I love blog conferences. There's something magical about connecting with people who do what you do, who share your passion for writing, creating, and over-sharing. Bloggers are my people, and as a work from home mama I often feel starved for connection and cooperative work.
Earlier this year I pitched a couple of different sessions to Blogher 17. I've spoken at two Blogher Food conferences in the past - so I figured I would have a fairly good chance of getting on the agenda. While I didn't end up getting invited to speak, Blogher did hook me up with a free ticket to attend as a conference goer. I was thrilled. A whole weekend of bloggy goodness with zero obligations beyond just showing up. What a treat!
There was just one catch - the conference was being held in Orlando. With a little one at home, no daycare, and a husband working retail hours, it isn't easy to leave it all behind. I worried that such a trip would be frivolous - that spending money on airfare and hotel accommodations was a selfish thing to do.
But then, a week or so later, I had a moment. I've been suffering from some pretty intense mommy and wife burnout lately. I love my family, but being the person with which the buck always ALWAYS stops is kind of exhausting. Like most mothers, my own needs often fall by the wayside. Between work, baby, and husband, there simply isn't enough time or energy to care for myself properly on a regular basis. All of those little sacrifices eventually add up, and I'd been in the negative for way too long.
"Screw it.", I said, and bought myself some plane tickets.
When I informed my husband that I'd booked the trip I wasn't too surprised (but was still a little disappointed) that his reaction wasn't super supportive. I longed to hear him say "Don't worry. We've got this. We'll be just fine." Instead, he asked me if I could change the flights and come back earlier.
Yup, it was definitely time to get away.
On top of this being my first trip away since CC was a baby (around two years ago) it would also mark the end of our breastfeeding relationship. I had never expected to force weaning with my little one, but for many reasons (which I shall share another time) that's exactly what was about to happen. For the month leading up to my trip I managed to worm our way down to only one nursing session a day. By the time I get home, my lactation will have stopped. It's the end of an era, and I don't know whether I will ever get to nurse a baby again. Yeah, big feelings.
I shipped out on Wednesday afternoon, and by the time I made my way to my hotel, all of the local restaurants had closed. I ended up eating cheese crackers and an ice cream sandwich for dinner. The meal wasn't exactly satisfying, but the solitude sure was.
I woke up the next morning and wandered down to the lobby to work for a bit while my roommate slept in. I opened my email to a comment on an older baby blog post. After responding, I read the original blog post, then the next, and the next, until I had re-read everything that has happened since we lost our baby in January.
As I sat there in the chair I realized that I'd hardly had a moment in the past three years to stop and feel anything - never mind process. I was alone with my thoughts (truly alone) for the first time since all of this pregnancy loss stuff started almost TWO years ago.
Guys, it's a lot. It's huge. It wasn't until I was finally allowed a moment to really breath - to calm my mind and release the myriad of responsibilities that hang around my neck every day that I really realized just how distracted I have been. My son lifts me up every day. He makes me smile and forces me to go on living every day because I HAVE to. The love I have for him is like a raft that keeps me floating above the pain and devastation lingering below.
While I am beyond grateful for this little life preserver, I can see now how important it is for me to occasionally shirk the flotation device and let myself sink.
That morning, I closed my eyes and descended into the chair, down onto the carpet, and deep beneath the floor of the hotel lobby. My heart fell further - into the layers of sediment and soil, through the crust, and burnt up in the fiery core.
Part of me burned to ashes, smoldering in embers before finally sighing a breath of relief - finality.
Later that day, while sitting in a huge room surrounded by women and allies, I was asked to set an intention for the weekend. As a group, we closed our eyes, breathed in unison, and silently mouthed our intentions to ourselves.
Mine was simple. It was time to get my self back.
To be continued...