July 4, 2014
I just did something crazy. I’ll tell you all about it, but first, a little background: 2014 was a terrible, terrible year for us. It started out fine, exciting even. We were expecting our second child, a baby boy, to join our darling daughter. My husband, Jake, had just gotten a new job, we were making progress on our house, everything was happy (actually, I’m kind of an angry monster when I’m pregnant, but I mean we were generally happy). Then Jake’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. It was disheartening, of course, and a difficult blow for our family, but it was just a diagnosis. Then, in April our beautiful baby was born, and he was amazing, and his sister was amazing and they were so cute together and everything was wonderful. Except, when you have a second child it’s really hard. So much harder than anything I had done before, and Jake’s law firm didn’t really let him take any time off. Splitting myself in two to care for a freshly minted two year old and a baby who had been a fetus just weeks before was unreal. I couldn’t lift my daughter, because I had a c-section. They both needed all of me, which was impossible. Then I went back to work. Holy. Crap. Now I was split in three. Then, the first week back, we had a long weekend for Independence Day. We relaxed, and spent as a family, and my daughter went swimming and ate popsicles. Then we got a call, and another call, and another. My grandmother was in the hospital. Jake’s grandmother was in the hospital. Jake’s dad was in the hospital. My grandmother died soon after and I flew, alone with a very sick (just a severe cold, thankfully) three month old to mourn with my family. The baby vomited mucus and breastmilk all over me in the middle of the night. Both nights. All over the bed. I flew home. Jake’s dad was really sick, a brain tumor. Jake went back to his old law firm (and they were wonderful), and traveled to be with his family and help care for his father. The baby woke up every hour, screaming in pain from constant ear infections. We took the kids to Illinois so Jake’s dad could meet the baby. We were there for two weeks and we lost him. It was the hardest two weeks. The kids were sick, the baby had yet another ear infection and had to go to urgent care for antibiotics…we had rescheduled his tubes surgery to go to Illinois. No one slept. It was too cold to be outside, especially for tiny Texans. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a family who had lost its patriarch days before. My cousin died, unexpectedly, the same week. I had just had a sweet conversation with her at my grandmother’s funeral where she complimented the obituary I wrote — high praise as she was an English teacher — and she spoke fondly of her new granddaughter. There was so much tangible grief, that the kids soaked it up and it manifested in tears and tantrums and wakefulness. Then we came home, and tried to be normal, but the baby had surgery and Jake’s grandmother died; two weeks after we lost his dad. Since then we also lost my uncle and Jake’s other grandmother. Seven people in seven months. I don’t know how we survived that year.
And yet we did. The shadow still looms, though, and so I did something crazy. I tried to change everything. You can’t do that. You can’t fix everything at once. I spent the last few weeks touring preschools and setting up a nanny to make things easier. I went so far as to basically offer her the job. Then I took it away the next day. I panicked. It was too much change, and a total 180 from where we are. In my effort to simplify, I made everything more stressful, and I think the last year made me see how badly things can go. All I could see were the worst-case scenarios. What if the nanny was in a car accident while driving the kids somewhere? What if someone was injured and she panicked? What if it didn’t work out and we had to start from scratch? What if, what if, what if? I couldn’t do it, it was too much. So we have a new plan…no changes. I’m still working to simplify, because that’s just necessary, but no major life decisions right now. We’re not in a good place to make them. We need a year of calm before we do something crazy like getting a new job, or having another baby. We need a fucking break.