My Brief + Recent History of Survival Mode

First Trimester (March 2011): At eight weeks, I was drowning in a sea of nausea. Everything made me sick: the smell of food, the smell of our house, even the thought of eating. I spent every day dreading the nausea’s return. I drank ginger tea, sucked ginger candies, and ate the blandest food possible. I was in survival mode. I wobbled from moment to moment, praying to breathe fresh air. I never knew how I was going to make it to fourteen weeks, when all of a sudden, the nausea just stopped.

Third Trimester (August 2011): Around 35 weeks, I was done with being pregnant. I felt swollen, heavy, and tired. I was preparing and preparing and preparing for the end of the pregnancy and I just wanted to be at that moment. At work, I scrambled to make sure that my work was documented, completed, and delegated. I was in survival mode. And then, four weeks later, Nora was born.

New Motherhood (October-December 2011): From the moment Nora was born, I had no clue what I was doing and no time to reflect. I wasn’t sleeping at all, my body was sore and shifting, and I was learning how to breastfeed. To top it all off, I was alone for hours at a time. Just me and a non-sleeping, non-eating baby. Again, survival mode. Little by little, I figured out. I learned how to breast feed, I adjusted to the solitude, I got pockets of sleep.

Returning to Work (January-March 2012): After eleven weeks home, I didn’t know if I had done enough. She would never remember the eleven weeks I spent with her and I would be working for the rest of her life. I cried on the way to work on a regular basis. I cried on breaks. I fantasized about being a stay at home mom, even though my maternity leave clearly taught me that I was not cut out for the solitude of staying with a baby all day. Survival mode. Slowly, I immersed myself back into work, back into what I knew.

Moving (August 2012): After I accepted my new job, we only had a few weeks to pack up our life, say goodbye to all of our friends, secure housing, and decide what to do with our condominium. My husband and I had daily conversations about our finances, our possessions, our priorities, all while raising our ten month old. I wasn’t sleeping, even while Aaron and Nora slept. I had nightmares about people living in our condominium, about moving to a new city. I was in survival mode, again. And then, the few weeks were up. We said as many goodbyes as we could and moved into our new home.

Settling In (Now): Three months into our new life. So much has changed, but so much has remained the same. Nora has still not slept through the night. I still work outside the home, missing so many hours of her day. My commute is much shorter, but I’m still dragging from long days and long nights. I live on caffeine and sugar, television and stolen free moments. I know what this feels like, the dragging from moment to moment, just putting one foot in front of the other. On and off for twenty months, I’ve lived in this way. I recognize it as the whisper of weight on my shoulders, every day. I’m in survival mode, again.

I’m ready to do more than survive, day by day. I know I can’t regain my former life; I don’t want to. What I want to find, what I’ve always wanted to find, is the balance in this life I’ve created. I’m here to claim, it moment by moment, breath by breath.

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2 thoughts on “My Brief + Recent History of Survival Mode

  1. Pingback: It Started with Two Trips… | Breathing Oxygen

  2. Pingback: Resetting My Eating Habits | Breathing Oxygen

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