From hopeless to hopeful -- what I realized yesterday about my son's future

I had lunch with a friend yesterday. We talked about our careers and what we’re currently working on, our husbands, upcoming birthday parties and vacations, and our busy schedules — all pretty typical lunchtime topics for two women that are both mothers and writers.

I asked about her children. She asked about my six-year-old daughter, and about my almost-five-year-old son and how he was doing. I told her about his huge gains at home and in his Special Needs preschool this year, and about some of my serious concerns regarding his transition to the district’s typical Kindergarten next year.

“Do you think he will learn his letters and numbers? Do you think he will eventually learn to read or do you not even allow yourself to think about that at this point?” she asked with genuine care and concern.

I paused for a moment as I waited for the inevitable crush of emotions to hit me. I waited for the fear, and the nerves, and the sadness, and the knot in the pit of my stomach to all materialize instantaneously as they usually do.

But they didn’t.

Those are not the emotions I felt yesterday when she asked me those questions. And it honestly took me by surprise.

“Well,” I heard myself responding to her excitedly, “He can count his numbers up to thirteen now — and then he usually goes right to sixteen, skips around a bit and ends up at twenty-three — every time.” I chuckled. “And he can recognize the letters of his name – and write them, too!” I told her proudly.

IMG 2348 copy 300x225 From hopeless to hopeful what I realized yesterday about my sons future

I took a beat as I thought about the prospect of him reading. It was something I hadn’t considered, likely that I hadn’t allowed myself the luxury of considering, even as my daughter has recently been discovering the wonder between the covers of a book, a passion I share too.

Not all that long ago, allowing myself to hope he would walk felt like a risk – like I was just begging the world to break my heart. The same goes for talking – when he had only twelve words just before his third birthday, and his neurologist had to deliver the devastating news to us that she wasn’t sure he would ever speak beyond the vocabulary of a five-year-old due to a rare brain malformation.

I didn’t know if he would ever go to school.

I didn’t know if he would live with us for the rest of his life — or ours.

I didn’t know if he would one day be his sister’s responsibility — or her burden.

There are still so many things I don’t know about my son.

I looked across the table at my friend and told her the truth — that this was something else that I just didn’t know. But this time it was different.

“I don’t know if he will be able to read one day, but I think he will. I think he will be significantly delayed – maybe it won’t be until he’s ten or later – but I really think it will happen.” I told her.

And it was true. It is true.

I am allowing myself to believe it, that he will read one day.

And when he can, I hope he reads this.

I hope he will be able to grasp how truly far he has come, what he has overcome.

And if he can’t read this himself, I will read it to him.

And he will know.

You can follow Jamie on her blog, or on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Miscarriage: The one I lost was just as special

October 15th marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and I’d like to share my story.

You might think that a woman who has given birth six times probably hasn’t had experience with losing a child. Perhaps you think that losing a baby when you already have a tribe of healthy, thriving children makes the loss less profound. I won’t judge you if you feel that way because that is how I felt myself.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

infant loss awareness Miscarriage: The one I lost was just as specialImage source: Leilani Rogers, Photographer

At the time, I was the mother of four young boys, ages 5, 4, 2 and 7 months. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant so soon but things happen when you are breastfeeding, trying to practice natural family planning and your cycle is out of whack. I found myself pregnant and slightly ambivalent about it. Too soon, too soon, I kept thinking to myself. But I quickly settled into the rhythm of being pregnant and taking care of my other children, like I had done four times before. My heart was light at the thought that maybe I would finally get my baby girl.

During my twelfth week of pregnancy, as I was packing up my children for a visit with their grandmother, I paused to use the bathroom and what I saw shocked me. A show of pink. My heart was beating in my chest. I knew this was not normal. When I slowed down long enough to really listen to my body, I began to feel some back pain and light cramping. Oh no, I thought, I think I am having a miscarriage.

It was a surreal feeling. I was young and healthy and up to this point, felt much like super mama — no struggles with fertility, easy pregnancies and low risk deliveries and the ability to bounce back quickly after each birth. This just can’t be happening.

But the pink blood loss didn’t lessen so I did three things: I prayed with my husband, I drank some anti-miscarriage tinctures and tea and tried to rest. The resting was the hardest part. One can only rest so much when they are chasing after four active little boys.

