Guts over fear

I think in some respects I thought hoped bringing Margs into the world would heal me. I mean, why wouldn’t it? We tried to bring a living child into this world for years before we were blessed to finally meet her. Her birth should have repaired those millions of broken pieces of my heart. But, it simply didn’t.

I often tell people who are facing a fresh loss that they’ll adapt somehow and find a “new normal”. That “new normal” is different for everyone but once you get to that place, it’s essentially existing in a space of acceptance and continued living by simply putting one tiny foot in front of the other. My new normal does not mean I’m always okay ( I doubt I ever will be) nor does it mean I’ll ever understand what has happened. But, I have accepted that I’m powerless to change my past and that however tragic- this is what the universe decided to hand me.

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Parenting after loss is hard. I’m so incredibly grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to even be facing these issues and I know all too well that there are loss-mommas out there who are still fighting to meet their rainbow and get the opportunity to step foot into my reality. But nonetheless, parenting a rainbow is far more difficult than I ever imagined because some days it tests me in ways I never thought possible.

“Is this your first?” asked a fellow play group mom.

“What an incredibly loaded question” I thought to myself “what do I tell her – do I tell her the truth?” and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. That all too familiar feeling – flushed face, heart pounding out of my chest, forehead beading with sweat despite feeling freezing cold. I was having a panic attack.

You see, being put in a situation where I either have to tell the story or have to lie makes me uncomfortable. There’s no grey area here folks; my options are limited to truth or lie. No in-between exists when faced with these types of questions.

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I could have told her that Margs was my first. I could have saved that woman the burden of being forced to face the enormity of my grief. I could have kept it all to myself and pretended it never happened sparing myself the emotional energy required to broach the topic again. But, I decided to be honest regardless of how difficult it was to do so.

“No, Margs is my only living child” I replied.

Such a simple response made me realize that all those times I’ve lied (and yes, I’ve lied far more times than I’d like to admit) were fueled by the fear that my story would inconvenience and burden others. I’d lie and then agonize over denying the existence of my 5 other babies which forced me into a guilt cycle that was difficult to shake.

The truth might be uncomfortable to hear. It might very well be scary to some. It might not be the response a curious individual was expecting but, it’s my reality and the reality of an astounding number of women who for a plenitude of reasons lie just like I did.

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It took guts to face my fear of telling the story to a stranger. In that moment something finally clicked – my journey to motherhood albeit atypical and stained by heartache is a story worth telling. This precious baby girl that I get the honor and privilege to tuck into bed each night is my miracle – she is my rainbow after a very long and dark storm. Her earthly presence is cherished in ways that words will never adequately express but regardless, her presence does not heal the heartache and void created by her heavenly siblings.

I opted to make a vow that day – a vow to tell the story honestly anytime I’m faced with those types of questions. For the first time, I faced my fear head on and proudly came out on the other side.

I’m a proud loss mum and this is my story to tell.

QOD

Loss mommas, have you lied? Why or why not?

Friends, would you want to know the truth?

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Highs & Lows – Week of March 27th

Happy Friday folks! Busy weekend ahead?

Ours is shaping up to be pretty quiet except for Margs’ swimming lessons. Mer has been working evening shift all week and we’re all extra tired from the change of routine. We’ll be spending the weekend eating good food, relaxing, taking walks, watching movies and resting up for the coming week.

If you’re just catching up here are the posts that I published this week.

Highs

Surviving a complete change of schedule. Our little family was thrust into a night shift this week. Every few months, Mer works a 3 pm – 12 am shift for a couple of weeks. Well, it’s the first time he’s on this shift since Margs has developed a little bit of separation anxiety. She’s super excited to have her dad home during the day and we were really worried about how her nighttime routine would go since he usually puts her to sleep for the night. This little girl is a rock star and has been adapting like a champ all week!

A few small home reno projects are being discussed. When we bought this house last year it was pretty much in move in condition. There were a few things we wanted to change but agreed that they weren’t pressing issues and that we’d hold off. Mer and I have been discussing tackling each project and I’m really excited to get started. Our list includes: removing wallpaper from our foyer and painting it a neutral color, repainting the powder room which currently has a black ceiling and landscaping the front of the house to give it a little more curb appeal. I’m looking forward to taking this on!

