Remembering Maya

26 Apr

A Beyond the Bump mommy lost her daughter Maya just before she was born.  My daughter was born 9 days before Maya, and we just celebrated her first birthday last week.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my baby.  I don’t want to know what it’s like.  But avoiding the topic of stillbirth isn’t the way to deal with the loss of these precious children.  They didn’t get to utter their first cries or say their first words, or annoy people in the grocery store with their fussing.  They’ve touched their parents’ lives forever, but risk being forgotten by everyone else.  There’s no fate worse than that.

We Beyond the Bump members decided to each do something special to remember Maya on the anniversary of her arrival and departure from this world.  My gesture had some interesting results, which I felt should be shared.

I’m an extremely introverted person, and I don’t even like spending time with large groups of people I know.  But for some reason, I knew that I had to give away 12 beautiful pink roses to strangers, one representing each month that’s passed since Maya left us.  I’ve honestly been dreading this for days.  It’s totally outside my comfort zone.  I kept telling myself that I should just plant something in my yard, or spell MAYA in stones on the shore of a pond, or something similarly “easy” for me.  But somehow that didn’t feel right.  I decided to attach a small note to each rose to let people know that Maya had existed.  This afternoon, I picked up a dozen huge pale pink roses.  I used a string of pearl beads to attach to each a tag that had a portion of the poem “Little Snowdrop.”  The verse I chose reads, “Every life that ever forms, Or ever comes to be, Touches the world in some small way, For all eternity.”  I didn’t get a decent photo of the bouquet, unfortunately, due to a shortage of free hands.


Then I took my daughter to the mall.  I thought about going to a coffee shop, but I only know of a few Starbucks, and I had no idea if there’d even be a dozen people inside at this time on a Thursday.  So instead I decided to try the Barnes & Noble bookstore at our mall.  It’s the only bookstore left in the area.  With my daughter in a stroller, I marched up to total strangers, mostly women with small children, older women, and a few young men who seemed totally uncomfortable being approached, and asked them if they’d like a flower.  Most men said “No,” even after I assured them that I wasn’t asking for anything.  That’s fine, and I expected it.  But the women all accepted, and generally had very similar responses.  They’d look at my daughter silently for a few moments, and then tell me what a wonderful thing I was doing.  One older woman told me with tears in her eyes that her daughter had just lost a baby two months ago.  Another woman with a young toddler in a stroller told me that she’d nearly lost her daughter Mia.  Two childless young women laughed when I offered them flowers and asked me if I was tired of carrying them, but then became silent when I explained to them what I was doing.  They thanked me awkwardly, and I left them to recover from the unexpectedly somber mood I must have instilled in them.  As I left the store with a single rose (I’d planned to press it and keep it in my daughter’s memory book, to help keep Maya’s memory alive), the first young man who’d rejected my offer, all dressed in black and covered in tattoos, ran up behind me and asked me what the flowers were for.  I told him simply that a friend’s baby had passed away a year ago, and I was trying to help her to touch peoples’ lives because she was no longer here to do so herself.  He went silent for a moment, like everyone else, but then asked if he could have that last rose.  Of course, I was happy to give it to him.  He looked pretty ridiculous clinging to a pink rose, and he may have only wanted a free flower to give to a girl later today, but I got the impression that he wanted the rose because of what it signified.

Maya was here, and she forced me to do something terrifying but kind.  She surprised a dozen people at a bookstore and will brighten their homes for a few days.  She made people stop and think about what it means to be here on this crowded planet together, and that’s much more important than avoiding the things that make us uncomfortable.


What no one told me about motherhood the second time around…

26 Mar

ImageMy first child was easy. He slept pretty well, he was either ahead of the curve or right on track. He was a cuddler but independent too. I assumed that baby number two would hold no surprises. But, here I am with a ten month old that has only slept through the night FOUR times. He is almost always in my arms and he is more co-dependent than independent. I love baby snuggles but my arms are sore. My back feels practically broken. My sleep deprivation is showing…on my face.

No one told me that the second child could be a million times harder than the first. That you may feel like you know jack shit. Because, honestly, I feel like my second should have been my first. My first spoiled me.

Just when I feel like I am going to break down and cry because I am covered in spit-up, pee & any other nasty thing, my baby give me a smile and I forget all that I am feeling. One sweet smile is all it takes.

