Saturday, February 6, 2016

Did you really just say that?

When Bella was a brand new babe, I was at my sister-in-laws house. I was nursing her on the couch and her tiny little not even six pound body was covered almost completely by the nursing cover. Another mom walked in to pick up and some small talk occurred between the three of us, her, my sister in law and myself. She had adopted a little boy and was discussing his adoption process. She talked about "cleft lips and palates" and I remember her saying "well it's not like he's missing his arms or legs". I remember my sister in law looking at me. I remember thinking I wanted to lay my sweet girl on the couch and punch this other mom in her smiling face. 

My mind was racing with a million thoughts. My heart felt a twinge of pain for my child and for me. I don't remember what followed after that situation. I don't recall if I said something or not. Trust me, there were a million times when she was small that I did say something rude in response to someone's rude comment. I remember thinking that this was the first situation we would encounter but it certainly wouldn't be the last. 

I specifically remember an old woman at the grocery store asking ""Oh my gosh what happened to her hand?" My response "Oh my God, we had it when we came in here!" She said nothing and walked away. She probably wanted to curl up in a hole in that very moment. There were also times I was able to pull it together and say something educational. Sometimes it was as simple as "she was born like this", sometimes it was more in depth. 

What is the right thing to say in situations when people say things like this? I can't say for sure. I can say that if I can pull myself together, education is best. Educating others on the situation, educating others on our circumstances, educating them on the right thing to say to people, teaching them how to treat people kindly and with respect. I think that's the biggest thing, while they need to learn, they ultimately need to understand what is the right way to treat someone that's different than them. 

So my daughter, born with only her 5 fingers, ended up in daycare with this mama's adopted boy. It wasn't something that was ever talked about... I wonder if she remembers her comment from that day. I wonder if she knows the way she made me feel. I wonder if she knows how thankful I am that my daughter wasn't able to understand what she said. I wonder if now she thinks of things a little different. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Coping

In my Facebook feed this morning there was a new baby born into the "Lucky Fin" family. The mom asked for "any suggestions to get stronger and deal with fear and criticism". My advice was two fold. Any parent with a child  has fear and criticism. It's part of parenting. Will your child do things on time? Will he/she grow and thrive? Develop normally (whatever that means!)? Will he/she ride a bike? Have friends? Get bullied? So many questions fill your brain! 

I remember being pregnant and wondering how Bella would cope and deal with her difference too, not only how I would deal with others comments and questions. First, we take them all in stride. We've gotten better as she has grown with answering questions. Many of the questions are the same ones over and over, so you get very good at answering those. The other questions, I take a deep breath and then speak. Sometimes they are "easy" questions and sometimes they challenge me. Bella asked me the other day why Papa was my "step dad". Um... why was I not prepared to answer this? I mean, I figured at some point the kids would ask or they would why their grandparents weren't married on either side of the family but I hadn't really thought of the answer. I answered it the best I could. Anyhow, you learn as you go! 

I told this mama to allow the emotions flow and know that any emotion and every emotion was normal. As a new mom, I was scared, excited, nervous, happy, sad, overjoyed, scared, thrilled... I felt them all not just because my girl was missing her left hand but because I was a new mom. Holy crap, what had we done? I was responsible for keeping someone else alive! It was exciting and overwhelming. I remember crying because the love I felt was her was so much to take in. I remember crying because she nursed like a champ. I remember crying because she was crying. It's life people, parenting is tough work! Mom is the best title I've ever had and the most challenging all at the same time. I think some people are quick to say "oh you have a new baby, what do you have to be sad about?" Um the lack of sleep was enough to make me be sad! That was no joke. I mean, I've been a parent for 6 1/2 years and I still am missing sleep. Such is life. 

I also told her to take time to enjoy her baby.  It's easy to get caught up in the tasks but my favorite moments were the moments when I would sleep and she would sleep on my chest. As much as I lacked sleep, I also enjoyed the quiet, dark night time nursing sessions. I could just listen to my baby breath and eat and feel their little body close to mine. It was just me and the babe and I loved it. 

Connecting with other parents is also an important part of being a parent to me. Connecting to others who parent the same and parent different. It allows me to learn and grow as a mother. Connecting with parents with kids like mine (we LOVE our community of limb difference families!), they provide support and encouragement. Reach out to those parents when you need a friend, talk with them, ask questions, express your emotions. I had a friend once say "I don't know if I can really say this because it makes me feel awful but I just need some time to be me!" I confirmed that I sometimes felt that way too. We laughed at how bad we felt for wanting to take time for ourselves because we loved our kids but we also knew that we needed time to do things we enjoyed to make us better mothers. One prime example, date night. Reconnecting with my husband reinforces our love and our connection with each other. It makes us better parents and partners. 

