Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Still Waters

When you're ejected from a raft in the middle of whitewater, they tell you to assume the whitewater swim position: floating on your back, looking at your toes pointed downstream & lifted out of the water so they don't get caught on any trees or rocks below the surface. Occasionally, you'll be tossed out of the raft during a rapid and be consumed by a hydraulic hole. A hydraulic hole is where the water endlessly circulates over itself, creating the rapid, kind of like a washing machine. Really, the only way to survive this is to ball yourself up into a tight little ball, protect your head, and pray to God that the hole spits you out in calmer water downstream. This is what I did for about 10 weeks, praying to God that we come out better on the other end.

via luvocracy.com

I've been MIA from blogland for several months. Partly because I haven't had much time in front of the computer, and partly because I had so many thoughts running through my head I wasn't sure where to start. And I didn't think anyone would appreciate that stream of consciousness--I could hardly handle it as it was happening, much less re-living it via the keyboard, and -gag- sharing it with the world and -heaven forbid- someone ask me about it. But, I'm in a much better place now and can share.

Under Water
So, if you missed it, we made a human. And he's the cutest, sweetest little guy in the world.

photo by Anne Manning

He was quite the cranky mess for the first 3 months of his life, which we now realize was probably just because we were starving the little guy. I get cranky when I don't eat, and he's his mother's son. So, maternity leave was hardly restful. I don't mean the part about barely finding time to shower or eat. Those 12 weeks were the hardest I'd ever experienced. Mornings were usually OK, but I dreaded the afternoons. The evenings were miserable. We couldn't get him to sleep without bouncing on a yoga ball, and that wasn't feasible for me after delivering such a big baby. So, all I could do was constantly nurse him to soothe him. I guess I had grand visions of frolicking with my new babe, giggling away, starting a dynamite baby book, and getting some long-overdue chores done. Oh! And antiquing. Yes, me and my new baby were going to go antiquing.

Hah. Who was I kidding? What was I thinking?

It was highly, highly, highly stressful. Combine a 24/7 screaming baby who wouldn't sleep with the "baby blues" or potential bits of post-partum depression, and you have me sitting on the stairs in tears calling J in the middle of the day to come home. It was awful. I was drowning & didn't know what to do or who could help.

photo by Anne Manning

As much as I didn't want to leave the little guy's side & return to work, I was looking forward to the adult interaction and the opportunity to focus on something beyond feeding times.

For about 6 months before I had the baby, I'd been talking to my leadership team about a new challenge. My current role's scope was diminishing, and I was excited about a new opportunity that would give me a chance to learn something new, have a direct impact on the business, and potentially open a lot of doors for my career. When I returned, nothing had been finalized, just the rumor of a "re-org" going to happen.  In the meantime, I was just to "sit tight" until the new roles were finalized. Alrighty...gave me a nice way to ease back into things after being out of it for 12 weeks.

So, back to work I went, only to realize that there was no way I could make it home in time to pick up the baby from his caregiver. Since we still hadn't been accepted into any of the daycares we'd applied to (in August of 2012!!!), we'd arranged a nanny-share situation with our neighbor. It was going great, except that I simply couldn't make it home in one hour. One hour. Hardly 17 miles, but over one hour. And my mood wasn't great at the end of that drive. I left the office at 5:00 and if I wasn't close by 5:45, Jason would leave his office early and pick up the babe. This obviously wasn't sustainable. We'd been talking about selling the house pre-baby, and now it seemed like the perfect time. Our neighborhood home sales were on the rise, so why not try? We listed the house and were under contract in about 5 days. Wait. What??

Two days after going under contract to sell the house, I learned that my position was actually being eliminated and that there were other internal opportunities I should apply for. Hmmm?? That was quite a shock. I knew I'd be changing roles, but having to apply for them opened a whole new world of unknown. On top of the already unstable post-partum emotions, it was not a pretty sight. Self pity, self doubt, anger, resentment, jealousy, uncertainty, all of those ugly emotions reared their ugly heads. We wondered if selling our house was the right thing to do.

