Brave and Alive…

“We are wired to be brave; that’s why we never feel more alive than when we’re being courageous.”  ~ Brene Brown, Researcher and Storyteller

Talk about a long time coming…I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months since I’ve “penned” a contemplation. Please know that I have thought of you often. I have been a bit busy and I have so much to tell you.

It’s been a whirlwind…of changing winds.  In January, I started graduate school at Simmons College in Boston to become a family nurse practitioner.  I have now finished my first semester and I am loving it.  I also became a clinical instructor for West Hills College School of Nursing – a dream job of sorts.  In other news, we are pregnant.

24 fabulous weeks of pregnant.  I’ve waited all my life for this or at least since I was 6 years old ~ my grandmother said that when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up – my answer was always, “I want to be mommy.” Most of you know it hasn’t been an easy road getting here. Lotsa waiting and more waiting after that. There’s been heartache. Lotsa of hoping. Lotsa one step forward, two steps back. Lotsa prayers answered.

My grandmother always knew my heart and if I needed a listening ear I could always find her waiting for me in “her” chair.  One of the things I cherished most about my grandmother was that she was always praying for me.  Unfortunately for all of my family, she left this earth in March of 1995. I remember the day clearly. She had been sick and in the hospital. I was waiting for the call. It came while I was at work. I left immediately to go and be with my family. As I was driving over the Courtney Campbell Causeway towards Clearwater, the sun was shining brightly and my tears were flowing freely. I told God in no uncertain terms that I was upset with Him for taking her and now who was gonna be praying for me? His gentle answer that brought comfort and a giggle or two, “My sweet Cindy, she hasn’t gone anywhere. She is right here nudging me with her pointy elbow – ‘please pay extra special attention to my little lamb down there. She needs us.’ ”

As I was talking with my life coach the other day, recounting the brave tale I’m about to share with you, I told her how much I wished that my grandmother was here to watch me becoming a momma for the very first time.  Even as the words came out of my mouth, I realized that my grandmom has probably been right by God’s side (elbow-ready) orchestrating the events that have brought us to this spectacular change in our lives.

I must share a bit of the extraordinary details (for those of you who don’t know) – in 2007 Brad and I got married. In 2008, we found out that my eggs were fried. I was surprised by how many tears my heart could let go. I had always thought I would adopt and maybe I’d get the joy of at least one coming from my belly.  Well, that fateful day in September of 2008 – crushed my spirit.  No mini-me.  No little ones would have my DNA.  Would we even get the chance to be parents? I had been waiting so long. Such a sad heart. I “drizzled” for days. Then, my Bradford, gently asked me to choose hope with him. That night 4 days after we found out, I committed to walk this journey with him – choosing hope.  Fast forward a number of years – we needed to save some money – in vitro fertilization costs more than a few pennies – especially when you have to borrow a dozen or so eggs. After years of losing and choosing hope again and again, tears shed here and there, and more than my fair share of little heartbreaks in those moments when perfect strangers would ask if I had kids – “not yet” – and then in the next breath dare to ask if I wanted them, we embarked on our IVF journey in December of 2012. I was amazed by the buckets of hope and joy that filled me up as we listened to the orientation. We met with our miracle doctor in March 2013.  In April, we joined three of our dearest friend couples in Carmel for a weekend of hope.  We were all hoping to get pregnant in 2013 (yay – we all did).  Then Brad and I stepped through the hoops and ran into a handful of snags along the way – believe you me – IVF is not for the faint-hearted. On Thanksgiving day, after taking the year to get all of our little IVF duckies in order, we got the call that it was time to head to San Francisco to introduce our swimmers to our donor’s eggs.  Our embryos were conceived on December 1, 2013. It was a week of excitement, waiting with bated breath, and soliciting all the prayers we could, we received phone call after phone call from UCSF.  Call #1 – our eggs had fertilized (11 of them).  Call #2 – five of our fertilized eggs reached superstar embryo status.  Call #3 came Wednesday morning telling us that our superstar blast (the best of the best) would be introduced to momma’s nest on December 6th.

I am happy to announce that after waiting (yet again) a good share of the day on December 18th that we received a call from our nurse at UCSF – we were in Hobby Lobby of all places – Superstar Blast was blazing full charge ahead and had decided to take up residence in momma’s warm, cozy nest. Yay, we were having a blast – pregnant at last.

Pregnancy has been absolutely delightful despite the manageable nausea and vomiting, the 120+ shots in my rear to make sure the nest would stay cozy for Blast, and a complication on March 3rd that scared the be-Jesus out of us.  I love being pregnant. I know not all expectant moms have an easy go of it – so I’m extra grateful that this has been a happy, hopeful time for us.

