Mother’s Day 2014 and Belated May Kindness for Callie

I thought that Mother’s Day would be no big deal by now, but I know now that I need to expect it.  The tugs on my heart, the delicate balance of joy and sorrow, the bittersweetness of it all.  I thought about Callie constantly this past week, I dreamt about her, and I saw her in my daily life when little yellow butterflies danced past me in the sunlight.  I treasured every snuggly hug from Charlotte, wiped away each tear, and spent extra time playing and laughing with her.

John did an amazing job of making Mother’s Day perfect for me.  I enjoyed breakfast in bed, a sweet present, church and garden time, and a wine tasting at a local vineyard on a beautiful day.  He made sure I felt special as a mommy to both of our girls and for that I am grateful.

At church, the pastor showed a video that resonated with me:

 

 

“But in the everydayness of these moments you start to feel it…

the weight of glory, the glorious ordinary

and on your quietest, least interesting days

you get better at hearing the music of motherhood…

There is no part of your everyday wash and rinse and repeat routine that isn’t significant

You make the music, that makes the life, that gives the rhythm to the day in and out and again…

You are braver than you know

because, you mother.”

(excerpt from the video “Here’s To the Mothers” by Lisa-Jo Baker)

 

I’m so glad that I have the privilege of being Charlotte and Callie’s mother.  Callie made me a mom.  She made me strong and taught me so much about life even though she herself did not live very long.  She taught me to feel “the glorious ordinary” and hear the “music of motherhood”.  There isn’t a day that has gone by that I haven’t found something significant in my “everydayness”.  Callie made me a better mother for Charlotte, the girl I am so lucky to hold each day.  Each day, I find something in her to soak up and enjoy.  Her diaper squishing as she toddles away from me.  Her sweet, sincere hugs that I hold onto no matter where, no matter when.  Her laughter when the dogs lick up the mess she makes.  I hear her music.  I am listening.

 

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I am SO late on posting May’s Kindness for Callie theme!  Oops!  Originally, I had planned to do a ‘veterans’ theme this month, but I decided to change it to “Spring” and combine veterans with armed forces in July 🙂  Here’s a few ideas!  I’d love to hear what else you can think of!  Big thanks to Ginger for donating to Ainsley’s Angels last month to help her friend raise money as she pushed her daughter in a wheelchair in a half marathon.  So cool!!  xxoo

K4C-May

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Happy Mother’s Day

A big hug for you on Mother's Day!

A big hug for you on Mother’s Day!

When I saw the envelope marked “Mommy”, I broke down in tears.  Bittersweet tears.  That one little word means so very much to me.  I was overwhelmed by the joy of having a little rainbow here with me who will grow to call me Mommy.  At the same time, it reminded me of the little one who I will have to wait a lifetime for to hear that word from her own lips.  She made me a mommy and gave motherhood for me a whole new meaning.

Last year, Mother’s Day was so hard.  This year, it has been much more gentle.

I want to wish all those mothers I love a very happy Mother’s Day.

But more than that, I want to reach out and hug anyone for whom Mother’s Day is hard.  If you are missing your mom or missing your baby today, please know that I am thinking about you.  I hope the sunshine warms your heart today, like it does mine.

xoxo

 

Mommy Meltdowns

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I have had exactly three  ‘mommy meltdowns’ since Charlotte was born.  The first was on her first night when we let the night nurse take her to the nursery and I felt guilty about it.  The second was when I got completely overwhelmed by too much information by a well-meaning lactation consultant instead of just listening to my own instincts.  And the third, came the other day, in our bathroom.  After a fussier than normal night, I stood staring at my disheveled self in the mirror after getting Charlotte down for bed.  My incision hurt, I felt like my stomach was getting stabbed from the inside out by horrendous gas pains, and my nipples felt like I had been given a hundred million titty twisters in a row.  So, I cried.

I’m sharing this because there has been something on my mind lately.  I secretly hoped that after having Charlotte, that I would be able to talk to other moms about being a mother and not feel different.  But the truth is, I am different.  Still different.  If I’m being honest, as I have fielded the usual questions that come with having a new baby, I have had to work hard to hide my annoyance and remain polite.  It has taken me a little while to dig beneath this emotion and discover it’s root.  Why would it bother me to be asked about how breastfeeding is going?  How is she sleeping?  How are you coping?  Didn’t I want to be a part of this club called ‘normal’ motherhood?  The only ones who seem to have been spared these feelings are my closest friends who have been with me ‘in the trenches’ and other rainbow moms.

I eventually recognized that old emotion bitterness creeping out from within.  It turns out I have a low tolerance for these types of conversations because typically those asking have never had to be in my shoes.  That the worst or hardest thing they have ever faced is how badly their boobs hurt or the frustration of a colicky baby who has robbed them of sleep.  I realized I resent them for it.  Isn’t that awful?  Saying it out loud makes me feel like a terrible person.  After all, it’s not their fault.  I would never EVER wish my experiences on anyone.  They are just well-meaning moms trying to welcome me to the club.

But, my club is different.  Rainbow moms know what I mean.

