Monday, November 7, 2011

Maternal Guilt

I think if you look up the word Mother it says, “Guilt ridden being”. It’s a package deal. From the moment a woman finds out she will be a mother she feels guilty. We worry about every little action and thought we have and feel guilty over how it will impact our child. It’s biological, I am pretty sure we have no real control over it. I have known this for years, as have my children, which of course allows them to take complete advantage of the situation. Hey there has to be some upside to it, right?
However my guilt hit a new level a year ago when our third baby was born nearly three month early. After being in the hospital for six weeks being under sedation and on bed rest my uterus finally gave out and my body failed to hold my baby within me. Sydney Beth was born via emergency c-section on a beautiful October morning. When I was finally able to see her small, barely three pound body several hours post surgery my first words to her were not, “Mama is here” or even “I love you” but rather,
“I am so sorry my love. “
 I was sorry that my body had failed her; that she had to endure more in her first three hours of life than most people do in a lifetime. I was sorry I wasn’t able to hold her and comfort her. I felt I had done this to her and there was nothing I could do to fix it. My guilt was overwhelming. As I looked at my tiny little baby buried under tubes and wires, unable to even touch her, I was furious at myself and my body. My maternal guilt had reached an all time high.
In addition to the guilt I was feeling about our baby, I was feeling terribly guilty over being away from my two older children. Jack had just started Kindergarten and was going through an exciting and scary adjustment and I was missing all of it. My now middle child Sarah Fiona was not even two and suddenly her Mama was ripped from her world and for nearly four months she only seeing me a few hours a week. When I was in the NICU I was worried about home, when I was home I was worried about the baby. I was never at peace, never without drowning guilt.
The last year has been spent trying to stabilize myself and our home life. Many hours have been spent contemplating this giant bag of guilt I still carry around. What I have discovered is: It Sucks.
 No magic answer, no great insight, no Oprah “ah-ha’ moment.  Maternal guilt simply sucks. Maybe maternal guilt (which I should mention I believe to be VERY different than any other form of guilt) really is more a reflection of love than anything; the greater the love the greater the guilt. Children are so deserving of all things beautiful, good and peaceful. When life falls short of giving our kids these things it just seems off-center somehow and ultimately eats as our soul.
Perhaps someday I will have some great revelation and shed myself of all this guilt. If I do I will write about it…although I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath. I am prepared to take this bag o’ guilt to the grave.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Falling Deeper

I find it a bit of a cliché when people say of their spouse, “I love you more today than the day I married you.” But, having been married for 14 years I get it. I don’t know that it is a “more” love but rather a fuller, richer love. However, when it comes to my kids I cannot imagine loving them more than I did on the day they were born. Loving your child is such an overwhelming, powerful love – unlike any other. What I have noticed over the years though is how my appreciation for my children grows. As I watch them live their lives I see them develop their individual passions, talents, likes, dislikes; I see them become the people they are meant to be and I stand in awe.

I believe, as with everything in life, relationship growth happens in seasons. Sometimes they are budding and growing, other times they are full and steady and others they lay dormant. I have learned this is normal, good and in line with nature – but that’s another post altogether.  

I have been in a season of growth with my two year old daughter the last few weeks. Yesterday I was able to take pause for a bit and reflect on her and how I feel about her. Too often I think we take our children and who they are for granted; we go day-to-day never stopping to really see the people we are raising. My girl is in transition, moving from the last bit of baby/toddler into little girl. She is so strong and independent which makes me unbelievably proud, she is incredibly funny and straight up crazy – we often refer to her as a party looking for a place to happen. She is curious and desperate to learn, can throw a punch better than any boy I have ever seen and will be the first on the scene to help anyone who is hurt and crying. She is artistic but not musical, gentle and emotional but not weak and she is stunningly beautiful. She lights up any room she walks into and brings a smile to the face of every senior citizen she encounters. She is beautifully maternal and is somewhat of a bird whisperer. She will stand in the yard with her pointer finger extended calling, “Come here honey, it’s ok, I love you!” and I know one day a bird will land. How could they not with an invitation like that?

As I reflect on all these things and I watch her march through the house blowing a whistle wearing her brother’s athletic shorts held up by her tutu shouting, “It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday!” (Even though her b-day is in November) I physically feel my heart falling deeper in love with the person she is.  I am truly amazed at what a gift she is to me and the world around her. I am humbled by the fact I get to be with her throughout her life and be a part of who she is.

