Discovering Normal

In the last weeks of my pregnancy, I wanted one thing: to find my new normal. It wasn’t about holding my son in my arms and finally seeing if he got my husband’s nose or my own… I couldn’t wait for life to be shaken into the new rhythms and patterns of a family of three, five if you count the dogs.

I’m a work from home entrepreneur – with a business I love. I’m not naïve. I knew that work – that life – would look very different. But I was hungry for the new patterns of work and naps and feedings. I’ve never had a corporate job so I wasn’t missing maternity leave. And the business just isn’t something I could put down, or even automate, and step back into weeks or months later. But I’ve worked from home for years – through all manner of chaos and upheaval – and I know two things are true:

  1. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the job done – nights, early mornings, working from uncomfortable situations like the laptop in a hot closet.
  2. No amount of chaos lasts forever.

And even in the throws of chaos, a rhythm or pattern will emerge.

Bringing forth my son would be no different. A new normal would be created. I also understood that this normal would be flexible and changeable as he grew from newborn into infant into toddler and as I grew as a wife, mom, and business woman.

I had no illusions of being super mom. My husband cooks most nights (happily and to amazing results), laundry is normally clean but rarely folded, and dishes are done when I run out of tea spoons. I figured Ben would step up for housework (he has) and that we’d all find an acceptable level of house-work-related-chaos together.

In the last weeks of the pregnancy, NORMAL was all I could talk about. Think about.

I’m sure it alarmed some people that I was more interested in the new routine than I was in the baby himself. That wasn’t at all the truth – but I can see how it seemed that way!

(And hotdogs. I spent a lot of time talking about the hotdogs I’d eat after the birth, when deli meats and the worry of a sausage-induced infection were no longer a concern!)

And I’ll admit, part of me wanted to prove to my clients that really, honestly, no matter what is going on in life, Mini-Goals are what you need to keep you writing on track. I wanted to be the shining light example of this. Not as a Superwoman who did it all, but as a real woman with real chaos – and a real message to share. I wanted to be the candle in the dark in the midst of chaos that people could relate to.

Selfish?

Probably.

Unrealistic?

I was determined to prove it was possible.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I finally allowed myself to make plans for after the birth. To dream again about my business, about my life, about my marriage. So many things had been sacrificed during the year – willingly for the sake of my unborn – but I was so tired of the sacrifices. Wise, older parents would laugh and nod sagely, no doubt laughing at this not-yet-a-mom thinking about how life would once again include hiking, camping, beers, and watching football on Sundays – letting my husband hold the baby.

Me? I laughed at them… They didn’t know me. Nothing was going to stand in my way.

I even announced that if I went in to labor on a Tuesday, I’d still get my weekly newsletter out before delivering. After all, I’ve been writing that newsletter for over four years – 210+ weeks – without missing a single edition. Why would I let a little think like labor stop that streak?

Thankfully, labor started on a Thursday night so the newsletter was never in danger!

Ben and I scoped out a local campsite – totally urban and domesticated – for our first camping trip. We gently set the date as Baby Plus 3 – three weeks after the baby came. We spent hours planning our 2018 backpacking trips – baby in tow – and budgeting for the new gear we’d need to make it a reality.

I even planned my baby shower registry around it!

I scheduled my third telesummit for the end of September, and spent the end of August and first week in September conducting interviews. All that was left was the website.

I created my Cash Calendar for the end of 2017, knowing that time would be different so my obligations and launches would need to be different as well. I set goals, booked events, and reminded myself that pregnancy was its own temporary chaos. Soon, I’d have my body back and could lean on my support system to re-engage with the business I loved.

When labor started I discovered my midwives were right: there was no mistaking it for anything else. This was different, this was real…

And it was really exciting.

Between contractions I’d yammer at Ben trying to convey the sheer awesomeness and power of what was happening in my body. I tried to take the midwives’ advice and not get too excited, to rest, to conserve my strength. Even to nap!

By 11:30 pm, we were in the car heading to the birthing center. This was really happening! My new normal was just around the corner!

After hours of labor, when it got down to the real work of pushing, I remember Amanda, my doula, telling me to think about holding the baby in my arms. He was almost here! Through my haze of exertion, I remember thinking, “Yes, that will be nice. Then Ben can hold him and I can be Kim alone again.”

Even in that moment, normal was what called to me.

Shortly after that brief moment of lucidity with Amanda, it became very obvious that this baby and my body weren’t going to click together like Legos.

The car ride from the birthing center to the hospital was mercifully short – only three contractions. The endless questions at the hospital: name, birthdate, allergies, insurance lasted an eternity.

One emergency c-section later, Normal had finally been born. As we’d planned, Ben was the first face our son saw. Ben’s were the first arms that cuddled him and told him he was loved.

Connor Benjamin was finally here. It was time to get down to the serious business of living a full life, and no longer waiting in the limbo of late pregnancy.

Of course, an emergency c-section was not on the menu for New Normal.

Again, I’m not naïve. I knew that recovery is a big part of giving birth. But never having had surgery before, I was in uncharted territory.

A little part of my brain was very upset that the gently scheduled camping trip was absolutely out of the question.

I’ve now been home for nine days. My son is napping on my chest as I use the laptop. Last week’s newsletter went out on Tuesday – that was the only work I did that day. My brain makes big plans for the work I’m going to do each day for my clients and for my business in general. My body and my son’s needs reel me back into reality of what can actually be accomplished.

I’m not stepping directly into New Normal like I’d hoped. I can’t downplay the reality of recovering after surgery. But that New Normal is being crafted: Ben and I are figuring out who we are as parents – separately and as a team. Connor and I are learning each other’s needs, signals, and yes, rhythms. The dogs are overjoyed about their new roles of protectors (and the fact I’m just too busy to yell at them to get off the bed!)

My midwife mentioned today that she’ll help me get back to work sooner than her client’s usually do that. She said she can see that I miss it and will be a happier, healthier person, wife, and mother with work in my life. Little did she know that I had already decided that on my own. There’s no guilt here – mommy or otherwise – that’s driving me. It’s the excitement and promise of New Normal.

Welcome to New Normal:

It’s rich.
It’s exciting.
It’s chaotic and crazy.

It’s wonderful.

One Lone Candle

Kim Galloway
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