Archive of ‘anxiety’ category

Acceptance

Baby girl....I'm ready to meet you.

Baby girl….I’m ready to meet you.

39 weeks tomorrow.  I woke up today with a weird sort of peace and calm.  And that has been hard to find in the last month or so.  With the heat of the summer, daily bouts of contractions, Evan’s CHOP overnight stay, some potty training regression, anxieties about the baby/transitional period to come- it has just been a different last 5 weeks than it was before Evan was born.  I think back to that last month before his birth (where I took entirely too long of a maternity leave before he was born) I took long walks each day, bounced on my yoga ball, wrote my unborn baby letters, I read baby blogs at length, and just was so wide eyed and excited in general.  I didn’t have a lot of false labor, and the weather was kind to me.  I just re-read this blog I wrote the night before Evan was born, 5-26-2011, and I smiled at my naivete.

I also re-read this entry that I wrote to all the different mamas that I have been in the last 4 years. Dear Mama

Phew. No wonder I am feeling so differently this time. It has been a wild ride the last five years since we lost my Dad and found out we were pregnant with a future Evan.

This guy made me a mama….

One thing that I do not handle well is uncertainty.  It’s not in my DNA to find peace in the unknown, or to accept that I do not have control over everything.  But….I have been working REALLY hard at it for a long time.  Just because it is hard for me, doesn’t mean I can’t try.  So this morning, I wake up, feeling a little more at peace, and very very VERY ready to meet this little girl.  I also am striving to find acceptance of the unknown.  Not knowing who she will be.  Not knowing if she will also have special needs or developmental delays, or the like.  Not knowing if the labor will last 2 days, 2 hours, or 30 min. Will she love her brother with all her heart? Will Evan be able to break away from his toys and music to love her right back?  Can I sit in the quiet moments with this little girl and breathe deep knowing that no matter what happens…..It WILL be okay.

Because when I read back to Evan’s diagnosis story. I remember those fears, those questions, those unknowns that were suffocating, blanketing, all encompassing.  And I sit here, over three years later, with another child in my belly- and it HAS been okay.  Evan is potty trained (going through a little regression but we’re on it), he’s going to school full time, he is loved by classmates and teachers alike, he runs up to me when he sees me after a day of school saying mommy, mommy! He is starting to read sight words, climbing into his car seat himself, finally spitting after he brushes his teeth! And we are about to have another  child after sending two babies to Heaven.

I still don’t know what will come in the next day, week, year, decade.  And that is not easy for me. I’d love it if God would just send me a little date planner and let me know when each milestone will happen, when she’ll sleep through the night, when Todd and I can go out on a date again (where I don’t feel like I am going to fall asleep after two min), when Evan will be invited on his first official school playdate…….

But that’s not how it works.

Instead we all plow through our days and lives doing the best we can as things happen.  The amazing, the excruciating, the beautiful, and the mundane.

Acceptance.

Grace.

Letting Go…….

I AM getting better at all of those. And I won’t quit until I’m no longer on this planet. Because this is all worth it.

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Can’t wait to add a new one with Baby Sister. Stay tuned!

 

Darlin’ Do Not Fear

I was getting ready in the bathroom the other day and I felt like I needed some music to move me along. One of my favorite albums is the Parenthood TV soundtrack. I am one of those. Those who LOVE soundtracks. My dad and I would croon along to the Cocktail soundtrack on roadtrips. And don’t forget the infamous cassette tape of us singing “I’ve Had the Time of my Life,” from Dirty Dancing. (recorded in an amusement park “recording studio” nonetheless) It’s kind of amazing, and kind of scary.
Anyway, I heard these lyrics, loud and clear:
If you have a broken heart or a battered soul
Find something to hold on to or to let go
To help you through the hard nights like a flask filled with hope
Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know

“Cause it won’t last – your worries will pass
All your troubles they don’t stand a chance
And it always hurts the worst when it’s the ones we love the most
Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know

Do not fear what you don’t really know.
How simple is that? Do not fear the unknown. If you cannot control it, and it is in the future, however distant- don’t fear it. Clearly this is much easier to read and talk about, than it is to put it into practice.
But I thought I would try.
Should I focus/worry about the things I do not know for 100%, like will Evan develop heart issues? Will I get pregnant again? Will we have another baby with special needs? How will Evan be accepted in school?

