on motherhood

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There is nothing I love more than my children. They have defined me. All my life I have searched for a place to fit in, a place to shine, a place to challenge and encourage constant growth.

Motherhood is that place for me.

I am not perfect at it, by any means, I make mistakes, I have moments I wish I could redo, but everyday I do my best. Some days are filled with laughter and play. Some days are lazy and boring. Some days are full of tears, worry, and sadness.

Motherhood is not perfect.

I don't think it is meant to be perfect. If it were, we would lose the opportunity to teach our children about disappointment, sadness, hurt, and worry. And skipping over that half of life would set our children up for a life half lived.

Motherhood is about forgiveness.

There was never a magical moment for me where my instincts took over and I knew how to mother. I needed to learn a lot and still feel like I have only scratched the surface. Breastfeeding, soothing, entertaining - it all seemed so hard and foreign. My instincts told me when to worry, but not what to do or how to fix things. That takes learning and practice.

Motherhood is magical.

If someone offered me the opportunity to trade all of the pain, worry, and heartache I have experienced (or will experience) as a mother for happiness - I wouldn't take it. Because there is magic in all of motherhood, not just the good stuff. The pain I experienced losing my first pregnancy brought an abundance of joy with the knowledge that I was already a mother and could take on anything with the healthy arrival of Parker. And in those long and dark days with Matilda nearing her end, I became aware of a strength living inside me that I didn't know was there. There is always something to be learned, something to be realized, and something to love.

Motherhood is not a game.

I take it very seriously. I will always choose my children. I could care less about this blog if it interrupted the lives of my children. This is not my investment, they are. This is only a space to capture and share in the journey we are on. My children, their safely, and their happiness is the only thing that matters in my life.

Motherhood is not just for mothers.

Tyler and I work as a team. I wouldn't be a mother without him, I wouldn't be the person I am today without him, and there is no one I would ever trade for him. He holds me when I cry, he encourages me when I feel lost, he stands by me when I feel threatened. He reminds me that I have always been a mother. That I have always held my children with the utmost importance. That I have always done my best, each and every day. He knows I am not perfect, but he knows that my mistakes don't define the value of motherhood.

Last week was hard. But it was filled to the brim with love.

And that is motherhood.

banana nut campfire s'more

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I think this summer is the perfect summer to get creative with our s'more making skills. I have put together this series of six new options, so that you can find a new favorite campfire s'more!

Banana Nut

two classic graham crackers
chocolate (I used dark)
chopped walnuts
sliced banana

Listen. If you are making a s'more called Banana Nut, then you either need to act like a monkey or act like a nut. Either way, I would sign up to watch that. I hope you know, I am only kidding. Put it all together like usual, or call it a campfire breakfast and put it in a bowl. How about that for acting nutty! But seriously, do it.

another late night in the er

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things started going downhill on Thursday. We were on our way to take Matilda to a nearby town to have her labs drawn when she started vomiting. She was covered and sitting in a pool of half processed milk and banana. We headed back home to bathe and soothe our sick little dolly.

On Friday, she had a slight fever and diarrhea. But was her normal happy self. I was worried and started questioning all of her public exposures. Questioning why she needs to see the world outside our home, questioning her safety. Questioning everything.

Then, Saturday night, as Parker was bathing, Matilda and I made cookies. While I put the last batch in the oven, Matilda snuck a taste of dough right from the bowl. She was happy with her mischief. I tossed her cookie hands and face into the tub.

But as Tyler set her down in front of me to be lotioned, panic set in. Matilda's lips were swollen. Really swollen. I called 911 and after a minute of waiting, someone finally answered the phone. I explained what happened and asked what we should do. In the meantime, Tyler got both kids dressed and was heading out the door. The 911 dispatch lady said, "Well, what do you want me to do?" I don't know about you, but when I am in a situation like this, I want some guidance. I wanted to know if waiting for an ambulance was best, or if we were okay to make the 30 minute drive to the nearest hospital. Then I remembered, there was an emergency clinic. So I asked if it would be best to go there. Her response was, "Oh, I don't know if they are open." She shouted to the rest of the room, but nobody knew if the after hours emergency clinic, just down the road, was open. I told her we were on our way out the door. She then said, "Well, if she does stop breathing, go ahead and call back so I can have someone meet up with you." I was not impressed.

