2017 Numbers, and Reflections on the New Year

A new year is here, 2018. Like many of you, I find myself simultaneously looking forward and looking back. What did I do last year? What should I have done? What should I have left undone? What will I do this year? What should I do? What should I leave undone?

As one year ends and another begins, I look over my various lists and compile the numbers for the passing year. Silly but true: I keep lists of in a small journal, different pages edged in colorful tape to make finding the page tactically and visually pleasing. I have lists for births attended, books read, movies and TV show watched… (Why these things? Why not sunsets viewed, dinner parties held, meetings attended? Mainly because the lists themselves are useful, not just the number. If I want to remember a particular baby’s name, or refer a friend to a book I read in the springtime, I turn to that particular list. But I digress. Numbers. I am writing about numbers.) 

2017 by the Numbers 

  • Local Care Midwifery Births: 31 
    • 29 born vaginally 
    • 2 C/S
    • 5 planned to birth at the hospital
    • 2 transfers from home during labor
    • 16 babies assigned as female at birth
    • 15 assigned as male at birth 
    • 31 babies breastfed
  • Books that I finished: 20
  • Movies that Kevin and I watched: 35 
  • TV series that we saw at least some of: 34
  • Baby Blogs posted: 30 
  • Blog posts written: 0

Looking over the lists, numbers and words, I watch as images, memories and thoughts arise. My brain-self travels along as ‘2 C/S’ typed above becomes two names which then become faces of these particular women, their babies, their spouses, which leads me to memories of prenatal visits and labor and birth, which leads to shared hopes and dreams (“I want to have a VBAC.” “I want to push out a baby out of my vagina.” “I am hoping for a water birth.”) My own feelings tumble forward now, feelings about things done and things left undone -disappointment, satisfaction, pride, love… (But I digress. Numbers. I am writing about numbers.) This process of viewing lists, leading to numbers, leading to images, leading to memory, leading to emotion, leading to digression, this process repeats again and again.

Finally back on task, I wonder what 2018 will hold for me and what I learned in 2017.

Looking back, 2017 appears busy and feels very quiet. There was some travel (Denver, Miami, Cuba, NYC). There was an occassional dinner party. There were visits from friends and family. My husband Kevin had a milestone birthday -70! There were peer review, department, committee and Vestry meetings. There was the huge job of switching all the electronic medical records/scheduling/billing systems for Local Care Midwifery. There was assisting at BCST trainings with Michael Shea. (Again, this process of review leads to images, to memory, to emotion, and I digress. Again.) By the numbers and on the calendar, 2017 was busy. But inside the memories evoked by those numbers and dates, my reflected image feels quiet. For all the stuff that happened, 2017 was actually a year of deep internal rest, and quiet.

The last bullet point, Blog posts written: 0 says a lot. The last real blogs that I posted on LCM were in the fall of 2016, right after my dear friends Vicki and Ellen died. For a long time, there has been nothing to write that seemed worthy of placing after those two posts. Also, there was nothing to write that was worth facing the potential nasty comments and snark that our current culture of instant cyber response breeds. (Sticks and stones may break my bones, and words can surely hurt me). 

In the last couple months, I have (finally) gotten itchy to write again. My fingers have started picking up pens and pressing on keys. Long silent, the narrating voice has returned to my head, uttering phrases and ideas, giving play by play to scenes and scenarios. I am once again, picking up my cameras to frame shots and images, thinking how the resulting photo might illustrate a post. 

Lists lead to numbers. Numbers lead to memories. Memories are layered with emotion. Emotion gives way to introspection. And finally, more than a year later, introspection leads to writing a single post. 

Michelle
May all babies be born into loving hands