weekly summary, vol. 13

PAIL Posts This Week

  • Jules started us off this week with a gorgeous picture of her two little girls for our Memorable Moment Monday post!  Who can have a bad Monday after looking at these adorable faces? Check out the comments for links to all the other cutie-pies that were posted!
  • Josey found a news item that talked about a common parenting cliché that while can seem innocuous is often aimed at mothers who choose to go back to work after having a baby.  The phrase “You can never get the time back” at worst is an indictment on the mother for choosing, or needing, to go back to work and at best is a naive statement about the realities of parenthood.  Parenting is not just about the time when your child is an infant, all the time, infancy to adulthood, is important time.  Check out Josey’s thoughts and read the article for yourself here.
  • SRB posted a link in the comments of the news item about the worries we may harbour over the attention we could give a second, and our first child. Folks seemed to like it! Check it out.

Featured Posts:

We had a double-header for feature posts this week with two great bloggers being featured:

  • SRB found a blog post by No Baby Ruth that speaks to how even when blogging in the ALI community, we can still feel lost, we can still hide from what we are really feeling and thinking. SRB and No Baby Ruth discuss how infertility can steal from you your sense of purpose, or knock you off the path you were on before the big IF diagnosis. Read SRB’s reflections and No Baby Ruth’s post “Wanted for Robbery“.
  • Jules featured a post by Gemini Momma, “Breaking Dams“, that spoke to a struggle we all probably face, that once a very much awaited child is here, the fear and the worry still lingers, still haunts us.  Gemini Momma relates this beautifully through a dream she had that made her aware of just how much a part of her was ‘still there’ was still living her infertility struggles, was still “that woman in the nicu wondering if her babies were going to be ok.”  See Jules’ reflections and share your own thoughts on this often overlooked issue.

Ongoing Projects:

  • Community Corkboard: If you have a question, need support, or want to give a shout-out to someone who you think is particularly awesome, email us to have your message added to next week’s summary!
  • More details on this feature coming soon!

New to the Blogroll This Week:

Stay Connected:

featured post: “breaking dams” by gemini momma

One of my favorite books that I can always go back to is The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. The main character, Taylor Greer, has a smartly sassy, thoughtful and adventurous spirit, and her unique voice and strength of character are what most appealed to me and drew me in to her story. The plot itself has its merits, of course– Taylor, formerly Marietta, takes a new name and leaves rural Kentucky behind, driving her rickety Volkswagon as far as she can until the car breaks down in Arizona and unexpectedly acquiring a three-year-old travel companion along the way. Taylor’s personality is what really carries the story and makes me love her and her view of the world. (Sadly, the sequel to her story was told in the third-person voice and it just didn’t hold the same charm for me.)

All the reasons I love Taylor Greer are why I love Gemini Momma‘s blog. She has the strength in storytelling, a strong sense of fun, an understanding of her “blogging voice” and just enough sarcasm and wit to be accessible and smart without being unrelatable. Of course, there’s also the fact that she’s a mom to twin girls who are just slightly older than mine, as well; that alone makes her a valuable resource to me!

Her recent post “Breaking Dams” is brilliant because it distills some very complex emotions about infertility, high-risk pregnancy, and NICU time into a surprisingly relatable format– a dream.

It isn’t a story I relate to in a literal sense. My girls, though born a few weeks early, were technically full-term and never needed to spend time in the NICU. The pediatric team that was hovering in the corner when my C-section began and which descended upon the girls when they came out, the second a minute after the first, eventually left, having nothing to do. My girls were small, hovering just above and below five pounds, but they were hardy and healthy– and we were both grateful and lucky.

But it’s not really about the events themselves, sometimes, which is what Gemini Momma found when she had a dream about another mother with twins who appeared to be sick. It was how her brain was processing her own still-present grief, anxiety and fear:

Sometimes the dreams (or nightmares) happen because our brains are trying so hard to get these hard memories and feelings out of our heads and bodies, but they’ve gotten kind of trapped in there, leaving us to re-experience them over and over and over. To our brains and bodies, sometimes we’re still there, in that bad situation, and all that fear and worry and sensitivity we feel is real.

Sometimes, I still feel that fear. Sometimes I still feel that worry. Sometimes, I am that woman in the nicu, wondering if her babies are going to be okay. Sometimes, my own dam still breaks.

