Getting fidgety again!

“I miss writing,” I blurted.

“What made you bring that up all of a sudden?”

“I have a blog, and I used to write almost every day. It wasn’t anything really important; it was just about my life — but it was as if I could figure things out by writing about them. I miss that.”

We’d been talking about my years as an elementary-school teacher (so I could understand the confusion), but my mind suddenly took a detour from thoughts of teaching — to having had melanoma the last year I taught — to my MS diagnosis a decade later and the stress that came with it — to how I’d wanted to release everything that was holding me down.

I started blogging back in 2011 to help me make sense of some unsettling changes, to give me a place to work out what was happening and what I was trying to do with my life. Posting daily was not a chore or a responsibility; it was practically a compulsion (I jumped out of bed more than once when I realized I hadn’t posted), but one I really enjoyed. I wrote every day for months; then every other day for almost a year. But I got caught up in what it meant to be a “blogger” (back when that meant something to many people), and since that wasn’t the sort of writing I was doing, I kind of lost the magic of writing for myself — and the dwindling post count showed it.

I posted exactly once in 2019. This past year has been a hard one for me, but I am planning to be very kind to myself in 2020, so I am going to give myself the gift of stress-free blogging. Let’s see if it helps me make sense of my life as I get back into really living it again.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me. I can’t tell you how excited I get to see that anyone is following along. Please comment so I know you are still here!

xo – Lori

Interestingly enough, I was singing with my family way back when this blog began, and we broke out SingStar just last night to welcome the new year in. (There’s no celebration that can’t be improved by belting out some New Wave tunes. It’s a scientific fact.)

A to Z Challenge – Living with Multiple Sclerosis

I saw a really cool idea for bloggers here, called the A to Z Challenge. In the month of April, you blog 26 times on a single theme, with each post referring to one letter of the alphabet. Unfortunately, I did not hear about it in time for the “official” challenge, but hey! There are still more than 26 days left in April! I can still do it on my own!

I have decided that my theme is going to be “Living with Multiple Sclerosis.” Don’t worry — I’ll do my best not to write a bunch of boring medical stuff. It will be more about the little ways in which I am reminded that MS is a constant in my life, kind of a behind-the-curtain look, if you will.

So fasten your seatbelts and hold on to your hats and glasses — we are off!

Twenty years ago, I was pregnant

October 15, 1998

Twenty years ago, I was pregnant. Not as massively pregnant as I would later become (shown here at almost 42 weeks!), but legitimately with child, as confirmed by both a home pregnancy test and my doctor.

I didn’t believe it was true.

I mean, I had been pregnant the year before. We had it all carefully scheduled: we’d have the baby in March, so that — with spring break and summer vacation — I could have the maximum-length maternity leave a teacher could arrange. That’s not what happened, of course. What is the quote? Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. Although I got pregnant on the first try, right on schedule, I did not have a baby at the beginning of March. I had a miscarriage at the end of August, just as I entered the “safe” 13th week.

I was devastated.

I became obsessed with getting pregnant again. As soon as we got the go-ahead to try again three months later, I became like Elizabeth McGovern in She’s Having a Baby, turning the whole process into a job instead of a joy. (I feel for David now, but at the time, I was so single-minded that I doubt I was very considerate.) Luckily, things worked out fairly quickly once again, and I was pregnant by early in 1998.

I just couldn’t accept it.

That spring, at the St. Agatha Auction, we bid on and won the basket my class had put together: everything you could possibly need for an infant. Crib, stroller, high chair, changing table, swing, car seat, clothing, diapers, toys . . . you name it, and we had it for the baby.

I put everything in the attic and refused to get the nursery ready.

The baby was due around the 1st of October. I went into pre-term labor on the 4th of July. I was given terbutaline and put on bed rest. Whereas I had spent the previous summer blissfully pregnant and happily traveling through Europe, I spent the summer of ’98 lying on my right side, watching the World Cup sideways, growing ever larger as I “ate for two” and did not move at all. (With one famous exception, of course.)

By September, I thought perhaps it was possible that I’d have a baby.

At that point, I was allowed to get up from the couch, to go back to work, to do anything I wanted. (A baby born at 38 weeks would be considered perfectly healthy.) I remember going to see Billy Bragg at the end of September, when I was basically at full-term; I think his manager was afraid I’d have the baby then and there.

I still didn’t want to get the nursery ready. I didn’t begin to set anything up until the baby’s due date had come and gone.

I could tell the story of Quinland’s birth here, but I think I’ll save that for another time. I had just come across this picture on my computer today, and I was feeling wistful and pensive, as we used to say back in Ireland. I’m sad for that girl I was, who let herself experience the joy of pregnancy once, briefly, but never again. Part of me wishes she had been braver or stronger or wiser, but I know that’s not fair; we all bring our past hurts and fears to every situation, and she was doing the best she could to protect herself.

If only I’d known, then, that it was real, that there would be a child, one whose very spirit would bring joy, not just to his parents, but to everyone who knows him.

That would have been awesome.

(By the way: I wore that dress every single day for the last couple of weeks I was pregnant. I did not own a single other thing that would fit.)