Five

by Stacey on November 18, 2014

in love & marriage

Originally written on Friday, November 14:

Five years ago, I married Billy in front of an amazing sunset in gorgeous weather.

Four years ago, we exchanged gifts – a new watch for him, a diamond anniversary band for me.

Three years ago, I was preparing to start a new job after being laid off. We hiked Crabtree Falls to celebrate.

Two years ago, were in the middle of a Caribbean cruise. We spent the day snorkeling with sea turtles in Barbados (man, those were the days!).

One year ago, were were holding our breath waiting to find out if our baby girl was healthy and developing on schedule. We woke up that morning and barely said anything on the way to the doctor’s office. It was a tense, stressful week leading up to that appointment, and once the doctor told us everything was developing just fine, we let out a collective sigh.

Today, on our fifth anniversary, I’m baffled at the way things are so very different, yet so much the same. We’re parents now, and we’re absolutely in love with Natalie. Yet, despite the way our lives have shifted to a much bigger, important perspective, we’re still “us.” We both hold our marriage close to our hearts, and we’re getting better about being gentle and understanding with each other when the going gets rough. We get on each other’s nerves, sure, but deep down, we’re each other’s favorite person. (Well, besides Natalie. She really is the favorite for both of us!)

We had planned on going to dinner tonight and having a friend watch Natalie. It was going to be our first date since she was born. Unfortunately, Natalie is sick, so tonight we’ll stay in. And to be honest with you, we’ll probably go to bed early. Sleep is a hot commodity!

This was the year our family grew, and it’s changed us both. It’s tested our limits and stretched our boundaries, but it’s also brought us closer together. It’s been one of the best, hardest, most rewarding years.

{ 3 comments }

The Greatest Obligation

by Stacey on October 29, 2014

in motherhood

She’s 15 pounds, 10 ounces and 26.5 inches long. Her eyes are like pools of blue satin, shrouded in delicate, light brown lashes. She’s a girl on the go, always wiggling, kicking her legs and clapping her hands. She’s a tiny thing, really. She’s so small in this huge world, but I can feel the weight of her pressing on my soul each day.

I’m her mother, her teacher, her protector. She has no idea how much she’s changed me – forever. She’s softened me, slowed me down, given me the patience I never had before. It’s incredible and it’s too much. The weight of all the obligations I carry and all of my hopes and dreams for her that could fill a stadium – it’s all too much for her to bear on her tiny, slender shoulders.

I tell myself each day that I must not weigh her down with my expectations. She’s her own person. Her body, brain and soul belong to her. It’s my job to nurture those things and teach her about the world and how to live peacefully and lovingly in it. When I stop to think about it, it’s paralyzing. She’s an incredible obligation, and I know every single day how lucky I am to have this job. I must try, over and over again every day to do right by her and give her all the love I can gather. Just when I think the well might run dry, I’ll discover new depths and give thanks to The Universe for supplying me again and again. My tank will top off with her smiles, laughter and wonder of new experiences. One day I’ll come to understand that the well will never run dry.

She is my teacher. We’re learning together, and we navigate the learning curve as a team. Even when we fail, we do it together. When we succeed, it feels like Christmas, New Year’s, her birthday and the 4th of July all in one. She’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

At night I go to bed exhausted with the weight of the world. I shut my eyes and try to turn off my thoughts. Sometimes I succeed, but other times I stare at the monitor and watch the rise and fall of her chest. At 5 a.m. I turn off my alarm and try to restrain myself from running into her room. I miss her and I need to hold her. I tiptoe into her bedroom and sing her the same song from the day before. We gently and quietly start our day together, and it is the best thing I’ll do that day. I’m tired but happy. Isn’t that what motherhood is?

{ 3 comments }

I’m still here

by Stacey on September 19, 2014

in love & marriage,motherhood

Sometimes if you’re not careful, the rope starts to fray and the knots come loose, and before you know it, the whole damn thing falls apart. You get busy with life – with just surviving and getting by – and everything you love gets blown to smithereens. Then you look back after some time and you’re able to point your finger to the exact moment shit fell apart. And you think “how did I let that happen?”