We knew we could afford our home on a single income, so we tried to cancel the contract. Unfortunately, the buyer wasn't interested in cancelling the contract even though he's a "good guy" and "wanted to do the right thing." We weren't interested in paying him a profit to cancel the contract, and we saw sign after sign that our street was going downhill...so we moved forward with the sale of the house. Trust me...there were many iterations of this.

Swimming in a Hydraulic Hole
The next 10 weeks were spent searching for jobs, searching for short-term leases, looking for houses, talking to recruiters, following up with daycares, coordinating with our nanny-share folks, packing boxes, and moving. After rounds & rounds of interviews for a position I assumed was mine, I found out they hired someone else.

So, there I was without a house, without a job, and with a 4-month old baby. Oh, and some craaaaaaaaaaaa-zy emotions, y'all. Poor Jason. There were days that our housing situation, job prospects, and caregiver situation changed hourly. Where we lived could throw off our nanny share. Was it a sign that I should stay home with the little guy for a while? Without a job, what could we afford to pay in short-term rent or a new mortgage?  The housing inventory was sooooo limited & things were going quickly. To say it was tumultuous hardly covers it.

Gasping for Air & Sending Up Prayers
Luckily, there were encouraging signs along the way that we were making the right decisions. Kind of like a chance to fill my lungs with air before being pulled back under, each of these signs came at a moment I needed the gentle reminder that I was gonna make it outta this: 
  1. The day after we sold our home, a woman was shot in the leg at the end of the street for her cell phone. Yep. A good sign it's time to move!
  2. The new home had random familiar details similar to my childhood home (which my mom sold during this same timeframe...out with the old!) and gave me that "feeling" of where we wanted to raise our babe. It is also in a location where I don't feel the need to even follow the police reports.
  3. Burke got a spot in our #1 choice daycare, which made it easier to make location-based decisions on housing now that we knew where he'd be going each day. And it's just down the street from said new home.
  4. A "dream job" job description found its way into my inbox. It was absolutely perfect for me, I couldn't have written it better myself if I'd tried. And, as luck would have it, my former mentor was the one looking to fill the position. Go figure.
  5. My previous employer did absolutely right by me, as much as I may have felt betrayed by the process at one point or another. They made the right decision and everyone is definitely in the right place. No hard feelings--personal or professional. No harm, no foul.
  6. At the moments I thought I was losing it, co-workers or friends would pop up and tell me how gracefully they thought I was handling everything. Say what? Either they were lying or I had them fooled. At least I wasn't falling apart on the outside despite what was going on inside.
When I wasn't packing a box, hugging my baby, searching for jobs, or looking for apartments, I was pretty much praying. In the car, on the sofa, in the shower, while cooking dinner--wherever I was, and often teary-eyed. Asking Him for the faith and grace and peace to come out OK on the other side.
Still Waters. Beautifully Still Waters.
And you know what? He listened. I prayed over and over for peace throughout this whole process, and it came. I repeated the 23rd Psalm as my mantra: "He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul....Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." I reminded myself that God won't break me, that he won't lead me to anything He can't handle. I told myself that everything was falling apart so that He could put it back together better than it was before. I was inspired daily by the Instagram feeds of amazing, God-fearing women like Lara Casey and Emily Ley. I felt the lowest of my lows and, armed with mantras, verses, and inspiration, have a newfound appreciation for the blessings of my life. 

We found a new home that needs lots of love, yet reminds me of my childhood home. We were able to work out our nanny share, & B has been accepted into our first-pick daycare (at least for a few days a week until a full-time spot opens up!). I started a new job that will afford me a better quality of life, a challenging career, and the opportunity to lead. My marriage is stronger than ever, and we celebrated 4 years in August. My faith in God has been tested and strengthened in a way I needed it most. We have a happy healthy baby boy who loves to cuddle and giggle and coo. What matters most in my life has never been more clear.

Here I am, floating leisurely in the cool pool of calm water, sippin' on a perfectly chilled umbrella cocktail, looking upstream at the crazy, boiling, intensely tumultuous rapids of the past few months. I can't see around the bend at what lies downstream, but I know, without a doubt, that Team Velmer can paddle through it.

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