Photo Credits: Pink Portrait Photography
Today I ran into a fellow artist here in town...she asked when I was due and when I told her how soon it was all happening, she got this overtly horrified look on her face and, grimacing, mumbled, "...yikes. sorry..."
Now, most women would have been totally offended and hurt. Maybe even angry. But I'm not most women. The whole thing made me want to hug her, because it is almost never that I am allowed to acknowledge the part of myself that feels a deep sadness about the wild, fun, self-centred freedom that I will soon say goodbye to. I'm allowed to feel excited, happy, joyful, grateful...perhaps even physically uncomfortable or even nervous. But sad? How dare I?! Especially in a world filled with people struggling with infertility and loss.
And yet, as I face this new season upon me, I mourn the closing of a chapter...a child-free life that I absolutely loved. A life, that, in a few weeks, will never, ever be the same. I understand that it could be even better than the life I knew before...that is what most people like to assure me. And I hope they are right. The more pragmatic ones just assure me that it isn't better or worse, it is just different...and of course there are those that remind me that'll it'll simply be whatever I make of it. All these now-parents are wise beings, and I'm sure they know what they are saying...
...but what if isn't better? Or different? Or influenced by my attitude toward it? What if it is just plain old AWFUL? Boring, exhausting, unrewarding and awful? You know what is terrifying about this possibility? The fact that even if this does end up being my reality, well...stampies, stampies, no erasies.
I've consciously chosen to walk away from something that I know I love, towards something that I don't know I'll love. I mean...come now...I'm sure I'll love HER. To be fair, I already do love her, all kicky and punchy inside me. But I don't know if I will love the life that comes with being a parent. My feelings are complicated. And scary. Because my feelings aren't all kittens and rainbows. Mostly, I feel the way my artist friend felt on the street today. YIKES.
Nothing I can do about it now, though. Except try to turn my thoughts toward the positive. Assure myself that it'll be okay. Distract myself. Soak up with glee these last days of freedom. Allow myself to mourn privately. And hope.
1. What is up with the whole bumper thing? It seems clear that they are considered dangerous due to SIDS, but it seems like even the most hovering, over-protective parents still use them in their cribs?
2. I'm confused about burping a baby. Do you have to burp them every single time they eat? How can you be sure they've burped properly if their heads are backwards and over your shoulder? And if they fall asleep while breastfeeding, do you have to wake them back up to burp them?!
3. For cloth diapering parents: do you soak your cloth diapers in the interim between removing them and washing them? Or just store them in a wet bag? Or put them into some sort of pail/bucket with a tight sealing lid?
4. Lots of people tell me that newborns wear a lot of onesies. Which I guess makes sense, but onesies don't have legs or arms...so don't their limbs get cold?
5. What if I was shockingly blessed with a baby who loved to sleep right from the get go. Are you allowed to let a newborn baby sleep many - 4, 5, 6 plus - hours in a row if they seem to naturally want to? Or will they starve/not gain enough weight because they aren't eating every 2 hours? Does it make sense to wake them up just to feed them if they are in a dead sleep?
6. For baby wearing parents in arctic climates: how does using baby wraps work when it is minus a zillion out? Do you attempt to wrap the baby overtop your huge parka? Or underneath? Or do you take the wrap with you, put baby in car seat until you are inside a building, take off all your outerwear, and THEN transfer baby to wrap?
7. For breastfeeding parents: if I want to pump in addition to breastfeeding, so I can store milk with the intention of having Leon feed her sometimes with a bottle, WHEN do I pump for the stored milk? Will I "use up" milk that Kick-Punch will need for a meal?
8. AND...if I let Leon do one of her feedings at night while I sleep, will it screw up my milk supply for when I go to feed her the next time?
It was a rainy day in March 2007. I was moving into my new, temporary accommodation for the summer, and I was in an awful mood. The brakes had gone on my car, the BC sky wouldn't stop weeping water, and I was the last to arrive at the apartment, which meant I ended up with the smallest room. And then I saw him. My room mate for the summer. My leading man in the show we were about to do. He walked up to me, wearing a black leather jacket and a mess of dark, curly hair, said hello and made his way outside. My entire body went numb.
I peeked out the window to watch him, standing with a friend, under an umbrella, smoking a cigarette. I thought about my perfect-on-paper boyfriend back in Vancouver. The boyfriend with the well paying job, and the British accent, who was into marathons, not cigarettes. I thought about The Boyfriend, but could not stop staring at the Man Under The Umbrella.
