Friday, February 15, 2013

Conquered: Conferences + One Long Week


I awoke this morning to the sound of the bedroom door shifting against the frame, the air having been disrupted by the opening of our front door down the hall. I was slightly confused, as I could hear Curtis in the entry. As much as I aimed to sleep long beyond 7am on a day off school, I have never been good at such feats. And even then, now that I knew I could catch Curtis before he left for work I was hopelessly awake.

I padded down the hall, eyes squinting against the light to find him suited up with his biking gear, a shield against the cold, snowy elements he bikes through to work on a daily basis. And in his excitement he could barely wait to show me the Valentine's day present he had picked up for me this morning: frosted cinnamon rolls and whole grain blueberry muffins from a local bakery. After he left I settled back into bed with half a roll that was still warm from its recent baking, content with my nutrition-lacking breakfast and the satisfaction in knowing that I had made it through the week.

This year Valentine's day just happened to be the school day I dreaded all year. It was day two of conferences, the second of two twelve-hour days where the first four hours are teaching and the last eight are spent meeting with parents in scheduled slots shared among multiple teachers. The instructors play musical chairs, meeting with parents and students available while keeping an eye on who is still waiting, and who might leave if not attended to soon. Day one of this process is exhausting; day two is an exercise in endurance and stamina. Months ago when I discovered I was pregnant I did the math to discover I'd be weathering this exhausting process on the cusp of nine months of pregnancy, and I immediately began to dread it. 

By Tuesday night I was convinced I couldn't rest enough. Curtis tried to reason with me that staying in bed for 14 hours might not actually make me that better off if I was miserably restless and missed my brother's basketball game, a choice I might tearfully regret later in the midst of surge of hormones. In the end I agreed with him, and was almost relieved when Wednesday finally started and Thursday followed quickly on its heals. I was exhausted, as expected, at noon--with seven hours to go. It was a long afternoon with several families that didn't show and a few dry spells where no one was there at all. At one point I conceded to my exhaustion and rested my head on a table--and then realized how ridiculous I looked. Sure, I may have a gigantic belly, but teachers don't put their heads down when they're ready to give up, at least this one doesn't.

Last night Curtis treaded carefully as we discussed our plans for the weekend. All plans seem like too much after a week like this one; no schedule is open enough, with gaps for naps and downtime endlessly available. He encouraged me to not think about it until tomorrow--when I had sleep, a day to do as I please, a day to rest every moment I wanted. But when I am past tired no amount of sleep seems like it can ever satiate my exhaustion, a reality I readily admit may be a problem when this baby decides to make an appearance. 

Yet, he was right. This morning as I was greeted with the fruits of an early morning trip to the bakery and a long, solid night of rest, the world looked like a better place. Knowing that I'd conquered my dreaded foe, conferences while fully pregnant, was pretty satisfying as well. Sometimes little victories are worth celebrating, especially when they correspond with little holidays. 

A blooming belly shot from last week, at 34.5 weeks, and a card I found months ago.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Soundtrack of a Memory

Taken that summer in 2004, during a weekend visit in July...

Yesterday evening as I lay in a final, resting position in my prenatal yoga class, I was transported eight and a half years. A song from the soundtrack of Amelie came softly over the speakers, a song off an album Curtis gave me three months after we began dating. It was a parting token as he headed back to our home state for the summer, and I stayed behind to compete in post-season races. After three months of dating we were poised for almost three months apart.

It was a dark evening in May when the gift was given, and the sky was on fire with a spectacular show of lightening. We parted at the Amtrak station, a cheaper form of travel to connect to Chicago and much more friendly to the college budget than airfare, which to and from Alaska is bad enough. I would come to cherish the handwritten note that accompanied the cd he left with me that evening, handwriting that would become all too familiar with three months apart. Though we lived in the same state, few of our friends could truly understand that it still meant 300 miles separated us--he on an island, me on the mainland.

That album with its somber according tones and haunting piano would be a soundtrack to that first summer in our relationship, filling the gap between phone calls on calling cards, emails on occasion and the cherished letter. I haven't pulled out that cd in years, and hearing the familiar tune nearly brought me to tears with all the time that it represented.

Nearly nine years later I see wedding pictures on the wall, hear the sound of Curtis cleaning the kitchen down the hall, feel our baby kicking and shifting within my stomach. It is funny to look back and realize that I had no idea on the rainy night in May just how life would turn out. It has been a journey with its fair share of challenges, but also a generous amount of joy. And as we celebrate our relationship this Valentine's day, because of the anniversary it marks more than the Hallmark holiday, I find myself nostalgic once again.