Tuesday, September 20, 2016

3 nights.

The last 3 nights I've laid with you as you went to sleep.  I haven't had to do that in a long time but it brought back a flash of memories.  Your glider lives at a friends house now.  Every now and then I go over to their house and it's a chair I still want to sit in after 13 years.  I could rock in it forever, it's so comforting.  Rocking you as a infant, baby, toddler and even years beyond was the one thing I knew I was doing right.  Tonight as I lay in your bedroom, I remember how it was once our office in this house.  That led me to remembering your nursery at our old condo, the pink bottom half with moulding with the white top half and a net of stuffed animals hanging in the corner above the glider.  I remember trying to perfectly place all the stuffed animals in the darn net without them falling out and what a pain that was.  I remember Shannon's white crib that we borrowed and how it fit so perfectly in the nursery.  I remember the hand painted sky with clouds on your ceiling that Jackie and I spent a long time perfecting.  And how could I forget the perfect princess quilt hung with 3 big white stars on your nursery wall.  The closet doors were taken out and replaced with light weight white fabric hanging so you could see your perfectly cute baby girl clothing all lined up and baby shoes, so many baby shoes, all the baby shoes.

I rocked in the glider in that room for months before you were born.  I imagined what you would be like, what being a mom would be like.  I felt you kick and move and I imagined more and read so many books.  I LOVED figuring out what your name would be.  Kylie, yes Kylie it was for many many months and then surprise we made a last minute change to Kendall, Kendall Elizabeth.  We liked that the first name wasn't that common and that your middle name was the same as mine and my grandmothers.  That surprise last minute change of your name should have warned me about all the surprises that were to come with you once you were born.  I was so ready to meet you but you didn't want to come out early at all.  You were 8 days late.  8 LONG LONG days late.  And then tomorrow night at this time I was in the hospital being induced.  I didn't know what to expect, I was just excited and then the first contraction came.  I didn't realize it was a contraction I just thought it was a bad cramp then they kept coming.  Dan was the one who looked at me and said "OH MY GOD, those aren't cramps they are contractions."  I panicked.  The pain came so fast.  I finally got all settled with meds.  Then a few hours later you were born.  And BAM the room turned to silence.  Something wasn't right I could sense it, I knew it.  No one could say anything, they all tried to reassure me but  I KNEW.   I guess that was my first mother's instinct.  Something wasn't right.  And then everyone but my doctor and I left the room.  I sat stunned in silence.  

Tonight in a matter of 30 minutes while I laid with you so many memories came flooding back.  You sleep with the same bunny and in the same position as you did when you were a baby.  You stroke the bunny in a calming way that soothes you still to this day.  I hope my presence still soothes you as well.  You my baby girl, my first born, the one I've learned the best lessons in life from.  I hope I can forever soothe and help you.  It's funny how when all goes silent you can really remember and feel all that has happened in what feels like the blink of an eye but in reality it's been almost 13 years.  The hardest most rewarding 13 years of my life.  They are because of you Miss K.  I'd never know all I know now if it weren't for you.  Thank you for choosing me to be your mama.  God or whoever it was up there had some real faith in me because I would have never thought I could do it or do it well.  However, here I am and here you are thriving, makes me feel like I've done one big thing right in life.  Sleep tight baby girl, for you are almost a teenager. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dear Kendall

Dear Kendall,

Today I watched a 13 year old and her mom.  She was a few inches shorter than her mom, they spent time chatting and walking.   I thought about if she looked more like her mom or dad.  I watched their interactions.  For a few seconds I had what if's running through my mind.  What if you were not born with a rare chromosome disorder, how tall would you be,  what would you look like, what would you be experiencing in 8th grade that you aren't right now?  What if, what if, what if.  Those thoughts could tear me apart if I let them and they have in the past.  However, rather than in years past where I would get stuck on the what if's, I quickly changed my thoughts.  I thought about how far you've come,  how you talk after years of not talking and it's understandable, and I thought  about how great your laugh is.  How you still throw one hand over your face when you laugh really hard.  I look at all the amazing lessons you have taught our family and friends in life.  Look at how you see the world, full of love and kindness, never hate.  What if you were a "typical" kid?  What if?  Who would your brothers be if you were "typical"?  Would they understand compassion and have the empathy that they have now?  Would they take the time that they do to help others?  Would they know how to help their sister when she needs it?  Would I have the empathy and understanding of others that I have because of having you in my life?  Would I be able to look at the world through your eyes if I had a "typical" daughter?  Would I see the world with the same love that you do if it weren't for you?  No.  No way.