Enjoy that babe, connect, embrace your emotions!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I hear you!

Sunday, Bella and I had a "date day". She needed new leggings (holy batman growth spurt!) so being that she ONLY wears leggings for pants, we decided to go shopping just the girls. We went to Kohl's and she picked out things she liked. This was a first for us, since we usually always buy stuff second hand. Leggings aren't really something that you can buy used, they get worn out. In order to encourage matching, I let her pick out shirts to match too. She was quite funny to shop with. Anything I picked out was "totally insane" or "SOOOO itchy", anything she picked out was naturally super comfortable. Gotta love strong willed girls! We finished up with two new outfits and went on to grocery shop.

We got to Aldi. She was in charge of picking stuff for her lunch and I was in charge of the list. Behind us throughout the store was a mother with her two children, an older daughter and a younger son. The son was older than Bella, probably 8 or 9. Bella and I were laughing and talking but I was distracted. Behind us, I could hear the mother and the son.

"Look mom, look at that girl's hand" he said to his mom. His speech was a little slow. His sister, probably 10 or 11, started to stare. The mom shushed him.

"Mom she only has one hand!" He said with excitement about his discovery. Once again he was shushed. This continued throughout the store. I tried not to get frustrated. It has been SO long since something like this happened. Or at least in my mind, it had been awhile. Bella didn't hear him or his mother. She didn't notice the staring and the boy trying to make his way around things to look at her.

We got to the cheese case. I looked at the boy and his family and smiled. I noticed he had two hearing aids with the magnets that attach to your head, indicitive to me of having cochlear implants. Ah the years of working on that patient unit paid off! Although instead of feeling relieved. I grew more irritated. Had he ever been made fun of for having difficulty hearing? or for having hearing aids? Or difficult speech? Has his mother never had the conversation of not pointing out differences? Or not pointing out others differences? Has he never been in Bella's shoes? Has the mother never dealt with people staring at her son? Or pointing out his difference in public? Did she appreciate questions or hearing the banter followed by shushing?

We continued on our grocery trip, Bella never noticing what was going on mere feet from us. She was enjoying our date our mother daughter time together. We finished up and I hugged her once we got to the car. I kissed her head and thanked her for all of her help with shopping. I told her how I enjoyed our date and our shopping "just the girls". We blasted the Sam Hunt CD in the car on the way home at her request. I would NOT let one child and his mother destroy our happiness. I would NOT draw attention to my daughter in public since she hadn't heard. I would NOT let this once instance steal our joy.

I do wonder in situations like this if I shoud have business cards with the link to our blog. To share our story and our journey. To educate others... I will continue to wonder until I make a decision...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Adios cloth diapers!

We are a tiny bit crunchy hippie at our house in case you didn't know. Today, I washed the last of our cloth diapers and put them away to sell. Unbelievable that we've cloth diapered ALL 3 kids with cloth diapers from nearly birth until they were potty trained... although Luca seems to be riding this lets.not.potty.train.forever bandwagon. We are pretty chill, no 3 day potty training for us, no boot camp or anything like that. We figure they won't go to college in diapers so we'll just ride it out. But we as parents are done with cloth diapering and figure we don't have that much longer to go. We are switching to disposables until he's potty trained. (Here's to hoping that's before high school!)

Let's look back, we've cloth diapered the cheapest way since the start. We used Green Mountain diaper prefolds (super easy and durable!) with thirsties covers and a dry pail. Expense wise, heres the breakdown:

Trash can (for dry pail): $12
Wet bag liners for pail: $30
Wet bags: $30
Prefolds: $250
Diaper covers: $150
Snappis: $10
Diaper wipes aka wash cloths or cut up flannel: $20
Laundry soap: homemade and cheap

Total: $502

$502 for diapering 3 kids. Bella was in cloth from birth to 2 years, she potty trained just before she turned 2. Grayson was in cloth from birth to 3 years. Luca was in cloth from birth until now, which is 2 years and 11 1/2 months. I just googled that the average cost to diaper a child from birth to 2 1/2 is $1677.66. Holy batman! That means to diaper our 3 it would have costed us about $5,032.98. That's insanity! So we've saved over $4000.00!!

