking, peeing on sticks, transvaginal ultrasounds, and blood draws.
And finally seven months after the vasectomy reversal, my husband went to the fertility clinic in the morning and I went in the afternoon, and we made a baby. Separately. After all the pain and expense, it worked! I spent a good deal of the next nine months feeling as though we’d been mad scientists and more than once asked, “What are we THINKING?” We hadn’t dealt with diapers in six years! We were in the habit of sleeping all night! Did we really want to go back?
Meanwhile, despite my anxieties, the baby continued to grow. I was labeled ‘advanced maternal age’ by my doctors, so I got lots of extra ultrasounds, and we learned we were expecting a baby girl. Advanced maternal age is also how my extended family viewed the situation. My own mother was a grandmother by my age, and her mother a year later at 37. I was definitely reversing the norm set forth by previous generations of women in my family.
Near the end of last summer, I checked into the hospital to be induced. Minutes before her birth, when the epidural was not working at all, and I was literally screaming like a sit-com-y maniac, I turned to my ashen-faced husband and said WHY DID WE DO THIS AGAIN? And then, there she was, sunny side up, warm and wet and with a tongue sticking straight out. I held her and she licked my neck. She was bright eyed, calm, and beautiful.
Motherhood at 36 is different than when I started it at 24. I feel the exhaustion more. Rolling out of bed to a crying baby is a lot harder. At six months postpartum, I am still waiting to ‘bounce back’ from the pregnancy. But the differences aren’t all bad. Having older siblings means there is always a babysitter available if I need to take a nap, or a shower, or another nap. I am less stressed out about little things. She has forced all of us to focus less on our own needs and more on hers. My heart swells with gushy mommy love when I see my older kids beg to hold her or I come in and catch one of them quietly reading her a book. Most importantly, I know how fast it all goes by. When I was in my twenties and drowning with three littles at once, I barely had time to keep them and me alive day to day, much less find joy in the sweaty baby asleep on my chest. Now, I try to be present in the moment more, to appreciate all of the smiles and sleeping baby breath on my neck.
Reversal: a change to an opposite attitude or situation. For my husband, the reversal was a physical one, from infertile to fertile. I’ve realized that it was a reversal for me as well. A change from seeing motherhood as something that happened to me passively to something I sought after aggressively, from bemoaning a 2am poop-up-the-back diaper change, to rejoicing in the opportunity to once again provide care to the most vulnerable little person. Mormons frequently use the phrase “endure to the end.” I used to see motherhood as something to be endured. Now, I want to enjoy to the end.