When Mother’s Day gives Mixed Emotions

I didn’t always want to be a mom. In fact, I thought that I’d live happily childfree for all of my days. Around 5 years of marriage, I started to wonder if I’d regret not having a child. I thought of and pursued the possibility of building our family through adoption. That door closed. Then we tried for a baby and had a miscarriage. Mother’s Day 2014 was dark and sad. I didn’t know if we’d ever have a child.

Here I am now in 2016 with a 13-month old on Mother’s Day. Becoming a mother has changed me in a way that I didn’t imagine. I now feel certain things so deeply in my heart. In particular, my heart aches for all sorts of mothers on Mother’s Day. Especially today, I think of:

The woman who wants to be a mother

The one who has lost a child

The lady struggling with the demands of motherhood

The mother who has an estranged child

Those living without their mom

And this week, I think of all the mothers affected by the Fort McMurray fires. There have been women who’ve given birth during this past week while fleeing from their home.

I am glad to be a mom. It is seriously hard work. Challenging. Tiring. And the lovey-dovey stuff too. But one thing I’m grateful for is the way in which my journey of motherhood has given me a deep love for any struggling momma. I’m feeling both sad and glad this Mother’s Day, and I think that’s okay.

Miscarriage: Early Pregnancy Loss

Since October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I thought it appropriate to write a blog post on early miscarriage. “At least you weren’t far along” and “it’s likely that there was a problem with chromosomes” are examples of unhelpful statements made to those who receive a positive pregnancy test and lose the baby days or weeks later. If you believe that life begins at conception, losing a baby at any time is devastating.

 

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In March of 2014, I received our first positive pregnancy test. Our joy was short-lived as a couple days later, I began to spot. The ER doctor gave me a 50/50 chance. Unfortunately, after days of spotting, I had a miscarriage. Our miscarriage happened at 5 weeks. I spent my 30th birthday miscarrying our first child.

Early miscarriage is no big deal, right? Wrong. At least for me, it changed me. I will always remember December 5, 2014 as our first little ones due date. And having our first pregnancy result in miscarriage caused me to have a fear and anxiety ridden second pregnancy. With all that said, I think I’ll end with this quote by Winnie the Pooh. To our first little one, you are forever loved!

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Large or Small Family: Is your reality different than what you imagined?

I recently saw a picture of a family with 4 children. That was the composition of my family growing up: 2 parents + 4 kids. For the longest time, I imagined that I would have at least 4 children, if not 5. Then shortly after marriage, I changed my mind about children and decided that I wanted to live happily childfree. Then after 5 years of marriage, we explored the possibility of building our family through adoption but that door shut. We finally came around to building our family “the old fashioned way” and experienced some set-backs and a devastating miscarriage. Today, we have a 4 month old daughter via birth (ouch!!) and are very glad for her. But seeing that we are 31 & 35 yrs old and having our first child, the likelihood that we will have 4-5 children is very slim.

When I saw the photo of the family of 6, my heart smiled. That was my childhood. I had a good life. Part of me started to picture the possibility of having 4 children again. But soon afterwards, reality hit. Factors such as age, time, money, health and ultimately, preference came to the surface. We won’t be having a large family. And you know what — that’s OK. Really. There’s pros and cons to small or large families.

If we are lucky to have another, we’re pretty confident that we’ll be 2 and done (unless we are surprised by twins, oh my!). I was thinking the other day that if our daughter has a sister that will be perfect. Or if she has a brother, that will be perfect. This gave me peace that 2 and done seems right for our family. (I say all this knowing that it’s never a guarantee that we’ll be able to have another. Secondary infertility is quite common).

http://ydtalk.com/crib/am-i-amish/
http://ydtalk.com/crib/am-i-amish/

Having one or two children is not what I always pictured re: family size. Maybe we tend to picture what we knew, what we experienced. Regardless, people have more or less children than what they grew up with all the time. Sometimes this is due to personal preference. Sometimes it’s due to timing. And sadly, sometimes people don’t end up with the family size they always dreamed of due to fertility problems.

I’m embracing our reality of being a small family. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for large families. But I no longer feel that’s for me. One or two kids sounds great. Not what I originally pictured but just fine with me.

