Monday, March 30, 2015

It All Works Out in the End

My oldest is now 36 years old. My pregnancy was a mixed blessing. The positive was that we were finally having the baby we had given up on having. The not so positive was that I was fired from a job I really wanted due to the pregnancy.
I was a teacher, and this was a new job at a new school based entirely on Adlerian Psychology. It was right up my alley. I was incredibly thrilled to be offered the position and equally devastated when I lost it. Adding salt to the wound was the fact that my husband, also a teacher, was able to keep his position at this school.
It was a very hard pregnancy with complications that could have resulted in my losing the baby. It was emotionally grueling because I was devastated to have lost my job and frustrated having my husband keep his.
It all worked out. There were some tough times for sure, but the joy that little guy brought to my life has been incredible. He lives several states away, and we talk or text all the time.
Motherhood isn't easy. Babies are demanding little beings. They turn our lives inside out and back again, but they are wonderful additions to our lives.


I Love You to the Moon

I am the proud mom of a boy, N, 30 years old and a girl, G, 27. I will be short and to the point. Motherhood is not easy; however, every joy of seeing my kids grow through infancy to toddler, to child, to teenager, to adult has outweighed every pain and hardship. It may sound sappy, but it comes from my heart and soul. The moment you hold that baby a bond will form that can not be broken. It is a connection so deep that it is unfathomable. I am always in awe of moms who stick by their child though the toughest of times; it is that bond, that inexplicable, deepest of bonds. Yes, this is frightening, especially for those looking ahead at being a parent on their own. But-you can do this. The rewards will fill you up and carry you through. I wish you all the best.

Carol Galletta

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Loves of My Life

I have been reading all of the posts, trying to decide how/what to post. I am not good at all in writing things down, but I will try.
In 1977, I found myself pregnant so married my high school boyfriend & then lots of stress as my husband was a drinker & not a nice one. But I had grown up in a very abusive home & thought it was normal, both mental & the hitting. (Tho about 20+ years later my mom stop to it with my father) On 9-11-77(Yes 9-11) S was born....I fell in love. We then moved to CO away from family (his brother & SIL lived in Boulder) because he got a job with the railroad. All I can say is WOW...working for the railroad...lots of drinking & drugs! Then 4-8-83 J was born, before he was born I worried a lot about how I could love a 2nd child as much as I did the first...Not a problem!  Now my husband had been in & out of treatment a couple of times but within a month or so was back to drinking & the abuse! Finally, I had enough of the black eyes & bruises--moved back to Missouri with two small children to start all over. I went back & forth a couple of times to try to work it out, he was my drug, and would return with bruises each time. By the time I was divorced I was once again (1986) pregnant with A.
 Three young children, it was rough. I didn't get a lot of help from my family (my mom did everything she could but she was also living in abusive home & would pay dearly when she did) but my former mother-in-law was awesome & I loved her dearly! At times I worked three jobs to support us and yes I did a lot of things I am ashamed of, a lot of mistakes. But we made it. In 1988 I met my now husband and as far as my kids are concerned he is their dad...yes their dad is around but is still a drinker. J is the only one that really has much to do with him, S has wrote him off pretty much. A does have to see him every week because of being a foster parent to her half-sister. Both of my boys are Veterans.....S & his wife have been married for 14 years and  have one daughter,  S, (13yr)...S does work all the time but has a problem with staying at a job for more than a couple of years....I am sure it has a lot to do with PTSD.
J has had major problems in the past with PTSD. He is currently working on getting his third divorce (she was really more at fault than him). He has one beautiful little girl who with be 6 years in April. He has been rated at the VA as 30% disable but they are trying to raise it to 60-70%.
Then there is A and her husband Bobby...I am so proud of them. Amber has a little girl, M, who will be 8 years old in March) Bobby treats & loves her like his own. They then have P, 3 years old & little Brooklyn that just turned 1year. And they are foster parents for 1 month old K.
There have been a lot of ups & downs but I wouldn't trade them for anything. My kids are my best friends, even though when they were little I wondered.
All of my children & grand kids are my life & love them dearly.

