It’s my fourth decade of life, and at 38, I guess it’s only fair to say I’m actually closing in on my fifth decade, a fact which seems remarkably grown up even though I have little clue what I’m doing here. Every decade has held its own upheaval, but my 30s? Well, they’ve been a monster.
I kicked off my 30s as an anxious, infertile mother of one. A few years and many, many thousands of dollars later, I was still an infertile mother of 1, but with a history of many failed fertility treatments–even a failed IVF–and the debt to show for it. Miscarriage defined my next phase, the loss of our sweet baby girl at the beginning of my second trimester completely ravaging my little family. Then deep, deep anxiety when I once again found myself pregnant with a little girl, full of hopes she would make it into the world and into our lives.
She did, and her first year is one of my sweetest on record, full of joy and disbelief at my wonderful luck. Then, unexpectedly, came a crash when we were once again pregnant, this time a more difficult pregnancy that was laced with even more anxiety than the last. Finally, a whirlwind end to pregnancy via emergency c-section followed by eighteen months of Colic and Chaos. That’s a real thing, you know. It’s not “colic.” It’s Colic and Chaos.
Official and italicized. Maybe with a few expletives thrown in for good measure.
Colic was much more than the sterile online descriptions gave it credit for, and it lasted much longer, too. Jude was colicky for 18 months. That is a very long time to listen to a child cry! If I thought I’d only barely survived during our infertility and miscarriage, debacle, Jude’s colic showed me that I could, in fact, feel even crazier and more depleted than before, a fact which surprised me anew every day.
Around 18 months, the fog started to lift. I thought it was too good to be true at first and was scared to think it was finally happening, but it’s been a year since that point and I can finally see the forest for the trees. This unexpectedly crazy, overwhelming, painfully exhausting life? It’s getting easier! Little by little, day by day, bedtime by bedtime, joy after joy…it’s happening.
I’ve spent the last year caught in a strange place, though. I should feel happy, relieved, energetic. I should be excited to have exactly what I’ve always wanted and prayed for and worked toward. This ground should feel like a firm launching ground, an opportunity for dreams to be built. But it hasn’t felt that way at all, which confused me. I’ve spent much of that last year wondering what on earth is my problem.
The truth is that I lost myself when I miscarried Mara. I fell apart, nearly disintegrated, really. I had to put the pieces back together again–not like they were before, but in a new way that fit my new reality. For as terrible as it was to go through that experience, tragedy wipes slates clean, and that tragedy enabled me to rebuild from scratch. All options were open to me (Good Wife reference, anyone?). This has some advantages. Don’t get me wrong–I’d still far rather have her than the clean slate, but if I can’t have her, I’m grateful for the clean slate.
I didn’t, however, expect to fall apart again after my third baby. His chaos and my falling apart caught me completely off guard. Falling apart unexpectedly like this is different from falling apart after catastrophe like Mara. It’s muddier and more mysterious. At least it has been for me. You keep imagining the light at the end of the tunnel that never seems to materialize. So here I am again, finally through the tunnel and back into the light, but in pieces (albeit not as catastrophic ones), and I don’t know how the pieces fit. What do I love? What is important to me? What do I believe? What do I find fun? How do I like to spend my time? How does my mind work? I can hardly remember any of these things.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
I’m finding myself asking myself this every day. Am I who I was or have I become something new? Where have I gone? What do I really want? Do I have any clue how to get there?
As I’m reaching this point of transition, I wonder, Is my task more about rediscovering or reinventing? I don’t know which I’m supposed to be doing. Neither feels quite right. So I spin my wheels a bit and eat smores roasted over gas stoves late at night and try to puzzle over who I am and where I’m going and other mysteries of life like how I have an entire bin of mateless socks.
I also wonder if, perhaps, this is a normal rite of passage for a woman as she completes her childbearing phase. Not that I’m saying I’m done for sure. I probably am. But maybe not. But probably. 😉
That’s probably a whole other post for a different day.
I only know I don’t want to be in identity limbo for much longer. It’s unsettling and unproductive, and I want to find my way out of the maze. So, first things first…a nap. That’s always a good place to start, right?