Motherhood

Mamas on Bedrest: My Evolving Role as Mama

May 4th, 2015

Hello Mamas,

Happy Mother’s Day!! I know that Mother’s Day is yet a week away, but I wanted to take a moment and wish each and every one of  you a wonderful day! For some of you, this will be your first Mother’s Day; It doesn’t matter if you are still gestating or holding your precious darling in your arms, you are a mama! For others, this is an annual notch marking your progress as mama. Congratulations to you all! Where ever you happen to be on your motherhood journey, do take a moment to reflect and give yourself a rousing round of applause. You have earned it!!!

I have been thinking a lot about my motherhood journey lately. Perhaps it’s because my daughter has been chanting her mantra, “13 in 2015”!! since the beginning of the year, indicating that as of this October, I’m going to have a full fledged teenager in the house. But that’s not the only thing that has me pondering. A few weeks ago, my son, my 9 year old, asked if he could ride in the front seat. My knee-jerk response was to say “no”. But when I took a look at him, I mean, a really good look at him, I changed my mind. As I said, my son is 9 and he weighs upwards of 85 lbs and stands about 4ft 8inches. (My daughter was just measured in school and she tells me that she is 4 ft 11 in. I’m 5 ft.) He is as tall as my mother who sits in the front seat every time she visits. While she spots him a few pounds, I looked up the guidelines and he meets them all! So now he rides in the front seat when I take him to school and it’s a complete mind bender that the darling little bald-headed baby that I hugged and cuddled for so long is now ‘riding shotgun.’

Everything is changing. My relationship to my children is changing and my role as their mama is changing. I find myself not so needed anymore and I have to admit that I am a teenie bit sad about this. The infant and toddler stages are so intense, you can’t take your eyes off of the little ones alone for a second! In the blink of an eye they are wandering into the street, putting kitty kibble in their mouths or reaching towards something hot. When they want something there is no negotiation. They wail their discontent and you do your best to soothe them. A kiss can make the world spin right and let’s face it, when they are in that phase of only wanting you-yeah, it’s a bit constricting but at the same time, how good does it feel when your child is screaming, you can walk into the room, pick them up and instantly they calm down and nestle into your arms in utter contentment? Call me crazy, but it was like having sort or magical power and I will go on the carpet right now and say – I LIKED IT!!

But I like this stage, too. I like being able to say, “Hey, go get ready for bed,” and they go into their rooms, shower, change into their pajamas and come out ready to turn in. I like that on Saturday mornings my daughter sleeps in later than anyone and my son can now get himself some breakfast. I like that they have chores around the house and I am not the only person doing all the maintenance and upkeep. I like that they are great at putting items on the shopping list when things are running out. I like that I can talk to them about things that may have happened and that we can often come to an agreeable solution (This is a work in progress but we are doing well!). They are becoming more independent, exerting their own personalities and I find it fascinating to watch them grow and begin constructing their own thoughts and opinions.

Until they use those thoughts and opinions against me. One thing that is both a blessing and a curse is that I have 2 very intelligent children and when the going gets rough, it’s gang up on mom time! I have to admit that they have come up with some very plausible arguments against things that I have said. I have apologized to my son and praised him for holding his firm to his opinion when he and I disagreed, and I have had to admit to my daughter that I was wrong when we had “mixed it up”. While both my children are very clear that I have the final say on things that happen in our household, I have tried my best to allow my children to have a voice and an opinion about things as much as possible. Sometimes I cannot allow their opinions; as the responsible adult, I have to make decisions that are in the best interest of safety and security for the three of us. But when possible, we have “family meetings” and as a family make decisions.

Motherhood at times is really hard. It’s hard to tell your children “no” when they want something, or want to do something “everyone else is doing” and yet you just don’t feel is right. It’s hard to stand firm in the face of rolling eyes and heavy sighs. And some of my toughest decisions regarding my children came as I was navigating the divorce from their father. Sometimes life seems as clear as mud, yet you have to keep going because there simply isn’t any other choice. So you review whatever information is available and make the best decision possible; sometimes with success and sometimes with colossal failure. And just as I tell my children, at those times of failure, I have to push myself to get up, dust off, learn from the mistake and move on.

My road to motherhood was so dicey with 2 miscarriages, a surgery to be able to carry my children, 2 high risk pregnancies, 2 cesarean sections and a preterm birth with a low birth weight infant. At the time everything was so intense, so critical. I now look back at that 5 year span and it is but a blip on the continuum that is my life. Motherhood itself is so much more, so much juicier! Having kids really is a gift of a lifetime and I am so grateful that I have been blessed to have been given this gift twice.

To all you mamas out there, whether you spend the day in bed with your family fawning all over you, or cuddling a new little love, or spending the day having some great family adventure (which may simply be successfully getting everyone clean and out of the house off to dinner!!) I want to wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days from me and mine to you and yours!

 

There is still time to contribute to the Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond March for Babies campaign. We are hoping to raise $1000 to raise awareness of preterm births and prematurity. The Austin Walk is Saturday, May 9, 2015. A donation as small as $5 will help. Donate now!

Don’t know what to give mama for Mother’s Day? If you are in Austin, give her the gift of care! We offer in home care for mamas on bedrest. Click here for details and mention this blog to get 3 hours of in home care for the price of 2!

Mamas on Bedrest: To Spank or not to Spank-Parenting Research Update

March 26th, 2014

Greetings Mamas!