What about you? Is your family size larger or smaller than what you thought it would be?

A year ago today we discovered that our rainbow baby was on her way

Definition: A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or stillbirth. A rainbow after the storm.

In Spring of 2014, our first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. Fast forward to the summer, and a year ago today we found out that our rainbow baby was on their way.

After staring in disbelief at the positive pregnancy test, I said to Derek, “you don’t get a second line without having the pregnancy hormone present. There’s false negatives but false positives are extremely rare. This means that at least for now, I’m pregnant.” In that moment, we both felt uncertain if this pregnancy would end in miscarriage or be our rainbow baby. We decided that for right now, for this moment, we were expecting. Derek suggested that we go out and celebrate! So we did. We went to a waterfront restaurant in town. While there, a little girl sat at a table over from us with her parents. During our dinner, she kept looking at me and smiling. I wondered if this was a sign that we would have a baby 9 months from now and that our baby would be a girl.

A year ago today, our lives were forever changed. She was tiny but on her way. On this day, I’m sleep deprived and haven’t showered or brushed my teeth. But I’m happy. I’m forever grateful for our rainbow after the storm. Baby girl, thank you for being the experience of a lifetime. We love you and cherish the light that you have brought to our lives.

original source unknown
original source unknown

Reasons why I cry as a new mom

One thing I’ve been surprised about in having a baby is how often I cry. As a kid/teenager and even into my young adult years, I used to pride myself in not being a crier. In recent years, I’ve realized just how ridiculous that is. And unhealthy. So I had to learn how to let myself cry.  Let me tell you that it’s so much better that way! You are able to let things out inside of bottling them up. Anyways, back to the point of this post: I’ve cried a lot in the last 2 months. Here are some of the surprising and not surprising reasons why:

1. I’ve cried many tears of gratitude that she’s here. The fact that I have a baby is never lost on me. I think losing our first pregnancy in an early miscarriage made me realize that having a baby in your arms is not a guaranteed thing. I’m so grateful that I have a baby!

2. I’ve cried at the reality that time is passing fast. Sure she’s “only” 2 months old. But before I know it maternity leave will be over, she’ll be going to school, she’ll be graduating high school, etc. I’m trying to soak this time up as best as I can (with limited sleep).

3. I’ve cried for every person longing to be a parent. Oh how I wish my reality will become yours so soon!

4. I’ve cried at the thought of babies crying and no one comforting them. For those babies living in countries where starvation is the thief of their young lives. For the babies laying in their cribs in orphanages receiving very little human contact due to being understaffed. For babies that live with parents who neglect them. Oh how my heart breaks in a new way for babies all over the world!

5. I’ve cried while I pray for her young life and future. What a daunting yet beautiful task to raise a daughter.

Most days, my tears spring out from my love and gratitude of her. A moment strikes me and I remember that she’s a gift and I’m so grateful.

Why I don’t post ultrasound photos or pregnancy belly shots on facebook

Facebook can be a landmine of triggers for those experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss. For some, signing into facebook and being hit with an imagine of an ultrasound photo or belly shot is a painful experience.

As an avid facebook user, I felt conflicted with whether or not to share with “the world” (i.e. facebook) about our pregnancy. At first, I thought it would be odd if I use facebook regularly and don’t share our news there. But I also thought about the fact that there could be someone (or a couple of people) who are struggling  to conceive or grieving a pregnancy loss that may see our announcement post. I couldn’t think of anyone in particular but I’d be naive to assume that just because I don’t know = no one is struggling. Pregnancy struggles tend to remain very private even in this day and age.

So for our facebook pregnancy announcement, I decided to not share an ultrasound photo. This, instead, is what we did:

We have a special reason to be thankful.
Can’t wait to meet our little pumpkin in April!

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As far as pregnancy belly shots go, I haven’t posted any of these to facebook. And I don’t plan to. People have asked to see belly shots and if I decide to share any it will be here on the blog. I figure that at least with the blog, people can decide to read something pregnancy related or skip along. With facebook, when you post a photo, it comes up in the news feed and people happen upon the photo whether they’d like to or not.