My Three Bundles of Joy

I was a teen-age mom and I was not married, when I found out, I was pregnant. Neither of those sit well when you are from a strict Irish Catholic family. After the shock wore off , the wedding was moved from May of 1979 to December of 1978. Was I scared? Damn right! Not of labor or all that goes with giving birth, I think, I thought that was going to be the easy part! I worried that I was not old enough, mature enough, or smart enough to really be a good Mom. It never occurred to me that I was still a kid myself.
On June 10th, 1979, 3 days after my due date of June 7th, and 4 days before my 20th birthday, B was born. I was head over heels in love with this tiny bundle of joy! The only negative, if you can consider it a negative, was that I being the oldest of four girls had zero knowledge of boys. That was a bit intimidating, to say the least! We bonded instantly. I would watch him for hours, this perfect little being. Housework became a thing of the past - who cared that the dishes didn’t get washed or the rugs didn’t get vacuumed? He sat on my lap and we “rode the motorcycle” we “flew the airplane” and I sang to him.
I found myself pregnant again - a short FOUR months after B was born. A family member - on my husband’s side - offered to pay, for me to terminate the pregnancy citing our lack of sufficient income to afford another mouth to feed. We vehemently declined that offer! We might not have been rich - but we had enough love to go around!
On June 23rd, 1980, J was born… One year and 13 days after B. I was 21 with two small babies. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement! How was I going to manage a full time job - 2 babies, house work etc. You “go with the flow” as they say. I learned to survive and to just do what needed doing. J was not a sleeper, unlike his older brother. J was the fussy one and I was exhausted most of the time! My husband wasn’t much help. He worked, came home, expected dinner on the table and that was that!
Fast forward to 1986. N came into the world Nov. 2nd. My third bundle of joy! I was older and more “ready” for a baby at that point. Lessons learned along the way, with son’s number one and two.
I was divorced in 1989 - To say it was easy would be a lie! Never easy but always interesting! I had to move ahead - I had kids that needed a steady parent. Some days I was mom, kissing booboos - other days I was dad, playing catch or teaching bike riding! Other days I had to be both. But we made it, day after day. Laughter, and tears, were all part of most days.
That fear I had of being a young mother, it was real, I made mistakes - lots of them - especially with the older two - I was just so young. Today we share so many things. They love sports, camping, fishing and the outdoors. I taught them those things. I taught them independence, decency towards others and how to love unconditionally. Even though they are scattered all over the US - I know they would be here in a heartbeat if I needed them. They are no worse for the wear, because of my immaturity when they were little! Best I can tell anyway.
There have been many bumps along the way, when they hurt I hurt, and today’s hurts are far more than that scraped knee or bruised ego.
I would not trade one “MOM he hit me, MOM he’s looking at me, MOM I have a booboo, crocodile tears or the real tears for the world! Today I look at my three sons, each with their unique personalities. I am proud of what they have all become. I am proud of my influence in their lives. Collectively they have made me a better person.

Kathy Hatfield

A Mama Lion

I guess I always knew I wanted children and that never changed even when I met my husband who is 15 years older than l am. We talked about having children and he had said that he didn't want any more children. He had two from his first marriage and his divorce was so bad that he didn't think he ever wanted to get married again, let alone have more children. I told him that this was a deal breaker for me and when I was offered a job in Las Vegas I moved for 11 months.
This was very tough for me at 23 years old. I was leaving my family and a man I loved.
After many flights back to San Francisco, I decided to move back home.
We had many ups and downs for two years and then we decided to get married. He said that he would agree to one child.  His mother and father had 15 children who were raised in San Francisco.
My husband had talked to his mother before asking me to marry him and he said, " Mama I am not really sure that I want another child." And this was her reply "What are you worried about? She will raise your child and God provides a loaf of bread for every child born."
My oldest, D was born when I was 31 years old and 18 months later we had L.
My husband is a great Dad and loves all of his children and is so glad that he ended up with two more.
The minute a child is born, a mother looks into their eyes and at that moment, she knows that she will protect them and love them for the rest of her life.
A mother becomes the protector like a lion is with her cubs.
No one can break that bond.
I love my children to the moon and back.
A baby grows under your heart and they stay in your heart until you leave this earth.
Laura Tripoli Fabela 

Can I Have Some Glue for that Bond?

I am not a mushy, sentimental person and honestly had no maternal instincts what so ever. No yearning for babies, the only ache I felt in my ovaries was from menstrual cramps. I felt no connection to my child while I was pregnant, just the pain from the sciatic nerve he was sitting on. Good news is once the baby gets here they grow on you.

I don’t think there is a wrong or right, good or bad way to parent. We all do the best we can in the moment and things seem to work out. For most of my life I have tried to look at the positive vs the negative, what I had vs obsessing over what I didn’t. I now try to instill that in my son who turns 18 next month (woohoo).

I don’t like giving parenting advice because I know I am far from perfect. In spite of that my son has turned out to be an intelligent, outspoken and mature beyond his years (most of the time). So the moral of the story for me is not to obsess over the unknown and what you have no control over. Focus on simple things and let your baby know they can count on you for comfort, support and security. The rest will fall into place. Once that little human being comes into your life it will be hard to imagine your life without them.

Jennifer Manchester

Just Breathe...