In today’s video blog I review some current research on parenting. The first “How You Parent Is Partly Genetic, Study Suggests” was a data analysis done by S. Alexandra Burt and colleagues at Michigan State University. They analyzed 56 different studies which included some 20,000 families worldwide. Their findings suggest that while parenting is primarily an interplay between parents and their children, there is a 23-40% genetic influence on how parents parent as well as influences from how parents themselves were parented.

The second study was “Spanking Triggers Vicious Cycle, Study Finds”. In this study, Dr. Michael MacKenzie, an associate Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work and his colleague Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York cite findings from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a decade long research study looking at 1900 Familes from 1998 to 2000 . MacKenzie and Andesman found that spanking appears to precede the unruly behavior, stating that there was strong evidence that when a child is spanked within the first year of life, this starts the negative behavioral cycle and the more children are spanked, the more their behavior becomes unruly and rebellious as they get older.

What is your take on these studies? Were you spanked as a child? Do You spank your children? Is how you parent markedly different from how you were parented? Please share your comments in the comments section below!

Mamas on Bedrest: Heartbreak for 3 Mamas

January 16th, 2012

Ever begin reading something that so grosses you out yet you can’t put it down? That is how I felt reading, “Death On Ice” an article in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Men’s Journal.

According to this well written article by Jeff Tietz, in the Span of 16 weeks last year, the National Hockey League saw 3 of its players-Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard-die. Belek and Rypien took their own lives. At this time, it is unsure if Boogard took his own life but with a substance abuse problem and depression, odds are moving in this direction.

These were big guys, “enforcers”, guys paid to go out onto the ice and “beat down” players on the other team in defense of players on their own teams. They played little hockey. Their main task was to “defend” the honor of their teams. But the repeated blows to the head that each man endured likely contributed to his demise. The article describes how each of these men had likely suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) a brain disease often connected to massive blows to the head and is known to exacerbate if not cause depression, rage, addiction and memory loss.

The article described and showed photos of, often in more detail than I was used to stomaching, gruesome bare knuckled battles between these (off the ice) “gentle giants”, colleagues and friends . The last to lose his life, Derek Boogaard, was a mere 29 years old but holds the dubious distinction of delivering the most devastating blow in hockey history. In a battle with another enforcer from an opposing team, Boogaard delivered a punch of such force that it shattered opponent Todd Fedoruk’s face, shattering his eye orbits, his cheek, jaw and his nose. Plastic surgeons had to reconstruct Fedoruk’s face using titanium plates.

I’m no hockey fan. I’m neither a fan nor a subscriber of Men’s Journal. The subject matter made me physically ill as I read it and more than once I felt as though I would throw up. But in the midst of reading about the brutal battles and the sad endings of all of these young men, I couldn’t help but think aboout their mamas.

As I sat there, watching and waiting while the dentist applied sealants to my almost 6 year old son’s molars, I couldn’t help but wonder, did Mrs. Belak, Mrs. Rypien and Mrs. Boogaard ever imagine in their wildest dreams that their darling baby boys’ lives would end in such tragedy? The irony wasn’t lost on me. As I sat there waiting while my son’s dentist applied sealants to his 6 year molars, I swallowed hard when I read that one player had lost 7 teeth during his career in Hockey. When I considered all that I went through to conceive and carry my babies to term, I just can’t fathom them being involved in such brutatlity. Did Mrs. Belak, Mrs. Rypien and Mrs. Boogaard ever imagine?

Mrs. Belak, Mrs. Rypien and Mrs. Boogaard were mamas just like you and me. I don’t know if any of them had difficult pregnancies or were on bed rest, so I don’t know if they endured steroids, repeat ultrasounds and the fear that comes with knowing that you may lose a child that you desperately want. But I am willing to bet that they did all within their power to bring their baby boys into this world. I know that they loved them beyond measure. And I say without hesitation that they nurtured their boys to manhood. Perhaps they nursed them as babies. They changed their diapers, held their hands as they learned to walk, stroked their cheeks when they were sad or ill, kissed boo boos and soothed all the ills of childhood. They may have even been the ones to teach their sons to ice skate; on ponds and rinks in their hometowns, their young sons wobbly and weaving as they learned to balance. I am sure that they were as proud and thrilled as anyone when “their boys” made it into the National Hockey League. What mama doesn’t want her child to live his dreams? But I wonder if their joy turned to dismay and then sheer horror when they realized what their “baby boys” were being asked to do.

As I sat there, looking at my own little boy, my heart just broke for these women. I can’t imagine anyone hitting my son, and not with the force and intensity that these men endured! When I look at my son’s smooth, cherubic face with the scrawly adult teeth growing in and I know that I could kill anyone who even looks at him cross-eyed! I suppose this’ll change as he gets older, but I wonder if these mamas felt that way? And what of Todd Fedoruk’s mama? She must have been horrified when she saw her baby’s shattered, bloodied face.

The National Hockey League is reviewing it’s policies and procedures in light of these deaths . So far, there has been no ruling on the role of “enforcers” and the brain trauma these men endure (let alone the depression, substance abuse and behavioral disorders).  But one can’t ignore the fact that the repeated blows that these men’s bodies endure-the brain not withstanding-is brutal and had to have been contributory if not causal to all of their deaths. Boogaard’s family has donated his brain to Boston’s Center for the Study of  Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE). Perhaps Boogaard will contribute more in death to hockey than he was able to contribute as an actual player to the sport.

Somehow I doubt that will be much comfort to his mama or to Mrs. Belek or to Mrs. Rypien. From all of us here at Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, our hearts go out to you on the lost of your baby boys.

Additional information on the tragic life and death of Derek Boogaard came from Nick Coleman.