Nice to see you again.
There is at once so much I want to share and so little that feels meaningful enough to share right now. Do you ever feel like that? Like nothing going on in your life feels significant compared to what’s going on all around you, yet everything feels significant?
I’ll just go with this…
Last weekend, Dennis and I stopped by my parents’ house. Dennis helped Papa chop and stack wood, we all had lunch together, we picked a green cornucopia from Papa’s pride-and-joy garden – lettuce, kale, spinach, parsley, mint – and they helped us wash our car in the driveway.
As Papa and Dennis dealt with the woodpile, Mama and I went for a walk. We took a left at the intersection where we usually take a right and walked past the farm of our Amish neighbor, Levi, whose field borders ours. We sometimes see him plowing with his team of six mules in the evening light. It’s a quintessentially beautiful and sacred country image, and I always feel honored for that tiny glimpse into his world.
As Mama and I walked past Levi’s home, voices started to drift toward us. It took us a minute to realize that it was coming from the house, where we saw a small pile of men’s straw hats on the porch: a cappella hymns with ever-so-gradual chord progressions. It was something we’d never heard before, Sunday services you can’t hear driving by in a car. We walked as slowly as possible past the house, then turned back and started to walk home, as slowly as possible. We allowed ourselves a moment of pause, but agreed that it felt intrusive somehow. This was their space, their sacred community gathering, and a stroke of luck had offered us the gift of stumbling into it.
I haven’t written one of these little musings for about two months. I didn’t realize it had been that long, but Corona Time is rather incomprehensible: the longest, slowest, most monotonous train ride that’s over in the blink of an eye.
A lot of things are incomprehensible right now, as fueled passions denouncing interminable undercurrents of injustice and cruelty weave through this bizarre apocalyptic reality we now live in. (*Apologies for that ridiculously verbose sentence, but I needed a lot of words to try to capture what’s happening right now.)
But then I hear Amish hymns, or watch a video of a 90-year-old couple being serenaded by a violinist hired by their socially-distanced children for their 67th wedding anniversary, and my heart sighs with relief. Simple joys fuel the soul, and they’re there for experiencing and sharing with others. I know that’s not an answer to the cockeyed environment we’re all living in right now, but it’s something that keeps me going when I need it most.
Then there are the larger joys – like the one movin’ and groovin’ in my belly.
Yes, after two years of trying – one miscarriage, one polyp, three IUIs, and one extraordinarily successful IVF – I’m pregnant. Twenty-two weeks, nearly six months pregnant. The belly is sure taking its sweet time popping, but it’s blooming sure and steady as this one-pound little lady makes her way toward the finish line.
Someone asked me recently, “How has this journey changed your thoughts and feelings about motherhood?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer, as it’s tough to imagine how it would be different. After all, this is my only experience with approaching motherhood. I know that I can’t imagine a deeper appreciation. I also know that it feels quieter than it might have otherwise – more of a whisper, a gentle rolling in, versus a hearty bell-tolling.
I hope many things. I hope it’s making me more patient. I hope it’s preparing me to function better on exhaustion, because I’m pretty terrible at that right now. I hope there’s a continual sense of release – less about “good” and more about “doing the best I can.” More trust, less judgment. More “it’s all okay.”
Some days, some moments, are better than others. Still, overall, I’ve felt surprisingly calm about the whole thing. Living in the country for these past three months has certainly helped me slow down, with smaller to-do lists – or at least to-do lists that feel less urgent.
I wonder how this babe knew it was her time. How did she know that her tribe was ready for her? I guess she wanted to prove her strength from the get-go. Well, now is the perfect time.
It’s certainly not quite what I expected.
Every appointment is like navigating landmines: don’t touch anything, use the hand sanitizer in case I accidentally did touch something, make note of everything I might have touched in my purse so that I can wipe it down later...Hey, we made it this far, I’m not taking any chances. All 173 of those confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County could trickle down during my one indoor-public-space outing each week. Mindfulness often overshadows savoring the present thrill of each heartbeat, each sonogram, each step forward.
The rest of it boils down to social/physical distancing. None of my friends or family members (besides my parents) or coworkers have seen me pregnant – and most won’t. Any baby shower will be virtual, or some attempt at a socially-distanced party in my parents’ backyard. We won’t be able to go to baby stores and live the rom-com dream of exploring options in person. My family might not even be allowed in the hospital waiting room when I deliver.
No, not quite what I expected. Still, these disappointments all feel very small compared to what’s happening all around us. So, I’m doing my best to go with the flow. I consider it a spin on Love in the Time of Cholera: Pregnancy in the Time of Corona. This is also a slow-moving love story planted in a setting of social strife (or something), but it’s a beautiful love story just the same.
Like the singing that Mama and I accidentally walked into, it’s a reminder of the beauty evident even during the most soul-rocking of times, a reminder that, as humans, we can hold a myriad of layered emotions at once, a reminder to hold close that which is precious and sacred and helps us connect with parts of ourselves that feel buried or out of reach or lost altogether.
As two of the Suddenly Displaced, Dennis and I have adjusted pretty well to our environment, our ability to “drop by” my childhood home, just ten minutes away. We’re still works in progress...
“Wait – businesses aren’t open 99% of our waking hours?”
“What do you mean, there’s not a UPS on every street corner?”
“Umm...we have to wait two weeks to put the recycling out?”
...but we’re learning.
We have family, and Amish singing, and a beautiful babe growing strong. We have peace and faith and joy. I guess my point is this: there’s always some good news.
Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.