Archive for November, 2010

“Becoming a mother changed my life”.

Such a simple thought, but one, I am pretty sure every mother that has ever lived has uttered a thousand times.   Well my statement tonight is a bit more specific than that.  Emily my sweet, amazing, angel of a daughter changed me from the mother I expected to be, into the mother I was meant to be.   Emily changed not only my life, but how I forever choose to live it.  She changed more than just my life, she shifted my perspective, my goals, my priorities and my whole world as I knew and saw it.

Jayden was my first born, he will forever hold that title.  He made every thought I had about motherhood become a reality.  He arrived promptly on his due date, being born by cesarean after the obligatory agonizing 13 some hours of painful labor.  When I became a mom, of course my whole life changed, but “how” I mothered, was almost involuntary.  I had read every book.  I had rented every DVD on the topic.  I did everything I “thought” I was supposed to do.  Fed him on schedule, pumped breast milk on schedule, counted ounces, dressed him in proper layers, took him to every pediatrician appointments with all required shots given when I was told, fed him only Gerber approved foods all “stage approved” starting the day after “solids” were supposed to be allowed to be introduced.  I wrote down every wet diaper, every poop, every feeding, every wake up.  I weaned him from the breast, and then the bottle, as soon as the AAP recommended.  I watched everything he did, and if it was something I hadn’t seen before, well… I consulted my research.

Then came Emily.

The little girl I had forever dreamed of.  The daughter that was all I had ever wanted, who’s named had been picked out when I was 12 years old.

She came on her own time, early as it happened.  She screwed up my meticulous birth plans and sent me into a whirlwind the night she decided she wanted to be born.  I should have taken it as a sign of things to come.  I was so “mad” that night at having my plans uprooted, that it was hard for me to even be excited about finally getting to meet her.  The irony was, I only thought I knew everything.  I only thought I knew best.  The minute I heard that very first cry as she met this world (the first one I had ever heard, because I was asleep for Jayden’s first)….  the greatest lesson of my life began.

Unlike her brother who had screamed from basically the day we brought him home from the hospital, Emily slept non stop for the first 3 weeks of her life.  It was almost like she knew that I needed to recover, really really needed it.  She would wake up, look around see that life was still hectic and close her sweet little eyes again and go back to sleep.   Emily ate when Emily wanted to eat.  The was no schedule to be had, no routine to get her placed on, because the bottom line was she would let you clearly know when she was hungry, clearly know when she was not, and instead of crying day and night she barely made a peep unless she needed something which made it pretty darn easy to guess what that was.  As soon as the need was met, back to dreamland she would go.

Four weeks old, I took her for her 1 month pediatrician visit.  I had concerns about the shape of her head, something looked off to me, and for the life of me I couldn’t pinpoint what.  I was still that same mom you understand.  I was still the same patterned, over anxious, stressed about every little thing mom.  I had spent no less than the last two years being just that kind of person, my PPD had made me almost obsessive about every little thing relating to childrearing.   I noticed details, because I lived in the details, shit, the details consumed me!  The doctor and I fought over whether there was any cause for concern.  The doctor called me vain, told me I was overreacting, told me I was paranoid, explained how I was going to hurt my baby if I put her through tests she didn’t need just to appease my need for her head to be “perfectly shaped”.  She said if by 4-5 months it didn’t fix itself, we’d look into it then.

Emily sat in that carseat, and looked up at me with those enormous brown eyes, and for the first time in my life, I felt what “mommy instinct” truly was.  I knew I was right, just as sure as she was siting there.  So I pushed, and the doctor caved to my desire for a head CT for my little baby.  I drove with tears streaming down my face to the hospital doubting every decision I had ever made, wondering if I was harming my baby with this test, praying even that there was no need for it and that I was all the things the doctor had said, because the alternative meant that there was something actually wrong.  I wanted to be able to embrace how stupid, and paranoid and everything else I must be for not being able to listen to reason.  After all, doctors were telling me she’d be fine.  I was just a mom, what did I know?

That 6 second CT was perhaps the last time I really truly doubted my parenting, or instinct ever again.  Scaphocephaly.  A surgical condition that should be dealt with as early as 6 weeks old (two weeks from then), and far less fixable after 12 weeks old…… I know I have told this story so many times before and I am worried about repeating myself so I am going to sum up the next 12 weeks of my life by saying this about it:

when your look into the eyes of an angel, and you see true love then you know “your world” is exactly how it should be.  Every time I looked in the eyes of my sweet Emily, I knew love.  You just know that everything is the way it should be, that your heart has everything it could ever need.  When something happens to threaten the existence of that, when some doctor looks you in the face and tells you that they are going to need to surgically cut into this ball of love’s head and remove her skull?  Yeah, your world, that foundation of love that feels so incredibly strong to be standing on?  It gets ripped out from under you in a sentence, hell in a single word.

