A notion on my mind in recent months has been the feeling of that moment when your entire universe changes, particularly those occasions when it happens with no warning. I also can't stop thinking about the hours and days right before that moment...the time when you had no idea what was about to happen to you. Unfortunately, many of those moments involve something terrifying or otherwise negative, but sometimes they are also created by events that are wildly positive. Maybe you find out something shocking about someone you love, or maybe a beloved pet is harmed unexpectedly. Maybe marriage was proposed when you did not expect it. Perhaps there is bad news about your health, or you are victimized by one of the many severe weather events that seem to come more frequently now. Maybe, just maybe, your baby arrives a month early, but still completely healthy. Suddenly, your entire point of view has been altered, and other problems which loomed prior to said event become minor; correctly repositioned in the grand scheme of things.
For my husband and I, the unexpected early termination of a work contract which we understood to be much longer-term was a time like that earlier this year. What I sometimes thought about in the weeks after it happened were the hours and days before he came home with that news. One minute I was having a normal day, and the next minute we were discussing a new contract which would likely take him overseas for four weeks at a time. Certainly a new work contract was not a tragedy, and in fact an overseas rotation lifestyle was something about which we had already been curious, but coming hot on the heels of the slightly surprising pregnancy and the purchase of a new house, it was a monumental moment. And still, my mind goes back to those moments before he came home...those moments when the biggest challenge I was facing that week was a little bit of morning sickness.
Also recently I was thinking of Calgary; a place where we lived for a year and a half and a place where those who know me well know that I was not happy. However, I am aware that my unhappiness was (mostly) not the fault of Calgary, and regardless of how I felt when I was there, I would never wish on a place what they must be going through now in light of the recent floods. Our old neighborhood, along with the entire downtown, was evacuated. We even saw the home that we rented on one of the photos of the local newspaper website. The street was underwater up to our front step, which means our parking garage was most certainly underwater and it is likely that all of the items in our storage unit would have been ruined, not to mention possibly our car.
Most recently another curve ball had me reflecting on the day before everything changed. Thirteen days ago, our son was born. Four weeks early, and with no warning. One day I was having lunch with my girlfriend, very uncomfortable physically, but not understanding that I was sick, and the next day I was going straight from a routine doctor appointment to the hospital to have labor induced and deliver our baby. My blood pressure had skyrocketed, a condition known as pregnancy-induced hypertension, or preeclampsia. My body was treating the baby as a foreign invader to be attacked and the only way to treat that condition is to deliver the baby. We were lucky in more than one way: my husband was home from Indonesia; he had arrived two days prior after a six-week absence. Also lucky was the hearty condition of our little preemie; while only thirty-five and half weeks, at six and a half pounds, he was large and developed enough to pass all of the tests and avoid the need for any medical support for his new life outside the womb. As it turned out, I was the one in need of support. The first week of his life, the three of us lived in the hospital, learning from doctors and nurses how to care for our baby and becoming intimately familiar with what happens if your blood pressure is not behaving as it should.
The day before he came, I knew that I did not feel well, but I had no idea what it was going to feel like to be a mom. I'm still learning about that feeling, but the funny thing about the way you feel the day before is that it becomes foggy and hard to remember. The new reality of your next day: scary, wonderful, dangerous, exhilarating; will remain a part of your story forever. You won't go back to before and you will only understand your life in its new and more vivid context. I can't imagine not yet knowing our son even though we were not supposed to have met him for another two weeks. I can barely remember the fears and concerns that I used to have about parenting; we have already been so lucky so many times that it seems the only thing to do is to notice each day as it unfolds and to be grateful for the simple day-before moments.