We may share the labels “mom of twins,” “mom of girls,” and “mom of young children,” but Gemini Momma and I don’t share identical “getting to motherhood” stories, nor did our children’s lives all begin the same way. None of that really matters, though. My girls weren’t in the NICU, but Chicken did stay behind in the nursery for two days to gain weight so she could keep her body temperature up. I knew at the time that she wasn’t in any real danger– she was hanging out in her isolette like she was sunbathing, and her funny charisma was strong enough even at five days old that the nursing students fought over who got to feed her– but as a post-op, hormonal new mom who was leaking blood and milk all over myself like crazy, I was a mess. Just thinking about the feeling of being wheeled out of the hospital, Ham in my arms, and passing the large window in the nursery where Chicken’s isolette lay makes me feel weak and weepy. I remember thinking, How do moms with just one baby DO this? How can anyone leave the hospital with empty arms, knowing their baby is going to be away from them for the night… or worse, what if they have suffered the unthinkable…? My brain could not process it. I focused hard on staring into Ham’s face, on not crying for her sake, of not correcting pleasant strangers by letting them know that yes, I was happy to be taking my baby home, but her sister was still upstairs.

Early motherhood, biological or not, is viscerally powerful. Sleeplessness, anxiety, the constant sense of being cranked up to eleven with no breaks– even sleep in those days is often uncomfortable and restless (I always had the sensation of floating along half-awake or of slamming into a wall of sleep that was hard to rouse from). Gemini Momma’s dream, and her interpretation of it, really hits on the ways in which we power through those early days, but the residue hangs behind in our brains. It will always be there, of course, in some form– it’s part of our stories– but eventually, we can start to move on.

Today I am grateful for my present reality. For healthy babies. For french toast. For the dreams that come and go on random and rare occasions, but are few and far between at this point… My ultimate interpretation of the dream is that my psyche is learning to finally acknowledge that that is not the current me. That is another woman: the me of 14, 18, 23 months ago. I am no longer in those realities of trying to conceive, being pregnant, or having tiny babies in isolettes. My reality is motherhood.

To read her full post “Breaking Dams,” visit Gemini Momma’s blog, Three Geminis and a Sagittarius. Comments here are closed to encourage everyone to connect directly with her.

news item: “Don’t Say This: The Cruelest, Most Ignorant Parenting Cliche”

Has the following phrase ever been uttered to you?

“You can never get that time back.”

This cliché can be applied to a variety of scenarios, but I would hazard to guess that it is generally said to a parent who is working outside of the home / not getting to spend as much time as “possible” with his/her baby for whatever reason. It also seems to imply that all of that time is enjoyable with your child…which if one is being honest, is just not the case, and that’s okay. Parenthood is hard.

The writer of this article openly admits in the comments that the title of the article was perhaps “a little sensationalistic” (because of course we can all think of words that would feel crueler to us – especially with our ALI backgrounds), but I think she makes a lot of great points.

…the biggest reason why [the phrase above] deserves a permanent heave-ho is that its usual meaning of “spend every moment with your infant” reflects woeful ignorance of the realities of raising children across the course of their entire development.

—-

The same people who put such a premium on being around to change their children’s diapers are in for a big surprise if they think they can lessen their vigilance come middle-childhood and teenage time, who think that time together is somehow less crucial.

The most frustrating part, for me, is the inherent judgment that the cliche implies. One would hope that we are all making the best choice possible when it comes to parenting our children, but what works for you doesn’t necessarily work the best for me, so please quit judging me!

I’m not saying that being with your baby as much as humanly possible isn’t noble or ideal. In fact, it is — it’s so, so important. But it’s all important. All those years. They’re all mind-bendingly, heart-breakingly important. And the good parents are the ones who take the whole picture into account and respect other parents trying to find their way the best they can.

The author of this article was trying to make the point that all of the child raising years are important (not just the baby years), and that we all need to quit laying judgement on people who have, through choice or necessity, made a different choice than we have. The part of the article that really got to me though, was the fact that the author had to defend herself in the comments. Instead of people saying, “YES, you are so right – ALL of those years with our children are important!” –  people made personal attacks. She replied with, “And for those readers who thought I was just justifying my own guilt or denial about “shipping my kids off” to daycare providers, you should know that weekdays I’ve been at home with my kids since my first was born almost seven years ago. Yup, for the most part I’m one of you SAHMs– except for the judgmental part!”

