Saturday, December 19, 2015

Embracing Change

Yesterday was my last day as a lawyer for foreseeable future. Well, technically I am still under contract with my firm until December 31st, but since I only get paid when I work and I'm not doing any more work, I think it's safe to say I'm no longer a practicing attorney. It is such a strange feeling.

I've had December 18th on my mind for a few months now, since it was set as my last day. My calendar has been marked with "last day of work" since October. It has seemed like the day would never come, but then suddenly it was here and now it has passed.  I will wake up Monday morning without needing to get dressed to go sit at a desk. I have no contracts swimming through my head or clients to get back to. I have no deadline looming. I have no pressure. I have freedom.  And it feels amazing.

I cried yesterday as I pulled out of my work parking lot and called my husband to tell him I was done. The emotional release was immediate. The sense of completion and the knowledge that this was the right decision were profound.  After over 8 years doing something I have not been passionate about, it feels good to walk away.

I also find it ironic that on my last day in practice one of my best girlfriends made partner at her firm. She is propelling forward while I am hitting stop. For a second I felt jealous as she has attained something I thought I wanted to for quite a few years. But that feeling didn't last long. It's not what was in my heart and it would not have made me happy. My other good friend from law school just returned home after spending 61 days away at trial in another city, only getting to see her children for a few days over Thanksgiving. Yet another law school friend is now working part time, 3 days a week and spending the other two with her son. A few others have stopped practicing and now work for the law school, and yet others have said goodbye to the law long before me.  We all started in the same place but have ended up on different paths. It's hard to not compare and worry if you picked the wrong path. The doubts have started to creep in a little today. What if I hate this change. What if I am bad at being a stay-at-home-mom?

I've had to stop myself from going down this mental road. The truth is that I've left the legal doors open. I have options if a few months down the road, after Bridget's arrival, I decide I want to go back. But I don't see that happening. In my head and my heart, this is the end of my legal career for now.

So what's next?  My main focus now is getting Bridget here safely. I have less than 4 weeks to go as my doctors will not let me go past my due date. I suspect they'll schedule an induction for 39 weeks if I'm still pregnant at that point. She's measuring big and the last ultrasound on her kidney wasn't great. I'm mentally preparing for an induction, pitocin-fueled labor. It is not what I want. I want an unmedicated, doula-assisted birthing experience, but I know that my desires may need to be set aside if it's in Bridget's best interest to proceed otherwise.

Between now and my due date I have a lot going on. The boys are off school for the next two weeks. My parents are coming down on Monday and then my brother and his family are arriving Wednesday evening. This house will be full for Christmas. My nephews are coming and I'm so excited to see them and to watch Lukas and Julian play with them for a full week.  It will be a truly magical Christmas with four boys aged 2-7 under one roof. My heart is full just thinking about the week to come.

Then we will usher in a new year. 2016 is going to be a great year. A year of change and transition and unknown roads. It will bring us our daughter and we'll start navigating the road that is her health journey. I know that road might be bumpy, but we'll hold on tight and move forward. It's all we can do.

I also feel that 2016 will bring with it personal growth that I can't yet comprehend.  My Beautycounter business, the real reason I was able to step away from my legal career, is going to flourish. I feel confident in that. I love my job with Beautycounter. I love coaching the women on my team and working along side them to build robust, profitable businesses. Todd heard me on one of my coaching calls a few weeks ago and remarked how happy I sounded on the phone. I hadn't really thought about it, but he's right. I get so much joy out of sharing the company's mission and empowering other women to succeed in this business. I love watching my team expand and can't wait to work with even more amazing women.