When I married back in 1977, I made a deal with my husband, no children for at least five years, with a renewable five-year option. Neither of us were ready to commit to having children yet. I was the youngest of 9 children from a good Irish family, the oldest being 22 years my senior. I was possessed of 28 nieces and nephews and had seen enough babies, I believed, to last me a lifetime. I had buried both my parents the year before and I was 21 years old. But, life is funny like that and four years into my marriage, I delivered a baby girl, who at this point in my life is probably my best friend and strongest advocate. Two and half years later, I gave birth to my son, which if I knew it at the time I would have thought I had given birth to an alien.
I found myself walking home from work and noticing the babies in their carriages strolling along the sidewalks or in the park, I traversed along the way. Each week I seemed to notice more and more of them. In the beginning, I thought there must be a baby boom, but in reality, my subconscious mind was just opening up to the possibilities. A discussion followed with my husband, who felt we needed more time, he was building his photo studio and money was tight. But as I think it has previously been mentioned, in those days birth control pills were not as developed as they are today, and inevitably women needed to take a break from them. After ten years of birth control pills, it was my turn for a break and so I found myself pregnant.
Well while I had thought emotionally I was ready to take this on, once confronted with the reality, I was ready to turn tail and run as fast as I could. I was petrified; pure and simple. Discussions with my older sisters who were already mothers did little to alleviate my anxiety and fear. They were rather dismissive as if it were all just a piece of cake. The terror was still there lurking deep down, so now there was no one with whom to share this fear. 

Oddly, the fear did not keep me from talking with my unborn child, swearing I would protect her and keep her from harm. Taking care of all the foods I ate, staying physically fit to be ready for her arrival. I knew it was a girl and to those who knew me, I had a good idea of who she was already. They thought I was just being maternal, but that was not it at all, and they would never understand it anyway, so I never tried to explain. I needed to find a way to control this situation that seemed to me to be the ultimate surrender of my mind and body to the strangers who would assist at her birth. This did not sit well with me as I like to control my environment and who I share it with. The horror stories abound when you are pregnant. It becomes a veritable can you top this story from all those who have gone this route before you. They talk about 18 hour and 24 hour labors and more…it is absolutely disgusting the things they used to talk about in those days.
I spent a good deal of time talking myself down. Women have been doing this for centuries, how bad could it be? I would get through it just like them. This only goes so far though. Then I found the Lamaze Classes! Well, this was more like it, I thought. A reasonable approach with a full methodical outline of the stages of labor (not the broad definition of the 18 hours etc.); but a responsible outline that defines the stages the majority of it without pain and a short span you need to get through. That suited me just fine. I could manage 2 or 3 hours, I was sure. But, then you learn to do the different breathing techniques and you can go those few hours with some sense of control and the inevitable outcome is well within reach. I was convinced this couldn’t possibly work or else all those other women with their stories would have used this too. But, it was still early days for Lamaze and not everyone used it then. It was the only option available that gave me a glimmer of hope that I would get through this.
The morning arrived and I did all the things you are told to do but eventually you need to go check in at the hospital. Real panic set in then. My new mantra became there was no way through this but to endure. There were no options to choose, there was only through it. I avoided going for as long as I could and then there I was, all hooked up and lying in this bed with scratchy sheets and my husband working his job as my coach. A coach can be anyone you trust who works the breathing exercises with you. In hindsight, I would have just as soon as had my sister there. It would not have mattered, as long as they did their job. You become totally focused on birthing this baby, you no longer care who is around you or what you look like; none of it matters.
I’m here today to tell you that there are ways to get through birthing with some control and with minimal pain. Not saying there is no pain but you are so busy breathing your way through it; that becomes more important than the pain. It is endurable, it is not terribly scary, unusual for young women who have not spent a good deal of time in hospitals but certainly not the dreaded experience I had anticipated all those months.
And the arrival drives all that straight out the window; here is this miniature adult lying on your chest and you are just so outrageously high on life (such a bad rap that saying gets) because you have just produced this perfect little person. I, am not given to hyperbole when I say that there is not another event in your life as perfect as that moment, it is not an overstatement of fact. That child you have just welcomed from inside your being into your physical world is the most important accomplishment of your life and you are just head over heels in love with her or him. I think maybe that is even more crazy, you feel this way with your future children as well. The unbreakable bond of mother and child has formed and it can never be broken. Just remember, I convey all this as the woman who started out thinking children were a complete bore. And just so you know, I still think other people’s babies are a complete bore. In my reality, my children were and still are exempt from my policy statement thirty-three years later. I’m still waiting to see how this policy applies to grandchildren. It may require a rewrite.
Eileen Gagliano 

It's Okay to Ask for Help!

