Don’t let fear stop you from celebrating 

“What if something happens?” I remember thinking the day of the photo shoot. I turned that thought over and over in my head as I watch my husband and two children playing in the grass in front of our vehicle while waiting for the photographer. “Please don’t let them get dirty” I called, Spouse nodded and waved at me in response. I chewed on the inside of my cheek, my heart racing as I walked around to the back of the Jeep to get our stuff ready. I glanced up at my husband, he was busy monitoring the kids. I pulled the digital pregnancy test out of my purse and peaked at it. I felt butterflies in my stomach every time I saw those words: “Pregnant”. They sat there in dark bold letters on the oval screen. I smiled to myself, I was going to surprise him with the news during our photo shoot. 

After deciding to add a third child to our family we had began calling our potential third child “Pancake”. This was after an incredibly hysterical conversation between Glenn and Abraham from The Walking Dead regarding Glenn and Maggie’s pregnancy and “trying to make pancakes when pouring the Bisquick”. We talked a lot about Pancake. What it would be like to have three, how our oldest would react and how our youngest would handle not being the youngest anymore. We were excited and hopeful, patiently awaiting our Pancake. 
I got a positive pregnancy test on May 22nd. I took probably ten more just to make sure and was only finally convinced when the digital test gave me a clear “pregnant” reading. I called my OB and they did serial blood work to see that my HCG was climbing like it should. Everything looked great. I kept the little secret for about a week while I prepared the special announcement. I was going to surprise my husband during our family pictures, I wanted to capture his reaction to the news about Pancake. After all this was going to be our last baby, I wanted it to be special. 

The photographer arrived and smiled at me conspiratorially, she was as excited as I was. I carried a container of Bisquick and the pregnancy test hidden away in my purse. Spouse toted the chalk boards to the center of the park where we planned to snap the photos. We distracted the kids with a video on the phone and stood back to back, we were to write something sweet to one another on our chalk boards. Of course I already knew what mind would say: “Pancake, due January 2017”.  


We faced the camera and then one another. I saw his eyes slide across the words once and then again. I saw them widen with realization and then the giant smile lit up his face. That ear to ear grin of an excited dad to be. The camera clicked furiously capturing those first moments. Each snap ensuring that these memories would last forever. He wrapped me up in a big hug and asked how long I had known and a handful of other pertinent expectant father questions. I showed him the test and handed him the container of Bisquick, we laughed together at our inside joke and held each other tight. 


Today I would have been 24 weeks. I would have been over half way through my pregnancy. The kids and their dad would have been able to feel baby moving inside my swollen belly. I would have outgrown my jeans and moved into maternity clothes. We would have been trying out names, pulling out bags of clothes that had been saved from brother and sister. We would have been so much nearer a family if 5. But something did happen, we lost Pancake at 8 weeks. It was by far one of the hardest and worst moments in our lives. 

My answer the day of the photo shoot to the question of, ‘what if something happens’ had been, ‘Then I will have wanted to celebrate while we could. I would have wanted to cherish this baby while we could. I would have wanted memories and treasures. I would have wanted everyone to know how happy we were and how much we wanted our Pancake. I would have wanted Pancake to know how much he or she was loved. I would have wanted something tangible so in the moments when I feel that joy has left me, I would be able to hold tight and see what a gift I had to be able to have those special moments with my husband and children, all three of them”.  

Miscarriage is not uncommon, it effects roughly 3 million women per year in the US alone. It’s emotionally and physically painful. It’s something that almost every woman worries about when she first finds out that she is pregnant. It is a fear that robs many women of the joy of celebrating their pregnancies from the earliest possible moment. And it’s not fair. 

It’s just not fair that the fear of loss should prevent us from sharing the wonderful news that we are expecting. That It should stop us from telling those we’re close to that we are carrying something amazing within us. It’s not fair that the fear should prevent us from celebrating and savoring those moments that for far too many end way too soon. It’s unfair that in the midst of a loss, that fear we had, prevented us from sharing with those who could support us the most through it. 

Don’t let it. Don’t let the fear of loss, or societies recommendation of cautious optimism stop you from celebrating, from sharing, from cheering and shouting your joy. Own it. Savor it. Cherish the moments from the earliest possible second that you are able! Had I considered that ‘what if’ question and chosen to act on the side of caution, I would have missed out, the fear would have stolen the blessed memories that I do have of our Pancake. You may have days, weeks, months or years, but don’t let the fear of “what if” stop you from enjoying the moments you do have.  I’m so very glad I didn’t. 