That night, I wrestled with my thoughts. I remember feeling guilty because I felt that if a miscarriage was imminent, then maybe it would be okay for me. Heaven knows I have my hands full with all these boys. And this was awfully soon to get pregnant again. Then I would cry and feel like a horrible mother and plead forgiveness at my cold-heartedness and my ungratefulness. I went back and forth like this all night long.

The next morning, I felt better. I attempted to scrub my son’s bunk bed like a woman possessed. How on Earth did I allow this to get so filthy? I wondered to myself. Then I felt it. Like something popped inside of me. It was really the strangest feeling. I rushed to the bathroom and there was no way to stop the torrent of bright red blood that escaped me.

My baby is flowing out of me and I can’t do anything to stop it.

I chose to stay home and let nature take its course. It was painful, both physically and mentally. I was so sad, so deeply and profoundly sad. I was unprepared to feel such a huge sense of loss. What if I had lost my baby girl, who I waited so long for? Every time one of my boys would come into my room and ask me if I was okay and I saw their precious little faces, I would get so emotional. I felt this pain in my heart unlike anything I had ever felt before. The physical pain, combined with the guilt and the loss and the sadness.

I felt that way for days after. Even when I thought I had “gotten over it”. The strength and power of the emotions surprised me. They were so crippling and so raw, I would randomly break down and weep. I think my husband thought I was going crazy. Thankfully, I grew stronger and life carried on and I eventually gave birth to two more children — my daughters.

I’m thankful that this experience gave me a change of heart. I used to believe that having the rest of my children would lessen the impact of losing one. I was so wrong. If anything, the loss was greater, the sting was worse because I knew just how much my other children meant to me. The one I lost was just as special.

Please visit the Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Infant Loss Support group in our BabyCenter Community.

Like Pearmama on Facebook. Get social with Denise on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Read more from Denise at

Image source: Thinkstock

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My broken body; a reflection on miscarriage

My journey to motherhood didn’t happen on the timetable I naively assumed it would. In my cute little brain, I thought we’d try for a few months and then POOF! I’d be pregnant and ten months later, I’d be holding a baby in my arms.

Well, it started right. I got pregnant.

We were delighted, giddy, bursting with joy. At eight weeks, after an amazing appointment where we saw the heartbeat for the first time,  I couldn’t contain myself so I told my friends and my boss. Two days later, I started spotting. A few days after that I knew something was very, very wrong.

On July 3, 2006 I went to the doctor with a sense of dread weighing me down.

I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.

What? How is that possible? I saw it just a few days ago, I thought as the tears started.

I felt nothing and everything all at the same time. Questions ran rampant through my head. “Did I eat something I wasn’t supposed to?” “Did I forget to take my prenatal vitamins?” I was determined to figure out exactly what I’d done wrong.

But that wasn’t going to happen. I now belonged to a club that so many women are members of but don’t advertise.

I trudged on, grieving for the dream that wasn’t to be.

Then six months later, I found myself pregnant again. Elated, but nervous, I immediately went to the doctor to have to HCG numbers drawn. (The hCG hormone is what tells that you are pregnant. In an early, viable pregnancy, hCG usually doubles every 48-72 hours.) After my second draw, the numbers weren’t where they should be. My OB called it a chemical pregnancy and said that I should be prepared to start bleeding within the next week.

To say I was heartbroken would be an understatement.

What the hell is wrong with me?

As I woman, I felt completely broken. Women are made to have babies. My body was designed for this, yet I couldn’t seem to hang on to them.

I felt lost and empty.

And alone.

You see, everyone around me could empathize. My husband wanted a family just as much as I did, yet because each pregnancy was so short-lived, there wasn’t the same connection to the baby that I had. My mother, my sister, they each looked in on me. My friends were there to comfort and console me.

But I still felt alone. Everyone else’s lives went on, while I still grieved. Every month when my period started, the grief and pain started all over. I’d spend two weeks being hopeful and nervous, then nothing.

My two miscarriages turned into two years of unexplained infertility, two years of pain and heartache that occurred month after month.

As I passed the due date for my first baby the SECOND time, I felt nothing except completely and utterly defective. My body was failing me and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted so desperately to be pregnant, but I was so terrified it would end just like the first two.

