Saturday, February 5, 2022

Adventures in Peachiness.

When we moved into our house here in Utah, one of the things I was most excited about and charmed by was the giant garden plot in the backyard, left planted with plentiful corn and potato plants by the previous owners.  Sadly, we had no idea what a potato plant looked like so last summer's harvest went uneaten, but we had more than our fill of corn.  I was already rubbing my hands together greedily with plans of vast and varied home gardening before we moved in.  We both also noticed what looked like some sort of fruit tree - a stone fruit for sure but which one? - which was half dead and had rotting fruits on a few branches.  I was sad for the tree and pondered what the blight may be, but far too busy with life to do much about it.

Fast forward 6 months: this past Spring we finally got around to having a few cottonwood trees cut down.  One was teetering dangerously over the neighbor's garage, another two were simply giant wrecks waiting to happen.  Add to the list of my pet peeves people who plant cottonwoods (or any fast-growing, "weed-tree") in tiny spaces just to give the property an established feel.  I know it sucks not to have established trees when you first move in, but the negatives of an ill-chosen tree far outweigh that suckiness.  So anyway, when we cut down the cottonwoods, there were several unintended consequences, apart from losing some shade (and getting thanked by our neighbors), one of which was that our Peach tree suddenly sprang to life.  In Spring it had lovely leaves and blossoms.  In Summer we started to notice the abundant fruits coming to life.  By July branches were breaking under the weight of the growing peaches, and by the end of August, we were ready to dig in, despite the fruit not being quite ready.  September brought the perfect bounty and we spent an entire month eating peaches from the tree, making peach cobbler, and sharing with our neighbors.  At the end of September, the peaches were red and juicy and falling off branches copiously.  I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I found this draft from 9/30/16 today on 2/7/22 and decided to publish it. Here are out peachy adventures, pictorially anyway. That one great harvest was enough bounty for life, despite the fact that I decided to plant a peach tree at our house in Fort Worth anyway. Matt spent hours at the sink pealing blanched peaches and we had enough to eat through the ensuing winter and spring. It was a glorious, delicious experience for both us and the boys that I remember and long for even today.

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Life is Miraculous: Motherhood (unexpectedly) Revisited.

Family portraits, Baby gates ready for storage; October 2014

I found this post today (2/5/22) and decided it was about time to publish it. It was last edited on 5/15/16 while living in Utah. 

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There are so many things I'd like to touch upon in this entry because it's one that is about my life in a very personal way.  It is about the lifestyle my family and I have chosen and the journey, through that lifestyle, that we embarked upon.  It is a common, one, no doubt - parenthood, but also unique in the way it has manifested itself for us.  I feel ambivalent about whether to put this out there, but in the end I believe it's important for me to do it, mostly because it's something I think about a lot and feel privileged and excited about.  Parenthood, but mostly, for me, Motherhood - I mean.  The past year or so has brought my emotions very sharply into focus on these topics.  Some people like to talk about their careers or their hobbies or the new book they're reading.  I was like that once, and still am to some extent.  But if I'm honest, right now in these years, the most important part of me is all-consumed by Motherhood.  And it's a place very different from anywhere I've ever been before in my life.  A good place, but a different place.  So, I want to share some thoughts and reflections that I realize are very much just my own but can also apply somewhat universally, I suppose.

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If you'd asked me six months ago whether I thought we'd have more children I would have resoundingly said, "Yes." We planned to adopt a third-and-probably-final-child, and were already more than halfway through the home study process for our second adoption with our wonderful social worker.  If you'd then asked me whether I thought I'd ever be pregnant again, I would have resoundingly said, "Absolutely not." And not for lack of having wanted to at one time, though, admittedly, since we'd started the adoption process the first time I'd sincerely lost any desire to become pregnant - and lost all hope it would happen. An important note - and I say this in all sincerity: It wasn't a negative place to be emotionally, despite what most people who have never dealt with infertility might think. It was just realistic. Honest.  A way to process, cope, and move on with the cards life had dealt us. The past three years had taught me, I thought, if nothing else, that my body knew it was not a good idea for me to be pregnant and that adoption was the way forward to complete our family.  My pregnancy with Roman had been a blessing; his birth one of the most challenging and traumatic experiences that ended in the most beautiful thing that had happened to me up to that moment in my life.  The journey to adopt Alexander was one that we found equally rewarding and challenging. It was also one of the most eye-opening, humbling, and enriching things I've ever experienced.  Hard.  Emotional.  Nerve-wracking.  Never-ending.  Beautiful.** 

So, you can imagine my surprise when on October 3rd I took a pregnancy test - in the most blasé manner imaginable, assuming it would be negative - and it came out positive.  Immediately.  Boldly.  The thing almost screamed at me.  I might have screamed, actually.  But if I did, I really didn't know it as I felt slightly out of my own body at that point.  My first assumption was that the test was defective, but then I went back to 11th grade biology class and realized, "Nope. That thing won't work unless there's hCG somewhere - and it's not in the Colorado water."  Meanwhile, silent panic - and not for the reasons one might assume.  It wasn't because I had an 11-month-old asleep in the room next door.  It wasn't because we had already started on our second adoption.  It wasn't because there was any reason we couldn't raise or didn't want another child - all the contrary.  It was because I was petrified, absolutely and completely scared out of my mind that this pregnancy would fail like the other ones had and that I'd be irreparably heart broken.  Because I'd finally, after years, moved past all that.  And I didn't want to go there again.  I'd been shielding my heart, telling myself I couldn't and wouldn't get pregnant again because all that I'd associated pregnancy with for the past several years (Roman being the exception) was pain and suffering.

