What this year gave me: 2013 in review
January. I learned I could still teach spin while super pregnant. Not much more to say about that.
February came and with it, Audrey. One of my favorite blogs I’ve ever written was about how I returned the hospital pants that were given to me after I thought I was about to lose her. An excerpt:
Walking out of the hospital’s ER wearing hospital pants seven months ago with my bloody shorts in a bag and the thought that I was about to miscarry was probably one of the worst days of my life. I remember it as if it was yesterday, and the thought still resonates in my mind, I’m not ready for this to be over.
I spent the last seven months being stressed to the limit, spent with constant worry, many sleepless nights and plenty of tears. When the baby wouldn’t move for a few hours, I immediately thought I had lost the game.
A few days after my big bleed, Matt grabbed the hospital pants and offered to throw them in the trash. I looked at him and said, “No. I’m going to be returning those.”
Today I tossed those hospital pants in the linen and said see ya. If I’ve learned anything in the past 7 months, it’s not to give up hope, even when it seems as though there is none. To learn to be OK with not being in complete control of everything. To continue to love all the things around me and never forget that what I have right now is everything I need. And that to fight every day to make sure that I get to one day see that beautiful face is worth it all.
Audrey means strength, and that is what she has given me.
March was quiet and April was the first ever big spinathon I hosted, which benefited the Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh. It went over so well that the members couldn’t wait until I hosted another one.
In May I learned that it’s not wise to run a half marathon 9 weeks postpartum. Kudos to those women who can, without pain and up to their own personal standards of speed, but I found out I cannot. I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on a complete whim and paid for it for a week. While my time wasn’t terrible (2:10:49) the pain I felt immediately after was not worth it.
June put me through a loop. I got an unexpected text from someone claiming to be my biological father. Mind you, I hadn’t had any contact with him since Claire was born. That lead into me contacting my brothers who I didn’t even know that they knew of me. They did, and were open and willing to accept me in their lives. I wrote them an open letter (that I totally never sent to them, it was just my thoughts out in the open on the whole situation.)
I was born in Minneapolis not far from where you grew up. I lived there for a few years until we moved to Pennsylvania. We lived here a few years before we went back home for another couple of years, then we finally settled in Clarion, a small town north of Pittsburgh. Needless to say, we moved around a lot. I graduated in 2003. I am 28 years old. I spent a few years in the Army. I learned to drive a stick shift when I was 15 in a parking lot behind my house. I like to draw portraits. I have six tattoos. I don’t consider myself to fit into any prefabbed mold. I am oddly good at rollerblading. I have four kids. I got married in 2006. My husband is a good, honest man. I love to work out probably more than I should. I secretly want to be a general contractor. I like to rearrange my house a lot. I’ve run a marathon and three half marathons and countless other races. I have a dog and two cats. I have a big sister, and two little step brothers. When I was 15 my best friend died and it changed my whole outlook on life. I was a cheerleader in high school, but I swear I wasn’t one of the annoying ones. My biggest regret in life so far is that I’m only fluent in English. I’m a nurse and a fitness instructor and mother. I’m a kind, caring and honest person. I raise my kids with the same ideals that I believe in, which is to always treat others with kindness and the benefit of the doubt. To not judge someone until you’ve walked in their shoes, and to always treat others with respect.
Listen, I’m not perfect. Not in the least bit. Mostly, I have no expectations as to where this will go, if anywhere, and that’s OK. It really is.
I just wanted you to know in my own words who your sister is. I hate that life has, once again, been turned briefly upside down. I know that we’re all in different places in life and things like this are never convenient. It is what it is. Just know I’m here, I’m real and I’m not so bad.
No one ever said you got to pick your family, but sometimes it’s nice to know about them.
So for what it’s worth, I’m glad I know that you know about me.
In July I participated in an autism study and had to revisit my postpartum depression that I suffered with Luca. I lost so much time with him.
This morning, at 9:30, Audrey was still sleeping. By 10, I finally got a little worried, because my mind always goes to the worst, and when I peeked in on her, she was half awake sucking her thumb. When I opened her blinds and turned off the white noise, she looked up at me, thumb in her mouth and a smile went across her lips.
