24 October 2012

How NOT to be the Perfect Mom

A few weeks ago, I started looking comparing each area of my life to other mommies. And guess, what I found? I found that I was failing at everything! My house was a mess. My 2-year-old was disobedient and still throwing wild temper tantrums in public. I wasn't cooking every night, and  I wasn't being as loving a wife as my husband needs. I was falling down in my responsibilities as a volunteer leader in MOPS, and I wasn't blogging as regularly as I wanted to. And most importantly, I wasn't spending as much time with God as I should be.

Of course, after realizing how much of a failure I was, I started really getting down. With so many people who are desperately trying to have a baby, why did God trust me with children when I was just letting everyone down, especially myself.  I was so low, and I really didn't know how to recover. I started thinking about my "Super-mom" friends who seemed to have it all together, and I wondered why they were so capable of doing what I was incapable of doing.

Fortunately though, God reminded me of His grace by sending me the right messages through friends, speakers, articles, and Bible study. 

Here's the thing I realized: my friends aren't perfect either. No one is perfect!  And it is especially difficult to be perfect when you are adjusting to the constant changes of growing children.

So if none of us is perfect, why do we all pretend to be? Why do I feel like my house needs to be polished before someone comes over? Or why do I try to put my children in their cutest (or just matching) clothes before we get together with other mommies? Why do I feel like I have to make Naomi's baby food, and cook a full meal from scratch every day, all while still making time for a full house cleaning every day? 

AND WHO started this competition to be the most competent "Super-mom" around ANYWAY?!? 

If one mommy pretends to be perfect, her friends feel like they have to be perfect, and what we end up with is a bunch of imperfect mommy's pretending to have it all together and never completely opening up to each other. Some of us are drowning in our own chaos and afraid to let anyone know because we don't want to drop the facade of "Super-mom". That would mean admitting we aren't perfect...

Well here it is: I. AM. NOT. PERFECT!!! And I am going to stop pretending to be Super-mom.

So what if my toddler isn't potty-trained yet! She knows she is loved unconditionally, and she will get there. So what if my baby isn't getting her tummy time every day! She is adored and she is reaching her milestones despite my imperfect schedule. And So what if my home looks like a dirty toy box. It is filled with love.

Maybe this will help me open up more to my friends, and maybe it will turn some people off. And maybe, just maybe, it will help another mommy feel like she can let go of the "Super-mom" facade as well. But I know that it will give God an opportunity to show His strength through my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 is such a beautiful reminder.

As it turns out, God's grace is big enough to cover my failures.

15 October 2012

In Our Shoes

Over the past 7 years, I have seen a lot of pregnancy tests. Each negative test was more devastating that the previous.  And the positives inspired sheer elation. Rarely do I think back to a time when I felt much differently...

When I was 19, I remember saying, "I never want children. A child is a life-time prison sentence!" I remember thinking that a child is the ultimate responsibility that you can never escape. I thought of all of the heart-ache I caused for my parents, and I new for sure I would never want kids of my own for fear of the pain they could cause me. I also remember thinking that I was way too selfish for children ...and at the time, I was right!

When I was 19, I was not ready for children, and I had NO idea how amazing it is to hold a baby in my arms and comfort her when she is unhappy. I had no idea how beautiful a smiling 2-year-old could be covered in yogurt and asking for a 'nackin'. I didn't understand how much love you could feel for a child or how difficult it could be to lose one.

Back then, a positive pregnancy test would have been devastating. Probably even more devastating than the many negative pregnancy tests I have taken in the past 7 years.

When we were trying to get pregnant with Abigail, I chatted with a friend online who was pregnant with her 4th child. She had gotten married after I had, and she had gotten pregnant pretty soon after getting married. I told her how devastated we were about not having a child on earth yet. And I will never forget her response. She told me she would trade places with me if she could ....