Darlin’ do not fear…..focus on the things you DO know.
This I can do.
I know that we participated in a fundraising walk for Williams Syndrome this past weekend and we were surrounded by people who love us.
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I know that Evan is finally starting to use the pronoun “I” when talking to us.
I know that Todd gave me a mother’s day card yesterday and in it, he listed all the things I do for Evan and it made me melt.
I know that Evan played with his new teddy bear and practice pretend skills without any prompting.
I know that I work with some of the most supportive individuals.
I know that all I need to do is make Evan giggle (not a hard feat) and my mood will lighten.
I know that the beach is a happy place for me, and I was able to go there a few weekends ago (BY MYSELF) because of the kindness of a friend, and the support of a loving husband.
I know that it brings me a type of peace and pride to share about Williams Syndrome to anyone who will listen.

For now, I can heed Brett Dennen‘s advice.
And it’s all about that, right, the moment to moment observations?
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Take a chapter out of Evan’s book.

when Sorrow walked with me

My heart has been weighed down with this blog entry for about a week. It has haunted me actually. Needing to be written.  I mentioned in my last post that I’ve suffered multiple miscarriages. So it’s not a secret, but for some reason I have chosen not to really delve into it on my blog.  I think partly because my first miscarriage was so wrapped up in my father’s passing, that I didn’t really process it.  Evan was born a year later, and we chalked it up to one of the very common first pregnancy miscarriages that we’ve read about.

But here I sit four years after that dreadful week where I found out I was pregnant, lost my dad and then lost our first baby all in one fell swoop. Since that point we were so incredibly blessed to become pregnant again (very quickly much to our surprise) and have a beautiful baby boy.

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Evan Robert June 2011

We received his diagnosis of Williams Syndrome a year later. Since that point, we went back and forth about having another  child.  The discussion was laden with many factors. Our age, the possibility of having another child with a diagnosis, and my fear of another period of awful post-partum anxiety.  Ironically, we didn’t really discuss the possibility of miscarriage. It may have crossed T’s mind, but I didn’t really consider it very seriously.  I was more worried about what would happen after the baby was here, not the possibility we might lose another one.

Yup.

If there is anything I have learned in these last 4 years, it is not to count anything out. The good possibilities and the bad ones. The very good and the very bad. I tried so hard to rest in the mystery, rest in the unknown, put it into God’s hands. I had prided myself in losing the need to ask “why” all the time for the challenges in our lives.  I realized that no matter what I did, things were going to happen, good and bad, and I might never know the reason. It’s in God’s hands, I would tell myself.

For whatever reason, God’s hands decided to change our trajectory yet again. He decided to take a second child from us before we could even meet him or her. I am a Christian and darn it, this has tested my faith like nothing else.

I’m pissed. I’m frustrated. I’m devastated. This time around I most definitely am processing it.  Whether I want to or not. As my friend Jamie said, “The universe is making sure you go through it.” She is so right. Beautiful, glowing pregnant women everywhere. Some are very treasured friends of mine who I am thrilled for.  But that doesn’t make the loss of our baby any easier.  Baby showers, pregnancy announcements, smiling babies at Target. National Siblings Day was celebrated all over Facebook the other day. Another reminder that we may not be able to provide a sibling for our son.  Repeated blood work to make sure my pregnancy hormones are going down. Unsuccessful blood draws that have led to repeated visits to get MORE blood drawn.  Weeks of cramping and bleeding after we lost him or her.  I won’t even go into the actual physical process of losing a baby.  It’s horrific. I am conflicted about it because I understand why people don’t talk about it, but at the same time, when you go through it you feel so alone. No matter how many people love and support you.  You are on this island, wanting to grieve your baby and still physically carrying him.  It’s simply awful.

