My baby is three months old! My little Snow angel. He’s happy, he’s healthy, he’s a dream baby and he’s a miracle. Every day I thank him for coming home to me. Every day I thank God again and again for letting me have my baby boy.
Sometimes I remember and get a glimpse of the fear that gripped me throughout my pregnancy. Sometimes it was out of control. I panicked. I froze. I couldn’t function. I had dark visions of things going terribly wrong.
After the loss of pregnancies 5, 6 and 7 I couldn’t bear to let myself hope. I watched and worried about every possible sign that something might be wrong. I wouldn’t let it catch me off guard. I couldn’t let my heart be broken again. I refused to connect with my baby. I was either ignoring him or panicking over his welfare.
I tortured myself to the point of causing cramping and bleeding many different times. I wouldn’t have seen the connection but a dear, life-saving friend who was kind enough to take my calls at those moments would talk me down from the ledge, remind me of my Savior’s love and help me give my fears and doubts and hopelessness over to him. And the bleeding would stop. So did the pain.
Things improved somewhat after the 16 week mark when I passed up pregnancy 5. And with the help of my earthly angels (you know who you are) I began to connect with my baby. I allowed myself to acknowledge and even fall in love with him. I asked him questions and got to know his sweet, genial personality. A few times I even dared to hope.
Late in my pregnancy, while I was reeling from a friend’s tragic loss, I received a priesthood blessing. During that blessing I had a sweet glimpse of my baby boy. He ran through our house, chasing his big brothers, trying to keep up. My heart knew it was true. He was coming home to me.
I will never forget the moment after he was born into the water. My husband passed him to me through my legs and I reached down to pull the biggest most perfect, slippery, beautiful baby out of the water and on to my chest. I didn’t ever want to let go. And I still don’t.
I still get a little nervous. I’ve slid back into being a slightly more paranoid, watchful mom than I’ve been in quite a few years. But the biggest difference isn’t that. The biggest change is that I don’t take one breath for granted. I don’t waste a moment that could be spent making my baby boy laugh or staring into his deep, knowing eyes. I’d rather hold him myself than share but his brothers all get their turns. I take advantage of my older helpers so I can drop what I’m doing and hold my boy when he needs me. Or wants me. Or when I want him. Everything else can wait. My baby is growing every day and I don’t want to miss a beat.
I wrote this in May of 2013 and didn’t share due to its depressing nature. I am happy to say that at the age of three, Clayton is finally sleeping! I still wish I’d pushed for a sleep study and continue to wonder if he has some kind of sleep disorder as there are still some funny things with his sleep. If I wasn’t so foggy and out of my mind I would have advocated for more help for him, I think. It’s hard to see things clearly when nothing is clear.
Now I am sharing for a friend who is having similar issues with her baby. You are not alone! As I went through this I commiserated with a few other moms and watched them all drop away as their little ones started sleeping well before mine. That will be you too! If not, consider getting things checked out and make sure there aren’t health reasons that are being overlooked. Good luck!
I am living in a fog. It clouds all the corners of my brain. I can’t ever remember what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t have the energy for my greatest loves: my kids, exercise, friends, reading, etc. I have all but given up cooking for my family. I don’t have the time or focus. I get sick, cranky, emotional and anxious easily and often. I can’t trust my thoughts or feelings. My house is a disaster and my relationships are all under strain. I don’t eat many meals but I make up for it in snacks which I eat like crazy all afternoon and evening in order to stay awake.
This is what a year and a half of intense sleep deprivation looks like. I did the first year with our non-sleeping baby by myself. I take care of the babies, the man takes care of the big boys. That’s how we’ve always divided nighttime parenting responsibilities. I definitely got the raw end of that deal with this kid but with Allen heavy into school it worked out.
Clayton slept like a newborn for the first 9 months or so- to bed late, up every hour or so, up early and with awake periods here and there throughout the night. Then it got worse. Since then he hasn’t slept between the hours of approximately 12:30-3:30 or 4 a.m. For many, many months we experienced something akin to night terrors during that time. The whole time. And sometimes one earlier in the night or later in the morning. He screamed, thrashed, kicked, hit, shook and seemed terrified… never quite awake. I could tell when we were nearing the end of an episode. He was still screaming but his eyes would suddenly focus on something. He would, in small ways begin responding to his environment. Then I knew I could offer him a bottle or sippy and he would drink and fall asleep. We had survived one more.
