Archive of ‘motherhood’ category

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

This Little Light of Mine

I can hear Evan in my mind singing along with me, “Hide it under a bushel?”
“NO!”
he exclaims with his hands awkwardly banging together in insistence.
“I’m gonna let it shine…”
bushel
 Recently I made a decision to take care of myself in a more deliberate way.  If you know me personally, then you know about it first hand because I have a hard time not talking about it.  I decided in December to do a 14 day sugar detox.  I signed up with a friend’s healthy living business- Smart Sexy Living, and cut out gluten, refined sugars, and processed foods for 14 days.  It was harder than I could have imagined and more rewarding than I ever thought possible.  It taught me so many things about myself and how I look at food. I don’t want to make this whole post about my new lifestyle.  But I do want to share why I have made this choice and why I am continuing to eat differently and treat my body better.  For the past few years, since becoming pregnant and then a mother- I have had this nagging feeling like I need to take better care of myself. That I need to put myself first, at least as much as I can with all the different hats I wear. I realized that I have a little issue with lack of control.
Just a teeny little one.
Ahem.
Don’t we all, though?  We get upset when our child is sick, because we cannot heal him. We get upset when our car breaks down, because now it is out of our hands and in the hands of a mechanic.  We get frustrated when someone cuts us off on the highway because we were minding our own business and following the rules, darn it!  It is out of  our control.
Out of my control that my son was born with a genetic deletion.
Out of my control that my father passed away at 63 and I did not get to say goodbye.
Out of my control that every day I can try as hard as I want to dictate what is going to happen to myself and my family but some time things are just not up to me….
But I realized, I can control what I eat. I can control what food and drink items I bring into the house.  I can control how I look at food and how I treat my body.  Those things ARE in my control.  In fact, no one else dictates what goes in my mouth. As much as I like to blame outside influences- like advertising, or bad work days, the treats in the teachers’ lounge, or hormonal inbalance (that happens EVERY darn month!)- in reality- I still am the one in charge of my diet. And when I say diet, I do not mean diet like counting calories, points, following a set plan- I mean what foods and drink I consume.
It feels good.
Real good.
It feels good to take care of myself in this way.  To allow my light to shine.  To realize that even though Evan, Todd, and my students come first so many times during the course of my day- if I am caring for my body by eating well, then I am actually able to take better care of the people around me.  And in turn, I feel more confident about letting my light shine.
After the detox, Heather, the creator of Smart Sexy Living wrote me an email asking if she could quote me for a testimonial.  She quoted one of my emails to her as saying, “A family friend told me that I needed to quit my job and become a model.” When I received this email from Heather, I balked at the idea of her using that quote. I felt embarrassed and felt as though I was bragging.  She responded to my email saying she would gladly take out the sentence- but she then said, “not to be woo-wooy- but let your light shine!” and she included this quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-Marianne Williamson
It really resounded with me.  Why are we so afraid to share our successes? To let our beauty shine through for everyone to see? We encourage our children to be who they want to be, to be proud of what makes them exceptional, what makes them beautiful inside and out.  Why are we afraid of it?  What kind of an example are we giving our children if we hide behind our beauty and our unique abilities?
By cutting out gluten, refined sugars, and processed foods (I’m not perfect, but this is what I am trying, anyway)- I am letting my light shine.  And it’s about time.
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How can you let your light shine?
You know you are awesome, don’t hide it!

Baby Pool

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Where has the time gone??

My stomach lurches.  My back is dripping with sweat.  I lunge after Evan time and time again to make sure he does not run down the aisle of the theater. I hold his hand and let him lead me to the lobby doors.  He loudly shouts, light! light! light! and insists on getting to the “light.” Against my better judgement, I take him into the brightly sun lit lobby and let him run around, making sure he doesn’t touch the trash can, go up the steps, touch the other patrons, run out the front door, you name it.  I feel my lip trembling and the warmth of tears touching the corners of my eyes. I feel jealous of the other parents sitting in the theater with their child who is happily watching the show.  I then feel guilty for feeling jealous. This is his field trip, and not only that, but it is a live musical performance.  I had been incredibly excited for this day, to share something I love with my son who has an uncanny connection to music.  I was SURE he would love the experience.  I hear familiar music ringing in the background.  A song Evan knows!  I was sure he would be happy if he heard the music, I was sure I could sit back down in the seats and join his class for the last five minutes.

