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The Permission to Hope

Recently, a friend of mine wrote me to ask a simple question with a not so simple answer.

How did you get through the first trimester of your pregnancy?

What she meant, of course, is how did I avoid losing my mind from fear and anxiety after the loss of my twin pregnancy.

I told her the truth: I wasn’t calm. I had nightmares almost every night for the first eight weeks. I spent my days battling a sense of hopelessness. I would wake and dread walking into the bathroom. I just knew that today would be the day I’d see that swipe of red, that spot, the sign that meant that this dream, too, would come crashing down around me.

Being pregnant with a “rainbow baby” is an altogether different experience from simply being pregnant. My friend was struggling with this, as did I. So much of my anxiety was spent grieving the pregnancy before and the innocence I’d lost because of it.

No longer did I simply expect things to go right. No longer did I believe that these things wouldn’t happen to me. And, I was angry — no, LIVID — that I felt like this.

The problem with a rainbow pregnancy is that you never see it close up. You never know at the time that this is the one. Only looking back over the landscape of your life through those nine months are you able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Rainbow pregnancies are an exercise in faith. And, I think we’ve established that I’m not particularly good on that front.

So, no, I wasn’t calm or even joyful. I was terrified. With each week that passed and as we grew closer to telling our families (We waited until 15 weeks!), I felt more and more despondent. The longer the pregnancy went on, the more devastated I’d be and I knew it. I’d been there before.

Of course, we made it to the second trimester and beyond. With each milestone, I’d tell myself, “Okay, Jasmine… You can BREATHE!”

But, I never really did.

Well, I did and I didn’t. My mantra all those months was that my beautiful child was worth my going out on a limb of hope.

I painted the colors of Elliott’s rainbow with each flicker of hope, with the fleeting moments that made me dig deep to trust the journey instead of getting ahead of myself to cushion a potential loss.

There is nothing — not one thing — you can do to prepare for a loss. Whether it happens at 13 weeks or even at four, it is crushing and you will grieve all the moments that were and those that will never be.

Being a mama requires intense bravery. For me, I found this even before the birth of my beautiful boy. It is a courageous act to love something so fragile. What I know now is that this feeling, this fear, never really goes away.

Pregnancy is a fragile, beautiful experience that prepares you for an even more fragile and beautiful experience: motherhood.

Give yourself the permission to hope.

That’s the advice I offered her, and it’s a pill I need to swallow myself. After so many years of infertility, I’ve already found myself fearing that a second child won’t be possible.

I tell myself to be grateful for what I have, and I am! But, also? I’m still chasing the dream I’ve always had, the one that began seven years ago when we started trying for a baby. Kids in the yard. Kids with an S.

Which brings me back to hope. Hope, faith… all the touchy feely ones that ask you to trust in the pot of gold you can’t see? Yeah, I hate those.

But, there it is. Hope. Permission granted.

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Mama Life: 13 Weeks

Thirteen weeks.

Simultaneously, these weeks have crept along and passed at the speed of light. Living on Planet Mom, I guess that makes sense?

The BEST part, of course, is watching Elliott learn about the world and himself. Lately, he’s done a lot of learning. Family has visited, developmental leaps have happened, and daddy and mama have slowly figured out some semblance of a new normal.

That new normal, of course, involves a lot of chaos, a lot of getting into a routine and then catching the almost immediate curve balls that fly our way.

These 13 weeks have been filled with more laughter, joy, insecurity, fear, and love than I experienced in all of the 33 years prior to them.

I’ve become the mom I wanted to be and also the mom I said I wouldn’t be. I’ve made choices I judged others for in my pre-mom life, spoken words in anger and exhaustion in a manner I wish didn’t exist within me, ate a shocking amount of trashy food in the interest of simply eating, and pushed myself to and beyond my physical and emotional limits.

All of that, and yet, when Elliott sees my face first thing in the morning, he breaks into a grin that invites the sun to rise. It shocks me each and every time. I worry and fuss over my messy hair, the fact that I don’t get nearly as many showers as I’d like, my lack of makeup, my no-fuss clothes. Whatever Elliott sees, though, is absolutely beautiful through his eyes, it’s clear. And, God help me, I need to find the lesson in that.

For all the feelings of failure and disappointment (in myself) that this mama experience brings out of me, I have done something right, maybe the only something that matters. My child feels loved and adored, he is nourished and challenged, clothed and warm.

I have been destroyed by this love, and in that old place, I am building a new person: my mama self.