Hands 


I went to bed tonight holding my daughters hand. She was snuggled up next to me, fingers interlaced in mine. I can remember when those fingers were just barely big enough to wrap around my extended index finger. They were so small and appeared so fragile, but they gripped my finger and my heart with such fierceness that it surprised me. I can remember when those fingers spread out across my palm, barely taking up a fourth of it. She would wiggle those chubby little things, pat my open hand and grin gleefully. 
I can remember when those little fingers would reach up and stroke my cheek as she nursed. Soft and feather like, they would linger just for a moment before reaching out for my own hand, to curl hers contentedly around. I can remember when those little fingers would wrap around the first two fingers on each of my hands. She would hold on as tight as possible for pulling from me strength and support, while standing triumphantly on skinny wobbly legs. 

I can remember when those little fingers let go of mine for the first time; leaving a feeling of coldness in their absence. I held my breath as she took her first few independent steps. I can remember those same fingers pushing me away when I rushed to scoop her up and help her stand again. I can remember her hand in mine palm to palm, fingers stretched as far as they could to match mine; growing. I can remember when those fingers became long enough to reach the end of my palm; I could still just barely bend my fingers and capture her wiggling hand, making her giggle.


I can remember when those hands began to spend more time holding toys and dollies than they did holding my hand. I can remember when those fingers, longer and stronger, yet still so small wrapped around a pencil, and drew out her name in long shaky letters. I can remember when those fingers reached for mine, warm and sweaty, now almost half the size of my own hand. She squeezed mine tightly, and whispered, “Will you remember to pick me up?” I smiled and nodded reassuringly, and watched her walk into her first day of school.

I can remember the moment that I realized that there will come a day when I can’t remember the last time I got to hold her hand. She will have grown; her hand as big if not bigger than mine. That day looms ahead of me, so near and so far, filling me with hope and sadness. There will still be those occasional moments, where as an adult, she may reach for my hand, holding tightly, drawing strength and support, just as they did when she was learning to stand on her own. 

There will be a day when she will have other hands to hold. Hands that are her equal, her match, her mate. Hands that are smaller than hers and that will capture her finger and heart in one single squeeze, as hers did mine. And there will be a day, when my hand will no longer be there for her to hold. 

But for now, I can remember last night, and how her fingers, growing longer and stronger by the day, twisted into mine. Relaxing ever so slightly as she drifted off to dream land. For now I can make the most of every opportunity to take her hand into mine, and savor those moments; so when the days come that her hand is too busy for mine, I will have plenty to remember.

Inadequate

Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition of inadequate as this: “lacking in quality or quantity required; insufficient for its purpose”. I’m certain that if I were in a room full of parents and said “Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt inadequate as a parent”, there wouldn’t be a single person not raising their hand. If there were anyone in the room not raising their hand it could be due only to the fact that someone superglued them to the chair or they’re lying. I remember from the moment that expensive digital test blared the unmistakable word “pregnant” on its little grey screen, I began to question my ability to be a parent. I technically wasn’t even one yet, however there I was unsure of myself and my capabilities. But why? Why are we so unsure of ourselves as parents?

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Is it because there are sooo many choices? Cloth or disposable diapers. Homemade or jarred food. Organic or nonorganic. Breast or bottle. Strollers or slings. Co-sleep or crib. Vaccine or no vaccine. There are even choices for our choices! Pampers, Loves, Huggies…there are entire walls dedicated to varying brands of disposable diapers.

Or is it because we are bombarded by advertisers who portray parents who don’t use their products as a little less than those who do? ‘Choosey moms choose Jiff’; and what about those who like the one with the flying boy on it? Or ‘by the second one, all parents are experts’ and those experts obviously prefer one specific brand of diaper.

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Could it be our innate competitive nature to rear the best children that the world has ever seen; causes us to constantly compare ourselves to other parents, leaving questions and doubts crowding our minds. Am I doing the right thing, should I have fed him that, should I have let her wear that, will they really turn out okay if I don’t let them sleep with me, or if they do sleep with my will they be scarred for life?

Perhaps it’s all three. Or none of the above, maybe something I haven’t listed. The reason doesn’t so much matter as the fact that we do. I’ve heard countless friends and acquaintances express their uncertainty and their concern about the choices that they have made or are making for their children. Questioning their judgment. Doubting their ability based on the going ons around them. I do it myself.

