Tag Archives: survivorship

Mom, you should wear a bikini

My seven year old daughter is full of confidence and spunk and smarts and style. She asked for a bikini from the Easter Bunny. Delivered.

Totally and without reservation she put it on last weekend in preparation for a pool party, did a twirl in the mirror and set her face to one of approval. Then she turned to me and asked, “Mom, why don’t you wear a bikini?”

It was one of those seminal parenting moments I was totally and completely at a loss for words. “Because I worry what other people think?” “Because I have been called many things in my life and a covergirl is not one of them?” “Because my body has changed so much in the last four years that I sometimes don’t recognize my own reflection?” “Because the last time I wore a bikini was on my honeymoon with your Dad and I was a size I will never be again?”

I thought it would be a sign of strength and purpose – and frankly, there was a little bit of vanity involved – to be able to wear a bikini when I turn 40 (or even just before). Celebrating a milestone with style. But every time I look in the mirror, I see my imperfections. Every time.

I even had a few days where I did sit ups and crunches – thinking somehow that would put me over the edge and tighten this section of extra – abdominal muscles that were strained and pulled and cut and sewn. A belly that now thinks I’m postmenopausal and is storing fat like a rainy day is coming.

I know, logically, I should embrace my body – it’s been through a helluva lot. And it’s done me well. I have had three kids – two pregnancies – gained over 65 pounds with both … created happy healthy amazing kids including 16 pounds of twins … then the cancer. Scarred, implanted, tattooed … hormones amuk causing muffin tops and rounded corners and insomnia and anxiety. But, I’m still here. Why isn’t that enough?

As a woman raising a girl, I want to instill confidence and self-awareness and body image and a glorious, wonderful sense of assurance. I have struggled with it my whole life. What if I could save her from that in some small way? She is perfect now – fashion oblivious, sporty and hilarious and assertive and amazing. I want to keep this. Bottle it.

When she turned to me and asked me about the bikini, all of this went through my head. I thought of my struggles with healthy weight … losing weight when stressed to the point that I was melting away because I forgot to eat. Gaining weight while in chemo eating plates of french toast to abate the cravings. Up and down as a collegiate learning to eat and exercise and drink and not have the structure of square meals and sports.

Now I have the balance I always craved. I play tennis, I go to barre ocassionally, I dance with my kids. I drink light beer and champagne. I love chocolate. I’m not willing to give that all up, but I am also totally and completely and unabashedly self-conscious of the pile of “twin skin” and extra rolls that I have on my belly.

But when Emmy said that, I realized it’s not always about my feelings. Part of being a parent is sucking it up – lose sleep? Privacy? Adult conversation? And, selfishness.

So there was a bikini. And she wanted me to post it on Facebook. Here it is. But I do this for all the Moms out there raising girls. All the women who have gone through hell and back with cancer treatments and surgeries. All the women who realize that bodies can be perfectly imperfect and still celebrated. Who don’t have time for evened out tans or bikini waxes or body toning. Who live their lives and struggle through fears and try to love their bodies.

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This will be for you, for me, but mostly, for my girl. Because why shouldn’t we all wear a bikini?

And yes, this is as brave as I can be – lounging, sitting down. Girls weekend. I’m trying!

And, my girlie loved the picture.

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Ground Control to Major Tom – How ARE you?

Please forgive me dear readers for it has been one month and two weeks since my last update.

I admit I am almost running from all things that smack of 2012 – whether it be blogs, art bras, foods I found enjoyable … even clothes.

My problems are plain old every day problems now. It’s trying to figure out how to get the kids home from school every day with me working and an inconsistent, bandaided sitter approach to afternoons after our nanny quit.

It’s trying to figure out how to get a little extra sleep – past 6:30 – with three kids and two dogs who all arise at the crack of dawn and want to know on a given day what the weather will be, did we know it was the 1st of the month, would there be soccer, and what to do when their arm falls asleep. The last one happens in the middle of the night, too. As does visiting because they are cold, hungry, scared, or not feeling well.

We had strep and flu at the same time at the house. Our puppy apprently likes eating dog poop but last time she did it she threw up all over everything.

It’s good – normal. Vacuuming three times a week, washing clothes and hair often because of allergies, focusing on remodeling opportunities down the road, worrying about the impression I make at work. Planning trips between soccer and scouts and swim.