I was wrong.

I tried to sit, and E crawled up my chest, and tried to get away from me yet again. He carried on loudly, protesting and wriggling all over our laps. Todd leaned over and said that we might as well leave, since it was almost over anyway and Evan clearly did not want to be in the seats. We were fighting a losing battle. We scrambled to gather up our things and get out of there with some sense of dignity.  The parents, teachers, and children from E’s school watched the show intently, with popcorn bags and drinks in their laps.

His car seat buckled, his bags strewn about the back of the van.  I had to go to work to get in a half day and Todd was bringing him home.  I kissed Evan goodbye and felt my eyes film over.  Todd asked if I was okay but I couldn’t muster the words. I realized that my reaction didn’t seem to match what had happened. Evan is a two and half year old. Two year olds don’t necessarily want to sit for any length of time. Why did this hurt so much?

I walked through the stinging cold wind and felt  my cheeks burn. My stomach was tied in knots. All I wanted to do was sit alone and cry.  It had been a while since I felt that way.  Since I felt like we were outsiders. There was a sea of happy, healthy children who could watch a show, communicate their needs clearly, and be engaged.  And Evan was hanging out in the baby pool, splashing about, not caring if he was a part of the sea or not.

My friend came over with her son over the holidays.  Her son is only a few months older than Evan.  They are buddies.  We shared pregnancy adventures, new mom doubts, laughs, and tears.  She is one of my dearest friends. While our boys were infants, her son would achieve milestones months and months before Evan.

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Buddies for life

It made sense at the time because he is ten weeks older.  I never worried or focused on it. I remember thinking, Evan would get there in his own time.  After receiving E’s diagnosis, the gaps became wider. Well…actually they always were wide, I just accepted that they would not close in like I had thought they would.  Her son is extremely verbal, always chatting,using multi-syllabic words, complex sentences. He tries to talk to Evan and Evan bounces happily in front of him, gazing at his buddy with awe and love.  He often will try to say something, but it comes out more like a babble because he is so excited.  I love having them together, since they have known each other since they were in our bellies.

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I remember this day very clearly. Evan wanted to drink the water the whole time. 🙂

But I would be lying if I said it doesn’t put me right back to the baby pool-big sea situation sometimes.  I watch Evan do his own thing, happily splashing away, unaware of any development gap or difference.  Repeating a string of sayings over and over again. “Here we go!” “All aboard!”  “Light on?” I love hearing our little guy talk.  It’s just a little different when you have an example of age appropriate speech right in front of you.  My friend’s son uses interjections, adjectives, a rich vocabulary.  I could listen to him talk for hours.  I videotaped him counting a long time ago when I was babysitting him because I found it amazing to hear him count. Evan is using two word combinations, and he only really adds on the word please to make the second word.  And who cares, right?  Certainly not Evan.

E happily splashes in his baby pool.  His smile does not fade when another child expresses his or her need more clearly than him.  He does not notice that he is wearing orthotics and still using a wider gait and walking on his tip toes.  He does not mind that the children at school are sitting in their chairs without any straps and buckles and he is strapped into a booster seat to sit at the table.  He does not catch the second glance the mom in line gives him and me when I say he is 2.5 and he is shouting vowel sounds in the line at Target.

Evan loves the baby pool. He loves when others allow him to enjoy the baby pool.  He also loves when you jump in with him. Play with him on his level, see the water through his eyes.  When he is allowed to push buttons for a little while. Allowed to shout church hymns at the top of his lungs in the grocery store. (only his mama knows they are actual songs) Allowed to turn on and off the light switch a few times every time you enter the room. Allowed to chase the stroller so he can spin the wheels for a little while.

