mom

Journey to Gratitude: Days 45-51

Still catching up from the past two weeks…

Day 45:
Today is Valentine’s Day. I learned a long time ago as just a little girl that this day (and the expectations that come with it) can be very disappointing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped expecting anything from the day. Instead, I have created my own traditions, which NEVER disappoint. ūüôā ¬†Every year, I make red velvet cupcakes, homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries, and enjoy takeout of some kind. I kick back with all of my treats and watch the ridiculous Valentine’s Day movie marathons. I know what you’re thinking: “You’re married now. Don’t you guys celebrate.” Quite simply, no. Since Blaine is a baseball coach, he usually has games, and might not even be home. If he does happen to play at home, he gets home late. So no, we don’t celebrate. We celebrate “our love”, if you will, at other, non-commercial times of the year. Trust me, it’s way less disappointing this way.

So today, I am thankful for simple traditions.

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Day 46:
For as long as I’ve known Blaine (going on 5 years next month), he has always had what I like to call “freak-outs” over major life decisions. At first, it was very frustrating. Five years later, I just know that it is bound to happen – and more importantly, that the moment will pass. Today, Blaine had his “freak-out” over the new house. Thankfully, I’m becoming a pro at how to navigate these moments, which require me to remain calm, drop nuggets of logic into the conversation at very choice moments….and then leave him to marinate. Once reason kicks in, he starts to realize how ridiculous he’s being, and we are able to move forward again. Today, I am thankful that I was able to remain calm and weather the new house “freak-out”.

Day 47:
The terrible winter that had been foretold finally arrived today. It came fast and hard – so much so that my boss decided to close the store early and send us all home. So first of all, I am thankful for the fact that my boss is able to put safety above sales.

Secondly, I finally caught a touch of whatever Bella had (or at least I think that is what has happened), and I felt AWFUL today. So I was thankful to be able to head home to my warm house, slip into my comfy clothes, and crash on the couch. Even more of a blessing, Blaine was also home, so he was able to help out with Bella so I could rest.

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Day 48:
Still snowed in, I was thankful to stay home and rest today. I think OJ and chicken noodle soup gave me life.

Day 49:
Today I was thankful that I awoke feeling MUCH better. Hallelujah!

Day 50:
We had a nibble and a showing on our house today, which is currently only listed on Zillow and Craigslist. Though it was just a nibble, I am thankful that someone noticed it.

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Day 51:
Today, we broke FREE! Having been snowed in all week, we were all getting a little stir crazy. So I dropped off Bella at school to play, and I went to Starbucks and the office to catch up on some work. Once I picked her up, we did a little shopping for some crafts and activities (because more weather is coming tomorrow), picked up McDonald’s for dinner, and headed to a friend’s house for a playdate. Today, I was thankful to escape the house – if only for a day.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 29

The prevailing theme of today was “no stress”. I would not have been able to fathom this concept even as soon as a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve cut back my hours at my “day job,” things are going well with coaching, and I’ve exercised every day for the past week. It’s amazing the difference it makes when things in your life are in balance.

As I slipped into my bubble bath this afternoon – a luxury that many moms don’t get to experience on any sort of regular basis – I thought about how stress-free the day had been and how lucky I was to have this moment. Sure, Blues Clues was adding to the ambiance from the next room, but my two-year-old is so awesome that she can behave and entertain herself for the 20 minutes I needed for a bubble bath. Many moms cannot say the same.

Today, I am thankful for balance and contentment.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 9

One year ago, I said “goodbye” to my mother for the last time. Sometime around 9pm, she finally let go and slipped away into heaven, where she was greeted by my baby girl, Bristol, as well as my Aunt Lynne, my dad, and others who had passed before her. This day is especially bittersweet, because it is also the eve of Bella’s second birthday. So exactly a year before my mom passed, I was preparing to give birth to my baby girls at just 28 weeks into pregnancy. This date is a tough one, as it is now marked with two major events.

So what on earth could I be grateful for on a day like today. Well, as I sat at home today with my head swarming with memories, a beautiful bouquet of flowers showed up at my door. I opened the card to find a sweet message from my work family. So today, I am thankful for such a wonderful job and an awesome, caring team. What a sweet gesture on such an otherwise sad day! It reminded me that I am not alone, and that I have folks who not only care about me, but remembered that this was a special day. I am blessed to be a part of Chick-fil-A Bristol!

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A Mother’s Guilt

Bristol hugging pillow (Bristol)

I am a logical person who appreciates facts.

FACT: I did everything within my power to have a healthy and safe pregnancy.
FACT: Preeclampsia was not my fault and not even doctors know what causes it.
FACT: Some things are just beyond my control.

And yet, I cannot even express in words the amount of guilt that I carry for getting preeclampsia and being forced to deliver my twin girls at 28 weeks. ¬†To compound the situation, my youngest girl, Bristol, suffers day in and day out as doctors struggle to find a way to heal her sick, undeveloped lungs. ¬†She had a collapsed lung from a pneumothorax about 48 hours after birth, has been on both a jet ventilator and a conventional ventilator ever since. ¬†Despite treatments of surfactant, steroids, and numerous vaso- and broncho-dilators, her overall lung condition has worsened, and doctors now say she has pulmonary interstitial emphysema and chronic lung disease. ¬†As if that isn’t enough, she has contracted a couple of infections – one in her lungs and one in her blood – so they are giving her two antibiotics. ¬†Because she is a fighter and often very restless, doctors also pump her with several sedatives, including morphine. ¬†She is listed as “severely critical” and “unstable”, and her life journey so far has been a roller coaster with a few highs and a lot of very low lows. ¬†When I look at her, my mind races with a million “what ifs”:

“What if I had never gotten preeclampsia?”
“What if I had made it just a few more weeks?”
“What if I had rested more during my second trimester?”
“What if I had eaten better or taken more vitamins?”
And the list goes on….

I even feel guilt for celebrating the successes of my oldest girl, Bella, who has (thankfully) not had any major issues thus far. ¬†She has been breathing on her own and has only a nasal cannula (the same little tube you or I would get if we were in the hospital), which merely provides supplemental oxygen to remind her little preemie brain to breathe. ¬†She has been on feedings of my breast milk through a tube since Day One, was off of TPN (IV supplementation) within about two weeks, and is now practicing latching on for actual breastfeeding. ¬†This week, she began regulating her body temperature much better, so they removed her temperature probe and have allowed her to begin wearing clothes and swaddling in sleepsacks. ¬†These are all things to celebrate…..but I feel guilty celebrating and feeling excitement when I have a sick child who is hanging onto life by a thread.

And at the end of the day, I feel guilty when I become exhausted and want to go home to sleep in my bed. ¬†My girls – and especially Bristol – are fighting for their lives 24/7, so who am I to say I am tired? ¬†But there are days when I just want to stay home and catch up on my sleep. ¬†In addition to the emotional roller coaster we endure as parents of preemie babies in NICU, I am pumping my milk every 3 hours – which means that I haven’t had a full night’s sleep of 7-9 hours straight since before I went into the hospital. ¬†My house is in disarray, I am behind on thank you notes for all of the generosity that has been extended to us, I need to run errands like grocery shopping, I need to take care of some paperwork and such for the girls and I – just a million things that are piling up. ¬†I feel like I just need one day to myself to sleep and take care of all of that – but I can’t bear to miss a day with my girls, and I would feel guilty if I even tried.

As I struggle with my guilt day in and day out, I can’t help but wonder, “Is this just all part of being a good mom?”

Bellas first pjs (Bella)