'09, you were better than I gave you credit for

This time last year I said I had one goal for 2009: To survive. I knew that life with a newborn and a toddler would be challenging at best, and I wasn’t about to set myself up with any lofty goals I’d never be able to reach. Judging by the number of major events in my life this past year (had a baby, sold our house, moved, totaled my car and bought a new one, got sick, got better, got really sick, got better...), I’d say I’m happy to have done just that — survived. Funny thing is that when I look back I realize how much happiness was derived from the most unexpected moments. The very things I was most worried about became my best memories. Here’s a look.

Unexpectedly Awesome Moments in 2009

1. Going into labor with an audience.
Planning for the birth of our second son revolved around answering the question “What will we do with Kostyn when the time comes?” With the closest family member two hours away, we didn’t exactly have anyone who could get here at a moment’s notice. So the option of having my in-laws come a few days before my due date and stay sort of indefinitely seemed like the best way to go. Except that meant that I’d have an audience for the early stages of labor, which was not exactly appealing. I’d planned to labor at home for as long as I could, and I didn’t want people cringing with every contraction, asking me how I was feeling, or worse --- offering advice.

But an odd thing happened when I went into labor in the wee hours of March 10. When I crept downstairs to pace the living room floor and work on breathing through my contractions, I knew my footsteps would probably wake up my in-laws who were sleeping in the basement. Sure enough, my mother-in-law appeared a few minutes later and asked tentatively if this was “it.” But instead of being annoyed I was .... relieved. I was genuinely excited to share the moment with her. And I was so thankful for her presence, for the prayers I knew she already was sending up and for the support I knew she’d give me and my family in the hours and days (and years) to come.

Whenever I think about Evan’s birth, I think about that morning and the family members who were present for the beginning of that miracle. They helped make it one of the best memories of my life.

2. Newborn-induced sleep deprivation.

I was not looking forward to overnight caregiver duties (changing, feeding, burping, rocking, shushing, pleading...) with Baby No. 2 because I was still scarred from the experience with Baby No. 1. Kostyn was not a good sleeper and every night we held our breaths, hoping upon hope that we’d be able to get him back to sleep once he woke up. (And he ALWAYS woke up.) It was almost always an hours-long, emotionally exhaustive process, but one that I just assumed was normal because he was the only baby I’d ever had to get back to sleep.

And then along came Evan, my sweet sleeper, who made me fall in love not only with him but with that peaceful, dim hush that blankets the room and the world at 2 a.m. Because he was great at falling right back to sleep after he ate, the overnight stuff was never stressful. I actually looked forward to it. I loved my nights with him -- I still do -- anticipating when he’d stir from slumber and whimper until I scooped him up and snuggled him up to my bare chest. He’d nurse until he nodded off while I caught up on whatever room makeover was in full swing on HGTV (I quickly learned that from midnight to 4 a.m. they replay all the shows that ran from 8 p.m. to midnight). Or I’d just watch him sleep, study his profile, caress his skin, and thank God for my good fortune. That was our routine every couple hours, every night, for the first several weeks.

Sometimes, call me insane, I miss it.

3. Moving for the second time in a year -- this time with two little ones.
When we decided to ease our monthly budget by downsizing, I was a little wary. Wasn’t our family just getting bigger, not smaller? Should Chris really be adding to his commute when he’s already so pressed for time with the boys? Why move again when I’ve just gotten comfortable where we are?

But all my fears were laid to rest when we got here. The last place felt like a rental house. This place, though it’s still not technically ours, feels like home.

4. Hearing a doctor say, “I don’t know how you’re even functioning.”
By the time I got in to see an endocrinologist this fall, I’d spent several months battling a host of ailments that were as mysterious as they were debilitating. The day I saw that doctor I wasn’t even at my lowest point -- a different doctor had put me on some medication a few weeks earlier that had given me a smidgeon of energy where previously I’d had none. I knew that my thyroid was out of whack, but I didn’t know how badly until he told me about my lab results, about how “normal” thyroid function shows up in a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) range of .5 to 5. My TSH was 183.

He explained that I’d been feeling depressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, scatter-brained and forgetful because of a disease, Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, and not because of what I feared -- that maybe I just was inept at being a mom, and that I definitely sucked at being a working mom.

That day the doctor tapped my knees and ankles to test my reflexes and I basically had none. “I don’t know how you’re even functioning,” he said and I cried a little, not because I was sick but because I finally knew that I was going to get better, that I wasn’t crazy, and that I was going to be a good mom and a decent writer again.

5. Baptizing Evan on short notice at my parents’ church in my hometown.
I knew this one would fill my heart because of its significance and because family would rally to attend, even with such short notice. (We essentially told people three weeks before the event, which we’d planned at the height of the busy holiday season for logistical reasons I won’t go into.) But I didn’t know how fulfilling it would be, in a Circle of Life sort of way, to stand with my family at the altar of my youth and symbolically welcome my baby into the Body of Christ. The women of the church, all smaller and more feeble than I remember them, greeted me as a daughter and ran their wrinkled fingers over my boys’ soft cheeks, marveling at the literal and figurative life I’d made for myself.

One of the best moments of the day came afterwards, when my 2-year-old spontaneously led everyone in prayer before lunch was served. What a fantastic, blessed day.

Here’s to many more unexpectedly awesome moments in 2010, for me and for all of you.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou Robyn. We all are truly blessed.

Lis said...

That was awesome. So glad you are back!

Heather said...

Great! Wish I had your perspective some times.
How are you feeling now? Does the doc have you on better meds or a better dosage?

Anonymous said...

Yeah! You're back, so glad. Love this post. Tina

Heather said...

Great as always Robyn! I am glad to have you back and helping me put things in perspective once again.

Dee said...

Missed you....thanks for a great summary of your year....sorry you were sick and hoping your feeling much better now...and my favorite part was Kostyn praying too, it was pecious....love ya, aunt dee

Robyn said...

Thanks guys. It's nice to be back. :)
And yes, Heather, I'm feeling much better now that I'm on a better dosage. Here's to a healthy new year!