When I was a little girl, I could spend hours in the baby pool by myself. Splashing around, using my imagination to pretend I was floating in the ocean, that I was a mermaid waiting to be rescued.  It’s not a bad place to spend some time.  If Evan doesn’t mind it, there is no reason why I should be concerned.  Doesn’t mean he won’t still receive swimming lessons or that he will not be asked to try out the deep end at some point.  But for now, the baby pool is just right for him.

Splash. Smile. Release.

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Release

So it has been a coon’s age since I wrote last. (husband likes that saying) Okay maybe not that long, but since mid December.  I thought I would be brimming with things to write about over the holiday break. The magic of Christmas morning, the quiet hope of Christmas Eve night. Evan’s day time hippotherapy session, family parties, etc.

All of those things did happen, but….I felt a little harried and tired when I did have the time to blog. So instead I chose to sit in the playroom with Evan or catch up on DVR with Todd. Or spend an hour in the kitchen cooking or baking. (more on that later-you can pick your chin off the ground now) And I am glad that is how I tried to spend the little bit of free time I did have while off from work.  But my fingers have been aching to write, and I’ve been spending a lot of time catching up on other blogs, thinking, “I really need to get back into the groove!”

Hence, here I sit while Todd is playing with Evan in the other room on his new Ipad.  Todd has been fighting a nasty chest cold for about three weeks now. Maybe longer. I asked him if he could monitor Evan on the Ipad for a little while so I could have some blogging time. Of course he complied, but I can’t kick the feeling like I shouldn’t have asked. Like I should have just gotten Evan up from his non-nap and put my alone time off for a little while longer. I often feel that way. That I should leave a gathering early to get home, because Todd is caring for Evan.  Or if I go to a workout class, I feel like I am being a little neglectful as a mother and wife because I am doing something completely for myself.

Ok.

So I know most of you are probably thinking, get off it, Erin. You know you deserve your own time- we all do. Happy Mama means a happy child, etc. etc. And I do know that. I know it like I know I shouldn’t speed while driving. I know that brussel sprouts are good for me.

I know these things but I don’t necessarily live them or believe them deep down. I love this new Jazzercise class I am taking. LOVE it. The teacher is a friend of mine that I met through an early intervention program where our sons both attended. She is spunky, energetic, and a very good instructor. I leave that class sweaty and feeling lighter in my orthopedic sneakers. I’m kind of not exaggerating with that one. The first class I took she said something like, “this is your hour, right ladies??” and I thought, you know what, yes, this is my hour. If I want to jazzercise with it, I can.  If I want to reorganize Evan’s closet, I will. If I want to read endless recipe blogs, I will.

And this is why I decided that I need to Release.

My 2014 word is “Release.”

I’ve never done a theme word before. Too hokey maybe. Resolutions only last about ten days. But I thought, I want to try. I want to give myself a focus.  So I thought on it for a few days.  What would be a good word to keep in the back of my mind as I face new experiences this year, both good and bad.  I kept coming back to the idea of letting go.  Letting go of guilt. Letting go of worry. Letting go of doubt…. of insecurities, of pain, of comparison.

Release.

Like when you take a deep breath in with your nose and fill your stomach with air and then release it slowly, for at least five seconds.

That is what I want to think about this year. Releasing. So that there will be room in my heart and mind for better things.

Like this:

Happy mower

and this:

family shot

and all of these:

20130914_174033 charlene and me gran and erin singing T AND Z1836_10200589273470204_255729630_n

I know there will be plenty more of these moments in 2014, and I plan to hold them in my heart and mind and try my darndest to RELEASE the rest. Will you join me?

 

My Gift This Year

9 Month birthday

9 months

Scrolling back through pictures of Evan in his first year, my heart hurts a little. It hurts for a number of reasons.  It hurts because I can see the features that indicated he had Williams Syndrome. The blue sparkly eyes, the wide and flat nasal bridge. The memory of his floppy limbs.  At the time I had no idea. Evan was over a year before we received his diagnosis.

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4 months

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “what does it matter now?”  Truly, it doesn’t. And 92% of time, (I did extensive research to get that percentage) I do not look at the words Williams Syndrome and feel anything negative. In fact, most of the time I see it as a true gift. That my son has this rare condition that causes him to have extreme empathy and compassion. It causes him to smile all day long. It causes him to sing at the top of his long and care very little who hears it. I can drop him off at preschool and there is no crying. He toddles away from me happily and forgets I’m there.

