wow guys – what a month! the world is in a strange place right now with COVID-19 and everything being in lockdown. restaurants are closed, businesses are shutdown, we haven’t seen friends in weeks. we’ve been at home in self isolation for over two weeks now, and it’s crazy to think about how things were so different at the beginning of the month. I’ve been, understandably, super overwhelmed with everything that’s been happening in the world, in our community and our home, and with my body. In an effort to reflect on my own experiences, and hopefully connect with a few of you guys who might be in a similar place, I wanted to share a little bit more about my month — what happened, how I’m feeling, and how I’m coping with the ‘new normal.’
I’ve shared quite a bit on my Instagram, which sort of acts as my on-the-go diary and where some of these images are from, but wanted to share in more detail on my blog, too. As always, thank you for reading! ❤️
Winnie was born on Thursday, February 13th. We spent the first two weeks of her life, the end of March, in a hazy newborn bliss. My parents visited and then my sisters came, friends dropped off meals and sent sweet notes, we soaked up lots of family time and snuggles. The photo at the top of this blog post was taken on the last day of February – little did I know what was ahead! I was (and still am) so grateful for a healthy, sweet baby and to be done being pregnant! Having a baby completely changes you in every way, even if it’s not your first child. I walked into the hospital as one person and left a few days later as another. In some ways, having a second child has been easier than being a first time mom and in other ways it’s been more challenging. I’m pulled in a million directions at all times and it’s easy to feel guilty or anxious that I’m not doing a good job. When I’m in a good headspace, I KNOW I am a good mom.
My body is still physically recovering, although it seems to be adjusting back to “the new normal” easier than when I had Lucy. Mentally, it feels like I am always thinking of something and don’t have a lot of brain space for myself as everything is about my kids — when they need to eat, who needs to be changed, who needs to sleep, etc. Emotionally, there have been a lot of ups and downs and FEELINGS. The first few weeks and months of postpartum have a lot of highs and lows anyway, without the added layers of what else has been going on recently. Here’s some pretty photos from right after the tornado, snapped by Brigette, and a very accurate photo underneath that sums up life lately. 😂
Early in the morning of Tuesday, March 3, a tornado hit Nashville. In particular, it hit our neighborhood of East Nashville and even more specifically right around our house in the Lockeland Springs area very hard. We woke up that morning to our phones buzzing with the tornado alert and shortly after, we heard a ton of hail hitting our windows and then the tornado sirens going off. We quickly got the girls out of their beds and rushed both of them and Jack into the bathroom and as we were walking in, I heard glass shatter. I didn’t know what it was, but just huddled in the bathroom nursing Winnie and whispering to a sleepy Lucy that everything was going to be okay. Eric looked around the house and realized our front window shattered and quickly patched it up with a piece of cardboard.
At the time, we had no clue the scale and magnitude of what happened and the destruction that hit our state, city, and neighborhood. Two blocks away, entire blocks of homes are crumbled to the ground. Cars are smashed by trees. Some of our neighbors have nothing left. Businesses a few blocks further down don’t exist anymore – the buildings are gone and employees have no work. The days after were spent cleaning up our yard and the front of our house, donating to nonprofits helping our community, picking up supplies to drop off at community centers, helping neighbors rebuild in whatever way we could. We didn’t have power for several days; some of our neighbors didn’t have power for over a week. Walking around the neighborhood brought tears to my eyes — there are so many beautiful homes in our neighborhood and they are just completely wiped out — roofs gone, windows shattered, some buildings literally ripped in half. One of our babysitters ran into her closet with her dog during the tornado and when she came out, the wall of her room and all the contents of her room were sucked out. Many, many people lost their homes and their possessions, but other people lost family members and friends.
