Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons Learned

A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path. – Agatha Christie

                Now I know I’m a little late, but here’s my post in honor of Mother’s DayJ

                Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a planner.  I’m almost manic about it.  Having a baby was no different.  While pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on (Don’t ever, ever do that while carrying your unborn child and being super emotional!) and planned everything out.  I made list upon list.  I bought everything that I thought I might possibly need (Don’t do that either, you probably won’t need it haha).  I had all of these ideas about being a mom and having a baby that I felt really strongly about, especially considering I’d done my homework.  Then, I actually had a child.  You never realize how much you don’t know about having a baby until you have a baby.  All of those careful plans I’d made and ideas I had flew out the window. …
Here are some of the many things I had to change my mind about.  Those of you who are veteran parents- laugh awayJ
The crib—I remember still how adamant I was that our baby would sleep in her crib.  If she never had a bassinet, she wouldn’t know the difference right?  Haha… this didn’t even last the first night.  I put my (even as a newborn) strong-willed daughter in her crib that first night and she HATED it.  She didn’t just cry, she did what I have since named “the drama cry.”  I couldn’t stand the thought of my sweet baby girl being sad so I snatched her up and took her downstairs her little snuggle nest in the pack n play.  Josh and I bought a Rock n’ Play the next day so she could sleep right by me in our room.
Nursing—All right.  You may judge away- but I will admit what many will not.  The idea of nursing kind of grossed me out a little.  However, I knew that it was what was best for my daughter, so I was going to give it a shot.  I thought I’d hate it.  My goal was the 6-8 weeks I planned on being home with her.  However, it was one of the most beautiful bonding experiences I’ve ever experienced.  And, that 6-8 weeks turned into just over 1 year.  I’m so glad I got to do that before losing the ability to do so.
Food—While I respected them, I used to think those moms who did all these “crazy” things like nursing, making baby food, cloth diapers, etc. were out of their minds.  Like I said, I respected all of those things, but who has time for them?  Evidently me—well, not the cloth diapers part.  Never could get into that.  However, I did decide to nix the idea of buying baby food, and I made Grace’s myself instead—right up until she started eating table food.  And… I loved it and it was good for her.     On another note with food, I used to be a BIG stickler about junk food.  Don’t get me wrong, I have not all of a sudden given up making my kid eat healthy.  I want her to learn that junk is not an all-the-time kind of thing.  However, this child did not even know what junk food was until her first birthday cake.  Now I will admit that I occasionally sneak her a tiny bite of chocolate just for the sheer joy of watching the smile on her face.  And, I will also admit that I let her steal an M&M or two out of the candy bowl on the table when she thinks I’m not looking.  She just is so darn proud of herself when she does it.
No one tells you how “wet” being a mom is!!—HAHAHA that sounds funny doesn’t it.  However, it’s the truth.  No one bothers to tell you while you’re pregnant how wet you will be those first few months.  Unless it’s just my kid, but I’m guessing it is not.  I cannot count the times Grace has puked on me, peed on me, spit milk on me, slobbered on me, etc.  AND, to top it off, she somehow almost always misses herself….
Patience/Mellow Mom—I am not a mellow person.  And, before Grace, with the exception of my students, I was not a very patient person.  So, you’d think I’d be insane as a mother.  I think other people must have thought so too because I can’t count the number of times people have said to me, “I can’t believe how laidback and mellow you are with her,” or some version of that.  However, there’s something about her that brings me such peace.  I feel like I was made to be her mom.  And, I have infinite patience with her, even when I don’t have any left for anyone else in the world.  That will probably go away when she reaches the teenage years though.  Haha
And finally- I am never alone—I used to be big on having a little “me” time, all by myself.  I don’t get that anymore, and really haven’t since Grace was born.  She has always been a mommy’s baby and she likes me aroundJ  Heck, ever since she became mobile, I can’t even go to the bathroom alone.   If someone had told me that at a previous time in my life, I would have been stressed.  However, I love having my daughter around all the time and miss her when she’s away from me.  I don’t mind having my little mini me shadow:D

I want to end my mom thoughts with the lyrics to a song.  I had never really listened to these lyrics since having my own daughter, but I cried tonight when I heard it.  Martina got it right.

