Forty Beckons & I answer with FOUR-TY Days of Thanks

40 posts by my 40th birthday

My challenging birthday gift to myself to post 40 blogs by my 40th birthday, which is 38 days from now, has me pretty excited. Since my handsome hubby turns 38 just five days before my 40th, I will keep this 40 posts in 38 days knowing he is my strongest motivator. The idea stems from last Spring when I accidentally came up with & fell in love with the purposeful misspell of forty as I approached the birth of our fourth daughter and feeling completely overwhelmed with inspiration to chase every dream I have ever spoke of to encourage my girls to do the same. (In our home we say, “our children.” For your understanding of how we blend: I have 1 bonus daughter from my husband’s previous marriage, 2 daughters fom my previous marraige, and our baby girl; ages range 16 to 1.) The misspell of FOUR-TY: FOUR standing for my girls and TY representing Thank You as they truly inspire me to chase my goals no matter my age. I embarked on forty posts on FaceBook showering loved ones with adoration, listing gratitude for little things, sharing trying times I overcame, and somedays just keeping it simple. As I approach 40, it only seems fitting to dive back into #fourtydaysofthanks. I sit here, pregnant again (hoping for a boy, praying for healthy, happy with either boy or girl), with forty on the horizon, and I am just pumped up about my blog. Here we are a year later from my original FOUR-TY Days of Thanks, and I am not “just talking about writing” anymore. I am writing. It is not all being published for the world to see, yet. (Keyword there, yet). I work on my novel, my children’s series to include sketches, creative pieces in the form of vignettes & poetry, and prewrite my blog posts that sometimes take months to come to fruition. I am also currently building pieces for all the facets that will accompany my vision for this blog and will start to come to life over the course of these next 38 days:

  • Posts for the blending family, marriage, parenting children from infants to adolescents, identity, dealing with trying times, loving yourself, and the pursuit to truly live your life
  • Recipes for baby and family
  • Book Recommendations (Part of being a former high school English teacher- I will always be a book nerd)
  • Birthday Parties from décor to food to activities to thank you notes
  • Creative Corner for my previously published work, personal works produced amid workshops with fellow educators when I taught, and the unveiling of new pieces
  • T-shirts & Tanks echoing the theme #blendstrong

Today, to honor the original FOUR-TY Days of Thanks I am going to share one of the FaceBook posts I wrote last year. A vulnerable post thanking Prenatal Yoga and tapping into every raw emotion I was feeling after a potential cancer scare, the pain of biopsy, the heavy guilt accompannying stepping away from my classroom (& 184 students) into early maternity leave , and the depressing weight outside variables weighed on our home (which I do not go into then nor will I now because there are days the negativity is still present. and I am just not ready to write publicly about that behavior).

For pregnant mommas dealing with health scares, early maternity leave, and stress from life, I hope you find solace in these words. Your emotions are real, relevant, and understanding. For spouses, partners, and loved ones of these women, read to gain insight on how hurt they can be despite growing a miracle they love with every fiber of their being and simply love and encourage them through it.

6 of 40 Days of Thanks

7 March 2017

Prenatal Yoga

Vulnerably honest… We met. He was undeniable. I was smitten. Then, he literally old-fashioned courted me for three months. I was patient. We went on our first date and became inseparable when we had the moments to be together as we wove our already established lives together. We forged the arduous journey of merging in our late 30’s and all that entails: blending our beautiful and loving children; accepting the children’s other parents and families; loving each other’s families; befriending each other’s friends, feeling the blow from the friends, family, and others that “don’t want us here”, and above all – and simply put – the best joy of finally having your (yes, cliché) dream come true. We knew this was “the real deal”… finally! After five months of dating, we even chatted a bit about having a child together one day. A lavish, surprise proposal 11 months into our relationship brought foundation to both our lives, “to be home.” We were married two and a half months later, almost 14 months into our love story. A lump in my breast found on that lavish, surprise proposal trip, the swift surgery for removal one month later, and the utter horror that recovery brought due to my anxiety did not cease our desire to become husband and wife despite outward opinions. Once we were married, we excitedly began our pursuit to bring a baby into all our lives. We were becoming a bit devastated at not succeeding when making babies had come so easily to both of us prior. 11 months of varying emotions later, and in God’s timing, our prayer was answered. Our delayed honeymoon provided us nine days in Jamaica. With our children making memories and having fun with their others, we detached from everything social media and communication with others, reconnected to us, focused solely on one another, reaffirmed our genuine love… and, tah-dah! Our baby was coming. On our one year anniversary we had a lil secret just between us, Baby A was six weeks along. Absolute fairytale winning every time for our memory books.

