Dear Instagram Mom

Sometimes I feel like my blog is misstitled. Like I feel almost as though it should be something birth control oriented because I talk about miscarriage and the hardships of parenthood, not the rosy aspects of raising kids. Seriously though, children are an absolute joy and my life would be so incomplete without them, but I would be dishonest if I told you they don’t drive me batshit crazy sometimes (sorry for my “french” mom…).

Today, for example. I have coffee every Friday with two women who are phenomenal. We get together over the roar of our kids playing/crying/nursing, and we intentionally talk about real things. One lesson you must learn as a mom, you don’t have time to shoot the breeze. You get to it, or get off the pot. I’ve always hated small talk, so this aspect of motherhood is one I fully embrace and quite enjoy.

So today my friend and I were discussing life, as per usual. And it came into my head that the woman we were lamenting about was the typical “Instagram mom.” You know who I mean. The one who Pinterests crafts and documents it. Who has a rocking body, despite an infinite amount of children/breastfeeding, and goes on weekly dates with her husband in which they are never tired, or just wanting to sit on the couch and sleep. She finds joy in every mother-f-ing second spent with her kids. She’s a DIY queen, and her home is always clean and in the best Joanna Gaines state.

Dear Instagram mom, do you exist for real? Dear Instagram mom who puts on the front– WHY?!? You are only causing SO MUCH STRESS for the rest of your peers. I’ve got wrinkles and stretch marks from my babies. Yeah, I try to work out once in a while, but most of the time I have to pick something that can be easily interrupted because I’ve got a four year old and one year old crawling all over me. For goodness sakes, I went to poop today and decided to close the door (God forbid) and opened it to find my four year old crying because he couldn’t find me. Seriously?

But my real questions are, when, dear IG mom, do you find time to shop/wear/keep clean the clothes that you have that are not only trendy but functional? What does your husband do that you can afford a $95 baby carseat cover that doubles as a nursing cover that the rest of us schmucks have to use a regular blanket for? How did you “just wake up like that” not covered in spit up or yogurt, or dried milk? How did you get your hair done just so? Where do you find your infinite drive and energy? And how are you and your husband so bright-eyed looking in your weekly date night pictures? How do you get a weekly date night? How are you not just wilting on the couch? WTF?!? Dear IG mom, please do not keep your secrets from the rest of us. Share them. Write them down and publish them for the world to read. I would gladly pay money to find out the secrets of your ways. Also, if this is just a front for your social media audience, I beg you, please stop it.

Sincerely,

Regular mom.

 

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You live how far from home?!?

Before I write this out, let me address the big issue: Kyle and I CHOSE this. We could have easily (and still could) lived closely to our families. But we decided not to. Why? Because, “the mountains were calling and we must go.” But for real. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest has few rivals. We were young, Judah was young, and so we went. We love life here, but it is hard. Why? Because we have children under the age of five and we are what I like to call a “single-parent family.”

I define this term as a family unit that is alone. One without close by aunts, uncles, and grandparents. “Close” meaning within a day’s drive with kids, so less than 10 hours away. If you can raise a hand to that, solidarity.

Let’s review some pros and cons of this decision.

Pros:

  • We get our kids all to ourselves during their baby years.
  • There is one constant enforcement all the time. There is no, “well at Aunt so-in-so’s or at grandma’s we…” It’s just here. It’s our rules or the highway, and in these formative years, that ‘s pretty irreplaceable.
  • We do what we want when we want. There are no obligations, ever.
  • We have chosen specific people to be our family. Family is assigned, you cannot choose it, but since our move, we have been able to fill in with people who we love. This is a privilege that is known to few.
  • Our marriage goes through it all together and because of this, we are strong. I love my husband with a fierceness I have never known before. He is our family’s rock. He is my rock. He provides. He aides me. There is no “we’re at the grandparent’s for the day so Imma sleep on the couch.” He makes memories with our kids. He helps me out. He is involved. I think the world of him, and so do our kids. There is nothing we could do without him.

