Dear Mama

Colorado August 2010

Colorado August 2010

Dear Erin,

I wish I could give you a big hug.  Tell you that you are going to make it through the summer okay.  The unbearably heavy sadness will begin to lift and change into a more permanent hole in your heart.  It doesn’t sound great, but it is much better than the pain you are in now.  4 years later and I still think about him almost every day.  But it is not the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning anymore.  When I dream about my dad now, I wake up happy that I had a chance to see him.  It is not going to make any more sense than it does now.  I wish it did.  But you will find ways to remember him.  Ways to honor him in your every day life.  You don’t realize it, but next month you are going to discover you are pregnant.  It will blow you away considering your pregnancy loss just two short months ago.  You are going to get a chance to see glimpses of your father every day, through the eyes of your son, Evan.

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Dear soon to be mama,

Tomorrow your life will change in ways I cannot make you understand right now.  You will pace around the house tonight eating waffles and stopping every now and again to wince from what you “think” are the real deal contractions.  Hold on sister, because they are just the previews.  I want to tell you to breathe. Breathe in the peace, the silence, the feeling of being one with your son before he is born.  Before he is out in the world and you have to care for him in such a different way.  Know that things are going to change and they are going to be hard. Really hard.  But I can tell you with certainty, it will not last forever.  It is okay if you don’t make it without medication during the birth. It is okay if you struggle with nursing.  As a good friend of ours says all the time, “no one gives out medals if you do those things.”  GIVE YOURSELF GRACE.

One day old Evan in the NICU

One day old Evan in the NICU

Dear Mama of a newborn in the NICU,

It’s going to be okay.  He is fine in there, he is cared for so well by those dedicated nurses.  I know you want him back in your room with you so badly because he is your little guy, you can’t believe how quickly he was swept away.  But in a few days you will be home with him and you will be wondering why you didn’t sleep a little more while he was in the NICU in such good hands.  His levels will increase, and you will take him home.  Breathe.

Evan- a few days old June 2011

Evan- a few days old June 2011

Dear very new mama with newborn at home,

This is the hardest letter to write.  I look at this picture and I know the turmoil you are feeling. I know the insanely strong love you are feeling for that little man but also the intense feelings of responsibility, fear, worry, and guilt that are swirling around in your very sleep deprived head.  I know you feel like you are physically attached to your child, and it is hard to get a chance to shower, sleep, eat, without needing to nurse, pump, or prepare for the next nursing session.  And oh the guilt…..oh the horrible, purposeless, painful guilt you feel every time you wish for a moment by yourself. And then by the grace of god, you get one of those moments and you lie there trying to nap but you can’t because you feel like you should be holding him.  Everyone is telling you how awesome it is to have a newborn and you just want that to be true. Instead you are walking around like a zombie, and worrying that you are not fit to be Evan’s mother.

Okay, so that is where I step in.  You are wrong. You are the best mommy that little guy has, and he needs you.  He needs you to take care of yourself and GIVE YOURSELF GRACE.  No one is going to judge you if you need a nap.  No one is going to judge you when you need to stop nursing because it is too much.  It is hard right now. Capital H. HARD. Not hours and hours of non stop joy. Hard.  Your hormones are plummeting, your hair is falling out, and you are getting up 4-5 times a night to care for your son.  It is okay for it to be hard. Let it be what it is and I can tell you…..he WILL sleep through the night. Not when he is three, like some very mean moms have told you……When is about 13 months he will start to consistently sleep through the night. And before then you will get blocks of 5 hours at a time which will feel like absolute heaven.  And all those doubts, those fears, those ugly nasty statements of guilt and shame you keep rolling around your head?  They will soon lift as well.  You will realize, you are doing okay.  He is in one piece. You can take showers and he will sit in the bouncy seat and be just fine.  You can make breakfast while he plays on the carpet with his toys.  The HARD will soon become your normal and you will not even realize when the change happens.

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Evan a few weeks shy of one year old May 2012