One thing I never got from the legal world was positive reinforcement. No one was lifting each other up and it was not a collaborative environment. Beautycounter is the opposite of everything I experience in private practice. It is women helping women. It is building others up to succeed and acknowledging their hard work and dedication. I may not be as financially successful with Beautycounter (at least not yet, however I work with women who make way more a month than I ever did as a lawyer and I plan to join them soon), but the personal success and accomplishment I get from this job far exceed anything I've ever felt practicing law.  We will make the new budget work for our family and I will be happier for it. I have no doubt about this. And I also have no doubt that I will see greater success with Beautycounter than I initially dreamed possible.  When you find something you love, are passionate about and want to share with the world, you have found your thing.  Beautycounter and my family are my thing. Law was not. Of this, I am certain.

I also know that 2016 is my year to write. I'm not sure yet if that will be an uptick in blogging or something else. I have dreams of being a published author one day. I don't yet have a book idea, but I plan on finding one and going for it.

And who knows what else is in store. I'm embracing the unknown and cannot wait to see what this next chapter ends up looking like.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What Lies Ahead & Wishes for B

I don't think people like to read posts like the one I'm about to write. But I need to write it. Writing has always been a form of therapy for me, so I'm hopeful that by getting the words out on paper there will be some relief. Or a sense of peace. Or at least acceptance. We'll see. I never know what words will come or what catharsis will ensue until I'm done. But if you're looking for a positive post, this probably isn't it.

I'm 34 weeks and 4 days pregnant with Bridget. She's due in exactly 38 days. 5 more weeks and 3 days. But the reality is that she could very well come any day between now and then. And while we all hope she doesn't arrive until at least 39 weeks, she seems to have her own agenda and we're just along for the ride. She'll be here when it's her time.  The only thing certain is that within 6 weeks, she will be born. And as that time frame gets smaller with each passing day, my thoughts shift from worrying about keeping her in as long as possible to what will happen once she is here.

Since August 31st, my 7th wedding anniversary, when we learned we weren't having a "healthy" baby, I've longed to simply meet her. For weeks I checked viability charts to see what her odds of survival would be if she were to be born at that given time. I'd pray for her to stay put one more week. I'd wish for my amniotic fluid level to stay normal and for her right kidney to stay strong and healthy. I hoped the left kidney would stay as is and not worsen from appointment to appointment. And those things have happened, more or less.

Born today she would still be considered a premie. A NICU stay might occur. But she'd likely be OK. I've personally had two friends deliver at 33.5 and 35 weeks respectively and their babies had a rough start but are doing great today. So I know that I'm past the point of worrying about initial viability.

So my worry has shifted. Bridget will be here soon. By looking at her you'll not know she has a birth defect. I'm told she won't look any different from a healthy baby. But from what we can see on the ultrasounds, she's not "healthy". She will be born with a health concern, and it is one that we don't yet know where it will lead.  And I am so scared about how that will unfold.  **tears are now flowing as I type***

There are so many unknowns about her condition and the treatment and the tests. The doctors are focusing on getting her here, which obviously is step number one.  It's a key step, without which none of the rest of my concerns matter.  So yes, I'm glad all hands have been focused on watching my health and her stability on the inside. But then what? She's born and we need to monitor her number of wet diapers. If they are normal then we get to wait until she's the ripe age of 2 weeks old to go to CHOA for extensive testing on her kidneys to determine function and an actual diagnosis. The limited research I've allowed myself to do on theses tests has frightened me. My two week old will likely be sedated. I lost my shit when Julian, at 4 months old, had to have a beanie cap tied around his head and lay still as a laser took measurements of his head. There was no sedation or strapping him down and I barely made it through that 5 minute ordeal.  Bridget's test will be much more invasive and scary. I don't know how to prepare for that. I don't know how to stay composed and strong for her.

And then we are given a firm diagnosis (I hope). And we've already been told it will require surgery. The hope is that we wait until she is 6 months old for the surgery to be performed. We don't know yet what the surgeon will be doing, but there is one thing I do know. Surgery requires anesthesia. On a baby.  MY baby. And there are risks and complications and as an attorney I know there will be release forms that have to be signed prior to the surgery. One of them will say something to the effect of, "By signing below you acknowledge that all surgeries contain some level of risk including [insert laundry list of bad things] and possibly death."

