Puilt *Parent Guilt

1909559_5032225223_5452_nListen… both moms and dads suffer from guilt all the time when it comes to their kids. Sometimes it is a neurosis that far exceeds what is to be considered normal, wreaking havoc with the psychology of the brain and the dynamics of the family. Sometimes, the impact of puilt is so strong that it begins to fray at the edges of the natural internal joy granted through childbirth.

Slowly but surely, parents are so deeply entrenched in their feelings of remorse and regret that they often live a double-life filled with external demonstration of contentment warring with an internal battle of sadness, self-hate and isolation.

But I am not hear to bear the grim news that puilt is incurable, untreatable and often invisible when experienced by individuals- I am her to tell you that ALL THIS- all of it- NO QUALIFICATIONS, JUSTIFICATIONS, EXCEPTIONS, DEGREES or INTENSITY of puilt IS NORMAL.

Did you hear me? Yes. Normal. Your love for your kids makes you want to shake the heavens and crush the earth to give them what they need. Your inherent need to protect them drives you insane with doubt and thoughts (mixed with vivid imaginings in my case) of the various ways your children will be harmed. Every time I hear a story of a child being hit by a car, diagnosed with a chronic illness or abducted- I see my child’s face. Despite the sheer madness of it all- this is normal. You were made to love them beyond reason.

This sums up the “beyond reason” portion.

IMG_0879I know we have all asked ourselves at one point or another these questions: “Do I do enough?” “Are they happy?” “Am I working too much?” “Are they angry because I get angry?” “Are they yelling because I yell?” “Should I have spent more time in the car talking with them than on the phone?” “Am I horrible because they ate McDonald’s three days this week?” “Are my parenting skills destructive?” “Am I too protective?” “Are they developing abnormally because of me?” “Should I have exercised more so they can be healthier?” “Am I horrible if I don’t have technology? “Why are they so selfish- am I spoiling them?” “Did I eat too much when I was pregnant with her?” “Does he have seizures because I can’t stay up all night to watch him breathe?”

Puilt makes it evidently clear that we are responsible for these little lives that God made for us and we are forever filled with it.

But as I was in the ambulance with my toddler and puilt is ransacking my every pore and penetrating my every cell, the paramedic looked at me and said “I was in your house and I saw the crosses, I know you are religious.” I nodded hesitantly while secretly praying that this will not initiate a discourse on the theoretical epistemology of spirituality. Then he proceeded to say to me “When my baby had seizures, I was terrified and I am a paramedic. I get it. This is tough but your son is not yours.” Pause. Really awkward though because this was either a classic Star Wars confession of “Sylvia, I am his father” or an immense recognition of guilt “I switched our kids at birth” type of thing.

It was neither.

He looked at me and said, confidently, poignantly and almost sadly “God loans us these beautiful tiny beings so we can love and adore them but ultimately they are not ours, they are His.”

What?!

Let that sink in. The gravity of what he is saying. It angered me but in some strange way, it also brought me comfort.

God gives us our children with the full knowledge and complete expectation that we will mess it up somewhere along the way. He knows our limitations and our strengths, cause’ ahem, He created us. So why do we take it upon ourselves to believe or live our lives as if we are in control? How can we honestly say we could change anything or everything if we don’t have an ounce of control over their health (from a chronic illness perspective)?

So what does this mean for us in regards to puilt?

I don’t know- maybe it means that we need to relax a bit and know that the Maker will take care of His creation. Maybe you should only feel puilt about what you can control? Maybe we should…wait for it…surrender our children to the will of God.

This means we try our best. We love and cuddle, treat and snuggle, feed and discipline, clean and pray for them but at the end of the day- we are just taking care of them for God. We are grooming them for Heaven. We are teaching them values and ethics that they can utilize to become the best versions of themselves possible.

We are trainers working with a most beautiful creation.

So how am I dealing with the seizures and the puilt and the anger and resentment? I am getting through it day by day. I don’t feel guilty about feeling puilt because I know that the One who made me knows me so I have nothing to feel ashamed about.

Whether you are a mom and dad, adoptive or foster parent, single parent or blended family- remember this- the One who made you knew you before He decided if you should, could, would have a child. Whether it is natural, adopted or fostered- love them like they are the Almighty’s and let Him take care of them.