But then I am reminded that I’m not normal – and won’t be. I get a comment at my company retreat that I look so different – why am I growing my hair differently?

I have this super strange thing going on with my mouth where my tongue is inflamed and taste buds are enlarged and instead of just worrying about what kind of crazy thing I have going on – allergies? a virus? I have to set up an appointment to talk to my oncologist.

When I feel gas in my belly – is it the beans or is it cancer?

When I don’t get a good night of sleep and have to take a nap the next day I am reminded that my body is still only recovering from that “year and a half long battle” that you hear referenced in stories about other cancer fighters. I am that person.

I struggle with day to day being so mundane, so good, and yet so shadowed. I try to right myself by focusing on the accomplishments – a soccer win, kids scoring, perfect report cards, a win at work, a beautiful new master bedroom … and it helps most of the time.

But there are days when it all comes back – when the pain and fear of losing myself, my family, my battle … when all I want is just a break from this crazy thing that I now have that’s called life … and I yearn strangely for the days when I only had to worry about getting myself through the day as if that was enough. Now it seems like it’s never enough.

But, in general, when asked how I am, I am good. I am great. I am alive and healthy and happy. But don’t expect the same level of frenetic behavior as last year – I can’t make a bra and work and live and love. I can’t start a foundation and work and make dinner and clean up the dog poop. Some of you will – and can – and I totally love that you can.

I can’t any more. And that will have to be enough.

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Anxiety is back – that old familiar feeling

Blogging is cathartic for me. So, I hope I get some of that good juju by taking a break today to put it all on the line. This one will be all over the place – because that’s where I am right now. But ohwell, another day in the life.

I have a ball of anxiety in my stomach curled up consuming me right now. I have always tended toward anxious – that is the type A personality after all, but occasionally, it comes back. It is like a ball of warmth that sits in my belly – reminding me every minute that I am not in control. Hi there ball I say – and it rustles and coils.

It seems to coincide with lack of sleep. And, here we have again, lack of sleep. (puppy – more on that in a minute)

It seems to coincide with multiple workstreams of powerlessness – a lack of a plan or control on a few different fronts.

So, here I am with multiple issues (none life threatening, none that are massive), but without a means to corrale my feelings, emotions, or plan a next step, I am paralyzed with my anxiety ball until I either get enough sleep, take enough meds, or come up with enough plans to make it all better.

After the initial euphoria that the dog’s cancer was operable, there are qualifications. The surgeons are suggesting multiple surgeries to remove it, multiple procedures that would be violently invasive – requiring drains and stitches and recuperation and recovery. He is fine right now, laying next to me on the bed. He even managed to play a bit with the puppy at her insistence this weekend. How can we put him through such pain and uncertainty when he has no visible distress right now? How much discomfort should we force on him just to have him with us another six months? I fight back tears even as I write this – how do you decide someone else’s well being? When they have no say … and yes, he’s a dog, but the echoes to my past two years (how can I expect him at 10 1/2 to recover what I am still reeling from in terms of invasive and corrective surgery? how can I not provide him the same support and therapy that he provided to me?)

I am having trouble with my hip – a consistent muscle ache that leaves me unable to sit or stand certain days. Is it the cancer back? I have appointments with physical therapists and masseuses and have started doing yoga and exercising – but what if that’s not enough?

And, the puppy. She is wonderful – sweet and loving and curious and soft and hilarious. But she is up in the night – how do we balance what we know is right (giving her access to the yard) with the needs of the family – SLEEP. I think we’re going to have to go against my humane judgement and crate her at night in the back room. Sanity and our health and happiness has to come first. I remind myself that some dogs live outside all the time. And then I start to second guess – was it too much to take on to make this addition now? Was I wrong?

Sleeplessness is a funny thing – it deprives you of your ability to compartmentalize, to fairly judge the severity of issues, and you forget how powerful an agent of destruction it can be.

OK, my anxiety ball is a little smaller now – I know it will grow the next time I think about end of life for Cameron and the decisions we must make, but I also must remember he is our dog and he is loved and happy right now.

I must remember that we are kind and loving den mates for our puppy – who is learning what she can do, and we are learning what we can do. As Davis mentioned to me last night – sometimes these last few months my desire is not met by my capability. I can not do the sleepless nights right now.

And, I think and hope and pray that this is just my muscles struggling to understand how to support and manage my new self, and not the cancer back. Enough is on the plate right now.