Dear Mama of an almost one year old,

This month is going to end on a very tough note for you.  You have no idea what the doctors are going to tell you about your beautiful baby boy who lights up your every day.  You have been cleaning up after hours and hours of repeated vomiting. You flinch when he coughs or gags because you know what follows.  You have been trying different foods and trying some of the same foods Evan used to eat and he won’t have any of it.  You worry because his weight has plateaued and the doctors just can’t seem to figure it out.  You are going to go through his birthday weekend telling yourself that he does not have any genetic condition. That he just has a gastrointestinal issue and medicine or surgery will fix it one day.  Mama, I say this gently, but you are wrong, and as I have said before- it is all going to be okay.  Evan’s diagnosis will not  change one bit about your relationship with him.  If anything, mama you are going to become one dedicated advocate for your son.  And Evan is going to start Early Intervention services, which will be scary, strange, and hard for you at first, but soon it will become a welcome support that you look forward to each week.  Evan is going to flourish with his therapists.  He will be eating some solids by the end of the summer. You would never believe it, but today, at almost three years old, Evan ate chicken nuggets, fries, and apple sauce for dinner. Toddler gourmet for sure, but I know how impossible that seems to you now.  But he will.  Keep at it mama, he needs you to be strong for him. That doesn’t mean you can’t cry or mourn the loss of the child and future that you had all planned in your head.  Tears do not negate strength.  They are a sign that you are being honest with yourself.  But please know, that as you learn more about Williams Syndrome , the easier it will all become.  Evan is going to do some amazing things. Just wait until you hear him say “I love you,” for the first time, ride a horse, and walk across the playground.  It’s all worth it.  He’s even going to go to school in the next few years. I know, don’t throw up.  You are going to survive it. It is going to be so wonderful for him. And for you and Todd.

This is going to happen a few years from now.

March 2014

March 2014

I’m telling you. It’s going to be okay.  xoxoxo

7 Comments on Dear Mama

  1. Carol Bucci Severino
    March 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Erin! Your writing is absolutely beautiful, as is your precious family! I loved reading about you and your husband and, of course, the trials and tribulations of raising your precious Evan who just happens to have Williams Syndrome. As I was reading I couldn’t help but selfishly relate every issue, from the death of your dad (my mom died unexpectedly when I was pregnant with Alexa) to the uncertainties of raising a child, especially a very special Williams Syndrome child (as you know, my Alexa, now 24, also has Williams). I can still vividly recall Alexa’s diagnosis and all of the emotions — joy, fear, sadness — that would separately overcome me, depending on the day! Now that Alexa is older, I don’t focus so much on the “Williams” as much as I do on trying to assist and guide her to being the happiest, safest, and most independent (yikes) that she can be, nor do I do as much reading or following up on Williams issues as I did when she was younger, but anxieties about her health, safety and life fulfillment are with me every minute of every day. Thank you, thank you for writing this and for the awareness that it brings to others, but most importantly and so very selfishly, I thank you for so eloquently putting into words all of the jagged emotions that I have had over the years! You are doing an amazing job and Evan will do wonderful things someday (and everyday)! You quoted about how our children will tell you their stories — Evan will tell his someday, as Alexa so loves to tell hers. Enjoy the ride; each year will provide a new adventure (BUT also new fears and anxieties)! I would so love for us to spend more time with you and your beautiful family (I see a lot of my younger daughter Christina in you. Christina is an education major at WCU)!

    Reply
    • Erin Putman
      March 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi Carol! Thank you SO much for your incredibly thoughtful comment. I loved reading it and learning about your journey as well. Writing is such a good outlet for me, and it is an added bonus that I get to hear from readers and hear what is going on in their lives. I’m especially touched by your comment about your daughter in college. I met her at the local conference and she seemed to be a very responsible caring young woman. You are doing something right, mama!

      Reply
  2. Blaine Turk
    March 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm (4 years ago)

    Wow, love. WOW. I’m so incredibly grateful to have lucked upon your site last year. You write so beautifully! Congratulations! I loved this!

    Reply
  3. Erin
    March 11, 2014 at 7:04 pm (4 years ago)

    Blaine, thank you so much for your kind words. I feel so honored to be in your list of favorite blogs. Thank you for reading!

    Reply
  4. Kristi Campbell
    March 25, 2014 at 11:12 am (4 years ago)

    Erin,
    This is beautiful – so heartfelt, wise, and REAL. I love it and can relate to so much of it…the anxiety and new mama guilt, wondering whether I was doing something wrong because surely it’s not all supposed to be this HARD, the sinking feeling that Something Is Wrong, nerves and then gratitude over Early Intervention, and giving yourself grace. Here’s to all of us giving ourselves more grace as each year brings new triumphs, joys, realizations, and yes, worries as well. Hugs to you, mama. Then mama, now mama, and tomorrow’s mama.
    xo

    Reply
    • Erin Putman
      March 30, 2014 at 10:52 am (4 years ago)

      Kristi! Thank you for your comments. It always puts a huge smile on my face when you leave me a comment. I wish there was a “grace” pill we could take so we wouldn’t have to work so hard to give it to ourselves. Sigh….. All the mamas that are a part of me, thank you. xoxo

      Reply
  5. Kristi Campbell
    March 25, 2014 at 11:13 am (4 years ago)

    PS – meant to say how much I love the photos too. Thanks for sharing them.

    Reply

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