When it comes to my proudest moment over the last thrity-five years, well, it’s hard to choose. Not because there are an overwhelming number of moments to choose from, but because I’m not sure any of them are really all the big of a deal. I mean, personally, they are. But when I look at them in the face of other people’s accomplishments in the same areas, they seem to pale. And that really seems insane to think, let alone say. I mean, they’re MY accomplishments so in the context of my life, they are kind of a big deal.
Anyway, there are three moments in my (adult) life that I would consider my proudest, all of them for different reasons. So in chronological order, here are my moments.
December 2010 – I *finally* graduated from college. I started college, officially, in the fall of 1999 at a small Christian college in northern Minnesota. To say that was the worst year of my life would be an understatement. But I met my best friend there, which makes up for almost all the sh*t I endured that year. I was supposed to transfer to a state university the following year, but was so miserable that I ended up dropping out, moving home, and going back to working at McDonald’s (my high school job). I was a real winner.
I took a year off then enrolled at Red Rocks Community College and started taking basic required courses. I got tied up in some crazy antics and ended up dropping out (again) after a few semesters. I took a ton of time off from school and got a full-time job at a grown-up office in the technology center of my hometown. That’s where I met another of my best friends. She, in no uncertain terms, told me to “get off my ass and do something with my life!”
So in 2006-ish, I enrolled at Metro State University and finally started buckling down on my education. I worked HARD. I was working full-time and going to school slightly more than part-time. And then I realized I didn’t like how I was being taught my major (English Writing) at Metro, so I transferred myself to the University of Colorado – Denver. Things really started ramping up at that point. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, because I was hellbent on getting my degree by the time I was 30.
I was 30 years and 7 months old when I walked across that stage in red satin pumps and finally took my diploma.
September 2012 – I completed my first distance race. 2012 was a weird year for me. Mostly due to the fact that my divorce finalized early that year. It certainly wasn’t how I expected my life to go. But it’s what happened.
Sometime in the spring, I threw myself headlong into running. I’d attempted to run consistently in the past, but always just gave up. All previous attempts always included a race as a goal. So this time, I just decided to learn how to run. No end game. Just running. And run, I did. Then, for no reason whatsoever, I signed up for a half marathon. I’m not sure why, to be honest. I’d never run more than a 10k, so this was way out of my comfort zone.
Running became my therapy. I ran every single day, even on the weekends. I loved it! I listened to hymns while I ran, which ended up being a bit of a life saver for me. I was able to escape from whatever pain my heart was feeling and relax into a very safe space. I stopped crying so much. I stopped drinking so much. I stopped eating cupcakes so often. I started running for the pure joy of it.
I ran my first half marathon with one of my best friends. She helped me through the training and the race in more ways that I can describe. I hurt my knee pretty badly at mile six of the race. By mile eight I could barely run more than a couple yards without stopping to walk. She taught me how to move through pain, how to focus on what feels good and what feels strong, and then, a mile before the finish line, she told me I had to run the last mile, because “you are about to cross the finish line and become an elite runner. You cannot walk into that club! You have to run!” So I ran. And it hurt. But I’m an elite runner now. All because of a race I had no intetion of signing up for.
December 2014 – I gave birth to our daughter. I’ve never written down my birth story before, so that’s what this is going to serve as. December 11, the sailor and I had tickets to see the Christmas tree lighting at the White House. If you know me, you know how exciting that sentence is for me. But alas…I was two weeks out from my due date, my feet had begun swelling, and my lower back would start hurting if I stood for longer than about five minutes…and we had standing-room-only tickets. We decided to stay home and watch Thursday night television. The Taste was on and, boy howdy, do I love a good food porn program! So we hunkered down for the evening.
At 8:50pm, I got up to pee and laid back down, covered in a warm blankie and my puppies. Not two seconds later, I had to pee again. The final weeks of pregnancy are just a constant trip between the bathroom and the bed/couch. This time, I was definitely not peeing. I yelled to the sailor, “Hey, can you call Stacy (our doula)? I’m pretty sure my water just broke!” “Um, what?!” “Yeah…f**king call her, please!”
There we were, in our powder room, me with my pants around my ankles, him on the phone with our doula while smelling my pants to ensure it was, in fact, water (the man is a saint). He helped me get dressed and into bed at the advice of Stacy. He was calm and chipper which, I learned later, was also at the advice of Stacy because my water broke before contractions started and Godzilla had stopped moving…I was in for a long, painful labor and she did not want me to know that (she’s a smartie, that one).
I got in bed, drinking orange juice and watching Netflix, but was too antsy and bored, so I got up and started wrapping Christmas presents for family and thank you gifts for Stacy, our midwife, and our nurses. The sailor ran to Walmart to grab some fluffy towels and snacks. He wasn’t entirely thrilled when he came home to find me out of bed, waddling up and down the stairs, doing chores. So back to bed I went.
By 2:30am on December 12, Godzilla hadn’t moved but once, so we grabbed our coats, got in the car and headed to the hospital, stopping once for me to barf out the window. We got to the hospital around 3:00am and the sailor dropped me off at the ER and left to park the car (as an aside: can hospitals please get it together and offer some kind of fricking valet service so women in labor don’t have to be left to their own devices while their partners park the damn car?!). I was fully in labor by then and all the pain was in my thighs, an excruciating experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I was determined to walk myself up to L&D, but another contraction nearly took me to my knees and I was wheeled up to my room.
The sailor ran up a few minutes later and Stacy came screaming in about ten minutes after that. It was a whirlwind from there. The nurses had to ask me all my intake questions, draw blood, and set my hep-lock in between contractions. It was awful and hilarious. Stacy is a huge fan of staying in motion while laboring and as much as I wanted to walk around, the pain in my legs was too much and I had to sit or lay down. I threw up one more time (making me glad I didn’t actually follow through with my threats to eat nachos and pizza for dinner) and demanded that I get my labor gown on. I’d bought it special for this occasion with my best friend who’d given birth just five days earlier. The nurses thought I was nuts, but the sailor and Stacy looked at them and basically said, “If you want her to get this baby out, let her put the damn gown on.”
My midwife, who has since become one of my dear friends, kept doing horrible things to me like checking how dilated I was and telling me she could feel Godzilla’s head. Each time, despite causing me intense pain, she made me laugh. “Okay, this is gonna hurt…like, REALLY hurt. You can swear at me if you want.” I didn’t. Not yet anyway. She and Stacy just kept massaging my legs until finally, at 6:02am, Morgan said, “Ready to push?” I looked at Stacy and said, “I don’t know how!” Turns out, the human body is capable of doing some pretty weird stuff.
I remember getting scared at one point. I looked up at the sailor and at Stacy and just said, “I can’t.” They told me I could, because I was. A few pushes later, at 6:40am, Godzilla made her epic and very loud entrance into the world! The sailor caught her and got to cut her cord and bathe her for the first time. And then I swore at Morgan. I am in no way kidding when I say that getting stitched up after child birth is a pain unlike any other. I’d very much rather give birth again than have to do that. She laughed, said she was sorry, and just kept on stitching.
I never got to listen to the labor playlist I’d worked so hard on. I never got to use the whirlpool labor tub at the hospital. I didn’t get to watch football while I labored. I didn’t end up wanting a beer immediately after I gave birth. Everything was so different than I expected it to be, so different than it biologically should have been. Everything was so perfect.
So there you have it. The proudest moments of my adult life, to date.