Even the Best Parents Make Mistakes

12 Mar

I’d been a little worried about my daughter’s grasp of language; at 10.5 months old, she still doesn’t respond to her name.  She only responds to “Peekaboo,” which she can’t distinguish from “Pickle.”  She waves inconsistently, and used to say, “Hi!” or “Ha!” or something similar while she waved, but that skill was brushed aside when she began teething at 10 months.  There are learning disorders, language delays, and severe ADHD in the family, so I’ve been watching for symptoms so I can begin helping her through any disadvantages and to lessen any frustration she may feel.  I remember that my younger sister couldn’t speak clearly at all as a toddler but could understand words, which led to temper tantrums galore.  My husband is absolutely brilliant, but he can’t focus on a single task or think linearly for long, which resulted in misleadingly low standardized test scores and grades in school.  My husband’s ADD/ADHD wasn’t recognized by his parents or teachers and his grades and test scores were attributed to a poor work ethic rather than frustration, so he was never helped until college when we discovered that caffeine could boost his attention span long enough to survive exams.  If our daughter’s learning style and ability is also atypical, I don’t want her to struggle so long only to be considered lazy.
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Co-parenting & Dating

9 Mar


My oldest son, Jacob, is from my first marriage. I have worked very hard to co-parent with his dad. It has been a long road, and most of the time his Dad sees things in black and white while I see the world in technicolor. Usually, we clash. However, I do believe that he loves Jacob.

My ex has had a parade of women since we divorced five years ago. Almost all of these women have met Jacob. Jacob has only met two of my boyfriends, both serious and long term relationships. I shelter him from my private life until I know where things are going. I believe that it is best to not include a child into a parents dating affairs until things are serious…and by serious, I don’t mean sex. I am talking about commitment. When you start to see yourself with this person for a long-term, it’s time to introduce them to your child.

I wonder about the long term consequences for a little boy that looks up to their parents for guidance. He sees break-up after break-up. How could he be expected to value relationships? How can a child respect love if they think that it is fleeting? Isn’t it our responsibility to instill hope for a life long commitment to someone?

I am getting married in April, 2014. My son is beyond excited. He only remembers me with my fiance. I hope that I have provided him with a good example of what a solid relationship can be.

So, to all the single parents out there, do you introduce your child to each of your dates? When do you decide to make the leap of including your child in the relationship?

The Dirty Truth about Parenthood

2 Mar

I’m totally frazzled.  My daughter is late.

No, no, not that kind of late.  She’s only 10 months old, for goodness sake!

I suppose I need to back up a bit to explain myself clearly.

When I was late (yes, that kind of  late) and unexpectedly got a bold positive on the first home pregnancy test I’d ever used, I began trying to imagine what parenthood would bring into my marriage.  After my first ultrasound at 9 weeks (despite my mom immediately spilling the beans which caught us in a tsunami of unsolicited advice), I began picturing my husband and myself calmly caring for a happy, peaceful baby.  She wore white, and there was lace everywhere.  Everything I imagined was pure, pristine, beautiful, and quiet.  We’re highly intuitive people, so naturally I thought that we’d somehow predict our baby’s precise needs before she was ever aware of them. Continue reading

It comes down to this…

2 Mar

My son, Jacob, is six years old. He is my oldest and for a long time it was just us. He thought I was a fun mom. We had play-dates all the time (still do), crafting parties (still do), and we made many moments into beautiful experiences.


This Wednesday was picture day. I helped him get ready. I helped him practice his smile.

I took him to school. I handed him his backpack and his friend came up. His friend asked if I was his mom. He grabbed his backpack, said no with a slight laugh in his voice and ran off. No hugs, kisses or sweet words to last for the day.

I went home sad. The baby that I grew in my body, painfully delivered (via emergency c-section), and the boy that I tuck in at night now seemed older. It was no longer cool for him to be hanging out with his mom…or even acknowledge his mom.

I thought I had more time before he was embarrassed by me. I look at my 9 month old and now I frantically try and hold on the his babyhood. I know one day, he will do the same.

Has anyone else had this happen? If so, how old was your little?

Parenting: More than meets the eye

12 Feb


Six years ago, when I first became a parent, I knew that I would be flooded with a rush of emotions. Those emotions would change from day to day, moment to moment. I knew that most of the time I would feel such overwhelming love and joy to be a parent. I never expected so much guilt to come with the territory.

Every decision you make on behalf of your child could impact them negatively or positively. That is such a heavy responsibility. You could be making the right choices that set them up on the right track for life (hopefully) or choices that seem so insignificant but can actually be major down the road. Honestly, this keeps me up at night.

Why wasn’t any of this in the baby books that I poured over during my first pregnancy? Why didn’t they explain that not every wave of emotions was going to be positive, that every experience would not be met with confidence and that yes, sometimes to lessen the pain of an experience you might lie to your child.

Where was my pamphlet on bullying, special needs, and sleep deprivation when I left the hospital? They gave me all the cutesy information…parenting is much more challenging than dealing with teething.

Maybe this is why I became so consumed with trying to make childhood magical and celebrating every little thing. Maybe, I wanted there to be many more stress free, fun, and special experiences than moments that are wrought with challenges. Life can be beautiful…we just have to strive to make it that way. Maybe let go and not think that every decision could have a catastrophic outcome. I don’t always need to know the answer, I just need to follow my heart. Be open to apologizing to our children for our shortcomings. Teaching them through our actions that mistakes happen and even parents make them.

Yes, I think I am getting the hang of it now…