Whenever your world collapses, you get faced with a choice.  Collapses can happen over anything, and can bring you to various levels of pain, suffering, and despair.  Anything that threatens your life as you see if can be seen like this.  Illness, death, divorce, moving, losing a job….. point is, anything that rocks your foundation provides you with a choice.  Do you throw yourself in 100% and do what needs to be done to tackle the obstacles that lie ahead, or do you freak out, run away and hide from the realities that are staring at you?

For this collapse, I had no choice.  Being stripped of that choice made it easier actually.  I needed this baby in my life, I knew that with as much conviction as I knew I needed to breathe.  I knew that no matter what I had to go through, no matter what this all was going to do to everyone (stupid things like hours of research, drives to where ever had the best doctors, appointments, consults etc…) NONE of that mattered.  Nothing seemed as necessary as this innocent little child placed in my care, she completely depended on me and nothing, I tell you NOTHING but her safety and happiness were of any importance at all.

Emily underwent surgery at 12 weeks old.

My perspective on what was important in this life, was forever altered.

Life is not about what schedules we keep, or the activities we do.  It is not about the size of the house you live in, or the material things you own, or how perfect your children behave.  I realized it is not about how many “mommy wars” you can win by being the best homemaker, or the most “together” mother.  It is about loving your children every moment, it is about appreciating what you have in front of you at the exact moment you have it.  Jayden made me a mother, he brought me into the world of motherhood and taught me what having kids was all about.  My greatest lesson however, the lesson that my sweet angel of a girl taught me was just how much I could love being a mom, and just how deeply a mother’s love can truly be.  There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my children.  Not because I “have” to, not because I am “supposed” to, but because having them in my life is the single greatest gift I have ever been given, and their lives are the most precious existences in the world.

I threw away the books.  I started to trust my mommy instinct more and more.  I nursed 3 times as long as I had with her brother, I let her take the reins and listened to her when she told me she was done with that part of our lives, I no longer cared if she had a lick of a lollipop before the age of 2, I didn’t bat an eye when she took the normal tumbles and didn’t freak out when she pooped all over her clothes, or grabbed food off the table when it was clearly not “approved”.  I relaxed as a mom because faced with the stress of almost losing her, not one single thing that followed seemed to carry that much fear, or even that much importance.  She was here with us, she was happy, and if there was something that she could do or experience that made her even happier or enjoy things more, then dang it I was going to let it happen.

My lessons from her translated into every aspect of my life.  I stopped worrying about if my house was perfect, if my hair and makeup were flawless, if my clothes were matched.  Some people might look at all that and say I became lazy, or let myself go.  I would say it was the opposite.  I let go of the things that tied me to things I only used to believe were  important.  I grabbed on more tightly to those things that mattered more than all others.  The way we love each other.  The people in our lives that we choose to surround ourselves with us love us no matter what cars we drive, or how we look.  Those people who truly care about us, who love us with our flaws.  The people who can see past the spit up on your shirt, and the chocolate on your child’s face, and laugh with you through your tears, or make you laugh through your own tears, those are the people that matter, that is the stuff that counts.

I understand now what it is like to live like there is no tomorrow.  Of course there are days we all feel like we are just surviving.  Of course there are times where whatever happens to be going on in our lives makes us dissatisfied, or presents us with challenges we wish we didn’t have to face.  Of course there are times where we all feel like throwing up our hands and walking away from it all.  There are times where life gets hard, sometimes even where it feels too hard, and we can not seem to remember how amazing it is to be on this earth.  Times like that I am so grateful for my little girl who still lets me rock her to sleep at night if I can find the time, who cradles my face in her hands and tells me that she loves me, tells me that she “likes” me too, and does so without having any idea how incredible those words are to hear.

Emily has a soul of an angel.  She is strong willed, and defiant, and headstrong and sometimes difficult.  I am convinced all of these things are part of who she needed to be.  She sailed through that surgery (what feels like a lifetime ago) with such a smile on her face, and such strength in her resolve that from that day on she seemed to adopt the same sort of attitude to life that I did.  Nothing was that big of a deal, nothing was that much of a problem.  She takes the world in stride, she seems to know that she is lucky to be here, and that so many people are grateful that she is.  She loves.  She loves with all her little heart, and lives with the passion that I had almost forgotten to have.

As I sit here scanning through pictures, putting together a slideshow that I will love to watch tomorrow, that she will no doubt watch and laugh at with me, I am reminded of how much fun it has been to be her mom these past three years.

Emily, to you my sweet daughter, my love for you knows no bounds and only gets stronger every day.

Thank you from your momma for being you.  Thank you for giving me the gift of your life, for being my every dream come true, and for allowing me to become a better mother through knowing and loving you.  Words can not express my love for you sweet child, you have given me more joy in the last three years than I deserved in a lifetime.  I thank you for reminding me everyday that each moment that we get to spend together is a gift, and I hope you feel how much I love you, and never doubt that for a second.

Happy Birthday my baby girl.  You are my great


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