Today, 33 weeks & two days pregnant, I felt a sense of anger and sadness in my current situation, which is day nine of partial bedrest. It started last Monday. I was pulled from work the Thursday prior with that Friday being my last day. It was quite emotional to say the least. I announced it to my 184 high school students stretched across six periods. I cried with my freshman and my seniors. Yes, seniors! No doubt some kiddos were thinking “Cel-e-brate good times!” because not every student is a fan of every teacher, and I longed for more time to connect with them. Yet, those that hugged me goodbye, wrote me notes as quickly as they could once they heard the news, and the ones that cried (& bawled) broke my heart, especially the ones that waved from a far, pursed their lips, looked down, and scurried off. I felt like I betrayed them. I am, obviously, still feeling bad about it. An enormous amount of guilt on my part at the thought of starting leave sooner than I originally planned, which was to go on leave when our precious girl arrives at just six weeks left of school. Instead, I went on leave with 14 weeks left of school. 14 WEEKS! My team. My poor team, was all I kept thinking. I worked six and a half hours that Saturday and another seven on Sunday to try to offset the load my team would be responsible to cover to ensure the workshop, challenge, and passion would remain present for my kids despite my early leave. I tried to remember what I felt as a long-term sub five years ago to cover all the needs my two lovely-lady long-term subs would need as they agreed to tackle my rigorous PreAP and AP courses. Mostly, I think I made a fumbling fool of myself in my awkward attempts to make it smooth for everyone else. Graceful is not the term that comes to mind in how I appeared on my last day, or week for that matter, since I intuitively knew my Dr was pulling me that week.

What I have to lean on is how my knowledgeable Dr has been encouraging me to step away since 16 January 2017 –  when I landed in the ER – which was at 20 weeks of school remaining. My hard-headed-self earned me an extra month with my kids. As the weeks thereafter unfolded though, I was inundated with news I could not quite handle. To be real, I literally was feeling sorry for myself and not understanding how I was caught in the midst of what felt like a tumultuous storm, again, when I was supposed to be cherishing the fairytale life my husband has been diligently painting for me (a life I had only imagined prior to him sweeping me off my feet). Irregular heartbeats, yes plural, tachycardia arrhythmia and ventricular ectopic; anemia; a freaking gallstone in my gallbladder, which my barely functioning gallbladder landed me in the ER at the break of the New Year the year prior; and my routine annual checkup in June 2016 confirmed the lump in my breast had returned despite complete removal July 2015, but the kicker was learning 17 January 2017 it had doubled in size in 6 months… 2 inches by 1 inch at ½ inch wide. We spent the next three weeks not knowing if I had cancer, trying to embrace the words of the Dr that I “would have to have surgery NOW for removal”, and trying to not let fear win at the thought of having surgery while pregnant with this sweet angel of a baby.

Then, we were caught amid two opposing medical opinions and the winning decision for a biopsy to confirm the mass prior to surgery. So… we prayed, and we fought, and we literally argued and fought and prayed, and I was inconsolable. I refused to tell our children what was going on because why on earth would we stress their little hearts out over the unknown? I could barely handle it; how could they? As far as they knew, I was being a normal, emotional pregnant lady who had a gallstone that hurt. Frankly, that was all a child should know. I hid ice compressions, I “napped in my room” when I was actually crying, I drove our middle one to church camp, made a weekend solely about our youngest one, another weekend solely about our oldest one, and I was literally pissed behind my smile. Children do not need to be aware of every stinking adult problem before there are decent answers. Let them be kids! Besides, they were each dealing with their own trials and still are. I am grateful my husband and I give them room to be their age. And, I am grateful we were selfless and mature enough to keep those three hellacious weeks a secret. THREE TOUGH WEEKS!

Just as God continues to do and has proven before, our prayers were answered. MD Anderson confirmed it is not cancer. I am one of the few to inherit a rare pregnancy tumor, and there will be NO SURGERY! My husband, with his charm, told me this is more proof that I am truly special. (Yes, he is just as adorable as he sounds). We are under a monitoring care of this tumor with further decisions to come in August 2017. Gallstone/gallbladder issue, too, can wait until after our baby is born. Iron diet rather than iron supplements to ease the pain the supplements bring on worse for the gallstone. The irregular heartbeats are anticipated to level out after her birth as well. We were elated. We spread the good news. We thanked our closest family and friends for their support and prayer over those three weeks. We were grateful we allowed a few people to know for we realized how much their support was needed. (Yes, you need real, genuine, selfless friends and family in your life). I’d love to say that was all, but we were and continue to be inundated by outside variables. We are maintaining our consistent faith in God and avoid reaction of the relentless attacks that are hurled our way. Through it all, God spotlighted the Team we are. He is steadily laying the groundwork of the path he has planned. With each passing WIN, we succumb more to his plan and less of our wants… because, after all, wants are not truly needed.