The impact of the tornado still feels super raw, because even though it’s been almost a month since, we still see the destruction daily. The tornado brought another new wave of emotions. SO much gratitude that we are okay and safe and that our house is mostly okay. Super devastated for our neighbors. Worried about how Nashville businesses will bounce back. Overwhelmed. On edge. The adrenaline and fear responses continued to linger for weeks after — it’s like my mind was waiting for another disaster to happen. And now…
COVID-19 & LIFE AT HOME
I’d heard things about coronavirus earlier in the month, but honestly, didn’t think it was that big of a deal and thought the media was blowing it out of proportion. Clearly, I was very wrong. Winnie and I went to a friends house on Tuesday, February 10 and little did I know that would be the last time I saw friends for…who knows how long! On Thursday, I went to Costco with my mother-in-law Sue who was visiting that week and it was INSANE. It was hour long wait to checkout — worst than being there before a big holiday. And they were out of things like Clorox wipes and paper towels. I think that’s when I realized this was a bigger deal than I had initially thought. But even then, I didn’t think it would reach the point we are at now. Starting on Sunday, March 15, we began taking the social distancing protocol very seriously and made the decision to stay home. Around that time (I think a few days later) the mayor of Nashville shut the city down – all non-essential businesses were shut down, we were instructed to stay home, you know the drill.
We have been living this way since. We still go on daily walks with Jack (ensuring we keep our physical distance from others), have picked up groceries about once per week (again – the stores were almost completely wiped out of SO many items), and have ordered takeout/delivery a few times. Nashville restaurants and small businesses were already hit SO hard after being closed after the tornado and now with everything being shut down – it’s pretty scary for them.
This article touched on the emotion of grief as it related to COVID-19 and the social isolation we’ve been doing. This quote really resonated with me: We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively.
Obviously, we’re all struggling in different ways with the coronavirus and life at home. Everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s experience is HARD. I think it’s important to acknowledge that this is super difficult for everyone and to not compare ‘your hard’ with ‘someone else’s hard’. For me, I’m grateful to be self-employed and have my client work continuing as usual. Eric can also work from home, but is still currently on paternity leave. We are healthy. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about the state of the world, my family (particularly my grandparents and parents, but even our immediate family) getting sick, how long this will last. I miss having places to go and things to do. I miss seeing friends! It’s weird waking up and every day feeling like it’s the same as the day before, with no end in sight.
HOW I’M FEELING
To name a few…😅Overwhelmed. Grateful. Scared. Anxious. Bored. Moody. Helpless. Disappointed.
I’ve been typing this blog post over the course of a few days now, and have experienced a BIG range of emotions. Honestly, the past six weeks have been a lot of up and down emotions. Postpartum and life with a newborn is the sweetest, blissful, most magical and special time, but comes with its own share of pains (hello, engorged boobs) and struggles. I had some days early on that were REALLY tough and I felt super anxious and moody and thankfully, that has mostly subsided.
After the tornado experience, I was feeling really overwhelmed — I mentioned some of those feelings earlier in this post. It was so sad to see homes just a few steps away from ours completely destroyed to the ground. To see small businesses we used to go to regularly – Burger Up for dinner with friends visiting Nashville, High Garden to pick up tea, Clean Juice to get smoothies with Lucy, and many more — crumbled to the ground. I also had to work through feelings of inadequacy, if that makes any sense. It’s often easy to think “oh, other people have it worse” and in this instance, compare say someone who lost their home to what we lost, which was just a window. At first I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge that my own experience was traumatic even if it wasn’t “as bad” as someone else. The same is true of our current state of self isolation at home and the coronavirus. I initially thought – I should be grateful I have a flexible job! I should be grateful I don’t live alone! I’m healthy! etc. but in reality, my struggles during all of this are very real too, even if they don’t look like someone else’s. What is hard is different for all of us. It’s been incredibly important for me to acknowledge my OWN experience in all of this, and sit with those feelings.
Another feeling was the loss of control in all of this. With the tornado, it was very clear how so many things can change within a few seconds and that put a lot of things into perspective. I obviously have NO control over the weather. With self isolation and coronavirus, I’ve once again felt a lack of control. So many things are OUT of my control actually – when this will “end”, how the government responds, if my family gets sick, etc. That’s REALLY hard for me to sit with because I’m a natural problem solver, so want it to be one of those “okay, tell me what to do for this to be done and I’ll do it!” situations and it’s just not. This current state of the world, and our ‘new normal’, is out of my control and I’ve been working on sitting with and being okay with that powerlessness.
