Dear Liam: A Letter to My Unborn Son

 

Dear Liam,

I am not going to lie to you son,
the world is in rough shape
and there are many conflicts that I cannot explain or fathom.

I would like to be able to say that I will shield you from all the indecencies of it all, but truth has always been a constant of my nature.

I would like to say I could melt away all the injustices, but again, deception is not the answer.

However, my dearest unborn son,

I can tell you this: Although darkness resonates, there are still glorious patches of sunlight that we must explore. It will be up to you to seek that light and revel in its beauty, for you must never forget that it does exist.

I only hope that you learn to find the rays amid the mist
and faith within the blackened sea.

I can only expose you to people who love, tolerate, encourage and believe in those tracts of hope that you will walk upon.

I can only show you peaceful rivers, majestic mountains, fields of sunflowers, and calm skies as reminders that beauty does, indeed, prevail.

I can only teach you to be kind, respectful, empathetic, and faithful.

I can only do my best to magnify the good. To relish the importance of a handshake, a shared meal, a quest towards peace, a stranger’s act of charity.

I can only hold your hand and guide you to the rays of a sunrise—where we will someday sit and gaze at the overwhelming beauty of it all, and I will be reassured as sprinkles of light dance among your forehead.

Suggested Reading:

Dear Child: Letters to My Unborn Child Journals for the Soul

A Letter to My Unborn Son: Here’s What I Promise You by Laura Marie Meyers

 

 

I Surrender

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It was seven months into my second pregnancy when I chose moments to surrender.

It occurred one evening when I was feeling quite ill, achy, irritated, and hormonal.

My second pregnancy had been much more difficult than my first, and although it was healthy and could have been much worst, running after my two-year-old while pregnant was something I still do not have a proper comparison for, but I will try:

A marshmallow man trying to put out fires for hours on end, a penguin chasing a gazelle, a blob of slime being asked to transform into an energetic princess. .. okay, you get the idea.

I was always on my son. If he was throwing blocks, I told him to stop, if he was drawing on his hands, I redirected him, if he was emptying his toy box, I was right behind him telling him to clean up.

I was on it: always.

And then this one evening my son climbed up on his chair and began throwing Christmas cards on the floor.

I had just finally lain down on the couch and getting up was becoming quite a chore.

I looked at him and was about to get up to stop him; but instead, I didn’t.

I didn’t say one word. I didn’t attempt to interject. I just lay there…motionless and ignored him.

You heard me right. This was a moment, keyword: moment–when I chose to surrender.

He wasn’t in danger, he wasn’t hurting anyone, and I didn’t think he would turn into an evil being because I didn’t stop him from throwing cards on the floor.

In fact, he got bored once he noticed I wasn’t paying attention to him and switched gears to build a tower.

And then the next day, when he was outside playing, I let him step into his wet sandbox—shoes on and all.

I didn’t run to stop him. I didn’t yell at him. Again, I had a moment of surrender.

He eventually realized the shoes were uncomfortable and requested to go inside and change them.

Now I chose these moments carefully, and mind you, that in those two days there were probably hundreds of moments when I did interject.

It wasn’t like I was letting my kid flail around knives, tip over candles, or eat lightbulbs (all of which I have prevented in the past), but I did let him throw cards and get his shoes wet.

I had a couple moments of surrender, and I feel that this is okay.

Now I know that some may disagree with me. I can hear the comments now, but most probably relate.

I needed a few moments of surrender–now and then–to preserve my sanity.

Like many pregnant mothers with toddlers, I was exhausted, guilt-stricken, and achy.

I was lacking the mobility, patience, and energy that I had before.

Because of this, I admit, I loosened up a bit.

Now I don’t want you thinking that I just let my kid run haywire. Not at all.

I just let go of the idea of perfection.

I let go of being able to correct every little thing.

I began to give my firstborn a little more space.

And instead of viewing this as negative, I viewed the positivity in allowing moments of surrender.

Being pregnant while chasing after my toddler provided me the realization that my firstborn was going to have to figure some stuff out for himself.

