Tag Archives: motherhood

Being a Mom

I just finished reading John Green’s The Fault in our StarsIt is brilliant and beautiful, and written with a younger audience in mind than my almost-30-self ( I’m not ashamed to read young adult fiction).

The story is about Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers who have battled/are battling cancer. They meet in support group and fall in love. Hazel is an only child, and her cancer is terminal. At one point in the story, Hazel is in the hospital, surrounded by her mother and father, and she’s fighting to breath and her parents are weeping and telling her that it is okay to let go but Hazel can’t, she doesn’t let herself die, her lungs keep fighting even though her brain tells her to give up. And as she’s fighting for breath and for life, her mother buries her face in her father’s chest and says:

I won’t be a mom anymore.

This weekend, the Hubs and I went to Walmart (ugh) to buy the makings of our garage gym (aw yea!) and ran into one of our neighbors, the sweet woman who lives across the street. We chatted a bit in the line and then she asked, in that way that has a second, deeper meaning, “How are you guys doing?”

It’s rare that the Hubs and I have to answer this question in tandem, and so we both trot out our go-to phrases, “there are good days and bad,” “We have a lot to look forward to,” “We just try to keep busy” and on and on. Our Neighbor’s eyes welled up with tears and she said, “Well I hope you guys get pregnant again soon. You’re going to be such good parents.” And then she thought for a second and blurted out, “That was really insensitive of me to say. You ARE parents. You are good parents.

A lot of the condolence cards and notes on Facebook reiterate this:

You will always be Hudson’s mommy.

And I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, and there is a part of me that really believes it, too. But I’m not a mom, really. Not in daily practice.

I don’t have a baby to mother. I am just as useless around babies as I was before I had my own. I never got to develop that 6th sense with my daughter about what her cries meant. I never set a routine with her, determined her bed time, created a “take-turns on diaper change rotation” with the Hubs, figured out her feeding. I’ll never get to watch Hudson take her first steps or clap my hands with her first words or drop her off for school or take her to piano lessons or hate her first ex-boyfriend or ground her for staying out too late or hold my breath as she backs the car out of the driveway for the first time by herself.

But I am a mommy in my heart. As Hudson died in our arms, one thing I remember saying over and over was “Thank you for making me a mommy.” Being a parent isn’t just about the practical application, the daily tasks or interactions associated with having offspring. Being a parent, being a mommy, is also about what happens to the royal You when you have a child.

Your hopes and dreams shift from You to Them. Your sense of self is enlarged, because you just created this amazing little being so you know you’re pretty incredible but that all pales in comparison to what you’ve created. You would do anything for them… cliche though it may be, it is the truth. Your personal needs, they take a back seat. Your sole purpose goes from existing to providing. All you care about is making the world you need to make for your child. When you realize that You are not important anymore, and when you realize that you and You don’t really care… you’re a mommy.

That doesn’t change just because your child dies. I would still do anything for Hudson. I’m humbled. My priorities are different, larger. All I care about is creating a world for my children (well, along with creating more children, of course). When your child dies, you don’t go back to You.

It’s good for You to take a backseat at a certain point in life.

Always an ambitious woman, I was surprised at how motherhood struck me. When Hudson was born, I realized that there is no career I have a higher calling for than Mommydome. I don’t know if I will ever have it in me to be a stay-at-home mom, but that doesn’t mean I am not a full-time mom.

I’m always going to be Momma Dub. I’m always going to be Hudson’s Mommy. Whenever Baby Dub Dos arrives on the scene, I will be thrown into that wonderful missed-out-on world of Daily Motherhood Practice…

…the diaper changes
…the feeding and sleeping schedules
…the sixth sense about cries
…the millions of experiences I’m missing without our girl.

And those experiences will be new for me, but the whole being a mom thing?

I can’t even remember what it was like before I was a mom.

Mommy & Hudson

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The Incredible Human Capacity to Heal

This is going to sound weird, but I find a strange comfort in flipping through the pages of my old pregnancy literature.

You know, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” stuff.

I cracked the pages of “What to Expect…” this morning, and out fluttered the ultrasound pics from the day we found out we were having a baby girl.

There’s a picture of her little legbones and an arrow pointing at the crouch-al region and a caption that says “LITTLE LADY.” I remember the ultrasound lady saying, “Dad’s freaking out because now he knows there’s going to be a wedding to pay for.”

There were days following Hudson’s death when seeing these pictures would have made me burst into tears. It would have been an hour or two long set back in the day.

Today I’m traveling back in my mind to that day and remembering it with a lot of happiness, not with bitter regret.

I remember that ultrasound tech saying as she measured Baby Dub’s femur and took stock of our baby’s biceps, “You better hope its a boy, ‘cuz that’s one muscular baby.”