Instead of venting to you about the typical newborn baby issues, let me tell you about the challenges I have really found to be daunting.  Like getting out a baby item that has been sitting in the closet for a year and half and seeing that it is covered in dust.  Every speck of that dust pisses me off or saddens me depending on the day, but at the same time, I am so thankful to be able to finally put it to use.  Or, like plugging in the baby monitor that we spent a buttload of money on before Callie was born, only to find that the battery won’t charge and it’s been over a year so it’s out of warranty.  (A really nice man in customer service listened to our story and is sending a factory refurbished cord-  fingers crossed that it works!)  It makes me so mad!  Or, thinking about Mother’s Day and the bittersweet feelings it brings.  Or, accidentally saying Callie’s name instead of Charlotte’s.  Or, looking down at our amazing girl and simultaneously being overjoyed that she is here and depressed that her sister could not stay.  Or, staring at Charlotte and seeing a feature that reminds me of Callie.  Or, on the other hand, seeing her perfection and it reminds me of Callie’s fragility.  It’s just not fair.  I’m having flashbacks frequently.  I kiss Charlotte and remember kissing Callie right before she took her last breath.  And then I get scared that I could possibly experience that kind of loss again and I clutch Charlotte, afraid of what could be.  I imagine having to go through the loss all over again and how that would utterly ruin me to experience it twice.  That takes the whole ‘leaning over the crib to make sure your baby is still breathing‘ thing to a completely different level than your average mom.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Because really, although all of those challenges are difficult, they have not overshadowed the joy.  When I say that the past two and a half weeks have been amazing, I am not lying.  I am not glossing things over.  Because, to me, even my messy mommy meltdowns are a true gift from God.  I never said it has been a total breeze.  Just that it has been filled with tiny miracles.  Every cry.  Every breath.  Even the scabby nips.  Miracles.

Sometimes, when I write things, I worry about what people will think when they read it.  It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad if you have been one of the kind-hearted friends who has asked, “Hey, how’s it going?”.  And it’s also not my intention to make people stop asking.  Please, don’t stop.  You, be you.  No one should feel guilty for having a life I am envious of at times.  That is MY issue.  It is a delicate balance.  On one hand, I have to give myself permission to be a ‘normal’ mom.  To feel the same joys and frustrations as everyone else.  And on the other, I have to recognize and accept that I’m not your average mother and make peace with it.  (Who is, right?)  I was able to do that by the end of my pregnancy, and I am confident that I will work through those emotions again now that Charlotte is here with us.

Because this is my little slice of the internet, I write from the heart.  And this is what motherhood looks like for me right now, from the heart.

Scary.  Blissful.  Frustrating.  Amazing.  All at the same time.  Maybe I’m not so different after all….

 

 

**p.s. I have many Kindness for Callie updates coming soon!  Feeling blessed to be so supported in this effort 🙂

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What Makes a Mother?

Yesterday was hard.  But I had my helmet on and I did okay.  This is largely due to the fact that we spent most of the day in the car on our way back from a really fun and beautiful wedding…my head was pounding and I am lucky that I didn’t throw up in the McDonalds in Maryland.  Or on the side of the road.  I was worried about that.  After returning home (and a glorious nap), we went to the garden where we found little drops of sunshine by the cross…presents from friends who were thinking about us.  It really cheered me up.  The rest of the evening was spent catching up on DVR and lounging around.  It was peaceful.  Not exactly the Mother’s Day I had envisioned, but I think I am beginning to accept more of the reality of what has happened to us.  It is what it is.

A friend of mine sent me (and some other baby loss mamas) a video that tugged at my heartstrings, entitled “What Makes a Mother?”.  Good question.  I have been mourning what I thought makes a mother…changing diapers, cleaning up spit-up, singing lullabies, nursing, and rocking a baby to sleep.  I realized though, that what makes a mother (or a father) is so much more than this.  It is caring about someone else’s well-being above your own.  Nurturing and caring for another.  Making hard decisions in one’s best interest.  When it comes down to it, I believe it boils down to one simple word:  love.  Mother love.  Father love.  There is nothing stronger on this earth.  I have experienced this love and it has forever changed me.  I hope that one day, we will be blessed with more children to share our love with.  But, for now, I must find peace and contentment in the love we shared as a family in the 35 hours Callie blessed this earth, the love that she shines down upon me, the love I continue to have for her, the deep, strong love in our marriage, and God’s love.

**Guess what?  Callie was with us this weekend.  In the picture above, we saw the most beautiful sunset…which always reminds me of Callie.  When my friend, Elizabeth, stepped back to look at the picture she had taken, she pointed out the little sunburst on John’s shoulder…right where he has a tattoo of Callie’s initials.  Crazy, beautiful, love.**

Mother’s Day

I am posting a poem that a friend sent to my online support group.  I hope that all of the mothers out there today enjoy their special day.  Whether it is a day of somber remembrance or joyful celebration, live this day with emotion…whatever those emotions may be.

To my mother and grandmothers, I love you.

To Callie, I miss you sweet girl.

MOM

A few little letters arranged just so…
A word that means much more than
you will ever know.

