I Heart Fall

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I’m going to miss my gorgeous fall work-from-home mornings when I was lucky enough to get to walk Briony to school (and then detour past Starbucks and down Wellington Crescent on my way home). I know they will come again… But SIGH. Seriously. Is there anything better?

(The answer you’re looking for is – obviously – NO.)

Four Magic Words

There was some drama around here on Friday. But it was CONSTRUCTIVE drama, which is my favourite kind of drama. It’s the kind of drama that gets things moving.

I saw a new specialist on Friday about some ongoing health issues I’ve been having (totally unrelated to my USUAL ongoing health issues). I’ve had a bunch of tests over the past few months to determine if I might have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or endometriosis.

I found out on Friday that I have BOTH.

Which kind of explains a lot.

I’m not thrilled to have two new conditions to add to my collection – but it was good to know that the symptoms I’ve been having have NAMES and TREATMENT OPTIONS, aka HOPE that I can feel better someday than I do right now. And let’s face it… Eliminating one of my many sources of pain won’t make me pain-free, but it will absolutely improve my quality of life.

(Someday, I’ll have a good laugh over the fact that we couldn’t have another kid because of my arthritis / fibromyalgia / chronic fatigue, but then I ended up with both the #1 AND the #2 causes of infertility in women – and they were diagnosed the week that our one and only baby started full-time school and I was sitting deep in the pit of sadness about her onliness already… But it’s not funny to me yet. Not even a little bit. It makes me feel like my heart is shattered into a thousand pieces. But that’s another journey for another lifetime.)

These diagnoses suck, but they’re treatable – and the fact that we were done having kids for other reasons means that we can take surgery off the table and try to get this under control with meds. The meds are not supposed to be that big of a deal, but I’m not tolerating the first one particularly well, i.e. I feel like throwing up ALL THE TIME right now… But that’s supposed to improve in the next three weeks to three months. And I’ll start the second new med in October. And then – with a little bit of luck – things will start to get better. THANK YOU, BABY JESUS for BETTER (or even the HOPE of BETTER) <3

That’s all kind of major. But the biggest AHA! moment of the appointment for me wasn’t the surprise double diagnosis. It was the words spoken by the doctor a few minutes later, as we discussed the symptoms that ‘qualified’ me for these conditions and myriad treatment options. We were discussing my weight gain over the last four years and she looked at me and said, quite simply, ‘That’s not your fault.’

Can we listen to that again?

‘THAT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.’

She went on to explain that nothing I’ve tried could have overcome what’s been going on INSIDE my body. In fact, she thought it was pretty amazing that I’m as healthy as I am. But oh, the blood / sweat / tears that have brought me to today… I’ve tried diets and total (extreme) nutrition overhauls. I’ve tried running. I’ve hired a trainer. I’ve gone to the gym. I’ve done everything that I know how to do. And every time, it was devastating and heartbreaking when NOTHING HAPPENED.

To hear that it wasn’t my fault was a gift of life. And to know that – in a few months – I have my first real chance to do something about it was like feeling that first bit of warm sunshine in the springtime. It felt like HOPE.

Now, how to psychologically get myself to a place where I’m brave enough to try ONE MORE TIME? That will be another thing… A big giant THING. But I have some time before the meds are working and doing their thing. And I’ll be able to take baby steps toward being ready (and also toward being gentle with myself and my body… it’s been through a lot, and there’s no guarantee that I will lose weight – it could just be that I’ll stop GAINING weight, which is its own kind of winning).

It made me think of the figurative weight we all carry around with us, the kind you don’t see on the outside. Those same words of life – ‘that’s not your fault’ – would be just as powerful spoken into other areas of our lives, don’t you think? Or into the lives of the people we love. Something I’m pondering in my heart this week <3

Briony on Daycare Day #1

Briony, on her first day at Big Kid Daycare: “I was excited to go… But then it was sometimes just a little bit scary and a little bit lonely, and one or two times I thought that I wanted it to be the end of the day so you could come and pick me up. But I think that if I go again tomorrow, I will like it. And then the next time after that, I will love it. And then the next time after THAT, it will be great. And then it will be awesome. And then it will be perfect. And it will stay perfect and fun for always after that. I just need to keep going.”