I heard a hilarious rant the other day from a lady who had lost her mother, her boyfriend, her apartment, and was diagnosed with cancer.

She said “Does God really give us only what we can handle? I picture him up there sometimes laughing – oh, she can take a little more. And the angels saying, God – what are you thinking?”

 

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The More Things Change

An exhilarating and exhausting October is behind me – the first since recovery, and therefore the first fundraiser (and success!) the first big speaking opportunity, the first month of remembrance for fallen sisters, the first real Halloween in a long time

I had my first girl’s night out with soccer Moms, drank too much at Halloween – sorry if I was a little bit loud fellow trick or treaters!), listened to my 8 year old son read an entire page of Chinese characters.

I am almost numb with gratitude. I realize that I was so lucky to have found it when I did. To have the support I do, To have my children the age they are. To have my husband. My family. Money.

There are days where cancer doesn’t even enter into my thoughts for hours. Where I live as though it was time before. But then I have a hurt back and I wonder – is that bone pain or muscle pain? Or I get a comment about Dubai – weren’t you going there? from a Duke interviewee. Or I look in the mirror and realize my bangs are longer than my hair used to be.

There are always shadows and some people it would forever alter in a bad way.

For me, I am altered and I haven’t sorted good and bad yet.

I went to a Pink Ribbon Cowgirls luncheon last week and it was hard – to go back to that raw place where even sneezing the wrong way can get you sick. It was humbling because my patient navigator addressed the fact that so many people had recurrences in October: statistically there is a massively higher rate of recurrence in the first 3-5 years after NED (no evidence of disease). We still don’t know why.

There’s a danger to being almost smug when you hear each individual story – one woman had it come back with a vengeance after a lumpectomy (I’m so smart I had a mastectomy on both sides I would crow!)one person had ovarian cancer come back and I think I’m so glad I had gene testing so I knew whether to do that or not.

It’s both a sense of empathy and a sense of relief. Profound relief.

At the end of the day – more than relief. Joy. Happy healthy kids. Happy healthy me. Biggest (real) worry is getting everyone to school on time, doing the best I can at my amazing job, helping my friends when they need me.

Biggest perceived worry, though … that will forever be different after cancer.

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Impatience and the Refresh Button

Someone in the great big universe is telling me that all good things come to those who wait. Although I feel like I already learned this lesson a few times over in the cancer battle this last year. But, I find myself increasingly impatient with my ability to move on at the speed I want – which is probably a little too close to warp speed.

The last few days I have – literally – been watching my email. And, hitting the refresh button as if the server is not fast enough.

For those of you not familiar (is there anyone left out there?) next to your web address bar, there is a little circle button. It also exists in my gmail account near the inbox. It is for the most impatient of us. It is the refresh button – the capability to look at what has changed in the 10 seconds since the last time that your computer talked to the server.

I am awaiting news on a soccer team. In a change of plans some of the kids on our previous team are moving to another league – along with the coach. I coached before all this, and get to coach again, but I am currently waiting to see which boys can play with us – all friends, all sweet. But I wait to tell the other parents who is in and who is out. I refresh to see a note from the parents.

I am awaiting news on a job that would be the perfect fit – I believe – for my intellectual and professional needs. I had four interviews in two days and loved everyone I met. Now I wait to hear.

And, I had to wait until today to play tennis. This wasn’t a refresh button but it was still a waiting game. I was ready Monday morning to play but in a literal freak of nature, Austin got deluged with rain the last three days. Almost 2 inches – which in July is almost unheard of in the past few years. I, clearly, had to wait for dry courts. But I did wait, and I am so very glad. Because today I played tennis for the first time in two years – and probably ten before that. I got beaten by an 11 year old at the courts. And I liked it.

I am hitting the refresh button on my life right now – the news I’m awaiting is for my next chapter: Soccer coach?? Part time employee? Tennis player? I can’t even believe I have come so far in one year. But that doesn’t mean that I like to be in the waiting place. I am reminded – again – of a Dr. Suess favorite “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” I am ready for my boom band.

a most useless place. The Waiting Place…

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

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To my kids – read when you are 18

Maybe you should wait to read this until you are a parent which hopefully won’t be at 18. Not that I’m prejuding your choices (yay if I’m a grandma already I guess!), I totally support you! But parenting is hard and I hope you don’t have to handle its delicate balance until you are at least 30.

