This business of incubating a baby is a strange, wonderful, hellish, magical thing. I still occasionally, in my thirty-fifth week of pregnancy, wonder how my forty-five year old body was able to surprise me with this little present without much planning or forethought...

Just when you think your life is like a GPS course that you set and forget about while you go about the business of living your day to day, the universe sends you a reminder that your idea of control is an illusion; as easy to destroy as a careless hand waved through a carefully engineered spider's web.

Much like that web, my life was a meticulously curated self-centered recipe of order and routine. As far back as I can remember my identity has been defined by work and various creative endeavors. I was all too happy to challenge and reinvent myself, all on my own terms. I had no one to answer to. No one I was responsible for. In the space of a few years I managed to create a space in which a wonderful community of talented, caring, strong and diverse individuals came together on a weekly basis to experience their love of dance and music. I had a part in nurturing their talent and skill, a source of pride and inspiration that kept me feeling fulfilled and inspired for years.

When I found out I was pregnant, I decided I was going to be one of those fierce mamas with a belly out to here, teaching right up to the delivery. Business as usual. Then I entered my seventh month. I was breathless, distracted, uninspired, TIRED.

But that's not the whole story...

In the space of two years I had met the love of my life, moved twice, acquired a step son, gotten engaged, produced Studio Mangiameli's largest show to date, and gotten pregnant. "Tired" didn't quite cut it. I was bewildered. I needed time. I decided to stop teaching temporarily in May 17th of this year - just over a month ago as I sit writing this post - and focus on preparations for the baby.

Mixed in with the excitement and anticipation of motherhood, came frustration, insecurity and loneliness: how do I navigate this new life? Where am I in this picture? WHO am I exactly outside the Mangiameli studio brand I fought so hard to establish?

"Conserve your energy!" friends would say. Turns out that conserving energy when you're used to running a business is easier said than done... While my body slowed down, my mind was running circles around me: it demanded that I make plans for the studio and think ahead to fall and winter. I couldn't. My mind felt muddled and overwhelmed. I needed a distraction.

So I went shopping...

My trip to Target didn't go exactly as planned: I ended up having a disagreement with a beach chair resulting in a fractured finger and loss of a nail. My left castanet 'golpe' finger, no less! After somehow freeing my hand from the $19.99 rainbow-striped jaws of death, I looked down at the crushed, bleeding mess of a finger, and proceeded to calmly collect my cart and wander the aisles in shock in search of assistance.

Pain is a remarkable thing. It has an uncanny ability to center you. To remind you exactly of who you are, what you're made of and what you can take. Six hours later I somehow managed to leave the emergency room feeling grateful. I wasn't lost or confused. I was clear headed and strong and ironically, felt that I had regained some control. For one thing, labor felt a lot less intimidating while dealing with a throbbing broken finger without the benefit of a pain killer...! Sitting still long enough to give into all the discomfort allowed me to acknowledge one very simple reality: I don't like not knowing. I don't like not being able to provide answers, and this self-imposed hiatus brought me face to face with nothing but questions I couldn't answer.

So, I await the arrival of baby Rose with renewed faith in the process... women have lost and found themselves a million times over throughout generations. They have balanced ambition and motherhood, their own desires with responsibility. I'm certainly not the first and won't be the last but like so much in life, you just don't know any of it until you, yourself, have to go through it.

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614 Dempster St, Evanston IL 60202/ 847.905.0650

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