For My Mom

For My Mom,

So many things are happening all at once in life. I wish I had more time to capture them all on paper. This year has been hard. The fragility of life continues to stare me in the face. It used to be my daily encounters with patients, but now it’s my own role as infertility patient and my mother’s role as breast cancer patient. As I fight to make a new life she fights to save the one that she has refined with fire over the past 69 years.

Frame Of Tulips On Turquoise Rustic Wooden Background. Spring Fl

There’s no one quite like my mom. None can really compare to the depth of her compassion for others, her genuine concern for their deepest needs, her self- sacrifice, and her willingness to give regardless of any cost or discomfort to herself. I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a woman more willing to give everything that she has to a stranger. When Christ said to the young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor…my mom makes that look easy. You may think I’m exaggerating, but then I recall the homeless woman that she picked up off of the street and then brought home to live with us for 6 months; the time that we took about 50 pounds of fried chicken to the homeless in Metro DC parks just because; the week we spent serving meals to families during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew; her hours spent pouring into children with severe learning disabilities, the years she has ministered to broken women who have lost their husbands, their freedom, and their self-worth. When asked to help, she doesn’t think of the most minimal way…nope…she’s all in. If you could fault someone for possibly giving too much it would be her. And, yet, how can you fault her? I’m sure that she has entertained angels because she is always ready to say yes to what God has for her.

Not many people have that kind of empathy that moves beyond emotion into action. Not just action for a season, but action for a lifetime. Is my mom perfect? No. Do I hold that against her? Absolutely not. She has been an example to me of how an imperfect human can make an amazing difference. She has taught me to love others more than myself. To care for their needs more than my own. She has shown me that getting ahead is not as important as making sure that others get their feet underneath them. Money is simply a tool to help others. The more you have the greater your responsibility to use it for good. She has been an advocate for the woman without a voice and for the child trapped in the chaos of learning disabilities. She has opened doors and broken windows that others wouldn’t dare to even turn the handle on. Her boldness is courageous…and she makes it look easy. She asks for nothing in return except for prayers answered.Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

Yes, she’s the woman who prays for the clerk at the grocery counter…every time…For the woman sitting next to her in the waiting room, for the nurse administering her chemo, for the doctor who may be having a rough day. And, people actually want to pray with her. She is sincere. She wants to know their struggles. She wants to take them to God. She knows that only he can fix them.

Strangers are her friends within moments. And, she truly cares about their spiritual well being. Above all else she loves Jesus and has made it her mission in life to make sure that I love him too. I’m sure that she made far more sacrifices for me than I will ever know. And, while I selfishly complain that I don’t get to see her enough at Christmas time each year because she is off empowering widows young and old in Nigeria each holiday season, in my heart I’m astounded by her resolve to make their lives better. Because of her I’m inspired to heed to the compassion and empathy that stirs in my own soul.

The thing about her giving spirit is that it never runs dry. The more she gives out the more she is filled up. Her prayers are answered. She circles them. She marches around buildings until the walls fall down or until new walls are built. She is Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Martha all at once…and she is my mom. How blessed I have been and still am to know her and to be loved by her. She is the first person that I call for prayer. Again, while she has faults and imperfections that drive me crazy at times, these fall to the wayside in light of her strengths. I have never met another woman like my mother. She is loud. She is bright. She is the love of Jesus to others. And, she is unashamed.

She would be embarrassed if I said that her faith in God was, “impressive.” Her faith in God is faithful. And, while she triumphs now through rounds of chemo to quell and aggressive stage 4 breast cancer, she would point to God saying that he is her miraculous healer even if that healing happens after this life.

Selfishly, I don’t want to lose her from this life. I want to continue to see God use her in amazing ways. I want to continue to be inspired by the legacy she is creating-a legacy that moves thousands to their knees in prayer. I’m sure God can’t wait to have her in heaven, but my prayer is that he will wait a whole lot longer.

To My Precious and Irreplaceable Mom

(Boldly written because she wouldn’t have it any other way.)