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Lows

Rainy wetness most of the week. It rained on and off all week which meant Margs and I didn’t get the chance to play outside much. Thankfully her father was home during the day and she thought it was the coolest thing ever. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and I’m crossing my fingers for nice weather this weekend because all this rain is a real downer.

Baby blood work. It’s done and I guess that’s what counts but oh man the process sucked. I’m crossing my fingers her results are fine and we wont have to venture down that road again anytime soon (routine anemia work up). In a nutshell it took 2 phlebotomists and Mer to hold her down. It was just awful.

QOD

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of March 27th?

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Taming my inner mama bear- why jumping in might not always be the best solution

So it happened, earlier than expected but, it happened. At play group last week my 15 month old daughter was intentionally pushed to the ground when she tried to play with an older child who wasn’t in the mood to share that day.

My heart just about broke into a million pieces. I watched in disbelief as this unknown to me child put her hands on my baby and forcefully pushed her to the ground. I stood there dumbfounded and processed what had just happened. I mean, I somehow thought that I’d have at least a few more years before I’d have to deal with this sort of thing – she’s still a baby for crying out loud.

My reaction was probably pretty typical. I ran over, picked up my kid and comforted her because that was what my momma instincts told me to do. (To be fair, although shocked by what had happened Margs wasn’t hurt, crying or otherwise upset) I watched the other child simply continue playing with really no awareness of what had just happened.

 

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I spent the rest of the day pretty upset. I was sad that Margs had been excluded. I was angry that she was put in a situation where she was vulnerable and defenseless. I was infuriated that another child took my daughters agency away and may have potentially showed my daughter that physical displays of aggression are okay when things don’t go your way.

Then I realized my kid wasn’t even upset by it and I realized that all I want for this little girl is for her to be comfortable in her own skin, set boundaries and not let this sort of stuff upset her the way it upsets me.

This was about me and not herIt’s 100% about my insecurities about dealing with these types of situations and my own feelings of inadequacy when it comes to parenting.

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Mer and I had a long long long discussion that night about how we’re going to deal with these types of situations. Sure, she’s small right now but soon enough (sooner than we’re probably comfortable with) our little girl will come home upset because of something similar – what then? Do we jump in and help her “deal” with the issue, do we leave her to her own devices to figure it our for herself? What is the right approach? What method will help her foster independence, boundaries and self love?

As we discussed it our attitude changed from helping her deal (mediating the issue) to taking a very very passive and supportive role. Although Margs will have to proverbially trip and fall a few hundred times before she figures it out – neither of us truly feels like it’s our place to get involved in issues between children (we’re looking ahead here to when she’s old enough to understand these types of situations for herself). It is not my job to find out why, it’s also not my job to scold someone else’s child for behaviors I perceive as inappropriate, it’s not my job to resolve these types of issues – it’s between the children.  My job is to make sure my kid is equipped with communication skills, empathy and the confidence to deal with these situations herself. Sure, they may not always go her way – but my job is to make sure she’s as equipped as possible to deal with whatever is handed to her and not to solve it for her.

But bullying said Mer. What are we gonna do if she gets bullied? Just stay out of it?

Of course not I responded! If her safety whether that be emotional or physical is threatened to a degree that she is unable to manage with her communication skills then clearly we’d get involved – my goal is to raise her to be a strong, confident little girl who will come to me to discuss what is going on. I’d like to think that I’m raising her to be aware of her needs, to acknowledge what makes her uncomfortable and to admit when she needs help.

In retrospect, I’m not sure if I handled the situation correctly. At only 15 months old my instinct was to run to her and comfort her. Yet, I question if she really needed to be comforted or if my instincts were somehow to make me feel better about the situation. Parenting is hard. Decisions even harder – we often have to react in the moment and are then left to question if we made the right decision.

QOD

How do you handle these types of situations?