This is when that universal and transcendental knowledge that the human spirit is irrepressibly resilient hit me, because, despite that large cloud of crippling fear inside my gut, there was a jubilant and even larger cloud of almost-suffocating joy inside my heart.  A new life.  A new life inside of meMe.  I never thought this would happen again, could happen again.  And it felt so perfect and so completely divine - in a very literal sense - that despite not trying, not even hoping, life did happen again.  Just the way it was supposed to.  Life is miraculous.  That's all I could think.

And, just like that, I became a mother for the third time.  I relished that beautiful knowledge for a few seconds, holding onto it like a juicy secret until I simply couldn't stand it and grabbed the phone to call my husband.  I'd never had occasion to say it before and always wanted to: when he answered all I said was, "You better sit down."

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While I fully expected to experience motherhood for a third time, I'd prepared myself for an experience altogether different than pregnancy and birth.  I'd assumed I could drink and galavant, as per my usual self, for the approximate year leading up to the theoretical 3rd child's birth.  I intended to hike, drink, eat absurd amounts of unpasteurized cheese and yet somehow finally lose those last 10lbs before #3 made his/her entrance.  I'd just bought a new wardrobe (or at least several new pairs of pants, which basically amounts to a new wardrobe in my shopaphobic existence) and had been living it up, DYIing, moving furniture, and doing all sorts of not-pregnancy-safe things.  In fact, I strained my back pretty badly the week before I took the pregnancy test and was on muscle-relaxers and heavy doses of Ibuprofen the day I took the test.  Yikes.  I was busy at work on a Pinterest board called the "Theoretical 3rd Child" which consisted of nothing but entirely impractical, miniature female accoutrement.  My third was going to be a girl in my mind.  I had a stash of baby dresses in my closet just for her, and I'd kept some of my old Barbies and toys, and even thought about what jewelry of mine I'd give her some day (this all despite the fact that we were open to both genders in the adoption profile).  I was glad to have let go of possibly having to have another c-section or spend time in a hospital (my personal hell).  I was geared up emotionally for talking to birth parents, dealing with adoption social workers, filling out absurd amounts of paper work, and dealing with the scary uncertainty of the revocation period again.  I hoped the adoption would take place in Arkansas, just like Alexander's had.  I thought about how we'd handle that period when the baby was born and we had to leave Roman and Alexander behind.  I had contingency plans.  And I was so all-consumed by Roman and Alexander's daily lives anyway to dwell too much on the details of how and when the second adoption would finally go down.  I was all set on the track I thought we'd be traveling down.

And then that was all thrown out the window.  Somebody switched the track on me.  But, in all truth, readjusting my lifestyle was the easy part.  What was hard was the sad fact that after the multiple miscarriages and failed adoption matches we'd had, Matt and I weren't telling a soul about this pregnancy, this amazing blessing, for a good, long time.  Not even Roman.  I felt like I was living a lie.  That juicy little secret was burning a hole in my tongue and yet I was too scared to let it out, because I felt that the moment I did - poof! - it would disappear.  It always had.  And then, it was like everyone we knew who was pregnant seemed to float fluffily on a cloud of comfort and blind certainty when announcing their pregnancies at 8 or 10 weeks - or even earlier sometimes.  In that state of secrecy and high alert, it always made me swallow hard and say a little silent prayer that they would indeed make it into the 2nd trimester - knowing all too well the harsh reality they'd never had to deal with or simply chose not to acknowledge in their actions.  It was very difficult waiting but we didn't tell our families until nearly 14 weeks into the pregnancy.  We'd had the 12 week scan, gotten the results and then waited some more just to make sure we weren't dreaming that things were going so well.  Those three months felt a little bit like an extended version of the week we adopted Alexander.  We were living in a suspended reality with a life-changing secret.  And when we finally told people it was a huge release, relief, and finally a time to celebrate.  Roman's reaction was priceless.  He sat silently and pensively for a long time, somewhat unable to believe or process what we were telling him.  He'd grown accustomed to the idea of the second adoption too.  "Mommy, you're hatching another baby!" he finally yelled.  "I can't believe it!"  And gave me a giant hug.

**I regret I haven't had a chance to post much - or at all - on adoption.  It's not that I haven't written about it.  Sometimes it's hard to know what is appropriate to say, though, because it is a topic so full of extreme emotion for me and most.  Hopefully I'll finally feel comfortable sharing Alexander's and our beautiful adoption story sometime soon.
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