It’s not fair. I want to kick rocks and scream ala Charlie Brown.

Actually, I want to stop kicking rocks and crying. I want to get over this, and move on.  But I know that’s the whole point of crying and kicking rocks. In order to get through grief, you actually have to feel it. Well jeez. That just stinks.  I like to keep moving. To keep busy and focus on the beauty that is around me, not the pain and crappy stuff.  It’s not really part of my genetic make-up to focus on the negative. But it’s also part of my genetic make-up to take care of everyone around me and sort of forget myself.

So…..here I sit. and I walk with Sorrow. And I am sharing it with you because it is the only way I know how to be honest with myself. The days I sat at home waiting to pass the baby, I tried to find blogs about miscarriage that would help me feel less alone, but also give me some hope.  This poem gave a little light to my walk:

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

So today I walk with Sorrow. And as strange as it sounds, I feel less alone for it.

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

The "Right" Time

A lot of emphasis is put on doing things at the “right” time. 

  • Your significant other breaks up with you and says, “It’s all in timing, maybe if we had met a few years ago…”
  •  You discuss with your  spouse about having a baby and you decide to wait a year or two after getting married, because then it will be the right time.
  •  You choose not to move out of your house because the market isn’t good, it is just not the right time.  
  •  You put off going back to school because it is just isn’t the right time, you are too busy.
  • You go to Disney World when the kids are old enough to remember the rides, because that seems like the right time to go. 
  •  Your child isn’t walking/talking/eating/sitting up/smiling yet, and you are told, he is just not ready, it isn’t his time yet.
  •  I’ll go back to work when he or she is_____(fill in age) because then it will be the right time.

Recently this last one has been swirling around in my already full head (not full of smarts, full of entirely too many thoughts).  My last few weeks have been filled with mixed emotions.  One minute I am talking a mile a minute to a fellow co worker about our class this year and feeling the excitement and jittery nerves that come with planning for the school year. The next  minute I am sitting slack jawed watching Evan as he stacks almost five blocks on his
own and reveling in his progress and how much I adore him.  Of course in that minute, I am struck with the realization that my face to face time with him will be less come September.  And sometimes that realization just feels wistful and sort of sad, but sometimes it feels overwhelming and like a brick is sitting on my chest.
 I know, yikes.
This coming from the girl who sat holding a newborn baby in July 2011 and could not possibly imagine wanting to be a stay at home mom for very long at all. Sigh…..if I could just talk some sense into that girl.
Anyway……what I am getting at is this. 

Up, up, and away!

Evan will be going to an public preschool when he turns three.  It is inclusive, meaning that he will be with students with and without special needs.  He is already eligible for the program because of his enrollment in the early intervention program.  Even if I was able to stay home another year, fast forward to the month before he goes to preschool, and I can almost guarantee I would have be having the same feelings. Fast forward two years to when he goes to kindergarten. Same feelings. Fast forward to the summer before seventh grade when he is going into the junior high school. 
Yup, you guessed it.

 Ditto.
The “right” time is sort an illusion.  A concept to help us feel like we are making the right decision. Ugh, that word right just keeps coming up.
It would be awesome if there was a test you could take to tell you it was the right time to do something.  
Kind of like in YM magazine. “Are you made for each other?” “Are you more romantic or athletic?” “Are you ready for a boyfriend?” 
Man I loved those quizzes. They even had an issue that was ALL quizzes. But I digress…..

Maybe Julia should have taken a quiz before deciding on this haircut.


The point is, there is no litmus test to tell us when the right time is for any decision, change, of life event. So for me, it is just a matter of taking a deep breath, keeping the faith, and making the leap.  And I need to keep in mind that there are MANY others who have taken this same leap and landed quite nicely on the other side. I have plenty of people holding a safety net for me when I take these leaps. Lucky gal, I am.  

About to take a leap

Stumbling a bit, but I got right back up again.


