I tried getting out of it even till the last minute. I didn’t even pack my suitcase till the day we were leaving even though this trip was planned so so many months ago, before we even knew about our poppy seed or even the possibility of one.
I worried about not having a place to rest or if I would cramp or bleed or something bad would happen because isn’t that how your fears work? They take a little tiny thing and weave and string and twist it into a bundle of knots and worst case scenarios.
I worried about the food and food poisoning and that we were traveling at the peak of nausea and I honestly had no idea how I would cope.
I worried about the stress of traveling, the walking, the accidentally doing too much, the lack of familiar and comforts and “same”.
If I thought more about it, the heart of it was that I was so afraid of another new in this world of so much new and scary and I just wanted to hunker down for normalcy.
And finally, my mama said, you can always come home if you get scared or don’t feel good or whatever.
“It’s just a ticket and a plane ride away. If you don’t feel good, just get the next flight and come home. No big deal, Racheal.”
And I think she knew that I just needed permission to and that I just needed to know that I had a safe place in case everything went to hell in a hand basket even though I think she knew that once I did it, I would be so glad I did and I would love it.
I love my mama and the more I think about the incredible sacrifices my mom and dad have given up for us and the kind, genuine, compassionate, wise, honest, God-fearing and faith-building you-can-do-anything way they have raised us, I am more and more in awe and hope I can even just be a fraction of their patience and faith and love.
I loved Xi’an but more than anything else in the world, I love what Xi’an taught us.
It was everything I needed and so much more.
That bit of confidence and the shred of dignity and self-esteem that came with being able to travel and enjoy ourselves and not die or writhe in pain or lose our baby was such a gift.
We took it really slow, somedays not doing too much except going to explore the morning market and sneaking to a local “fancy” cafe for a baguette and coffee/hot chocolate, before coming home to just hang out and breathe in the cool air and enjoy my fifth cup of hot pomelo lemon tea while making dinner together as the kids finished up homework.
p.s. Pomelo Lemon tea is amaze balls. My sister-in-law introduced it to us and it was everything this pregnant lady was craving in the world. A warm little cup of caffiene-free comfort and love that was a little sweet a little sour and so damn perfect I immediately got on the Air Asia website to buy more luggage space because I was definitely bringing home large quantities of it.
China was not the nightmare I expected it to be and I severely misunderstood and underestimated what it would be like.
Yes, the toilets were a special kind of hell.
And yes, I was shoved and pushed and so many times, I would panic and just tell J pleaseholdmyhandandpleasestoppeoplefromcomingintomyspace
But there was also such a beautiful side to China that I didn’t expect.
The awesome dancing ladies in the park, with the groups of exercising men and the pockets of ballroom dancing in wide lush green spaces buzzing with excitement and cheer and feel-good happy vibes.
The rush of nice cool air, the heavy comfort of a jacket or cold wind in our face as we took a little stroll around the neighborhood.
The incredible fresh produce at the markets and all the different varieties.
The heart-explode happy of picking grapes at a vineyard, discovering a persimmon tree for the first time, the kindness of a stranger, the excitement of freshly laid eggs and exploring a little hillside village in all it’s glory and raw, cow/dog/goat/chicken poop included.
The centuries of history and stories preserved in monuments and pagodas, terra cotta warriors and city walls. I couldn’t do it all, and sometimes, even though I wanted so badly to, I had to take a step back and skip it, but the bits that I did get to see was pretty special.
But mostly, it was the quiet of conversations with family and learning about the parents we want to be as my sister-in-law taught me to parcel dumplings or the gift of watching my husband love and guide our favorite littles.
My brother-in-law and sister-in-law graciously opened up their heart and home to us this week, a place that was once foreign to them too and put me to shame as my Caucasian brother-in-law translated for this Chinese banana what his very excited Mandarin-speaking driver was trying to tell us.
What they taught us wasn’t just about the special little part of Xi’an they discovered, or the spicy delicious biang-biang mian and all the other surprisingly fun and yummy dishes we ate this week despite hearing so many horror stories from everyone that warned us about food in China including our doctors!
What they really gave us was an opportunity to shape and discuss and open up so many conversations and opportunities for J and I to really get on the same page and share big hopes and dreams on who we want to be and the kinds of littles we want to raise.
They were honest about their struggles and real about the things to expect and it was something we really appreciated.
They took the time to love on us and like only the best big brothers and sisters can, they prepared us and protected us and took care of us.
J and I have been scared to celebrate our little poppy seed, we submit that God has a plan for us but it is all still so surreal and with such a difficult start, we’ve been a little hesitant to really “celebrate”.
This week, Jason, Shuangli, Alex, and Sophie celebrated our little poppy seed and it meant the world to the scared, unprepared, overwhelmed, in love, newbies.
“If you ever find yourself empty from something you cannot know or name, find a stretch of ocean, a field, or mountainside, or even clouds, or trees. Because there are 1000 simple ways to fill your tired soul so you can remember how to be, how to see, and most importantly, how to breathe.”
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