We’ve all had shocks in our lives.  Good ones, bad ones.  It’s part of the life journey, sometimes.  My favorite shock was when I found out I was pregnant at the age of 39, after being told by two specialists that I couldn’t get pregnant without medical intervention.  But that was with my EX-husband.  Four days before our first anniversary, my second husband and I confirmed that I was “with child.” WHAT???  At that age??  And I’d just started back to school to get my masters degree in education??  And we lived in an old 580 square foot house, along with two dogs (one large and one medium sized), a cat and a 55 gallon fish tank??  This was way before tiny houses were a “thing.”  There wasn’t a garage, or even a driveway for that matter.  We did have a driveway on each side of the house; literally right NEXT to the house, for the neighbors on each side.  We had to park on the street right in front of the house, unless a neighbor’s guest decided to park there.  There was no room for a crib or bassinet, a changing table, nor the gizmos, gadgets, and toys that one gets for babies.  Or baby clothes!  Punkin/car seat!  Stroller! No dishwasher, but we did have a washer and dryer in the scary old basement.  This wasn’t even remotely feasible in my mind.

I arrived home on St. Patrick’s Day, from visiting my oldest friend, Jo, in San Fransisco, during the week of spring break. Before I left on break I was exhausted all the time, and figured it was just because I worked 30 hours per week, was taking 14 credit hours at the university, and was very focused on receiving high grades, because, well, that’s how I roll.  My dear friend, who knows me so well, kept telling me I was pregnant, even though she knew I supposedly couldn’t conceive without “help.”  While visiting her, I took at least one very long nap every single day.  I almost got carsick riding the curvy roads on the Pacific Coast Highway.  I love that road and I never almost get carsick. Never.  Until then.  She kept telling me, with a chuckle, that I was pregnant.  My response — No way! And smells got to me. We were at her favorite Indian restaurant, and I couldn’t stay because the smells in there were getting to me.  Especially the chicken in my dish. (Turned out that the smell of chicken and bleach were the only things that would make me lose my last meal during my pregnancy! And it took well over a year before I could eat chicken again.)

When we were saying goodbye at the airport, dearest Jo said I needed to take a pregnancy test as soon as I got home.  Ya ya, whatever.  I still didn’t think there was any chance I was in the family way.  I mean, two very well known specialists told me it couldn’t happen.  And then we had turbulence on the flight.  oy.  I didn’t hurl, but wished I could as I was so incredibly nauseated.  But I didn’t want to subject my fellow passengers because I’m not very quiet about it.  Nor quick.  Right before we landed, my stewardess told me I’d been an ugly shade of green ever since the first sign of turbulance, and she lost a bet about when I would lose my cookies!!  She’d been plying me with gingerale and saltines, bless her heart, and asked if I was expecting.  I told her my story, and I remember her smiling at me, with that look that said, “Well, you are!”

I got home before my husband, and picked up a pregnancy test from the pharmacy on the way.  Took it and bam–an instant “yes, preggers.”  I drove back to the pharmacy and purchased a double pack pregnancy test.  I asked the pharmacist which was the best brand, the most accurate.  I honestly don’t even remember driving there the second time. I did both tests.  Instant yes both times.  And then I nervously waited for my unknowing husband to get home from work.  I’d pace, sit for a moment, get up and pace some more. It was horrible. Waiting. Wondering. Worrying.

At first, I was actually almost devestated that this was happening, while simultaneously excited out of my mind.  And scared.  My initial thought was that I’d FINALLY gone back to get my master’s and teaching certificate.  Thought about it and talked about it for years before finally biting the bullet and stepping away from my department manager position, pay and hours at the gourmet grocery store to become a checker again.  I immensely enjoyed being back full time in the academia scene, juggling that with work and still being a newlywed. What a shock!  I couldn’t wrap my brain around this turn of events.

I had the last pregnancy test sitting on top of a paper towel on top of the mail where we always put it on the kitchen table.  FINALLY, he got home, with a wonderful welcome home.  I remember feeling kind of weird and distant.  When he went through the kitchen, he glanced at the pile of mail on the table, and walked past it.  I said, “Well????” “Well what?”  “Aren’t you going to say something?” “About what?”  “THAT!!!” I pointed to the test, and he didn’t even know what it was!!!  When I told him, in tears, that I was going to have a baby, he was ecstatic!   Beyond ecstatic!  I literally told him, with a wail, “I can’t be pregnant NOW!!!!!  I finally have my life planned out! For the first time ever!!” He hugged me and said, “You can always get your master’s. But, honey, you can’t always have a baby.” 100% Logic.  Can’t fight that.  I was still stressing out, but we cautiously celebrated.  I was so scared.  And still didn’t believe it was really true.

I’d gone through a horribly intense mourning process while with my ex, because I didn’t believe I should have a baby with anyone else involved, besides my husband and I.  It was part of the reason that the marriage didn’t last.  He’d wanted six kids.  I’d always wanted three or four, maybe six.  That was part of my life plan.  He refused to adopt, and I wasn’t keen on having a surrogate. We couldn’t get past it.  That and other things. I think my body wouldn’t let me have a baby with the first guy because of how wrong that marriage was.  But now I was with the right guy.  And he knew that I believed I couldn’t have children from early in our relationship.  We planned on adopting, because we wanted a family with children.  But AFTER I was done with school, had a secure job somewhere, and we moved into a larger house.  Yeah, we had our plans all figured out.

I was aware of the health risks for a new mom at my age, which really is nothing compared to back in the day when you were a grandma by 39, not a new mom.  I was aware of the chance that there might be health issues with our baby, because, you know, my eggs weren’t so fresh anymore.   And how on earth was I going to go to school, work, and be a mommy?