Later that afternoon, after I had moved fully into my too-small bedroom, we bumped into each other in the hallway. The conversation started quickly, continued easily, the physical attraction palpable. We talked. And laughed. And kept talking. And talking. He was articulate, passionate, irreverent, sexy. I was completely and utterly…screwed.
I broke up with The Boyfriend shortly after that.
And about 5 minutes after I broke up with The Boyfriend, I kissed Leon Willey. If I knew I loved him when I saw him under that umbrella, then I knew I'd love him forever after that kiss.
But this love story isn't about the beginnings. Beginnings are easy, often fiery, and usually dramatic. This love story is about the Every Day Since.
We married each other exactly one year after the day we met. After 30 years of swearing we would never get married, to anyone, ever, we stood unwaveringly under a woodland gazebo in a park valley, with a few witnesses, and declared out loud what we both knew to be true that first day in the hallway - we never wanted this conversation to end. It didn't mean we suddenly believed in marriage, we just believed in each other.
Everyone told us our incredible connection would fade with time. Everyone warned us that we'd stop having so much to talk about, stop wanting to hang out with each other on days off, that we'd stop finding each other as funny, and that the sexual attraction would morph slowly into a safe, benign, friendship. I'm not sure why people believed this? Sadly, it may be because it is the truth for most.
But seven years later, we've proven them wrong. We still grope each other inappropriately in public places. We still sing and dance and act together…sometimes on stage, and sometimes in the frozen foods aisle at Superstore. We laugh like crazy people, and when we fight it is like two hurricanes getting caught up in the same funnel. And the talking? Well, it continues at a fever pitch. It is a mad, whirlwind love we share, wrapped in peace and respect, with a side of goofiness. Still.
And a couple of years ago, when he came to me and asked if we could have a child together, I searched my soul because it was again something I had said I would never do. Then I remembered. This was Us. And we were magic. And that magic wrapped me close and made me brave and in the summer of 2013, in that same rainy town we first met, we conceived our daughter.
She lives inside me now. Kicking and punching, and dancing and swirling. And every time I feel her move, I love Leon more. Because the only reason she is here, soon to make us a threesome, is because on a rainy day in March in 2007, I fell madly and instantly in love with a man in a leather jacket, standing in the rain, under an umbrella, smoking a cigarette.
We actually found this out a few weeks ago, when we got results back from some other more in-depth genetic testing we had done. I kinda felt like that was gonna be the gender ever since the 12-week ultrasound…and that is what Leon always imagined he would have (that man is a huge fan of women;-). It was important to me to know the gender to help the bonding factor. The first 4 months of this pregnancy were really rough, and I didn't feel bonded much at all. But now…half way into my 5 month, with the nausea almost entirely gone, knowing it is a girl, and that she's doing great & feeling her kick and punch me like a trooper has helped me to feel the first stirrings of maternal pride and protection. A welcome feeling. And in 3 more sleeps, Leon will see my baby belly for the first time, and get a chance to finally bond as well.
Below are the pics from yesterday morning's ultrasound. Technician was flabbergasted at HOW MUCH she kept moving during the entire photo shoot, making it nearly impossible to capture a lot of the pictures and measurements we were there to capture. She told me she hasn't had a baby move that much in an appointment in quite a long time. I've decided that this is a good sign. Although it may also mean that my dream of having a child who sits quietly in the corner and reads encyclopedias may be thwarted.
One of the highlights of the session were when I saw her yawn and stretch. BIZARRE. I was also able to FaceTime with Leon during the visit, so he was able to kinda be there with us, too. I guess now we just hope that all things measured out well, and there is nothing physical/anatomy-wise to worry about. Oh, and start figuring out what we wanna name her:)
I'm thinking Hank. Hahaha…just kidding. Kinda.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
I know, I know. I haven't been blogging lately. Or vlogging. It's true. There is something about doing 8 shows a week that wipes me clear of any creative energy. Still...I wanted to at least remind myself that I do in fact have a website, and thought I could at least compile some random facts about how my summer's been going.
First off, I hang out a lot with these people. I'm grateful and relieved that if I have to spend my summer in a dark box without any windows, I get to do it with these folks.
And because I think it is a sort of work of art, I photographed my view if I turn to my right while sitting at my dressing table:
Almost makes ya wanna play the "how many objects can you identify in this picture?" game:)
What else? Ummm...I'm eating really well. It has taken me a loooong time to bounce back from my one month of vegetarianism that I experimented with here. The weight just hasn't wanted to come off...but it has started to again, slowly, and my no-sugar-low-carb body is reappearing. Thank god.
