Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

     Today is Mother's Day.  Yesterday my newborn made one month old.  These two seemingly unrelated events have combined to cause me to spend a little time reflecting.  You see, there's something about my journey into motherhood that I don't mention often: my miscarriage.  Over the years I've become more open about losing my second child, but it's still not something I advertise.  In the beginning I didn't want to mention it to people because it hurt too much.  I remember sitting on the couch in my living room as a concerned family member knocked on my door, worried about my odd behavior yet not knowing its source.  I listened to her knock as I prayed she'd simply go away until finally I called out, "Please leave me alone".  It was my husband who later called her from California where he was for training to tell her why I needed to be alone for now.  I remember going to pick my 18-month-old up from daycare, taking her home, and simply holding on to her for as long as she'd let me.  Over the next week I remember returning to work too soon, simply because I couldn't take the silence of the house any longer.  Most of my coworkers knew of the baby, and I remember how grateful I was that most of them seemed to realize I just wanted to think about something, anything, other than the baby that was in the process of leaving my body.  I remember telling myself that everything happens for a reason, and that maybe that reason was that God had other plans for me that I wouldn't accomplish with another child.  I told myself that, maybe, if I worked on me, if I was the best mother, wife, person I could be, one day I'd have the chance to raise another child.  So I began plans to return to school, which was something I had all but forgotten I wanted.
     Over the years, I made it into nursing school, and my response to those who unwittingly asked, "When are you going to have another one?" I would laugh and say, "Not until I get through nursing school", although that was only to hide the panicky, throat-clutching fear I had developed at the mere thought of another pregnancy, and ultimately, another loss.  Then in my last year of nursing school, when I began to ask myself if I'd ever want to try again, I made a new discovery.  Because of the fact that my blood type is not compatible with J's or Monkey's I was supposed to receive a shot that would prevent my body from generating antibodies against future babies that had their daddy's blood type.  Because I never received that shot from the doctor who delivered Monkey, my body would create antibodies which would attack any baby J and I conceived, which would lead to fetal death at worst or at best the need for fetal blood transfusions en utero.  Those didn't sound like good options, so I made my mind up that Monkey would be an only child.  I felt that if I couldn't guarantee a baby better odds than those, it would be selfish to even attempt to bring another into this world.
     As nursing school drew to a close, I decided to go have lab work done that would tell me once and for all how many antibodies I had built up against a future child.  The week before my appointment, however, the unthinkable happened: I found out that I was pregnant.  I sobbed, knowing that this couldn't end well.  It was genetically impossible for J and I to conceive a child with my blood type, which meant my body would attack this baby.  I steeled myself for another loss, wondering if I could handle it mentally.  Then a miracle happened.  I went to the doctor, who examined my blood, and found no antibodies.  Her great medical explanation for this was that, "You just got really lucky".  I could very well have this baby without complications, she explained.  I was far from convinced, however, and continued to be scared.  She ordered an early ultrasound, "just to be safe", and at 8 weeks pregnant, I cried tears of relief as I watched my baby's heart beat on the monitor.
     Now my son is a healthy, happy one-month-old baby, and on this Mother's Day, I find myself so very grateful for the two beautiful blessings God has given me.  Monkey and my little Monster have given me so much joy.  I've found happiness in watching Monkey grow and become the beautiful, smart, sassy little lady she is, and my little Monster has already been a reminder that miracles do exist, and that God is watching over us.
     So even when Monster refuses to fall back asleep at 0200 unless I rock him and nurse him for another hour, I smile, count myself blessed, and sing him another lullaby.  Even when Monkey wants to snuggle when I'm exhausted and touched-out, I'll lay my head on hers and tell her how much she means to me.  These are the moments that make me a mother.  These are the moments I pray I never take for granted.
   So this Mother's Day I want to remember all the moms out there who are worn out from never sleeping, since their babies are tiny and haven't developed a sleep schedule yet.  I want to say, "This won't last; you'll rest again one day."  To the moms whose babies are grown and moved away, I want to say, "Good job, mom.  You did your duty, but you're not done yet.  They'll always need you."  To the mamas whose children are in school, and you're juggling homework, and dance lessons or soccer practice I say, "Don't forget to slow down and absorb as much of this as you can; they'll be grown up soon."  And to every woman who has suffered the loss of a child just know that you have a little angel watching over you who I believe you will get to meet and raise in Heaven.  So to all the mothers out there, I just want to say, "Happy Mother's Day".

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