Another Year, Another Perspective

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I joke a lot that people should be forced to work in food service, because it makes you a better person. It gives you a perspective that can’t be duplicated elsewhere – you see the best and the worst in people and it changes you, makes you more considerate and more understanding.

When it comes to understanding others, most of us can sympathize – empathize, even – but unless you’ve been there, you can’t really see things from their perspective. Perspective is something you can only learn through experience.

Of course, not all perspectives are welcome, or easy to learn.

For me, one particular perspective has been over two years in the making.

Two years ago, I first broached the subject of miscarriage on this blog.

Two years ago, my first post on the subject came from a raw, painful place. I was reeling from our second loss and struggling to come to terms with the fact that this very normal, though very painful, journey was the journey we were on.

Last year, I wrote from a calmer but still anxious place, as we were just over a month away from meeting our little boy, but still harboring fear that something could always go wrong.

This year? This year I’m writing from a place of such disbelief that I’m not even sure words can describe it (but obviously, I’m going to try, otherwise what am I doing here?).

The past year has been a whirlwind, watching this tiny person I hoped for arrive, thrive and grow, making my heart simultaneously overflow with love and tremble at the sheer immensity of what we’ve done. I mean, we created a person that we are now wholly responsible for, and for the most part, have no idea what we’re doing.

And this person – this tiny little person – has all but erased the memory of what it was like, two years ago, to be writing a post to tell our friends and family that we were hurting.

How, in such a small amount of time, has he changed everything?

And how is it fair that I was given this perfect little person, while so many people never get that reprieve?

This is the part where people usually say things like, “everything happens for a reason” or “you are where you’re supposed to be.” And while those comments are generally well-intentioned, they’re not particularly helpful. Yes, I’m grateful to have this beautiful child and yes, for me, the pain has subdued, but when these seemingly harmless platitudes are made to women and men who aren’t currently holding their silver lining, they can be downright hurtful.

I will never say I’m grateful for the experience that brought us Franklin. Going through three miscarriages while we waited for him to arrive was gut-wrenching. What it did, though, was give me a not-so-unique perspective into what so many people are going through behind closed doors. And by talking about it, I’ve been able to open a dialogue with friends and family, many of whom have confided in me their own struggles.

So once again, I remind you that tomorrow, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7 p.m. in your local time zone, join me in lighting a candle for an hour to participate in an International Wave of Light to remember those lost too soon through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or as an infant.

Though their lives may have been short, the mark they leave on our hearts is real.

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Keep your clichés and give me coffee.

Can I get real with you for a second?

This mom business is freakin’ hard.

Everyone tells you it’s tough, but it’s worth it. That your life will change in so many ways, but that ultimately, becoming a parent was the best thing they ever did.

I’ll agree, but I’m also calling bullshit.

I’m calling bullshit because they say it’s hard, but they don’t tell you how. They say it’s tiring, that you won’t sleep, but they don’t tell you what eight months (or a year, or two) of broken sleep really looks like. They sugar coat and gloss over the hard parts, making cliché comments like “the days are long but the years are short” and “don’t blink, you’ll miss it.”

But I wouldn’t do that to you.

Let me preface this by saying I love my kid. He really is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I wouldn’t give him up for anything in the world (most of the time). Watching him grow and change over the last few months has me in awe, wishing time would both speed up so he can learn more and slow down so he can be small forever. So in some ways, I agree with all those isn’t-parenting-the-best-thing-evarrr people.

But if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been completely blindsided by how hard it was going to be.

I didn’t expect the stress and anxiety I would have after he was born, leaving me incapable of focusing on anything else, 24/7, for at least, like, eight weeks.

I didn’t expect that the lack of sleep would leave me short-tempered and hotheaded (yes, mom, even more so than normal), picking fights with a husband who is genuinely doing his best to help.

I didn’t expect that eight months later, I’d still be struggling to get dishes done, or clothes put away, or any number of things that responsible adults are supposed to be capable of doing.

Having Franklin has been simultaneously unifying and isolating, giving me something in common with the millions of parents out there, but making me feel like I’m alone in my seeming ineptitude. Surely everyone can’t have a house this messy? Surely other people somehow manage to adult better than this? Am I the only person who doesn’t know what the hell their kid is crying about?

If not, if it’s really this hard for everyone, WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TELL YOU THAT?!

Granted, my kid is alive, healthy and happy. And my dogs are alive and reasonably happy with their new, lower status on the totem pole (and extremely happy with the fact that Franklin has started solid foods). But really — is everyone else just pretending that they’re good at this?

Because I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty damned inadequate sometimes.

Sure, my Instagram is filled with his smiling, adorable face, because he smiles a lot and is generally happy.

But it’s also because pausing to take a picture when he’s screaming his head off mid-diaper change is a bit impractical.

And because damn it, if I’m working this hard, you better believe I’m gonna show him off.

Part of me knows that the good stuff, the really good stuff everyone talks about, is yet to come. That he’s developing into a tiny little person that will eventually do more than need held up, picked up and stopped from eating dog food. And that one day, I’ll look back on this time with my well-earned, rose-colored lenses, and tell some struggling mama I see at the store to cherish it, because the time goes too fast.

But right now? Right now I’m just keeping my head above water, dodging the two-week-high pile of laundry in my bedroom and ignoring the stack of dishes in my sink because the tiny little human who owns my entire heart wants up.

Or down.

Or up again.

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Sigh.

My goodness, I love this boy.

I suppose everything else really can wait.

4-month check-in: Coming out of the fog

Somehow, some way, my baby boy turned 4 months old this week. I figure that means it’s time for a check-in.

Since the last update – or really, the first update – so much has changed. Franklin is sleeping well (usually), growing (constantly) and changing (every day). I’m back at work (yay/boo) and Franklin is in daycare (boo/yay), and we’re settling into a bit of a routine (sort of).

Yes. Everything has a caveat and every day is different, but I’m happy to say we’re mostly out of the newborn fog and he’s starting to really show us his personality.

And oh, what a personality he has.

Aside from when his mean mom and dad make him go get his shots (like yesterday – sorry dude), Franklin is typically a happy, chill baby. He has a big, gummy grin that I just absolutely cannot get enough of.

And of course, those EYES.

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It’s that bright eyed, smiling – and giggling – little face that has brought me around the corner from “OH MY GOD WHAT DID WE DO” to “OH MY GOD, LOOK WHAT WE DID!”

So what’s so different?

He smiles. He chatters. He responds. He giggles. He interacts.

Basically, he’s realized there are more ways to get our attention than simply wailing like a banshee.

Of course, it’s still not all puppies and rainbows. He still cries for no reason at times. He still wants to be held – a lot – making getting anything accomplished around the house a near impossibility. I’ve managed to come down with the stomach flu twice, which is miserable when you have to care for and be solely responsible for feeding a small human.

But it feels worth it.

The rough nights of sleep are usually followed by a good night.

The early morning wake-ups are met with a smiling, cooing baby who is completely thrilled to see my face, hovering drowsily over his crib.

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The constant need to be held is a reminder that he needs me and loves me, and that being his mom is my most important job right now.

I feel like the days aren’t simply flying by in a mindless blur, and I hesitate to say I even feel a bit human again.

Of course, I still wonder if we’re doing it right, but I spend less and less time fretting over the little things and find myself trusting my gut without checking 45 websites to make sure I’m right.

I mean hey, I’ve kept him alive this long, right? I must not be so bad at this mom gig.

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