I am not an expert in anything, but what I have are my own experiences.
I've learned that life doesn't seem to follow the plans and dreams we unrealistically set for ourselves. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've wished that that my life would have taken the path that I wanted it to take...but then I come to grips with reality and remember that that path would not have given me my two children. I'm not going to bore you with the details of my failed marriages and finally finding the man who finally captured my heart, stepped into the role of being "Dad", and put up with the drama of life that has fulfilled our lives.
I will tell you that my kids can be a pain in the butt, cause me headaches and heartaches...but in the end, they are mine and I'll love them until the day I die. Raising kids isn't easy and can be scary, especially when put into an unexpected position. But at the same time it is one of the most rewarding and wonderful accomplishments you will ever do while on this Earth. With good support of family, friends and those who love you, you and your child will undoubtedly have a strong support system. No matter what any of us tell will definitely see and learn that your common sense, love and endurance is what will get you through the good and the bad of raising a child and even having relationships.
Just remember to breathe and lean on people when you need to. One thing I learned a long time ago was there are no stupid questions when someone is asking for help. The important thing to remember is not to be afraid to ask.
Live your life like a river flows... free without force, and trust that whichever way it goes it's for the best.
Jill Spiegel Weiser 

Surprises are the Best Laid Plans

Being a parent has taught me THIS: Things don't always go as planned, but they do always go the way they're supposed to.
I have a firm belief that things happen for a reason. All things. We meet certain people because we are supposed to. Every experience in life - whether good, bad, exciting or devastating - contains a lesson to be learned, a reason certain key people were involved, and is a stepping stone to moving forward on our own personal path. My belief is that if we can wipe away the glitter and sparkles from the wonderful experiences - and clean away the muck and darkness from the horrible experiences - we will find that something positive is almost always waiting there for us to discover it.
In my early 20s, I was selfish and often told people I never wanted kids. I worked, I played, I dated, I drank, I spent money frivolously, I thought about ME ME ME and I lived my life purely in the moment. I never made decisions with any sense of permanency; if I didn't like something or got bored with it (a car, a job, a boyfriend) - I just changed it and shut the door behind me. Easy as that. Do what's best for me... move on to the next thing (or person)... never look back. Done deal. I convinced myself that my actions didn't affect other people; and that if they did affect others, that was THEIR problem - not mine. I had control over my own feelings; it was not my responsibility to control theirs.
Fast forward to late 20s >>> I met "the one". Moved in together. Got engaged. Flipped the switch from "Me" to "We". Life was awesome. We were both making a lot of money, we had a house, we had more cars than we needed, we went to expensive restaurants and spent long weekends at beach resorts and life was fun and great and easy and amazing. Yeah!
Got married. Our *PLAN* was to spend two years doing all of this cool fancy married people stuff, travel a ton, save up money to buy a bigger house, and maybe plan for kids a few years down the road. Sign on the dotted line. Agreed.
Three months after the wedding? Positive pregnancy test. UH-OH.
Definitely not in my *PLAN*. I immediately felt a sense of loss, as my "Me" selfishness came back to haunt me and I thought about all of the things I would be missing out on, all of the *PLANS* we had made to travel, and the house we wanted to buy that now we would never be able to afford because, well, diapers and daycare are expensive. We were supposed to be going to a wedding in Cancun next summer! Damn it! I had barely been a WIFE for twelve weeks, and now I was supposed to be a MOM? I had barely gotten used to calling him my "husband", how was I supposed to also add "son" or "daughter" to that. Too much. I was overloaded. This was not what we had *PLANNED*.
This is the time I suffered my very first panic episode. And then a second one. And then they happened weekly, and then sometimes several in a day. I couldn't figure out what triggered the episodes. Sometimes I would be sitting at work. Sometimes I would be watching TV, or other times I would be driving - those were the scariest. But every time, I had to talk myself out of them. I literally had to hear myself say the words out loud: "Breathe. Clear your head. Let go. It's ok. Calm down. Relax. It's just your body responding to anxiety." I learned to live with the episodes, as if they were an extension of my body. Hated them, but accepted them as a part of me. Never knew when they would strike, but knew in the back of my mind that they could happen at any given moment. I was filled with anxiety - always. Every moment of the day, and especially in social situations (I'm already an extremely socially awkward person as it is, so this did not help my social weirdness.)
On the outside, the pregnancy looked like any other. I sent the cute announcement, I registered at Babies R Us, I emailed the cheesy pregnancy updates to our families. Had the baby shower, bought the crib, decorated the nursery - did it all. Everything by the book. And yes, it was all fun and cute and I was thankful for the support and excitement of family and friends... yet on the inside? Fear. Nervousness. Depression. Anxiety. Dread of losing my identity in this un-invited, rude baby that I had not *PLANNED* for yet nor did I feel that I was ready for. I didn't have the time for this, I didn't have the money for this, I didn't have the patience. I had places to go and big things I wanted to do. It wasn't in my nature to "just go with the flow" and let things play out, I was used to having control. I was used to waving my magic wand of selfishness and bringing things/people into my life when I wanted them there, and then getting rid of them when I was finished with them. That was my MO. Plain and simple, black and white.
My son was born. And this is supposed to be the part where I say "And then everything changed the second I saw his face! The bluebirds sang and the unicorns flew over the rainbows and everything was perfect! Hooray!"
