I have never been much of a NYE kind of girl. In the past I’ve made valiant efforts and always had the highest of hopes (which is probably 90% of the problem right there), but despite that I always seemed to end the night with a vague feeling that I should have just stayed home.
The NYE I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I went out to dinner with my family. It was bitingly bitter cold that night and my maternity sweater rubbed a little patch of skin at my neck the wrong way. The pepperoni and black olive pizza I tried to enjoy despite significantly less room in my stomach for food quickly began its transition into heartburn. We came home and went to bed. I can vividly recall the feeling I had as we crawled into bed that night. It was a mixture of severe FOMO (fear of missing out) and a looming feeling of dread of the direction our lives were about to take and how much they were about to change.
I know I’m supposed to say that night I was overcome with warm feelings of excitement for the year to come, welcoming our first child, but that wasn’t anywhere near what I was feeling. I was scared. I felt a tide shifting and I couldn’t tell that it was going to be for the better.
This year we decided early on that we were intentionally making ZERO plans. Just a normal night at home with my husband and daughter. My husband picked up a filet for me and prime rib for himself at a local specialty shop, and he cooked me one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in recent memory. My steak sizzled in butter, marinated in his signature marinate I could drink on its own. I savored a buttery baked potato with the skin rubbed in garlic oil and seasoning, topped with gooey cheese and crispy bacon. I stayed in sweats the entire day. We attempted to watch a family movie, but our 2.5-year-old wasn’t interested and instead we played in her new tent. I ended the night with a bubble bath and a book and snuggled up to my husband, both of us fast asleep before the stroke of midnight. There were no cocktails for this very pregnant girl, no cute sparkly dresses or high heels or staying up late with friends.
It was one of my favorite New Years of all time.
And for a tiny moment, I had this creeping feeling that maybe, possibly, I was starting to hit my life stride. Like maybe my whole life I have just been waiting for the chance to stay home on NYE and go to bed early. I don’t know. It felt good though.
On New Year’s Day I read all the posts from friends about their 2015. It was so striking to see “this was the best year of my life- I don’t know how 2016 can top it!” alongside “so VERY happy to say goodbye to one of the hardest years of my life”. It all felt so eerie, how vastly different a year of living can be for two different people. My husband and I recapped our year in bed that night; we did the math. 2015 was composed of 6 months of pregnancy. 3 months of our daughter being sick, spiking fevers, taking antibiotic cocktails, waking up with snot gluing her pretty wispy hair to her feverish pink face. 1 trip out of town with friends where we remembered for a second what life was like pre-baby. 1 kitchen renovation that spanned almost the entire year. 4 houses toured before we found our perfect home. 3 positive pregnancy tests before I believed I was “really” pregnant again. 1 new tree planted, two new rose bushes, two trips to the Zoo, four to go swimming, my second surprise birthday party in all my life. A mish mash of terrible and wonderful.
I can’t look back on the last year and say it was the best in my life so far. It definitely wasn’t even close to my worst. It felt like a year of getting back to myself, more living than surviving. Then more surviving than living. Then back again. Focusing on certain parts I am filled with a bubbling joy and deep gratitude, while focusing on others I am filled with a deep sense of relief that it is over and done. I’m looking directly at you, first trimester.
But here’s the scary and wonderful thing about a new year – you have no idea what it will bring. I know this year will bring the end of pregnancy for me – but I don’t know for sure when or how it will go. I have a reasonable, educated guess that it will end around 40 weeks in a healthy birth. But we never know for sure. I think of all my friends and loved ones and acquaintances who received terrible surprises in 2015 – losses of pregnancies, life-altering medical news, crumbling of relationshipss, deaths of loved ones, more disappointment and grief and pain than they have ever known. The truth is, that’s waiting around any corner for any of us. Also true is that 2015 also brought friends and loved ones and acquaintances immeasurable joy and incredible surprises – engagements and pregnancies and dream jobs and babies in their arms and the sweet taste of finally getting something you have been wishing for, hoping for, working for, praying for.
I don’t know what 2016 will bring for me. I am both hopeful and a little terrified. I know big changes are on the horizon, and let’s be honest – change isn’t always my strongest suite. There is nothing I can predict with absolute certainty, so I’ve been faced with the realization that I can pick anxiety or I can pick releasing resistance to what is coming. I can try like crazy to strong arm and control what is coming up for 2016, but all my life experience tells me that’s pretty futile. I can worry and plan and plan and plan, and don’t get me wrong- I WILL plan and plan and plan, but it only offers me mild comfort in the illusion that I have some control.
And maybe I do. I know on some level I do. I strongly believe that thoughts create expectations that influence reality. I do believe in doing all that I can rather than laying down weakly on the couch, resigned to whatever fate the universe has chosen for me. This is not about not working hard or fighting for what I want – its about letting go of the anxiety that threatens to paralyze me.
I don’t know what I will write when I sit down to recap my 2016. That is both terrifying and exciting, it is freeing on many levels and paralyzing on others. Will I write a victory story? Will I be the one saying “I can’t imagine how 2017 can top the best year of my life so far: 2016.” Or will I be the one saying “get the HELL out of here 2016”? There is no way of knowing.
She believed she could, so she did. That line adorns a silver necklace on a simple inexpensive chain. The pendant part with the words has rusted a little with time, but I saw it yesterday as I got dressed for my OB appointment and slipped it around my neck. She believed she could, so she did. I believe I can survive this year. I believe I can do more than survive – I believe I can grab onto some moments of pure magic, that I can write them into my memory and pull them out to enjoy as my life marches on. I believe I can face the struggles that will come with this new year – I believe I am strong enough. I believe I am resilient enough. I believe I will become even more of myself this year, less apologetic about that fact and more confident in who I am.
She believed she could have a 2016 full of magic – so she did.
Whether that magic is so enormous that it takes my breath away or subtle and soft, like the first time I will see my son smile, there will be magic.