I worried about the long term damage these episodes were doing. A body can’t be under that kind of stress and not incur lasting damage. And I don’t believe there are no negative psychological effects of spending that much time in terror. I don’t believe kids are quite that resilient.
I hesitate to say this out loud but I think we are past the night terrors. Our very wise, very gifted chiropractor requested a crack at the kid’s sleep issues. I’m glad she did. I’m very slow to actively try new options because I’m afraid that if it doesn’t work there will be nothing left for us to do. I’m afraid it will break me. Clayton’s been to see her twice in the last month or so. He always sleeps better the first couple of days but more importantly, there have been none of these episodes since our first visit with her. This has been a tremendous blessing.
But the lack of sleep continues. I think it’s just part of who this kid is. He doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t need but a couple of hours on either end of the night and often a good solid nap in the day. If I didn’t have three other children. a need for personal hygiene, and other responsibilities I might even be able to catch up sleeping at nap time.
I am very nervous about Allen starting PA school but very glad it will be summer for the kids. I regret that my boys will be giving up yet another summer when they should be exploring and experiencing the world as a family because mom is too tired. I want my life back. I want my family back.
For now we’ll just keep surviving…
This post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.
The fog of despair was just beginning to thin after my second consecutive miscarriage when I became pregnant again. Just a month and a half after my last D&C. My feelings were mixed but chief among them was joy. I needed some good news. I wanted to believe I was still capable of growing and nurturing life inside me as I did in my first four “successful” pregnancies. I wanted to hope again and excitedly expect the miracles of pregnancy and birth. And I wanted to bless our new home with the sacred spirit that only comes with the arrival of new life; that moment when heaven kisses the earth. That spot of earth will never be the same.
At the same time, my ability to hope was fading. My belief in my body to nurture that kind of miracle was weak. I was afraid to face another physically traumatic loss and/or surgery. Even worse, it felt like a lie.
Our tradition of waiting to share the news until the second trimester went out the window. My two recent losses were preceded by terrible pain, unnerving bleeding and uncertainty, lessened only by sonographic peeks and doppler checks of my babies to see and hear their sweet little hearts beating away… until they weren’t.
But even as we shared the news with a few loved ones the words felt cold on my tongue. I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm to share. Those few thought I was probably just gun-shy after the last couple of pregnancies ended too early. I hoped they were right but I suspected not.
Mercifully, this third in a row ended early rather than later. I was spared weeks or months of what-ifs and pain. Physically, it was a much easier experience. And I expect, if I hadn’t already clung to this new pregnancy as a healing tool, it might have been emotionally easier too. It should have been. But it wasn’t.
Again I was flung headfirst into the pit of anguish I’d been digging for the last year. I hid in my home, in my room. I ate. Mostly chocolate. And I cried. All day and all night.
I am so grateful for my four beautiful children. So grateful for my family. So grateful for my faith and for the scriptures that have served as my lifeline. So grateful for two midwives who held my hand through it all.
But still I felt stuck in a never-ending first trimester with no payoff at the end. Nothing to hold. No sweet baby smell. No cuddly bundle to make up for my disappointment. No redemptive nursing relationship to resolve the disappointment I still carried after being physically unable to nurse my last child who was born with a cleft palate.
More than anything, it felt like the death of all of my hopes and expectations of welcoming any more children into our home. Expectations that had grown stronger and more firmly attached with each positive pregnancy test. The darkness followed me everywhere. I had visions of myself running down our street, looking over my shoulder as a dark, rolling cloud raced to overtake me. I never outran it.
Day after day, I walked past a copy of The Gift of Giving Life on my dresser. I felt a pull toward it. The book felt like a warm spot in a cold world. But I couldn’t pick it up. The last thing I wanted to read about was the joy of all those moms with beautiful round bellies birthing their healthy babies. (Clearly it had been a while since I’d visited those pages.)
