Here I am with my cousin, she’s giving my prego-belly a squeeze and rub, which makes me wonder if she was making a wish, or quietly chanting ‘wax on- wax off‘ (I should just stop here because now all you can think about is Ralph Macchio).
Though miles take us apart and e-mail keeps us together, it makes me so happy knowing that we were sharing this moment together and… I loved that sweater I was wearing. Seriously. It was a sweater that made me want to be pregnant all of the time. I wish I could find one that made me want to exercise all of the time.
When I think about this day, my baby shower, I scan my memories and find myself in the living room surrounded by so many wonderful friends and relatives. As I reminisce, I’m sitting here thinking “Why didn’t I ask more questions?, Why didn’t I take notes?“.
I know why, because I was too busy eating cake and enjoying being pregnant, the way it should be. Plus, they all made it look so easy. Motherhood that is.
No one knows what’s coming down the pipes, what life has in store for us. It took me a while to get the hang of it, and quite frankly I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully there, but luckily I realized that it’s better to be present, be in that moment and enjoy it as much as you possibly can. Because. You have no idea.
Suddenly I want to go back in time, surround myself with all of these women, Moms that could reassure me that whatever comes my way, I’ll be able to handle it. I want to thank them all over again, and take more pictures… and give them more hugs.
Fast forward to today. Two kids later. A lot of life lived, no regrets but some missed opportunities for sure, and I find myself a little stuck. One of those moments where I might need to go two steps back before I can go two steps forward.
Counting down the days, I start getting ready for my century ride. Making a list, pushing a little harder, wanting another month for training, and another month just to build in some nap times.
I connect with friends and family, borderline begging them to share my fundraising link, practically on my knees, and if you know me, unless I’m praying or picking up peanut M&M’s off of the floor it’s not a comfortable position for me to be in.
Then, in between getting over my fear of being on the road and being clipped into my pedals I talk with families that are working through a new diagnosis, a whole different kind of fear. I reassure these mom’s that they can do this, and I won’t lie, it won’t be easy, it won’t be like before, but the after will work out, and we’re in this together. There will be people that will support them and give them strength when they need it.
While I’m talking to them I can’t help but think of my own before, like that moment at my baby shower, feeling blissfully pregnant, my cousin rubbing my belly, eating, laughing and eating some more. All the while, pushing back any fears a new mother might have, praying that my delivery will go well, and counting down the days until I can bend over again without feeling like I’m going to stop, drop and roll.
We’ve all been there, there is always a before. Before the diagnosis, before kids, before marriage, before they got sick. Life is full of before’s…but I find that it’s the after that takes our breath away, most of the time we never see it coming and we have no idea.
Logan’s arrival was so fitting given his personality. The night before, I had been watching documentaries, Jane Goodall and the Dalai Lama to be exact, I’m not saying that he is an enlightened gorilla, but hey…this kid has shared some pretty profound things, and no doubt he was swinging from the bars on the playground and eating bananas while doing it.
On our way to the hospital there was not a single car on I-94 going into Milwaukee, headed towards the Lakefront, I remember thinking how odd that seemed. When we made it to the hospital it was quiet, just the doctor, a nurse, my husband and I in the room during delivery. All was quiet, just the way he likes it.
When I looked at his sweet face all I could think of was “… he’s really mine? No, really?” And of course there were moments of wondering how they could let us out into that big world with such precious cargo. I thought for sure they would bust me, they would find out that it’s true, I don’t know how to cook, I am terribly uncoordinated and well, I can be a procrastinator, but I call it ‘working well under pressure. But they didn’t, no buzzers beeped, no doors locked, they just let us on our merry way. He was ours to keep.
I was stunned that something so small, with such tiny little fingers, could have a vice grip on my heart, I thought I was prepared. So many friends and family had shared their own thoughts about this moment and I felt ready for this thing they call “Motherhood”. I had no idea.
He clearly knew something that I didn’t, he was getting ready to stretch me out of my comfort zone, get me to where I was supposed to go so he could get to where he needed to go.
“This was not what I had planned“, I thought to myself. Not just one time. No, I would think this over and over and over.
I had declared early on that Motherhood would not change me, that way, I had plans you know. I had just finished my undergrad at an all women’s college. I had places to go. Things to accomplish. There was a revolution somewhere that I had to be a part of and he would just have to come with me, not vice versa. I had no idea.
In 2009 we were visiting with my family in Florida. Logan had been living with Type 1 diabetes for almost five years by then. He had never said much about it, never complained and never resisted a shot. Somehow he just did it.
That’s why I was so surprised. I will never forget it. I was sitting at the dining room table. Logan and Zoe were watching t.v. We just came back from a long day in the water. Sun kissed cheeks. I remember thinking how healthy they both looked and I smiled to myself, giving my worries a rest. Life is good.
Logan got up from the floor, walked over to me and without a warning said to me “Mommy will you please take the diabetes out of my body?” I thought he was going to ask me to make some popcorn. I had no idea.
I still feel a bit stunned today when thinking about his little face looking at me, asking me to do something, something that I would do in a heartbeat but couldn’t. I couldn’t give him the one thing that he wanted. He was asking me, so innocently, as if he saw a magic power in me that I didn’t know I had. All I wanted to do was take the diabetes out of his body. But I couldn’t.
I took his hands and said “We are doing all that we can to help get diabetes out of your body, researchers are working, doctors are working…we’re all working together to help find a cure“. My words felt weak, my heart felt empty.
I realize now that I was lying. I wasn’t doing everything that I could do. Granted we can’t do everything, but I could be doing more.
We all have our place. We search until we find a spot that makes us feel productive, a part of something good, a part of a bigger plan. A place that fits the frame of our spirit and our desires.
It shifts over time as we change, as we have new desires and we stretch a little, making us uncomfortable, questioning, reflecting, doubting, but we either settle or we keeping moving forward, finding our strength and finding a spot that feels right.
When we got back from Florida I signed up to take classes so I could pursue a career in nursing. I was going to help and all be darned if it wasn’t going to be in the biggest way. This is a big deal, it needs a big solution. Right? Well, it wouldn’t be long before I would realize that it wasn’t where I felt comfortable. It made me sad. I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to believe that I could do it and help in that capacity. Nurses are amazing, I wanted to be one.
I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to help.
I put everything aside, took some time off from school and I got more involved with advocating for Type 1 Diabetes. We walked, we raised money, we advocated, I sent out e-mails, I shared, and along the way trying to find the balance between “life with T1D and T1D as our life”. Never giving up.
To be continued…