I knew that once my second child arrived, there was no way I would be able to be on my first born like I had been for the last two-and-a-half years.

So sometimes when my son was clawing at me and demanding apple juice after I just gave him a full cup of milk, I would tell him, “Sorry, little man, not right now. Mommy needs a little downtime. Now would be a good time for you play with your trains. Give mommy fifteen minutes.”

Sometimes this amount of time was not possible and if my son somehow found the superglue that I did not even know existed, obviously my time was cut short, but after trying this a few times, he soon got the idea, and I ended up getting less peanut butter handprints on my shirt and more time on the couch.

Being pregnant while chasing a toddler also made me realize that daddy needed to step up more. I couldn’t swing my toddler around like I used to, I couldn’t run after him like I used to, and I knew I needed to get some rest before baby #2 arrived.

This is why my husband needed to take on more responsibilities. Two months before my due date, my husband became responsible for all of my son’s wakeups. My toddler was going through a nightmare stage, and I had always been the one who took care of the majority of these nighttime wakes.

I knew from previous experience, that once the new baby arrived, I would be taking care of all of the nighttime wakings for a newborn. This was due to a lot of breastfeeding and the fact that I tend to wake up anyway when I hear a newborn whimper.

So I knew that in a short matter of time, there would be no way I was going to wake up with both of them. Daddy should start preparing now–and he did. 

Daddy also received a little less time in the garage and was responsible for more meals. He even took on some laundry. These changes needed to be implemented before the new baby came home, and these changes made a world of difference.

Still, there were a few moments of surrender that had not happened before I was pregnant, but again, these moments were okay.

As you can see from above, these moments of surrender resulted in a few epiphanies and a lot of good.

So the next time you have a moment of surrender, I want you to not beat yourself up. I want you to know that you are amazing. I want you to know that you need a breather every once in a while, and as long as your child is safe and doing no harm, now and then, it’s okay to sit back and let him throw a few cards on the floor. . .

just try to make sure that he picks them up later.

Suggested further reading:

Check out another blog I wrote for peacequarters.com called Why I Was Fearfully Uncertain to Give Birth to my Second Child.

Twice Blessed: Everything You Need To Know About Having A Second Child– Preparing Yourself, Your Marriage, And Your Firstborn For A New Family Of Four by Joan Leonard

The Second Baby Survival Guide: How to stay calm and enjoy life with a new baby and a toddler by Naia Edwards

Did You Really Just Say That? 8 Crazy Questions and Comments that I have Encountered while being Pregnant

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When I became pregnant with my first child, I was not prepared for the unsolicited advice, inappropriate comments, and awkward questions that I would receive.

I had no idea that being pregnant would cause some people to think that my sexuality, body, and personal convictions were up for discussion, even with strangers.

I admit, it caught me totally off guard. It seems that everyone has an opinion: my closest friends, neighbors, strangers in the grocery line, etc.

It is a topic that I now know is quite common (see here), but at the time when I was pregnant with my first child, it was a startling learning experience.

Now I am pregnant with my second child and nothing seems to surprise me. Still, I feel that others should be cognizant of the comments and questions they ask pregnant women.

After all, I am fully aware that a lot of this unsolicited advice and curiosity comes from a very innocent place, but I also feel that there needs to more tact and consideration.

That is why I feel that it is important to share my story so that maybe others can learn and be thoughtful when you see that next pregnant lady in the grocery line.

These are the top crazy questions and comments that I have encountered while being pregnant:

1. Well, if you are having a girl, don’t feel like you have to get an abortion.

I am going to start off with the craziest, most inappropriate comment I ever received while being pregnant. It took place in a thrift shop when I was perusing baby clothes.

This random lady came up to me and looked at the cute little pair of newborn blue jeans I was holding, as well as my ever-expanding belly, and asked, “What are you having?”

“I am not sure yet,” I responded.

“Well, if you are having a girl, don’t feel like you have to get an abortion.”

My mouth dropped.

“So many people get an abortion nowadays because it’s a girl, and in other countries…”

This is when I stopped listening. No expansion needed.