 Disclaimer: Those pictures were actually a reenactment. We were trying to reenact the opening scene of The Sound of Music where Maria spins in a circle filled with hope and glee. We were visiting the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont. I don’t want you to think I put copyrighted material on the blog since it looks so authentic.

🙂 

Ob la di ob la da…..

Because of a recent nap fighting regimen, this blog has sat unfinished for a week, I apologize for its delay. 

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” -Robert Frost 

I just read that quote on one of my favorite blogs, Momastery. I am doing just fine today, not feeling super stressed about anything or even feeling all that worried about anything specific which is such a blessing. But I just didn’t want to forget that quote and I wanted to share it because it is so simple yet so profound
I was texting back and forth with a new, lovely friend of mine and we were commenting on how raw, real, and courageous Glennon Melton’s Momastery blog is. I often pat myself on the back, thinking that I am real on this blog. But let’s be honest, I am nowhere near as real as I could be. I use quotes, pictures, and other forms of written prose to explain how I see the world from day to day. I post pictures of our son and discuss the joys and difficulties of having a child with special needs. But I shy away from really putting myself out there because deep down, I am still that college student standing at my dorm room door with my ear pressed against it. Listening intently to make sure that the girls that were giggling in the hallway were not talking about me. I think it will be a life long battle for me; to care less about what people think of me. I keep hearing my mother in my head saying, “Erin, you do realize the world does not revolve around you?” Goodness, she is so right, and I need to get my head out of the sand and remember that when I become self consumed. So in honor of that realization of how much I appreciate when others are being really real,(I will try to use that word about 10 more times in this entry) I just want to share how life has gone on for me, and how thankful I am for that bit of Robert Frost’s wisdom being true for me.

I was driving to MOPS this morning and I was singing along to the Broadway station, and looking back at Evan in the backseat making faces at himself in the mirror. And it occurred to me, when Evan was about 4 months old I started going to those meetings, and my drive there then was very different. I was bleary eyed from waking up 4-5 times a night, nervous to be facing other mothers who I assumed had it together WAY better than me. And truth be told, I would say the majority of moms in our group did (or do) have it pretty together but I had convinced myself of that fact before I even walked in the door. And I was judgey mcjudgerson of myself in the worst way. I was dealing with anxiety, obsessiveness, and just general fatigue from living in my head and worrying if I was being a good mom; if Evan was going to be okay and make it through the day. Yup, I said it, I wasn’t just worried that Evan might have a cold, or that he might develop a rash from the wrong diaper cream. I found myself worrying that he might not make it through the day. I found myself one day looking in his closet, at all his little outfits all lined up in a neat row, and thinking, “It would be such a shame for these outfits to go untouched.” I could picture myself opening up that closet door and crumpling into a ball because I was broken in two from loss. This thought process would happen and Evan would be happily sitting in his bouncy seat, or in his swing, or even in my arms. It doesn’t take Freud or even a google search to figure out that I was still reeling from the loss of my father and baby #1 the year before. I grieved yes, but I pushed a lot to the back of my very crowded mind so that I could help Todd through a tough time and also take care of myself once I found out I was pregnant with Evan. So that unresolved grief and shock from two huge losses in the same week reared its ugly head when I had this little life given to me and entrusted to my care.