 

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Starting the day on the right foot – the importance of having a solid morning routine

A few weeks back I had a listen to The Power of A Morning Ritual from the Accidental Creative. I was at a point where I often found myself frantic, scattered and overwhelmed in the morning which made me irritable and unpleasant the rest of the day. Mornings around here can get pretty busy. Mer is up and trying to get ready for his work day while I’m mostly dealing with Margs on my own (who wakes up FULLY energized and ready to rock) which leaves very little time to wake up, focus and start the day off on the right foot.

For quite some time, we had a great system going. She’d wake up and we’d cuddle in bed together for a good while before we all headed downstairs to get a start on our day. Recently though, she’s decided that once her eyes open she’s got to get right out of bed and mosey on down the stairs. This leaves very little time for me to do anything for myself since before I know it I need to whip breakfast together, change her diaper/clothes and start moving and shaking to keep up with her.

The Accidental Creative podcast was really eye opening and helped me realize how badly I needed to nail down a realistic morning routine that would help me start the day on a positive note instead of a frantic, scattered and impatient one. Does anyone else feel like their morning flow somehow predicts how the rest of the day will go?

Todd Henry talks a lot about centering yourself in the morning. To do this, he suggests waking up at the same time every morning and essentially taking the time to just sit and be with your thoughts. He outlines his process with includes things like reading, clearing your mind, reflecting and writing. Although inspiring and likely very beneficial for him, I didn’t necessarily feel that his approach was a good fit for my current lifestyle.

What did stick though was his idea that we need a predictable period of time to be alone. In my case, waking up with Margs as opposed to before her gave me basically zero opportunities to just sit and be still with my own thoughts or to do basic things like shower and get dressed for the day.

Inspired by this idea of  “predictable periods of alone time” I set out to create a morning routine that would help me refocus my energy in the morning and start things off on a better foot. I’ve been following this routine for roughly 2 weeks and although I’m sleeping less I feel far more energized and ready to take on the day. Below is a rough idea of my morning ritual which is really quite simple and so far has been really effective.

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I wake up before Margs. Margs wakes around 7 am and to give myself ample time to complete my routine I set my alarm for 5:30 am to give myself roughly 1.5 hours of alone time at the start of my day.

I sip my coffee while listening to podcasts for 30 minutes. I’ve gone so far as preparing my coffee pot the night before so as not to waste any precious alone time in the morning. Sipping coffee and listening to inspiring podcasts helps me stay motivated and set realistic goals.

I write down 3 simple goals for the day. This step has proven to be the most important part of my ritual. Since I’m home with Margs, I’ve started to realize that I’d often get through the day coasting on mommy auto-pilot without necessarily achieving any specific goals. I’m a goal setter by nature and I felt like there was something missing from my day to day life. Now, I set 3 goals that I look forward to accomplishing each day. The goals can vary depending on what my day/week looks like but ultimately they make me feel better, more accomplished and motivated. Today’s goals included: calling a friend who has been struggling to let her know I was thinking of her, creating digital copies of important household documents and completing one creative activity with Margs. I accomplished all 3 and it felt really great to know that I followed through on 3 things that wouldn’t normally be part of my daily life.

I shower and get dressed. This is self explanatory I think. Having the time to take a proper shower and get dressed makes a world of difference in my mood. Some mornings were so busy that I’d only get the opportunity to shower and or get out of pajamas during Margs’ mid morning nap. Being dressed and ready to face the day before she even wakes up is really a game changer.

QOD

What does your morning routine look like?

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Life behind the blog – a day in the life at 15 months

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Good morning!!!

Hope your week is going well so far!

Some of my very favorite blog posts are ones that give me a peak into what a bloggers day to day life is like. I guess it’s part curiosity and part wanting to compare my own lifestyle to others that make them so fun and entertaining to read. So, today I’m giving you a peak at what my life is like behind the blog – a day in the life sort of post.

Please be warned that my days are pretty boring. As a stay at home mom I thrive when Margs and I follow a routine so there’s absolutely nothing spectacular going on most days. Generally, we stick to the same routine to keep things flowing well.

Here we go:

6:56 am – Margs wakes up for the day. Mer and I snuggle with her in bed for about 10 minutes before we take her downstairs into the living room. Mer changes her diaper while I put on a strong pot of coffee.

