Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Look Back at 2015

could call this the year of survival if I wanted to. Mostly because I like to say dramatic things like that even though I have an immensely loving family, a stocked refrigerator and semi-central heating, but also because I know there were moments this year, even if brief and perhaps in the middle of the night, when that's all I felt like I was doing. 

Sometimes you just need to write to convince yourself that you will be alright, to tell yourself that you are alright, at least I do. But after writing all this year I feel now I can see that I was really alright the whole time. 

In January we went to Tahiti to sail around the islands as a family. Upon arrival we heard of a virus being spread by mosquitos that caused a very high fever and left you pocked and bed ridden. I guess Lindsey Lohan got it when she was visiting Bora Bora. I had just passed the 14 week mark in my pregnancy and was still too nervous about a possible miscarriage to even announce the pregnancy on my Facebook. Plus, mosquitos love to hate me. I had to wear pants under long dresses at night and keep my hands inside of my jacket while I was eating. One night my mom exclaimed, while eating some roasted chicken, "Uh! I'm so hot!" I just glared at her ironically and lifted up my foot to show how I was wearing socks. It was a really special trip, despite inevitable traveling dramas. 

We also got some awesome waves when we returned home and ate nacho pasta in a tiny house.

In February, Scott shot a video of me surfing with a baby we didn't know was Avalon and we took a camper van out to the desert with Basia, Phil, Manny and Christine to shoot bb guns and swing hula hoops after dark.

In March I wrote down some questions for our unborn baby and drew a tutorial for how to duck-dive while pregnant. Scott got a surprise for his birthday and my mom got a taxidermy squirrel for hers.

Easter and combo swells and Dave visiting from North Carolina and building a nursery and the death of Maureen. I wrote her a letter I ended up reading at her wake. It took place in an Irish bar. It was humid inside and loud and sad. If I hadn't been seven months pregnant I would have been drunk, instead I had to drive and pick up Baja Fresh on the way home. If Maureen had been there she would have been drunk too. Maybe heaven is like a really good buzz anyways. I wrote Sprout another letter and turned 30 six days after Maureen died. She had been at all of my birthdays since I was five. It absolutely poured rain for only the second time that year. Maybe that was her way of attending. 
We finished expanding the backyard and then my blog friend Kari came over. Dave sent me a video of a guy who smoked his friend's bones out of a pipe after he died. I just laughed, because why not?

We took my mom's advice and did a baby moon at the Glorietta Bay Inn in Coronado where we swam, took a baby class and got photobombed by a QuinceaƱera. We also put the finishing touches on the garage-tuned-beach-baby-nursery and I ran into some wise old ladies at the gym before I wrote one last letter to "Sprout" before I met him or her.

Avalon Wild was born on the first of the month. A girl, even after everyone except two people said they were sure I was having a boy. God, I love her. I love her like I've never loved anything.

Avalon visited Catalina and her namesake harbor Avalon. I got some sweet and helpful advice about nursing from people who kindly read this blog and got back to surfing for the first time since Avalon was born.

I got some good waves in September and so did Avalon. The other week I was emailing with my friend Michelle when I told her that even though it sounded kind of pessimistic, that things can always get worse. I realized this one day in September. I took Avalon to the lactation consultant since she had been eating for shorter periods of time. I expected that I was being overly cautious and predictably anxious. I expected that Laura, the lactation consultant I had gotten to know well, was going to tell me that Avalon was getting plenty to eat and was doing just fine. Instead, before we left Avalon became inconsolable and would not eat. When we arrived at the appointment the same thing happened again. She screamed while I tried to feed her and refused to eat. I had to take her to an emergency appointment with an on-call pediatrician to get medication and further instruction. Perhaps I might even have to re-consider exclusive breastfeeding. "That's it", I thought on the way home, "September 16th, 2015 is the worst day ever." Then my mom called to tell me my sister had cancer. The idea of maybe having to feed my baby some formula suddenly seemed like more of a blessing than anything else. After that my perspective about everything changed.

We visited San Francisco. Our first trip as a family (that almost ended before it started)! I also visited Petsmart instead of the aquarium to save money. The intermingling of joy and pain in life became so apparent to me as I watched Avalon grow all the while knowing my mother's own baby, my baby sister, had something growing inside of her that was trying to kill her.
Maddie started chemo November 9th. I started putting thoughts down in a creatively titled Word Document called "My Book". Anne Lamott says that writing a novel is like driving through the fog: you can only see about as far as the headlights, but that's enough. 
I felt then that, that was all the advice I needed for writing and for life. Just before Thanksgiving I wrote about how Avalon suddenly felt so much more human somehow, and less and less like someone who once fit inside of me. I started to write about how some part of me felt broken forever after she was born, but now I feel put back together and stronger than ever, kind of like a tree whose roots found water even deeper. 
In the spirit of Christmas, I wrote about thankfulness and ungratefulness. I also talked about why this Christmas was my favorite and what it was like to celebrate Avalon's first. On Christmas Eve dinner we were talking about how Avalon was really the only good thing about 2015 and my Grandma, who lost her partner, my Grandpa, just before the start of the year, pointed out how this year was lucky because it was a miracle that they found Maddie's cancer at all. 