2. Was it planned?

This next question was quite common, but it still took me by surprise. The main reason it annoyed me was because even though our baby had been planned, what if the opposite had been true?

Would I answer nope, not planned at all? It also seemed a bit more personal than I felt comfortable with.

Or what if I answered, “Yes, it was planned, we got it on for months before it happened.” I am well aware of the attitude in this last phrase, but the was it planned question got to me.

I guess I just didn’t feel that that information should be important to others. What was important is that we were having a baby.

The future was what I wanted to focus on.

My standard answer to this question ended up being, “We are very excited for this baby.” And then I would change the subject.

So many times I did want to be a wise ass and say comments like the following: “Oh, you are supposed to plan these things? Or, “Yes, and it was fantastic!

Here are some more hilarious responses to that question from a BabyCenter blog by Katherine Martin.

I wish I said them all.

3. You are drinking a Coffee!

This is another comment that did not come from an evil place.

It has been important for me to recognize that a lot of people say inappropriate comments because they actually care about you.

Still, I encountered freak outs when having my one latte for the day.

You’re going to end up with a caffeine-induced baby.” Or, “What are you thinking? That is so bad for the baby!”

You get the picture.

My response was always something to the effect,”The baby is doing great, thank you. My doctor said that actually, a couple cups of coffee a day is fine, but thanks for your concern.”

Moving on.

4. Are you really sure there is only one in there?

This is usually said in a humorous way, but it is still irritating. Yes, I am getting fat; I am pregnant.

No, it does not mean that I am octomom; it just means that my body made space for a watermelon that was not there before.

How about rephrasing this question to a compliment, “You look vibrant today.” That’s a comment that would have been welcomed as I waddled to the checkout line.

5. You need to gain more weight!

On the opposite end, I also received this comment: You need to gain more weight!

I did not know everyone was a doctor.

I was told many times that I needed to eat more, I was not big enough, etc. Now, this is different than the comment, “You do not look (insert amount of months) pregnant.”

This did not bother me but telling me that I had to gain weight was an entirely different story.

My response to this one was “At my recent appointment, my doctor said I was measuring perfectly.”

I have learned that people seem to respond quite well when you quote doctors.

6. How long did you try to get pregnant?

Again, personal. We are talking about sex here, and it’s one thing for my dearest girlfriends to ask this question, but another for a random stranger.

Yes, strangers asked me this question. . . a couple times.

I do not feel like having small talk about how often my husband and I tried to conceive.

Next topic, please.

7. You’ll never sleep again.

Again, this is usually said with the best of intentions, but it drove me nuts!

I am having insomnia every night, I wake up to pee every hour, and my bowling ball of a stomach is making it difficult to even sleep comfortably on my side.

I do not need to hear that it gets worst.

Now truth be told, it does, but I didn’t need to hear that at the time.

How about asking, “How are you feeling? Have you been getting any rest?”

I would have appreciated these questions.

8. You are planning on a natural childbirth, that is not going to happen honey.

This comment also caught me off guard. My goal was to have a natural childbirth for personal reasons that should not matter to anyone else.

But when some people found out that was what I was planning, the responses were anything from scowls to flat out telling me that it wasn’t going to happen.

A woman who has chosen to try to have a natural childbirth needs encouragement. She needs others to believe in her. She needs support.

She does not need the opposite.

Yes, a natural birth is difficult. . . VERY DIFFICULT. But it is possible, and support is key. After all, our species did survive for centuries before epidurals, and just like the decision to use medication during childbirth, a natural approach is a personal choice.

It’s important that I reiterate that I know a lot of these comments and questions were not malicious in nature. In fact, quite the contrary, but I do feel that all of us need to have a little more self-awareness when speaking to a pregnant woman.

This goes for me as well. Before I became pregnant, I am sure I probably said at least a couple of these comments and questions.

But being the receiver changes things, and I also recognize that a pregnant woman’s hormones can sometimes make already sensitive topics even more so.

I think it’s important to really think about the comment you are making and the question you are asking.

Does it feel inappropriate?

Would you ask a person this who was not pregnant?

Is this question too personal?