7:30 am – Mer and I enjoy our coffee and chat about the days plan while Margs’ plays independently in her pack n play. Currently she’s obsessed with puzzles – she can play with the pieces for hours. Mer and I usually discuss things like dinner plans, errands and any pressing issues we need to take care of.

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8:00 am – I give Margs her breakfast – I rotate between french toast, scrambled eggs and whole wheat waffles. She usually has one of those with a yogurt and a few pieces of fruit. While she eats I check my email, WordPress notifications and do other blog related things like answering comments, emails or twitter notifications.

8:15 am- Margs drinks some water while watching some cartoons. In the meantime I unload the dishwasher, wipe down the counter tops, sweep the floor and tidy up after breakfast.

8:30 am – Margs and I read books, play with puzzles and practice walking running.

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9:00 am- Margs gets a morning bottle and hopefully takes a nap.

9:30 – 11:30 am – I pull some ground beef out of the freezer to make a meatloaf for dinner. I open the package and let it rest on the counter to defrost. I start laundry, clean the powder room and fold a batch of clothes that were in the dryer. I then sit down and and catch up on blog reading with a cup of tea. At around 11, I make Margs’ lunch – minestrone soup with egg noodles is on the menu today.

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12:00 pm– Margs and I eat lunch.

12:30 pm – I get Margs dressed in her winter gear and we head out for a walk. She’s not a huge fan of her stroller but once we get moving she settles down and enjoys the ride.

1:30 pm – Back at home. After undressing Margs and putting her snow gear away I prepare a bottle and we snuggle on the couch while she drinks. Today she decides she doesn’t want to nap.

2:00 pm – I work on dinner while Margs zooms around the house. I take breaks to chase her and she runs around giggling.

2:30 pm – Margs and I have a tea party, play with dolls and play with more puzzles.

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2:45 pm – Margs is extra fussy and should nap but wont. I put on a Teletubbies episode on Youtube so she can relax.

3:15 pm– She’s a little less fussy and we get back to playing. I haul her upstairs to put away the laundry. She watches me from her pack n play in our room

3:30 pm –  I put her winter gear back on so we can play  in the driveway. Her “friends” get home around this time and she loves “playing” with them.

4:00 pm – We’re back inside – I pop dinner into the oven and give Margs a snack (Cheerios and a slice of pear) While dinner cooks we play with crayons. She hasn’t quite understood that she needs to color with them – she continues to try and eat them.

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4:15 pm– Margs pitched all the crayons on the floor. I pick them up and she laughs. I put her on the carpet with a bunch of toys and she plays alone. I check on dinner.

4:30 pm – Margs is getting fussy, she’s likely hungry but dinner isn’t ready yet. We play with her giant rubber ball to pass some time. She loves when I throw the ball up in the air and it hits the ceiling.

4:45 pm – I put Margs in her high chair and I give her some veggies that were left over from the night before. She’s really hungry and getting more and more upset.

5:00 pm –  I pull the meatloaf out and slice Margs a piece. I teach her to blow on her food when it’s too hot.

5:30 pm – Margs has finished eating. I clean up her high chair and the floor around her.

5:45 pm – I give Margs a bath and wash her hair which makes her really upset. She splashes water everywhere.

6:00 pm – Mer gets in and we sit and eat our dinner. Margs sits in her high chair and eats her dessert – usually a piece of fruit.

6:30 pm – Mer makes Margs a bottle while I load the dishwasher and clean the kitchen. I collect bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers from all over the house so they can be sterilized. They read books and cuddle before bed.

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7:00 pm – Margs is asleep in her cot.  Mer comes back downstairs and makes sure the baby monitor is positioned correctly. We sit on the couch and catch up on our day. Mer always asks me “did Margs do anything new today?”.

7:45 pm – Margs is sitting up in her cot crying. I head upstairs and try to soothe her back to sleep. She isn’t having it.

8:00 pm – Margs is back to sleep but on the couch with us. We turn down the t.v so we can hear what we’re watching (The Kindness Diaries) but not wake her up.