Cons:

  • There is no “can you take my kids for an hour so I can______?” You know what we get? Deal with it. Bedtime is at 7:30, you better last until then.
  • Dates are few and far between. We get one this coming Friday thanks to some friends, but the last time we got one was over a month ago when those same friends offered to take our babies for a few hours.
  • When we are at our wit’s end, we either pass the kids along to our spouse to single parent, driving them to their wit’s end, or we push through.
  • Neither of us gets things done after the kids are in bed. Because we don’t get dates, this is our sacred “together” time. I refuse to clean, do laundry, work on anything other than time with my husband during the few hours we have after our kids are asleep.
  • My kids have a minimal relationship with their extended family. Grandparent’s day at school is my worst nightmare. We have friends that have willingly filled in, but I still remember my own grandparent’s day as a 29, almost 30 year old woman. It’s pretty traumatic. PTL this year’s was cancelled due to snow.
  • I haven’t met my niece and she’s 2. Lennon hasn’t met her aunt and uncle and cousins and she’s almost 1 1/2. This alone makes me cry. I missed out on holding my newborn niece because we live over 50 hours apart. I’ve always dreamed of being  the aunt to take my nieces out for the day, but I can’t. That’s not in my cards. I have one who is a teenager now, and I would die to go to the movies and talk boys and clothes and writing with her, but I can’t. I love each of them so much, but they will never really know, because I am not there to cultivate that bond with them.
  • We can’t have our nieces and nephews over to play. We can’t be there when they play basketball games, accomplish something academically, or are dedicated at church.
  • Vice versa. We dedicated Lennon at church last year, and there were no blood family members present.
  • We can’t share happy things, like the purchase of our first home, with our siblings.
  • Visits are expensive. We can’t go on vacations together as a family of four because we prioritize visiting our extended families who are far away. Thankfully, where we live is magical and allows for awesome memories on its own, but still–we do have a drastically long rainy season where we are stuck indoors.
  • We sacrifice sleep…a lot. Lennon still won’t sleep through the night and is not a good napper. Kyle and I are both introverts and thrive on occasional alone time. I typically need three cups of coffee a day to feel normal. Kyle has sacrificed sleep to gain alone time to refuel. This is what we do.
  • We don’t get to prioritize our marriage. Discussions and tension has to wait until our kids are tended to because we are all we have. Yes, it does make us closer, but also it does make for some extended trying times.
  • It’s lonely.

Yes, the pros are few and the con’s are a lot. But at the same time, this is where our family thrives, believe it or not. This season of difficulty in parenting is brief, and it is our hope that because of this season, our family unit is solid .

My parents raised my sister and I away from family. We were okay. My mom and dad always encouraged my sister and I to go where we were happiest, where God led us. They trusted us, they went before us in this type of season, and it was alright. It is because of their example that I know everything will be okay. It is because of this that I know no matter the distance, the bond I have with them is unbreakable.

So, parents out there who complain after a hard day or difficult week, remember, you could live 38 hours away from your nearest relative. Think of those who do. Think of those who don’t have the luxury of a monthly or weekly date night. Think of us who don’t get to go grocery shopping alone. Think of others who crave a hug from their mom’s from time to time, but just can’t have it. Yes, we chose it. Yes, ultimately we love it, but no, it doesn’t make it easy.

**Editor’s note** I am not asking for help. Again, we have chosen this. I’m simply asking you to review your perspective. We wouldn’t trade our position, I’m simply wanting to be heard that some days are hard and also to let you know, I’m not the mom friend to talk to about not having breaks.

Another baby? It’s complicated.

It’s my “blog-aversary” I guess. So says WordPress. Four years ago I started this baby….and wow does time fly. Four years ago I started this blog as a rant of the struggles of first-time motherhood. And now that little baby I was talking about is four. He knows how to write his name. He knows the alphabet and he can count to 100. That little baby is also a fantastic big brother and says the funniest and craziest things. It’s nuts how life works out and flies by all at once.

I’ve been in kind of a funk these days. I know I talk about my miscarriages often, and many of you who read this blog may be tired of hearing about it. I apologize, and want to kindly remind you that you don’t have to read what I write, it doesn’t bother me one way or another. But be warned, this blog does touch on my unborn babies.