What I’m Watching

  • The Walking Dead
  • Sister Wives
  • The Pioneer Woman

What I’m Reading

  • Sisters in Love (Melissa Foster) – (Finished — Really silly.)
  • Breakthrough (Michael Grumley) – (Finished — Loved! Found on Kindle Unlimited)
  • Leap (Michael Grumley) – (In Process)

What I’m Cooking

What I’m Loving

  • Snuza Hero – This is a lifesaver for me. Elliott has acid reflux and stops breathing sometimes at night. This clips to his diaper and goes off when there is an interruption in his movements (breathing). LOVE. I can actually sleep now!
  • Anna & Eve Swaddle Strap – Elliott still can’t really sleep without being swaddled due to his high moto reflex. We learned pretty quickly that the old fashioned blanket swaddle was not an option and switched to the cotton Halo Sleepsacks, which we loved. However, now that he’s bigger, he’s too long for them. The strap is absolutely the answer. It’s significantly more secure than the sack (he’s a little Houdini), which means less fixing and fussing during the night for mama.
  • Baby’s Only Formula – From very early on, it was clear that I just do not make anywhere near enough milk to solely breastfeed. We’ve been supplementing with formula (and hating it!) ever since. I was researching Elliott’s pretty severe acid reflux symptoms online, because I really felt it was connected to his formula (we’ve tried several). I stumbled on a forum of moms talking about the same issues and how they resolved it by using this organic formula (which is, admittedly, not easy to find in stores). We bought a can (which is 1/3 the price of the formula we were using, by the way!) and his symptoms have all but disappeared. He doesn’t choke in the night. He doesn’t stop breathing. He rarely spits up. I cannot sing the praises of this stuff enough. Note: It is marketed as a toddler formula, and this is because the company wants to encourage people to breastfeed for the first year. I read the report from the FDA and it is “cleared” as an infant formula. Definitely do your own research before taking my word on it! 😉

(None of these are affiliate links, and I wasn’t compensated for this. These are just products I’ve found and adored.)

My sweet baby boy turns three months old tomorrow. Sometimes, I see the boy he’ll be lurking in one of his many expressions and I am reminded again and again how precious these days are. May I remember in the wee hours as I realize now that this exhausting and humbling experience is a fleeting, beautiful gift. That’s my mama prayer.

Dear Elliott

I think this is a love letter.

Sigh…

Someday you’ll understand how much your mama hates being cliche… How many mamas have written these cheesy letters? But, then, that’s love, I guess. It changes everything. I should know.

I’m sitting in Starbucks. I’ve slipped away to work, to write articles about adwords… a profile of a fabulous woman entrepreneur… and a short story about a magic iPhone… All things I’ve said I’ll do. I tend to over-commit.

And, yet.

I’m here thinking of you. Thoughts of the way you smile or your sweet gurgle sounds are bouncing around my head, climbing stair steps on the words of the conversation at the next table.

I can’t remember when I’ve been this consumed by someone.

Wait, yes, of course I can. Your dad.

Whatever that something is that he has… it’s hereditary.

You both take my breath away.

As the days turn into weeks and now months, I find myself rehearsing the memories I want never to forget. I turn them over and over in my mind, cataloging them, filing them into drawers marked “keep.”

This love story — yours and mine — it moves so fast.

Again, like your dad. It was nearly nine years ago, though it seems just the other day, that he told me he could see you in my eyes. I closed them quickly for fear this boy I barely knew would see me, too.

He did, and he never lost sight of you, either.

You have been a part of our love story for a better part of a decade. Someday maybe, you’ll realize how unique that is, how precious and rare. Someday, you’ll see that perhaps there was never a child more desired on this whole Earth than you.

I hope in the way that I can so clearly remember those moments before you joined us, I will also freeze-frame the memories that we’re making.

I want to remember the first time you met my eyes with recognition and the way it feels to lift you to my shoulder and feel your warm cheek against mine. I want to keep forever the way you looked the first time I saw you watching the passing scenery as we drove. I have no idea what you saw that day, but I saw the whole world.

Sometimes, I lay next to you and watch you sleep, and you turn toward me, wiggling your little body closer even with eyes closed. Oh, how I hope you always feel like you can turn to me. And, even when I’m sitting in the dark, wishing with all my heart for sleep, I want to keep that moment, too… Someday, it will be the last long night, and I won’t even know until it’s gone.

For nine whole months, I was afraid to love you. You came streaking through a long, dark night to change my mind, a tiny supernova here to rescue a woman who didn’t even know she needed saving. You brought me hope. You made me brave again.

My sweet boy, you are worth every cringe I might make for writing a love letter. I love you with all the syrupy sweetness of a fairy tale.

You’ve completely shattered me. I will never, ever be the same.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

Insanity

I think we’ve all seen insanity defined as doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

Well, I’d define motherhood similarly. Being a mama means doing the same thing day in, day out, but actually getting a different result. In that way, being a mom is sort of an exercise in beating insanity.

From one day to the next, I swing from yeah, I got this! to sweet baby Jesus, somebody help me without a whole lot of difference in what is actually going on (except maybe how much sleep I got the night before!).

Despite having started this day by dropping an entire container of formula, which promptly exploded and rained beige fallout all over the kitchen counters and floors, today is an “I got this” day. I keep asking myself, why do I think this is so hard sometimes??? And, then tomorrow, I’ll be all, why in God’s name did I think I’d figured this out???