Ultimately, I got pregnant and had a baby boy, then a few years later, a little girl. My angel babies are still with me; they live on in my heart. I think of them every February and August and wonder what might have been.

I’m not alone. According to the March of Dimes, more than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage (occurring during the first 20 weeks). Yet, it’s often kept hidden in the shadows, not talked about. Having been there, I assume it’s because of the feeling of inadequacy, like we are failing as women.

We aren’t broken. But I understand.

On this day of Remembrance, I wish peace to all of you who are grieving and struggling to deal with this unexplainable loss. My heart is with you.


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The hidden sugars in "healthy" snacks

Feeding your kids snacks can be tricky.

Sometimes they are picky eaters – they want certain colors or dislike particular textures. Sometimes they hate sitting in the car unless they have an ample and diverse selection of snacks (like my son – “no daddy I don’t want apple sauce, I want carrots, no I want soft pretzels“).

Foods that are portable and easy to eat in the car are very helpful when you are on the go. You would think I would be giving my son this:
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We are not. If I am being honest, I wish I could tell you that is because of the ingredients, but a close friend made us promise not to give him tubed yogurt because “it wasn’t dignified” (I guess you had to be there, I laugh every time I think about it). But the ingredients are not great either…

Gogurt contains:

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate Added To Maintain Freshness, Carrageenan, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Blue #1, Red #40, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.

Clearly they are adding quite a bit of additional sugar to these portable treats. Several parenting websites have called out Gogurt due to sugar content. Almost all of them suggest using greek yogurt with natural sweeteners as a substitute.

Here is a video on how to make your own portable yogurt snacks:
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FYI: here are the “silicon things” that she references in the videos.

Food geared towards kids tend to be higher in sugar. I don’t think this will come as a surprise anyone. Take a look at fruit snacks, classic peanut butter brands, and even oatmeal (the flavored kind) – they are loaded up with sugar to make the food more palatable to the target audience.

In an era of instant access and convenience, the only absolute way to know what your child is consuming is to study the labels and finding more natural alternatives or making the food yourself.

Photo: Micah Taylor, Flickr

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How many pregnancies will it take?

We want more than two children. I realize how selfish that sounds, given the thousands of families who battle infertility and are blessed to have even one child. I want more though. I’ve already gone through four pregnancies. We have two kids. My first pregnancy ended in shock at my 12 week appointment where no baby was to be found. My second and third pregnancies brought my two beautiful children. My fourth pregnancy, just months ago, ended in another shocked ultrasound appointment where no baby was to be found. And then came the hell of the weeks of bleeding, botched surgical procedure, and follow up surgery.

My body tricked me twice. It’s amazing how that can happen. A heartbeat is seen via ultrasound early on, and then by the time I go back to the doctor it’s gone. Disappeared. Melted away to nothing. The morning sickness is there. All the other symptoms are there. Yet my baby is not.

I spun my last miscarriage into a positive thing. I kept reiterating that we already have two beautiful kids and I wasn’t ready. Internally I suffered. I worry that we won’t be able to complete our family the way I imagined. I worry that my body will fail me again. That’s how it feels anyway. I worry that I’ll suffer through bout after bout of morning sickness with no more babies to show for it. I worry about how I will hide my first trimester from the world so I won’t have to share my sadness yet again if I have another loss.

Seeing those two beautiful lines on a pregnancy test isn’t magical for me anymore. Instead I worry about every moment until I pass the magical 11 week appointment. I imagine that the next time I get pregnant I won’t even want to go to the doctor for a few months. I won’t want to get my hopes up that everything is ok only to turn around and have it ripped away from me. Again.

If you’re going through infertility you are probably thinking I’m dramatic. And you probably want to slap me and say that I’m lucky that I can get pregnant in the first place, on my own, without assistance. I know how lucky we are. I know it. I see it in these beautiful faces.

I still feel sad, though, for those two losses about what could have been.

How many pregnancies will it take to complete our family?

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. If you need support from others who can understand, visit the Babycenter Miscarriage, Stillbirth & Infant Loss Support Group.

Sabrina, of RhodeyGirl Tests, had her first child in September 2011 with her husband Trig. At the time of this post her son was 3 years old and her daughter was 18 months old. You can read other related posts on her blog.

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