Finally the book won. I decided I’d read all the ribbon stories I’d always skipped but that was it. (Stories mentioning loss are marked with a ribbon to protect the faint of heart like me.) My heart broke as I read stories of mothers suffering; mothers who endured trials I would have thought unendurable. I felt the greatness, strength and beauty of the authors through their words and suddenly found myself in the best of company. I wanted to change their stories, breathe life into their babies and hold them up. Instead, in their respective times of darkness, these women found peace. They found light. I kept reading.
What I rediscovered was the truth from which I was hiding: Motherhood is a tremendous threat to Satan’s plan. This divine gift, I believe is given to all women (mothers or not) and when developed and used has the potential to impact the world in a most profound way. Satan knows this. It doesn’t take powerful skills of deduction to see that he is targeting mothers, fathers and families with all the ammunition he has.
He knows what I’m capable of, what my children are capable of if they are raised in light and truth and he knows how to get me. He is vicious and cruel and will take your family down if you let him. And I let him… for a while.
But he doesn’t win this one.
As the stories about my Heavenly Mother, my amazing pioneer forbears and the beautiful women in this book poured into my heart, the wall around it cracked and more messages waiting for me from above streamed in.
I am a daughter of God. I have Heavenly Parents who love me and prepared me for this life with all the tools I need to live it. I have a great work to do, the most important part of which is as a mother and They are there to help me do it. Satan might have the power knock me down when I’m feeling weak but with my Savior I am strong.
The lies fell away, the truth filled my heart and I began to heal.
That doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. Some days I’m more fragile than others. But I’m working once again on trading my will for the Lord’s. I’m trying to shed the attachments to expectations that are holding me back and be more open to the possibilities of what is in store for my family and me. And I’m trying refocus on being a better mother to my four amazing sons and losing myself in service to them and others.
No matter your phase of motherhood, this book will change your life. I’ve given away more copies than I can afford and now have a loaner copy so I have my personal copy on hand always. I refer back to some of these passages again and again. I am so grateful to the inspired women who put this book together even if I didn’t understand it at the time. I do now.
Be sure to visit the Gift of Giving Life Virtual Book Tour page for a chance to win some great pregnancy/birth/baby-related prizes!
Parts of my house look like a scene right out of Hoarders. I spent a month resting to try to keep my pregnancy, a week waiting for surgery and then a week recovering afterward. My sweet kids and husband have helped out so much but to them every shelf in the pantry is the same and the school room is the storage room. They have really tried! It just hasn’t worked out too well.
When my house is a mess, my brain is a mess and I’ve been totally paralyzed by the chaos all around me. I feel like I won’t be totally healed until my life and home are back on track but I’ve had a terrible time knowing where to start.
So, I was pretty thrilled when a friend posted about 40 bags in 40 days! I’m in! I’ve done the challenge before but this year I need it more than ever. This is not the worst shape my house has ever been in but I don’t know if it’s ever felt worse. I need this challenge. I need the support and I need to accomplish something.
It’s easy peasy. Every day for 40 days (except Sundays) fill a bag (any size bag) with junk and then get rid of it! Don’t think you have that much junk in your house? What until you start. I will be using the goal/progress sheet provided here to keep me on track.
I am SO excited to get going!
Who’s with me? Click here for more details.
I’m sad to say we are latecomers to the Noelle Pikus-Pace fan club. It’s nothing personal. Before the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics I couldn’t have named a single athlete that competed there. Since the Olympics traditionally air during school hours, the boys and I have always missed out. So this, our first year homeschooling, I printed an awesome educational packet I found online and we’ve homeschooled the heck out of the winter Olympics. That means all of us, watching almost every night from 7 to 10:30 pm.
My boys invested like I’d never imagined. They’ve learned all they can about Sochi, the sports, the athletes and the countries they represent. Their excitement is contagious and I quickly joined them in Olympic fandom.
One of those first nights we saw that AT&T commercial where Noelle Pikus-Pace wakes up before her family to work out. Then she feeds the kids breakfast, takes them to school and plays soccer mom until her husband picks up the kids so she can go train late into the night. There were tears in my eyes by the end of the commercial. So I looked her up.
I never considered that some of these athletes were juggling parenthood with Olympic training. This still blows my mind. I can’t fathom the kind of commitment and sacrifice it would take to be Mom and manage to keep up with (and even crush) the competition, many of whom have nothing to worry about but themselves.