As I have said many times, I believe whole-heartedly in counseling and I no longer hide the fact that I go, or that I have for years.I highly recommend you try it. Even if you think you totally have it together. (come on, we are human, and to have it ALL together is just not possible. And if you do, keep it to yourself. 🙂 ) Having an unbiased person listen to your concerns, triumphs, questions….is very freeing. Clearly I got myself on the horn and called my therapist as soon as I realized I could not kick the worry fog after having Evan. The mind is tricky. The most frustrating thing about the type of anxiety I have, is that I know logically that the things I worry about, and the thoughts I am having are irrational. I know it on paper. I know it from talking to my loved ones. I know it because I am a relatively intelligent person. But something is wired differently for me, and when I am faced with big changes or trials, my mind goes into overdrive and I worry. And when I say worry, I don’t mean the type of worry that you can distract yourself from with a good movie or a glass of wine. The intensity is much different and it really breaks me down. I have faced this a few times in my adult life and each time it has been a little different but the cycle of irrational worrying and obsessing is the same. Luckily I am able to face it head on with a combination of different things, one of which is the support of an incredible husband. He was dealing with the craziness of being a new parent, no sleep, feeding issues, etc- and he also had to convince me on a daily basis that everything was going to be okay. This all of course contributed to my mommy guilt and I was so darn angry that being a mom wasn’t as “easy” as I had thought it would be.
Yup, I know….all the seasoned parents are reading this thinking, “Where on earth did she get the idea it would be easy??”Honestly I have no clue. I do know that I have always loved children, I took care of babies for years in daycare settings. So I guess i thought, “How could it be any different than that?” Oh silly silly, naive Erin.
What I realize now, is that parenthood is just something you cannot imagine until it you become one. Until that child is in your arms. Until you take him or her home for the first time, and your family members leave and the casserole dishes are empty and in the sink, and you and your spouse look at each other and think….”Wow, we are on our own.”
But the point of this post is not to put my REAL-ness  (how many times have I said it now?) out there and scare anyone or make it seem like being a mom is all tough times.  The point was to think about Mr. Frost and how life truly does go on. Because driving to MOPS, I was breathing deeply. I was smiling and looking at my almost 20 month old son and beaming with pride at how he has grown up so much and made so many developmental strides in the past year. I was thinking of how I have made new friendships with really strong, beautiful, honest women who are sharing this road of motherhood with me. As with any thing in life that is tough, or amazing, painful, or meaningful……it will become a part of your history. And life will keep going on. Some days we will welcome the passing of time with open arms. Other days we will put up our arms and push with all our might to stop it from ticking away. But the reality is, we have few constants and one we can rely on, is knowing that “it goes on.” For better or for worse. With some and without some. Feel free to remind me of this.

I challenge to to be real with someone today. On the phone, in a text message, in person, in a blog entry. Open yourself up. You may never know your true impact but you might feel lighter. I know I do.

**I guess I should also give some credit to Paul McCartney.**

Deep Breath In………….

And Out……….
After spending about two hours of Evan’s nap fight/finally sleeping on the computer analyzing current insurance plan and future insurance plan,
I needed to breath.
And post these pictures:
Good Morning! (You can almost hear him in this one)

Mama, I can feed myself, watch.

I prefer this way though….yum yum.
Ah….perspective. Can’t buy that with a deductible or pre-certification, or with anything really. 
Thank you Evan. 🙂

My Heart Hurts

Yesterday, on December 14, 2012, a horrific mass shooting occurred in a small, unassuming town in Newtown, Connecticut. This unthinkable event has America collectively weeping, shaking their fists, and screaming at the injustice. It only takes a few minutes of reading through the News Feed on Facebook or reading any comments on articles on news sites to see how this has rocked our nation. I know my blog was not created for social commentary but I cannot move past this day without marking it down and making sure that I remember it, and how it made me feel.
I tend to be a person who walks out into the world without thinking of the evil that can lurk behind each corner. I drive my car blindly, trusting that the person in the lane next to me will stay in her lane. I walk into banks late at night to do my ATM transactions, thinking for a moment that it probably is not the best time to do so, but the odds of something bad happening are so small, why worry over it? I have used Patco with my child, using the Camden station, with only a small amount of healthy caution that I would use at any public transit stop. Even though I have met stares of disbelief when I mention I have taken Evan on the train, and by myself???!! Typically I chuckle to myself internally and think, ‘Ah, how it must be tough to live in that type of fear.’ So glad I do not.
Unfortunately events like today pierce that bubble of security within me in an instant. I feel like a fool for feeling safe when it is possible for an individual to take the lives of 20 children in minutes without anyone being able to save them.  My husband could tell I was taking this very hard today, and my mind was elsewhere while we were driving. He kept trying to make commentary on the scenery, to lighten my mood. I could tell he was trying very hard, and I apologized for being lost in thought and explained why. He told me to try not to focus on it too much, that it is a horrible, horrible event, but that we cannot control others.
I know he is right. That is my typical response when tragedy strikes at the hand of another human being. There is Evil in this world, but we cannot be consumed with that fact or we will not be able to live our daily lives.
But for today, for this morning at 2:51 am when I sit in a Kentucky hotel lobby, frantically searching for some sense of peace to hold onto, I am focusing on it. I feel I must. I must be reminded of not only the evil that does lurk within this world, but more importantly, the fragility of life. I feel thankful that I know life does not end on this Earth. That the beautiful, innocent children and the adults who took care of them who lost their lives are living their second chances in Heaven. That belief, and my faith, however challenged it truly is right now- are keeping me afloat in a sea of confusion and doubt.

