A Little Lot of Mom Guilt (Part 3 and Done!)

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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.

Jacoby was so happy and it made it easier. He would talk to my tummy and touch it, and tell me he asked God for this baby. My moments of worry grew as the time got closer for the family of 3 to grow. Kenley11 248

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? PicMonkey Collage3

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.

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A Little Lot of Mom Guilt (Part 2)

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So as most people know I am pretty open and happy go lucky about things so this part was a little more difficult to put into words. So here it goes.

My name is Shonda and I have Mom Guilt.

Not in the regular forgot the juice box in the lunch box guilt. I have the wish I could make things easier or take it all away guilt.

Jacoby (pictured above) is of God’s design. He is a spunky tenderhearted silly onrey smart friendly loud independent snuggly 5 year old who likes cars, monster trucks, wrestling and singing. He just happens to be all these things in a wheelchair.

We found out at 20 weeks that Jacoby was going to have Spina Bifida and also hydrocephalus. His spinal cord was outside his back and his head was already off the chart in size. His brain was showing growth abnormalities and what the end result was going to be was unknown until birth.

Mom guilt for a mom of a special needs child is somewhat hard to put into words. But it starts the moment you find out. There is a grieving process for this child you were going to have then the grieving process for the child you are having because you could not protect them like a mom should.

Mom guilt happened when we couldn’t afford to go to have in utero surgery to repair his spine and better the outcome. In 2007 it was still new and we were 20 year olds working part time going to school full time living on love and minimum wages and tips.

I have the MTHFR genetic mutation that isn’t the known clotting disorder, but one that may have been a huge factor in his birth defect (I hate the word defect. Maybe birth uniqueness is better). And although there had to be other genetic factors from Josh to add to the changes in Jacoby, it is easy to point the finger at me and say it is all my fault.

Mom guilt happened when I was told that every day he was in there was good and bad. Good because he was able to still develop but bad because his exposed spinal cord was getting more damage.

Mom guilt happened when my body could not keep him in until term and this already weak and odds against him baby came out at 35 weeks and lung issues were a concern.

As a mom, the moment you find out you are pregnant your whole world changes. You may change your diet, how you sleep, the temperature of our shower or even just body awareness because you want to protect this child inside of you. And when something happens out of your control and this baby is sick already, there is a feeling of failure as a mom.

Fast forward to the present. Jacoby is a functioning 5 year old who attends kindergarten. He has over 11 diagnoses, 12 doctors, a daily regimen of medications and weekly of therapies. He is Mr. Independent as much as possible and is doing great with his schoolwork. His teacher said he doesn’t even need summer school because he is toward the top of the class for reading, math, word memorization, and counting. Way to go buddy!

Then why, daily, do I walk around with a twinge of Mom guilt?

It is easy to say I would give up my legs in a heart beat for him so that he could feel the grass tickle his toes and run and leap like his friends. But I can’t and I feel guilty.

I cry for him some moments when I’m alone because I see the obstacles he has now but also foresee the obstacles he will face. Talk of first grade scares me because the standards are raised dramatically, and Jacoby is legally blind and has attention issues. How can I prep him? How can I help him not struggle? Or the issue of bullies, or trying to fit in or if he will ever live on his own or get a pressure ulcer. Sooo many thoughts run constantly through my mind.

People say “Everyone had issues in their lives and life isn’t easy”. Ok I hear you, but take the normal issues then pile on top of them the medical issues, the adaptation issues, and the money issues ect. Mom guilt.

Jacoby is 5 and has to take a lot of medications daily. And sometimes he just doesn’t want to. These moments result in yelling, time outs, missing a show because it is his job to take these medications. But secretly during these battles I want to throw the pills in the trash, hug him and say I agree that taking medications suck! Mom guilt.

Or when he is tired after therapy and wants to skip homework and yet I make him do it even though I can see how tired he is. He misses so many days the way it is I don’t want to have him fall behind in school. Mom guilt.

I watch the struggles and I just want to jump in an fix it all. I want to put everyone in a wheelchair so he is not different, I want to be able to protect him from the stares, the harsh words, the pains he has, the surgeries up ahead. But I can’t. And some days the thought of not being able to fix things, change things, or make things better is overwhelming. Emotionally exhausting. And heart breaking.

Jacoby is a blessing. He has shown me my faith in many ways and keeps me believing in the possibilities of the future for him. He is a spunky tenderhearted silly onrey smart friendly loud independent snuggly 5 year old who likes cars, monster trucks, wrestling and singing. He just happens to be all these things in a wheelchair.

But there is always a twinge of Mom guilt.

A Little Lot of Mom Guilt (Part 1)

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Hi. My name is Shonda and I have Mom Guilt.

See Braxton? His face says it all. I subjected him to a cold room with a bow tie. Did I feel guilty about that? Nope. But see his nice tan going on? He had breastfeeding jaundice. And everyday he was even the slightest orange I felt guilty.

As moms we are bombarded everyday with ideas of how we should parent or not parent. Whether it’s telling us what we should feed our kids, dress them in, how we should discipline them, what activities they should do, where they should live, how much tv to watch ect ect ect.

And I have a bad case of mommy guilt.

Last week Jacoby used shall we say, colorful words at school. He has a tendency to give into peer pressure, even without the pressure. Some boys told him it would be funny so he jumped right in. So when the Principal was on the other line I was ashamed. I’ve cursed in front of my kids. Not much but still have. Mom guilt.

Yesterday I was breastfeeding Braxton and Kenley fell on the carpet while running. The girl has no grace. At all. And I was tied down feeding Braxton that I couldn’t run over and give her a big hug right away. She climbed on the couch next to me and snuggled but still. Mom guilt.

Then there are the moments when all 3 need something at the same time. Or I’ve had a crazy day and dinner is late, bath time is late,and they all want my attention and I just need to pee! So I give into microwaved chicken nuggets, quick bath and peeing with the door open. Mom guilt.

Then there’s the long hours I work as a nurse, the fact that I have 3 kids instead of only 2 and so on and so forth. I could go on and on and on with what all I’ve heard and been told.

Mommy guilt is real and everyday there are little specks in my life that I think ‘I could’ve done that different’ or ‘wish I could have a redo” or the ‘guess I’ll start saving for their therapy now’ thoughts.

Let’s face it. Parenting is not easy. There are no manuals for parenting, just thoughts, opinions and ideas out there. It is trial and error. Some things are black and white, such as don’t give your kids meth. And some things are different colors such like a grey or a red, like lying about where babies come from (the technical version not the gift from God version).

So here’s my take. Do what is best for you. Do what makes your child laugh and healthy and growing and happy. Do what is right for YOUR family. And only you know what is right for your family (except meth. Meth is never right).

Please don’t beat yourself up. We are, believe it or not, allowed to have bad days. We are allowed to pee with the door closed, get take out some nights, put the kids to bed 10 minutes early for quiet time, and buy some new undies(I’ve been working on the thought that it is ok to spend money on myself).No one walks the parents walk without mistakes, but the love you give and lessons learned make up for the momentary loss of memory when packing a lunch and forgetting a juice box, or whatever else you did or didn’t do.

So as Braxton’s sad baby face says good night (or take this tie off of me!) be thankful for your blessings and give yourself a pat on the back or chocolate. You’re doing a great job~