My name is Shonda and yes, I still have mom guilt. This time it is semi-society imposed mom guilt, but still, mom guilt.
As Josh and Jacoby left the operating room for the NICU after my emergency c-section in hopes for a stable baby to have surgery, I asked Dr. S to tie my tubes. Begged, pleaded more or less. Dr. S told me in a calm voice that there was no way she was going to fulfill this wish because I was young, scared, and may change my mind in a few years (also there happens to be some paperwork needed that I didn’t know about). At that moment, all I could see was this sick baby who would need every moment of my time.
We survived the first year of Jacoby’s surgeries, therapies, hospitalizations, and joyous moments when he did things we didn’t think he could and hope when he couldn’t do things we hoped he may be able to do. Mom guilt.
I started nursing school shortly after his first birthday, spreading my time between classes, studying, his appointments and Josh’s work. I felt content and the thought of having another child was never brought up
Then Jacoby turned 2. I had heard that when your baby turns 2 you get this crazy instinct to have another. Josh was pro baby and I was not quite on board. When you have a special needs child, it is just assumed that you won’t have another kid. We were never told “wait for the next one”. We were always asked “would you want another?”. Josh and I hashed out the idea of another child but seeing Jacoby around other kids and how social he was, plus the fear of him being alone (plus he was so dang cute) helped push me onto the same page as Josh.
Soon I was pregnant with Kenley and there was no turning back. I went over in my head the many thousands of things that could go wrong and how I may be taking too much away from Jacoby. But every moment of worry was covered by Jacoby’s excitement for a little sister. He called it from the beginning and told strangers in stores or walking by that he was going to be the best big brother and that his mom was having a baby.
Strangers on the other hand would ask if this baby was “like him” or if “everything looked ok”. So by like him you mean a miracle and blessing or special needs and different? I got asked if I would “get rid of it’ if it was sick like him. My responses became anger laced as the pregnancy went on and people were told to mind their own business.
Kenley came out loud, making her presence known in true Kenley style and I watched the clock until Jacoby arrived. My worries washed away (and my heart about exploded with love) as he fell in love with her. He wanted to hold her, kiss her and tell her she was beautiful. He let every nurse know he was a big brother and that he loved his sister. And to think I had wasted all those moments crying and worrying. She was a baby and he was 4. My worries escaped them.
We adjusted and found that Kenley fit into our routine well with little tweaks here and there. Jacoby adjusted well considering he had been the only for 4 years. Some moments he’d get upset but we would quickly appease him.
In society today it seems the rule it 2 kids is the magic number. Especially if you have 1 of each gender. Any more means you are rich or live off the state. We were looked at as crazy for the fact that we had another child after having Jacoby. He would be rolling in his wheelchair and I’d be pushing the baby in the cart and the stares followed us.
Then there was God’s plan that took over. Who in their right mind would have a 5 year old, an 8 month old, and be finishing their senior year of nursing school think it would be a good time to have another baby. I was completely and utterly shocked. Like husband calls home and I start crying shocked. Don’t get me wrong, every single baby is a blessing and I knew it was above me, but still. Overwhelming was the least of words I can use. How is this going to work with Jacboby’s schedule and routine? What about Kenley and her much needed time since she was so little?! Mom guilt mom guilt mom guilt. The worries consumed me for the first few months.
Jacoby was thrilled to say the least. He had prayed to God and told Santa he wanted a little brother. He would talk about sharing his toys (I have still yet to see) and playing in the sandbox and how he was lucky to have both a brother and a sister. Kenley was oblivious that her world was about to get rocked. But the thought of these 3 kids growing up together and having each other was a peaceful thought.
Jacoby began to ask the 20 questions about everything and everyone that is common with 5 year olds. He asked about if his brother would be like him but I explained that like how he has brown eyes and Kenley had blue eyes, we all are different because that means God made us each special. He wanted Braxton to be like him. Mom guilt.
“You are going to have your hands full”. “That is a lot on your plate”. “You are a better woman than I am”. Those comments resonated through his pregnancy and the thoughts of how our world would have to change again and how we would survive while meeting Jacoby and Kenley’s needs ran through my mind constantly. Mom guilt mom guilt mom guilt. As I finished up nursing school and prepared for Braxton’s arrival I carried the worries with me.
Braxton made an easy entrance into this world with a cry and then wide eyed looking at me. I cried when I saw him and while we waited for Kenley and Jacoby to meet him I was overwhelmed with what may happen. Is Kenley going to be scared or understand? Is Jacoby going to realize there are 2 babies now?
Jacoby loved him and Kenley poked him and smiled. I knew that if they were ok, I was ok.
So we have survived. It hasn’t been easy. There were adjustments and sleepless nights. Double rocking of the babies and special one on one Jacoby lunches. It has been 6 months and we all are alive,growing and happy. Mom guilt turned out to be worries that I was the only one seeing.
Mom guilt is real. And everywhere. But here is my advice. Everyone makes mistakes. Every family is different. But when in doubt, when overwhelmed with mom guilt, look at your kids. Look at their faces and their smiles and know that even though you feel it and you question your choices, as long as your kids are happy, healthy and laughing, you’re doing good.