I have begun the process of writing a book I once dreamed about. Both my husband and the readers of this blog have encouraged me to push forward and make that dream a reality. Though it won’t be remotely written for many years, it is in the works.  Writing on this topic has been something I have been passionate about. Miscarriage and the loss with it has been so taboo in our culture and I’m tired of it, and so are the other mothers out there who have experienced it. It’s just time to talk about it and not in a “everything-works-out” kind of way. It’s time that miscarriage is recognized as the anger and grief inducing tragedy that it is. It should be called out for what it is: a life altering, never the same again, event.

But, that is only part of what is on my mind today. Really, what my mind is mulling over is whether or not to have another baby. I want another baby. I crave it. I hated being pregnant with Lennon, but in the long run, it’s so worth it. But honestly, I am petrified. The condition I have, which presumably caused my previous miscarriages, only worsens with age, so each day that passes, each moment, increases my chance of miscarrying all the more. And honestly, I don’t know if I can mentally and emotionally handle the possibility of losing another baby.

Recently, my husband and I have started a small group within our church dedicated to the common bond of miscarriage. Because of this and the start of this book, I have been dwelling on and reliving my experiences more graphically than  usual on a daily basis. It does a number on one’s emotional state. I typically think of my lost children at least once a day, but lately, I have been graphically re-living every detail of their loss.

I have been trying so hard to soak in the moments with my four year old and treasure the fleeting moments of babyhood with my sweet Lennon. But always in the back of my mind is the craving of another child, and the reminder of those I have lost. It’s a tough place to find myself.

I tried to fool myself into saying I was done after two living babies. I have a beautiful boy and the most awesome girl. Perfect, right? But I crave another. A few weeks ago, I held a friend’s sweet newborn baby and was so happy to give her back once she cried, but now–now I long for that moment when you hold a new baby for the first time. I want to hear those sweet and unforgettable newborn cries. I want that first look into each other’s eyes. I want to mother another child. But I’m scared of the journey to get there. My heart cannot take another loss. My heart can hardly manage another pregnancy. The mere thought makes my stomach churn and my eyes tear up.

Pregnancy is a complete crap-shoot. You don’t ever know until the moment that beautiful, pink, screaming baby is placed in your arms, that everything will be okay. And there in lies the risk.

This is where I am, folks. Truly caught between a rock and a hard place. And seriously hoping time will tell.

A not so happy birthday.

Well, it happened again. The day that I welcomed age 27 was the day that I said goodbye to another baby. The third baby in less than a year.

I struggled with whether or not I wanted to share this…yet again. But after reading this blog post last night, I felt a duty to do so, more than anything. I don’t write these blogs to receive your pity or for you to say, “oh, you are so strong to share this!” In fact, I hate that this is my story, but it is. And I know God gives us our stories to share them with others, as a way to heal and to help others do so themselves.

I’ve always felt this way, even though I am a sucker for reading them, but sometimes lifestyle blogs are just crap. I’ve heard the argument time and time again that “my blog is written because I want to remember the good times, the highlights.” Sure, we all do. And, if you’re like me, reading the highlights is pretty great. But reading the real stuff is just as good. And posting it, to me, is important. After all, the highlights usually come after the storm. The lows are what bring them. No, I’m not being a pessimist, I’m just being real. This is life, and sometimes life is wonderful, and sometimes life’s a bitch.

Sure, it’s the internet and you can post whatever you want. I always say, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. And I still feel that way, but here’s my challenge to you: Understand that by posting only your “highlight reel” that you are perpetuating the comparison, competition, and struggle for perfection that is simply unattainable. You make people like me hesitate to share a story about my unborn child for fear of seeming “less” or “unfortunate” when that is so far from the truth. Sure, we all know it’s your highlight reel. We also all know that every perfect and thin woman we see in a magazine has been photoshopped. Does it stop us from comparing? Nope. I challenge you to continue to share the highlights. But also share some of the struggles. Share your story.

Thank you to the blogger who shared their disappointment from losing out on purchasing their first home. Thank you to the blogger who shares about her struggles to get pregnant. Thank you to the blogger who lets you know her house is just as messy as yours, and that it’s perfectly okay. Thank you to the blogger who was brave enough to share her story of loss.