AND… YES, it all HURTS! HURTS LIKE HELL! Which is why I was so angry today. I downplay it; I hide it; I say I AM FINE! (the 2nd worse F-word there is); and I tend to get angrier. I am supposed to be a bad-ass mom that can handle any and all that comes my way. After all, I have been through worse, right? I always come out on top, better for the turmoil, and conquering the next mountain. But, the truth is, some days I feel like I am not Mom-ing Hard enough, Wife-ing Hard enough, Life-ing Hard enough… and I judge myself pretty harsh. I think of these ailments that hurt me all damn day, and I feel weak because of them. Each of them is truly miniscule… but combined, they are atrocious. On days like today, I am most grateful for the ability to mentally stop, reflect, be accountable for what I actually have control over, remind myself I was pulled from work because IT IS HARD, and I have to bring myself to complimenting myself. We are our closest ally. We are our thoughts. Once I accept where I am and applaud myself for what I am still able to accomplish despite “it all”, I allow myself to care for me. If something has to be amiss, of course, like any decent parent, I’d prefer it to be me. I cling to the blessing our baby is healthy.

Today, my conduit for peace amidst the anger was prenatal yoga.

prenatal yoga

I have been a causal yoga-er for about 20 years. This lil gem will walk you through releasing all the tension stress and worry bring. The positions are considerate and afford the stretch and breath required for relief. Connection with your baby is at the forefront, which is exactly where every pregnant woman should ideally be: In a state of blissful anticipation for this perfect joy selected for their family. That feeling, that fleeting moment that does not have to be fleeting after a yoga session, is worth taking the time out for a yoga session. Giving myself this time allowed me to feel all the necessary emotions I am feeling, accepting the journey to today, and providing permission to release the angst.

All I have left to say is, Namasté.

#fourtydaysofthanks #prenatalyogabyelement #behuman #lovethyself

Man, that post still gives me chills. I can still feel every bit of those emotions when I allow myself to truly reflect on the trying time we experienced together. I will admit, the thought of the complications with pregnancy my body tends to have crosses my mind as I sit in my first trimester. I am choosing, however, to not worry. I am enjoying this pregnancy and will take it all in stride. If the health scares rear their angry heads this pregnancy, I know what to expect. I will eat well, rest enough, yoga, run until I am not allowed to anymore, work out, play with my kids, cook, bake, spend time with family, and write… I will write like hell. There is no need for bedrest from writing. Praise the Lord.

I want to help other women and families blending and championing life. To get to their eyes, I need your help. Feel free to leave a comment, like this post, and please, share the blog on social media. Tag me when you share as this will assist the visibility as well. Thank you for stopping by.

#blendstrong #fourtydaysofthanks #fortybeforeforty #raisingstrongdaughters #chooselove #familyfirst

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3 comments

  1. […] Regardless of maternal bonds or bonds formed through marriage with bonus moms, the bond is still special. They each serve their unique purpose in their respective homes. Our bonus mom had no children prior to us. We were her kids. She made such an impact on our lives my older brother named his daughter after her; six years after her passing. We are now in the 22nd year since her death, and here I am blogging about her. She was remarkable. To provide a glimpse of the impact she still has on me to this day, I am borrowing another vignette from my original FOUR-TY Days of Thanks from my Facebook posts last Spring. It was the very weekend I just mentioned above. I found myself knelt at her grave, literally bawling my eyes out, and talking to her. I have never done that before (or since), but I was so overcome with the negativity being catapulted at our home it was taking a toll on me. And, I was SO pregnant. To understand more of the strife my husband I endured, visit my post, “Forty Beckons & I Answer with FOUR-TY Days of Thanks” here: https://blendstrong.com/2018/05/22/forty-beckons-i-answer-with-four-ty-days-of-thanks/. […]

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  2. […] I am going to maintain my 40 before 40 birthday challenge (visit my post explaining my goal here: https://blendstrong.com/2018/05/22/forty-beckons-i-answer-with-four-ty-days-of-thanks/), I stumbled upon Maya Angelou’s, “Still I Rise,” today; the fourth anniversary of her death. […]

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