When I went to my “new” obstetrics doctor the following day, she did an ultrasound and we saw and heard the teeny tiny blipping heartbeat.  I was already six weeks along!  All I could say was Ohmygoodness.  Ohmygoodness.  Ohmygoodness.  She assured me I was extremely healthy.  When I lamented the fact that I’d taken ibuprofen for headaches and cramps at the beginning of the pregnancy, cold medicine about two weeks into the pregnancy, and drank a lot of wine while in California, because we spent a few days in wine country, she said what was done was done, and I just needed to be a good pregnant mom from that point on.  ohmygoodness.  o h m y g o o d n e s s. ohmyGOODness!!!

My favorite “shock” is now 17 years old.  A gloriously healthy, incredibly smart, very handsome, hilariously funny, wonderful, loving young man with so much ahead of him. I am so incredibly lucky.  And my journey continues, with more shocks, I’m sure…

Warm wishes on Your journey!

via Daily Prompt: Shock



Where would you go, Right Now?

Here’s today’s assignment from Writing 101, Day 2: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now? INSTANTLY, I thought of the cottage at the Croan Cottages in County Kilkenney, Ireland.  I’m not kidding–instantly.  I felt like I was home when I was there.  It was only about 800 square feet.  But it was in IRELAND.  I’d wanted to go to Ireland since I was about eight years old, when there was an article in LIFE magazine.  I would gaze at those pictures in the article, absolutely craving to smell the air, to see the rolling green hills dotted with baa-ing sheep and happy cows, to hear the brogue as people speak.  I was sure my eventual husband would be an Irishman, so I could hear that brogue every day.  Ha!  The thoughts of an eight year old!!

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The glorious view I saw the first morning in Ireland.

For my 50th birthday, my wonderful (1/3 Irish) husband totally shocked me with the news that we were going to Ireland when school got out.  OHMYGOODNESS.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was REALLY going to Ireland!!???!!  With him and our son!!??!!  Best. Present. Ever.  Ever!!  Bonus present: I got to plan everything! In my research, I kept coming back to County Kilkenny as the main area to explore.  My soul was guiding me, I swear.  It was perfect.  If we ever get to go back, that’s where we’ll go.  To Cabin #2 at the Croan Cottages. My heart and soul, my being, has never ever felt so whole as it did when we were there.  Here’s my theory: in a previous life, as a young woman, I took a boat from County Kilkenny, Ireland to San Francisco, U.S.A. to find a new life.  But Kilkenny was home.  And I’d finally gotten to go back.  I was honestly homesick for Ireland for over a year after returning from our vacation.  Not just missing the idyllic lifestyle, not worrying about work or bills or the mundane.  But really, genuinely missing it in my heart.  I’ve never been that kind of homesick before. I still miss it immensely.

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When we arrived at Croan Cottages, we were greeted by Pierre, the family peacock, announcing our arrival in the screaming way of peacocks.  There were also two black dogs, who immediately adopted my son as family. The cottage itself was one of four adorable white sided, black roofed, single family dwellings, with a courtyard garden, including a fountain.  The cottages were enclosed within a tall gated stone fence, the stones having been dug up on the property.


Pierre allowed me to photograph his glorious feathers through the glass of the French doors.

As we entered Cabin #2, it felt like the perfect little place.  (SO glad my son got to be in my dream adventure too!!) All the walls in the cottage were painted bright white, with oak trim and cabinets, slate flooring in the main room, tiles in the bath, and hardwood floors in the bedrooms.  To the left of the front door was a European style kitchen: small, compact, enough. I think my chef husband was rather shocked by the simplicity of it.  There was a narrow stove/oven combo, a skinny and short refrigerator, dishwasher (unexpected bonus!), a washer/dryer combo under the counter, and a hotpot for tea. The cabinets were amazingly stocked with the basics and we simply had to get the rest.  The sturdy table and chairs and lots of light made the kitchen complete.  Not really my style, but our home for five days.
To the right of the entrance was the sitting room.  Small, but cozy, with a gas fireplace, a settee, a couple of chairs, a couple of little tables, and glorious French doors to the private flagstone patio.  The two bedrooms were small, one with a squeaky but comfortable full size bed, the other with two twin beds.  Both rooms had a huge wardrobe filling a whole wall, a comfy rocking chair, and gloriously big windows that swung open wide, without screening. Pierre the Peacock came to the back of the house to see how we were settling in as we unpacked the luggage.  He strutted and screamed happily, and also introduce the peahen, who liked to sit on our bedroom and bath sills, trying to talk us into letting her come inside.  We couldn’t leave the windows wide open for fear that she’d do just that!  During our stay, Pierre said goodbye to us every time we left and greeted us every time we returned.  Peacocks are know as fabulous security guards, announcing the comings and goings of everyone.  Pierre never, ever made us feel like intruders, but rather was relieved when we returned and wished us happy adventures as we left. We keep touch with the family, and they let us know that Pierre passed away this last winter, an old and very happy bird.

The very first morning, I awoke early.  My guys were still sleeping, but I just couldn’t!  I wanted to rearrange the furnishings to suit me better.  I putzed around, moving things, rearranging the countertopss, making our cottage feel like home.  I looked up to find Pierre silently watching me through the French doors, where he finally took a nap in the sunshine.  I made my very first pot of French press coffee, looked out at the countryside surrounding the farm, smelled the clean “Irish” air, listened to the sheep, chickens, songbirds and grasshoppers, and could hardly believe how lucky I really, truly was.  Home.  I was home.


Keeping an eye on things, Pierre calmly watched through the French doors.


A view of beloved County Kilkenny.