I love you without end my amazing lotus baby.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Everyone Needs This Friend!

 Ever wish you had a friend you could call on to help you with ANYTHING? I am not talking about helping you by watching your kids or listening while you complain about your mother. I am talking about the friend you call when your toilet is clogged and are too cheap to call a repair man, yet too afraid to tackle it alone.

Well, I got me one. Her name is Jen and she is a freaking machine.

Last week I needed a hook for my new black and hot pink, ruffley apron. I was all out of 3M products which is all I am allowed to use, so I grabbed a thumb tack and a wrench (hence the rule of no tools) and made it happen. Needless to say, when the hubs decided to tear the deck off our house (so we can create a new beautiful patio) I was hardly the first helper on his list. For one, I should never really be trusted with heavy metal objects like hammers, or crow bars and secondly manual labor that involves tools…well, I’d rather get a pap smear.

Stay with me…I’m getting there…

Sooo, Last Friday night my girlfriend calls to say she coming over to help the hubs demo our deck. I KNOW, RIGHT!?!?
She arrives while the my hubs is with Rock Star and ball practice and hers is at the gym; I am fully expecting we will chill with a drink or few while the kids play and we wait for the guys to show up and work.  I was wrong. So, so, so very wrong.

Now Jen doesn’t just show up, she comes with tools. Yes tools, several of them. She asks for a beer and starts tearing boards off the deck. So here I am, now feeling weird about staying inside with my glass of wine while she is working so I decide to help. Ok, well I acted like I was trying to help.  The truth is I was lost somewhere between fear and “I don’t waannnaaa dooo this!” Meanwhile Jen with her big boobs and cute little self is rocking this whole deck demo thing. Finally the guys showed up and helped her so I could bail. The three of them worked, I arranged for dinner (that’s a fancy way of saying I ordered pizza) and my little world was back in balance again. But I must say; I really did stand in awe of her. Ok, I also laughed at her some because I think she’s crazy.

Every girl needs a friend like Jen:  a fearless, strong, capable, daring friend. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Boob Eater

So life is busy. Three kids five and under – whew! One of these days I hope to get back to blogging with some consistency, but for now I am all consumed with breastfeeding, having tea parties with Itty Bitty, and attempting to keep up with Rock Stars ever growing social and sport schedule. Life is good.

However, I just HAD to take time to share this little tidbit of laughter with you…enjoy!

While checking out at the grocery the teen male checker asks Itty Bitty if she is going to share the popsicles (I was buying) with her baby sister; to which she very factually replied, “No, she only eats boobs.”

Funny how a boy who I am sure thinks about boobs every 2.4 seconds almost crawled out of his skin at this statement made by a two year old. I love my Itty Bitty; she never lets me go a day without a true bottom of my gut laugh.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Heart Knew

Eleven months ago I went to my OBGYN for an appointment for some issues, but mostly to discuss the possibility of having another baby. Based on severe damage to my uterus and a previous high-risk pregnancy I was told I would likely never get pregnant again and we needed to schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss a hysterectomy. I came home that day and wrote this:

My Spirit Baby
Today my heart broke for you.
Today I was told I may never hold you.
How is it I miss you so greatly and you do not exist outside my soul?
I know you are there; I feel it my mission to bring you home.
Faith seems to be my only option.
Faith I will hold on to.
Faith will be your vehicle.
Three weeks later I was back at my OBGYN and found out I was pregnant, and had been at the time of my previous appointment but it was just too early to tell. Today, 11 months later, I type this holding little Baby Zen in my arms.

A mama's heart always knows.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And just like that I was on my ass...

It was a snowy, icy day. However, I was inside, waiting for my lovely Keurig to finish brewing the perfect one-cup. While waiting I looked out the window from my kitchen sink at all snow and felt glad I was warm and cozy inside, aaaaand then I was on my ass. Literally. Just like that, I fell on my ass. Not fainted, no light-headedness, no weak knees, I just apparently forgot how to stay vertical. I blame the shoes, I’m living in these "magic" Sketchers Toning shoes these days, they are kind-a wedge-like. For the record, ass and thighs are still a mess, but my back feels GREAT!....well when I’m not tipped over laying on the floor.
So there I sat, disheveled, confused and laughing like a crazy woman. All I could think (after , “what the fuck just happened!?!?) was “what if someone saw all this?” I swear to god I need my own reality sitcom. Cheers!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Unforgivable Choice

Choices, we make them every day with immense ease. How do you take your coffee? What will you wear? Which kid will you wake first to start the day? What will you make for dinner? These are the easy ones. Then there are the hard ones. How and when do you explain death to your child? Do you tell a friend her husband is a jerk and is disrespectful of her? College fund for kids or retirement? But even these seem like cake when you are confronted with what feels like a lose-lose, simply unforgivable choice.

