There has been a lot of turmoil in our home the past few days.
Do we go? Do we stay?
What exactly are we supposed to do?
And then, yesterday morning, I had an epiphany.
All along, I've maintained that all I've ever wanted is to be home with our children. For the past few years, I've been working, simply as a means to support our family - not as a means to be away from them. Charlie and I have consciously made a number of sacrifices over the years, reducing our schedules to part time, reducing our income significantly, and then reducing it even more so, when Charlie put his career on an indefinite sabbatical, so that one of us could be home, full time, with the children.
In so far as parenting goes, we never have planned anything. We've entirely made it up along the way. Figuring out, as we go, what feels right and what doesn't and then, adjusting the course, accordingly. All along, we have prided ourselves on our ability to raise four children, without any outside help. Because we were more than willing to make the sacrifices that would allow us to be home with our babies.
In the case of this job transfer, I truly felt like we had no other good options. I felt like if I didn't take this job, another job wouldn't come up and mine would soon be gone. And while I was tickled at the thought of being closer to my family, the thought of being in an office all day has never sat very well with me. It is so easy, though, to get caught up in a career. It's so easy to be blinded by the money and the benefits and all things nice. But that's not all there is to life and so often, I think that people get caught chasing security for "tomorrow" that they totally miss out on living for "today."
I was getting caught up in that.
And then, I found out I was expecting a baby. And as I stood in that hotel bathroom on the night of my 39th birthday - staring at a little pregnancy stick - and waiting for the digital read out to appear, I had an overwhelming feeling that the results of this "test" would significantly change my life. Not just in the way of, "Oh, there's another baby on the way!" but "Oh, the entire fate of your family and geographic location and life hinge on these results."
And then it appeared.
There was silent excitement, disbelief, and that overwhelming feeling like I have been blessed beyond measure. There was also a tingly feeling that I had been saved from something but at the time, I didn't know exactly what. When I showed the test to Charlie, he didn't believe me. He thought that perhaps I had forged the results. As if it was possible I had a cup of urine laden with HCG in the bathroom with me.
The next few days were a blur. Is it real? Is it possible? FIVE children?
Now what do we do?
Moving closer to family would be nice. A bigger house, change of seasons, new environment and career security would be nice, too. But working in an office all day while my pregnancy progresses - and then, leaving a tiny newborn at home for 8+ hours a day is not so nice.
Not so nice at all.
As in, horrible, crappy, what the hell have I done?
Management said that despite my current situation, I was still expected to be in Virginia in July. And no, I would not be granted flexibility in work hours or location. Hearing that, I did what any irrational pregnant woman would do. I lugged out a HUGE career shot gun and I aimed it squarely at my foot and without much hesitation, I pulled the trigger.
Early yesterday morning, I sent a message to my manager that read, "Due to my current situation, I think that the scenario that provides the least physical, emotional and financial stress for me (and my family) is to remain in San Diego. I fully understand that if I retract my decision to accept this transfer, it may be a career limiting move for me. And while I fully recognize that my family issues are not [my company's] concern - they are mine."
Once I sent that e-mail, I felt incredibly relieved. Like I had finally made a decision and it was a good one because there is absolutely no going wrong when you put your family first. Had it not been for this pregnancy, I might not have sat back and really evaluated what kind of impact this transfer would have on the family structure and balance that Charlie and I have worked so hard to achieve. Moreover, this pregnancy made me realize that nothing in life is 100% predictable.
Long term, I do not know what the future holds.
But then again, none of us do.
Yesterday, I met with one of my consultants and sometime around mid afternoon, I started to feel badly. Very badly. I promptly went home and began to experience a variety of symptoms that elevated my concern from moderate to slightly alarmed.
Late in to last night, I was fretting and sweating while searching Google, WikiAnswers and a host of other websites that did not a single thing to alleviate my worries and instead, made me feel weepy and frustrated and completely vulnerable and sad.
All day today, I was on the couch - a self imposed bed rest of sorts. Dreaming the best, and yet fearing the worst, while loving on my children like I've never loved on them before. As of tonight, my mind is still swirling with what might be going on inside my body with our tiny eight week old baby. Since I've had relatively simple pregnancies in the past (at least during the first trimester), I'm at a loss. This could be perfectly normal, or maybe not?
I'm almost afraid to move until I know for sure.
Although I've called my OB (and plan to call again tomorrow morning), my first ultrasound isn't until next week, but based on my calculations, this baby - God Willing - is due to arrive on Christmas Day. I believe that is incredibly fitting.
Right now, through my tears of worry, I'm trying desperately to convince myself that regardless of what happens, this pregnancy is genuinely a gift from heaven.
The very best gift at the absolute very best time.