I am smarter because of you.  Wiser because of you.  More accepting, patient(most of the time), and caring because of you.  I've lived a lifetime in almost 13 short years because of you.  Because of you I'm resilient.  I get down but I don't stay down, not for long.  I come back.  Yep, I keep coming back.    I come back better and stronger because of you and I will continue to do so.  You inspire me.  You make me speak my mind.  You have forced me to advocate, not just for you but for myself and my life.  You have taught me to talk about my feelings more, to express myself, to share what it's like to raise you.  You are one of the best lessons I've ever had in life and I think what a shame others don't get to learn the lessons that you have taught me.  You made me a mama but the non "typical" you made me a better mama then I ever would have been if I didn't have you.  I saw another girl and mom walking today, I compared lives for a moment but I didn't get stuck in that moment.  Rather, I was able to think about all the moments we have had because of you that in turn have made us all better and stronger.  I don't know anything different and after almost 13 years I can say I don't want to know anything different.  Thank you for being one of the greatest teachers in my life.  You are small but mighty and very very loved.  I sure hope you know that.   


Friday, May 6, 2016

What made me a mom? 

Giving birth to a baby girl at age 29 technically made me a mom right away but I think over time I became a mom.  I think every mom "becomes" differently.   Some may feel it the minute they get a positive pregnancy test, some may feel it the moment their baby is born and laid on their chest or put in their arms and others, like me, may take time, more time to "become" a mom.  I'll never in my entire life forget the moment Kendall was born.  The only words I heard around 2:14am early Monday morning were "you have a really small baby" and then the room went DEAD silent, everyone cleared out and went to the NICU, everyone but my OBGYN and me. Thinking about it to this day gives me the chills(and not the good chills).

I didn't get to hold her right away, the first diaper I changed of hers were with my hands through an incubator while I was shaking and sobbing, I didn't bond with her right away, I think mostly out of pure fear.   That fear that keeps you protected and safe in case something bad happens and trust me when I say most everyone thought and feared the worst.  When I finally held her she had an IV in her head and tubes, there were so many tubes, they were everywhere.  I didn't know what I was doing.  In fact, my OBGYN thought I was so in shock that he had to talk me into going to see her in the NICU.  Not every mother just becomes. 

I kept holding her, feeding her, changing her, and holding her some more feeling so unnatural and so NOT at ease.  I didn't feel like a mom.  I felt scared and in shock.  But I held her, fed her, changed her and held her some more.  Pictures were taken, I smiled but I was so sad and scared.  I never expected to have a child with special needs.  I didn't know how to be a mom let alone one to a child like Kendall.  I held her, fed her, changed her and held her some more.   Dan did the same, he was much better at it.  It came naturally to him.  On day 2 I had to leave the hospital while Kendall had to stay.  I went home with this feeling of just no longer being pregnant but I didn't feel like a mom.  I stayed at the hospital as much as I could when I was released, holding her, feeding her, changing her and holding her some more.  Each day a baby step forward and on day 6 she was allowed to come home.  I still didn't feel like a mom.  I felt like a Dr/Therapist in training and slowly became my own version of that with Kendall by my side but still not feeling like a mom and definitely not a good mom.  The first year, day in and day out, I held her, fed her, changed her, and held her some more while attending hundreds of Drs and therapy appointments.  With every feeding, every changing, every cuddle it slowly became more natural. 

My entire world had changed and very differently than that of my other friends with newborns.  Hold her, feed her, change her and hold her some more.   2 months in she smiled, 4 months in she sat up, 2.5 years in and she finally walked.  Many surgeries and therapies later over the years and then one day things shifted....I now knew I was a mom, a mom different than any other mom I knew but also a mom who was very similar to every other mom I knew.  I felt like a mom, I was confident in being a mom and I knew I would do anything in the world for Miss K.  It wasn't what I expected but overtime I became and Kendall forced me to become and changed me to the core.  I was still far from the perfect mom(there's no such thing as a perfect mom or person by the way) but I changed for the better because of her.  I felt confident in caring for her and giving her what she needed.  I stopped worrying about what her future life would look like and most importantly (and this happened really early on) I threw out all the parenting books and let my gut figure it out.  AND it has never proven me wrong with any of my kids to this day. 

I write this because with Mother's Day around the corner some may be ashamed to admit they didn't feel like they became a mom right when their baby was put in their arms but it doesn't mean you won't become a fantastic one in time, and as long as you become in your own time frame and that baby is loved, you are doing a fantastic job.  Don't ever forget it.  It's the hardest job on earth, being a parent, so give yourself some slack and know you are just doing the best you can.  Becoming a mom is different for everyone.  When you feel it, it's pretty darn amazing.

About Me

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Married mom of 3 not so little ones anymore but they still keep me grinning and giggling(most of the time). Kendall, age 12, Brady age 8 almost 9 and "baby" Chase who is 7. I have been married for 14.5 years to Dan Graff, who I think is the best dad ever to our kids. He certainly makes me grin and giggle to this very day. I have spent my non mom career working in recruiting on and off over the years recruiting Software Engineers. Other than my kids my most favorite thing to do in the entire word is ride horses followed by Kung Fu, where I earned my purple belt last year. I have been riding since I was 8 years old, with some time off here and there but I always go back to it. As Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man"(or woman in this case)!