Honestly, the big feeling I have throughout this month has been DISAPPOINTMENT. My life doesn’t look like I expected and that sucks. I was looking forward to soaking up Eric’s paternity leave with brunches and brewery visits. I was looking forward to family road trips (we cancelled a trip we had to Asheville, NC earlier this month) and visiting my family for Easter and going to San Francisco in May. I was looking forward to my 83-year-old grandparents meeting Winnie, their eleventh grandchild. I was looking forward to birthday parties and baby showers. I was looking forward to my sisters visiting me down here. I was looking forward to friends and more family getting to meet Winnie in her newborn days. Before Winnie was born, we talked about going back to Morocco this spring and doing another international family vacation in the fall and I doubt we will be able to travel internationally this year at all. Disappointment has been the big overarching feeling – I’m just bummed about everything I expected to happen that didn’t/won’t happen and that’s been really hard for me. 💔
HOW I’M COPING
A few different ways – in random order!
MOVING MY BODY – I’ve been using our Peloton bike almost daily and having that 30 minutes of alone time to exercise has been HUGELY helpful. I also try to take at least one walk, even if it’s a quick one, every day.
DAILY “WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?” CHECK-INS – this is something Eric and I have been doing daily as well as my sisters and I via text. We ask one another “where we are at” on a scale of 1-10, one being absolutely depressed and unwell, 5 being fine/blah and 10 being super great (given the circumstances). It’s been helpful to communicate with others “where I’m at” and get help/support/encouragement on my tough days/moments and then be able to offer the same to Eric or the girls if they’re having a low number day/moment.
GROUNDING EXERCISES – In really bad, anxious moments, I’ve been trying to stay calm and curb anxiety with grounding exercises, specifically the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to use my senses to bring me back to the present, counting backwards (to distract myself from everything else I’m thinking about)
PROCESSING THROUGH STAGES OF GRIEF – I’ve been really thinking about this especially the last few days. What’s going on in the world right now is A LOT, for all of us. For me personally, the virus and self-isolation on top of the tornado and postpartum period have been pretty traumatic. I mentioned earlier that grief is a very real feeling we’re experiencing, and I’ve been thinking through how I’ve been through the different stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – over the last few weeks. I’m now closer to the “acceptance” stage, but these stages are NOT linear. We can ebb and flow in between different stages of grief in any given moment or on different days. It’s helpful for me to recognize what ‘stage’ of grief I might be experiencing in a given moment. Acceptance is the point at which we start being able to move forward, not necessarily with happiness but with calmness. It’s recognizing the tremendous loss we’re experiencing – the loss of connection, of plans for the future, of control, of many more things – and trying to live in this new normal. More on the stages of grief below!
FOCUSING ON WHAT I *CAN* CONTROL – this was at the recommendation of my therapist and I wrote it out and taped it to my bathroom wall. Basically – you write down two circles. The outer circle are things I can’t control – how Trump reacts to the situation, whether my family gets sick, death, when this will end, what happens next, etc. The inner circle is what I CAN control — my feelings, my attitude, how I spend my time, whether I exercise, what I eat, who I reach out to, etc. It’s HARD to not have control over the situation, but the circle of control has helped me remember I’m not completely powerless and do have control over aspects of my experience.
MY FAITH – now more than ever I’ve had to lean into my faith and believing that I am never alone and that God has a bigger plan for my life, my family, and our world through all of this. I’ve recently been reminded of an old hymn I remember my grandpa singing in the church choir – “because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, every fear is gone. I know He holds my life, my future in His hands.” The words have been extra inspiring for me lately, when it can feel hard to NOT fear. When it can be hard to let go of control of the future. When I didn’t expect life to look like this. I am trying to trust and cling to the fact that God is good, God is with me, and God is bigger and stronger than anything I face.
GRATITUDE LISTS – for anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile or knows me personally, you likely know how important thankful lists are to me. I used to share them weekly on my blog! I love this quote on the power of thankfulness: “gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. it turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. it can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” I think it’s important to note that I am not grateful in every single moment. I’m not FORCING myself to be grateful in an “everything is great and fine!” kind of way. Instead, I’m choosing to recognize genuine good around me and in my life, without disregarding the uncomfortable and hard parts of my experience.
REFLECT ON THE DAY – Eric and I have been doing talking about “our highs/lows” most days in the evenings. What was the best part? What was the hardest part? Reflecting on the day, whether individually or with someone, allows me to acknowledge the good parts and the challenging parts of the day. Before bed, I’ve also been trying to think about something specific that I can look forward to the following day. Life can feel so mundane these days, so it’s helpful to give my mind something to look forward to – even if it’s just a cup of coffee!
Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear from you — how are YOU doing? How are you feeling? What’s been the best way for you to handle YOUR new normal? 💛