My spiritual journey has definitely changed over the past few years. Before I was a parent, I had the luxury of attending weekend retreats away and being a part of regular prayer and meditation nights. I also made space for connecting with God through journaling and solitude days. Since becoming a parent, I don’t have the time for most of these practices in this season of life. I’m lucky to squeeze in a prayer night once in awhile with my girlfriends or an hour of quiet time here and there. Continue reading “Seeking Sunshine”
One of my life songs is “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. Several years ago, I was on a small group retreat where we each picked a song to share that had meaning in our lives. I had gone through a good amount of healing with these girls during this particular season of life and was finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thus, the lyrics to “Here Comes the Sun” felt very fitting.
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get away for a refreshing weekend with three close girlfriends. As I was out to lunch enjoying a mimosa, I suddenly noticed ‘my song’ playing. How appropriate, I thought. Here I am, about seven years later coming off yet another hard season, this one due to riding the exhausting yet exhilarating roller coaster we call ‘parenting small children.’ Once again, though, I can see that light. My “sun” is around the corner peeking through. The kids won’t always be this small. The baby stage is slowly slipping behind us. Life will never be without its challenges, but it seems the ice is slowly melting.
With the New Year now here, resolutions and goals are all around us. I’m one of those who doesn’t do much in the way of setting high expectations for the coming year. Instead I view it as a clean slate, which I admittedly love. Who couldn’t use a point in time to start over in many ways? It feels so cleansing to look behind us but also to look ahead to the blank page that is 2015.
I start this year not with a goal in mind or a list of ‘to-do’s’ or lofty expectations of what this year may bring. Instead I begin it with simply one word: BELIEVE.
My word of the year.
I often struggle with negative thinking and I’m continuously conscious of attempting to change those thoughts. This one word is pivotal to shaping the direction of my days.
Believe what? Believe who, you ask?
Believe in people’s best intentions. Believe in myself and my dreams and my passions. Believe this life is a beautiful blanket of memories and moments woven together over time.
Believe that lifelong goals will someday become a reality or seeds will at least be planted this year.
Believe in answered prayers. Believe in the most desirable outcomes.
I’ve realized that even during prayers, if I believe God is working on my behalf to answer them or provide a solution, I’m so much more thankful and patient as I wait. Thanking Him and trusting that He has it all under control is half the battle. It makes me feel more confident in the end result instead of worrying myself to death about all of the other possibilities.
I’m believing my kids aren’t trying to grate at my nerves, but really need me and are curiously exploring the world. I am believing tomorrow is always a new day.
I’m believing I am the best mother for my children. Believing in my husband and his practice.
I’m believing there is not always a motive behind every move people make.
I’m choosing to meditate on this word and let it guide me this year. Belief helps counteract any self-doubt I may face and that’s a huge positive. It helps me see the best in people all around me and most importantly, the ones I love most.
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.
The last month or so has been a crazy whirlwind…from a concussion for me to a sinus infection for my husband and then a lower respiratory thing I had for awhile. And then last week my two little ones came down with a cold. Colds are never fun, but these seemed to be pretty mild and probably due to being back in the new school year. However, I had no idea what was in store for us later in the week.
On Wednesday, my daughter was 4 days into her cold and feeling good, so it seemed safe to send her to school. She had probably the best swim lesson of the summer later that afternoon. So it was surprising when later on, she was up all night long with a sudden fever. The poor thing felt so awful she just couldn’t sleep. When she finally slept from 4am to 7:30am, it was such a relief. But when she came downstairs after waking, I immediately saw that something was wrong. Her facial features were swollen and distorted. I tried to not freak out as I talked normally to her and asked how she was feeling. The second the pediatrician’s office opened at 8 o’clock, I called to get an appointment.
The doctor who saw her that morning did not seem overly concerned. She said to have her take some Benadryl and that the swelling seemed related to her cold or an allergy. I kept pressing. “But she has a fever – a fever doesn’t go along with allergies.” I asked if it maybe was some sort of infection. The doctor insisted since drainage was clear, she did NOT need an antibiotic. My mind and heart just felt uneasy, and my instinct told me something bad was going on. As we left, we ran into her primary care doc (who was booked full that day) and she had concern all over her face when she saw my daughter. She insisted an antibiotic should have been prescribed, but she said to try the Benadryl first and come back the next day if the swelling was not better.
