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Sunday, December 16th, 2012
Like many, I am reeling from the tragic news out of Connecticut this weekend. It is hard to comprehend that families are living with the reality of what so many of us consider incomprehensible.
I can’t help but think of the horrifying truth that when those babies were born a few short years ago, their parents welcomed and breathed relief at the robust and healthy cries of their newborn. Now, I am haunted by the idea that as those children left this world, their cries went unheard and were replaced by the heart-wrenching sobs of their newly childless parents. It is a horrible juxtaposition. The tears of a tiny, new, healthy baby turned into the tears of the devastated, disbelieving, crushed parent. It haunts me.
I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings about this tragedy all weekend.
I thought I’d read the latest reports to clarify my thoughts before writing but I cannot. To be honest, since the news broke, I haven’t read much. I’ve kept the television off. I cannot bring myself to hear what happened. Every detail I hear makes my heart ache more.
The news does nothing for me. It makes my heart break. It reminds me that I am a helpless to other people’s choices. It reminds me that there is ugliness, brokenness, and evil in this world. It makes me question my choice to bring another child into this world. It reminds me that no matter how fierce my desire to protect my children, I don’t have the power to protect or save them.
The thing that really sickens me about the news is that long after the they quit reporting this story, the families suffering, the town grieving, and all the people hurting will continue to do so. The news will do nothing for them then. It is not just today’s story, it is their lives. It is a national tragedy now, but it will be an everyday tragedy for these families.
I have been on my knees in prayer for the families facing the reality of such a permanent heartbreak. And in those moments of prayer, I remembered that I don’t have the power to save. I don’t have the power to heal, but Christ does. I believe it is my job as a parent to teach my daughters, the one I’m hugging tighter each night and the one growing beneath my heart, to lead Christlike lives.
I am keeping the news off because more important than following the story to me is what I can do to help, as little as it may be. I want to use my time teaching my daughter how to be kind and thoughtful. I want to use my time teaching my daughter that people hurt and it is our job to try and lessen that hurt. I want to use my time to teach my daughter to befriend all, to love all, and to have compassion for all.
It is all too palpable this weekend how short this life can be. This life is all we get. I want to spend it not watching the news of the heartbroken, but helping, and teaching my children to help, the heartbroken.
For more on dealing with the tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
Image: Broken heart via isak55/Shutterstock.com
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Friday, October 5th, 2012
The best thing about pregnancy is baby kicks.
Those tiny, everyday movements bring me so much joy. There is palpable companionship and instantaneous love in carrying and feeling life.
I know those kicks can be painful at times but mostly, they make me feel safe. There is absolute comfort in the consistent kicks of a new life.
Devastatingly, as I wrote of a friend’s loss this week, another friend lost her baby at full term. I am reeling from the prevalence of what seem like normal, healthy pregnancies turning shockingly wrong.
The difference between this pregnancy and my first is my awareness of the fragility of life. I feel so vulnerable. I no longer have the luxury of naivete like I did with my first pregnancy. Instead, I feel a million reminders, a million signs indicating that I NEED to enjoy each moment I get with my pregnancy because it is all so fleeting.
My heart aches for mothers who lose their children. Even even as I type that sentence I feel guilty, guilty that I don’t know their explicit heartache and as much as I feel bad, I do not know the depths of their grief. On dark days, I let myself give into the fear that I could lose this baby, or our daughter. I panic that I’ll be asked to endure the seemingly unbearable and I won’t survive the heartbreak.
I don’t know the outcome of this pregnancy. I have my obvious optimistic hopes but they could be dashed. The reality is that I do not have control. Perhaps it will all go horribly wrong, perhaps I will join the awful “I lost a child” club or perhaps, for unforeseen reasons, this will be my last pregnancy. I do not know. I do not have control. I do not know how many moments I will get but I’m trying to stifle fear and embrace hope.
Today feels like one of those dark days, so I’m clinging to baby kicks. I need to memorize them. I need to cherish them.
Today, I’m also clinging to the memory that each time we read stories or sing songs, my daughter sits in my lap while her baby sister spiritedly kicks my belly in what I like to think is a greeting to her sister and a recognition of proximity and love. I’m clinging to the moment when I cry happy tears, rocking my two girls, and my daughter asks if I’m sad. I’m clinging to my response that “no, I’m not sad, I’m just so happy to be your mom.” I’m clinging to my daughter’s, “I missed yous” when she wakes up from naps and the sound of her voice as she chases bubbles, laughing unabashedly as the grass tickles her bare feet and she yells, “Hey bubbles, wait for me and sissy boo!”
