Catching up with Amy Jolley

It’s good to be invited back to write a guest post. I’ve experienced much change in my life since I was the featured artist on the Milspo FAN Blog in March of 2021. At the time of the feature, I was sewing like crazy and creating so much for my own enjoyment and for my Etsy Shop. My craft room was full of fabric, thread, and sewing project possibilities. I had also dived back into watercolor painting, and it felt good to be so focused. I loved spending time in my craft room and having time to myself. Spring was in full swing which meant summer in Washington State was right around the corner. My husband and I started planning trips, plus projects we both wanted to complete that upcoming summer. Little did I know how much would change in 2022 and my creative projects would come to a temporary halt.

In March of 2022 I found out that I was pregnant. It was a dream come true. When I went to one of my first ultrasounds, the doctor said that there were 2 babies. Twins! My husband and I were both shocked and very excited. It was a miracle. We were just trying for 1 baby, and we were blessed with two.

With this news I knew that my personal creative time would change drastically. I tried to create while pregnant, I wanted so badly to finish those projects that I started, to cut fabric, and to sit down at my sewing machine. I can remember at one point, in the beginning of the 2nd trimester, when I had increased energy, I completed a small sewing project and a colored pencil drawing. To keep my creativity going, I started having creative hour with my babies. I would read out loud to my large pregnant belly from the art books that I had, I would play the ukulele and sometimes draw or color. It felt nurturing to create in small ways for myself and for my twins.  The fatigue however became too much and napping became a necessity. It took so much of my energy to grow these babies which meant everything else took a back seat. I made a difficult decision to eventually stop creating altogether. I closed my Etsy shop and planned for their arrival and our upcoming PCS move in 9 months. And it was this way for the remainder of my pregnancy.

As the end of my pregnancy neared, we were planning to PCS after the twin’s arrival date. With the guidance of my doctor, I electively chose to deliver the twins via C-section for the best possible outcome for us all. There is so much planning and prep in pregnancy and in moving. I didn’t even want to think about how it was all going to work out. Each time that we moved, I felt that I gained more experience in the planning and execution but for this move I didn’t feel ready. My husband took over most of the planning so that I could focus on myself and my upcoming birth. 

The twins, identical boys, came into this world October 31, 2022. Both weighing 5 pounds, 2 ounces with no NICU stay. We all stayed in the hospital for 4 days. The weekend after we arrived home, our power went out for 3 days due to a powerful windstorm. We had just sold our generator a week prior in preparation for our move. It was unexpected but we rolled with it. Thankfully both of our moms were there to help us out. Following this power outage, we would move again 3 more times before settling into our house at our new duty station. These temporary moves were just part of the PCS experience. It was the most challenging time of my life. Nothing could have prepared me for this season of healing from major surgery while taking care of 2 newborns, battling postpartum anxiety, and moving across an ocean. It was A LOT.

During and after this huge transition of pregnancy, birth, and moving I had no time for creative work. And I was okay with it. Like I’ve said before, creativity can come in various forms throughout our lives and it’s okay too for the type of creativity to ebb and flow. When we finally arrived at our new duty station and moved into our new house, I held on to the hope that at some point I could unpack my sewing machine and set up my craft space. Now that I had two babies to take care of, doing any unpacking had to happen when our schedule allowed. So, I decided to focus on decorating our new house. Allowing myself to do this opened a different creative outlet. I bought a few plants, a yellow chair, pictures for our living room, setup and decorated the nursery, and a colorful rug for our floor. It felt great to see our spaces come together, and it felt like I was composing a painting. After getting a little more settled and I felt confident in taking my kids out and about by myself, I discovered a wholesale fabric mart near my house. I purchased a few yards of Hawaiian-themed fabric to get started on sewing curtains for some windows in our house. It felt freeing and exciting again to visit a fabric store with the intention of starting a new project.

As I look back over the last year or so from where I was pre-pregnancy, I am thankful to have had an overabundance of time to create. It was a happy time for me and exactly what I needed to do for my creative spirit. I know eventually I will get back to my creative pursuits in my free time. This new chapter of motherhood will be my inspiration. I am staying open and available to whatever type of creativity comes. I am reminding myself that my journey will always be a swirl of different colors on my canvas. Military life and motherhood are like the creative process of making something. I may not know how the project is going to turn out, and there will be struggle, resistance, and doubt but if I keep forging ahead, I can create something magnificent. I am stronger and more resilient with each new day, and I am so grateful to be on this journey.

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