I'm proud of us that we made it as long as we did. I'm happy to say that it wasn't as bad as I thought and even my husband would agree. I'm also happy to say that eventually I'll be happy to be done with diapers for good. I'm not sharing this to toot our horn. I'm sharing this to tell you that it's possible. Cloth diapering isn't "hard core" as my husband initially referred to it as pre-diapers. I'm also sharing this to share our homemade soap recipe. It's tried and true for prefolds. I hope this helps one of you or more!

Cloth diaper laundry soap:
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups oxyclean

Mix it all together in a container. Use one tablespoon for small loads and 2 for larger loads.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"I've missed you all weekend"

On Monday evening, Bella had a little breakdown. I've been super sick all weekend, like urgent care and emergency room sick. It hasn't been ideal that's for sure. I came home and went straight to bed Friday afternoon. In between doctors, I was sleeping. I felt like I was neglecting my kids but I couldn't physically keep my eyes open. Thankfully Ryan and I work as a team so while I felt like I was neglecting the kids, he was taking care of every thing.

On Monday evening, when we were tucking everyone in bed, Bella was crying. I curled up in bed and asked her what was going on. She said "I'm just sad, it's was a long weekend and I wanted to spend time with you but you are sick". We talked about how sometimes it stinks that we want things to be a certain way and then they aren't. I told her how sorry I was that I wasn't able to spend more time with her. That I was sorry I was sick, that I was sorry that I wasn't able to spend more time with her. She explained that she knew I was sick and she was sorry that I was sick but that she just wanted to spend some time with me. We talked more about it and we both felt better. She was happy to have me curled in her bed, no matter how sick or how tired I was feeling.

It's times like this that make me think about "mom guilt". Not one single person made me feel bad or guilty for being sick. Not one person made me feel like I should be doing more than just letting my body heal. It was me. It was ME that was giving myself a hard time. I WANTED to keep my eyes open. I WANTED to be to of bed. I WANTED to be spending our long weekend together, playing, baking and making memories. Instead I spent my time sleeping, at urgent care, more sleeping, at another urgent care and then at the emergency room. Kids don't understand that very well. Heck I didn't understand it all. Why do we as parents do this to ourselves? Why do we cause ourself more guilt and frustration than necessary?

From one mom to you, pat yourself on the back. Know that you are doing the very best you can right now in this situation. Know that today may be hard, hell tomorrow may be worse but it will get better. Know that there is a support system around you. I'm here for you. I'm here to listen, to tell you it will all be okay, to tell you that you deserve time for you, that YOU need YOU too!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Switched at birth


I'm currently obsessed with the Netflix show Switched at Birth. Have you seen it? It's about two girls who were switched at birth. One had meningitis and ended up deaf from the medications. It came out in one of the episodes that her mother didn't chose to have cochlear implant surgery for her. The other mother said that she should have done it to give her daughter the best.

My eyes welled up with tears. I wonder if people think that we didn't give Bella the best because we chose not to consider prosthetics for her. I wondered if people judged us for the decision we made. Although, do I care? It does hurt to think that people judge your decisions as a parent for YOUR child. That's the thing though, it happens every.single.day.

Mothers judge other mothers. Did you breastfeed or formula feed? Is breast really best? Do you put your child in a car seat with their coat? Do you feel all organic, all natural? Did you cloth diaper or disposable diaper? Do you use natural baby wash? Do you use fancy, expensive diaper creams and lotions? Did you exercise and eat right during your pregnancy? Did you sit on the couch and eat bon bons? Do you spank? Do time outs? Did your child walk at a year? Did they meet all of their milestones right on time?


Life is hard, motherhood is hard, parenting is hard. In fact, it's the hardest job I've ever had in my entire life. Throw in a child that's a bit different and then see what happens. There's no instruction book. There was no right or wrong way to deal with Bella's limb difference. There's no right or wrong way to deal with Luca trying to sleep with me every.single.night.

In the end, should the mom have done the cochlear implant? Honestly, I think she made the very best decision she could at the time for her child. She did what she thought was best for her daughter. Aren't we all just trying to do what we think or feel is best for our child?



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What have I done?


I'm part of a mom's group on Facebook that I adore. Another mama posted about a show called "Listen to your Mother" and auditions. I instantly thought about Bella and sharing something about our story. There are SO many stories. So I went out on a limb and emailed about auditioning. They emailed me back and gave me a time slot. It's in late February. I'm nervous and excited... besides that, now my brain is freezing. What do I share? What do other people want to hear about? What would educate people about OUR story? What would prompt people to look more into limb differences? What would encourage people to be more accepting of others? To think about their actions? To judge less and love more...

So help me, weigh in! I have time to write our story in a 5 minute time frame. HELP ME!!