So here it is – your Dad and I have perpetuated many untruths on you. You are 5 and 7 and so I somehow justify it by thinking it’s above your paygrade, and I hope that doesn’t scar you for life.

I’ll go with the low hanging fruit: Christmas. There is no Santa Claus. That was us. Filling up your stockings, wrapping the presents that you whispered into the stranger’s ear at Barton Creek after being coached. No magic reindeer either. So that food we put out? Swept away by Dad.

While we’re on the magic subject – the Elf that showed up at our house last year that you named Little Red? The idea was created by a brillant marketer. His mischievous acts? Dad and I after you go to bed. We found ideas on pinterest and in an effort to one up each other, parents all over the country participate in this ritual that some nights was relatively stressful since we had to pretend Santa Claus was coming and hide all the presents we would wrap each night. They are hidden in the guest room closet if you were wondering. Every year.

Dispelling myths? That means no Easter Bunny and no Tooth Fairy. Both us, too. We sat up until 10pm filling up a hundred eggs for you this year so that you could all have the same amount and fill up your baskets. The tooth fairy is a figment of someone’s imagination in the 50s to celebrate your move into big kiddo realm. Of course, we weren’t expecting sister to lose 5 teeth in two weeks and we had to make a special trip to the bank for the $1 coins. Ironically, you seem not to notice anything other than the “cash money” $1 bill. Did you know that each time the Tooth Fairy comes your Dad and I go through all of our foreign coins we accumulated on our travels to find two interesting ones for you? Maybe soem day you will care about that.

Um, and babies don’t always come out of bellies like you did, but you probably know that by now. Which means there is no deer doctor that runs around performing C sections.

And the part of the Daddy and part of the Mommy that get together? I’m still not prepared to answer how.

There were also some major tragedies this last year that we didn’t share. But you are kids, you don’t need to know those details. For you, things are safe and happy and it’s summer. SO, if you ask we say some people got hurt, some people maybe died, and the perpetrators made “bad decisions.” Even our tension with North Korea was answered that way … Henry, no more reading the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

So those are some of the big ones. I will admit that most of those were to keep up with the times – and to perpetuate our joy at your joy. We love the look on your faces when the magic happens. I wish we could keep that forever.

Now, the last year there have been some half truths as well – I didn’t, couldn’t tell you all about the cancer battle. Cancer bugs as well call them? Incredibly malignant cells that can proliferate all over your body. It was serious although I will be fine now. Although thechance will always be there that it will come back. I have done everything possible – the chemo medicine, the laserlight (radiation) and my surgery to get out the cancer bugs. But breast cancer does not have a remission it just has a “gone for now.”

I’m sorry we didn’t get to go to Dubai, and that I had a year where I lost my hair, was tired, and couldn’t play with you the way I wanted. I’m sorry that we glossed over the surgeries, but there was no way that I could tell you that I had drains coming out of my body, or that my breasts were gone. And now, as I enter into my last major surgery, I have told you that they are fixing some muscles. They are actually giving me my very own new set of boobs.

And I don’t have nipples so I kinda look like the barbies you played with yesterday in the pool.

I’m not ashamed of the half truths because they keep me going. I like to pretend that this is all no big deal too.

And, after you go to bed, your Dad and I watch super fun TV shows without you … and sometimes we go see movies and even go out with our friends and drink alcohol and eat breakfast tacos at 1 in the morning. But you can’t do that until you’re 21. Sorry.

.emmynoteeth

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The Plus Side of a Mastectomy

This is going to be a very personal post. I will tell you right now it may also make you squeamish. It certainly has made me, but I figure the more that we can demystify this process and this disease, the better we will be at communicating and supporting each other.

I have been pretty flat since my mastectomy with my nice perky Nordstrom’s ladies strapped on each day. I skittered by the mirror with clothes clutched tight, no interest in seeing the giant lines that were my cancer bugs, that was my figure.

Last Monday I had plastic bubbles – for lack of a better  term – the scientific term is expanders – put under my skin and muscles and sewed into place. I had enough extra skin that they were filled over halfway with saline – in a usual procedure they are only filled a third of the way. Which meant that as soon as I was awake enough I had the chance to see a shape and a sight that I have not seen in six months. And that many of you ladies take for granted – cleavage.