And here’s the thing – it can happen with everything: your marriage, your friendships, your career. It can all blow apart faster than you can put it back together. So you have to try. You have to cling to the things you love the most and try like hell to keep it all together. Some things will slide while you do this. Your house will get messy. Your car will go months past its scheduled maintenance. Your wardrobe will go to shit and every single shirt will smell like spit up. Your yard becomes a classified war zone, full of mushrooms and weeds and overgrown parts you’d like to forget about. But if you try hard enough, you might realize that your life is full and you’re loved and you’re loving others.

It’s just so damn hard to keep it all together sometimes. I have incredibly high standards for myself and I often stress myself out trying to excel at my life. And I wonder “who the hell is grading me?” ya know? NO ONE.

Last night I walked away from a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes to go lay with Natalie on her bedroom floor and stare up at her playmat mirror. I put my head next to hers and stared at the mirror with her. She pulled both feet up and rolled towards me as if to say “oh, you’re here!” So I pulled both of my feet up in the air and said “hey, I can do that too.” She laughed, and everything else just fell away.

The sound of her laughter – oh, it gets me every time.

Most days I do a really good job of being her mom. I’m figuring it out and I have the best time with her. But lately I fail at other things.

I have to remind myself to give Billy a hug and tell him what a good dad he is. He needs to hear it. I have to remind myself to email or call a friend just to say hi and tell them I love them. I have to tell myself it’s ok to leave the laundry unfolded for one night so that I can take a bath and relax with a glass of wine once Natalie is asleep. Those are the small moments to myself that keep me sane.

Life has changed so much, but I’m still the same person I always was. I’m still way too hard on myself. I still have standards that are – at best – impossible to meet on most days. I still love my girlfriends for the different things they bring to my life, and I value them even more now than I ever did. I’m still married to my best friend, who reminds me to keep a sense of humor because it’s all going to be alright.

I’m still trying like hell to keep it all together.

{ 5 comments }

What I wish someone had told me

June 1, 2014

When you’re pregnant, everyone has a piece of advice that they just can’t wait to share with you. “Sleep while you can!” “Don’t forget – you’re eating for two!” “Don’t be a hero. Get the epidural!” The truth is, no one really tells you the stuff you need to hear. I can’t be sure if [...]

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Welcome to the world, Natalie Jane!

May 5, 2014

A few short seconds later, Sara returned to the room. “Are you ready to start pushing?” She was grinning from ear to ear. This is why everyone says it’s the nurses that make or break your experience. And she was awesome! “Yes, let’s do this!” What no one tells you is that you have to [...]

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Natalie’s Birth Story – Part 2

May 4, 2014

At 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, the doctor broke my water. Talk about an unusual feeling! Afterwards, the nurse told me to sit tight and wait a few minutes. I mean, really – what else am I going to do? Run around the block? What caught me completely by surprise was just how quickly [...]

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Natalie’s Birth Story – Part 1

April 13, 2014

At my 20-week ultrasound, we were notified about a slight complication with my pregnancy. The good news was the baby looked completely healthy and was growing just fine. The bad news was my pregnancy would require additional monitoring and a medical induction at 40 weeks if the baby didn’t come on her own. At my [...]

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Everything is changing

March 20, 2014

With all that’s changing, the way I share information is changing too. I don’t know what the future holds for this space, and I don’t feel pressured to make any decisions right now. But today I wanted to take a moment and preserve my thoughts before this little girl comes screaming into the world. My [...]

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{Listed} 5 things that made my week

February 21, 2014

1. My birthday card from Billy: I walked in the house on Tuesday night to find quite the surprise – Billy baking me a chocolate cake! He poured me a half glass of wine (my doc says it’s fine to have one every once in a while) and gave me my birthday card. He always [...]

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On maternity photos and the best kinds of friendship

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Over the weekend, I had a maternity photo shoot. I debated doing them at all, but I figured it was time for Billy and I to have some pictures done since we hadn’t had any taken since our wedding in 2009. It was the best decision. Here are a couple of preview (read: not edited) [...]

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