Hudson was a strong and remarkable and amazing baby. I get a lot of comments from people about how not-newbornlike she looked. She wasn’t HUGE but she was sturdy. She was never “newborn squishy”.

I brought a picture of Hudson to my hairstylist a few weeks ago, and inevitably it was passed around the salon to other stylists and their clients over the course of my appointment. Obviously one little old lady client did not catch on that this was MY baby in the picture. She asked what happened and I replied:

“Hudson was born without a heartbeat.”

To which this spunky older woman responded:

“Well, that sucks.”

Yes, it does suck. The conversation continued, and I overheard Spunky Client say to her stylist, “She must not have been that strong of a baby.”

Excuse me?

The fact that they were even able to resuscitate Hudson after she was born without a heartbeat is a miracle, a testament to the strength and will of our amazing baby girl.

The fact that she hung on to spend those three special days with us is further proof that Hudson was far from weak. She fought so hard. I know she wanted to spend a lifetime with us.

It was a small kick to the gut to hear that woman say Hudson just wasn’t strong… but I’ve learned to cut people like Spunky Client some slack. She wasn’t there, she didn’t see Hudson taking her own breaths despite being on the ventilator, she didn’t see our baby grasp my finger and respond to my touch, so she doesn’t know.

These little memories all came flooding back to me as I looked at these ultrasound pictures from 19 weeks 5 days gestation. More proof of Hudson’s vitality. Reminders of happier times.

But more overwhelmingly, HOPE.

I’m not weeping as I write this, although I’ll have to admit to a few welled-up moments. I’m so proud of the baby we made. I’m so excited for our next pregnancy, whenever it happens, and I can’t wait to meet Baby Dub Dos. The fact that I can focus on these things, just over three months after the loss of our firstborn, is a testament not to my personal strength but to the incredible human capacity to heal.

I suffered from “right-side-greater-than-left-side-affected-paralysis” after breaking my neck in 2007. And while I do give the occasionally weak right-handed high five,  you wouldn’t know that at one point I couldn’t walk if you saw me today.

The death of a child is the absolute worst thing that can happen in life, and while it doesn’t paralyze you physically, a loss like ours has emotional and physical effects that last a lifetime. But if you didn’t know – if you hadn’t followed the Baby Dub blog, seen me put on those 37 pounds, witnessed the Hubs’ proud smiles at those doctors appointments – you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that we were nearly paralyzed with grief just a few short months ago.

The human body is an amazing thing. The human will is even more incredible. And we look forward to creating a couple more incredible humans in our life together.

And we will never forget the super-human strength of the incredible little being we said goodbye to in July.

 

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Overcoming Resentment

I realized the other day that I resent the strangest people.

I resent pregnant people I don’t know. I am a total pregnant woman judger. I make snap judgements on what kind of relationship she may have with her spouse – or if her spouse is present, I make a little more informed judgement.

I resent crap parents. People who are ignoring their little kids in the grocery store, people who aren’t holding their little ones’ hands as they cross the street.

I saw a TV show today starring a mom with her two 20-something pygmy dwarf children and I resented her because she gets her kids. They are tiny and they are probably a lot of work, but they survived. They are filling her days with the things kids should fill a mother’s days with.

I even find myself resenting people my age who are just… alive. I caught myself thinking the other day as I looked at a few friends talking in a Starbucks: “You were a baby once and you don’t even know how much of a miracle it is that you made it.”

Friends of mine on Facebook who complain about their late night diaper changes, or revel in being “kid-free” for the night… I resent them.

Sorry friends. I know you don’t know you’re stabbing me in my guts with your unintentionally thoughtless posts.

Friends of mine who are pregnant?

I’m sorry. I know it makes me a crap person right now. But I resent you too, friends.

I want to be in your shoes. Blissfully knocked up, oblivious to loss, nothing but hope for the future.

I miss that Me. The one that was like you.

The innocence is gone.

My mom shared a story with me about when my grandpa lost his job. He said over and over as he coped with his sadness, “Just pray that I don’t get bitter.”

I don’t want to be bitter. I cried to my mom on the phone today: I don’t see myself as the type of person who will become angry and bitter, the type of person who resents a pregnant friend. I expect more of myself. I’m better than that.

But sometimes I need to be okay with being temporarily that person. Because otherwise I am going to jam that person down deep inside and let her fester until she’s so pissed off at being silenced that she takes over completely.

Brave, strong, “positive-spin” me can take center stage for most of the time, because that’s the me that I expect of myself and that’s the me that happens most naturally. But every once in a while I’m going to take a personal day (to protect my coworkers), cry until my eyes hurt, and internally (and sometimes externally) rally against the universe.

I think the only way to overcome resentment is to embrace it.

But just an awkward side hug.

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