I am small, but skin complains – stretched thin over the expanders it is shiny with the extra effort. It is more than I expected in terms of profile change. It is pretty uncomfortable as that skin moves against the plastic, against the stitches.

I am exhausted too because I am used to sleeping on my stomach – instead I now sleep on my back with a nightly advil run. This process will continue over the next few weeks. I will be pumped full of saline until we all decide I look like the right version of myself. Should I stay a medium? Move to a large? C? B?

But it’s such a weird conversation to have with anyone outside of this blog – friends and teachers asking me today how i was feeling said “I looked great” I know that means they looked at my chest. For so much of our lives that’s considered taboo. Is it still?

My male friends ask how I’m feeling – should I say that it feels like i have an extremely tight push up bra on all the time with some pain in the armpits. Instead I just say good, but tired. My body is exhausted after the last year and this is the last straw. But it’s also the first step up the end ladder. Toward the newest normal imaginable. At a size made to order.

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Survivorship is a Thing

Throughout my cancer fight of the past year there has been a defined task: stay strong until there are no more cancer bugs. Keep the family together and keep the family happy – go with happy. I have the distinct honor, and yet, challenge, of moving to the next phase: survivorship. When I heard the term I just thought it meant “the time after you beat cancer.” And it is that, but it is much more. And so hard to describe.

I had a meeting last week with my oncologist called a “survivorship seminar.” I was flippant and jocular about my journey and progress until I realized this was about the rest of my life. It hit me when I got home and I have been a psychic fugue for a week: I am never going to be the same physically or emotionally.

It’s not maudlin, it’s truthful. And, it’s also tricky.

In the cancer fight it was physical – survive, sleep, eat, heal. Now it’s more psychological. Watch for side effects that could signal that the cancer has come back (e.g. monthly self exams of my chest wall which actually makes me a little nauseous to even think about. Getting to know my scar tisssue? No thanks). Make follow up appointments with doctors, including regular three month checkups for the next three years.Don’t go to see a regular massage person because your body is in such a different state than normal. Only go to exercise class that is low impact because your muscles are weak and relearning. Oh, and did I mention scheduling the next round of surgeries because I still need permanent ladies? And, don’t plan on being back to any state of “normal” until at least six months (which for me is May 1st).

I am thrilled, don’t get me wrong … I am lucky to be in survivorship. And as I navigate the new normal I am so thankful for my friends and family and their love and support. And, yes, it needs to continue. Even though the care calendar is gone. 🙂

But a new normal is tricky when your most recent old normal was cancer and the normal before that was moving to Dubai. Navigation is slow as we rebuild what our family responsibilities are – who does this chore this time? Who is responsible for dinner tonight? What is your role? What is mine?

Now I am in the family most days all day – although some days I have to nap or don’t feel well. I am meal planning and shopping; picking up children and organizing play dates. But, every once in a while it catches up with me and I crash back down. I am not used to limitations on my time or my energy and yet I have to be patient. In PreK they learn to be a STAR – Stop, Take A breath. Relax.

Because I am no longer required to “just heal” I feel a sense of pressure to be more … and maybe that’s what this survivorship thing is about. This isn’t just the time after I beat cancer – it’s 2013, the year Davis turns 40, and the twins enter kindergarten. Integrating cancer into that year and that life is what I must do.

And to learn that watching an hour of America’s Funniest Home Videos with my three kids will make you laugh until you cry every time. And that laughter is the best weapon in survivorship. Especially when it is belly laughs at a puppy.

 

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A Year in Review, Survivorship Acknolwedged

In many ways, I am now intimidated to write. When I had a story, a journey, a battle, it was easy – chronicle and share. There was a duty, a responsibility, and certainly a cathartic element. Now, my life is relatively normal. But then again it’s not. And that complexity begs exploring.

Every time I sit down to write, something happens – it’s that time of year. First it’s the chaos and joy of Christmas at our house – gingerbread houses, an elf that has quite a mischievous side, the requisite weird viruses, sinus infections, present shopping and schedule coordinating. There is so much joy. The kids sing along to carols in the car, race to change the advent calendars … and after Friday, there are even more hugs and I love yous and blessings counted.

My biggest debate right now is how to acknowledge the year we have had, without letting it define us. Even the Christmas card – do I include a letter whose sole purpose would be to describe the year we have had and what we have battled? I decided to leave it out. Cancer has had too much control over 2012, now it’s time to move on.