I had a slightly dramatic response to this, in that, I grabbed the crib and caught my breath.
I had an instant memory of Luca, smiling up at me, thumb in his mouth and smile on his face. He gave me that same look that Audrey was giving me, and for the briefest of moments I thought that maybe one of the reasons Audrey was here to mend my broken heart over the time I lost with Luca. That perhaps, even in the quickest snippet of a memory, that I could have my baby boy back that I thought I had lost forever.
August started a new normal for us – Claire going to school:
I remember the night before you were born, when I was sitting in the hospital bed awaiting your arrival. I didn’t know anything about being a mother. I knew nothing of what you would become. I simply knew that I loved you and that I was ready to figure it out.
There’s been a change in the wind, a tenseness in the atmosphere, and I feel it down to the very bottom of my soul – you’re growing up.
Just as I sat there in that hospital bed, staring the unknown right in the face, here I sit in my quiet living room with you upstairs sleeping, dreaming of what will be your very first day of kindergarten.
I’ve been preparing for this day since the moment you were born. The moment I heard your first cries and the moment I gave you your name.
I’ve been preparing for the moment you will let go of my hand.
I’ve been saying for years now, gosh I can’t wait until all the kids are in school. But here I sit, the day before your first day and I’m a perfect mixture of happy and sad. Happy because you’re so happy. So excited of what’s to come. But I’m sad because you’re growing up quicker than I can keep up with.
One thing I know for sure, Claire, is that you’re ready.
You asked me today, “What if I can’t remember how to read? What if I forget where I sit?”
I immediately felt that same knot that you must be feeling right in the pit of your stomach. Sweet daughter, I feel the same way you do. But not for the same reasons.
You will know your way. You will do the right things. And if you don’t, it’s okay because that’s what school is for. You know the golden rule of school – if you don’t know, ask.
Dear, sweet Claire. I have raised you to be kind, honest and giving. You have never disappointed me. It’s okay to be nervous and it’s even okay to be a little scared. The unknown is a very scary place to be. But because I have raised you to be the girl that you are, never fear about being alone. All the things that I have instilled in you, that is me. You are taking me with you, wherever you go.
Remember to always smile. To talk to every kid in your class. To remember how badly it feels to be left out, so you won’t do the same. To not judge another person. That if you see someone being bullied, to come to their aid. If someone is mean to you, you tell them so, because nothing is more frightening to a bully than a bully being called out for being a bully. And if that person continues to bully you, don’t stay silent.
Remember that you are there to learn. That it will take some adjustment time. Some days will be better than the others, so don’t get disheartened if it’s not what you imagined it would be like all the time.
Remember that you are a good person. Some kids may not see that and that’s their problem, not yours. You be the good, sweet, amazing child I raised you to be. That’s all that matters.
Claire, tomorrow is the start of something new, and for the first time in your almost six years, you have to go on without me. Tomorrow I will hold your hand as we walk to the bus stop. And tomorrow, for the first time ever, I will let go of your hand and let you go out into the big world without me.
I’m not afraid. I raised you to be the person you are.
You will be just fine.
September came and I began planning for the next big spinathon. October, I traveled to Louisiana where I saw my dear best friend Jess and her new baby and got to run a 5k and win a shiny, shiny trophy. And Sarah and I bonded, like woah. (Does anyone still use that phrase? Just me?)
November we had the spinathon, and after all was said and done, and purchased, I got to drop all the items off at the participating families.
November changed my life.
Then December came and I turned another year old older, possibly wiser, but that’s yet to be determined.
This year I had a baby, Matt got promoted so I quit my job at the hospital, I went for another fitness certification, I donated blood, did more charity work than I ever have done in my life, made new friends, expanded my already awesome friendships, taught Luca how to read, showed Claire how to bake cookies, learned a thing or two from Mae the ass kicking princess, and let Audrey fill up my days with such joy.
I’ve been surrounded by so much kindness and love this year that 2013 will truly be hard to match.
But I do love a challenge.