In hopes you feel a special joy,
if only for awhile…
and perhaps for a moment, 
you will find a way to smile.

This title is now indelible
upon your immortal soul…
in hopes you forever feel
special in this role.

Even though our time was short
from the moment of my birth, 
you are honored in heaven 
and you are honored on earth.

Separated by a little time,
our loves grows strong,
and when we look back,
it won’t seem very long.

When someday we are joined
where we are meant to be
you will truly see, MOM
you are still everything to me.

I Can’t Run Away From Mother’s Day

I want to run away.  Far, far away.  Maybe my new home will be a lush tropical getaway.  I will listen to the waves crashing.  My body (obviously, it will be super-hot with six-pack abs in my dream world) will get kissed by the sun.  My husband and I will drink fruity drinks through a fun curly straw.  And everything will be perfect, right?

Wrong.

I have encountered a flaw in my happiness project.  Originally, I wanted one of my goals to be to “Stay Happy”…see below:

May Goals:

  1. Create a visually happy environment (Project Micro-Makeovers!)
  2. Eat right & exercise (Project Un-preggify!)
  3. Focus on the “here and now” (Project No More Flashbacks and No More Flashforwards!)
  4. Spring clean (Project Declutter!)
  5. Avoid “baby bombs” (Project Stay Happy!)
  6. Maintain the right attitude (Project Pooping Butterflies! ha, can’t wait to explain this one!!!)
  7. Accept the One who really has control (Project Let God Do His Thang!)

And I would achieve this goal by avoiding what I would like to call “baby bombs”.  What is that, you ask?  A baby bomb is something baby-related that serves as a trigger for sadness.  If you are a grieving parent, you know what I mean.  Like when I get an advertisement in the mail for Enfamil, for example.  It serves as a little “baby bomb” by creating an explosion of grief in an otherwise happy day…or maybe a crappy day that gets a lot crappier.  When I originally wrote my goals, I had firmly resolved that I was going to avoid baby bombs at all cost.  Realistically, I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid them all…but again, I am trying to focus on the things I can control.  Do I have to watch Grey’s Anatomy when I know that taking an infant off of life support is the main story line?  NO!  I am now only watching completely brainless television like American Idol.  Do I have to read books with a sad plot?  NO!  Thanks to a good friend who loaned me the whole series, I am now currently plowing through the safe and magical world of Harry Potter.

But like I said, my plan was flawed.  You see, I wrote these goals in April…before the calendar marched forward and reminded every marketing company in the world  that Mother’s Day is on it’s way.

It.  Is.  Everywhere.

TV commercials where happy parents cuddle babies.  Radio ads promoting flowers for Mom.  Junk mail and emails flood my mailboxes.  Social media- don’t even get me started.  Baby bomb cityyyyyyyy!  I thought I could stay happy by avoiding all of these things…but I’m pretty sure the only way to avoid it would be to travel to my make-believe land, close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears and scream LA-LA-LAAAAAAAAAAA.  For 3 weeks.  Clearly, this is not an option…tempting as it is with the fruity drinks and lure of a sun-kissed tan and all.

So, I am revising my goal.  I realized that running away from hard things is not the answer.  And neither is seeking the hard things out and trying to tackle them James Harrison Steeler-style.  Nope.  Instead, I am changing my goal to:  “Accept the baby bombs as they come and try not to get blown up.”  When I encounter a baby bomb, I will take a deep breath (or two), conjure up some feel-good imagery, and I will recite a few different mantras depending on the situation (mantras are my new thing).  I will use the mantras like a safety helmet to protect me from the crash.  I have accepted that the bombs will come, they will make impact, but I can try and prevent it from creating deep trauma…more like a bruise.  Still hurts, but doesn’t interfere with the rest of my day.

My mantras?  Well, that’s between me, Callie, and the Big Guy.  Most of them involve me sending Callie a little message in heaven or a short one-line prayer like, “Give me strength” or “What Would Jesus Do?”.  But I will tell you that sometimes I whisper “Poop butterflies” to myself.

I have accepted that Mother’s Day will be hard.  I also know, after reading some tips at my therapist’s office today, that one way to get through this day is by telling everyone what I need since friends and family often do not know how they can help.  Hmmm, what do I need?  Acknowledgment that I am a mommy even though my baby is in heaven, but space to get through the day.  Don’t ignore me, but just know that I will probably ignore you.  I hope that is not mean.  I hate being mean.  Just trying to survive…  John and I are going to a beautiful wedding at the beach this weekend and then we will visit Callie in the garden on Sunday.  Annnnd I think I will most likely enjoy a nice bottle of wine and some funny movies.  I hope that visiting Callie on this day becomes a tradition even in happier times.

Acceptance of the sadness actually makes me feel less sad.  I have realized that this avoidance dance I was doing really just made everything worse.  There is no running away from grief.  It catches you and suffocates you if you do not DEAL WITH IT.  So, I’m dealing.  My helmet is on.  Just praying that I land in the grass instead of the concrete…

Lord, give me a soft landing, a safe place to fall.  And, oh if you could throw in a hangover-free Monday that would be great too!  😉