We have a lovely doctor renting our house this summer. Which I am SO grateful for. But I can not wait to get back into my own house. Sleep in my own bed. When I return to Moose Jaw (we should be home by Sept. 3rd or 4th), I will have been living out of a suitcase for SIX months.
Looks like I will spend my next day off river tubing. And I've swum in both oceans and lakes more times than I can count. And soaked in hot tubs. It's been a summer of hot weather and lots and lots of water. I can honestly say I love spending the summer on Vancouver Island. And the fact that I got to spend time with these people on Pender Island prior to coming to Chemainus, rocked.
OK...here is random for ya...If I could buy myself a random object right now, it would this:
Hmmm...what else?...our summer accommodation is pretty stellar. Mostly - I love having a BBQ and I hate not having a bathtub.
Oh, and then there is the fact that we have booked our January 2013 to be in COSTA RICA!!!! We've used the magic of AirBnB to book all of our accommodation, and will gone for the whole month. Wanna join us? The place we are staying as some empty rooms still:-)
Finally, the biggest unanswered question that haunts my life currently - other than the 'what do I want to be when I grow up' question which I am starting to accept may never get answered - is: WHERE DO I WANT TO LIVE? Should I commit to Moose Jaw and just stay in our house and accept that we will be living in MJ for the foreseeable future? Or should we go to Saskatoon? Regina? Or is it time to bite the bullet and return to BC...perhaps live in our condo on the Island? Or buy something in Nanaimo...Victoria? Being in Calgary near my family seems smart, too. Or, if my buddy SJ had it her way, I'd move to Stratford, Ontario...and the thought of going back to somewhere near Toronto thrills Leon. OR should we just buy a camper van and live on the road? I mean, all those ideas sound amazing and horrible. I wish some wise guru genie would appear and give me the answer.
After tomorrow, we will have only 40 shows left. Between then and now, I hope to get an even deeper tan, make some big announcements via Live Out Loud Theatre, save up a bunch of money & try to enjoy the heat while it lasts. Because, let's face it, I'm from Saskatchewan, and so, before I know it, it'll be snowing again.
Every night, before I sleep, I write in my gratitude journal. Tonight, as the clock passes midnight, and it becomes officially my 37th birthday, I've decided to write my gratitude list here on my blog. Because I'm old, and I say I can.
1. I am grateful for simply being alive and healthy. Today Scott's funeral took place while I was opening a show. I hated having to wear tap shoes in place of mourning my loss, except that I know Scott would have greatly preferred me to be on stage than in a solemn church somewhere. All of this makes me acutely aware that it is enough to simply be grateful for the gift of breathing in and out on this planet, without pain. And so I am.
2. I am grateful I can still kick fairly high. And even though doing the splits at 37 would possibly cause injury, I'm sure I could get there if I needed to. So, thank you to my body, for resiliently attempting to keep up with my denial that I am aging.
3. I am grateful I have a husband who adores me. I'm also grateful to any other men in the past few weeks who have complimented me, flirted with me, hugged me, or exhibited any such behavior that made me feel seen...because sometimes a girl needs to know that someone other than the man who made a vow to love her, finds her somewhat attractive:)
4. I am grateful for my one working wrist. In fact, I'm grateful for all the smaller, usually overlooked body parts on my body that are functioning brilliantly. One really never appreciates a thing, until it suddenly isn't there when you need it.
5. I am grateful for my mother, who sent me a birthday gift in the mail for my birthday. She has never forgotten about me - never - not once. She makes me feel important and special and worth remembering...and I am SO BLESSED that I was given her as a mother.
6. I am grateful for the rest of my family...my brother, my two nieces, one of whom shares this birthday with me (love you Emma!), Elaine and Gerry who take such good care of my MJ world, my big cuz who is the big sister I never had and an on-going best friend. They are all beyond valuable to me. Birthdays make me remember that...
7. I am grateful I have a job right now, and bills are being paid, and potential tenants are looking at the condo on Monday, and there is a nice doctor renting the house currently. It may not be my dream job, but I can not overlook that it is paying me while getting to be with Leon - a rare gift.
8. I am grateful for Facebook - especially on a birthday. I adore how it offers me the over inflated sense of how many people give a shit that it's my birthday. God bless it.
9. I am grateful that there are no bags of Dill Pickle Doritos sitting beside my bed right now. Because, unfortunately, I would definitely eat the whole bag before going to sleep.
