10 years ago I was naive. I thought when you got pregnant, you had morning sickness once or twice. Had a gorgeous glow. Tons of energy to finish your semester at school or keep working till you popped. You birth a baby, hang out and be the mom for a few months, then got back on with life. You find sitters to finish school or work or you become a stay at home mom. You go to play groups. You hang out with all the ladies in the ward/area/family/ that have babies the same age. They grow up together and become friends, you become friends with the moms of these picture perfect moms because you spent HOURS at the sports complex with them, and your life lives out happily ever after.... and then those Babies grow up and they get married, have more babies and the cycle continues-
BUT- That didn't happen ... twice.
Though my pregnancy with Tyler was not text book by any means, ( OK at all!) it changed everything about my life and how my life would be. There were lingering thoughts that a baseball game or a lacrosse game, but there were also bigger possibilities of wheelchairs and life long limitations and disabilities. There was also a part of me that always thought there would be a miracle and that we would be skipped over and he would be just "Fine." We were all praying, fasting and doing a whole bunch of everything that you thought of that would make him "fine." But that didn't happen either.
The ride of this Mommy guilt was just beginning. 10 years later we are still riding. Not sure we are up right now or just on a coast, but we haven't gotten off the ride yet.
There is a few steps of this mommy guilt that as Special needs moms ( or chronically ill) go through. At first Tyler's life was a fairy tale. We tried to have everything upbeat and that he was doing great and wonderful. The few times it was hard and not ok. But no one wanted to not see a miracle. For every bad, there was this knife turning inside of me. The one that made me rethink everything. Did I do something, did I cause this? What could I have done differently?
When we would go into a new specialist or the NICU follow up and something would come up, no one would tell me, no he doesn't. So we just went and worked harder. I put everything I had into helping him reach milestones. EVERYTHING. I fought so hard those first few years. I felt so much guilt that I did this to my child. That I was going to figure out a way to work hard enough that I didn't feel guilty.
Every time that we would get to meeting a milestone I would do the micro analyzing of every single detail. We would count super fast so he was sitting up for longer periods of time. Or he was standing up or he was doing this or that. It was positive, positive, good ALL the TIME.
There was the guilt again. What did I do? How could I do it to my child? What could I have done?
Was everything rose? No. Not so much. Honest? We tried. I truly wanted the miracle. That instead of always getting the bad part of the .1% We would be that .1% that would be a miracle. We would beat the odds.
The further behind we got brought on the next part of the mommy guilty or what has now moved into the broken mom role.
I would avoid places and people who are pregnant, people who just want a "healthy baby" and people who were just unkind with their words in general. I couldn't handle it. The baby part was to much for me and I would literally leave any event. Even family events.
Now that the journey is well on its way, I now avoid specific "Types" of special needs moms. I can't handle the constant telling me that because our diagnosis isn't exactly what they have, that we can't be friends. Or that we can't agree to disagree and just put down the judging from every side ( even mine!)
A wise women once said, "Can we lay down the right to COMPARE and try and find something to share... SOMETHING anything" I took that as stop the mom shaming, stop the "you think your kid is sicker than my kid" shaming and just agree to disagree and who can help you find the resources for your child that you hadn't thought about. Maybe a Hydrocephalus mom has a resource for a CP kid or a Autism mom has some ideas for a out of control 3 year old. But you ( or the mom) can't put down the difference to just allow us to SHARE and hold on to SOMETHING that is the same. There is always something that we can use to empathize with each other.
We started to focus on what he did well and stop worrying about making him "mainstream" and "normal" and allowed him to be "extra ordinary" and the super hero kid he is in his own environment.
So what does this mean?
As a mom, and on the eve of Mother's Day weekend, we go into the weekend where we are thankful for our own mothers, but also celebrating with our own motherhood, I am celebrating my children. Both of them are miracles in their own right. Tyler, we fought to keep him here with us. And 5 years we fought to have Grayson. Nothing makes me more proud than to say they are mine. There are downs and there are ups. There are times we coast. The guilt doesn't go away and at this point it probably won't EVER go away, but the drive to be the best we can be, will always be there for all of them!