I have no idea how a five year old got so WISE – but she’s absolutely right. And despite an overwhelming day today, she went to sleep with a smile on her face, looking forward to going back and getting herself one step closer to awesome.

I think I’ll go and do the same.

Oh, Baby Girl…

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Oh, baby girl… Here we are.

Tomorrow marks the official forever end of my life as The Person Who Spends The Most Time With You.

Tomorrow, you start in full-time daycare – and next week, you’ll start Grade One. It’s a profound end and an epic beginning, all wrapped up in one. I suspect that all mamas feel this way. But I also suspect that I’m feeling it all a little bit extra because you are our one and only. And tomorrow marks a major milestone for you, Princess. And for us.

I will always count it as one of my luckiest blessings that we got to spend so much time together while you were small. I was never a full-time stay at home mom (at least not after you were six weeks old), but being your mom was always my Most Important Thing – it still is and always will be, just in a different way.

I was absolutely THE LUCKIEST to get to work almost exclusively from home up until you were five years old (and at least a couple of days a week after that). I absolutely loved your visits to my home office, our breakfasts and lunches and tea party breaks together, your little wombat face peeking into the office window to mime ‘I LOVE YOU’ to me while I was on a conference call (and you escaped from your dad or Katie or whoever was watching you)… It was crazy and busy and wonderful, and I will miss you so very much on my ‘work from home day’ every week. It’s going to be painfully quiet around here.

BUT THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME.

Not at all.

Not even a little bit.

It’s about YOU, baby girl – YOU, your infinite potential, and the next step you’re taking on the amazing adventure that is your life.

YOUR life.

And that is why tomorrow, I will hide every last one of my tears and pretend that my heart isn’t breaking into a thousand pieces when I hand you over to the care of new people who are going to become very important & prominent in your life over the next six years – and walk away (at least until 5:30 PM). Because I’m not ONLY sad. In fact, I’m not even MOSTLY sad.

I’M REALLY, REALLY EXCITED FOR YOU.

Over the last almost six years, I’ve worried every day that I was filling your childhood with memories of mommy being constantly on her laptop or iPhone – but I know in my heart of hearts that we did the best that we could. I did my best to do both things – to be your mama *and* to pursue my career – the very best way I knew how to. I THINK WE DID OKAY. And I hope that by watching me work and getting all mixed up in my professional world the way you have, you’ll be inspired to pursue education in something that YOU love and to work doing something YOU truly enjoy doing – just like I am.

No matter which career path you choose, you will be amazing at it. It’s so obvious. You are so sparkly and brilliant and generous and funny – and filled with this incredible wisdom and inner confidence that I am constantly in awe of – you can do absolutely anything you choose (and do it well!). And just like tomorrow, we’ll take you as far as we can… And then we’ll step back and be your loudest, craziest, most embarrassing cheerleaders.

And you will always know where I am. I’ll be the one standing right behind you, pretending that I’m not crying.

<photo credit: Jessica Penner>

A Hint of Progress

I hit ALL OF THE WALLS this weekend. All of them. Every single one: emotional, physical, and whichever one is directly related to my sanity. Kudos to the people who love me (and were forced to spend time with me) because none of them threw me out of any moving vehicles, which is probably what I would have done had the circumstances been reversed.

It’s been a busy summer at work AND at home, and on top of that, I’m approaching the two week mark of living with a wicked summer cold that’s been making me sick enough that I want to stay in bed forever but not QUITE sick enough to actually do it. I’ve missed more hours of sleep than I will ever be able to count due to coughing, and my body feels absolutely beaten down.

This weekend, I threw my hands up and gave in. I went for a massage. I spent some time with my family. I slept in. I stayed in my PJs until 4 PM on Sunday. I installed myself on the couch for hours at a time. In between, I managed to do a few productive things – but not too many.

It was exactly what I needed.

Today, I woke up with this vague feeling that I MIGHT LIVE. I got up. I got dressed. I did some meal planning. I made a giant pot of coffee. I started my work day (early!) and crossed off a whole bunch of things from my list before lunchtime.