One night when Avalon was pretty new and I was in the midst of trying to understand if I had postpartum depression, Scott worked late. I missed him every hour of it, but I kind of got this feeling, as I tucked myself into bed at the end, like: yes, I can do hard things! And just now as I'm thinking back on that moment, I'm realizing that, that's sort of been the theme of this whole year. 

There were flat tires on the freeway after nights with only four hours of sleep. There were days of labor and hours of childbirth. There was cancer. There were funerals. There were big waves and bad waves and some of the best waves I've ever ridden. There was remodeling a garage and making it into a nursery for a baby. There was taking everything out of that nursery and putting it all back again because we didn't insulate it properly. There was crying; so much crying. There were first smiles, first times rolling over, first times sitting up, first times eating food. There was becoming a mother: all at once and forever. And there was surviving it all and being stronger for whatever is next.


  1. What a year! I'm wishing you and yours a very happy 2016. CJ xx

    1. I've been so lucky to have your encouragement and sweet friendship this year CJ. Thank you and Happy 2016!

  2. This year sounds like a bittersweet one for you. But it is truly amazing how much a baby can bring joy into what seems such a dark time. That was 2014 for me. My father in law lost his battle to cancer when I was 27 weeks pregnant. We were all devastated. Aiden's first Christmas with us, first Easter with us, etc. were all the first without my father in law. It was so bitter sweet. I'm sorry for the loss of your family friend and the news about your sister. Life can be so tough sometimes, but your grandma is right. I'm so glad your sister is receiving treatment for what they now know is inside of her. With every new year comes new hope. Praying for you friend. XO

    1. Thank you Allison. This means so much. Your words alone give me hope and comfort. I'm sorry 2014 was so hard for you. Here's to 2016 being even better than 2015 for you!

  3. You are such an inspiration of strength,hope,and such love.. You are truly such an inspiration in your writings of your dear precious and cherished moments with the post painful ones that come from the heart that we try and tuck away.. My heart,thoughts,love,go out to you for being the dear person you are in so many lives and hearts so especially for Scott,your dear family and that precious little girl of yours.~ Your beautiful daughter will always cherish those precious moments,and dear memories of you,and the inspiration you are in her life. She will treasure forever in her heart having such a loving,lovely mother who got through so many paths in her life with such strength,courage,love,hope and faith getting through some of the most painful moments with such grace and love~ When we share our thoughts with others we realize we weren't alone in some of those paths those dear in our lives have taken. They inspire us to know if they can get through those difficult,painful moments in their lives with such grace,poise,laughter,tears,courage and such strength beyond words,I can get through those painful painful,heartbreaking moments in my life. You are so blessed with such a wonderful,dear family and know your lovely daughter will always treasure she had these precious moments,and dear memories with her beautiful mother.~ Such a lovely story that touched my heart so much.~ Much love and hugs to you always.~xo Raedeane Known of course as Mrs. "B" with the homemade chocolate chip cookies.. :)

    1. Thank you Raedeane... Mrs. B! You are an inspiration to me as well. Happy 2016! Your words are so sweet and genuine.

  4. 'Sometimes you just need to write to convince yourself you'll be alright' as ever so beautifully said and I couldn't agree more. Don't think I've commented before but I've read your journey for a while and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your truth it inspires and encourages me always. Wishing you a an awesome 2016

    1. Thank you for your comment Lucy! It encourages me too! :)

  5. Devon, as you drive your thoughts through the fog, I will wait. I look forward to being there with a highlighter in hand to learn from your journey. I've said it before, we are so different and yet, you make perfect sense. I think I'd like to use your words to tell myself as I go into 2016. "I can do hard things and I'll be alright". Sending much love to you this New Year from (a little snow, not too cold) Minnesota! ~Andrea

    1. Andrea, you are the sweetest. Thank you. Happy New Year! I wish we had some snow here at the beach ;)

  6. Devon! I love this so much. I relate to it SO much. I feel like we're going through this together, even though we're thousands of miles apart. But it's comforting to know we're experiencing a lot of the same things. I refuse to believe 2016 will be as hard as 2015 was.

    1. I feel so comforted going through this with you. Honestly, it has given me so much peace of mind talking with you about motherhood and reading about your experiences. I love your writing and stories. Now please just move back to California already!

  7. I know I said I wouldn't get sappy in my comment, Devon, but I can't help it:) Reading through the comments from your other readers, it's so clear the wonderful impact you make on everyone around you. You are so strong, thoughtful, and beautiful (inside and out). Avalon is a lucky girl to have you for her mother. What an incredible year with so many highs and lows. Here's to the future--bright with possibilities and remembrance for those you love.


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