I see parents when I drop off my children who are spectacularly dressed and I’m lucky to show up with pants and a shirt that I didn’t sleep in or wear to work the night before. I find myself tugging my tshirt down over my yoga pants (note I never do yoga) and glancing at my kids; inadequate. I find posts from parents who are rocking incredible homemade therapy sessions and the only thing that could pass for therapy for us that day was him trying to dig out two lost Cheerios under the couch. (I mean that’s fine motor right?); inadequate.
I see moms bent down on one knee speaking soft reasoning words to their tyrant of a toddler and I am immediately reminded of the wall shuddering bellow of “Get.Your.Daggum.Shoes.On.Your.Feet.NOW!” that shot out of my mouth not even a half an hour earlier; inadequate.

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What it boils down to is this; the more I compare myself to those around me, the more inadequate I feel. I gotta stop, we’ve gotta stop. The true judge of our ability is our children. The choices that we make for our families are OUR choices. Make them and stand by them with confidence. Instead of looking around at the other parents doing all the other things that you THINK you should be doing, look at your children. It’s easy to see that what you are doing is enough, it is sufficient, it is adequate, when you use your children as the scale by which to measure.

I know that it’s difficult not to compare, or even judge other parents, but it’s important to remember that that’s what they are; other parents. They’re making the choices for their families. Those choices may not be right for your kids, and you shouldn’t feel inadequate because of that. It’s possible that the parent you’re envying isn’t as put together as you think they are! As parents we all have a similar goal in mind; the health, happiness and well being of our families, we can’t do that if we’re consumed with self doubt.

I’m not going to let the fact that my daughter has eaten dog treats, peed in a potted plant, fed her brother his own boogers or painted him blue with stamps, make me feel like less of a parent. My daughter is incredible; she has a vocabulary that won’t quit, her creativity is inspiring and her sense of humor admirable. My son rocks; he faces whatever comes at him with “a kiss my diapered butt” grin, spreads joy to whomever he meets and challenges this family to be more than just observers of life. Hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles throughout the day confirm to me that I’m doing alright.

My children shall be my scale, not the parents around me! I’m going to move forward as a mama who is confident in her ability, attempt not to allow myself to compare my choices to others and I’m gonna wear my yoga pants proudly. I hope you’ll do the same (yoga pants not a requirement).

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Mommy Lesson 700: Nothing to Lose Your Head Over

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I want to first start off by issuing an apology. This apology is to my daughter. Mommy is very, VERY sorry that you were unfortunate enough to bear witness to the events that unfolded this evening. I am certain that the shocking and unsettling incident that occurred will leave you slightly jaded. You may never look at mommy the same, or your Dollie for that matter. I hope that you can forgive me and maybe even forget my unfortunate mistake.

After enjoying a nice family dinner and playing at the play place in our local mall we arrived home just in time for pajamas and bedtime. While picking out her jammies Abi asked if we could change her special Christmas dolly out of her church clothes and into her pajamas too. I said sure and she proceeded to pick out a pair of pajamas for herself and her doll. She then sat down in the floor to change her dolly’s clothes. Peanut expertly removed the shoes and the jacket but struggled with the dress.

She looked to Super Mom for some help and I willingly obliged. I sat cross legged on the floor, the doll standing straight up with her arms up over her head. I nimbly pulled the dress up and over the top, in much the same fashion you would your own child. Things were going great until the dress became stuck around the dolls head. Now, typically when clothing becomes entangled around your child’s head you just tug a little harder. If that doesn’t work, you typically feel for a button or snap that you may have forgotten. If not button or snap is present you just pull really, really hard and eventually the child will be wrenched free of the offending outfit. This doesn’t work for dollies.

Want to know why? Because THEIR HEADS COME OFF! I tugged and pulled and felt the clothes suddenly give and come free of my daughters VERY special Dolly. I was grinning ear to ear until I heard my daughters surprised and terrified gasp. I followed her open mouthed stare to the the neck of the dolly. Smile gone, proud moment over, childhood ruined.

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Abi open and closed her mouth rapidly, rather fish like, gasping for air, unable to say anything. I frantically pulled the decapitated dolly head from the Chinese trap of a dress, and worked desperately to stick it back on. “Ha, oh dear, you know Peanut, um sometimes these things happen. But it’s REALLY easy to fix”. She sat and watched stunned as I attempted to cram dolls head onto dolls body. “She. Doesn’t. Have. A. Head.” I frowned, I mean the darn thing came off so easily, it should back on just as easily, right?

