Tag Archive | Oliver

Heading Back to Work Guilt-Free

It has been exactly 31 weeks since I gave birth to my amazing little man.  Hard to believe it’s been that long.  Almost every waking hour of each one of those weeks, I have spent with Oliver.  The main thing on my mind morning, noon, and night has been his needs.  I have been blessed – he’s an easy baby.  He’s a really easy baby and he’s so filled with joy that the payoff for all the hard work (because, I am the first to admit… being a Mommy is really hard work) is bigger than I could ever describe or imagine.

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Tomorrow, I officially return to work.  I have been so blessed to be able to take an extended maternity leave, and though I can’t honestly say I have loved EVERY minute… I have loved most.  Had you asked me two weeks ago how I was feeling about going back to work, I would have welled up.  The thought of not being with Oliver every day made me sad.  He is at an age where he is discovering new things at a rapid pace and I don’t want to miss anything.  He plays more independently and yet interacts with me all the time (and almost always with a big smile that just melts my heart).  It will be hard to not be with him every day, but I’m ready.  And that’s OK.

Perhaps I made this up in my head but I feel like there’s an expectation of Mom’s who have lost a baby to want to be with their living children all the time.  I lost one so I should spend every possible second with the one I have here on Earth… I think I put that expectation on myself in the beginning.  I fear being judged for needing time away, for needing time for myself, and for needing to work.  I then realized that suffering a loss does not make parenting and being a Mommy to a living child any less hard.  I still had to get up in the middle of the night, I still struggled to be successful with nursing, I still struggled to find time to take a shower, and I still felt the level of exhaustion only Mom’s can understand.  All while I continue to grieve my precious Maya.  I have a profound appreciation for my beautiful boy.  I say every day how truly blessed we are.  I can be happy and feel blessed while also feeling stressed and overwhelmed and tired.  And I will feel all of these things guilt-free because I am human.

I will also return to work guilt-free.  I am absolutely meant to be a Mom and I really do love being Maya and Oliver’s Mommy.  But I also love teaching.  Last week, I went into school to begin setting up my new classroom and it felt so good.  I started to feel pieces of my old self return.  I realized that though it’s been 7 months since I’ve taught, it will all come back to me.  Just as being a Mommy came (mostly) natural to me, so does being a teacher.  It’s what I’m meant to do, and I believe that being back in the classroom will make me a better Mommy.

So, on this last official day of my summer vacation/maternity leave, I am focusing on being grateful rather than sad.  I am grateful that I had 7 months where my only job was to take care of my sweet baby boy.  I am grateful that he is going to a wonderful daycare and will be well taken care of.  I am grateful that he will have the opportunity to make friends and socialize.  I am grateful that I have a job to go back to that I love.  I am grateful for wonderful colleagues and friends that I have missed seeing every day.  I am grateful for my amazing husband who has been so supportive and sensitive during this transition.  I am grateful for my precious Oliver who makes every day more exciting than the last and whose glorious smile makes every day bright.

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The Blank Wall

There are many ways the experience of losing Maya has impacted my parenting of Oliver in a positive way.  I am more appreciative of the time I have with him.  I believe my experience with Maya has made me more calm, patient, and level-headed if you can believe that.  Losing Maya has almost had the opposite effect than what you would expect.  Throughout my pregnancy, I was sure I would be an over-bearing, nervous, anxious mother – afraid of germs and always fearing the worst.  And though I still have my moments of irrational fears and playing out worst-case-scenarios in my head… I don’t think they are any greater in number than a mother who hasn’t lost a child.

So far, the decisions we’ve made in regards to Oliver and the transitions we’ve gone through have come very naturally.  We’ve moved forward when it felt right.  For example, Oliver loved being swaddled from day 1 and seemed to sleep best when he was swaddled.  Then, it seemed like he didn’t like it anymore.  We tried to go without the swaddle and it didn’t work – he didn’t sleep well.  Then, he started breaking out of the swaddle so we tried again and it worked and he has slept successfully without the swaddle for over a month now.  Of course with this and many other decisions/transitions, I do my research and talk to other parents.  In the end however, it happened when the timing felt right.

There was one transition that was not coming naturally and I was really struggling with… moving Oliver out of our bedroom.  I started to feel like the timing was right for a number of reasons.  I talked to other moms who reported that their child slept better when in his/her own room.  We experienced nights where Oliver woke up because of our movement or the dog’s nails on the hardwood floor.  In addition, it is only a matter of time before he will outgrow his little crib and I wanted to move him into his nursery in the little crib before transitioning him into his big crib.  And yet, as much as the logical side of my brain knew it was time and knew it was probably best for all of us, the emotional side of my brain couldn’t bring myself to do it.  To top off the dilemma… I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult for me.  I thought it was my resistance to him growing and getting older.  I do feel sad that he is not a brand new baby anymore, but I’m so excited for what’s to come.