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Do you think that the cliche is cruel, or is it just a fact of life?

Has it been said to you? To your husband? Do you think people place more “value” on Mom being home in the beginning years instead of Dad? 

How do we work on getting past the point where we feel such a need to judge other parents for their decisions?

How do we get to the point where we can respect others for their decisions, whether they are similar to our viewpoints or polar opposites?

featured post: “Wanted for Robbery” by No Baby Ruth

I am generally not into blogging about blogging about blogging. There are as many reasons for blogging as there are blogs, and then some. However, within the ALI corner of the blogosphere an over-arching theme presents itself: community. And again, there are as many definitions for what that means as there are bloggers and then some more. Deep down, I think we all just like to know that somebody is listening to us.

When I first read “Wanted for Robbery” by No Baby Ruth, I was doing a lot of thinking about blogging. Should I just close up shop? Should I just go balls out? Her first paragraph took those “All or Nothing” blinders off for me:

I came to the realization this weekend that I’ve not been using this space to its full potential. The point of blogging is connecting, communicating, interacting. Otherwise we’d all just journal. And, yet, I’ve not been writing about some of my most prevalent emotions and thoughts of late, things I could surely use some help with. I’ve been updating, but not saying much. I’ve been thinking, but not writing. And that’s silly. This space is here for me. I need to use it.

Point taken. And truly, I needed to read this. I need to write in my space, however I define that, or I am not communicating. Not even with myself. I am just updating. And only sort of. Kick in the pants, received.

But that is not why I kept going back to this post – why I kept thinking about it for the last few weeks.

The rest of this post hit me at a much deeper level. I go through bouts when I struggle with what I could have been, had I been as driven as I was at X point in time. I never did become what I thought, what everyone thought, I would. And then I wonder when I lost “it” and begin to panic that that was a long time ago and I have done nothing since. Obviously, that isn’t true – I have done a lot of living since then. Maybe living isn’t the right word – existing.

The worst part is that I can no longer look around, see what I want, and go for it. Why? Because I can’t see how to get what I want. Where do people put their passion? Where do they invest their drive? Their work. Their spare time. Themselves. None of those are working for me.

I’m not that good at the “fun” side of life. I don’t have any hobbies. I flit in and out of a regular yoga practice. I love to read and yet I lie on the couch watching terrible reality TV. I love tennis and yet I haven’t played since before I was pregnant with Sofia.

I’m just okay at everything. I do fine work, but it’s not my best. I don’t eat terribly poorly, but nor do I eat as healthily as I could. I go for a run occasionally, but I’m certainly no runner.

No Baby Ruth echos me wondering “Where Did I Go?” and suddenly, while I still feel lost, I don’t feel so alone out there in the fog. Something stole the clearly lit path away, and it is difficult to pinpoint who did it. For her, maybe it’s PCOS. For me, maybe it was my second loss. These wounds, they cut us deeply, and healing is a non-linear process. Perhaps figuring out what was stolen is the first step to getting it back.

I’m being held hostage by infertility. Won’t someone pay the ransom, please?

Please head over to No Baby Ruth and check out “Wanted for Robbery” – an honest look for the things that have gone missing. Comments on this thread will be closed in an effort for you to connect directly and share your thoughts with her.

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If you have a post of any kind (old or new!), on any topic that you would like share, please fill out the form on the main Featured Posts page here. You are welcome to submit your a post of your own! 

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memorable moment monday – daddy on duty edition

Yesterday was our last full day at the beach. Husband and I took the girls to the diner for breakfast, then to a Yo Gabba Gabba themed gymnastics birthday party– Chicken had a blast crawling around and trying to “get” all the big kids who were SO very much faster than her, and Ham rolled slowly around the mats very happily– and then, so I “could have a break,” Husband took the girls for a walk down to the park. Seriously, he is the best ever. So I got to hang out and play cribbage with my brother and cousin because that is how I roll, and the girls did this:

So happy! And so big!

The best thing about having an hour alone (aside from having an hour alone) is, for me, having that feeling of pure elation when I see my girls again afterwards, like it’s been a week, and they give me big smiles. Melts my heart!

Tell us something you’ve been up to. Any new milestones, any adventures, any changes in your life? What do you want to share? Link us up in the comments!

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