Happy New Year! I guess it’s time for my annual (and apparently singular) blog post?
Originally, the purpose of these yearly posts was to recap the year in an honest way. I didn’t want to write a highlight reel. Yes, I (of course) want the highlights. But I want everything else too. A clear list of all the good things and the bad things and the other things.
This year feels different somehow. Nothing about this year has been uncomplicated. No moment was clearly good or bad or anything else. Life has been full and mundane and exhausting and lovely all at the same time.
I don’t know whether I heard it somewhere or if it’s something I thought up on my own, but I’ve had a phrase on repeat in my mind for the last month or so. When things feel impossible or wonderful or just boring, I remind myself: This is the stuff of living. When I am tired or delighted or overstimulated: This is the stuff of living. It’s helped me remember that a life is made up of all of these things and even when it feels unpleasant, it is a privilege just to be alive.
So, here it is folks. The stuff of living, 2022.
(You should know this by now, but… buckle up, we’re getting wordy. We’re packing a year’s worth of blog posts into one here!)
• Our darling Hannah Jane was born! I’m jumping out of order here, but this obviously deserves the first spot on the list. Hannah is sweet, silly, curious, opinionated, and the new center of our little universe. Like most babies, she really feels her feelings, holding nothing back. It’s cliche, but I love this tiny human more than I can really explain.
I have so many thoughts about having a baby and being a mom, too many to really capture here. It’s all much harder than I imagined. My body is wrecked and I am never not exhausted. Basic self-care often feels impossible (I had to add “Shower” as an event on my google calendar three times a week…so that’s where I’m at these days). I miss who I was and who we were before she was born. I often wonder how the heck humans have spent milenia doing this… but then she smiles or giggles or lays her head on my chest or kicks her little feet in delight, and I begin to understand or at least I think I do. What an honor it is to be her mom, to help her find her way in this world.
• On an obviously related note, I survived growing and birthing a tiny human into this world! (Ha, told you I was going out of order – timey-wimey, I guess?). I spent the first four months of 2022 really quite terrified of dying in some pregnancy or childbirth-related complication, even though for most of that time, my pregnancy was pretty healthy. My diabetes management was actually the most perfect it has ever been (you couldn’t even tell I was diabetic from my labs… the high-risk pregnancy doctors were eventually like “hey, you’re good, you don’t need to be here”). Still, I was existentially scared. For months.
My blood pressure started creeping up at the end of pregnancy and during the last few weeks, we were sent to triage L&D four times for extra monitoring. I was so fortunate to have an incredible OB who I trusted and who made all the right calls to make sure we stayed healthy.
I was induced at 37 weeks exactly and, well, nothing happened like I thought it would. Hannah wasn’t tolerating contractions, so we were sent for an emergency C-Section. So many people talk about their birth experience like it is incredibly empowering but I was just panicking. My body was shaking uncontrollably, I was vomiting, my blood sugar was low, and I kept feeling like the epidural/anesthesia wasn’t working well. We took several birth preparation classes and had a doula, but nothing really prepared me for what a C-section would feel like. In the end, they gave me sedatives (they were necessary, I was basically having a panic attack). As a result, I don’t remember much of the first hour or so of Hannah’s life.
It’s taken me a long time to make sense of my experience giving birth. I never cared much about having a vaginal birth (An aside: I hate the term “natural birth”. It implies that anything else is unnatural) but I wished for a long time I could have had a more empowering birth experience. In the end, Hannah’s birth made me grateful to live when and where I do. Not so long ago, it’s not unlikely that one of us would have died that night. We are still here, alive and healthy, because of modern medicine and science and a whole bunch of people that care about people giving birth and babies enough to become doctors and nurses and anesthesiologists. And even though I didn’t get to feel powerful in my body in that moment, the fact still remains that I grew and birthed a whole human and that is pretty powerful, regardless of how it happens.
• My siblings both got married this year! Both weddings were so special and fun. It’s so cool to have two new siblings-in-law. Traveling for both weddings was a learning experience (flying with an infant is different! and challenging! babies need so much stuff!).
• We had a whole bunch of family visits after Hannah was born. All five grandparents visited in the first 6 weeks or so of Hannah’s life and it was so special to watch them meet and (of course) instantly love Hannah.
• Our friends Jocelyn and Steven have been life-savers in about a million ways. From coming over daily to walk Finn when Hannah was a newborn to taking us to the airport to house and dog sitting to helping us laugh and remember that we are still humans even though we’re parents now…we’ve really (REALLY) appreciated them. I can’t say enough about what their friendship has meant to me.
• My parents (plus dogs!) and Walker’s mom visited us for Thanksgiving. We rented an Airbnb 30 minutes away and Jocelyn and Steven joined us too. Finn came too! There was a hot tub! And outdoor fireplace! We made stew and sweet potato pie and had charcuterie! It was so much fun.
•We flew to Oklahoma City for Christmas. It was so wonderful to introduce Hannah to Walker’s extended family. Even though we all ended up sick by the time we got home, it was still wonderful to see everyone’s delight at meeting Hannah.
• We had (too many) home improvement projects (#homeownership, I guess?) For a few weeks in early 2023, the entire house was topsy-turvy when we had the interior of the house painted (note to self: do this before moving in next time!), we had a built-in closet installed in our bedroom to make room for a bassinet/rocking chair (and later my office space), we replaced our balcony since it was falling apart with rotten wood (that construction was SO LOUD, I really almost lost it), we had all the doors in the house repainted, since they messed up the first time (so were without interior doors for almost a month lol), and of course we converted our guest bedroom to a nursery. We are so (SO) glad we were able to afford to make all of these repairs… but both Walker and I decided we’d really, really like to be done with home improvement projects.
• We joined a local PEPS group (Program for Early Parent Support) that has been an incredible source of camaraderie and support since Hannah was born. It is an incredible relief to be amongst people who intimately understand everything going on in your life (and who are as excited/anxious to talk about their babies’ sleep as you are).
• This year, I read 28 books. Obviously my reading slowed down a lot after Hannah was born, but I think I still managed to read at least one book a month. My favorites included The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, Monk and Robot books by Becky Chambers, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
• [Still] no shame: We watched a lot of tv this year, especially when Hannah was a newborn and we were just trying to survive. Highlights include a lot of Critical Role (I finished Vox Machina and Mighty Nein and now I honestly don’t know what to do with my spare time), Strange New Worlds (the best Star Trek and maybe the best show of all time?), Andor, Moon Night, Ms. Marvel, A Court of Fey and Flowers (heyo Dimension 20!) and Rings of Power. It was a great year to be a nerd.
• All the small (but not unimportant!) things: Learned to read tarot cards, crocheted a hippo for Hannah, (not enough) long walks with Finn, coffee (+ stroller!) walks with friends, so many freezer cookies, well-loved/hand-me-down toys and clothes, bath time (my favorite), book club, tree blossoms, baby-wearing, (too much) time on social media, (not enough) exercise, a real struggle with breastfeeding and pumping, meals cooked by friends and family, trips to the bookstore, dancing, zoo lanterns, baby giggles, baby books, my brother and sister meeting their niece for the first time, (way too little) sleep, lots of self-doubt, and, you know, just an entire restructuring of the way we live our life.