That’s how I think of my husband. We’ve been in school for 6 years now with three and four kids. He is now in an intense, full-time grad school program in classrooms full of single twenty-somethings and parental funding. It doesn’t matter if it’s finals when our toddler has a severe asthma attack in the middle of the night and has to go to the urgent care. It doesn’t matter how important the study session is when Mom is down for the count and Dad has to swoop in and save the day. He lost his dad during. We had a baby. Health issues have taken me out for months at a time but he always pulls it off. It inspires me to see parents do the impossible.
The night that NBC ran their interview with Noelle the kids and I crowded around to hear her story. She is a wife and a mom to two beautiful kids. We learned that she planned to retire after Vancouver Olympics to focus on growing and raising her family. She became pregnant with baby number three and excitedly prepared. Then came the devastating blow: a 18 weeks along, the family found out they had lost their baby. So, Noelle rerouted and committed to going back to the Olympics. But this time, she was going to come home with a medal.
As a viewer I wanted that medal for her! And it wasn’t just me. I realized my kids were quietly, intently listening to Noelle’s story. It was just two weeks earlier that we had to tell those boys that the little brother they were hoping for wasn’t coming home to our family after all. One year after the last time we had this talk. I lost pregnancy number five, a little boy, at fifteen weeks. I lost this baby at ten. And like Pikus-Pace, I had decided to channel the pain of my loss and create something great.
Days before I saw her heart-wrenching story on the Olympic coverage I contacted my friend Lani Axman, co-author of The Gift of Giving Life. She had talked about writing a book on miscarriage for some time. I felt pulled to it after my last miscarriage but thought I just might contribute a story at some point. But in these last few weeks it became clear that I needed to be actively engaged in creating something that will bring peace, hope and understanding to other mothers and families who suffer from pregnancy loss. I need to write this book. It’s a tremendous leap of faith but something I need to do.
So, after hearing Noelle’s story, I wanted this for her. I needed her to succeed and so did my kids. We added her to our prayers and watched her compete from the edge of our seats. Her last run, we all gathered around the TV shouting and cheering. The whole way down the track we cheered her on. As she finished and it became clear that she had done what she came to do my boys jumped up and down screaming and pounding their fists in the air. I clapped and cried for her, hoping that this would help heal the hole in her heart, understanding why she had to do this and praying that I can follow in her footsteps. Noelle climbed the stands to her family, a wife and mother first and a new hero of mine.
I believe in the power of women to support and sustain one another. As I have struggled to understand and cope with the loss of another baby these last weeks, I have heard so many survival stories from the amazing women in my life who have been where I’m standing. Your words and experiences have strengthened me and I would so love to see those stories bound and in the hands of other women to help dispel the awful loneliness that comes with giving birth too early.
I am teaming up with Lani Axman, co-author of The Gift of Giving Life write a book about miscarriage that I hope will bring peace, hope and healing to mothers and families who still wait with empty arms.
We are asking for your stories. We want to hear about your pregnancy loss, your survival and resulting peace and growth. We want to hear about pregnancy after miscarriage. If you heard from your baby, saw your baby in a dream or felt your baby nearby, we want to hear about it.
Please join us in passing the light and strength of our shared experience on to women, mothers and families in their time of darkness.
Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My pregnancy with Clayton was the first and only where I remembered to take my prenatal vitamins every day. I took them for months before he was even conceived. In hindsight, this is such a blessing. In all my guilt over the various ways I could have caused or contributed to Clayton’s cleft lip and palate I don’t have to wonder about this one. I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs either.
On days like today when guilt is unavoidable – when I’m preparing to take my baby in to the hospital tomorrow morning and hand him over to have his bones broken, flesh cut up and sewn together – focusing on the things I did right helps.
Still, the guilt says it must be my fault. It certainly isn’t Clayton’s. I was responsible for building his little body. I messed up. I don’t feel like this most of the time. I feel like the cleft is part of my little boy, part of who he is. Part of what makes him unique and special. But if we’re going to get it fixed, then he must be broken. And that’s my fault.
