As many of you know, 2009 is going to be a big year for us. After 16 years of marriage, Jason and I are finally going to have a baby in February. Needless to say, besides the fact that I’m sure he will rock our world, it will probably be the most amazing experience that we ever have.
It’s very interesting to go from being just the two of us for so long to suddenly thinking about having #3 join our little family. We have had many challenging circumstances in our lives that have caused us to need to put off having a child and then once we decided the time was right, we navigated through the ups and downs of In Vitro Fertilization in order to make it happen. (Click here and here to read more about our experiences.)
As a means of survival, I have spent many years putting up my own defenses regarding motherhood, not because I didn’t want it as a part of my life but simply because I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen for me. As I talked about in this November post, I chose to be happy, pursue goals and experience life in spite of my plans for motherhood not being a part of the picture – but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t require mental effort and hard work to do so – in essence, I created an emotional wall of defense to block out the waves of sadness or longing that would inevitably come.
Perhaps for this reason or maybe it’s because we have lived so long without children that I have been very aware of each phase of this pregnancy. I feel an intense wakefullness, you might say, in trying to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly of what is happening each step of the way (right now I am trying to embrace the fact that my belly is making it hard to breathe, I dread having to pick something up off the floor and I have insomnia).
I don’t know if I would have been this aware of the process if it had happened when I was 25 instead of 37 or if we hadn’t had to fight so hard to make it a reality. That’s just the nature of struggling to achieve something – we appreciate it differently than we would have if it had been easy.
With those thoughts in mind, I have been documenting my experience differently than I might normally do. I have spent more time writing about my feelings and thoughts along the way than taking photos. I want to remember how it actually feels to go through this process for the first time – not just what it looks like. I keep my journal on my computer because since my carpal tunnel surgery a few years ago it’s easier for me to type than write.
As our time winds down almost to the 6-week mark before our due date, I am becoming more and more aware of the changes that we will experience this next year of our lives. People have often said to me, “Nothing will ever be the same once you have this baby!” Sometimes they say it laughing, like it’s a funny joke that no one understands unless they are a parent. Sometimes they say it with a bit of an edge, like they are thinking of all they would rather be doing instead of parenting. Sometime they say it wearily, almost wondering when it will be over and they can get back to real life.
But the people I admire are the ones who say it with an air of wonder, with that sparkle of joy shining in their expression. It’s like they are saying, yes, it is hard. Yes it will change your life. But there is nothing like it in the whole world and I’m so excited that you get to experience it. That’s the kind of mother I want to be. That’s the kind of father Jason wants to be. And we have tried to start now with that attitude – embracing each stage along the way of the pregnancy.
So, as I think about 2009 I have decided that part of embracing the experience will be in recording it effectively. I want to capture this year of our lives in a way I never have before – because it will literally be nothing like we have ever experienced before.
But I also know that it needs to be manageable in the process.
Therefore, I have decided to take the challenge of “Project 365” that has been floating around the web over the last few years (click here for two women doing this who live 3191 miles apart, here for another version and here for tips). There are many resources and a lot of talking about the idea if you just do a Google search for “Project 365” – and the people making the commitment range from professional photographers to point-and-shoot novices. Some people focus their photos on one type that they want to become better at taking, some just snap a “slice of life” and call it good. The possibilities vary as widely as the purpose why each person decides to take the challenge to take a photo every day for 365 days.
I want to do this. My in-laws gave us my first digital SRL camera for Christmas (Canon Rebel XSi) – I know, I know, it took me forever to move past the convenience of my point-and-shoot! They wanted us to have it in time for the baby and when I researched cameras, this one consistently came up as a great option – high image quality but simple for beginners like me to learn. I am committed to becoming a better photographer this year and Project 365 seems like a great way to track my progress, try new things and with the help of my neighbor who is a professional photographer, improve my skills.
As far as an album is concerned, Becky Higgins has created a kit for sale starting January 1 through Lisa Bearnson’s Kit of the Month program specifically for this purpose. It has special sheet protectors with slots for photos and journaling cards for each day. Becky has posted a video on her blog here and here that goes through the contents so you can see them clearly. After thinking about it for the last couple of weeks, I feel like it’s the right way for me to go this year as I face so many changes – something pre-made but adaptable to fit my needs. I’ll be ordering it January 1 and starting it January 4 (Becky started hers this week – December 28 to get the first day of January in there).
But I have also decided something else. I want to use Project 365 as a modified Gratitude Journal. Each photo and journaling entry doesn’t have to start with “I’m grateful for…” but I want to keep that overall thought in mind as I look for the parts of my life that I want to record. I am as grateful for small moments and little conveniences as much as big miracles in my life. I want to try and capture them all.
A special Project 365 of Gratitude. Because nothing makes us happier than being grateful – and I want 2009 to be our happiest year yet.
So check back for my latest daily photos and join me if you want. You don’t have to start on January 1 – you can start any day you want. You can even use Becky’s kit and start on a day other than January 1. Start when it’s right for you because it’s a big commitment. You don’t have to have a fancy camera – I’ll probably end up taking many photos on my point-and-shoot or my iPhone simply because I won’t have my SRL with me. That part doesn’t matter – recording a little bit of life each day, a little bit of what makes us grateful, is what this project is all about.
But I do have a feeling that after Project 365 of Gratitude, “my life will never be the same again.”