Being a mom today is hard for so many reasons. I don’t think that it was ever easy. Mom’s end up sacrificing, no matter what year the calendar says. But let’s face it, a lot has changed about being a mom since I was a kid or even since my mom was.
I’ve talked with several of my girlfriends about this, at times it feels like we have too many choices. Do you breast feed or bottle feed? Disposable or cloth diapers? Co-sleep, sleep train? Nanny, nanny share, day care? Screen time or no? When it comes to preschool: play based, public, Montessori, dual language? Full day or half day kindergarten? When I was a kid there was one school and my Mom said, “There’s the school, go on in”. And I went.
I know that these are first world problems that I was fortunate to be frazzled by with the birth of my oldest daughter. My point being, it can feel overwhelming. Even before Lucy was born, when Lucy we learned the reality of making what could be life and death decisions.
Then there is the pressure that society puts on us. Some of us are working moms , others are work at home moms, and still more stay at home moms, which for some reason society doesn’t seem to count as “work”. ??. The Pinterest worthy birthday parties and extra-curricular schedules. Oh, and don’t forget to take care of your partner. And while you’re at it, eat healthy, exercise, and organize your house.
So how does one navigate life as a mom today?
When I was pregnant the first time around, and when Violet was an infant, I read a TON and researched almost everything.
And now I would have to say my philosophy is mostly that, we are learning as we go. When we are in the thick of something new, I still may do a little bit of googling, ask girlfriends for advice or book recommendations. But mostly I try to keep in mind who my daughter is, what she is going through, and day by day, we get through whatever new milestone or developmental phase we are in the midst of.
I’ve learned it’s most important though, to follow my instincts. Follow my gut. For me, that means using my head and my heart. And turn all that other noise off. Eliminate Mom guilt. Do what I feel is adequate for myself, my children, my family.
No harm in doing some research, talk to friends, but most importantly use your head and your heart to guide you. Use your instincts.
This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in the last two years. It has helped me sleep better, it has (mostly) eliminated anxiety, and overall, it has helped me feel more content in my day to day.
As I sit to begin this entry, I’ve just returned from the post office to pick up some certified mail. I wasn’t expecting anything in the mail so I really had no idea what it was. My hunch though was that it was a package from my lawyer. And I was right.
I arrive home with a large package containing all of my medical records and a letter stating that, unfortunately, we don’t have a case. The clinical record, the medical story of me and Lucy staring back at me. It’s intimidating.
I’m beyond grateful that I’ve rewritten our story.
I know I didn’t receive the medical advocacy I deserved during my pregnancy, so we were trying to determine if everything was properly handled. As far as the law was concerned, it was. As far as I am concerned, it was not.
What I do know is that nothing we could have done during that time would have changed how Lucy’s body was made. So some closure came in the mail that day and another very important reminder for me to listen to my instincts.
My instincts knew not to put any hope or energy on a potential lawsuit and on what that incredibly thick and unexpected package contained.
As I’ve been able to reflect and piece together our dark days, I’ve found that there were plenty of times that my instincts were veracious.
We never got any clear answers or even possible diagnosis during my pregnancy with Lucy. I had switched doctors after my first trimester because my previous practice was no longer delivering babies. There were meetings held behind closed doors with specialists, but we were never invited in.
During my 20 week ultra sound the dread began. I could tell the tech was looking at something very closely. I had a strong feeling that something was not right. She said the baby was awfully active, so she was having a difficult time getting the images she needed. She would send us to see the doctor and then try again.
I figured our doctor would fill us in if there was concern. And my gut tells me she knew. She knew they suspected a hole in Lucy’s heart. And she didn’t say a thing. She just sort of rushed us along. As we headed back across the hall to return to ultra sound, to get what we were told would be images they could not previously get due to our baby’s movement, I sent my husband on his way to pick our oldest daughter up, as it was getting late. Surely the doctor would have said something, if there was concern?
So I would get the news alone. “We think your baby has a hole in her heart so we are going to send you over to Northwestern.” I will never forget that cold walk back to my car along Lake Shore Drive in March, March 4th to be exact. My fingers pained from the cold as I talked to my husband on the phone, telling him I would be delayed.
As you can imagine, lots of sleepless nights ensued. Terrifying google searches. All the while trying to hope and even pray that all of this was would end up being about nothing.
And then again around 30 weeks, when new concerns about Lucy’s heart arose I knew. That’s when I knew from the depths of my soul that Lucy was going to die. At the time I thought it would be before birth, but I knew. My head was keeping track of the tests, their results, and their lack of results, and all the while my heart knew that something was drastically wrong.
So I revisit this dark time in our lives to remind myself how important it is for me to follow my instincts.
And also because I think that lots of people, moms in particular, can forget that everything we need is within us.
When a decision becomes too difficult to make we need to take a step back and access that part of us that knows what is the best decision for us, our kids, our families at that time. And then make a decision and go with it. No more going back and forth, no more mom guilt, just trust in what we know is right.
I can think back to plenty of times where if I would have listened to my instincts, I’m pretty sure I would have been better off. Maybe I was worried about what someone else would think, was scared to do what was required at the time, or wasn’t able to block out all the noise and distractions.
But not anymore. And I’m finding that once you turn on that ability to listen to your instincts, it’s all that you hear.
Because now I know, everything I need is within me.
My name is Lou and I am a mom of two girls living outside of Chicago. I never would have imagined this, but our oldest daughter is at home and our youngest is not. She will be in our hearts forever. Lucy was an amazing soul and we continue to learn lessons from her today.