Or is it? I am reminded every time I get dressed and have to put on my Nordstrom ladies. I am reminded every time that I have to take a nap because my energy still isn’t what it used to be. I am reminded when I take my 9 pills at night, including my new friend tamoxifen (no side effects yet but I’m waiting). I am reminded every time I get a request to talk about my journey, to help someone new on the cancer rollercoaster. I am reminded every time I look the mirror or get a compliment on my “new pixie cut”.

I have seen all my doctors and they are all amazed at my progress – my radiation oncologist joked that he would have treated me longer if he knew how well I would heal. It wasn’t really funny. But, the news is all good. Now I move to “survivorship” which actually has classes and responsibility (including regular exercise and stretching). But it isn’t a switch that got turned off – my body is altered, my lens is different.

What a difference a year makes – as I walked a newly diagnosed lady here in Austin through my entire battle I realized how far we have actually come. What we have done as a community – family and friends. We made it through with the family unscathed – the kids happy and joyous, my husband – though not in the position we had planned – happy with his role and hopefully having enjoyed the extra time with us. And I am proud, I am thankful. And I have to at least acknowledge it.

This Christmas season, this holiday season, be thankful for little things – and build memories. This should not be about stuff, it should be about experiences. Create as much joy as you can – that’s what we all hope to remember from 2012.

The mind is a terrifically equipped machine – with memory mostly for the happy stuff. That is another reason to be thankful.

Wards Dec 2012-8

Now, to share with you that I practice what I preach, here is a link to our family pictures: wardspictures.shutterfly.com

A link to the Dinsey SCUBA trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuBCX2w1wZc

And, a link to our Ward family Christmas card assembly line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p27EU9bLXa4

Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year. Hopefully 2013 will not be as eventful! Thank you to everyone for your help and love and support in the big and small ways. Love, Team Ward.

Wards Dec 2012-3

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A Pink Ribbon in my Pocket

There’s a Girl Scout song I learned long ago about having a great big brownie smile in my pocket. It always struck me as funny – a smile in your pocket? That’s like having a blink in your shoe. But after this past week, I realize the symbolism as the song played over and over in my head on our vacation.

We went on a Disney cruise – and for those of you interested in the details, I have made a full post here (Disney cruise thoughts) … but for the rest of you, suffice it to say it was magical and exhausting. Somewhere around the second day at sea – when I had gotten dressed up formal in a sassy red number – and after I ran barefoot up five flights of stairs to retrieve our autograph book because we happened across Minnie Mouse in her formal wear in a lounge – I said to myself, I have a smile in my pocket.

Then the next day we went SCUBA diving in Grand Cayman – Davis and I. Now we fibbed a little and told them we had been diving “recently” – it had been nine years for me  since our first wedding anniversary in Belize. I was so nervous on the boat ride out I probably burned a full day of adrenaline. Then we had to do one of those “giant step” entries which always scares the beejesus out of me. I was the last one off the boat. Davis gave me a double high five. Then we held hands.I descended to a too-deep level of 90 feet accidentally because I was having so much fun. No wetsuit! Tons of fish! And, my swim boobs worked!

After we surfaced for air after the first dive, the smile was no longer in my pocket. I was grinning like a crazy person. I just wanted to yell out to everyone on the dive boat – do you realize what I was doing a month ago? Two months ago? Six months ago? Do you know I have swim boobs on? (From then on when I would get ready to go in the water I thought of myself as the SS Lauren strapping on the ladies)

It was the first time I had been in a really large group for a long time – being a “normal” person all day every day where no one knew my story. No one ever looked at me twice – except for the nice meaning Disney guest services lady who asked why I cut my hair – and then recovered by saying I looked like a supermodel. I was so impressed with myself in general. Apart from the fact that I went to bed with the twins, and took a nap or two (who wouldn’t!) I felt like myself again.

But, there is also some resentment. I look around all these normal people and want to shake them – do you know how good you have it? do you know how hard I’ve worked to get here? I also realize that other people probably have something in their pocket – maybe not a smile, maybe a story, maybe a challenge they too have overcome. Maybe not.

For now, our entire family is aglow with happiness – though the trip was not as relaxing as we had planned, it was far more magical and the children are blissful. Ultimately what more could we wish, and what more could we celebrate in this season of thanks.

PS I will try to upload some of the video and link to it – a man on the boat with us took a video and mailed it to us!

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