You may wonder if I feel like some of my pregnancy joy has been robbed by not sharing pregnancy related things freely and often on facebook. I’d honestly say that it hasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times where I’ve posted pregnancy items on facebook such as reaching 24 weeks/viability and how satisfied we are with our Midwife clinic. Also, a couple of times I’ve posted a link to this blog with a pregnancy related topic. And in those cases, I wonder if my sharing will sting (hurt others) or not. But overall, I feel satisfied with sticking to my no-ultrasound photos or pregnancy belly shots rule for facebook. And I try to reserve pregnancy related writing to this blog. If people on facebook wish they heard more about our pregnancy they can always come on over here!

Using social media and being sensitive to those currently in the midst of pregnancy trails can be challenging. I may not get it right every time but I will at least try to be kind and thoughtful. What about you? What are your thoughts on the topic or attempts?

5 Reasons NOT to ask: “When are you going to have kids?!”

People are nosy.  People are curious. People want to share their thoughts and opinions. I’ve been guilty of this myself. But when it comes to asking a couple without children, “when are you going to have children?”, I’d like to recommend the biting of tongue technique. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Would you go up to a couple with no clue of their financial situation, and ask them:  “when are you going to be debt free?” Likely not. Why? Maybe because finances are private (for whatever reason). Maybe it’s due to the reality that a person can hope and plan to be debt free but cannot control the exact date of when it will happen. Maybe asking the question could discourage the couple due to their current reality. Hmm. But a similar intimate question is asked all the time re: “when are you going to have kids?!” The same reasons why people don’t randomly ask questions about finances could be applied here.

2. The typical question is loaded with assumptions. It’s often phrased as, “WHEN will you have children” vs. “do you plan to have children?”. We would never ask a high school student who we barely know, “when are you going to University?”. Why not? Well, that would assume too much. What if they don’t have the grades to get in? What if they have received rejection letters to each school they applied to? What if they are taking a year off? What if they want to go to college instead?. We may instead ask what their plans are for the fall.

3. When throwing out the typical question: “when are you going to have kids?”, be prepared that you may make a person cry. They may cry right then and there or afterwards. You never know if a couple could be trying to conceive and it’s not happening. I’ve read about a woman being asked this question while she was physically recovering from yet another miscarriage. A deeply personal question such as “when are you going to have a baby?” could cause a person to sob after you are no longer around. Be warned.

4. Continuing the topic of assuming,  I’ll throw a couple more “what ifs” your way. What if a person decides not to have children because they have a health condition that would make parenting extremely difficult.  What if having a baby would make their already challenging health condition much worse? What if a couple is aware that they have a predisposition of passing on a serious genetic condition and they feel that they can’t do that to their child. What if a couple recognizes that they both came from dysfunctional families and feel strongly that they are likely to repeat the cycle again. What if…. You fill in the blank.

5. Lastly, what if a couple can’t have children. I mean that they really can’t. I read a blog post yesterday of a women who tried for 10 years to get pregnant and even did two rounds of IVF. 10 years. There was nothing obviously wrong with them. They were classified as “unexplained infertility”. They tried everything to get pregnant and it did not work. As you can imagine, they are now totally spent emotionally and financially. They do not wish to get on the adoption roller coaster after all that they have been through. They are done. She is focusing on building a beautiful future as just the two of them. The sad reality is that some who desperately want to be pregnant and have a baby are not able to despite their best efforts. Next time you think of asking, “when will you have a baby”, keep in mind that it may never happen for that couple, ever.

Last week, I became aware that it was National Infertility Week. I’ve learned that as many as 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility (and there’s such a thing as secondary infertility – an inability to get pregnant despite already having a child). In my life, I’ve been exposed to the heartache of infertility while standing by close friends in their darkest days. My advice would be this: unless you can sit down over coffee and talk to a close friend re: children, don’t spring this question on anyone unexpectedly or jokingly. Think of, “what if…” before asking such question to someone you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking about their finances. Children are wonderful. Babies are precious. Remember that some people won’t experience pregnancy, birth and raising children for whatever reason.  Biting your tongue may prove to be both wise and kind. And if you must ask, please do so 1:1 and not in the middle of a baby shower. For their sake and yours.

Can you add to this list? Thoughts, experiences, suggestions?