I’m a small person by nature – only 5’1 on a good (hair) day – but no matter what sort of frame you are, when you are this pregnant you are reaching max capacity for your body. Everything is so much an effort that you sometimes hear yourself grunt. Even switching from laying on one side of your body to the other in bed takes effort; you have to support your belly, lift it up, then gently “carry” it over to the other side. All you can think about is food and water, and you pretty much throw your shame and grace right out the window along with your heels, cute ripped maternity jeans, and social calendar. Sleep is sparse. You’re down to the basic needs.
And when you spend your days chasing after a toddler, things get even more tricky, because this little person takes precedence over whatever it is that you need. Food? You have to set her up with lunch first. Bathroom? Hang on, someone else needs a diaper change. Lacking energy? Too bad, sweet cheeks – that stroller ain’t going to fold and pack up itself.
You’re excited about this second baby – of course you are. But you also have fears and thoughts that creep into your mind, about your relationship, and your family, about yourself, and you sometimes feel like you are on your way down a slippery slide.
(Do you like how I’m speaking in generics, and saying ‘you’? Humor me.)
When it comes to your significant other, you’re solid on for better or worse, through thick and thin. You know that together you will get through anything. But you never really thought about those times where you just simply wouldn’t feel so connected.
Those times where nothing is really wrong, and your relationship is not at stake – you’re just on your own, in a funk somewhere, the two of you preoccupied with many different things. You never think about those situations ahead of time. At least I never thought about those situations.
Things have suddenly begun moving really fast. Our priorities are shifting, and somewhere within that shift we are losing the space we once had for ourselves. And it scares me, because from my limited line of vision I can’t see if and when we’ll get it back. Sort of like if you were to step on a very tall slide, with the simple intention of looking down to catch a glimpse of how high it is – but before you know it, you lose your balance and you begin to slide down it at warp speed. The world whizzes by. Moments of quiet can slip through your fingers, if you aren’t careful.
And you think about your relationship with your first child. This tiny little human whom you love so much, you can’t even put it into words. You know that you will love both of your children – all of your children – no matter what. But you are reminded with each day that you are nearing the end of your one-on-one time with this little soul you’ve come to know so well over the past two years, and that this time alone with her, it is also slipping.
And then there’s you. Your needs are slipping. You feel them slipping as you clean food off of the floor. As you climb the stairs. As you do yet another diaper change, hand-washing, face-wiping, all of which are more reminders that there will be only more of this to do, and less time for you to do much else.
You beat yourself up for complaining about it, or even feeling a resistance toward it, because you chose this life, right? And you wouldn’t have it any other way. There is so much beauty in it. So much beauty, that sometimes you loosen your white-knuckled grip on the slide and let go for a moment in an attempt to grab hold of whatever pieces of it that you can capture, drink them up, and put them in your pocket, only this makes you slip even faster. You don’t have it all together. You feel like a mess sometimes, like you are always coming up short. You ARE a mess sometimes.
One minute you’re feeling fine, driving along in your car – and the next minute you are in tears because a song on the radio set you off and reminded you that everything is changing. And there’s so much good in what’s happening, but just so much change. It’s all creating this perfect storm inside of you, and before you know it you are stifling your tears from your toddler and silently cursing your radio as you mumble under your breath telling Ed Sheeran that you know exactly where he can shove his fucking photographs.
And then you look at your photographs. These are the things that you don’t see in your photographs; these fears, these questions, these thoughts of the unknown and feelings of uncertainty. Yet if you zoom in close enough, they are there, and you slowly realize that it is precisely these things which make these photographs so beautiful to you in the first place. That all the uncertainty, self-doubt, messes and bumps that frame them are the things that make the ride so wonderful.
I’m learning that it doesn’t matter how far or fast you slip. What matters is that there is a cushion at the bottom. And, although you can’t see it through all the winds and turns, you have to trust that it is, in fact, there.