a defining moment, a look back

My summer baby.

I return to writing after an August hiatus. I’ve relished in these final days of summer with both of my daughters. And as September brings new beginnings (my oldest daughter starting kindergarten this past week!!!) and a new season (autumn, my favorite!), I’d like to reflect on the journey that led to life with my youngest daughter.  My summer baby who turned one last month.

At the end of 2014, my husband and I found out we were pregnant again. My excitement and anticipation soon gave way to first trimester exhaustion and a serious case of morning sickness.  My growing little one was a force to be reckoned with right from in utero.

For me, the second time around was not the—you’re glowing!—experience I felt with my first pregnancy. To be honest, it was hard, very hard. I was throughly exhausted, I mean bone tired, those first six weeks. With the exhaustion came a seasick type of nausea. A constant stomach churning sensation that never left me from the moment I woke to the moment I made my way to bed; sleep providing my only relief. This feeling, so physical and inescapable, is enough to steel yourself into bed until it is over, but of course that is not practical or feasible for most.  Our lives must be lived and for me, a daughter to parent. I soldiered on knowing the baby I was growing was indeed thriving because of it all.

A trip to Italy with my husband during the spring of 2015 in my second trimester.

Just as they tell you in all the pregnancy books, I woke up one morning right around the twelve week mark free and clear of nausea and exhaustion.  The second trimester was treating me well and my husband, oldest daughter and I enjoyed life together as a family of three; traveling and excitedly preparing our house for our newest addition.

Third trimester brought more discomfort as it does for many. I had back pain and even back spasms from my baby pressing down on my hips and sciatic nerve. It was the height of summer and I was hot—All. The. Time. My daughter was growing and my belly was growing out-and-out by the week so I was never comfortable in one position for long.  If you have been pregnant or had a partner who has been pregnant, none of this is news to you.

On beach holiday just about a month before I went into labor. Smiling but hot and uncomfortable.

By August 2015, I had enough.  Maybe it is my age (nearing forty) or maybe it was just the timing of it all but I just wasn’t loving this whole pregnancy, maker-of-life-thing. That said, I have no regrets. Growing a child, makes you realize how resilient and awesome (in the truest sense of the word) your body can be.

And then came the real test of resiliency and awesomeness; the birth. Nearing the end of summer, my body was ready for my daughter to enter this world. Contractions came on rather quickly the day I gave birth to her. Arrangements had been made beforehand and my oldest daughter was happily in the company of my neighbor who watched over her until my mother arrived (what would I do without them!). My husband raced home from work and when we reached the hospital, we were only three hours away from meeting our newest addition.

Giving birth was in no way easier for me this time around and at times, a lot harder. I could have done it on my own (would I have had a choice?) but I am so, so grateful I didn’t have to. I had a dream team giving me the will to birth my child. The midwife and nurse were right there with me—encouraging me to continue, cheering me on when progress was made, holding my hand and dabbing the sweat from my forehead. My biggest cheerleader, my husband, never left my side. Never did he let go of my hand. I kept my eyes closed for most of the final stages of birthing (it helped me work through the pain) and every time I did open my eyes he was there–all in with me, present. I will never forget those most intimate moments with him and how he never wavered.  And then, our little girl was there, sticky, sweet and in my arms. It was the most remarkable feeling of relief and jubilation all at once.

My newest daughter was finally here. All the not-so-nice bits of pregnancy slowly faded from memory and the life-with-a-newborn exhaustion began but that is another story for another time.  Just like my first she arrived to us in all her unique perfection.

At each summer’s end, I will look back on the day she was born. The day where I let go of all my anxieties and worries and labored. The day where neighbors, my mother, my midwife and nurses, and my husband,  provided the support and help I needed so all my energies could focus solely on my mind, body and baby. This birth was the single most physical and mentally difficult moment of my life. A defining moment where I truly amazed myself and received a gift of a lifetime.




do the sorrow songs sing true

The one who taught me best; me and my mother, 1980.

“Through all the sorrow of the Sorrow Songs there breathes a hope—a faith in the ultimate justice of things. The minor cadences of despair change often to triumph and calm confidence. Sometimes it is faith in life, sometimes a faith in death, sometimes assurance of boundless justice in some fair world beyond. But whichever it is, the meaning is always clear: that sometime, somewhere, men will judge men by their souls and not by their skins. Is such a hope justified? Do the Sorrow Songs sing true?” —W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks: Chapter XIV. The Song of Sorrows

I had intended to write this post on inconsequential musings of my life; my little world here in the mountains.  But events beyond the keep of home have arrested me and left me thinking the inconsequential should be written for another time.

I have known racism. If you are person of color, you have known racism. Being spat at as a child for having a white mother. Being called the n-word at the neighbhorhood playground as an adolescent.  Being told I wasn’t Black enough in college. Being refused as a potential tenant for an apartment by a white landlord because of my skin color. I have known racism.

You feel it to the core when confronted with racist acts. Anger. Deep anguish. An emotional aching so visceral your body shakes. But I have not personally known the violence of hate in the way I have seen in the news this week.

Today I’m going to close out the world’s events and shield my young daughters from the violence.  There will be a day when they too are confronted with these images. A day when they question why their Mama is darker skinned than they are—if it matters, why it matters. A day when a friend might ask them, “Is that your mommy?”, and all that implies. But today won’t be that day. Today I’m going to be selfish and retreat to my family. Snuggle, read stories, make s’mores, laugh at dad jokes.

Me and my daughters, 2016.

Yes, I know I am the fortunate one.  I have a husband and daughters to come home to. My heart aches from the images I have seen. I am eager for change. I am disheartened at how much has not changed but I am hopeful for my daughters. Because I am certain we can drive out hate by nurturing our own and showing them that acts of compassion and benevolence are the ways out of ignorance.

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