"In My Daughter's Eyes"

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daugter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hope and Love Prevail

Hope and Love Prevail

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." -Mahatma Gandhi 

            In fifty-nine minutes and counting my relationship with chemo comes to a close, hopeful for good.  I remember when the word “chemo” was first mentioned to me and I totally lost it.  Then, when I found out that I would be facing sixteen weeks with this fearful companion, I felt worse.  It seemed like I would never be able to overcome this obstacle and the end would never come.  However, now that I am sitting here for my last hour of drugs, I realize it was not quite as awful as I had feared.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun.  I had plenty of days where I wished I could pull the covers over my head.  I had days where I was so nauseous, where my legs felt like they would fall off, where I didn’t know if I could do this.  Fortunately for me, I have such beautiful people in my life.  First, God has given me strength and courage I didn’t realize I had in me.  He has made my already strong faith ever stronger.  My beautiful baby girl has given me the love and hope I needed to get up and truly live even when I felt awful.  Through my husband’s strength and never-ending faith in me, I have learned to have faith in myself.  My unbreakable bond with my family has shown me that some things in this world truly are unbreakable.  My friends have shown me what true friendship really means as they have supported me in ways only true friends would (and I know people say you know who your true friends are in times of need, but not a single one of my friends has let me down!).  Strangers have shown me that truly is still goodness in the world.  Because of these people, I sit here today with my spirit intact.  My body may have been through the ringers since December.  I may not have hair or breasts.  I may have physical scars that time will fade, but never completely erase.  However, my spirit is stronger than ever.  Every single day, I have asked God to please let me a survivor.  I have also, every day, added that I wanted to get there with my head held high, a smile on my face, fire in my eyes, and faith and love in my heart.  With His help, I would NOT let cancer break me.  I would NOT hide.  I would NOT be ashamed.  I would NOT let my daughter, my husband, my family, my friends, my students, my co-workers, anyone who needed me, be let down.  I’d like to think I have succeeded in this endeavor. 
            It seems surreal to sit here knowing that this is the last one.  I hope that it has all been enough.  I know that parts have been awful, but it still seems too small a price to pay for life.  My hope is that this really is the end and I can move forward to more positive ventures.  I know I still have some surgeries coming up, but I hope that they are positive with no complications.  I hope by the end of 2012, I am complete and whole once again and can move forward.  While I want to move forward and put things like chemo in the back of my mind, many things have happened that I do not want to forget.  I never want to take life for granted again.  I want to cherish each and every second I have.  I want to help people.  I want others like me to know they aren’t alone, and I hope they’ll come to me if they need it and not ever suffer in silence.  I’d like to show my students that adversity doesn’t mean you have to act out and be stuck because of your circumstances.  I’d like to motivate and inspire.  I want to help.  I want to be someone who my daughter is proud claim as mommy, even when she is a teenager and doesn’t like everything I have to say.  I hope the Lord will lead me to the people that I can help.  I think He has already started.
            I also don’t want to lose the strength and faith I have found in myself.  I never knew I had so much.  I still don’t think of myself as brave or inspirational or anything else that others have said I am.  I am just a twenty-seven-year-old wife and mother.  I’m just a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a granddaughter, a niece, and zillions of other roles.  However, I do know that each and every person who gets cancer (or has any other terrible thing happen to them) is one of these things as well.  And, so, I am so glad so many are willing to fight for a cure so that hopefully one day, people won’t have to go through all of this. 
            A final update for now—I will see my oncologist in six more weeks to go over plans for the future, get blood work, and, thankfully, get this darn port out.  I am fairly certain I will be put on a pill for the next five years, but we’ll talk more about that in June.  In July, I will meet with my surgeon, as it will be six months since they took the cancer out of my body.  If all goes well, I will also get tissue expanders put back in sometime in July.  I know I’ve already asked for so many, but please say some prayers that all of these things go well.  I really do not want any more awful surprises.  As I’ve said before, I feel and hope and pray that it is finally time to move forward.
            And so, thank you to all of those who have helped me reach this day.  I know that I can never fully repay you all for your kindnesses, but I can promise you I will do my damndest to pay it forward.  
            In one week, we will celebrate Mother’s Day.  By then, the effects of this round of chemo should have worn away.  I can’t think of a better present.   I know that I will spend that weekend with my family and I will give my little girl an extra hug…. or maybe a dozen extra hugs ;) 

My inspiration :D