8:30 pm – Mer carries Margs back up to her cot. We’re crossing our fingers that she wont wake up again. I sit behind the computer and start drafting a new post for the blog.

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9:30 pm – Mer tells me he’s off to bed. I opt to keep writing a little while longer because I’ve got a bunch of ideas I want to get down before I forget about them completely. He kisses me goodnight and heads upstairs.

11:00 pm – I shut down the computer, close all the lights, check that all the doors are locked and head up to take a shower before bed.

11:30 pm – I crawl into bed and cross my fingers that Margs will have a good night.

12:00 am – Margs wakes up screaming. Soothing her isn’t working so I carry her into our bed. She falls asleep quickly and we sleep snuggled together until morning.

When do you squeeze in blogging time?

 

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Have courage and be kind

 

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Reach out to someone who needs you.

Send a kind email to someone who needs a little sparkle in their day.

Compliment someone randomly without wanting anything in return.

Buy a friend a cup of a coffee just for being an awesome friend.

Leave your partner a post it note telling them why you love them.

Read your kiddo an extra bed time story.

Enjoy the moment with your family. The laundry can be folded later.

Say hello to a complete stranger.

How have you been kind today?

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What surprised me most about being a stay at home mom

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When Margs was born I felt like it was the first time I could really breathe in a long long time. I spent my whole pregnancy holding my breath and crossing my fingers for just one more day, one more week and one more month. By some miracle my cerclage kept me pregnant and we welcomed a 40 week (!!!!!!!) miracle into the world on her due date.

I spent so much time focused on getting her here that I never considered what being a stay at home parent would be like- I didn’t care really, my only focus was getting that precious baby here alive.

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15 months later I’m reflecting on being a stay at home mom and I’m realizing that I don’t necessarily love it all of the time. I wish I did, but, I just don’t. Actually, there are days that I’m angry and resentful and frustrated and tired of it.

I feel horrible even writing these things because I’m a rainbow mom. A rainbow mom shouldn’t ever complain about anything parenting related because well, she’s a rainbow mom. I’ve struggled, I’ve faced repeat loss, I’ve had my heart broken in ways that only other loss mums understand and yet there are days that I struggle with being at home with this little girl I prayed and pleaded with the universe to have.

Some days I resent that my husband can head out into the “real” world and socialize with people and have adult conversation. Some days I resent that he gets a mental break from the constant attention, stimulation and energy Margs demands. Then, I snap myself back to reality and realize that he likely resents me for being home with her and getting the privilege to experience all those moments that he misses while he’s away.

Being home with a young child is difficult. Meeting her needs, caring for her, playing with her and watching over her are not the hard parts. The hard parts include the feelings of isolation, the loss of my identity outside of being “mom” and giving up my career (albeit temporarily).

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Some days I feel like I’m not “Jenny” anymore. I’ve become this version of myself that doesn’t know what do outside of caring for a baby. I’ve lost drive, passion and desire – things that fueled my life in very powerful ways before. Sadly, I’ve given up nearly all my favorite pastimes because quite honestly I’m just so tired that I don’t have the mental energy to devote myself to doing anything consistently. I used to love to read, exercise, knit and take photos – all things I’ve basically abandoned because the passion just isn’t there anymore.

In someways, I’ve lost myself to motherhood.

Life has become routinely robotic – Margs wakes – she gets fed, entertained and put down for a nap. Afternoon are the same. Evenings are the same. My days essentially look like carbon copies of each other.

I sometimes deal with an intense desire to go back to work. I was happy in my classroom. I loved what I did. I loved watching young minds analyze, interpret and question and sometimes I’m frustrated by the fact that I’ve given up so much. That sounds so incredibly selfish doesn’t it?

Having Margs was such a blessing. A blessing that I felt required me to give up my identity, lifestyle and career to cherish. We agreed early on that I’d stay home with her. Partly for financial reasons (childcare is expensive) and partly because we’re loss parents who maybe on some level feel like we have to do this to thank the universe for blessing us with such a precious gift.

On days where I’m feeling especially weighed down by it all I feel guilty. So so guilty. I should love this. I should love being home with her and love the opportunity to watch her grow. I should love these things because getting her here meant losing 5 other babies.