I crammed and twisted for what felt like hours, but I’m sure it was only seconds and finally with a satisfactory click the head snapped back on. I held her up triumphantly and realized that she was looking at me from her backside. “Oh!” I yelped, and quickly spun her head around to the front. I peeked at Abi and found her still sitting there, mouth stuck open. “Hey! Look, there, all better. Mommy fixed her! Yay mommy!” Abi narrowed her eyes at me and snatched her precious Dollie from the dangerous grasp of the beheadding mommy “You. Pulled. Her. Head. Off.”

My attempts at an apology fell upon deaf ears as she set about checking her doll out to insure that I hadn’t detached any other parts. She verified that both arms and legs were still attached before sending me a seething glance and placing her dolly safely in its sleeping bag. She smoothed her hair out and gave her a kiss and placed her gently beside her bed on the floor. Without a word, she looked at me with disappointment, and silently left the room shaking her head. She turned right at the door, sighed and said, “I don’t think that you should play with dolly again”.

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Mommy Lesson 251: Buzz Buzz Chirp Chirp

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The average family in the United States has 2.16 children. While it may be difficult to determine just how one would get .16th of a child, it’s not much of a stretch to say that a large number of children have siblings and almost every child will encounter at least one pregnant woman during their lives. Inevitably the visual of a woman’s swollen belly will provoke certain questions.

These questions might include; what’s in there? How does it come out? They might even ask; does that man have a baby in his tummy? While the majority of these questions are fairly easy to answer, one day your child will ask THE dreaded question; how did it get in there?

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Earlier today the kids and I were driving down the road. Ever curious, Abigail began questioning me about where we were going. I told her that we were headed to a baby shower. She wasn’t sure what that meant, so I elaborated a little further. “Umm, you remember when baby brother was in Mommies tummy and we had a big party for him while he was in there? That’s what we’re doing for the little baby in Shannon’s tummy”. Instead of further questions, she requested a cookie. Being before dinner I told her no, which led her to sit pouting in her car seat. After close to 10 minutes of silent contemplation Abi piped up with “Mommy, how did the baby get in her tummy?”

My fingers clenched the steering wheel and I felt the car serve sharply to the right. I started to stammer, stalling for time. As a mother of two, I am well aware of how they got in there. With my background as a labor and delivery nurse I am capable of remaining calm during high stress situations, yet my palms were beginning to sweat, my heart was racing and I could feel my cheeks getting red and warm. I quickly thought of and rejected several explanations inside my head and glanced into the rear view mirror. Abi sat looking at me, patiently awaiting an answer.

I licked my lips, trying to draw some moisture into my mouth, and took a big breath in, here goes nothing. “Um, well, Abs, um….”. My eyes darted frantically around the inside of the car, know my inquisitive daughter would not accept “they just do” as an answer. After what seemed like a millennium I found the answer, “Hey, Abi? You want a cookie?”

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Sometimes distraction is the best answer. Abi happily chewed her cookie and watched the scenery go by. Swallowing the last bite she glanced up and repeated her question, “But how do they get in there?”. Obviously another cookie was not the answer, I quickly calculated my additional options and settled on avoidance, “Hey, you know what? Why don’t you ask your daddy when he comes home?

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Sibling Love

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So the holidays are a pretty crazy time of year for everyone. Add in therapy, volunteering at my kids schools, a sick grandma, work and a blog and something is bound to get left out. Hence the lack of posts lately….I am sorry.

When I was pregnant with Gabe I thought over and over about how Abi would treat her brother. An irrational part of me thought that she would see that he was “different” and not want him. I was worried that she would feel neglected and left out. I had no idea that those things would really happen, but not because Gabe was born with Down syndrome, but because he was born in general!

The first few days we brought brother home from the hospital, Abi was clingy and unhappy. Baby was getting way more time than she was with mommy and she didn’t like that! But after the newness wore off and I perfected the mommy juggle Abi began to tolerate her brother, even going so far as to snuggle him, share with him and cram his pacifier into his mouth every now and then.

Then Gabe began to move. He started first by grabbing and pulling her hair. Then he began rolling front to back and back to front across the floor to get to her. Then he mastered the belly creep and before long he was chasing her down on his hands and knees. Little by little her tolerance of him taking her toys was exhausted and a love hate relationship was formed. He loved her and she hated the fact that he did!

