"Is there a park nearby so we can get your last interview?" Ann the director of Don't Talk About the Baby asked. "Yep, super close," I replied.
It was Saturday night and we were both exhausted. We started filming my morning routine at sunrise and were approaching hour 14 of filming. We had spent the last two days filming no less than 12 hours.
We reached the park and stepped into the thick damp air of St. Louis summer. Of course there was a playground at the park. Of course there was a little girl's birthday party. Of course there were butterfly balloons at the party.
I write this on August 31st.
It is August 31st again.
It comes every year.
They would be four this year.
Four years ago this day felt crushing. Four years ago that playground with a birthday party and butterfly balloons would have sent tears down my cheeks. Instead, I stood there while being filmed for a project that I wholeheartedly believe in and am honored to be a part of, taking it all in and giving myself permission to feel it.
The joy. The sadness. The pride. The longing.
The blessing and the manifestation.
It took me about a year to dig my way out of the darkness that was left after our failed infertility journey. A year of working with my therapist, building and wrestling with my faith, truly taking care of myself and re-engaging in my marriage. A year of owning all the parts of my story, speaking them, honoring my truth and my babies by creating this happy, healthy and magnificent version of myself.
Since then, all five of these years, I have spent working my ass off on making sure the infertility journey, hell life, does not leave us all empty shells of who we once were. Helping others to give themselves permission to feel it all, all at the the same time; to feel the clarity and healing of the complicated gray. Writing and speaking the often ignored and rejected words of truth, the words to our freedom to ask for what we want and need and to have the courage to speak our truth always.
To shine the light of thriving out of the darkness to create our own second chances.
"I need you in every interview, this film is focusing a lot on you," Ann directed me last week at the beginning of our three days of filming.
"Oh, I didn't realize," I replied.
I shook my head as if to clear the confusion. The confusion that after four years of rejection after rejection, being called terrible names on HuffPost, a couple negative reviews, being ignored by even some of my closest friends and family, money spent, the hardest and best work of my life for no pay, this was finally happening.
My truth and story, my healthy, albeit controversial, messages are the focus of a feature length documentary on infertility and pregnancy loss. This was everything I had been working for.
There was no time to let it soak in, we had a movie to make, which I quickly learned was not for the weary.
Long hours, bug bites, lots of sweat, more wardrobe changes than you can imagine, pauses for planes and thunder and growling tummies all further complicated by my shock, disbelief, overwhelming gratitude and relief that all of my work was paying off.
For three days straight for 12 to 15 hours a day I was filmed while interviewing my friends, family and clients. We discussed the heartache of infertility and pregnancy loss. We spoke our truths. We rallied the healthy messages of shattering the stigma and talking about our babies.
It is only now a few days later and two mornings of letting myself sleep in that the fog and exhaustion of filming has lifted a bit. I've written some and processed the amazingness this all is, only to realize it is one of our due dates today.
They would be four this year. And, this year I miss them, love them and wonder even more than the first three.
I am also more thankful for them than ever. They've helped make me who I am; a mother to many and a mother of second chances. It is because of them I am changing the world. I honor them with broken silence, hand holds in the power of me too, by embodying the warriorship of fighting for and creating a happy life in this world; a world without them and yet so much of them.
They would be proud.
They are my biggest blessings.
My life, a blessing through and because of them, is also a manifestation. A manifestation of my work and of my choices to embrace all the parts of my story and to always speak.
God made me the mother I am to do this work, to help others and to change the world.
I have done the work to create this incredible life and to be open enough to receive it. I have believed it was possible and that I am worthy of it. I have had the tenacity of every mother who loves and honors her children always.
It is a blessing made manifest.
And, it is only the beginning.
***All photos by Ann Zamudio, Director of Don't Talk About the Baby