If I didn’t believe in God I would believe the guilt. But I do. And that’s the only thing that helps this all make sense. The fact is, I didn’t create Clayton, God did. He created my baby perfectly; exactly the way he was meant to be. So I can only assume that all of the experiences that follow, including corrective surgeries, are part of Clayton’s plan. And part of my plan. And my family’s. This plan was designed by God for our good. This is good news because, like Nephi, “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” This is His plan, and as we follow it we are in good hands.
I am banking on His promises to me. Though from where I sit, the next 10 days look like an impossible nightmare, there is a way. He will make a way. We are not alone. I know because He said so in John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
I know that when I hand my baby over to his surgeon, who I trust with my whole heart, I will not be sending him alone. Just as the Nephite children were blessed (3 Nephi 17:24), “And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.” I know my Clayton will also be encircled about by angels and loved ones who will keep and bless him.
D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
This is one of those inventions that makes me feel like I may actually have something to contribute to the world. I am in love with these muffins.
I’ve been going a little crazy with the chocolate chips over here. When I get stressed out hot, melty chocolate calls to me. I usually make breakfast at night after the kids are in bed so we’ve had chocolate chips in all of our breakfasts lately so I can enjoy a toasty, warm treat marbled with ooey-gooey chocolate at the end of the day… and again at the beginning of the next one. Unfortunately my husband’s not a fan (and has kindly pointed out that I’m a little off track with my healthy eating). So, I set out to make a chocolate chip-free breakfast. This is what I came up with. Slightly better than chocolate chips? (The chocolate is winning.) The man wasn’t too impressed until he discovered I’d made him macaroon overnight oats. He’s happy now.
Since this is still a work in progress I hesitate to share. At the same time they were so yummy and such a treat for me that I have to!
I’m not a huge agave syrup fan so I’ll probably try to work that out of the recipe. I want to try them with chocolate chips but they’re already walking the line on “breakfast”. That would definitely make these dessert. Also, the recipe makes a very odd 14 muffins as it stands. Not even sure I want to attempt to correct that at this point but it is annoying. I’ll just keep you abreast of improvements as I make them.
WARNING: Do not eat these hot. Yuck. They taste really weird. Let them cool for at least an hour or two to get the real flavor. I usually make breakfast at night anyway and these were perfect in the morning.
Healthy Almond Joy Muffins
Preheat to 350 degrees
In a large bowl combine:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)
1 C shredded coconut
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Mix with a fork.
In a smaller bowl combine:
1 1/2 mashed bananas
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/3 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup agave syrup
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Spoon into lightly greased or nonstick muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool before eating. Enjoy!
It was another few days after I left the hospital before the trauma of everything I’d been through really sunk in. Finding out about the loss, deciding how to handle things, the delivery, the scary moments that sent us to the hospital, continuing to lose so much blood, the procedure they did while I was awake, losing consciousness, surgery, recovery and then all the changes.
All my plans and expectations changed overnight. My body changed and continues to change. My hormones are still swinging. My pretty pregnancy nails all broke off last week and my pregnancy curls have fallen flat. My kids’ behavior is off as they adjust to changes and deal with the scare of sending their mom to the hospital in such a hurry and not seeing her until late the next day. So many changes. It just doesn’t seem like it should be such a big deal.
As often happens after life-altering change, I am seeing people differently. Last week walking through the grocery store I scanned the crowd realizing the depth of all these people and their experiences. People deal with so much and they still get up and go to the grocery store. They still drop their kids off at school and go to the bank. Is that man caring for his ailing mother? Is that mother raising a child with special needs? Has she just buried a parent? Or a child? Is he in pain? Is she fighting cancer, disease or mental illness? Is his son struggling at school?
For the last few weeks, when someone cuts me off I assume they have a good reason. When someone is rude I assume they are suffering and can’t cope. When someone looks tired and haggard I assume that they are sacrificing themselves for someone else.
Life is messy and sometimes it hurts. I have been abundantly blessed through every step of this journey but still the trauma and disappointment catch up here and there. I have felt all the love of Heaven wrapped around me. I have been lifted up and carried by dozens of earthly angels (you know who you are). Still, sometimes there are tears.
I love my life and grateful for every part of it. I am grateful for the hope of a bright future and the knowledge that my family is forever. I look forward to the day when the pain is gone and my tears are dry. But I hope my current perspective of humanity and desire to be a better friend and neighbor stays for good.