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Monday, May 10, 2010

Reflections of Mother's Day

Mother's Day. I remember during childhood making little tokens at school for Mother's Day. As I grew older and ventured out on my own, I saw Mother's Day as an obligation to treat Mother to some sort of gift. Even at church, mothers were especially revered on Mother's Day. I was pretty much indifferent about it all. I never really understood all the hype about this particular day... until I became a mother myself. Before I met and married Tim, I was not sure if I would have children. During high school, I was not one of those girls who aspired to get married and have children. In fact, the very idea terrified me. Marriage was a very scary thing for me and the idea of squeezing a little human out of one of my orifices really frightened me. Additionally, I thought I would be bad mother. How could I nurture a baby when I never really had a good example of it myself? As I got older, I did become a little more open to the idea but I just was never really sure. I vacillated quite often. I would become close to some of my friends' little ones which at times gave me a desire to be a mom but then when it came down to it, I really enjoyed my freedom too much at the time to make a lifetime commitment to a man and to children. Simply put, I just was not ready.
By the time I met Tim, I had actually started looking into adopting a special needs child (bi/multi-racial, older child, or mild handicap) because I kept reading about how there were so many of these children who were in need of homes. I was adopted myself by my step-dad and have no knowledge of my biological father whatsoever so I really felt that I could relate in some way to these children. But soon after I started inquiring about the foster-to-adopt program, I met Tim. Eighteen months after we met, we were married in February 2002. We were not sure if our family would include children so I had been taking the birth control pill. On our wedding day, we were already put under pressure by well-meaning well-wishers to have a baby. I don't remember what my response was at the time to those who started asking when a baby would be due.
A couple of months after our wedding, Tim came to me one night and told me that I could stop taking the pills. Wow, the thought was really scary to me as it meant the possibility of pregnancy unless we took other precautions. I was happy to be off of the pill because I hardly felt good while taking them.
After a few months, my mother-in-law told me that her oldest grand-daughter (Tim's niece) was pregnant on her first attempt and promptly announced that Vickie won the race. Whoa! I didn't know I was in a race, especially with somebody much younger than me and who lived a much different lifestyle than I lived. Plus with my history of endometriosis and previous uterine surgeries, I already knew that pregnancy may not be possible. Then I was informed a short time later that Tim's cousin's wife was pregnant. Woop dee doo, I lost the race again. I really was a failure because I just could not produce to everyone's satisfaction. It was shortly after this and after several others kept pressuring us with personal questions about our plans for a baby that I announced that Tim and I were not going to add to our little family. We had each other and we had our Buffy (our dog at the time who has since gone to doggie heaven). The comments and personal questions stopped.
I became pregnant in 2003 but we lost that one the weekend of Mother's Day. I will never forget it. After so many years of saying that I was never going to have kids, I really thought God was punishing me and making me keep my own promise of never having kids. Tim and I went to church that Mother's Day while I was still in the process of miscarrying. I went because I didn't want God to punish me even further. Looking back, I now know that I should have stayed home. It was a very emotional time and I cried throughout the entire church service, especially when the pastor recognized the mothers. Tim kept trying to get us to leave but I just could not get myself to even get up from the pew. I held my head down the entire time because I didn't want anybody to see my tears.
In March of 2004, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we were expecting twins. Unfortunately, one of the twins died around 7 weeks gestation. Then I suffered a chorionic bleed which put me at a significant risk of losing the remaining twin, Jackie. Thankfully, the bleed resolved after several weeks and from my second trimester on, the pregnancy went smoothly. I felt great with the exception of a handful of minor problems, the most troublesome being sciatic pain and spontaneous nosebleeds. As I got toward the end of my pregnancy, Jackie still had not turned head down. When I went for my 36 week check, Jackie was still in frank breech position and due to concern about my amniotic fluid level, the doctor decided against a version and scheduled a c-section for November 9th, early enough that I hopefully would not go into labor. Well, Jackie had a different idea. Very early on the morning of November 1st, I woke up to make one of my nightly visits to the bathroom and after I went back to bed, I suddenly experienced one of the worst cramps I have ever experienced. I don't know what was worse; a collapsed lung or this cramp. At least with the cramp, I was able to breathe. So, I got up thinking that maybe I needed to just sit in the bathroom for awhile. As soon as I stepped into the bathroom, my amniotic fluid burst out of me and onto the floor. I was shocked, in fact, I thought for a moment that I just lost control of my bladder. But the volume and appearance immediately made me think that I was indeed going to have a baby on this day. I frantically told Tim that I needed to get to the hospital because my water broke. Thankfully, he was the calm one as I frantically rushed around