Unfortunately, that is not what happened - at least not immediately. Yes of course I felt love for my son, because he was a product of my marriage and love for my husband. I won't deny that. But my mind was still spinning with thoughts of how life as I knew it was over, I had lost my freedom, my money, my independence, my self-identity. I felt resentment. I was no longer ME, I was now B's wife (barely) and D's mom. I held him, I fed him, I bathed him, I kissed him. I took care of him. I felt love for him. But every single day I would wake up and say "Ok, today will be the day that I will feel a CONNECTION to this baby." And then every night I would go to bed telling myself "Well, it didn't happen today. It will happen tomorrow." This went on for weeks. My *PLAN* was not working. This did not help the anxiety episodes.
One day I was home alone with him while my husband was at work. I don't remember the day of the week but (somehow) the laundry was done, dishes were clean, beds were made, and my son was between feedings and diaper changes, so he was happy as a clam. I turned some music on to get some cleaning done. And then suddenly something stopped me and told me to pick him up. Literally stopped me and told me to just pick him up. NOW. I picked him up and began swaying and dancing while holding him. And before I could explain it - I guess because I had not *PLANNED* it - he smiled. He looked at me straight in the eyes and smiled a real smile, not a gas-induced smile or a muscle twitch. He was smiling at ME. The more I swayed, the more he smiled. If I stopped, he stopped. If I started, he smiled again. He would not unlock his gaze, and I didn't dare unlock mine. I can not put into words what happened at that moment, and I didn't know it at the time, but that was the turning point. That was it, that was the unicorn jumping over the rainbow! He connected with me and I connected with him and I realized that THIS was what was supposed to be happening at that very moment, THIS may not have been my *PLAN* but this was the way it was supposed to happen and this was the exact moment when it was supposed to play out.
It was no longer just about ME and my selfish needs and wants. I had this little person who depended on me for everything - for food, for care, for unconditional love - and instead of being annoyed that I was missing out on a fun night out with friends or the wedding in Cancun, I finally - for the first time - felt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing the thing that I was supposed to be doing at that very moment. I actually WANTED to give him my everything, and as these feelings grew they began chipping away at the fears and resentment and anxiety.
And all of those other things I was so worried about? They all still happened, just not on the timeline that I had *PLANNED* for myself. We still bought a new house, we have taken vacations through the years, we have made time for friends and family. We didn't miss out on anything that we had *PLANNED* for, they just all happened when they were SUPPOSED to. I gave up needing control. And that's ok. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm am supposed to be doing. I would never go back and change any of it. The connection with him gave me such a sense of peace that I felt empowered to take on anything.
My son is 7 now. We had a few bumpy toddler years, as he is very strong-willed and sometimes self-centered (surprise, surprise!) so I always joke that I didn't like him much between the years of 2-4. Parenting is HARD! I will not lie about that. It is stressful and draining and just when you think you've made the right decision, you realize you have no idea if that was the right thing to do. There will be sleepless nights, there will be power struggles, there will be days when you are just plain exhausted and want to put him to bed at 6 PM (and you will, and then you will have a glass of wine and re-charge, and then at 9 PM you will miss him and wish that you could wake him up again to play! But you won't, because there is more wine to drink. Ha!) But there are just so many amazing moments, especially when you step back and realize that these tiny humans are such amazing little packages...
My son is hilarious and makes up riddles on his own (today's was "What is a flamingo's favorite fruit? FlaMANGO!"). He is smart - top reader in his class for the second year - yeah! He is compassionate, he questions everything, he has a love of dinosaurs and superheroes and anything that has to do with any branch of science - he even subscribes to the National Geographic Kids magazine. He feels for people - even strangers - when they are hurt; he told me the other day he felt sorry for a first grader he doesn't even know, because she broke her leg and is in a wheelchair, and he's going to ask her next week if he can help push her around. He takes money out of his pocket and gives it to street performers on his own. He gets sarcasm and dishes it out well. He strives to do his best and beams with joy when we tell him we are proud of him.
I am not saying all of this to brag about how wonderful my son is, oh trust me, we butt heads DAILY, he can be a major A-hole, we argue and fight and yell and yes, we even go to bed angry sometimes (even after saying we are sorry). I'm saying all of these things because after the daily routine muck clears away, after the tenth "pick up your socks!" and the homework tears and the skinned knees and the time-outs - you will find things about your son that are unique to him and that make you realize he is the one that was created just for you.
We have a connection that I can not put into words, we can look across the room at each other and know what the other is thinking. Several people have posted this here, and I agree that there is a very special connection between a boy and his mother. I never quite understood it until a few years ago. And when he smiles at me, even with missing teeth and all (in typical 7 year old fashion), there is no one else in the room at that moment. It takes me back to that day when he smiled at me for the very first time in that living room. The unicorn jumps over the rainbow every time. We connected that day, we have been connected since, and we will be connected forever.
(Side note: I also have a daughter who just turned 3 last week. Because she is fully in the "I'm not really sure I like her very much right now" stage of life, I will leave her out of this post because I mainly wanted to share my struggles with feeling nervous and scared about having my first. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter to the moon and back.