Would I feel comfortable responding to this comment or question?

These are the questions we should be asking ourselves before pouncing on that pregnant lady who really just wants her one latte, some ice cream, a good night’s sleep, and your support.

Suggestions for further reading:

Pregnancy is not an Invitation to Comment on My Body by Jessica N. Turner

8 Compliments Every Pregnant Woman Wants to Hear by Devan McGuinness

Here’s to All the Mothers Out There

mother-429158_960_720Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who do their best each day
Who stay at home, who go to work, who meditate, who pray.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who with the sun do rise
Who watch TV, who read books, who sing constant lullabies.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who do what works for them
Who co-sleep, don’t sleep, or enjoy a crib.

Here’s to all the mothers out there who nourish how they decide
Who use a bottle who use a boob,
Who take each for a ride.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who deal with a shrieking cry

Who wait a bit, who jump right in, who pause a moment and sigh.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who compare themselves to others
Who look in on friends, relatives,
and especially their own mothers.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who have just had a rough day
Who took it out on the ones they love, who let it sink in and stay.

Here’s to all the mothers out there
Who reevaluate the concept of time
Who now treasure it so dearly, who pack away the rhymes.

Here’s to all the mothers who
Will do whatever they can
To make sure that little baby
Grows up into a decent woman or a man

Here’s to all the mothers out there who know that they are all different too
Who recognize, that despite these differences,
They still have
The right to choose.

But, you see, there is another great lesson that motherhood has taught me,
And I will take with me above

We all have one universal truth in common
and that, of course, is
love.

Suggested Further Reading:

Brave New Mama by Vicki Revard

 

 

Cruise Control

The decision to quit my teaching job and stay home was one of the most thought out and analyzed decisions I have ever made in my 35 years of life. With one week left until I begin working at home part-time and being a stay-at-home mother, I reflect on leaving a career I love and a job I am good at, while still reaffirming that this is what is best for me.

I have trouble with uncertainty. I am one of those people who always seems to have a plan. But teaching has taught me that sometimes plans can go awry, and there are many times you have to just go with your gut. In many ways, teaching has made me a better person and enriched my life. My students have taught me more than many adults ever could.

One day, I may indeed return to this incredible yet intense career, but for now, I have to take a leap. I am excited to say that this leap has already resulted in some amazing writing opportunities for me, and we are going to be just fine.

But this poem occurred before all of this. This poem is about the personal epiphany that I needed to make a change. It was when I realized that I just was not a person who could strike a healthy balance with what I currently had on my plate.

It is about a moment that was flooded with emotions: recognition, fear, uncertainty…But it was also a freeing moment, in which I had an immense amount of faith. Deep in my gut, I knew it would work out. Deep in my gut, I knew I could create options.

It was a scary, yet freeing moment when I had to push aside the thoughts and views of others and put my personal well-being first, and it all occurred on a drive home.

I was, indeed, coasting along in cruise control. This poem is about figuring out that if I didn’t start paying attention soon, I was going to keep on missing the miles.

I hope you enjoy the poem and please share and comment below.

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Cruise Control

There are spans of time when we are on cruise control.

We weave around corners; we follow the line.
We rarely gaze out the window at the mountainous edges below.

We wander the speed zones;
we relish the mode.

Sometimes–
we even forget we are driving.

Then, one morning, the pattern transpires:
a silhouette across the road, a bellowing horn, a flickering headlight.

We are immediately jerked into a wakeful oblivion.

We slam on the brakes and begin questioning everything.

We contemplate the loss of time, like trickling sand through clenched fists.

And the epiphany becomes very real, although we have been harboring it all along.

Suddenly, we notice more:
the streaks of sunset in the rearview mirror,
the ocean-
on our way home.

More suggested readings:

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

My Crazy Pregnancy Craving for Eggs

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I had a majorly irrational pregnancy moment today. It all started with a craving: eggs.

I wanted eggs, and I know that there are arguments about whether pregnancy cravings are purely psychological or scientifically based, but I am telling you now: this morning, I wanted eggs.

And not just any eggs, McDonald’s scrambled, delicious eggs.