Blessings,

Smartignani

Advertisements

Number Three!

TimbitSo our number three arrived last Thursday, November 5th and I couldn’t be more thrilled that HE IS OUT OF MY BODY. I am also thrilled that HE is a HE! We have two precious, beautiful girls and we really wanted a boy and so here we are.

This pregnancy, similar to my other two, was very high-risk. I am not sure why my body fights gestational activities but truthfully, I don’t think anything gorgeous comes easy. I am sure everyone experiences their pregnancies differently and I admire and envy mommies who can just go to the hospital and slip one of these babies out… me- not so much!

So I was being followed by Mount Sinai’s Special Pregnancy program for 6 or 7 different conditions including Blood Pressure and Gestational Diabetes. I was also very anxious and ended up on bed rest because of my sciatic pain which rendered me immobile. I wasn’t able to drive to work or to many places actually. Some days, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Apparently the fetus decided to grow behind my placenta (anterior placenta) and his head was right on my backbones!

Anyway, 9 months of pain and immeasurable misery at various stages and TA DA- Little Timothy was finally birthed. I was booked for a third C-section on the 13th but I started experiencing contractions on November 4th so they moved my surgery to the 5th. After being bumped 4 times because there were other cases more urgent than mine, I went in for the surgery that would surely lead me to meet the little angel who was rehearsing his circus  act inside my poor, tiny uterus.

We knew it was a boy and so we were anticipating his arrival in many ways. His sisters were also very involved and his eldest, 4-year-old, would often kiss my belly and tell the baby she loved him. So sweet- right??

A few observations before I continue on the third time around for women with C-Sections- it hurts. I was really anxious because I precisely knew the pain of recovery and everything that would happen. I sweated over the procedure every step of the way and anticipated the motions and process. What I did not anticipate was how difficult or intense the pain will be the third time they cut into the scars. Was it worth it- OF COURSE but would I do it again, I think not.

I was warned by the doctor that if I have another pregnancy, things may not be so easy. *Choking on sarcastic laughter* EASY? When did I ever have an easy pregnancy really?

My third child also terrified me. I had two other babies who were whisked away to the NICU for varying reasons (per my old posts) and I was shaking with the knowledge that this one surely will be taken away too…

My fears were realized soon after Timmy was born with fluid in his lungs. As sure as the sun rises, they whisked him off to the NICU in order to put on the ugly elephant-like machine called C-PAPP to help him regulate his breathing. Once again, I had to be wheeled into the recovery room alone as I watched all the other mommas coming out of their sections with their healthy, little, blanket-wrapped bundles of joy.

I was heart-stricken and heartbroken. I felt so inadequate and started blaming myself for my inability to create perfect babies like everyone else. Postpartum depression starts right then for me…

I was recovering in one of the postpartum rooms and at 3 am, I called the nurse, woke up the husband and had them wheel me to my precious little boy. Sure enough, he had more wires attached to him than a complex robotic machine. He was breathing erratically and poked on his little newborn feet. The IV was attached to his right foot and his left foot had cotton with band aids where they prick him to take blood samples. Even after two other births of babies in NICU, I still wasn’t prepared to see him like that.

I knew that this hospital had a very high level of care. I understood that they needed to intervene as soon as possible to resolve this. I heard them tell my that this is common and will go away. I listened intently and asked informed and educated questions because the same happened with his middle sister. I was wheeled back to my room and that night all I can think about was one thing… I still have not held him yet.

I kept hearing babies on the floor crying and saw daddies walking around to calm their newborns. I stole a glance at my sleeping husband next to me and started to question what he must be thinking. I was wondering if he was starting to feel like me… numb.

Day 2 was no different. Hearing varying stories from varying experts on his recovery time. He needed to be observed for at least another 24 hours but that afternoon, I was able to finally hold him and try to nurse him. I was so excited to feel him next to my skin and see his tiny cherub face with squinting eyes directed towards me. I had forgotten how fragile newborns are and at the moment, I found peace. He opened one eye and looked at me then trustingly sighed and nuzzled closer to my breast.

