16 Jul
Life PM (pre motherhood)

Once upon a time I was just a girl, and then I was just a girl with her dog. 

A brief overview of life before my son: it feels like it was a whole other dimension. Like when I think back to PM, I'm stepping outside of myself and looking into someone else's life. It feels as though he has always been here, and in a very bright, happy corner of my mind, I somehow imagine him there with me through my most joyful moments that he missed, and I can't wait to share those memories with him. 

My least favorite conversation starter - "where are you from?" Don't get me wrong, my childhood was a blast, and I loved moving every two years, but it's a long breath to tell someone all of the places you lived before "settling down"; especially when you haven't gotten to the settling down phase in your life quite yet. My dad was in the Navy for 23 years, and this kept us on the move just about every 2 years. 

Born in Rhode Island, we moved several months later to Virginia where we bounced around to several different bases, ranging from D.C., to Virginia Beach and a few scattered about in between. At 8, my parents got a divorce, my dad was stationed in South Korea and mom moved to Mississippi and married her college best friend (it gives People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry vibes). S'cute. Here I finished high school with a brief stint in New York when my dad came home from Korea, but I'm a momma's girl at heart and couldn't stay away. I graduated from high school in 2013, and while I dreamed of escaping our small town, I figured four more years wouldn't hurt at Mississippi State. And it was a great four years. While I did switch my major 5 times, I still managed to graduate on time with a Bachelor's of Science with a focus in pre-med. 2017 brought me back to D.C. where I spent the next 15 months in nursing school. 

I'd like to think I'm creative, but the reality is, the right side of my brain pales in comparison to the left. Science was always a comfort, knowing it was rooted in facts, research and hard proof. It was consistent and I thought everyone felt this way. False. I opted for courses that dug into dissecting medical journals and scholarly articles, bioethics and the root of diseases that plague our country and the rest of the world. Things like obesity and diabetes, to autoimmune disorders like Lupus and Celiac. It fascinates me. more on that in just a skosh, first lets talk about working in hospitals.

I graduated nursing school with a job lined up in a surgical level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Alabama, the only one of its' kind in the state. Incredible is an understatement. We were a non-birthing hospital, so all of our babies were transferred in from all over the state, and states surrounding. I loved it here, I loved the people I worked with and how their minds asked the same questions mine did; but while I loved it, my mental health was tanking. I felt so alone, even surrounded by likeminded people, I just couldn't connect. I'd say 75% of days in the NICU are good days; we see patients "graduate" as we called it, we send them to step down units because they are healthy enough for less intense monitoring, we see mommas get to hold their babies for the first time after spending weeks just looking at them with too many tubes and wires to even move. But the other 15%? It's so heavy it clouds the good. And even after all of that, it is still worth it. Losing a baby when they spent their whole life in the NICU is unlike any other loss. There is no returning to their favorite place to relive a happy memory, there are no memories outside of those small rooms and long hallways. And that broke my heart the hardest. It changes the way you interact with people, helps you understand grief on a different level. 

After just a year and a half I packed up my pup and moved to Charleston to work in a high risk antepartum and postpartum unit. And honestly that transition was a shit show. In those first couple months, my boyfriend who lived there at the time and I broke up, and my brother overdosed sending me into a spiral only time and friends could pull me out of (the overdose, not the break up...that was for the best). My brother lived, don't fret, but maybe one day we will get into that; not here, not now. 

Even in the midst of that chaos, feeling like tomorrow is a lifetime away, that tomorrow came and one day that tomorrow was good. And the the next one, and the next. Until the good started to outweigh the bad and I was happy again. Actually happy, not just pretending so people stopped asking. 

And then I met Alex (insert heart eyes here). Love of my life, dad to our tiniest human, and chef extraordinaire. We met on Hinge, y'all. And despite my thousands of hours listening to true crime podcasts the first time we met in person was at 1 A.M. at Station 28.5 on Sullivan's Island. For those of you unfamiliar, this is a tiny beach at the end of the strip of beaches on Sullivan's Island in Charleston. I brought Mumford, my Dalmatian, and while the dude is hella deaf, his sense of character is unmatched. Long story short, Alex didn't kill me, we fell in love and within 8 months we packed up our lives and moved to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts where he was offered an executive chef position for the summers at a very busy restaurant right on the harbor in Oak Bluffs. 

After our obligatory 5 months on the island we departed and traveled for a couple of months between Buffalo, Toronto, Brooklyn, Mississippi, Spain and Portugal. we spent that winter in Buffalo where we found out we were pregnant the day after Christmas. We weren't "trying" but I guess we weren't really "not trying" hard enough. And so our little oopsie made his way into our lives in September of 2022 after possibly the hottest summer this side of the equator (one window A/C unit was not nearly enough for our attic apartment).  

There were some other nursing jobs in there, and way more details, but I'm sure those will make their way out eventually. For now, I guess that's is my idea of what life was like pre-motherhood. 

Now my days are filled with reading about sleep regressions and everything I've done wrong up until this point to fuck up his sleep, vaccine schedules, side effects including morbidity/mortality rates of both the vaccine and the virus it's protecting against, hormone disruptors in every household item you can imagine, and, no exaggeration, wrestling a 10-month-old into a cloth diaper he has no interest in wearing. 

We (Alex and I) don't fall into one category that encompasses everything we believe: politically, religiously, medically. We have simply learned to question everything. Because with all of the information out there, everyone has an opinion. We can all fall in to taking those opinions as the only option, letting our minds believe it as fact. But things don't have to be the way they are just because that's the way they've always been. And as parent's, this is the single most important thing we believe we can pass on to our son now, and our kids in the future. Question everything, do your own research, listen to what people who disagree with you have to say, and then make your move.

I've messed up a lot in life. I've made unspeakable mistakes and I'd like to say I learned, I'm here today and better because of them. But many days I'm okay at best.

How'd I get here? Just run that back. 

Okay, mom

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