while he took his time getting dressed. We got to the hospital where I was wheeled up to the maternity area. The on-call doctor confirmed that my membranes had ruptured and while we waited for my OB doctor to arrive, an ultrasound confirmed that Jackie was still in the breech position and I was prepped for a C-section. Jackie was born after 8:00 that morning weighing 7 pounds 2 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. I was finally able to see my baby a few hours after she was born. When Jackie was finally brought to me, I thought she was the most beautiful baby ever born. Unfortunately, bonding was difficult for us and Jackie developed jaundice. And her weight continued to drop significantly. I was able to bring her home after nearly a week. As much as I loved my baby, that first year with her was a very difficult year with her colic, failure to thrive issues, my post partum depression, bond issues. It was just a very difficult time made worse by the lack of a support system as we had just moved here to Illinois three months before Jackie's birth.
Tim and I thought Jackie would be our only child. I was not sure I wanted to go through another pregnancy because I didn't like the idea of having another c-section. We tossed around the idea of fostering-to-adopt but I never felt that Tim was 100% on board. I was really okay with it, though, because Jackie was such a handful as it was. But as much of a challenge Jackie was (and still is), I felt phenomenally blessed to have Jackie and was quite content with her being our only child.
Fast forward a few years to 2007 when at the end of April, I discovered I was pregnant with our son, Ben. Tim and I were extremely shocked. We were in such shock that we did not tell any of our family members until I was around 12 weeks along. I vacillated between shock, fear, excitement, you name. I ran the gamut of emotions. I was also fearful because I was experiencing bleeding again with this pregnancy but the military doctors here would not see me until I was close to the end of my first trimester. Thankfully, all turned out well and we have our beautiful son.
It took some time to get used to the plural for "kid". Everytime I referred to my "kids", my heart skipped a beat and I had to sort of shake my head to make sure that I was not dreaming. Wow, I was now a mom of 2. I never dreamed that I would have another baby at my advanced age but I would not trade it for anything. I quickly got used to caring for 2 kids at once. Our family was definitely complete with our little girl and our baby boy. At least, that's what I thought.
Very few people know until now that I became pregnant again last year in 2009. I had been taking precautions to avoid it. It didn't work. Obviously. I called my best friend a couple of times with concern about a possible pregnancy but she kept trying to reassure me that it could just be my hormones changing because of my age. She was with me when I took a pregnancy test that confirmed the dreaded diagnosis. I was distraught. At the time, Tim and I had hit a bump in the road in our marriage. 'How was I going to take care of three kids? I already often felt like a single parent. Now we were going to have to buy a minivan. How am I going to afford childcare for 3 kids when I wanted to go back into the workforce? I was going to have to stay home with the kids for another few years.' These were just a few of the thoughts running through my mind. And unfortunately, abortion crossed my mind for just a fleeting moment. I could get rid of the "problem" and nobody, including Tim, would ever have to know. But rest assured, if it came down to it, I would not have been able to bring myself to do that. But I was in such a state of mind that I was not thinking rationally. It took me two days before breaking the news to Tim. He was surprised but he seemed to be okay with it. That's probably because up until then, he knew something was going on and he thought that I was planning to leave him. Poor guy. After I got past the initial shock, I started to accept the fact that there was another baby on the way but I continued to go about my life with little regard to the life inside me. After a couple of weeks, I found myself becoming protective of that little life and I started to feel a little bit of excitement and even daydreamed about my three kids playing together one day. But those dreams were short-lived.
On Mother's day of 2009, we went to church where I met up with Lisa. I had noticed that morning that I was having a little bit of spotting. Since I had experienced bleeding with my previous pregnancies, I thought that it would be okay but I was still a little worried. The spotting continued for a couple of days but it continued to be light. And I took extra care to not lift anything heavy and to not over-extend myself. But all was not well. That Tuesday after Mother's Day, it was as if the dam burst and I knew I was miscarrying. As I look back, I still have mixed feelings about it all. When I look at a little baby now, I wonder what my little one would have looked like. But at the same time, I never felt deep grief about it. I was actually okay about it and I felt a little guilty for feeling that way. However, I did question God why he took my babies away from me on 2 different Mother's days. If god was going to take away my babies, why couldn't he choose another time to take them? Of the three miscarriages I've had, 2 of them were around this special day.
Despite all of that, though, I am so thankful for my 2 beautiful children who are alive and healthy. Jackie does have mild cerebral palsy but she is thriving and gaining strength. I love being their mom and it is my hope that even during the difficult times with them, I can convey to them that I love them unconditionally and that they are very special to me. I never thought I would enjoy motherhood as much I do enjoy it.

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