Aiming for “Okay”

Well, hello there. Here we are. Just a few fellow beings navigating space. Do we need to mention the year? Of course not. I’m also not going to spend any time breaking down the poop we have collectively experienced this year– you know the poop. Instead, cozy up, because I have a little story to tell you. Don’t worry, the ending is a happy one.

In 2019, as most of you know, I lost my younger brother, Tanner. Man, if you didn’t know Tanner, you missed out. He was wonderful – he was kind, loving, and talented. When I think of sadness experienced up to this point in my life, it was always a level of manageable sadness: like gut punches of sadness here and there that knocked me down, but only temporarily. When I got the call about my brother and then became the person to share the heart-wrenching news with my sisters and brother, it was like suddenly missing a limb or an organ, a ripping of intestines sort of sadness. What I didn’t expect of the sadness, however, was that it swallowed me up in a calm. Something about the aftermath, the peace, the end of a struggle, soothed me.

Other problems seemed minute. The details and calendars and activities, and the world of tiny stressors surrounding work and life became so insignificant. I also (high-five for me) immediately sought a mental health professional and stocked up on a mild antidepressant. (If I have one ounce of advice to give anyone struggling with situational depression or anxiety, do not stop trying to take care of your brain if your brain needs taking care of. Try all the things.) Now, back to the story. 2019 was also the year that my mother and stepfather both had severe strokes. 2019 was my 2020 before 2020 was 2020.

The Bright Spot: 2019 was also the year that I got married. My husband, Chris, is the light anytime I’m in the dark. He’s a dreamer, the most kind-hearted and fun person I have ever met. When I look back on life, though there are past loves that I still very much love, my heart grows and beats for my sweet husband. So, when we found out in June 2020, mid-pandemic, that I was pregnant (There. Phew. The bomb has dropped.), the news rocked our world in the best way. Pregnancy is always something I felt wasn’t going to happen for me. For some reason something inside me told me that it just wasn’t an experience I would be able to have. After watching friends struggle with infertility for years and witnessing that pain at a close distance, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to ever try. The what-ifs, the unknowns, the fears that remain fears, the fears that become realities. I felt all the things.

So, here I am now, after puking up spaghetti at work on my lunch break, thinking about the timing of life. Though I would have loved to smash this sonogram in the middle of a cheese enchilada plate and call it “the ultimate Tex-Mex combo created!”- I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t make an announcement of a baby with a cute picture of a sonogram and be done with it. I had to mix it with words and the pieces that make it a full picture for me. I couldn’t wear matching white linen outfits grinning under the awning Chris made for our wedding day (Chris’ sweet idea). Because for so many women, that’s a picture they never have, or it’s a black and white that never becomes a full color reality. Even now, in month five, my heart is still heavy with the hurt I’ve seen others experience. I do feel so much joy for the growing bits inside of me, but some days I feel alone, scared, and disconnected from myself. Luckily, I also feel …Hopeful, with a capital H.

Though I have an amazing set of “mother” examples, I don’t know how I feel about being a mother or how to be one. I worry about losing who I am, losing my independence, or being too selfish to focus on a tiny human. What if the kiddo has developmental issues that require extra love, financial support, and attention -will I be the best advocate? What if I give too much focus to the nugget and strain my marriage? Maybe I will fall short on friendships that already feel like deflated balloons post-pandemic: they are still there, floating as best they can, attempting to bring cheer, but like us all, they are tired too.

So, what is the point of my story? I guess I’m not sure yet because it is just the beginning. I know this path is a privilege, and I’ll do my best to treat it as such, but I’m sure I won’t get it right all the time, so I ask our friends and family for patience and guidance and support. Like life, I’ll be navigating motherhood with my shield of dark, uncomfortable humor. As I’ve told Chris, friends, and family, if my goal is to be “OKAY” rather than “great” at this Mom thing, I think I can handle that pressure. For all the moms, non-moms with mom aspirations, future moms, struggling moms, and amazing people who have full lives without children, let’s all agree that aiming for “okay” is OKAY.

And as far as 2020 goes, my shaky hand is here if you need to hold it. I can’t promise I know where I’m going, but I’m here. So, without further ado: here’s to a new chapter: an official announcement to highlight harboring our first alien. (Sara, you can quit policing my Facebook feed now.)

Christopher Tamez and Ashlynn Ivy-Tamez

are trying to create life,

set to arrive March 1, 2021. Wish us luck and love.

Questions answered:

Do you have a name? Not sure on names – send your suggestions, especially for boys!

Boy or girl? It’s going to be the ULTIMATE surprise. We are waiting to find out.

Natural or epidural? Mind ya business, but probably an epidural.