One day, as I continued to perseverate on the issue, I had an epiphany.  I went into my bedroom and looked at his little crib and I thought, “I don’t want to not see it there”.  I thought about why it was that I had this thought about the crib and not about Oliver.  I finally figured it out! … A week before Maya was born and died, we set up the little crib in our bedroom.  For a week, I pictured her in that crib.  I pictured getting up in the middle of the night, tiptoeing around our room, and watching her sleep.  After she died, Hackie came home while I was still in the hospital and gathered all of the baby stuff.  It all got put into the nursery and the door was shut.  When I came home, there was no crib.  In those early days and weeks, seeing that blank wall was so painful.  No crib, no baby, and a shattered future.

My subconscious fear that had finally come to the surface was that moving the crib out and seeing that blank wall would bring back those memories and those feelings of absolute devastation.  I processed this with Hackie, with my mom, and with some good friends.  I thought about it for several days and then I accepted that at no point was this going to be an easy transition.  Saturday morning, I made the decision that I was ready.  I moved the little crib into the nursery early in the day and hours before Oliver’s bedtime so I could get used to seeing the blank wall long before going to bed.  Oliver did just fine.  I was OK too.  Oliver has now spent 5 nights sleeping in his own room and everyone is sleeping better.  I knew that would be the case.

They say there are 5 stages of grief… which I have discussed many times is not linear and never-ending.  So to say there is a “final” stage is bogus.  For the purposes of this paragraph, however, I’ll buy in… The “final” stage of grief is acceptance.  I hated that because I always felt like acceptance meant being OK with something and I will never be OK with the fact that Maya died.  Then I read a different definition of acceptance, which was simply accepting and acknowledging your truth.  I read it as basically being the opposite of denial.  I have come to that place.  Maya died.  My first baby didn’t come home with us.  I am a bereaved mother.  This is my truth.  Though I am over the moon filled with joy that Oliver is here and healthy and perfect and that I get to spend a nice long maternity leave and summer with him, my truth is still there.  Sometimes, the fact that my first baby died and didn’t make it home is going to have a profound impact on my parenting and on Oliver.  Moving the crib was the first time I really felt it.

I know there will be much more that happens that brings me back to my darkest days.  Realizing that and accepting that as my truth is how I will make it through.  Once I realized why it was going to be so hard to move the little crib, I was able to make the transition.  I’d like to think that Maya has made me a better Mommy to Oliver.  I already know she has made me a better and more insightful person.

Permission to be Happy

It’s been quite a while since I’ve come to this space.  I haven’t needed to, but I’ve wanted to.  I miss writing.  My goal is to write once a week… we’ll see how that goes.

Life has changed.  Life has really changed.  I have changed.  And here’s why…

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Introducing Oliver Raymond.  He was born on Monday, January 20th (Martin Luther King Day!) at 11:17am.  He weighed 8lbs, 2oz and was 22 and a half inches long.  He is perfect.

In the last 14 weeks, I have felt every emotion you could possibly name.  I think that having a baby is the biggest life-changing event anyone goes through, and it’s impossible to prepare for it mentally and emotionally.  No matter how many babies I have been around growing up, there was no possible way to prepare for having to care for a baby 24/7.  It’s hard.  And with Oliver’s arrival and the immediate adjustment, came a lot of different emotions.

However, this post isn’t about everything I have felt and the roller coaster I have been on over the last 3 months.  This post is about something that I said yesterday during my daily conversation with my mom…

“I am the happiest I have ever been.”

At first, I was a little shocked that came out of my mouth… how could that be?  How dare I?  Shouldn’t I never be as happy as I was before Maya died?  Shouldn’t there be a perpetual sadness that looms overhead?  In that moment, I gave myself permission.  Permission for the above statement to be true.  It is true.  And it’s OK.

In the days following Maya’s death, a dear friend sent me a message.  She had experienced a similar loss one year prior.  She told me that any feeling I had was normal as long as it did not pose a danger to myself or others.  This advice has stuck with me since then and I repeat this mantra to myself nearly every day.  Throughout the process of grieving the loss of Maya, which I continue to do, I would remember these words through bouts of anger, frustration, disbelief, and happiness.  Now, my grief looks different.  I am no longer defined by my loss as I was in the months immediately following it.  The grief, though still with me, has quieted down.  And with that comes feelings of guilt.  I have felt guilty for feeling happy and I have felt guilty for feeling tired and frustrated when up in the middle of the night.

Today, I am liberating myself and will no longer feel guilt.  I am giving myself permission to be happy.  And permission to not be happy all the time.  I am replaying my friend’s words in my head as they still hold true.  What I have realized is that attempting to rationalize my feelings, whether they be positive or negative, is a waste of time.

Oliver is amazing.  He brings me so much joy and hope for the future.  I cherish every day that I have with him and am grateful for what my life has become.

I need to believe that Maya is proud of me.  I need to believe that she is OK with the fact that I do not grieve full time as I once did.  I need to believe that she wants me to live on and be the best Mommy to Oliver that I can be.  I wish she were here… she’d be a wonderful big sister.