One pleasant surprise for me has been that I love my pregnant body!  Love it I tell you! I was not so happy with my pre-pregnancy body. I knew that I needed to lose a few (we won’t mention how many) pounds to feel like I was at my healthy weight. So, to be in a place of standing before the mirror with this big ol’ belly bump and rejoicing at how I look is spectacular.  I feel gorgeous – it’s almost a “Demi Moore” moment.  Almost – being the operative word.  Now, I must admit this one caveat to feeling beautiful. I do feel like my belly is a bit bigger than others at this stage in the journey. A couple of people have mentioned that “people” might think I’m further along than I am or that I am having multiples since my belly has popped out. Of course, I didn’t take this so well.  I tried to soothe my little heartache with the fact that I have no torso to speak of really – 3 inches top to bottom (breasts to hips) not pregnant – The baby is going to pop outwards when there’s no place up or down to go, right? Brad tried to reassure me that it doesn’t matter what others think – an “it is what it is” approach – we are having a baby and that’s reason to celebrate. But in the end, I had to put on my big girl panties that sit below my pregnant belly and decide to live in the radiance of feeling beautiful and not compare myself to the rest of the pregnant world. I’m hoping this life lesson will serve me well post-pregnancy.

I have one more confession for you. It really is the crux of this contemplation. It’s my very own brave tale. I am 48 years old! Those of you who know and love me well – know that I act 48 years young. But most peeps, don’t have any idea how old I am. I thank my mom for my youthful looks and I thank God for my youthful outlook on life. I do still consider myself a sassy, playful girl* in spite of my years of wisdom and experiences. I do know in my heart that I will make a great momma. I believe I was made for mommy-hood. But there are those out there that might say that I’m way to old to be bringing a baby into this world. On good days, I would tell “those” people to go read about Sarah and Abraham – I’m almost half their age. But on sheepish days, I might agree with them. Let me assure you, Brad and I are not foolish. We know parenthood is not for wimps. It will be the hardest job we have ever done. We know that young bodies will have an easier go of it.  We also know that our wisdom will help immensely. Yes, we know we will be in our 60s when our baby Blast is in high school. I’ll let you say oh-my with us. Do we wish we had had kids younger? Of course, we do – but that is not our story.  We are living our story right now.

I tell you all of this because at the beginning of my pregnancy – I didn’t offer up my age and there was a part of me that was hiding it – albeit covertly.  About a month ago, my dear friend and mentor sent me an insight of wisdom that opened my heart. This glorious tidbit in essence reminded us to rejoice in our blessings. That’s not rocket science – I know.  But for me, I realized that I had been hiding some of me during pregnancy.  I had not fully embraced the magnitude of the miracle within me because I was not willing to shout from the rooftops that I was 48 years old and pregnant. I wanted to hide that part of me. In that moment of realization, I decided it was time to embrace my courage and step into the full light. It is a courageous thing to embark on parenthood at any age. It is brave – to set out at 48 and have your life turned upside down by a new little human. I am a miracle of pregnancy at 48.  With that embrace, I’ll let you know that both of my amazing grandmothers were 49 when I was born. God has finally answered my heart’s longest held heart’s desire. That is cause to shine – not cause to hide. I’m done hiding and this contemplation is proof of that. To celebrate this personal revelation, I brought Brad and I “Be Brave” bracelets. This paradigm shift in my heart has been transformative. I love being brave.  Brave girls rock!

A couple things I’ve taken note of during this season of changes:
Where there is change – fears arise – even if the change is for the better. Acknowledge the fear but embrace change with courage. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s usually a lose-lose situation. Hope is a must. If you can’t hold onto hope by yourself, enlist a trusty hope-bearer. When complications arise – don’t worry, they will – turn to your community for help. Be vulnerable – bravery can take many forms. People love stories of bravery and hope.  Let those around you in on your story.  Hiding perpetuates feelings of loneliness. Vulnerability first takes courage but then rewards us with a greater sense of belonging.

Thank you for being a part of our journey.  We are blessed beyond measure.  In this season of change, I am hoping to take it one step at a time and not wish any of it away – knowing that the real change in our lives will hopefully arrive somewhere close to August 24th.

Basking in change,

P.S.  A boy or a girl?  It’s a surprise!

P.S.S. It was not my intent to offend any of the fierce advocates that fight for women’s rights – I know I am woman hear me roar on the outside – even if I feel like a girly girl on the inside.