Choosing between your children. Maybe choice is the wrong word. Prioritizing among your children’s needs certainly may be more accurate (and definitely feels better to say it this way) but in the end if you are the kid who didn’t have the priority need than you simply were the one who wasn’t chosen.
To look into the little, needy face of one of your children who is pleading for your time and attention and turn away to another is so wrong, so unnatural, so painful and despicable feeling. It is just simply unforgivable.

Yet, in the face of this seemingly unforgivable choice what can we do? I spent months choosing between my kids. I was in the hospital, away from two of my kids caring for my third (both while in my body and out) for over two months. I was choosing to care for the one who it seemed needed me the most. I would talk on the phone daily to my other two and listen to their requests for me to come home, to hug me, to have me tuck them in. Over and over again I had to tell them no because I was keeping their baby sister safe. Sometimes that was an acceptable answer for them, they had other things to distract them and they said “okay mama” and went on about their day, other times they didn’t give a rats ass about this supposed baby they saw nothing of; they wanted needed their mother and mama was choosing another over them. 

I like to think that my children each being one of three will in time learn from occasionally being set aside for one another to be empathic, compassionate, generous and will grow a servants heart. I also want them to know they matter and even their smallest need is indeed important, because after all when you are five and need help finding the green hotweel with the red flames not getting it really could cause one to have “the worst life ever.” I like many a mothers have resorted to sharing the real tragedies of the world, the reality that some kids don’t have parents, food, homes, and terminal illness in an attempt to give them a little perspective. But is that really fair? Is it fair to say to a two year old who is asking to be rocked while the baby simultaneously needs to be nursed with some peace and quiet surrounding her, “Listen honey, I know you want mommy right know but you can’t have me. But take joy in the fact I will be with you in 20-30 minutes unlike some children in Africa whose mommies have died of AIDS”  Ok, an over-reaction perhaps, but “just a couple minutes honey” feels the same because even in this small moment I am choosing between my kids.

Enter emotionally overextended Mama. Because I tell one to wait at any given time, I ensure I make up for it later, so needless to say I spend my days running the circle of children attending to physical and emotional needs. Trying in vain to make each feel as important as they truly are to me; to make up for any lost moments we may have had. To remind each one of their uniqueness, their own special place in my heart and that yes, no matter what I have time and space for each of them.  But do I? On whose scale are we measuring, mine or the kids? Because I am sure they are different. Am I overestimating my own importance in their day to day life? Is having the need of a PB&J (NOW!) really about needing mom to care for them or just about getting something in their stomach and would sending them on their own to the fridge for a pre-packaged lunchable suffice?

Mi Prima often tells me I over-analyze, and that all these worries are mine, not the kids. I suppose she is right. To some degree I am creating my own worries and issues.

But when they are grown, will they know? Will they know that every day I CHOSE them, each of them?  Will they know that it is their spirits that keeps my heart beating? Will they know that every day I look deeply into their faces and see every glimmer, every question, every worry and I bury it in my own heart? Will they know that even when I had to choose one of their siblings that they still mattered more than they will ever know?

Perhaps not…until they are a parent themselves that is.
And it is I, not them I suppose, who has to learn to be okay with this.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Itty Bitty is…
Fancy Dancer
…the girl I want to be when I grow up.

I love watching you grow my amazing child.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Baby Zen

I have made a point since starting this blog to protect the identity and particular details about my kids. Less because I am fearful of the internet, but more because I believe in letting my children’s lives and journey through it be their own; to be told in their own time and to the degree to which they choose to share with the world. Because of this I have also chosen to not share pictures of my kids. However today I am breaking my own rule and sharing the following picture with you and my hearts story that goes with it. I hope my little Zen will someday read this and not feel intruded upon but relish in the beauty of it.