Dreams Can Come True

Babies 1 & 2, a love fest.
At 29 I was newly pregnant with my second child when I found out I had cervical cancer. The doctors felt it was in the early stages and that I should be able to carry the baby to term, but recommended a hysterectomy afterward. My mother was beside herself and wanted me to terminate the pregnancy and have the hysterectomy immediately. Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias were two popular movies at the time and my mother felt sure I would die.
My husband weirded out. I can't say what happened to him. He just quit talking to me. He would disappear for days at a time. When I asked him what was wrong he would say nothing.
My daughter was two at the time and I worked full time so we carried on as usual. I figured once the baby was born and I had the surgery Tom would return to normal.
My son was born on February 12 in the middle of a horrible snowstorm. I was staying with my mom because I was close to delivering; I had quit work to have the baby and stay home with the kids throughout my recovery, and hopefully, raise them until they went to school. My mom called my husband to tell him I was in labor and he showed up, but was extremely angry. My sister kept him out of the labor and delivery room so that he would not upset me.
Three months later I found out my husband was having an affair with another woman and had been almost since the beginning of my pregnancy. When I confronted him, he left me. I had no job and two babies. I moved us closer to my parents, found a job and went back to work. I refused the hysterectomy because I just did not have the strength to go through it at the time with everything else that was going on. My doctor removed my cervix, but told me he was just buying me some time. I had cancer screens every three months.
My main goal in life at the time was to make my children's life as normal as possible and fill them with memories. There were no guarantees. My husband moved to Tucson, AZ (we are in Michigan), so for the first two years the kids barely saw him, only on holidays, and talked to him on the phone once a week. He finally returned and then took them every other weekend.
When my son was nine, he went to live with his dad because he was too much for me to handle and needed his dad. My daughter was very involved in softball and volleyball and her dad made sure to attend her games. My son played football and I attended all of his games. Every weekend we acted like a "normal" family participating in our kids’ lives.
My son moved back home in tenth grade. I "adopted" one of his friends, whose parents died of drug overdoses. My ex-husband "adopted" him too, acting as a surrogate dad. Now the kids are 27 and 29. There were many tough times, but lots of fun too. All the kids are doing well.
My daughter just got married, and her dad and I danced together at her wedding. The DJ announced us as Mr & Mrs. Thomas Grover. My poor daughter almost died, but we laughed. She is graduating with her Master’s in Education Leadership in May and works for Hillsborough County schools in Florida as a peer evaluator after teaching for five years. Her supervisors are encouraging her to apply for an assistant principal position next year.
My son #1 did his four years in the Marines, and after some readjusting the last few years, he seems to have finally settled down. He’s got a great job at U.S.Steel as a crane operator and hopes to apply to the electrician's apprenticeship program.
My son #2, got a Bachelor's in Accounting from Central Michigan University and passed all four parts of the CPA exam. He works for DOW, is traveling all over the world doing internal audits, is married, has two dogs and owns his own home. My ex goes up to his home all the time to help him work on his house.
I never thought, 27 years ago, everything would turn out as well as it has. Now that the kids are all established I am living my dream of being an attorney. I went to law school at 47 and graduated at 52. At 55 years old I opened my own office. Life is good. I am happy and so are my kids. All things are possible.

Out of Darkness Comes the Brightest Light

I was a single mom when I had my oldest son. Not a lot of people know the details but I was raped and wound up pregnant.I don't tell you the circumstances because I'm looking for sympathy but because it helps to show that even out of a horrible situation, you can find amazing strength and joy!
He is now 31 years old. At his wedding dinner, just on the fly, I got up and spoke. Made a little toast to the bride and groom. I had no plans to say anything but my heart was so full of joy that night that I had to speak. 
I simply told my new daughter in law that without a doubt, Nathan was the best decision I ever made in my life and I hoped that she would always feel that way too.
The way I saw it 31 years ago, I could have made three decisions. 
1.Terminate the pregnancy-this wasn't really an option for me. I simply couldn't do it.
2. Give the baby up for adoption-I seriously consider this one for many months.
3. Keep the baby and likely struggle to make ends meet while raising him.
I had the support of my family and really couldn't have done it with out their help. To this day, I've never regretted my decision.
I'm not just painting a pretty picture. My oldest was a wonderful baby and has always had a great personality. He was the joy of my life and even as a young (21 yrs old) mom, I found such joy in being with my little boy. I was scared to death to be a mom but I am so glad I chose to be his mom. It wasn't always easy. He certainly had his moments as a teenager. He went through 6 cars in 5 years! We struggled with a lot of ear problems as a child and had to have tubes put in twice and he still blew out his eardrum three other times. We thought he would have permanent hearing damage but he doesn't. He was very smart and sometimes that's really hard! You can't pass anything by them when they are smart like that!