We drove to the clinic, they were open, but "didn't have any medicine" so we piled back in the car and drove to the next town. Matilda's lips were huge. We gave the Benadryl I had grabbed on my way out the door. I called the transplant team and left a message. I called the hospital and was transferred 4 times before reaching the ER.

Parker was asking a million questions, while recalling the last time this happened. We were all calm. All collected. And answered Parker's questions, while assuring him that this time would be different. This time wasn't about Matilda's liver. This time we would be home within a few hours.

They got us in right away. I explained all about the cookie dough and was certain it was the egg. They gave more Benadryl and a steroid on top of that. Then, we waited and watched. Everything was fine. This time was different. Instead of lying limp and still, Matilda screamed and cried. Instead of transferring us to a children's hospital, they gave a simple dose of medicine. Instead of leaving us for three and half months, Parker snuggled his sister and sang her songs. This time was different. It was scary, and frustrating, and worrisome. But it was different, Matilda was fine.

The truth is that I can't always know what is best for Matilda. I can't see into the future and know for certain that things will turn out the way I think they should. Or hope they will. I won't always be able to tell the difference between a virus and something more serious. But I do know for certain that I will always do what is in her best interest with the knowledge that I have at hand. Each and every day. I do know that I handle tough situations with a calm and rational mind. Each and every day. I do know that as long as I am her mother, I will be by her side fighting. Each and every day.

junior s'minty campfire s'more

Friday, July 25, 2014

I think this summer is the perfect summer to get creative with our s'more making skills. I have put together this series of six new options, so that you can find a new favorite campfire s'more!

Junior S'minty

two classic graham crackers
a handful of junior mints (or Andes mints would work well, too)
an extra large marshmallow

We all see those huge oversized marshmallows and are tempted to check them out. But let me tell you, they tend to overshadow the typical s'more flavors. That is, unless you introduce a competing strong flavor that can compensate, like the Junior Mint. Just trust me. It is ooey and gooey and good.

a quiet storm

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

October 29th, 2012 - a quiet storm

All was quiet. At least that was how it seemed. I would move inside myself to a quiet place where holding my newborn was normal. Those first few days with Matilda were normal. I tried to remember what it was like to be home. What it was like to sit on the couch for hours staring at Matilda as she slept quietly on my nursing pillow.

Her alarms rang loudly.

The excitement from the afternoon had worn off. Matilda was still on the transplant list, but she was still very sick. Her ammonia levels were the highest they had ever been at 444. Normal is more like 15. Normal didn't exist for us anymore. Matilda's blood pressure was low at 58/28. Her monitors beeped and rang continuously. Her little body herked and jerked as mucus bubbled out of her mouth. Her skin was golden and stretched. None of this was normal. This wasn't the baby I gave birth to.

No, she was perfect. When Matilda was born, she was pink as can be, had nearly perfect Apgar scores, and passed all her screenings. She was the sweetest 7 pound bundle I had ever known. She nursed like a pro. She was beautiful. I held onto those days and replayed them in my mind. Real time moved forward, but my time with Matilda stood still.

We trusted the attending that was on call completely. The relief we felt when she walked in was nice. She sat with us for quite a bit. We went over Matilda's latest labs, talked about what everything meant, discussed options, and stared at Matilda. Dialysis could clear Matilda's blood of ammonia, but there were risks involved. And extra risks, at this point, were not anything anyone wanted to take.

More doctors were called in. More was discussed. Specialists gave their point of view. Nurses talked logistics. Matilda slept. Tyler was the best at taking it all in, digesting every number, every fact. I digested the looks on people's faces when their glance would meet Matilda. I studied their deep breaths and long sighs. I heard bits of the conversations float in and out of my ears. I heard that Matilda would remain on the ventilator indefinitely. That she could have internal bleeding. That she needed a donor liver now. That there might not be anything more they could do.

All was quiet. At least that was how it seemed. There was a storm rocking the city - changing lives in its wake. But I was here, with Matilda, holding her hand, and dreaming of days long gone.

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