And I know what you're thinking: Stay positive. Don't jump to the worst case scenario. Rely on God and know that he will get you through and protect her. Don't put negative thoughts out there into the universe. Surround her in white light.

I get it. I'm typically one of those warm and fuzzy type people. I like to live my life with positivity. I've said the phrase "Everything happen for a reason" before. I want to see the good in all things.

But the reality is that death happens. We are ALL going to die. And we don't know when that will happen. But it will happen. For all of us. Including our children, which is a terrifying thought. I know that any one of my kids could be killed in a car accident or freak accident any day of the week, and yes we have to continue living our lives every day without being paralyzed by this fact. So some would say that I should view Bridget's kidney defect and surgery in the same light. But I can't. Having surgery has inherent risk above and beyond every day living.  There is no guarantee something won't go wrong. And the thought scares me and brings me to tears.

Yesterday my girlfriends threw Bridget and I a sprinkle shower. It was a lovely afternoon and I am truly blessed with great friends. The hostesses know me well enough to not plan any party games, but they were thoughtful and had everyone fill out a card with "Wishes for Bridget".

I hope love __________; I hope you laugh __________; I hope you never forget __________; I hope you become __________; I hope you aren't afraid _____________; I hope you have __________; I hope you grow ___________; and I hope you learn _____________.

I sat on the couch last night and read through all the cards. I hope you love with all your heart. I hope you laugh often. I hope you never forget how much you are loved. I hope you become confident.  I hope you aren't afraid to speak your mind. I hope you have a great sense of humor. I hope you grow slowly and confidently. I hope you learn to take chances.  Some were funny, others were sweet and all were heartfelt. I was already so touched by them, but when I got to one of the last ones, I was brought to sobs. One of my dearest friends wrote down the one thing that I too wish for B.

I hope you have time.

It may seem like a bizarre thing for someone to hope for a soon-to-be new mother's child, especially at a baby shower, a day meant to be full of celebration and joy. But it was so real and so honest. And unfortunately it comes from a mother whose baby didn't have time. We all know life is a finite amount of time. Yet I think most of us assume we'll always have more time. We take our days for granted. We take our loved ones for granted. And none of us want to think that our baby will be the one who doesn't have the one thing you can never get more of once it's gone. I watched as my friend lived out the nightmare of losing her son Marco to cancer. He wasn't even 10 months old. He didn't have time.  And none of us know how much time we will actually have here.

And this fear and unknown of how much time I'll have with B is what I'm struggling with. I want her in my arms, yes. But I want to watch her grow up and live a long, loving life. I want her to have time. It is the one hope I have for her. So please, pray for time. And hug your loved ones tight tonight. Call that person to say I love you or I'm sorry. Live in the moment and love with your whole heart. Because we don't know how much time we're allotted here. So embrace the time you have.

And to my sweet Bridget:

I hope you love without fear.
I hope you laugh often and with a big ugly laugh like your momma.
I hope you never forget the joy you bring to those around you.
I hope you become a confident and passionate woman who cares deeply and beats to her own drummer.
I hope you aren't afraid to change direction when the path you're on is no longer serving you.
I hope you have time.  So very much time.
I hope you grow strong and healthy.
I hope you learn that kindness and love are the most important things in this world. So spread them both openly and without expectation.

Friday, December 4, 2015

34 Weeks. Round 3.

How far along? 34  weeks + 1 day. (Go here to see my 34 week bump with Julian)

Next OB appointment?  December 16th and 17th - MFM on the 16th and Midwife on the 17th (when I'll be 36 weeks). Then I start going to the OB/Midwife EVERY week. I think the MFM will stay every other week, but I'm not sure.