These eggs were at the forefront of my mind. Sure, I wanted some pancakes and sausage too, the whole little platter deal they do, but above all–I. Wanted. Eggs.

These cravings do not strike often, but when they do, there is nothing that will stop me from obtaining what I want. It is like this magnetic force within me and can be quite scary.

My husband generously offered to go get us breakfast. ‘Perfect honey, I have other stuff to do. This is wonderful,’ I thought, ‘he will get my eggs.’

I hopped on my computer, did my weekend writing, and waited eagerly for his arrival.

Twenty minutes rolled by, and I heard the door, ‘My eggs!’ I thought, ‘finally!’

My husband strolled in, and he was proud of himself. “Here’s your ketchup, your pancakes, your sausage, your syrup, and some extra napkins,” he said handing it all to me.

“And my eggs?” I looked in the bag, I looked under the bag, I looked behind the bag, but I could see no eggs.

My husband was quiet.

“Did you really forget my eggs?!”

I am not sure what he said at this point for my mind was so caught up on eggs. I think he might have been quiet or maybe he said something like, “Darn it!” Honestly, I cannot remember.

I am telling you, I was irrationally thinking about eggs.

Finally, he said he would cook me some; this of course was a sweet gesture, and despite the craving being for McDonald’s eggs, I appreciated and accepted this offer.

One problem. What was the one thing we were out of? EGGS!

This was the tipping point. I got up and snagged my keys and purse.

My husband thought I was crazy, and I agree, I was.

“Are you really going all the way back there to get eggs?” he asked.

“Yes, you don’t understand! That was the one major thing I wanted, and I know it is insane, but it is on my mind, and I need to go get them.”

You could tell my poor husband was feeling bad, and so then I started to feel for him: “I am not mad at you. I know you tried. I am just very angry at the situation, and I know it is crazy, but I have to go!”

And with that, I huffed out of the house to go get my eggs.

Fast forward fifteen minutes later to Mcdonalds:

I am in the drive-thru line: “Hello, how may I help you, do you want our special of chicken tenders?”

‘No!’ I think to myself, ‘I just want some damn eggs!’

But I held my composure until I realized I had completely lost track of time.

“Umm, are you still serving breakfast?” I asked.

“No, we just stopped serving, ma’am.”

At this moment you know what I thought of? Romeo and Juliet. Yes, I know this sounds like a weird connection, but I had just taught my students a lesson on how one major theme in Romeo and Juliet is fate versus free will.

In that same class, we had a long discussion, in which we talked about what the quote “star-crossed lovers” meant.

We finally came to the conclusion that it meant that their love was doomed from the start, and it just wasn’t meant to be.

This was what was happening with my eggs. The universe was toying with me, but I remembered that we also spoke about the power of free will and how you can take destiny into your own hands.

I took a breath, and I pulled the pregnancy card. It was a desperate moment in time.

“I’m pregnant, and my husband went to get breakfast, and he forgot the eggs. It was an accident, but I need those eggs. Are there even just a couple left? I will pay extra.”

The lady laughed. “You’re in luck,” she said, “we can do that for you.”

I told her how grateful I was through the rusting speaker.

When I picked up my eggs at the next window, the lady said with a smile, “It happens. You aint’ the first one honey.”

I found this hilarious, and it made me feel a little less fanatical, although, by that point, I was well aware that I was not thinking rationally about these eggs.

When I got home, I told my husband all was well. I made sure to tell him that I did appreciate his efforts, but for the duration of the pregnancy, he might want to write a list.

We ended up laughing about it, and I told him that I was well aware that the egg craving had taken me straight to crazy town.

Then, I sat down and busted open the most delicious, fluffy, beautiful eggs that I have ever seen and all balance was restored.

Suggested Reading:

Mommy Guilt and Sicknesses

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My son had the flu again not too long ago. In his two years of life, he has had it two-three times, and the number of liquids that are capable of coming out of that child never ceases to astound me.

Before becoming a parent, I had no idea how often young kids got sick. My son had a trifecta of petri dishes coming at him from the time he was 7-weeks-old. I was a school teacher, my husband a custodian, and he was in daycare.