I was whole then. Complete.

Next day in the afternoon, our little Tim was released to our care in my room. I couldn’t put him down in his cot. I had him sleeping on me and feeding and I just held him tight and kissed him over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of his smell or his warmth.

It is day 7 now and I am still the same way. As I type this, he is sleeping soundly in his playpen. Angelic and peaceful. I can’t thank God enough for his blessed gift to us in the form of our son. The girls adore him. They kiss him and try to hold him. I observe their interaction with him and tears instantly appear in my eyes. I feel so blessed and so much love.

The story closes here… for now. Despite it all, I am so happy now. Exhausted and in pain but overjoyed at our little family unit. I wish all moms out there and those inspired to become moms all the best in their journey towards parenting.

We will surely be going through a similar experience soon since we already discussed the eventual adoption of more little ones to our family. I am doing some research now which I will report on in my blog if my readers wanted to adopt as well. I can learn and you can learn with me!

Ok, I have to go now and feed my little one. I will be writing an entire blog next time on the miseries of breastfeeding since this is my first time successfully nursing.

Until next time,

Smartignani

New Year`s Resolutions

happy-new-year-2014-hd-wallpapers-1 Every year coming to a close is a reminder that we were ‘gifted’ with a new beginning. Many people have lost loved ones in 2014 and struggled through pain and personal battles that we cannot see or understand. In the same year, many others have reached the pinnacle of their careers, met their soul mates, married, became pregnant or birthed a child. Many children found a home whether with a foster family or through adoption. As for me… there are many challenges- some health related and some familial while others are professional. Any way you look at it, a year is a LONG time for things to happen and much of what we anticipate and fear can happen at any moment. So my post today is about gratitude and resilience.

Ever wondered how a person can go on after being struck by a horrible accident or injury? Ever wondered how people can smile through personal storms and battles? I have and I realized that resiliency is an inherent capacity to withstand all the bad and anticipate all the good.

I am suddenly aware of all the things and poeple in my life that are mortal and transient. Parents ail, children grow, jobs change, money is gained and lost, climates shift, friends grow farther away or closer together, circumstances evolve and my story is being written each and every day I breathe. My faith in God and His love does not fade nor weakens because in all of this I believe that there is a higher purpose for our lives and how we choose to live them.

I want to leave an impact, a legacy when I cease to exist. I always tell my husband that I would like to be “remembered well” when I die. But how does that happen exactly?

Here, I have compiled 10 new resolutions I will endeavour to accomplish in 2015. No matter what happens, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

A-Prayer-For-You1) I will pray more, praise more, worship more. I will realize the frailty of life and how in a blink of an eye it can all cease to be. I will recognize my mere existence on earth and treat it as a journey. I will be grateful for every breath given to me and every morning I wake up- I will be revitalized. I will ensure that my constancy is in the knowledge that nothing else is constant. I will fill my heart and soul with gratitude to the point of bursting so that all can see how amazing it is to be alive.

imagesCAWJ7Y372) I will love unconditionally. This task is challenging due to its magnitude. This one resolution is one of my life’s missions. In order to truly love others you must forfeit your own self-worth and the perceptions you constructed based on your years lived here on earth. You must release all prejudice and choose to see people for who they are not what they are trying to be. To love unconditionally means to sacrifice criticism for encouragement and deliberately blind yourself from context and circumstance. Nothing matters and nothing should affect your love for others. I aspire to have love as my new drug to which I will become hopelessly addicted- no boundaries, no limits, no reservations. Period.

family3) I will see my husband and children again. I will yell less and smile more. I will make an effort to enjoy cleaning up the mess my three-year-old makes instead of chastising her for it. I will let my infant feed her hair and roll in the play-doh if that is her heart’s desire. I will listen more to my husband’s whispered words at night before bed and take a special interest in how he says what he feels not only what he is saying. I will see my husband and children for the blessings they are to me and I will share with them the wonders of God. I will love them unconditionally.