My blood began to boil, and I shook with anger and jealousy. How could anyone want to be in my shoes? I had just lost our first child, and I was desperately trying to get pregnant and carry a child to birth. And this woman had the gall to tell me she would rather be in my shoes than to have her 4th child!

I would have given almost anything to be in her shoes. God must love her more than He loved me because he had given her more blessings.

Sometime after Abigail was born, while I was dealing with her milk protein allergy, reflux, and colic, I thought back to my conversation with my friend and thought about how difficult it would be to care for my sick child with 3 other children to take care of. And it occurred to me that perhaps my friend had been speaking out of as much desperation as I was feeling while trying to have a child - maybe even more.

And it wasn't until a couple of years later that God has given me the ability to sympathize with people who considered a positive pregnancy test bad news - a teenager, woman whose marriage is falling apart, or someone who has more than she can handle. Once I learned that lesson, my jealousy of people with unplanned children seemed to just evaporate.

God has given each of us different paths, and we walk them IN OUR OWN SHOES! God knows the different speed bumps we will encounter on those paths, and He knows when we will be most desperate for His rescue and comfort.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I have learned that if I can just mentally put on someone else's shoes, I can usually sympathize with their despair even if it hurts me to do it. God has now blessed me with 4 children - 2 in heaven, and 2 here on earth. And I know that He doesn't play favorites. He has blessed me so abundantly with my husband and children.

08 October 2012

Tips for Friends and Family when a Baby is Lost

This is a great list of tips for friends and family of someone who loses a baby during any stage of pregnancy or infancy. I copied this from Maddie's Footprints, a local organization committed to helping support families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of an infant:

Tips for Family and Friends

How do you express your grief and concern without saying the wrong thing? How can you be there for the family? These questions are asked frequently by family and friends.  The loss of a baby can be a very “taboo” subject and it can be a difficult topic to talk about for all people involved.  Do not assume that the parents don’t want to talk about it.  By letting parents talk about their pain, you can help them come to grips with it. Here are a few suggestions:

What to Say
  • “I’m so sorry. I know how much you wanted to have this baby."If you don’t know what to say – it’s better to say “I’m sorry” than nothing at all. 
  • “It’s okay to cry.”
    Often when people are grieving, they try to appear strong to others.  If you see that they are becoming emotional, it may be helpful to know that their feelings are validated and you can allow them to express them without embarrassment.
  • “Would you like to talk about it?”
    Usually, the parents want nothing more than to talk about their baby, so avoiding the topic can be viewed as being insensitive to the situation.
  • “Is there anything I can do for you?”
    Often times in these situations, families will enjoy a home-cooked meal or help with other children or running errands.  Offer it to them and let them know you are available to assist. 
  • “I don’t know what to say.”
    Honesty can be more comforting than words with less meaning.
  •  Silence can be nice as well.  Just hold their hand or give them a hug. Let them know that you are there for them.
What Not to Say
Remember that while positive words can help at times, sometimes it may sound like you’re making light of the loss.  It may make the parents feel that they don’t have a right to be sad about their loss. Sometimes statements with good intentions may cause resentment.  Try to avoid the following:

  •     “It was meant to be.”
  •     “I know exactly how you feel.”
  •     “Everything happens for a reason.”
  •     “It’s good it happened now.”
  •     “At least you didn’t get to know the baby.”
  •     “Thank goodness you are young and you can have more children.”
  •      “At least you have other children at home.”
  •     “You have an angel in heaven.”
What You Can Do
You can be the greatest gift to grieving parents.  By allowing parents to talk about the pain, you can help them accept it. Your caring gestures can provide positive memories as parents look back on their loss.  Here are some other suggestions that may be helpful:

  • Call the baby by name.  Never call a baby “it” or refer to him or her as a fetus.  To the parents, the infant was a baby, regardless of how long he or she lived.
  • Let parents make their own decisions about the funeral and what to do with the baby’s room or clothing.  Don’t deprive them of experiencing the reality of death
  • If there is a funeral, attending shows your care and supports. You are recognizing this baby was unique even though she or he didn’t live long.
  •  If you can’t attend the funeral, send a letter or a note to the parents.  Express your support and concern.  These acknowledgments may be a treasured part of the baby book many parents choose to keep.
  •  Give a special memento to the parents.
  • Write a poem or a letter to the baby.
  •  Remember parents on the infant’s special days – due date, birthday, and anniversary of the death. Acknowledge the baby at holidays. Remember that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have special meaning for these parents.
Remember that grieving is a process.  Be patient and understand that the grief does not end at the funeral. It may take years for parents to feel “normal” again.  Some need less, some need more.  Parents go on with their lives, but they’re never quite the same again.  Providing support to these parents may allow them to cope easier.  You are very important to the parents now and in the months to come.

03 October 2012


Sometimes as parents, we make mistakes. Maybe we forget to restock the diaper bag and have to come home from something fun early, or we say something that hurts our child's feelings. And other times, we accidentally hurt our children, which is what happened to us a little over a week ago.

We had a long day taking family to New Orleans to see the sights and eat some beignets. So after 4 hours in the car, and about 5 hours walking around in the intense heat of fall in Southern Louisiana, we were all pretty exhausted. We were settling down for the night, and I was preparing to nurse Naomi before bed.

I picked her up out of her crib and started walking toward the glider I usually nurse in, but somehow, along the way, I tripped and fell forward with Naomi in my left arm. Somehow on my way down she flew out of my arm. I don't have any recollection at all of how I landed, because I was watching her fall. It still plays through my head in slow motion.

She shot forward like a projectile, and the back of her head slammed into the second shelf from the bottom in a set of book shelves. Then the back of her head hit the corner of a milk crate holding my pumping supplies on the way to the floor. It looked like someone had thrown a plastic baby doll against the shelf, except that it was my precious 4-month-old daughter.

I screamed at my husband who was in the bed, "Oh, my God! HELP!"

And about half a second after the fall, Naomi started to scream and cry. I think I was laying across the ottoman of the glider when I scooped her off the floor and flipped her in one motion to look at the back of her head. There was no blood, but there was immediate swelling. two huge purple goose-eggs started to come out on the back of her head very quickly. And I started to panic and practically hyperventilate.

All at once, I handed the baby to my husband, started getting dressed, grabbed my phone and started to call the ER, all while crying and saying over and over again, "I don't know what to do. I am so scared!" I was completely out of breath while talking to the ER nurse and asking what to do, and my husband was getting his mother, who happened to be visiting at the time. I was actually a little surprised when the ER nurse told me to call the ambulance.

I never imagined I would ever have to call 911 for my infant. While I was panicked, I guess I thought I might be overreacting when I initially thought of calling 911. I mean ...she only cried for about 3 minutes before becoming calm and laid back like her normal self.

And after two EKGs, some oxygen, an ice pack and some other checks on the 15 minute ambulance ride, it seemed like the medics were not terribly alarmed, so I started relaxing. Then the doctor came in and said that she looked fine, but that he was going to do a CT scan of her brain to make sure she had no brain bleeds or skull fractures.

She came out just fine. She didn't enjoy laying on the back of her head for about 24 hours, but other than that, it didn't seem to bother her much. She has a lump in the back of her head that the pediatrician said will be there for a month or two, but other than that, she came out of it with no long-term effects.

Thank God for protecting my precious little girl!!

Once I knew she was ok, the guilt set in. I felt like a terrible mother. God had trusted me with this precious life, and my clumsiness could have changed or ended that life. I felt like I had let down my children, my husband, and God.

It took me a couple days to start moving around the house with her in my arms, and I am still nervous about carrying her. I also still cry when I remember her fall.

I was just starting to feel confident as a mother, and now I am struggling to feel like a stable mother.  I guess we all fail our kids and our spouses occasionally, and we have to ask God to restore our confidence and thank Him for protecting our loved ones from our mistakes and accidents.