Love,

The Daughter in Me

When breastfeeding doesn’t go your way…

Seeing other moms discretely breastfeed their babies while sipping lattes, answering text messages, and having in-depth conversations with their friends left me wondering what I was doing wrong. Why couldn’t I make breast-feeding look this easy? I wanted to sit at Starbucks perfectly covered by a pretty, Petunia Pickle Bottom nursing cover! Instead, I was still working on getting my baby to latch correctly without biting off my boob in the process. Would it ever get easier?SCARSDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 15, 2013: A tall Starbucks coffee in f

I know that you are all expecting me to say, “Yes, my daughter became a model breastfeeder! I was sipping my own lattes at Starbucks in no time.” But, the reality of the situation was that breastfeeding was always a challenge for me. My daughter eventually figured out how to latch correctly, but then she decided to start biting me! YES, BITING! After we had a pretty heated chat about how naughty it was to bite mommy, she then decided that home was the only place she liked to nurse. Each month it seemed like a new breastfeeding challenge arose. Each month, we muddled our way through.Mother breast feeding her baby with closed eyes

I was determined to breastfeed for at least a year. And, although I loved the bonding that breastfeeding brought, I couldn’t help counting down the days until her first birthday. Because she was a preemie, I still had to pump in order to give her fortified bottles with breast milk. The extra step of pumping several times a day in addition to nursing left me feeling akin to a dairy cow. I was exhausted, moody, and sometimes downright irritable.Cute Baby At Hands Of The Mother In An Embrace, Monochrome

Would I do it all over again? Absolutely! Reminiscing about my love-hate relationship with breastfeeding reminds me that most things worth doing are challenging. Although breastfeeding doesn’t always get easier for some of us, neither does motherhood! Poopy diapers, skinned knees, toddler melt-downs, teenage rebellion…as moms, we are in it for the tough stuff. Although I love the beautiful moments that motherhood brings such as cuddle time, kisses on my nose, and a little hand to hold; I’m also grateful for the challenges. These remind me of what I’m made of…or at least what I’m becoming…someone a little less selfish, a little more genuine, and a lot more determined to be the best at my biggest title…MOMMY!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

How To BURN Your Dinner: for all of the moms sharing my non-pinterest worthy day!

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The Culprits Up To No Good!

Motherhood is about trying, failing, and trying again. Although we all like to think of ourselves as super moms, truth is…most of our days aren’t even close to Pinterest perfection. We post our best mommy moments on Facebook, but really? Is that reality? Being a mom is hard, tiring, dirty, and sometimes downright ugly. I usually don’t post the poopy blow-out that ends up on my face, the Target mid-aisle meltdown, or the close call in the parking lot. But, today, I decided to affirm all of the moms out there by acknowledging that none of us are perfect, myself included!

How To Burn Your Dinner…

Necessary Ingredients:

1 long day

1 poopy diaper

1 mischievous toddler

1 naughty dog

1 distracted mama

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My Thrifty Find!

It all started with a silly package of sliced french bread! Since I had just posted my recipe on crostinis I decided to whip some up myself. As I was speeding past the freezer section in the grocery store with my whining toddler (yes, I broke down and bought ice cream) my eyes landed on a bag of sliced french bread with a manager’s special sticker!  25 cents! What can you buy for 25 cents these days??? Proud of my thrifty find, I tossed it in the cart and raced toward the finish line! As we approached the check out counter I remembered that I had forgotten to grab green peppers for the pizza. Back I hauled my oversized cart with the kiddy car to the opposite side of the store. I grabbed the pepper and once again headed toward the check out counter. Thankfully, the check out guy was kind enough to offer my now adamantly “DONE SHOPPING” daughter some stickers to get us through the line. I actually remembered my coupon (which never happens), and I assured Ayla that we would be home eating dinner in no time. I peeked into her red car to check on her and noticed that her favorite (okay, my favorite) hair band had fallen off of her head. Then to my frustration I realized that it hadn’t fallen off, Ayla had taken it off and intentionally launched it from the car somewhere in the store. With my cart full of bagged groceries, we began going aisle by aisle through the grocery store, with me muttering to her the whole time in as calm of a voice as I could muster, “Ayla, if you hadn’t thrown your bow we could be home by now. Why did you do that?Mommy has no clue where it might be. This is incredibly frustrating. etc. etc. etc.”

I’m sure you have all tried to maneuver the grocery carts with the cars. It’s like driving a semi on an Italian side street! I’m pretty sure that I missed everyone’s toes (if not…sorry) as I plowed ahead on my mission. Not in the produce department, not at lost and found, not in the cheese department. Frozen food was free of all accessories. Score! Cracker aisle! Hair bow found and mommy happy! I’m embarrassed (and so is Ayla) to say that I danced a jig in aisle 7.