Driving home from the second exhausting day of Dr. Mervis’ research study, we drove past many gorgeous old homes in Louisville, KY that were ready to be lit with twinkling white lights and had wreaths on each and every window. My heart sparkled for a moment, remembering how exciting the Christmas season is. I still get that rush of joy and pure happiness that I did as a child during this month of celebrations, surprises, and family. It is not as pure anymore, tainted by life experiences, knowing the materialism that comes with the holiday, etc. But I feel so incredibly blessed to have had the holidays I did as a child, and I realized with a jolt that those children had that opportunity stripped from them. Hopefully at their age they had a few years of memories, but now their families are left with gaping holes and searing pain and sorrow.
 I thought immediately of my son, Evan, asleep in our backseat. I thought of his future, of his potential to see no race, to lack the social cues and understanding to know why he should not love everyone he meets. My eyes burned with unshed tears, and I fought back the impulse to lose it all together. I felt guilt at how I had been feeling just a few minutes earlier in the exit interview with Dr. Mervis. The words “typically developing children” were used over and over to show comparison with Evan. I have typed those words so many times in IEPs and I just felt so frustrated and pained that now my son will be the subject of that comparison and I will be reading those words and they will not refer to him. They will refer to my friends’ children, to his classmates, but not to him.
And I felt horrible guilt that I was bothered by that when 20 families were receiving word that they will not be able to take home their child that afternoon.
I picked up my sleeping son from his car seat, and sat with him in a dark hotel room, while he clung to me, asleep and exhausted from the assessments that day, and a lack of nap. I thought of his incredible smile, how it immediately captures your heart, no matter who you are. I couldn’t help but let myself imagine what it would be like to learn I had lost him. And it felt like a knife was turning over and over again in my chest.
My internal fists started to shake at the universe. Who cares if he is not “typically developing?” I know it is human to have those moments and I will not beat myself up over it (well at least not for much longer). But to waste time over words, when I have this living, breathing, example of pure love sleeping in his ‘pack and play’ right now, just seems disrespectful to the families who have lost their loved ones. If they had one more night with their child, with their mom, their dad- they would not waste it worrying about words on a paper or words being spoken in a research lab.
And I realize that is all I can do right now. Appreciate what I have and keep trusting. Keep using Patco from Ferry Ave with my healthy sense of caution. Keep driving down the highway trusting that the cars around me will follow traffic law. What can my worry or fear do for me? Nothing that is helpful or honoring to those who are no longer with us and their families who grieve. I will continue to love, continue to trust, continue to believe. It is the risk I must take as Evan’s mother.
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I will sum up our trip and the helpful information we received from Dr. Mervis and her team- probably sometime next week. Please know that my issues with the terminology being used to describe Evan’s progress are my own personal hang ups from being a special education teacher for over ten years. We had a really wonderful experience down here and I think Evan’s progress will be enriched by the information we gathered. I just wanted to include my thoughts from today because I feel it is important for me to remember this, and have it to reflect on in the future.