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It hurts because I see my father’s rosy cheeks and ear to ear grin in Evan’s chubby baby face.

It hurts because I can remember the difficult time I had post-partum and how I longed to see the beauty in motherhood.

It hurts because I know my little boy is growing up. I know he will enter the public school system soon. That our first meeting with the child study team in our school district is just days away.

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Halloween 2012 17 months

It hurts as I recall the first time Evan was evaluated by the early intervention team. How my stomach lurched each time they asked Evan to complete a task and he would just look at them expectantly, hoping they would play with him but not completing the expected task. Not knowing that he was being tested.

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Please Touch Museum March 2013

Then the hurt turns to a knot in my stomach. A knot of joy intertwined with struggle, intertwined with pride, intertwined with wonder.

My, how far Evan has come.  From this little floppy baby who could stare at a spinning wheel for a half hour straight. From this bouncing bean who loved to leap in his jumper exersaucer. From this eager boy who wanted to communicate with us so badly but could barely get out the word “more” for the longest time.

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Our little Jerry Lee 11 months

This past weekend, I woke up late (glorious glorious thing that was) at my in laws house to find everyone else up and playing in their living room.  Evan saw me, stopped the game he was playing, smiled a huge smile, came over and sat in my lap. He gazed up at me and just very confidently said, “Mama.” First time ever. Not the first time he said “Mama,” but the first time he spontaneously did so, without anyone pointing at me or prompting him. I can remember months and months ago saying to a friend, “I just can’t wait until he greets me and says my name in excitement.” It happened!!

The following night from his crib he whispered, “Ahhh you,” “Fo-eb-a”which translates to “I love you, forever.”

All on his own.

My Christmas gift has already been unwrapped.  And it’s a gift i can unwrap every day.  So blessed.

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No Joke

My Big Boy

I only have a few minutes before I pass out for the night but I have felt very negligent of the blog the last few weeks so I wanted to make sure to pop in.  I have had many moments in the past few weeks where I though, “ooh, I really need to blog about that.” I need to start writing ideas on napkins like song writers of yore. (if that ever was a thing?)
Being a working mom is no joke.
For real.
But I’m doing it.

Arrrr Matey! 

I’m about a month and two weeks into the school year.  I survived the difficult first few weeks. I’m not texting my friend at Evan’s school multiple times a day anymore.  I’m not feeling guilt laden as I browse through the messages on the local SAHM mommy boards  at all the fun activities they are doing throughout the day. Well, it is hard to feel guilty when you don’t read the boards anymore. (ahem, it was better for my sanity to take a little break) I’m figuring out how to make lunches, mix Evan’s “milk,” make myself presentable, remember my materials, Evan’s materials, and make sure the dog is taken care of- all before running out the door. Albeit not at the time I would like to get out the door, but I am working on it. I’m definitely not doing this alone. Todd has been awesome, feeding Evan on the mornings I take him to school, getting him dressed so I can run around like a ninny getting things done.
As I mentioned in another entry, Evan is doing so well at school.  He loves his teachers and they love him.  The other day I picked him up, and as I was pulling out of my parking spot- the kids who were still there were walking out to the playground. One little girl saw my van backing up and waved with excitement and said, “Bye Evan!” and my heart just soared.  It was the smallest thing, but it meant the world to me.  The fact that other children like to be around him and he is being well cared for, is really all that matters to me. 
The hardest thing right now, is finding a balance.  Time management-finding a way to take care of all aspects of my world- teaching, mothering, being a wife, friend, daughter, taking care of Evan’s therapies and health, and fitting in the occasional exercise class and a little time to breath. I’m sure that will continue to be a work in progress.  Thank you for all the well wishes and supportive messages I received in the first few weeks back to work.  I know I am not the first person to have to juggle a lot of different roles in a day.  In fact, I hope to learn from the many savvy working mothers who have already been there and done that and know what works best.

 More blogging to come later. My eyes seem to enjoy being closed right now. 

he’s worth it…..