I hate that my perceptions of motherhood are tainted by so much grief and loss. I hate that I often second guess my own needs because somehow I’ve convinced myself that it’s not okay to be not okay and that to truly appreciate my gift I must love every inch of motherhood.

Motherhood is just hard. Staying home makes it even harder.

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I’m slowly working on being gentle with myself and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel this way sometimes.  I’m working on somehow finding an intersection between the analytic, spontaneous Jenny who I used to be and the run of the mill mom I often feel I’ve become.

Does parenting somehow alter who we are? Does it change us in ways that can sometimes make us feel unfulfilled?


Happy Maps Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to thenewmrsm2016!!!!

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Highs & Lows – Week of March 6th

Hey there! How has your week been treating you?

If you’re just popping in, here are the posts that I’ve written this week. If you have a minute please have a read. It’s also not too late to enter the Happy Maps giveaway happening here on TTBH. Contest closes on Sunday at 6pm, so if it’s something that interests you please head over and enter to win!

Highs

My mom is officially moved in. Work on the basement has finally ended and my mom is comfortable and settled in her new apartment one month ahead of schedule! We converted our basement into a 1-bedroom apartment for her to help reduce her living expenses. Her apartment turned out better than we’d expected and she’s loving being here to spend more time with Margs. Margs also realizes that bubbie now lives “downstairs” and bangs on the door to tell me she wants to head down for a visit. I’m also loving having her so close by because it’s really nice to be able to have adult conversation throughout the day.

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New blog opportunities. A few new blog opportunities have come my way over the last week and I’m excited! When I first decided to monetize the blog I really wasn’t sure where it would take me since my blog is so young and doesn’t necessarily have huge volumes of traffic. I’m thrilled that despite being in its infancy, TTBH is helping me generate a little revenue. I’m planning to write a post about my progress in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that.

Enjoying experimenting with the Keto Diet. I‘m still trudging along on my weight-loss journey. So far I’ve lost roughly 6 lbs which I’m really pleased about. I don’t necessarily feel that my weight loss is visible just yet but I do feel far more energized and in control of my eating habits. I’ve been experimenting with a really relaxed form of the Keto diet this week and although I probably wont stick to it long term (it’s far too rigid to be sustainable for me) it has been really eye opening to learn about carb content by keep track of my food choices with myfitnesspal. I really view this as a learning curve since I’m essentially reteaching myself about healthy choices and portion control.

Activities for Margs. Baby girl has had a busy week. After a discussion with Mer about my concerns that Margs might be bored we decided it was in her best interest to start taking part in some organized activities. She now goes to a play group on Mondays and Wednesdays and takes swimming lessons on the weekend. She really enjoys socializing with other children and has a great time playing, running and tumbling. Her excitement is just adorable and so is her tiny swim cap 😉

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Lows

Margs’ pediatrician appointment. We headed back to the pediatrician this week. Again, I left there feeling pretty defeated. Margs is a big little girl. She’s nearly 33 inches tall and weighs roughly 31 lbs. According to her growth chart she’s in the 97% for height and essentially off the charts for weight. Her doctor questioned her eating habits and made some suggestions that we think might help slow down her weight gain. Basically, I’ve been told to start giving her 2% WCM and to reduce her intake of yogurt. Her doctor wasn’t overly concerned but I’m an anxious mama and it makes me feel terrible that I’m potentially feeding my little girl an unhealthy diet. I’m doing my very best since she eats primarily vegetables and fruit but clearly we need to reevaluate and make adjustments.

Estimated Due Dates. Thursday was a rough day. March 9th was my estimated due date for my twin pregnancy and every year it seems to just creep up on me. By now, you’d think I’d be prepared for the roller coaster of emotions that come from facing a due date but nope – it hit me like a ton of bricks. I took a little break while Margs played with her grandma to have a good cry. It just feels like someone else’s life ya know? I should have 4 year old twins! My gosh, 4 years have flown by and my life is not at all what I imagined it to be. I’m insanely grateful for my precious baby girl but some days the burden of the past is just harder to deal with. March 9th was one of those days.

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of March 6th?

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