Getting through the parking lot was a little crazy! How is it possible for every car to have their reverse lights on at the exact same time? It was like a scary version of dodge ball. We made it to the car in one piece, but as the groceries came out of the cart, Ayla was reminded of how hungry her tummy had become. Being a really bad mom, I handed her a bag of veggie straws. Not really the best option right before dinner. But, she was happy. I always take my cart back to the carousel, but today I wanted to get in the car and get home. Yes, that’s right! I’m the mom who left the cart in the middle of the only available parking spot!

photophoto 3We made it home with only a few minutes of crying. An hour behind schedule wasn’t too bad, right? I pulled out my french bread, turned on the broiler, and shoved them in the oven. In the meantime I went on to whip up a semi-homeade pasta sauce and some tortellini. My hungry munchkin wasn’t having it. Since dinner wouldn’t be ready for sometime, I pulled out carrots, a squeeze veggie pack, and some chicken for Ayla. Presto, dinner was served. After I was done washing her up, I started my pasta sauce. Things were under control until I heard the distinct splash of water. Yes, Ayla had dumped the dog’s water dish all over the hardwood floors. By the time I got to the dish, I noticed that Ayla now had two hands full of dog food and a piece of dog food stuck between her front teeth. I couldn’t help but screech!

photo 2My rotisserie chicken was sitting just a little too close to the counter edge, and while I was cleaning up his spilled water bowl, my dog decided to join in on the action. Let’s just say that he loves rotisserie chicken! He is such a lover that he doesn’t even leave any evidence…down go bones and all! It’s like a chicken rapture! With my chicken missing and my sauce now starting to overheat, I turned to find Ayla pulling at her pants. She waved her hand in front of her face to indicate that something was stinky, and I knew that she was trying to tell me that she was poopy. Why she thought she needed to take her pants and diaper off…I’m not sure. Thankfully, I was able to prevent a major poop catastrophe in the kitchen. I raced her upstairs, changed her diaper and congratulated myself on keeping my cool.

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photoAs we came to the top of the stairs I noticed the distinct smell of burning food. Burning? What could be burning? My FRENCH BAGUETTE! I had entirely forgotten about my crostinis! They were a little more than overdone. Ah, well, at least I had only used half of them. Back in the oven went a fresh set of bread slices. I set the timer this time! I searched the fridge for my fig preserves. I knew that they were in there somewhere! I couldn’t make goat cheese and fig crostinis without the figs! Recipe revision…goat cheese and mixed berry preserve crostinis tonight. With my appetizer under control, I pulled out a back up chicken from the fridge, finished dinner, and thanked heaven that daddy would be home soon!

All in all…this was a pretty good day even if it wasn’t Pinterest worthy. A few bumps on the road here and there, but what mom doesn’t have those? While none of us need a tutorial on how to burn dinner (I assume it comes pretty naturally to most moms), all of us need a reminder that although our daily lives may not be picture perfect, we are still pretty awesome moms. We love our kids and what could be more pinnable than that!

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From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

Our Preemie Journey: Day 1 of Motherhood

When I awoke, I almost forgot that I was a mother. The discomfort from my c-section and the breast pump forced my mind to acknowledge that I had a baby, but I hadn’t seen her. I hadn’t held her. I hadn’t even named her yet. I knew she existed, but she felt like a distant memory. The magnesium continued to cloud my mind. I was sick. Oh, so sick. I knew that I cared about a little being, but it was hard to think about more than my own failing body. I was flooded by feelings of guilt. Did I truly care about myself more than my baby? Was I really that selfish?

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My precious preemie daughter!

The thought brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t selfish. I loved my baby more than the knot in my throat would allow me to voice. Preeclampsia was to blame. Preeclampsia was the guilty one. Still, I couldn’t shake the guilt. I wanted to hold my baby for the first time. I needed to hold her, but I couldn’t. Even if I would have been able to move out of bed, I wasn’t allowed to leave the obstetrics floor with my dangerously high blood pressure and my magnesium IV still running. A picture of my fragile, tiny baby was my only glimpse into her world. She terrified me. She was so small. Too small. Scary small. I couldn’t look at her picture without bursting into tears.

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My baby in her incubator under bilirubin lights with feeding tube and supplemental oxygen.

A baby that small needed her mother. She needed to know my love and my presence. She had been a part of me for 32 weeks, and I had been her EVERYTHING! Now she was being cared for by people that she had never met. I envied them. I envied my husband who was able to spend hours cherishing our baby on his chest, skin to skin. The two floors that separated my hospital bed from her incubator might as well have been a continent. My heart longed for her. I was now a mother, but I felt childless, empty, hollow. How could day one of motherhood feel this tragic? I wanted my daughter back. I wanted to give her eight more weeks to grow and develop inside of me. I wanted to rewind and then fast forward to a perfect, full-term delivery! I wanted a day one of motherhood “do over.” I knew I couldn’t get my “do over”, so instead I decided to fight toward my next best option…Day 2 of motherhood with my preemie. Maybe tomorrow I would finally be able to hold my baby.

From The Mom in Me, MD