Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

(Note: for some reason, my blog has published with hyperlinks in two places that lead to random ads! Yikes! I am trying to fix this. In the meantime, don't click the hyperlinks as there are no legitimate ones in this entry.)

I had a great day with my boys today. Brunch. Homemade cards. Lots of love. And the present that I wanted - a baseball glove. Sounds odd, I know, but it was what I wanted as a symbol of being a mom to all boys. I haven't had a ball glove in years but it all came rushing back to me as I played catch out back gate in the sunshine. I want to make sure these boys know that their mom played ball, and can still play ball, and isn't going to just stay in the kitchen making cookies while they play hard with Daddy.

Daniel and Samuel came with me to the hospital this afternoon to drop off a little mother's day care for one of the ICU hero-moms. The memory of last mother's day -- of wanting nothing more than my family to all be together under one roof, of being super-ready to kick hospital life to the curb -- those memories were fresh as yesterday. But I got to walk out with my baby this time around.

Jacob and Samuel last Mother's Day.

Jacob and Samuel today.
(Don't worry that Samuel looks distressed. I think he's objecting to the plaid outfit.)
My four boys, wearing awesome (and deeply appropriate) Kaboom! Zap! Crash! Bam! tshirts from their NeeNee.

Hanging with my boys.
Happy Mother's Day. To my own fantastic and beautiful mom who I could not live without. To my aunties and cousins who I love. To my friends who walk this mama journey with me and teach me every day how to be better and stronger and smarter for my family. To all the warrior-love CDH mamas who deserve extra-loving on this day.

And a Mother's Day thank you to the one big and four little men in my house who made me a mama. A blessed, happy mama.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Our CDH Family

There are a series of blog links at the side of Sam's blog, other CDH families whose stories I follow. I didn't read any blogs when I was pregnant with Sam or when he was in hospital. I probably missed out on some hope, information and support. But I also missed out on watching other babies die while I was in the midst of our own fear and anguish, and that was a really good choice for me at the time.

When Sam came home, I found myself really wanting to know about the journeys of other babies with Diaphragmatic Hernias. I have spent a lot of time - maybe too much time - reading about these babies, and then thinking, praying, cheering, hoping, and mourning. I have wondered about my urge to do this, to sit alongside the pain of these other families.

I think I get it. First, it gives me a chance to look into our own journey from the outside. I've needed to try to understand the happenings and the emotions that we went through; you can't process your experience when you are just trying to survive it. For many months after we came home from the hospital, I was wearing a deer in the headlights expression behind my "look at me holding it all together" smile. What the heck had just happened to my family?! As I let myself see our story through others' stories, I was able to make just a little more sense of things.

Second, following the stories of others let me feel connected and sometimes even just a little bit useful. In my real life, I have only two other families who know what a CDH journey looks like. The internet opened up a whole community of people who know. Those who went before us made me feel less alone. Those who came after us made me feel like I might have something to offer. What I had been through found a place in the words of care and hope that I could share.

One of the things that solidified for me in our journey with Samuel is this: if you are going to live with an open heart, you must also be willing to have an aching heart. I always want to live with an open heart. Today, my heart aches for the family of Esther, who fought CDH for 20 days and said goodbye yesterday. It aches for Abby and Leslie, awaiting their CDH babies and having just watched Esther, and Lucy before her, not make it. It aches for the families of Jude, Killian, and Clay, who seem to be riding on an extra long CDH rollercoaster. It aches for the mamas of Rowan and Maddie and Grace whose blogs I still follow because the CDH babies who don't live are just as loved as the ones who do. We are all part of the same family.

I don't know if others outside this CDH family can understand this connection, why I would cry for babies and families who I've never met. It is part of my knowing something different about the world because of our Sam. Life is brutal. And Life is beautiful. It is, as Glennon says, brutiful. I welcome the richness and gratitude that come of living deep in awareness of that brutifulness.

Mother's Day is coming, and I have been inspired by this blog to make a new tradition. I'm going to find me a mama who, for whatever reason, needs a little extra loving on. I have someone in mind, a mama who is still living in the ICU with her 6 month old baby and 4 other little kids at home. While I get to be home with my children this year, and celebrating my own awesome mom, loving on this ICU mama will be a way of honouring the big family of mamas who do hard and awesome and open-hearted things in this brutiful world.