Long story short, things did not improve. Swelling was worse the next morning and blood was coming from her nose. Our second all-nighter was followed by another trip to the doctor’s office. A nurse practitioner reluctantly prescribed an antibiotic but she seemed very perplexed with my daughter’s symptoms. She said to take her to the emergency room if the swelling got any worse. I kept asking what that means, and I was getting angry she couldn’t fix whatever was wrong NOW. I did not like the ambiguity I felt from her, and I called my husband in tears after the appointment. He didn’t like it either. After we consulted with two doctor friends of ours, the nurse practitioner called me at home and said to take my daughter to the ER at a children’s hospital.
My sitter rushed over to watch my son and we left for the hospital. I felt a sense of relief to be at least on our way to figuring out what was wrong. My daughter, God bless her, said on the way there, “Mom, we are having a girl date to the hospital!” God, I love her. Here I was freaking out in my head while she was just excited to be alone with me. When we got to the hospital, the ER doctor took one look at her blood-crusted nose and swollen features and told me the seriousness of the situation. He said bacteria must have entered a tear in her nasal membranes, which can be very dangerous, as it can travel to the brain quickly. She would need to start intravenous antibiotics right away. He said he was admitting her. I will never forget the look of concern on that doctor’s face…I don’t think I’ve ever felt such fear as I did in those moments.
But somehow I had to be strong and hold it together for my precious girl. My husband was in LA and stuck in traffic trying to get to us. As they pricked my daughter three times to get the IV in, I held her hand and put my cheek to hers and told her it would be okay. She was so brave. Much, much braver than me and how I felt on the inside. A close girlfriend brought us dinner and my husband finally arrived two hours later. We got the first blood results, and praise God, her complete blood count was normal. No bacteria in her bloodstream at least.
The night was rough and filled with interruptions for checking vitals, changing IV bags, and my daughter waking up scared at times. I slept with her for much of the night, my back crammed against the hard bedrail to make sure she felt comfortable and not crowded. I wish I could say my head was in a better place that night, but fear was getting the best of me. Dry heaving over the toilet in her room as she slept, I was a wreck on the inside…thoughts of “what if” kept creeping in. I had no other choice but to give it to God and pray continuously He would heal my little girl.
The next morning, some swelling in her eyes had gone down, which was awesome news. However, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I had noticed something on my son’s forehead the day before that was giving me worry. I had a feeling it was the same thing my daughter had. I showed a picture of it to the doctor making rounds at the hospital and she said he should go to Urgent Care because my instinct was probably right that he had the same bacterial infection. My husband took him in, and that doctor sent him to the same ER we were at the night before. When they arrived, my husband and I switched places so I could be with my son for his turn in the hospital. It seemed likely one had passed the bacteria to the other, but my son’s was definitely less worrisome, as it was topical.
After my little guy was treated with shots of antibiotics and released, I headed back to my daughter’s isolation room. I was feeling a little better that my daughter’s culture was not showing anything yet. She tested negative for MRSA which was good news. Thankfully, she responded to the antibiotics over the course of two days, and we were able to go home on Sunday. The highlight of the weekend is when she was released from isolation Sunday and allowed to visit our hospital floor’s playroom. We stayed the entire hour it was open and played just about every game and toy they had. She was the happiest kid in the world! The hospital was awesome, though, and had brought her play doh, barbies, a tea set, coloring and paints so she was able to play quite a bit in her room while still in isolation.
Both kids have been exhausted and emotionally drained from the weekend’s events. After two doctor appointments this week, I am hoping they’re finally on the mend! My amazing sister came to help us, which was a complete lifesaver. She sanitized my entire house, and helped me cook, clean and do laundry all week, while also taking care of the kiddos.
For the first time, I’m finally able to sit and reflect on the weekend. I can see so many lessons from this scary experience. First and foremost, always trust your instinct when it comes to your children. This was advice given to me when my daughter was a baby, and I could not agree more. Keep questioning if things don’t feel right.
Secondly, the fears I have about small, insignificant things do not matter. After what happened, I can more clearly see what fears are real and valid and which things are best to let go. Even though I already knew this in my head and have worked through so much of it, sometimes it takes experiencing a rather significant (and in this case, traumatic) event to teach us what is important in life. I’ve been feeling God say to me, “See? You fret about these tiny things and try to control so much. This was a HUGE thing and I had it! I healed her for YOU!” His love and faithfulness is so real. If He had in his hands this big thing, why would I waste time on the insignificant worries.
I am the happiest mother in the world this week. The small things, they are not getting to me. I love God more today than I did last week. I am more present in my days, and I can honestly say, life is beautiful. There is joy in the every day, and this smile – need I say more?
I recently read Majandra Delfino’s blog on people.com. If you don’t know of her, she currently stars in the cute CBS sitcom “Friends with Better Lives.” The headline ‘When Did Giving Birth Become a Competition?’ immediately caught my eye. I have definitely sensed a holier-than-thou attitude in some communities of mothers (thankfully, not in my own) since I had my daughter almost four years ago. I’ve seen the subject of birth-comparing and even shaming come up in many natural parenting forums and in the lives of a couple of girlfriends.