Germs were coming from everywhere.

For those first few months of daycare, it seemed like my son was sick every couple of weeks. Although this certainly wasn’t his fault, these illnesses were difficult to deal with while working.

I was fortunate to work in a very supportive school, but it’s still stressful when you receive a phone call in the middle of eighth grade English informing you that your son has a fever and is vomiting.

As a new mother, these moments used to make me panicked and guilt-stricken. Panicked, because I had twenty-five needy middle schoolers staring at me, and guilt-stricken, because I wasn’t there with my son.

Immediately, I would hop on the phone and see if my mom were available, or see if my husband could take on a couple of hours before I could make it home, and sometimes I told my boss that I just had to leave.

Thankfully, she was always understanding, and it was me that beat myself up more than my actual employers.

Then an appointment would usually take place, and they would sometimes tell me my son couldn’t go back to daycare for days.

The phone calls would begin again. If I went back to work, I felt guilty, and if I stayed home, I felt guilty. I equate these feelings to a dog’s cheap chew toy—constantly torn.

Then he would recover, and before I knew it, it seemed like I was receiving notice of another sickness.

What a rollercoaster, but as my son got older, he built immunities, and it got better.

But on this particular Friday, the flu happened, and it was a weekend of vomit, poop, boogers, Tylenol, and cuddles.

The guilt, once again, ensued.

This is one of many reasons why I decided to stay home after the birth of my second son. For me, it just wasn’t working.

Unlike other amazing mothers I knew, I just was not capable of striking a healthy balance.

I wanted to give 120% to teaching and 120% to my son, and the fact that I couldn’t, often tore me apart, because eventually, I knew that both areas were not receiving even 100% of me, in fact, they were both beginning to receive a lot less.

I knew, with a second child on the way, it was only a matter of time before this weight would devour me.

My personality does not handle guilt well, and I always felt like I was letting someone down. I knew I had to be creative and find a way to make a change.

As I reiterated in numerous other posts, we must go with our instincts and go with what is best for us. What works for me may not work for you, and that is okay, and vice versa.

So, during this weekend, when my son was weakly laying in my arms, saying, “I love you, mommy,” nasty liquids and all, I was just happy to be there.

And for once, I didn’t think about anything else.

 

Suggested Further Reading:

Why All of This Mom Guilt? By Jennifer S. White

Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, and Raise Happier Kids  By Julie Bort

Lose That Mommy Guilt: Tales and Tips From an Imperfect Mom By Cara Maksimow

 

Real

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I am dreading the day 
when I have to tell my son that fairy tales are not real 
and Santa Clause is a “spirit all around you.”

A strange thought, on a windy Friday afternoon, while I suddenly realize that mirages are prevalent in more places than just within the sun-struck sand.

I wish I could tell the truth–without compromising the sweet illusion.

I wish I could forever hold onto pots of gold and unicorns.

I wish I could protect you from all the darkness in the world–

Create a bustling, massive fire deep in the woods that somehow lights paths around you,
like a majestic, illuminating halo.

I’d like to remind you, someday, that I once believed in fairy tales, Santa Claus, and unicorns

and although I believed that Jaws lived in my swimming pool,
I also believed a friendly, pink monster lived under my bed.

I want you to know that I used to disappear into my books. I pretended I lived in a Dr. Seuss world with Roald Dahl’s BFG and my pet mouse, Ralph.

I brushed my hair like Ramona, and my best friend’s name was Soup.

Yes, I want to tell you about how my imagination was rampant with victories, stories, and ideals. 

I will one day have to remind you that I, too, was once very young, and how I wish sometimes that I could go back to those naive, spectacular days when everything was so fully illuminated.

I wish it would benefit you to always believe in fairy tales, but someday, this will not be the case, and I will have to explain that the happy ending was only part of the story; they exist, but not always.

Until then, keep steadily believing that the impossible is possible, and pixie dust, Rudolph, and friendly giants are incredibly, incredibly
Real.

Motherhood: Poems about Mothers by Carmela Ciuraru