10. I am grateful that I am not - yet - 40.
I lay here in the dark, beside a sleeping husband, and am filled with gratitude, and longing, and guilt, and puzzlement. My head, filled to the brim with thoughts, swims.
I think about my new hair cut, and how, as I watched the last of the blonde fall to the floor, I felt a chapter of my youth close. I think about how hard it is for me to redefine "pretty", and as I do, I hold as close to my heart the words of the Hollyhock Girls who would caution me to look inside for my real beauty. I want to run out and glue the hair back on...to scoop up all the years of my past and piece them back together...to keep from getting old. Yet another part of me wants to sit in my discomfort and find out if sexy really is an attitude and not an age/hair color/waist size.
I think about theatre, and the dysfunctional, beautiful mess of a relationship that I have with it. I think about how much I have always loved entertaining a stranger, or telling someone a story so enchanting, that I can almost weave the listener into the journey's fabric. But I also think about all the ways theatre has broken my heart. It is a strange dance I do, this push and pull. And although I love the magic of putting on a show, the thought of scraping and fighting and clawing my way onto stage after stage makes me sick to my stomache. I can not do it. I can not spend my life waiting for someone else to confirm that I am in fact worthy of that magic.
I think about my cast. How passionate, how talented, how young they are. I think about moments in the last two weeks, rehearsing in a humid warehouse, with rain pouring down outside an opened garage door, when I had to stop and honor the other singers and dancers and actors out there who would have liked to be inside this creative cocoon with us, but weren't given the opportunity. I think about how lucky I am, and how glad I am to have met all these people.
I think about being old, and being young, and being married, and how all these themes are at the forefront in my life currently. I think about trying to have a baby. I wish I could say the word "home" and know exactly where I meant. I think about my month at Hollyhock and how it already has started to feel like a dream that never really happened.
I think about my Anonymous Hater, and if I've ever met them or known them, or if they are a total stranger who has just decided to take on upsetting me as a hobby. I think about how it'd be great to erase them...but then I think about what someone's life must be like that could say such hateful things to someone else. Have they been deeply hurt in the past? Was I the person who hurt them? Are they so beaten down by life that they are determined to take others down with them? Or maybe I just push some complicated button in them, and a rage deep inside, unconscious and vicious, bubbles to the surface. I can empathize. I've felt that before. An anger, a jealousy, so deep, that I fantasize about seeing that particular person crushed under my powerful thumb. I'm not proud of that part of me, but it does exist. I think, despite how mean my Hater has been and will continue to be, I might be able to understand them better than I'd like to admit.
I think about money and how much I would like to have tons and tons and tons of it. How many things I would attempt to control with it. And how, most likely, it would end up solving almost none of my real problems. I think about what I will do next, after this contract. What I will do for the rest of my life. And then I think about how sick and tired I am of asking that same question, year after year after year.
I think about Leon. How proud of him I am. How he is the bravest person I've ever loved. And how when I look at him these days, I can hardly tell where he begins and I end. I think about us, about whether or not we'll make it, and how it seems the whole world is depending on us and our love story to prove that Epic Love really can conquer all. I think love is powerful...but marriage is delicate. I think we're doing a great job, and that I am a better wife than I ever thought I'd be, but I also find myself watching him sleep, and find that I am holding my breath. There are no guarantees.
I think I am not the girl I was 6 years ago when I was here last. I think it's going to be interesting to see what kind of woman I'm gonna be the next time I arrive.
I had so many intentions to get right back into blogging once I was released from internet jail on Cortes Island. But, the thing is, I went from there immediately down the rabbit hole of putting on a show. So, once I return home after what feels like an 18 hour day of singing, dancing and acting, the last thing I want to do is talk about it.
I also don't feel much like talking about health or nutrition or food, as my month of being a vegetarian made me kinda chubby. Which means, I am back to cutting out sugar in a very hard core way, doing some serious detoxing, and avoiding anything that even resembles flour/grains/beans/rice/etc. Somehow, gaining weight during my all-carbs-all-sugar month on Cortes has left me feeling like I've let you down. I'm determined to get back to feeling awesome again...and then maybe once again feeling inspired to share my journey.
For now, I am just trying to keep my husband sane (his role is SO big, and has SO much to learn in this show), while fighting to regain my health and my best body while I, too, learn the stuff my smaller role demands. Of course, in a perfect world, I would get paid to blog/vlog, and wouldn't have to ever be distracted by *cough* work. But until I manifest that dream, this blog will have to wait.
Miss you all. Stay safe. Just say no to sugar. See you soon. Maybe.