Well here we are. The last day of my 30’s. This is really happening, isn’t it? I typically never have any issue with getting older –as wise people have reminded us, it is a privilege not everyone is blessed with. But this birthday feels different. Maybe because it’s such a big one. Maybe because when I say “40” I still picture people much older and wiser than me. “Forty” sounds like an honest to goodness GROWN UP, and yet I still feel like I’m on my way to becoming one. Still trying to create my family, learn how to parent, be a business woman, boss, daughter and friend. I feel like forty year olds do or should have that all nailed down by now. So I very much do not FEEL like I’m forty.
I’ve achieved much more career wise than I thought I would by this age- a design firm of five people, two books- one NY Times best-seller, two product lines (and counting, fingers crossed) and I once even got to hug Oprah after speaking at her conference. I mean, it’s OPRAH. Not too shabby.
But my 30’s were tumultuous to say the least. Filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Obviously giving birth to Henry was the ultimate gift, and watching him grow has been the honor of a lifetime. It’s like Christmas morning every single day when I see his rumpled hair and sleepy smile when he gets up and calls out “mommy”. But, as many of you know, giving him a sibling has been the most brutal struggle I’ve experienced in life. With five miscarriages in the last 3 years, my body and mind have been to hell and back. All the drugs, pregnancies, surgeries, tests, needles… all of it has taken a toll. I sense my road is coming to an end, at least in growing my family this particular way. Or at all. Two weeks ago we did one final IVF round- and it was far more brutal than when I last did it at 35. But luckily we got 23 eggs, 12 fertilized and we now have three 5-day old embryos being genetically tested. After all my losses, we (and our doctor) decided it was the best thing to do. I should get those results any day now. And I’m terrified. If they are all abnormal we have some really hard decisions to make. If there are any normal ones, the fight continues.
I had a dream the other night that I gave birth to another baby, and the relief I felt in that dream that this journey, this BATTLE, was over and we were complete was incomparable. It was such a feeling of peace, release, freedom. This burden has been a heavy one, and it’s made me a different person. My body doesn’t feel like mine- it’s been pregnant or getting ready to get pregnant or losing a pregnancy consistently for the last three years. And I crave getting back to feeling like it’s just me inhabiting my skin, when I can take deep breaths and sleep peacefully. When I’m not manipulating it in one way or another or thinking about it on such incredibly negative terms. And to have to do photoshoots of myself while feeling this way has been really stressful. I feel the need to do it, not only because people request it or its part of contracts I’ve signed, but also to keep up with the social media/blogging world. I was looking at some images from the blog the other day and saw one and thought “I was having a miscarriage DURING that shoot” and another one “I was pregnant in this picture and no one knew”. I can see the pain and strain in my eyes, and it’s hard to look at. And yet my inner monologue keeps telling me I need to do more, more, more.
To be blunt, I’m so fucking tired. I’d be tired if this infertility battle was the only thing I had going on, never mind parenting a toddler and working full time. Finding “me” time has been hard, and rare. I try to go to the gym, take walks, do a little yoga- but my mind is typically elsewhere- making lists of what I need to do next, who I need to take care of before myself. Andrew looked at me during our trip this past weekend (which had moments of totally blissful relaxation) and said “it’s really hard to be you, isn’t it”. And I cried. I harbor too much stress. More than I should. I shoulder a lot, and it’s time to figure out how I can do that less. How I can ENJOY more. I freaking 40 years old, time to start having a little fun.
So I’ve made some resolutions for myself. I do feel like my 40’s will be a great decade– one of acceptance and growth. And hopefully finding some peace, baby or not.
Real me time. I always don’t want to do this because I never want to miss a minute with Henry when I’m not working, but I need it to be the best mom I can be. Once a month even- just a few hours to do something totally just for me. Maybe it’s picking up a paint brush again. Maybe it’s going shopping with no agenda (because when I have alone time on the weekend now it’s doing everyone’s returns and going to the grocery store or something). Maybe it’s getting a facial or a massage. Or go to a museum. Just something that isn’t something I NEED to do but WANT to do.
GET BACK IN TOUCH PHYSICALLY
I started taking some pilates classes and they have made me a little less nervous to try other classes. I need to get back into yoga. I need to get a trainer for a couple months to help me make a plan that works for my body and my goals. Exercise really helps with my mood and anxiety, and it has to become a priority. Not to necessarily change my shape but to FEEL better in my skin.
SPEND MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS
Why is it so hard to just meet up with a girlfriend for a glass of wine? Ugh, so many excuses. Enough.
MORE TIME IN NATURE
My therapist said that there have been tons of studies that show spending time in nature really positively affects your mental health. And it’s such a good thing to do with Henry- hikes, parks, farms, the beach…. we just need to do more than go to the playground. I also just started a sentence with “my therapist said…” OY.
WEAR COMFORTABLE UNDERWEAR
Yup. I ordered a ton of bikini style underwear because damn it, I’m 40 and I’m sick of thongs all the time. There, I said it.
LET GO OF THE WORRY
This one is a big one, and one I’ve struggled with for my whole life. I worry about EVERYTHING. From Henry and his general wellbeing at all times to catching necrotizing fasciitis (or a number of other ailments) all the way down to freaking out if I’m running late and if some rando on the internet hates me. My mantra needs to be “Worrying about something bad happening either makes you miserable twice or once for no reason- neither help”
I have SO much to be happy about. And grateful for. I want to try to focus each day on all the things that bring me joy and really take them in. Slow down a little and pay attention to the good, which is often harder to notice than the bad.
I feel bad about everything, all the time. I need to stop that garbage. Stop feeling badly that I work. Or for having that second glass of wine (or third). For skipping a children’s birthday party. For focusing on myself and protecting my emotions. For not being able to have this baby. For sometimes screwing up at work. For leaving early to do something for myself. For sometimes hating the way my husband sneezes. For not walking my dogs enough. For not doing more social media. For doing too MUCH social media.
In summary, my 40’s is about letting go a little. Ease up the white-knuckle grip I’ve had on the control in my life.
It’s time to enjoy the hell out of this awesome life I’ve got.