I'm sure I didn't do everything right. I'm sure I made lots of mistakes. I'm also sure I did the best I could with what I had. My oldest was like some kind of God in our family...everybody absolutely loved him. All of his cousins think he is just the best and look up to him and consult him on lots of life's issues. It's hard to raise a child that everybody else thinks is perfect. I've said many times that he could kill somebody and my entire family would figure out a way to justify it because it was him! HA!.
Out of all of that came a wonderful husband and awesome daddy. He now has two of his own and I can't even explain how awesome it is to be a grandma!
There were many times I thought what the hell was I thinking....this is really hard! But the love that you see in that child's eyes, the hugs and kisses that you get from them, the talks that you get to have as they grow and learn, and the fact that you can walk every step of their life with them is just simply amazing. I look at Nathan now and think "Wow. I did that." The love is just amazing!

Life Long Lessons

I have struggled with admitting this without sounding elitist or being judged, but I was not sure I was cut out to be a mother.
I am the oldest of five from a working class Catholic family. I was the designated "smart one", and I wore that title proudly. I graduated from high school at 16 and college at 19, and I felt the pressure to so something grand in my life.
When I was in high school, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I was thrust into the caregiver role for my siblings when my saint mom was too ill. Being a young teenager who knew too much about cancer, but not enough emotional maturity to process it, I shut down to block out my fears. I judged myself too since I was a perfectionist and I couldn't fix things. Somehow that morphed into thinking I would not ever be good enough to protect or nurture any future family, so I just kept on studying.
My original dream was to work for the State Department. I spoke three languages and was learning another. I spent my junior year in Montreal and realized I would need more education if I wanted to pursue that, so I applied to Georgetown and got in, but funds were iffy so I deferred. I met my husband in college, and because we both had brain malfunctions at the same time, we got married a year after I graduated. J. was working full time and finishing his engineering degree. The plan was I would stay on the fast track at my job while Joe finished, and then I would finish my masters and apply to State. Fast forward a year. In the dark ages of birth control, I had to take a break and immediately got pregnant. There were plenty of snickers and we were shocked.
It was a precarious labor with both me and the baby in danger, and I was not allowed to hold her for three days, but that moment erased all doubts that I could love more than I thought possible. I will skip the rest, but I never got my masters, it took my husband seven more years to finish his degree, I switched from fast track to slow track to part time to work at home mom, and we had three more children. There were plenty of bumps, a cancer diagnosis for me too, plenty of years when my husband was building his career and I was essentially single, and many child rearing mistakes that my kids still hold over my head. Currently, all four are doing what they love which was our hope. I focus on that when I am disappointed that Mom and Dad are not central in their lives anymore, and I find myself questioning if I had more children than I should have, or did I lose myself raising them.
What I would love new moms to know is being unsure of yourself is normal, dreams will change and you will adapt, and never let other people's expectations and statements define you and your motherhood. I am still the person who values life long learning, and I got to instill that in my kids. They have taught me plenty too, but I will never learn to love snakes or baby powder pancakes. They also picked up some of my bad traits, but I am thrilled I embraced motherhood and took a chance.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mom of Seven and Still Not Too Crazy

I went to the bathroom for 1.5 minutes...
I have no idea where to start. Been running the story over in my head for two days. First...I have wanted children all my life. I mean really, really wanted kids. When I was about 12 my grandma made a comment that always stuck with me. "You are so great with kids I can see you having six of them." To which I replied only if I could afford it. I now have seven. They range from 21 to 8 months old. Some I birthed, some I didn't. Included in this bunch is a little two year old girl who came to me as a foster child and we are currently finishing our adoption process.
My first son is 14. My ex-husband never wanted kids. Loved the bachelor type of life. We had been together for 6 years married for 1 when I became pregnant. My son was planned and we had tried for a while. My husband the whole time not really wanting kids was just trying to appease me. My husband was not shy about his not helping with the duties. I took it in stride. I wanted to be a mom and I embraced caring for my son as if I were a single mom.
My marriage started to fall apart when my son was four. We ended up moving two hours away to a new area and attempted to work through things. With that came a surprise. I was pregnant again. This time around my marriage being strained, away from friends and family and my job becoming very demanding, I crumbled. I ran into an ex and that just made matters worse.
My whole pregnancy my husband accused me of having an affair and insisted the child I was carrying was not his but my ex's. To make matters worse my husband told his friends and they would make remarks. I am never shy nor do I ever back down but I felt defeated. I was so depressed. Everyday I had a man whom I was sharing life with and creating another life with degrade me! I won't even write the things he said to me daily. My husband is white, my ex is not. I'll leave it at that.
Fast forward...My son is now nine. I am happily divorced. My ex to this day has not fully accepted our son as his. For the record there was never a doubt in my mind, I could not have possibly been pregnant by anyone else besides my husband. I've begged him to do a paternity test for his own peace of mind.
I'm now with a wonderful man. Insert 3 extra kids here. With him he brought along his Son and two daughters. We've been together for 8 years and now have an 8 month old girl together.
I have more stories than anyone about the good, bad and ugly of this parenthood thing. It is not all unicorns and rainbows! There are days when you ask yourself "did I really sign up for this? But, but...there are more times you sit back and applaud yourself. You created this human. I assure you motherhood has many trial and errors.
There is a lot you will get right along the way. Then there is the time you'll accidentally hit your kid in the head with the car door. He will roll off the bed and it will happen more than once. He will sneak something unspeakable into his mouth and you will freak out. He will also smile at you for the first time and you'll get this warm feeling inside. He will roll for the first time and you will smile. He'll begin to sit up on his own and you will engage in patty cake. You will get down on the floor and cheer on as he tries to crawl.
All these things will happen just in the first 6-8 months of life. Think of the great memories you will build for the many years ahead. There is nothing like a mom and son bond. It will be there forever. A boy loves his mom in a different way. You will soon see for yourself. People who tell you parenthood is awesome or easy are lying or they're high. ha ha. However what parenthood is, it is the most rewarding thing you will do. To stand back at each big stage in his life and say I did that. I created that. Honestly nothing is better than THAT!
Heather Haynes 

