Family

The Longest of Nights

These are the early days. The nights when the baby fusses and you awake every half-hour, bleary-eyed and exhausted. When you’re no longer able to string cognizant sentences together and your nightshirt smells like spit-up and baby lotion.

You’re tired. Oh-so-tired.

If you could wish these nights away, you would. They’re exhausting and mind-numbing: this endless cycle of sleeping, eating and changing.

And yet, you find yourself inexplicably passing up moments of sleep to stop and marvel at this new child in your arms. You kiss the top of their downy head and soak in the syrupy smell of milk and baby. You watch them sleep with wonder.

The little one’s breath comes soft and quick after months spent immersed within. The squeaks and gurgles, murmurs and bubbles from within the bassinet make for a noisy roommate. But when they quiet, you peek your face over the edge of her bed. Your hand hovers over her chest, feeling the gentle rise and fall of new life. For now, life slows.

Yes, these weeks and months are draining. But through these longest of nights, we hear the never-ending whispers of a mother’s love.

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When Your Birthing Plan Falls Apart

“This is your son.”

The orderly rolled my bed into the hospital’s NICU and I groggily stared over at the tiny bird-like creature lying in an incubator. His three and a half pounds was composed solely of skin and bones. The ventilator was breathing for him, his tiny body dotted with tubes and wires–and I looked at him and wondered, “Are you really mine?”

I’d gone from pregnant to not pregnant in what felt like mere minutes, and I was struggling to wrap my head around the sudden change.

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Are We Doing Motherhood Wrong?

Sometimes I wonder if we’ve missed out on a key aspect of motherhood.

You know, the part where we’re supposed to do it together?

For far too long, the words “mommy” and “wars” have perched contentedly side by side. Try as we might to peel and split these two incongruous words apart, our fingers are left bloodied and scraped by the effort. And it seems as if social media has only accentuated these differences. Scrolling through newsfeeds, it doesn’t take long to find parenting articles and opinion pieces written by women who are “doing motherhood wrong.” (Or at least, that’s what the sludge of negative comments seem to indicate???)

We bash new moms for using disposable diapers, telling them that they’re going to kill the environment. And then we turn around and give visible eye rolls to the pregnant woman who tells us she’s going to try cloth diapers. “Good luck,” we whisper sarcastically behind her back.

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Comparing Miscarriage and Stillbirth

I was seven months pregnant when I lost my first child. The doctors hurriedly pulled him from my stomach but they found no heartbeat, no breath. He was declared stillborn.

My second pregnancy ended quickly. I barely made it to the eight week mark when the doctors confirmed what my body had already told me – it was over. They told me I had “experienced a miscarriage.”

When you look at their definitions on paper, a miscarriage and a stillbirth are essentially the same thing. Both involve the loss of a beautiful baby in utero. A miscarriage occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy, a stillbirth occurs after 20 weeks.* Both types of loss involve the pain of losing a child; and both leave a mother with empty arms and crushed dreams.

And yet, there’s no denying that these are two very different experiences.

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