Total weight gain/loss? Don't know, don't care. At my OB appointment this past week I made the best decision I've made in a while and opted to not look at the scale. I figure the midwife would have said something if she was concerned about my weight gain. I don't need to know the number unless it's a problem. I've already gained over 30 pounds and I'm sure the Thanksgiving feasts didn't help that number go down.  I'm still slimmer this pregnancy than the other two and I can fit in my designer maternity jeans so I'm not giving it another thought.  I'm eating healthy (aside from the pie at the holidays) and exercising when I can/feel up to it.

Maternity clothes?  Yes and I did do a little Cyber Monday shopping to snag another pair of maternity jeans (I only had 1 and the fact that I wont' have to get dressed for an office after 2 weeks seemed to be a good reason for another pair of jeans). 

Stretch marks? The belly is still stretch mark free!  The gal that did my ultrasound on Wednesday noted how smooth and mark free my belly was, especially for a 3rd baby. I told her my hips and thighs weren't so line free, but I am blessed to not have them on my belly.

Sleep? Terrible. I can't fall asleep at night and I can't stay asleep. It's not event that I'm uncomfortable, I just can't sleep. I am every night for a while around 4am.

Best moment last week? Seeing Bridget on the ultrasound. She's growing great and is estimated to already weigh SIX POUNDS ONE OUNCE! She's doing great practice breathing and is just a cute little thing. She appears to have a head full of hair and is head down already and hopefully will stay that way!  Her right kidney is holding strong and doesn't have any signs of damage or blockage, which is what we are hoping will continue. Her left kidney looked worse this week, but we won't know the full extent of the damage until she's here and can be tested.  My amniotic fluid level is staying in the normal range and all in all things are good. The MFM said he hopes I can go into labor on my own, but that we'll continue evaluating the situation until she's here and adjust the plan if need be. He made the point that it is best for her to stay until at least 39 weeks to avoid any other potential complications in the event her kidney requires attention sooner than later. It's best if her lungs are fully developed if she needs surgery soon. So fingers crossed I stay pregnant until January!

Movement? Oh yes. Her feet pack a pretty hefty punch!

Food cravings? Nothing in particular.  My appetite has decreased slightly in the past few days. 

Food aversions?  Not really.

Gender? Sugar and Spice and everything nice.

Labor signs? Braxton Hicks contractions daily.

Belly button in/out? Out. And Lukas was kind enough to point out that I still have a freckle in my belly button but that it is gross and he doesn't want to see it.  Thanks bud.

What I miss: Sleep.

What I am looking forward to: This weekend my girlfriends are throwing me and Bridget a small Sprinkle shower. I'm excited to see my girls and celebrate B.

Milestones: I went 5 days between hair washing this week. I think that's a record for me. That's the only milestone I can think of for this week...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Leap of Courage & the Road that Appeared

November was a huge month for my Beautycounter team. We added three new team members and I reached a personal goal of promoting to Director. My mentor reached a huge goal and promoted to the highest level in the company and other great friends I've made in this business also reached big goals. I'm as thrilled for their accomplishments as I am my own!!! This is truly a team effort.

So as I sit here on the first day of December I am so excited for the month ahead. I didn't really know where this job would take me when I signed on 9 months ago. I said yes having no idea what I was doing. I am not a salesperson and I have a fear of rejection like no other. But I am so glad I jumped on board.

In 17 days I will step back from my legal job and I have Beautycounter to thank for that. I will get to spend the holidays with my family instead of spending long hours at the office trying to close deals before the end of the year. Then in January I will welcome our baby girl Bridget with the knowledge and peace of mind that I won't have to hand her over to daycare at a mere 12 weeks old. Financially I would not be able to make this life change without this company.

But the best part is that I ADORE what I do with Beautycounter. I am passionate about educating others on safe beauty and personal care products. I believe in our mission. And I finally feel like I've found the work-life balance I've been looking for since Lukas was born over 5 years ago. So maybe you can have it all! If you're at all curious as to what I've been doing with Beautycounter, or how you can get involved, I'd love to chat. You never know where this road might take you!