A friend of mine recovering from an emergency c-section was caught off guard when the first words out of a visiting friend’s mouth were on whether the c-section was forced on her. Not “How are you adjusting to life as a mom?” or “How is your recovery going?”
When I hear a story like this, it immediately brings tears to my eyes. Yes, I do believe c-sections are much too frequent today and the rate is certainly alarming in not only California, but across the country. But there are instances where a c-section is not only necessary, but mom and baby would have died without it (as in Majandra’s story). And no woman should ever feel ‘less than’ for the method in which she gave birth. We thankfully live in a day and age where it is a blessing such a procedure exists for dire circumstances. Not to mention, it’s traumatic for a mother to give birth via c-section when all along she had planned to do things completely different.
I am also one of those women whose birth plans went awry. Like Majandra, I had planned on a natural birth and went as far as hiring a doula. I even switched from an OB to a midwife halfway through my pregnancy because the midwives seemed more on board with a natural birth than the doc I had been seeing. When my Halloween due date came and went, I wondered how far past they’d let me go. I wanted so badly to control the circumstances, but this was one situation I could not force along.
Anxious for baby to arrive, I tried all of the natural induction methods – walking hills, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, and acupuncture. Even at the advice (and caution) of my midwife, I tried drinking a small amount of castor oil (which I do NOT recommend). Nothing worked. My body was just not ready.
At my 41-week appointment my midwife didn’t like what she saw at the non-stress test. I was sent to an ultrasound to measure fluid level (which they had done 4 days prior also) – immediately, the tech said, “I don’t think you’re going home from here, sorry.” Apparently, the fluid level had diminished to a dangerous level and that, along with baby not passing hours of non-stress tests, amounted to me being admitted that day for an induction.
I won’t go into all the details, but that was noon on a Tuesday and I had my baby at noon on a Friday, 12 days past my due date. 72 hours after being admitted, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter via csection. We tried everything possible to have a vaginal delivery. Pitocin was, of course, required to jump-start my labor and after 16 hours on the hellish stuff, I demanded an epidural. Huge needle I had always been leery of entering my back? Who cares. Put. It. In. NOW.
After days of slow progress, my uterus finally stopped contracting altogether. Well, without contractions, you can’t exactly push out a baby, so into the OR I went. I knew we had given it our all and the team taking care of us had been so conservative and patient with my body – I was grateful for every opportunity they gave me to deliver my baby vaginally.
Recovery was slow-going, I imagine because of the long labor on top of surgery. It took days to be able to walk again – the pain was immense. Baby girl went to NICU her first four days which did not help with bonding. So many emotions flooded me. I felt a loss for having my birth go so drastically different than how I had envisioned and planned it. I wasn’t able to hold my daughter except for five minutes every 3 hours (and not at all during the night). By the end, I had been in a hospital for 8 days – another component that turned out so far from what I had pictured.
It was hard enough dealing with all of those factors and the hormonal shifts post-baby, that it would have been horrifying to have someone judge me for the birth method used for my daughter’s delivery.
For awhile after her birth, I felt like I had to almost justify my c-section. Like I had to explain the details, and what led to that decision. I’m not sure if part of me felt insecure because I knew inevitably some people would feel my surgery was unnecessary? Or maybe it was the feeling that I had somehow failed myself and failed my daughter because it was a bumpy beginning for us in the bonding department. Either way, it took some time to grieve those feelings and the loss of what could have been. I would never know what it was like to have her placed on me in the seconds after birth. In some ways I felt robbed of that experience, but without a doubt, I feel my c-section was necessary.
Thanks to God’s grace, my daughter and I forged ahead with an unshakable bond. She has always been a momma’s girl. I joke that she wanted to stay a part of me for so long that we finally had to give her an eviction notice. We have more than made up for it in the bonding department.
Her birth served as a learning and growing experience in my life. I believe God was showing me how to relinquish control. He flipped my birth plan upside down and a completely different but beautiful story panned out in His timing.
Almost a year after my daughter was born, I was looking through a journal and found a prayer I wrote, asking God for all of the qualities I wanted in a husband (which all came to fruition months later, when I met him). Tears filled my eyes at God’s faithfulness in my life, and then I glanced at the date of the journal entry: November 12. My daughter’s birthday, three years prior. Little did I know at the time the significance that date would hold in my life.
I love when we are able to connect the dots later and see God’s hand clear as day. It certainly gives purpose to those times where we sit and wait.