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I didn’t know..


First Day of School for Evan (27 months) September 2013

 Well….I did it. We did it. We made it through week one of Project Return to Work. The last day I taught in a classroom setting was in April of 2011.  I was 9 months pregnant and incredibly eager to meet my son and become a mother.  I can honestly say I had NO CLUE what the next two years would bring. 

None. Zip. Nada.

I didn’t know the excruciating pain of labor. 
I didn’t know the extreme joy of holding my first born child after carrying him around for ten months and five days.  
I didn’t know the turmoil that sleep deprivation can do to your emotions and your psyche. 

Saying hi from my classroom.

I didn’t know much I would need and love having my mother in law stay with us when I struggled with anxiety and insomnia in the months after giving birth. 
I didn’t know that being a mother is not necessarily an inherent skill you are born with. It takes work and experience just like any other job. 
I didn’t know that I would miss getting dressed for work in the morning and the adult conversations that go along with having a job outside of the house.
I didn’t know how guilty I would feel for missing those things.

I didn’t know how much guilt stinks. 

I didn’t know  how being a SAHM sometimes feels like high school all over again, with the mommy cliques and the comparison conversations that go on at the playground and indoor play facilities.  
I didn’t know how much richer my relationship with my mother would be through becoming a mother myself.  
I didn’t know how important it would be to make sure to have a child free conversation with Todd every day.
I didn’t know how hard it would be to leave Evan with a babysitter. We still have not “hired” someone outside of our circle of family members and friends. 
I didn’t know how exhilarating it would be to have a baby free dinner with Todd.
I didn’t know we would find out our child has a rare genetic condition.
I didn’t know how life changing a moment in a doctor’s office could be. 

Evan (1) after diagnosis

I didn’t know how hard it would be to be around my friend’s children for a while.
I didn’t know how desperately I would try to find a reason to believe the  doctor might be wrong.
I didn’t know that one day I would realize my child was going to change people’s lives. For the better.  
I didn’t know how music would bring so much joy to our child.
I didn’t know that I would end up taking an additional year off and have no regrets.
I didn’t know how I would go from wanting to work, to not wanting to work, to needing to go back to work and all the emotions that go along with it.
I didn’t know the power of online communities. 
I didn’t know I would make lifelong friends on a support board. 
I didn’t know I would wear a Williams Syndrome awareness tee shirt to the store and hope that someone would ask me about it. 
I didn’t know how the half hour after nap time would become my most favorite time with Evan.
I didn’t know how important early intervention is.
I didn’t know how much I would value Evan’s therapists.

I didn’t know how hard it would be miss some of Evan’s therapy sessions because of work.
Again, I didn’t know how much guilt can really stink.
I didn’t know how hard working moms work. 
I didn’t know how hard stay at home moms work.
I didn’t know conflicted I would feel about being both of those things. 
I didn’t know how hard it would be to give up the amount of control I have over Evan’s life.
I didn’t realize how much I value being in control.
I didn’t know how two big blue eyes could just fill up my heart and tear up my insides all at the same time.

I didn’t realize how blessed I was, and would continue to be. 


 

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Emotions, Own them, Use them.

I was given the distinct honor and pleasure of guest blogging over at Mommy Mentionables  today.  Melanie’s site is helpful to new moms, seasoned moms, and bloggers looking for tips and ways to improve their sites.  Please take a second and check her out! Tell her I sent you! 

  “Don’t feel guilty for loving the things you love about your job. Don’t feel guilty for missing him. Use up all the emotions. Own them, use them. They will steer you correctly.” – Obi Wan Jamie

Williams Syndrome
When we met IRL for the first time June 2013

So I have this friend. This AMAZING friend Jamie. We met on this fancy thing here we like to call the internet.  We met through a support board for families of individuals with Williams Syndrome. Her daughter, Norah, is about 4 months older than Evan and I just adore her. We have gotten to know each other through Facebook private messaging, text, and phone calls.  Whenever I am feeling doubtful about something, or I am worried about Evan’s development, I don’t google it, I send Jamie a message.  She is one of those people who just “get it.” And not only does she “get it,” but she also gives incredible advice that sounds like it should be coming from a woman far beyond her years.  I call her Obi Wan on the message boards because her responses to posts are always so thoughtful and…well, wise. Can’t think of a better word for them.  
Last week I was having a moment (one of many) where I was struggling with the idea of going back to work.  I messaged Jamie in a moment of panic and told her I was starting to crumble.  She got back to me and part of what she said was the nugget I opened with:  
 