Three months of growth for everyone…

It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.”- Francis Bacon Sr. 

At Hershey Museum

Looking like a little referee like Pop Pop

Hanging out with his pal Andrew

 It is hard to believe that over three months have gone by since I blogged about having contractions while eating waffles and cleaning the house. 🙂 I spent so many hours imagining what our little person would look like, what he would feel like in my arms, what labor would be like, what it would be like to see our child smile for the first time, and the list goes on and on. And here we are, close to 4 months later, and all of those questions have been answered.  Evan Robert entered our lives like a rocket (5 minutes of pushing, ladies and gents!) and has forever changed Todd and I for the better. He is not just beautiful to gaze at with those pools of stormy blue for eyes and his droopy cheeks that are just so easy to kiss and nibble on all day. His personality has already begun to shape and I can see little parts of him popping out while he plays, eats, and sleeps. I titled this blog “Three months of growth for everyone,” because I have gone through such a transformation in the past three months while Evan has been growing along side me. I will only speak for myself, but I think Todd would agree that he has grown as well as he took on the role as Daddy. I very naively thought I was going to walk into the role of mother and be a natural. That I was going to start every day with great gusto, and have this whole thing down pat right off the bat. How humbling to so quickly realize that was a ridiculous assumption. 🙂
I was blindsided by sleep deprivation beyond anything I had ever experienced, hormonal imbalance that you cannot prepare for, and this overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t feeling the “right” way or doing the “right” thing. All I wanted was to enjoy our precious new son and get a grasp on being a mom, which is a role I had happily anticipated for years. I spent many a day and night wondering if I would ever feel like “myself” again and if maybe I wasn’t cut out to be the mom I had always wished I would be.  Well…..luckily I have plenty of friends and family to remind me that time can do amazing things, as can the support of some wonderful individuals who I cannot begin to thank enough. And here we are, almost 4 months later and I am enjoying my new life as a stay at home mom for the year, and learning to appreciate the last few months as teaching me SO much about myself. I am so thankful to God for trusting Todd and I with our darling little guy. And I am finally feeling confident about my abilities as a mother. I truly believe that I am not alone in some of the feelings I have had and the struggles I faced in the first few months of Evan’s life.I did have some great conversations with some close friends and family members that admitted they felt some similar things and that I should not feel alone or crazy for how I was feeling. That was so helpful and reassuring. I have such amazing people in my life!  But most women would prefer to keep their feelings and fears to themselves for fear of judgement and guilt.I figured being honest on this blog might be helpful to someone else one day? You never know…

Anyway, moving on to Evan and all the fun things he is doing!!
First of all, he has experienced some exciting things in the past month including but not limited to… a hurricane named Irene, an earthquake (that his mommy didn’t feel because she was rocking him to sleep, a trip to the Hershey Museum and Chocolate World, and walking in a charity walk. Evan is such a big boy, he is rolling over from belly to back and back to belly. He goes in a complete circle in his crib, and I have gone in to pick him up numerous times to find him on his belly. He had been sleeping 6 hours and then 3 hours after one wake up over night, which we were very happy with! Recently he started waking up twice again but then last night he slept for 8.5 hours! A record! I am trying to increase the volume of milk he drinks which can be a struggle but the past two days he has done much better. Praying for another long stretch tonight! He is grabbing at everything, his toys, the mobile on the swing, Daddy’s glasses…you name it! He can sit in his bumbo chair playing with a toy while I clean bottles or get dinner ready. He smiles and laughs, and sticks his little tongue out while doing both. Oddly enough I still think his favorite place to be is on the changing table! He just smiles and giggles the whole time. He also can sit for multiple book readings now. Which makes me VERY happy. 🙂 My two favorite things right now, are holding him and singing  while he is falling asleep, and listening to him “talk” while he is drinking his bottle. He sounds like he is having a complete conversation with me while drinking. It is so precious.
Better get to sleep, in case he is up in a couple of hours. 🙂 Thanks again for reading! 

I’m 3.5 months!!