I can never seem to remember on one day what the hell I was thinking on the other. I need to wake each morning with a movie of my life like Adam Sandler does for Drew Barrymore in that cute movie just so I can have a well-rounded picture of the situation.

I… have no idea where I was going with all this, but my adorable baby alarm is going off. When upset, he sounds remarkably like a cross between a velociraptor and a mewling kitten.

Here I go… I got this. Clearly.

Mama Life: 7 Weeks

Over here in Mama Myers Land, we’ve started our second week with Daddy back at work.

It’s been a mixed bag.

Yesterday, I felt like I’d punched a wall… with my face.

Today? Feeling pretty good. Managed to string together about six hours of sleep last night and just went for a walk with my favorite doll baby. Life is swell.

Elliott turns seven weeks on Thursday (Want to see pics? Instagram), and I think I’m finally getting into a groove. Sort of.

Well, I’m cooking, reading, and watching TV, so there’s that.

Here are a few meals I’ve made lately that I thought were worth sharing (found via Pinterest!). You will definitely sense a theme (crockpot for the win!).

Plus, lists of books and tv shows I’ve consumed since Elliott rocked my world. Motherhood is a weird mix of mach 60 busy and mindnumbing boredom.

What I’m Cooking

What I’m Reading

  • The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo
  • Someday Soon by Debbie Macomber
  • Love After Dark, McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 13 by Marie Force
  • The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
  • California by Edan Lepucki
  • How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

What I’m Watching

  • Fear The Walking Dead
  • Zoo
  • The Strained: Season 2

Things I Won’t Forget: The Hospital

My little love came screaming into the world. Obscured by a powder blue curtain, his was a voice I’d never heard, but that I knew by heart.

“He’s here,” my husband whispered.

The wail that escaped my body took with it the fear that had held siege since the moment they wheeled me into this unexpected surgery.

Screaming, furious, and beautiful, he was here, and I was fine. Their words about risks fell away… The heightened dangers that this commonplace surgery had for me, ever the uncommon case were far away now that I knew: he was here.

And, I want to remember that. I want to remember the moment that I stepped down from my perch to allow someone’s life to matter so much more than my own.

I never want to forget how Elliott made me brave by simply being born.

—–

It wasn’t until our second long night that Elliott and I clicked into place.

He was born at 10:18pm on Thursday, and that first night was spent in the delirium of new personhood, for him, and new mamahood, for me. I was heavily sedated, unable to walk from the surgery, and sleep deprived from several days in the hospital spent trying to evict my stubborn boy from the womb.

On the first morning, I stared down at him, struggling to feel like his mama, hell, trying to feel anything more strongly than I felt my exhaustion and hunger; I hadn’t eaten for days. I went through the motions of healing myself and worked to memorize the curl of his lip (like mine), the shape of his face (like Daddy), and his adorable nose (like grandma).

When he looked at me, I couldn’t help but wonder if he felt overwhelmed by it all, too. Only hours ago, we were one, and here, we’d been torn apart and had to somehow figure out how we fit back together again.

Those first nights were filled with trying and failing, as I guided his tiny mouth to my breast over and over again.

Perhaps it was our shared frustration, our mutual exhaustion that finally bonded us, but as I sat there with tears streaming down my face, stroking his cheek, he looked up at me, and suddenly, my uncertainty fell away and I knew.

I was his mama, and he was my Elliott. Forever.

(Not) Love at First Sight

02.16.2007

I had been divorced 27 days when I met him.

Decked out in my favorite jeans and a striped black top that afforded a peek-a-boo look at my fuchsia bra beneath, I felt like hot stuff.

What can I say? I was 24-years-old, single for the first time in my adult life, and determined to spend the next year — at minimum — kissing random boys just because I could.

And, then I walked into my friend’s apartment, and every plan I had went to hell.

First, though, let me back up.

She’d called me an hour earlier to tell me that her friend Ryan wanted to join us for our night of planned debauchery. (She’d just broken up with some jerk, so clearly.)

“Look cute!” she said. She’d been hoping to set me up with this guy, and out of the blue, he’d called her. Fate, her voice seemed to suggest.

“I always look cute” was my quippy reply.

So armed with my usual cuteness and a complete lack of expectation, I walked into her living room, and my first thought went something like this:

OH, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, REALLY?????

I have no idea what other people would have seen when they looked at him that night, but I saw the very last thing I was looking for.

The poet in me wants to call this moment love at first sight, but that wouldn’t really be accurate. Having loved, I know that it is something altogether different.

Romantic love is by design. It is conceived… planned… forged by hand. It isn’t a natural wonder at all.

Love is the Egyptian pyramids. We work for love, and our ability to create it stands as a reminder that divinity flows through our veins.

This was like stumbling across the Grand Canyon. I had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was there waiting to be found, and once discovered, it redefined beauty for all of my life.

All those doors I’d kept open just in case slammed shut at the same time. Nothing would ever feel the same again.

Of course, at that moment, I didn’t know I’d crossed some invisible threshold. I didn’t think that my life had changed forever.

I was just really glad I’d worn that pink bra.