But mainly, I’m clinging to baby kicks and the thought of them really meeting someday, these sisters, these two girls I love more than life. That thought makes the perpetual fear and anxiety seem worthwhile.
And someday, when life truly is hard and seemingly unbearable, I’ll conjure up the memory of my girls, one strewn cozily across my lap, the other nestled in my tummy, reminding me that life is made up of baby kicks and lullabies and there are still many, happy, simple moments you do get and luckily, you get to hold onto them forever.
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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Sometimes I think it is society’s expectation that pregnant women MUST complain. While one stereotype of pregnancy is the maternal glow, I think the other, more expected stereotype is the giant, tired, hot, cranky, pregnant lady mess.
I often get asked how I’m feeling during this pregnancy and I sense that I often let people down with my response of “good” or “great.” While my pregnancy has been relatively easy, there are a few health concerns about the baby and there have certainly been things to complain about but most days, I can’t bring myself to do it. Pregnancy is hard. Really hard. No doubt. And there are things I lament to my husband about on occasion or I wish in my head were easier, but then I stop myself. There are plenty of women who would relish this opportunity and I don’t want to waste it complaining or wishing it away. I only have this moment. And sometimes, unbeknownst to all of us, this moment is all we get.
Babies are not supposed to die. It goes against the natural order. When women become pregnant, I think the idea that the death of a child is a possibility is considered, but normally, optimistically, most women are able to push it from their minds.
I have not lost a child.
Like everyone, I hope to never lose a child. But shortly after the birth of my first daughter, my best friend lost her baby three days before she was due. While I was not the mother suffering an agonizing loss, and I don’t want to suggest I knew how she felt, I was a friend whose heart broke, a new mother who worried, and a helpless human being to the reality of life and death.
I write this not as an unequivocally sobering post, or to try to tell my friend’s story (it is her story to tell), but to explain how a darling baby girl I devastatingly never got to hold or watch grow up, shaped me as a mother forever.
When her baby died, I felt so much guilt. I felt guilty that my baby lived. I didn’t deserve a baby more than my friend did. I was a less knowledgeable mother than she was and I was racked with the guilt of laughing with, smiling at, and overwhelmingly loving my healthy, living baby girl.
Those feelings of guilt took a long time to subside and sometimes, they still resurface. They especially resurface when I realize that her heartbreaking death taught me so much about being a mother. The little girl I had planned on spoiling and giving so much love ended up giving me so much more in return.
After her death, in those undeniably hard newborn, new mom, bleary-eyed hormonal first months of motherhood, instead of complaining, I’d hold my daughter tighter, bounce her longer, and let her sleep on my chest more often. I would think of my friend, who would give anything to have a baby wake her up every half-hour in the night or nurse endlessly during the day. It made me realize I only had that moment. Today was hard, yes, that moment was hard, undoubtedly, but somewhere, there were plenty of people wanting that moment I was wishing away. Her daughter gave me the life-changing gift of perspective.
Please understand that I agree wholeheartedly that pregnancy is difficult. I hear unimaginable stories of the hardships women endure during pregnancy; perpetual nausea, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, insomnia, and bed-rest. Each mother bears some stripes of pregnancy. No one is unscathed. Pregnancy is really hard. It’s okay to say that. To express that. To vent that. But I refuse to willingly and overwhelmingly complain about pregnancy. I refuse to wish nine months, a sliver in actuality, away.
It is easy to complain, I’m definitely guilty of it, but it makes me uncomfortable and regretful. The cliché is true that “the days are long but the years are short.” While I imagine it will be easy to recollect all the adorable and funny things my daughter did and easy to forget her unpleasantness and the tears I cried in frustration, I also want to remember me as a mom who loved her the best I could in whatever hard, ugly, long, painful, moment we were in. I don’t want to wish any of them away.
I want to do the same with this pregnancy. I want to love it for whatever brings, good and hard. I want to be grateful for all the moments I do get.
Thank you to the sweet, little red-headed girl l I miss and am indebted to forever for helping me try to be a more grateful, present mom.
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