This very belated hint of progress came not a moment too soon, because I leave early Thursday morning for a whirlwind (working) trip to Toronto. And when I get back, we have less than one week left with my mother-in-law here and less than two weeks of summer left to enjoy before our New Normal (with Briony in full time daycare and/or school) begins… But for the first time in weeks, I feel like WE CAN (probably) DO THIS.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Wouldn’t it be amazing to live in a world where you could have everything you wanted? I actually feel like Geoffrey & I are coming close… Great jobs that we love. A happy, healthy, smart, kind, and hilarious kiddo. A cute character home in our dream neighbourhood. Supportive family. Amazing friends. And the list really does go on.

But no one has everything. Our own personal ‘not quite everything’ is obviously my health – which impacts everything and makes enjoying what we have a struggle some days (not most days… but some days). One of those direct impacts has been on our family. A second child was not in the cards for us. The decision was agonizing but we never doubted it. There was absolutely no way that my body could handle another pregnancy / delivery / newborn stage and I simply cannot be a good mom to more than one child. We made it official & permanent a few years ago and while many tears have been shed, we know in our hearts that it was the only right choice.

Now, in a bizarre twist of fate, I am sick. Again. With something totally new to add to my little collection. I’ve been having these symptoms for years – since Briony was tiny – but we are finally zeroing in on a diagnosis. The latest tests I’ve been subjected to are all showing that I have cysts in my reproductive organs. Not cancerous ones (THANK YOU, BABY JESUS). But painful, uncomfortable, and highly symptomatic ones. And ones that mean it would have been impossible (or nearly impossible) for us to have had a second child anyway – so really, our agonizing decision was made for us before we even made it.

That should probably feel reassuring. It doesn’t. It puts me right back to those first days when I realized that our one child was going to be an only child. And it HURTS. It hurts so, so much.

There are more tests, more specialists, and more decisions coming to help us figure out how we’ll need to move forward and treat this new condition. All of my treatment options will be complicated by my existing list of chronic illnesses. I am not looking forward to any of it, but I am hopeful that maybe – eventually – we can get me feeling a little bit better again.

The family that’s in my heart and the family that lives inside the four walls of our home? They are never going to match. Some days, I can live with that. Other days, it cuts me deeply.

But even on the days when the ache is more like a gaping wound, I am grateful. We didn’t plan to have Briony as soon as we had her… But we didn’t know what God knew: that the window between Geoffrey & I meeting and the end of my reproductive window (as determined by my arthritis / fibromyalgia disease progression and these cysts) was very, very small. The undeniable truth is that if we hadn’t had her when we had her, we wouldn’t have had her at all.

We are so very lucky (and we know it). Not a day goes by when I don’t gather that little girl up in my arms, bury my nose in her hair, kiss my favourite spot on her cheek just under the corner of her eye, and just sit there for a second feeling her heart beat against my chest – a rhythm that I know by heart. She brings so much joy and life to our family. And while I’m sure that we could have found joy and life without her – so many families do – I’m so happy that we didn’t have to. We needed her. We needed her to keep our focus on something so much bigger and more beautiful than our struggles, to make us laugh and cry and feel and struggle and love and fight and thrive and LIVE.

I am not the mother I dreamed I would be. We do not have the family we dreamed we would have. It’s true… You can’t always get what you want. (But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.)

Funniest Moment of the Day

Geoff (looking at a direct mail piece we got from the zoo today): Hmm. The prices aren’t CHEAP, but they seem fair – especially with all the new development they’ve been doing.

Lindsay: Babe? Those are ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP prices.

Geoff: Seriously?!

Lindsay: Yep. See? (showing him the one-time admission prices on my phone)

Geoff: Wow. So, um, what exactly are people complaining about?

Arthritis Bloggers Unite! (slowly… responsibly… and with lots of pills packed)

I am super excited to announce that I’ve been invited to join a group of arthritis bloggers & social influencers in Toronto in August for a meet-up / conference on arthritis, social media, and the impact of blogging & social media on healthcare.

It will be a whirlwind three day trip (especially because I’ll still be working for part of it) – but it will be good practice in self-care and managing my health, and a nice little field trip to break up some of the tough parts of this summer. I’m also super pumped to meet some other people who are living (well) with arthritis – most of my arthritis blogging buddies are from the US and I haven’t met any from Canada. As part of the agenda, we’ll be hearing about some new developments in arthritis research, which is always inspiring. AND I’ll get to sneak in a quick visit with my TO-based friend Dolly!

Hoping that I’ll come home inspired to enter Fall 2014 kicking @$$ in all kinds of ways.