Born at 31 weeks our little Zen was 4 days old and weighed just 3lbs 6oz the first time I was able to hold her. Prior to this I had only been able to place my hands gently on her. No rubbing. No patting. No stimulation. Plastic separated us. I could only slide my hands through holes in her isolate. No kisses. No gentle whispers letting her know I was there with her.  My body actually ached for her. I felt like I couldn’t really breath yet, everything in me was tight and anxious. I had enough drugs in me to put a horse down and I still was unable to sleep. I needed to hold her. I needed her to know I was there with her. I wanted her to smell me and feel me. I believed in the healing power of my touch, yet I was told no, to stay back, to touch “just a little”. Everything about the first few days felt so very wrong. I had no control, no ability to help my tiny, frail hurting little baby. I had to trust people I didn’t know, or in some cases even like very much. I pumped. I pumped milk like Zens life depended on it. It was all I could offer. I filled the NICU freezer and had to have the hubs take a cooler full home. I kept pumping, I was pumping hourly. The nurses clearly thought I was insane. They brought lactation in to encourage me to ease up but I was compulsive. No one got it; it was all I could do. I could do nothing else for her. I was unable to keep her safe in me and now she was here in this harsh sterile environment separate from my body and there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t even kiss her. She was buried under wires, tubes and gauze. Her eyes were covered, she had a c-pap on which covered the entire lower half of her face. I wasn’t even sure what she really looked like, but I knew she was beautiful.  And I knew she needed me to hold her close. But it was possible I needed it more.

We started the process of bringing out some of her lines and c-pap around 9pm, I waited up all night for the green light which came at 5am the next morning. The moment I pulled her into me time stopped. Right then, time stood still. The loud, buzzing NICU went silent; all I could hear was the sound of the two of us breathing. I could feel her little body relax and I, for the first time in months, took a deep breath. I felt a little light headed, euphoric. My milk was gushing out of me and I suddenly knew what “Heaven On Earth” really meant. It was a perfect moment, one of healing and love…and faith.

Holding Baby Zen for the first time

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaack!

Hello?...Anyone still here?
I hope so. I have missed you my little internet world. However, the immediate needs of my family have not provided time, or more pointedly the emotional energy to write.

So five days after my (albeit testy) last post our little Baby Zen was born just shy of 10 weeks early. She came early in the morning after a couple of hours of contractions. Because I had a complete placenta previa (Google it if you need to) this was an extremely dangerous situation for her and I so ended up with an emergency c-section. Someday I will write in more detail about the full experience of my long hospital stay prior to Zens birth as well as the months that have followed with her in the NICU and all the adjustments our family has been through. These things will take time. I still need time to process and time to find the right words for feelings that are so very overwhelming.

However, we are home now. My beautiful family is all together again, with our new little Baby Zen completing the mix. I wake up each morning with all three children snuggled in with the Hubs and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

So for now I will offer a simple update on our little family.
The hubs has been the rock star of all fathers these last several months. He had managed all of his usual duties of job, home and community while also being primary caregiver. He continues to keep milk in the fridge, bathrooms clean, diapers changed and the children fed. He is amazing, he is my rock, he is my hero. I am so grateful to the universe that of all the chance moments that have taken place in his life and mine that we have ended up parenting our children together; I simply cannot imaging having my kids raised by any other. Rock Star and Itty Bitty are gaga over baby and also busy figuring out the new dynamics of our family. It is interesting to see their need of reassurance that they still have a place, a special place within our family. Baby Zen spends her life nursing. She has almost tripled her birth weight and is doing stellar across the board. The healing powers of mothers milk is amazing and beautiful. I went a bit against the grain with orders for formula supplements and other things believing that my milk was the most pure healing agent she could be given. I am proud I followed my mama-intuition on this one.

The last few months have introduced my spirit to many things I look forward to writing about and exploring further with you. Things like what really is the role of a mother? Being your childs advocate in the medical world that often gives little validation to the organic nature of mother/child. Processing overwhelming guilt as a mother and how do you NOT allow it to smother your children. Accepting help from others… embracing humility. HORMONES! Bio-identicals and other options for natural healing. And my personal favorite, unrelenting anxiety-ugh. Sounds like fun huh? Ok, fun may be a stretch, but if you have read my space long enough, you know my writing will still be peppered with fun little stories of poop, vomit, and all sorts of inappropriateness!

Stay tuned, I have missed you my friends!
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