Anywhere Abi was Gabe wanted to be there, watching and staring at her with adoration. Attempting to do the things that she was doing, even if that meant using the specific toy that she had to do so. As a mom, I began to grow concerned when Abi began to tell me that she didn’t like brother, because he took her toys and smelled like cheese, which apparently made her gag. I began to watch, hoping that I would see a glimmer of love somewhere, and that their bond wasn’t really just one sided.

And then it happened. Gabe was playing with another child, who promptly bopped him on the head, twice and made him cry. Out of nowhere came hero big sister, crouching behind poor beaten baby brother, guarding him as if she were a mama grizzly. She glared and snapped her fingers at the little offender and comforted her “Baby Chubs”. Despite what she says at home, when we are out in public, she is his protector and he is her comfort. The two of them always aware of where the other is and often looking up to check on one another.

I know that siblings don’t always get along, but that’s just part of sibling love. It’s a special kind of love, formed out of necessity and tolerance, but grown over time to be an unshakeable bond. I can’t say I always like my brother (sorry ky 😉 ), but if you mess with him, you better watch out for sister! I know that as the years go by we will act as referees in a variety of battles, but deep down I know that Abi loves her brother and that he absolutely adores her.

Check out the Gabe Logan Production, “Sibling Love“!

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You don’t have like it to be thankful

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It’s Thanksgiving, the one day of the year that we are specifically challenged to show our appreciation for the blessings in our lives. While I’m sure that we are all thankful throughout the year, this holiday is an excellent reminder to celebrate and promote thankfulness. All month long I’ve seen people posting about what they’re thankful for; their families, their jobs, their friends, their children, their satisfaction. Each person taking time to recount the blessings in their lives and saying “thank you” for them. My children have brought home hand made projects that express their gratitude for their mommy, daddy, sibling, suckers and even water.

Reading through everything through this month got me thinking; almost everything that everyone is thankful for are things they like. It’s easy to be thankful for those things; suckers are delicious, how can we not be thankful for them?! But, what about the things we don’t like? What about the things that happen throughout the year that aren’t delicious, aren’t so fun, aren’t so wonderful. What about the things that happen that may make you feel frustrated, or disappointed, or even angry? The events that occur that may leave you shaking your head and throwing your hands up in mock surrender; “I just can’t do it anymore, I give up”?

Why do we have to be thankful for those things? 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says; “In everything give thanks”. IN everything, it doesn’t say you have to be thankful FOR everything. I mean, if you stub your toe you don’t have to do a happy dance and shout, why thank you stupid couch! It friggin’ hurts! But, this verse challenges us to be thankful IN everything, in every moment of our lives, whatever season we happen to be in, the good and the bad, in the happy and sad places; give thanks.

How are we supposed to do that? It’s really easy to be thankful when we’re happy, when things are pleasant, when things are easy. But when things aren’t, it can be difficult to be appreciative. Just like it can be hard to see the sun through the clouds, you’ve still gotta try. Try to find the “silver lining”, if you wanna call it that, try to find the things you CAN be thankful for IN your current situation, or season.

I am not an eternal optimist, it’s hard to be thankful when things are tough, but I know what it’s like to not be thankful. To seek out and focus on all of the bad stuff, to only be concerned with what isn’t and what might not be. It’s a sad, frustrating and lonely place. When your focus is solely on those things, it can be hard to see the positive and to find anything to be thankful for. It’s hard, I get it, but here’s the deal: “if you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself” (Techumise).

I’m not always thankful for Gabe’s extra chromosome. I don’t like how it makes him have to work even harder to accomplish tasks that other children seem to breeze through. I don’t like seeing him frustrated because he cannot convince his mouth to make the words he wants to say. I don’t like that he lives in a world with others who may overlook his incredibleness because their focus solely on his lack of ability.

But I am thankful for what has come with it. The community that we have been able to become a part of and the friendships that have blossomed because of it! The understanding that milestones don’t need to occur on a time line. The ability to slow down in life and appreciate the accomplishments of each of my children in a new way. I am thankful for that extra chromosome for showing me a whole new side of ability and with it a different way to view to world. It has taught me about unconditional love and how to be an advocate for both of my children.

You don’t have to like the bee sting to appreciate the honey. I can’t guarantee that I will always be thankful in the moments that are hard and that I don’t understand, but I till always try to find the things I can thankful for. If I ever feel like there is nothing around me that I can appreciate then I’ll look into the past and be thankful for where I’ve been and I’ll look to the future and be thankful for where I’m going. I hope you can do the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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