I share my stories because miscarriage is something we cannot sweep under the rug any longer. It’s the loss of life, the loss of a child, and it deserves the grief it’s due. I’ve lost three, and each time, I’m expected to live life normally again within a day or two. Would I be treated like that if my son passed away? Absolutely not.

Kyle and I found out we were expecting again on Easter Sunday. After having gone through two miscarriages before, we were overjoyed to have conceived so quickly, yet apprehensive to become attached. We scheduled a visit with our doctor, and were able to see this itty bitty being, about the size of  a grain of rice on the screen. Our doctor told us the heartbeat was strong, and we could even see it pumping. Our fears and stress were lowered a bit more and we began to envision becoming a family of four. Another miscarriage was a looming thought, but it also seemed so unlikely.

A few weeks passed. We had only told our family at that point, which was kind of fun. It was our little secret growing and thriving in my belly. One Saturday morning, Kyle and I were getting Judah ready to head out the door to attend his first parade down the street. I ran to the bathroom, as I was always doing being in my first trimester, and my heart immediately sank. Bright red blood.

I called for Kyle and we immediately called the doctor on call who instructed us to go into the ER. There was nothing we could do but hope for the best. After an eternity of waiting and anxiety, and after four ultrasounds, they were able to find our baby and told us its heart was strong. “This must be a fluke,” they said. “Just ride it out,” they told us. “You’ll be fine, and your baby is healthy.”

We went home relieved. I researched online and found hundreds of women who testified to bleeding during their pregnancies to go on and deliver healthy babies. My spirits were high, and I felt okay.

Later that day I began to experience some cramping, and I thought it was just the effects of the multiple ultrasounds. Sunday the discomfort worsened, but I again blamed it on something else. On Monday, I called my doctor and requested an appointment just to be sure everything was fine. Though I trusted the ER doctor, he wasn’t an OB/GYN and my bleeding hadn’t slowed, nor did my cramps. Being the wonderful doctor that she is, she squeezed me in during her lunch break so that I could have an ultrasound done.

Again, we were flooded with relief. There was our baby. It was so much bigger than the last time we saw it that clearly. It was thriving and growing. Our doctor turned on the sound, and we were able to hear a steady and strong heartbeat. Our doctor reassured us that everything looked fine and that she would give us another ultrasound in a week and would continue to do so until the bleeding stopped.

Home we went, hopeful.

Two days later, it was my birthday. It started out being a fantastic day. It was sunny and warm, and we spent most of the afternoon at the park. When we got home, I was cramping pretty badly. I chalked it up to the discomfort that occurs when your body is growing and stretching, making room for your baby to live. I received some relief when I loosened my pants, and I was pretty excited that my belly seemed to have grown. But deep down, I knew better.

A few hours later, that nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach was confirmed. My cramps were now coming in waves and my bleeding was increasing. Th next thing I knew, I was fully contracting. I was in labor. I was in labor at seven weeks and six days.

After an hour and a half of intense pain, I lost the baby.

I remember falling to the floor, weeping. My child was in the toilet and I didn’t know what to do.

I called my mom later that evening and she knew immediately why her phone rang. I cried to her and told her that I just flushed my baby. She calmly said to me, “Honey, it’s okay. You didn’t do anything wrong. You know where your baby is now. That was only its earthly shell, you know where it really is.”

I do know. And that is the only thing that keeps me afloat some days. My babies are together. My babies are in heaven where they are receiving more love, more joy, and more fulfillment than Kyle or I could ever dream to provide them here on earth.

I will never erase that picture of my baby from my mind. I will never un-hear that little beating heart.

I write these blog posts to remember my children. To share their little lives and give them recognition.

I don’t understand why God took them away, and I never will. I don’t understand why it’s so easy for me to become pregnant, but so hard for me to keep my babies.

This year has been so tough. So, so tough. But also, so good. God is so good. He doesn’t do these things to harm, but to further his plans. Yes, I have often, and daily, wondered why this will further his plan for my life, but it will. I know it. And that is what I hold on to. That is my hope. That is my strength. That is my peace.