Fear and Loathing ...Here Comes the Son

Two Weeks
When I was just under three months pregnant with my son, his dad decided he didn’t want a baby. He never said so, but I could tell. So one day I just decided that plan B would be the plan and that I would have the baby and live with my mother. Then when I was seven months pregnant, my mother died and my world spun out of control. I had just lost my brother two years before, and was already on shaky ground emotionally, but the break up and the losses were a lot for me. Plan C came into action by default. There was no plan C.
My step dad helped me out by paying my salary even though I wasn’t able to work most of  my pregnancy, and my baby's paternal grandparents helped out financially too… but for the most part, emotionally I was on my own. I was a mess. 
My little sister spent the most time with me and I had asked her to help me with my Lamaze class. We showed up to class with my pillow and sat on the floor and listened to the nurse explain a few things – when some seven months pregnant girl asked if she drank chocolate milk, "Would it hurt the baby?"
My sister and I started laughing and one of us (I think Angie) said something about CMS (Chocolate Milk Syndrome) and we just couldn’t stop laughing so we had to leave. I was 33 years old, and had a fair amount of knowledge regarding the human body – and very little patience for those kinds of questions. To be fair, I was an intolerant ass.
The last month of my pregnancy my son's dad finally started coming around to take me to doctor appointments or run errands for me. On my last appointment before my due date when I got to the doctor’s office my blood pressure was high (I had preeclampsia) and my doctor said he thought he better deliver the baby that day. “Wait!” I said. "I don’t know how to breathe!" “Then we will do a C-section.” He said. I was not prepared. Suddenly this little package was going to be here and I was freaked out. How was I going to manage? How would we live? Crap!
The birth was uneventful. I was awake but felt no pain. I was pissed when they took me back to the recovery room and his dad was there holding MY baby, before I had gotten a chance to even look at him. Pissed is an understatement, really-- I held that grudge for years.
Then, I saw him. They laid him on my chest and I could feel his tiny body breathing and all was right with the world. He was very tiny, just 5 pounds, with a head full of black hair, and the most old soul eyes I had ever seen. And when he was 2 or 3 days old he looked at me with his little bobble-head and I knew, he could see right through me, straight to my heart, straight passed my tough exterior, straight passed my mistakes and heartaches and all the shit that I had endured until that moment. My baby.
I made so many mistakes as a parent, I can’t even believe it. (Good thing we can’t get fired LOL). He rolled off the bed I’m sure more than once. I let him sleep with me until he was five and it broke my back. I drank to excess until finally when he was four tears old I sobered up and never suffered another cranky hangover or hideously stupid decision again. But most certainly I yelled when I shouldn't have and didn't when I should have.
To this day, no one gets me like my boy. We don’t have to talk to know what the other is thinking. I am a little nutty about people in my space or getting too close to my face, but I can’t hold him close enough. (Maybe a little bit of a smother mother.)
My son saved my life. I say it all the time. Without him, I don’t know what would have happened to me. Nothing good, I know that. It’s funny how life works out that way. I worked hard to make him proud of me, every single thing I accomplished in my in my life, from artwork, publication of stories, teaching myself everything there is to know about the Marine Corps (so much so that he asked me questions) and 2nd and 3rd careers, all happened because he believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
My only advice to new moms is this. 

1. Don’t forget to have a life, don’t stop reading and learning and growing as a human being
2. Continue to follow your passions and share them with your child
3. Don’t cry over spilled milk (or spit up)
4. Listen to advice then do what feels right for you. NONE of us have all the answers.

Katie Wigington