  Don’t feel guilty for loving the things you love about your job. Don’t feel guilty for missing him. (my son) Use up all the emotions. Own them, use them. They will steer you correctly.

Getting in good cuddle time


I have heard over and over about how working is a part of who I am. Being a teacher is sort of part of my genetic code, as much as missing the elastin gene is part of Evan’s.  I have felt that myself at times when I missed standing up in front of a classroom.  I actually think my true love is theater, children’s theater primarily, and being a teacher is sort of a form of that.  (sometimes….) But since staying home for the extra year with Evan, I have become very comfortable in my role as mother, therapist, housekeeper, paperwork filler-outer, etc.  I like being the one who knows the most about Evan.  It feels right somehow. But we also knew as a family that I needed to go back to work for financial reasons currently and in the future.  
Hence the transition period we are currently in.   But what Jamie said felt so incredibly helpful to me.  It gives me permission to feel sad when I walk up the ramp of his school on Tuesday to my car and feel the sting of tears that I know will come.  To feel exhilarated when teaching a new skill to my students in a few weeks and knowing they are “getting it.”  To feel anxious when I think of Evan taking a nap on a mat for the first time, and wondering how he will do with the other children, will he interact? Will they be frustrated by his speech patterns? Will they love him?  Permission to feel excited to see the students I left for maternity leave as second graders who are now fifth graders.  To feel comfort in the hugs of my staff family who have gone through what I am going through before.  
I like that concept. Owning my emotions. The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Own them and use them.  Use the sensitivity I have as a mother of a child with special needs to better understand the parents of my students.  Use the sadness I feel from missing Evan eat his lunch or play on the playground to be a better mom to him when I DO have time with him. Make it count.   Love what you love and miss what you miss.  It is all part of the package of being a working parent.  Hoping I can heed my own advice in the coming months. 

Sharing some Bloggy Love

 Hi gang! 
(that is what my elementary school gym teacher Ms. Atwell would call us, it’s catchy, right?)

 I thought it was a good time to share some of my favorite blog entries that I have read over the past month or two.  I have become engrossed in the blog world and I have learned so much from other bloggers. It seems fitting that every few months I share what I have found amusing, educational, touching, you name it.  
Enjoy! Be sure to leave supportive comments on the blogs and tell them I sent ya! 
1.) Love That Max: Getting Sucked into Special Needs Parent Self Pity I just love Ellen, the author of this blog.  She writes with humor, honesty, and a lot of very helpful knowledge.  This particular entry reminded me that we are all human, and it’s okay to have pity pot moments, but we just have to make sure not to stay there.
2.) Star in her Eyes: You’d Never Know. This eloquent blogger has two beautiful daughers. One has a rare condition called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome. She blogs about life with her first daughter and beyond.  This entry really hits home for me, she discusses the way that people often address her after finding out that Fiona has a genetic condition.  That she “looks normal.”  Such a harmless phrase, but it can mean something very different to a mama of a child with special needs.  
3.) Andrew Solomon’s Ted Talk: This is not a blog per se, but a 20 min talk that hit me so hard. Just really made me think about acceptance, differences, prejudice, how I treat and look at others. Do yourself a favor and carve out some time to watch it. 
4.) Brewing And Chewing: Big Brother Motives. The husbo wrote a really great piece that somehow ties together the reality T.V. show, Big Brother, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and Williams Syndrome. He truly has a brilliant mind, that is not just the wife speaking. 
5.) Williams Syndrome Smile: In Love.  This is written by a friend of mine. Her daughter has WS and had major heart surgery in May. This entry just makes my heart full, as she discusses her love for her daughter and how it has changed into something amazing. 
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