Chrysanthemum4) I will see nature. I will make more of an effort to count the stars and appreciate the sunshine. I will build snowmen and sand castles. I will listen for the waves and the rustle in the trees. I will smell the flowers and curiously observe the bees gathering honey. I will enjoy the sensation of being outside, in the outdoors and truly take in what our world is providing us. Beautiful blessings of nature. I will enjoy the silence more and ‘Be Still’.

1451377_10153467659090224_180124569_n5) I will be a good example to others. Integrity, honesty, positivity and respect- all traits that I truly admire in others. I will be a beacon to those who are not willing or able to uphold values. I will speak out when there is wrongdoing and I will be courageous to stand up to peers, friends and my superiors when these basic human ethics are not demonstrated. I will keep in mind that I am far from perfect and exchange judgement for encouragement. I will give more to those in need and stop my car to help the person on the road whose car has stalled. I will stop and ask a stranger who is crying if they need anything from me. I will assist others when they feel alone. All the time. No exceptions.

1463376_10153501465515224_1660866369_n6) I will see silver lining. Everyone struggles. Bad things happen to good people. You can’t avoid some sicknesses, accidents, tragedies or pains. How I choose to react to bad things is what matters. I will choose to be more positive and see the silver lining. I will work on my patience and endurance. I will attempt to see the big picture and appreciate that everything happening is part of a bigger plan that will make me stronger, more powerful and more resilient. I will selectively ‘like’ and read the updates and stories that inspire me on the various social media sites where we are constantly bombarded. I will stop over-analyzing, over-calculating and overthinking everything. I will just be in the moment and smile at what’s to come.

comparison_wise7) I will stop comparing myself to others. There is nothing more time-consuming and fruitless that spending time comparing yourself to others. There are a multitude of individuals who inhabit our planet and they are all at varying degrees of wealth, fitness, love, success and so on. Constant reminders on Facebook and Twitter of what we don’t have does not help in my pursuit of personal fulfillment. I will no longer envy or betray the blessings I have been given in exchange for petty concern and frivolous anger. I will be inspiring to others without boasting my blessings. I will congratulate more, empathize more and bless more. I will demote my base feelings of jealousy and elevate my humanity. I will appreciate by praise those who give of themselves, those who serve and those who are living their lives with humility and impact. Instead of wanting to be as wealthy or as successful as others, I will only seek to be the best I can be without comparison or compromise. (Thank you fellow wordpress blogger tom.basson for your article on this and the photo: http://tombasson.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/why-comparing-is-stupid-and-how-to-stop/)

laughing8) I will laugh. Not just the giggle or fake laugh that we demonstrate when our superiors say something funny… laughing as in my belly hurting. I will locate the people who I can share laughter with and just put that on the menu. I will play more board games that would make me laugh and I will read more auto-correct fails. I will find new ways each day to share a laugh with my children or husband because at the end of the journey, you remember the stories that end with “we laughed and laughed until our bellies ached…”

10645270_10154814270765224_4395918206427828164_n9) I will be present…in the present. Nothing is more frightful than the inability to recall memories. Memories only become so because you remember the present. People who are struck with amnesia are afraid and lost because they can’t remember who they are or who the people they loved are either. So being present in the present is a blessing and a gift. We cannot move forward into the future without knowing where we are right now. The past is the past and it’s a great lesson in history. Now is amazing because we can still re-write history. We can make a change effective immediately. We can give of ourselves now. I want to stop looking at the future because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. I want to live now, laugh now and love now. I will put away my phone at home and when my daughter says “Mommy, look, see?” – I will not reply with “Eh, hmmmm, ok dear, that’s great” – no, I will ask questions and be sincere and say “Wow… what is that? Can you explain it to me? Do you like it? Well done. You are so smart!”

1909559_5032225223_5452_n10) I will make time for quiet reflection. Life is busy. Incredibly, unforgivingly, incessantly busy. I have learned that peaceful moments where I can contemplate, reflect and reassess can afford me the ability to make sound decisions and impeccable choices. I can regret less because I have given matters clear thought before proceeding. I am the most impulsive person you would ever know… so this resolution will be very tough for me. I will need to implement it though if I have any hope of making the other 9 come true.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2015 bring you wholesome joy, endless blessings and a year of wondrous discovery and limitless hope.

Until Next Time,

Smartignani

%d bloggers like this: