Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Eve!  Despite the difficult times we've had over the past week, I've done my very best to stay in the holiday spirit... I refuse to let the darkness get in the way of the magical-ness of Christmas!  Which is easier to do when you have a wild little girl running around.  This is our very first year staying "home" for the holidays, rather than traveling "home."  While it'll definitely feel weird waking up on Christmas morning in OUR house, not sitting at the top of the stairs with all my brothers and sisters, waiting on our parents to snap our yearly photo -- I have to say it's pretty nice NOT having to travel over the holidays.  It's a lot less stressful and forces us to focus on our little family of three.

Because we're home this year, we've officially started some of our own family traditions.  Now next year will probably be even more special, as Cameron Kate becomes more and more aware of the magic of Christmastime; however, I do think she recognizes when there's something special and out of the ordinary going on in the Peele household.

So, we began our traditions a few weeks ago with a trip to Boone, journeying up the mountain to pick out and cut down a Christmas tree for the very first time!  It was a much better experience than the ol' Home Depot parking lot.  Cameron, of course, loving every bit of the outdoors, had a blast!

We finished our Boone trip with a HUGE meal at the Daniel Boone Inn (I may or may not have had to unbutton my jeans for the drive home).  Once we got our tree up, we cranked up the Christmas music and got our house in the holiday spirit!

Another tradition I was SO excited to start with CK was the good ol' Elf on the Shelf.  Obviously she's a little young for all the shenanigans, so I wasn't very elaborate this year.  But she definitely fell in love with "Eliza" and had to carry her around and play with her everyday.

Another tradition we will always continue (even though this year I knew it'd be a disaster) was getting Cameron's picture taken with Santa.  So she got all gussied up in her Goat and Lulu dress...

And was even in awe of Santa from afar...

 But, as I suspected, putting her on his lap didn't go so well!

There's something about the obligatory screaming-toddler-on-Santa's-lap picture.  You just HAVE to have it.  Here's the official shot:

And just for comparison's sake, here's what we were working with last year:

And just because these pictures are hilarious... a little side-by-side (I guess she's always been a little wary of ol' Saint Nick!):

Our traditions are JUST beginning as we start putting our own spin on the holiday season.  There is SO much I want to do as CK gets older and understands what Christmas is all about.  But for now, I'm relishing in the little things I can do with her to make each moment count.  Like this morning, we started our day with a full-on Christmas Eve dance party.  I was panting, and sweating, and Cameron Kate was giggling those deep-belly laughs that make my heart want to explode.  It was perfection.  It made every tear from last week fade away for a little while, and reminded me of the many, many blessings I have to be thankful for this year.

Later today, we'll decorate cookies for Santa, which is sure to be the best kind of messy, delicious disaster.  Tomorrow morning I cannot wait to wake up at home, listen to my favorite toddler babbling in her room, unaware of the magic that has taken over our living room.  I will capture the expression on her face when she sees all of the excitement of tomorrow morning, and I will never let that memory escape from my mind.

But first, tonight we'll head to a candlelight Christmas Eve service, where I'll be sure to thank God not only for His son, but also for His plan for us.  Even though it can sometimes be confusing, I know His timing has purpose and is perfect...

Merry Christmas from the Peeles!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I am a Miscarriage Survivor

One of the main reasons I write is because it is incredibly therapeutic for me.  And as I wrote this, I was unsure of what I would do with it – keep it in a private just-for-me file, share with family, post to the blog?  And if I posted it to my blog, when?  Tomorrow, next week, next month when the pain was a little more dull?  Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and put it out there.  Because for me, this process has been about dealing with it all head on.  Grieving, praying, trying to understand – and putting one foot in front of another.  But I will warn you that it may include too many hard-to-read details.  But this is for me.  So, here goes nothing…


I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend…

And I am a miscarriage survivor.

I had hoped to escape my lifetime without ever having to say those words.  And even typing them out still feels so surreal, so raw. 

But, these are the colors I’ve been given.  And we can only paint our lives with the palette God provides.

This Thanksgiving, T and I found out we were expecting number two.  We were shocked at how quickly it had happened for us this time, but absolutely thrilled at the prospect of having another little one, especially one so close in age to our sweet Cameron Kate.  She was going to be a big sister!

We immediately told family and a few very close friends, thanked God for our new blessing, and included the nugget in our nightly prayers with CK.

The pregnancy was immediately completely different than it had been the first time around – while it made me nervous that I wasn’t being debilitated by nausea, everyone assured me that every pregnancy is different.

Around 6 weeks I started having some concerning symptoms, so they brought me in for an early ultrasound.  Though the gestational sac was there, the fetal pole was not… which led to them rescheduling another ultrasound in 48 hours to check for progress.

It was a long two days.

But, two days later, the ultrasound showed our tiny nugget of a baby with a tiny heart flickering away.  We even got to hear it!  We were thrilled, and relieved.  They decided to keep my 8-week ultrasound scheduled, just to check on progress.

I tried to maintain a positive attitude that all was well in there with our new growing family member, but truth be told, I couldn’t get that nagging something-is-off feeling out of the back of my head.  But I’m such a worry-filled mama, I couldn’t decide if that nagging feeling was just me worrying, or my mother’s intuition letting me know that something was wrong.

Unfortunately, it was my intuition, and it was right.

Before I knew it, I was at the 8-week mark and we were back in doctor’s office.  As soon as she started the ultrasound, I could tell something was wrong, as I could barely see the flicker of the heart that I knew at this point should have been strong and obvious.  When she measured the size of our nugget, it was only 7 weeks.  She didn’t have to say it.  I already knew.

We were losing the baby.

There were lots of tears and lots of quiet moments, T and me squeezing each other’s hands as we waited for the doctor.  He came in and confirmed the news with another scan.  He did a lot of talking that I only vaguely remember, because all I could hear was my heart breaking into a million tiny pieces.  All of my dreams came tumbling down, dreams for my tiny nugget of a baby and his/her big sister, being so close in age, growing up as best buddies, how fun the summer would have been… 

The doctor said things like, “Miscarriage happens in 20% of pregnancies,” and “It’s nothing you did,” and “There’s always still hope, I’ve see stranger things…” – At which point I asked him to please not give me false hope.  It was very obvious what was going on, and I didn’t want false hope.

Unfortunately, my body had not started the miscarriage process on its own.  Also unfortunately, since the baby’s heart was still beating, there was nothing we could do, but wait.  They decided to bring me back in on Thursday for another scan, and if it showed that the baby’s heart had stopped completely, they would proceed with a D&C.

They led us out of a side door, straight to the parking lot so we didn’t have to walk through the waiting room and pass other couples who had the same anxious/excited gleam in their eyes we’d had only an hour earlier.

As soon as we walked out of the doors, we embraced each other.  Apologized to each other.  Squeezed each other tight, both so incredibly sad, so empty.

I’m sure that any woman who has experienced this can tell you that it takes you to a dark place, a place where you blame yourself, wonder what you did wrong, what you could’ve done differently to save the life that was growing inside of you.  Because a doctor can tell you repeatedly that it was totally out of your control – except that when you’ve been carrying the baby around, and all of a sudden it loses its life, who else is there to blame?  And I know deep in my heart that the truth is that it WAS totally out of my control.  But it still feels like I’ve failed as a mother.  Like my body failed us… me and my little nugget.  And to my nugget, and my husband, and my daughter who would’ve been such a wonderful big sister this summer – my fault or not, I am so, so sorry.

The days passed with lots of tears, lots of conversations, lots of heartache, lots of prayers and well wishes from our friends and family members who knew about the tough road we were traveling on.  And those days were horrible for me.  Knowing what was inevitably going on inside of me… Trying to put on a brave face, go to work, put one foot in front of another.  Trying not to hold on to any false hope, even praying that Thursday’s ultrasound would be conclusive so that we could finish grieving and move forward.

And the ultrasound was conclusive.  We’d officially lost our baby.

There were obviously more tears, but also moments of thanking God for letting us experience finality, rather than having to continue to wait.

We had a long talk with my incredible doctor – the same doctor who came in on his day off to deliver Cameron.  He put me at ease as much as he could in the situation I was in, and got us into the hospital right away for a D&E, which is a little more invasive than a D&C.

Without going into the details and dramatics of the rest of that day, the worst part of it all was the anticipation.  But I was incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the love and strength of my amazing husband, a man who never showed a chink in his armor, a man who never let me see him worried.  A man who made it all about me, when it was really all about us.

My older sister also jumped in the car and immediately came to be by my side.  As soon as she walked up to my hospital bed, I lost it.  There’s just something about having someone by your side who’s connected to the depths of your soul.

The best part of the whole day was when I got home, and my little girl walked in the door.

They say the best medicine is laughter.  And I agree, except that I’d add the best medicine is the laughter of a child.  My sweet, wild, full-of-life Cameron Kate has allowed me to grieve in only short spurts, because she’s a toddler who demands attention and wants to be thrown around upside down so she can giggle ferociously.

However, my mind is still full of what-ifs.  What if I’d done something differently?  What if this happens again?  What if it keeps happening, and we aren’t ever able to give Cameron a sibling?  And other questions, like how am I EVER going to keep calm during a pregnancy again?  When is the right time for us to even try to get pregnant again?

Even moreso, WHY did this happen?

But, it’s not up to me to know the answers to these questions right now, or why this baby wasn’t meant to come home with us.  It’s up to me to grab a paintbrush, and today’s palette of colors, and keep painting.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Don't Know What the Title of This Should Be.

This is the first time in as long as I can remember that I’ve sat down to write with no real plan or theme or idea of where this is going to end up. 

Truth is, I’ve been too busy living and enjoying life, which has resulted in me neglecting to post on here for my two or so avid readers.

Another truth is, I’ve been pushed headfirst into a deep pool of reflection and realization.  This push has resulted from hearing about my sister’s dear friend fighting for her life and, of course, the recent tragedy in a Connecticut elementary school.

My mind has been a mess lately – a mess of why’s, and how come’s, trying to understand why things play out like they do sometimes.  Struggling to wrap my brain around the fact that lives are ending, way too quickly, for innocent people – children.  And then these thoughts spiral me into a mom who wants to wrap her child in a bubble to protect her from all evil… a mom who cannot stop imagining, “what if it would have been her?”  A mom who has taken many deep breaths amidst many moments of deep reflection, realizing how much I take life and my innumerable blessings for granted, wondering how I got so lucky to live this life, but also realizing tomorrow is never guaranteed.

And then I wrestle with guilt, guilt that a friend fighting for her life and an elementary school shooting have caused me to take a step back and squeeze every ounce of joy out of each day.  I mean, why wasn’t I doing that before?  Why did it take such horrendous events to get me to this point?

After talking to many, many people, friends, and family members, it seems as though we’re all in this place of reflection, realization… We’re all counting our blessings, and not sweating the small stuff, because we get to hug our babies at the end of the day.  And I’m just hoping we never leave this place – this place of wow, what did I do to deserve all of this joy.  Because that’s how it usually works, ya know?  Something terrible or scary happens and we all squeeze our loved ones tight and swear we’re not going to take them for granted and then slowly, slowly, slowly… we’re back to losing our patience with our children, stressing over the small stuff, nagging our husbands for throwing their dirty socks on the floor (ya know, when the hamper is two feet away?).

And it’s still okay – to have rough days, to be annoyed when you wait an hour in line for pictures with Santa and their camera breaks (true story), to be frustrated when “the small stuff” happens.  But then we’ve got to let it go.  Be frustrated, be upset, have your moment… and move on.  Because honestly, does it really matter if the socks are on the floor?  Or the dishes go undone for another day?  Or you have to come back to see Santa when the camera is fixed?

There are people today who’d do anything to have an extra load of laundry and undone dishes if it meant they even HAD a child to take to see Santa twice because the camera broke.

I’m not trying to be all preachy.  But I will say that I am a changed person.  I’m not proud of the fact that it took tragedy to cause me to look at life differently… but I am hoping like hell that I’ll be strong enough and wise enough to keep this perspective for the rest of my days here.

To my sister’s friend, Amy, keep fighting and find comfort in all of our prayers for you.

God Bless all of the families impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  May you somehow find peace during this tragic time, knowing that an entire nation is mourning with you and praying for you.  And may the children and adults who fought for their innocent lives rest in peace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

God is Laughing at Me

I recently had a fairly lengthy discussion with my little sister about her wedding date/location.  We were talking about the possibility of it being too cold, weighing that risk against the fact that she wants it to be during a particular time of year.

She, like me, is a worrier.

After a long discussion of what-ifs, I tried to impart some older-sister-words-of-wisdom…

“Whit, truth is, you can worry, and stress, and drive yourself crazy wondering what the weather is going to be like on that day.  Truth is, though, you have no control over it.  So it’s really not worth stressing about.”

We both know she’s still going to stress about it – hell, I would, too (and did… my wedding was also outdoors and I worried constantly about the possibility of rain).  But I hope my words can provide at least some solace throughout the next eleven months.

Anyway, you know sometimes, when you’re giving someone advice, and you realize that if you’d only take your OWN advice, your life would be a heck of a lot better?

Anyone who reads this blog knows by now that I am a type-A, over-analyzing, worry-filled control freak.  I stress about everything.  And then I stress about my stress.  And don’t get me wrong – I truly believe sometimes stress can be healthy.  But not the kind of undue stress I bring upon myself.

Especially about the things over which I have NO control.

And there are quite a few of those things going on in my world right now.

Have you ever wanted to fast-forward time, or maybe just take a glimpse into the future, just to know the outcome of something?  Just to know if it was worth worrying about?

That’s where I am right now with a few things – things for me, things for my family, things for my friends.  But in all honesty, as I sit here and think about those things, I realize that I have little to no control over how they end up.  So I guess this is where I turn to myself and offer the same advice I gave Whit…

“Hey, Jess… truth is, you have NO control over these things.  And you can worry, and stress, but you’re only going to drive yourself crazy.  And it’s really not worth it, because worrying about it isn’t going to change how it all ends up.”

Someone once told me that God laughs hysterically when I try to control the universe.

Well, then he must find me to be hilarious.

P.S.  Whit – rain or shine, cold or hot – your wedding day is going to be absolutely perfect because it’s you and your soul mate. Xo.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful Thirty

 In light of my very, very, VERY favorite holiday this Thursday, I’d like to list just some of the many, many, MANY things I am thankful for.  Since there are thirty days in this month, I’ll go with thirty.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

I’m thankful for…

1. My husband, my best friend, my partner-in-crime, my better half, the love of my life.  Like any couple, we have our ups and downs – it’s not always rainbows and sunshine.  But we’re the strongest couple I know, and we both believe we can get through anything, as long as we’re together.  I’m so lucky I get to go on this adventure with him.

2.  My daughter.  My Cameron Kate.  The most beautiful, fun-loving, happy, wild little spirit.  The one who made me a mama.  The reason I NOW know what it feels like to love with every ounce of my being.  Someone who has taught me how to be selfless and patient, to understand that I am not in control of the universe, to learn how to appreciate the little things.  The absolute light of my life.

3.  My parents.  Two people who have helped to shape the woman, wife, mother I am today.  Two people who love me in spite of my faults, who are there for me whenever I need them, who let me be – me.

4.  My in-laws.  I have two sets of in-laws who I truly feel as though love me like an actual daughter.  Who would drop what they were doing and be here for us at any hour, on any day.

5.  My siblings.  My brother, sisters, step-brother, and step-sister – we’re one big, crazy, happy, chaotic family, and I love every minute of it.

6.  My siblings-in-law.  Both my siblings’ better halves and my husband’s family members.  People who I feel like I’ve known my whole life.

7.  Good health.  It takes about an hour of sitting in a surgical waiting room – and a pediatric surgical waiting room at that – to make you realize just how much you take your and your family’s health for granted.

8.  My niece and nephews.  Becoming an aunt a little over three years ago changed my life.  I absolutely adore being Aunt Jess!

9.  My job.  I complain about it often, but mostly because I want to spend my time as a mama.  However, in today’s economy, I am grateful to have a stable job I (for the most part) enjoy.

10.  My dog, Bailey.  T got her for me for Christmas NINE years ago.  Sweet pup has been around for a long time, and has adjusted pretty well to having a toddler running around.  She’s such a good dog and SO patient when Cameron chases her, steals her toys, pulls her tail, dumps over her water bowl, and "pat pat pats" her while she's trying to eat.

11.  My friends – both old and new.  I’ve always believed there are people we’re “meant to be” with.  Husbands – yes – but girlfriends, too.  Sometimes you meet them in high school, sometimes in college, sometimes even later in your life.  But, like with your husband, it’s an instant connection.  A bond you know cannot be broken.  You just know it’s the real thing.  Lately, my faith has been restored in these types of bonds – these types of friendships that you’re sure will stand the test of time.

12.  Running.  All it takes is a bum ankle to make you realize how much you depend on that outlet.  That time where it’s just you, your breathing, and the road that lies ahead.  I went for my first post-injury jog last Friday and despite my ankle still being sore, man, it felt good.

13.  Red wine and craft beer.  Especially after a long day.

14.  Lists.  Something silly to be thankful for?  Possibly.  But I’m always thankful for a good list.  Bonus point if there are square boxes to check off.

15.  Mail.  There’s something like getting an actual letter or package in the mail that makes me so, so happy.  It seems as though surprises in the mailbox are few and far between in this technology-driven world we live in.

16.  Recipes.  Particularly those that are easy and require five ingredients or less.  I’m terrible in the kitchen and have never in my life made something from scratch.  So thank goodness for recipes.

17.  And on that note – take-out.

18.  DVR.  A pretty shallow thing to be thankful for, but as a full-time working mama, I rarely if ever have time to watch tv.  And when I do, it’s always something that was recorded earlier in the week.

19.  Target.

20.  Health insurance.  While my ankle mess and Cameron’s surgery will both be costing us a pretty penny, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be without our buddies Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

21.  My iPhone.  From keeping track of schedules/feedings when CK was born, to taking pictures/videos, to accessing the internet whenever I want/need to, to swapping texts/pictures/videos constantly – I have to say I feel naked without it.

22.  Cameron’s buddy Melvin.  He’s gotten her through some tough times lately!

23.  The one diet coke I HAVE to have everyday.

24.  CK’s very first teachers, who will forever hold a dear place in my heart.  They dealt with my first-time-mom anxiety and worries and always made both Cameron and me feel comfortable.

25.  Our house.  While I often feel like the walls are closing in on us, it is our very first home – the home we bought together and moved into as Mr. and Mrs., the home where we found out we were going to become a family of three, the home where we spent many sleepless nights learning how to be parents, the home where our little girl turned 1, the home where our best and most favorite memories have been made.  While I selfishly hope we don’t say in this house forever, it will always be so special to us.

26.  I kinda mentioned this in the iPhone blurb, but I am very thankful for pictures/videos.  I absolutely LOVE looking at old pictures my mom has in her house, and I hope one day Cameron enjoys doing the same.  Maybe that’s why I take about four hundred pictures of her a month!

27.  Days off of work.  Even though I wish I wasn’t working full-time, I’m lucky enough to work for a school system, which means I have it pretty good when it comes to getting days off, especially around the holidays.

28.  My coworkers.  I love, love, love the people I work with, and they make going to work everyday enjoyable!

29.  I think about this one often – I am incredibly thankful for the experience of getting pregnant, carrying a baby to full-term, and giving birth.  There were many emotional, stressful months during which I wondered if I would even be able to get pregnant.  So I don’t take the pregnancy or the labor and delivery for granted.  I still think back and cherish the days of early pregnancy excitement, constant nausea, feeling my bug kick inside of me, feeling miserable, having painful contractions, laboring for 21 hours, and pushing her out with TJ cheering me on.  I am so thankful I was able to go through the entire experience from start to finish.

30.  This blog.  A little self-indulgent, maybe narcissistic, full of grammatical errors, not always very interesting… but it’s become my outlet.  A form of therapy.  A way for me to do one of my most favorite things – write – while also documenting my life.  And I will forever cherish these days – when my memory becomes a little hazy, and my hair becomes gray, I will always have these words to read when I want to remember…

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!
Our little turkey :)  (Like her shirt?  Check ouGoat and Lulu on Etsy!)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Longest 45 Minutes of My Life. Twice.

Sometimes, you just gotta let go.  And trust a greater being.  And breathe.  And close your eyes.  And pray like hell.

That’s what happened this morning when we arrived at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital.  Luckily, we were the first ENT surgery of the day, with an arrival time of 6am and a surgery time of 7am.  After check-in, the wait was short before we headed back to the pre-surgery holding area.  We talked to the surgeon for a little while, who was very reassuring and made us feel confident in our decision.  After changing our sweet girl into the littlest hospital gown I’ve ever seen, it was time to meet with the anesthesiologist.  The part I was dreading.

The part where I had to sign my name on a line agreeing to the fact that I understood all of the bad things that could happen to my daughter due to anesthesia.

That’s when I lost it.  I’d held it together all morning, kept a smile on my face, being brave for my girl, telling her we were going on an adventure.

But – well – there’s just something about agreeing to put your child at risk that causes a mama to crumble.

I signed.  I cried.  I sucked it up and put my brave face back on.

They then gave Cameron a drug to calm her down so that she wouldn’t lose it when we handed her off and walked away.  Within about ten minutes, she was acting like I do after about three cocktails.  Happy, smiley, go-with-the-flow, not a care in the world.

We said our prayers, gave hugs and kisses, and then handed Cameron to the anesthesiologist…

And walked away.

And then the clock-watching began.  My heart raced as if I’d just gone for a long, cold winter’s run.  My stomach turned.

I cried.  I prayed.  I browsed Pinterest.  I looked over Facebook.  I prayed.  I cried.

I prayed.

After about 25 minutes, the surgeon came out to tell us that everything went well.  That both ears had actually STILL been full of fluid, and her left ear was actually STILL infected and full of pus, making us even more confident in our decision.  He said it’d be a little while longer before she started waking up, at which point they’d let one person go back to see her in the Pediatric Recovery Room.

This, of course, was the part I was worried about.  Not the cutting a hole in her eardrum.  Not the dropping of a tiny tube into that hole.  But the waking up from being put under.

I cried and prayed some more.

About 20 minutes later, I got the call that one of us could go back.  No words needed to be spoken – it would be me.

I left the waiting room and entered the hallway leading to recovery, and that’s when I heard it.

The unmistakable, ear-piercing, heart-wrenching, high-pitch screams.  Screams I’ve never heard before coming out of my child, but it was definitely her.

When I rounded the corner, a nurse was struggling to keep her contained.  Cameron was struggling to open her eyes as they kept rolling back into her head, and she was thrashing, and arching, and swinging…

And screaming.

Oh the screams – screams that told me she was scared – didn’t know where she was – didn’t feel good – something was hurting – something was weird – she wasn’t herself…

Honest to God, it was like she was possessed.  And I was terrified.

I took her from the nurse and attempted many, many things to try to calm her down, help her come to – I just wanted my girl back.

But nothing worked.

In a flashback I remembered Dr. M telling us that about 5% of babies wake up and are, well, out of their minds.  Not right.  Inconsolable.  Struggle to maintain muscle control.  And that it could take up to an hour to wear off.

And obviously, our sweet Cameron Kate was in that 5%.

Which was fine – I was willing to deal with whatever I needed to as long as it meant she was awake and well.  But I started to get nervous that something was wrong.

Luckily, the nurses called T and let him come back, too.

T – our rock – my better half – her knight in shining armor.  I knew he would help both of us calm down, and that he did.  He was able to control her movements a little better, get her to drink some water, get her to fall back asleep.

I won’t go into all of the details, but it was the second longest 45 minutes of my life I’d ever had – all in one morning.

Eventually, we got her calm enough to be dressed and discharged.  Besides a few more fits of an inconsolable little girl and projectile throw-up in the car on the way home, she was starting to show signs of my sweet Cameron Kate.

And after a few of her favorite snacks, a warm bath, and many hours sleeping to the rhythm of her mom’s and dad’s heartbeats, head on our chests – our little girl is doing just fine.

I’m so glad to be on the other side of this experience.  To watch my little girl live a healthier and happier life.  To hopefully have made a decision that opens up a world of opportunities to her that may not have been available otherwise.

But man – it was tough.
Some Before & After Pics
Post-Surgery Chest Naps... Perfection

Saturday, November 10, 2012


From the minute you find out you’re pregnant, you’re constantly facing decisions concerning the health and well-being of your baby.  For nine neverending months you make decisions about what to register for (Who knew there were so many types of bottles?! Or that something called a Boppy would be a daily necessity?), if you’re going to find out the sex, what kind of nursery to create, how you plan on birthing the baby, what you’ll name the baby, which pediatrician to use, what kind of car seat you’ll need… trust me, the list goes on, and on, and on.

And then your baby is born – and the decisions get even bigger, even harder.  Making that oh-so-difficult decision about your nursery theme seems so minute, so ridiculous.  Because now you’re making the real decisions, the big decisions – like who will take care of your child while you’re a working mama, whether to keep trying to breastfeed or give up and go to formula, whether or not to sleep train, how to begin teaching your baby all about the big, scary world she just entered…

And whether or not to choose surgery in order to try to give your little girl a healthier, happier life.

That’s the decision that has been weighing heavily on our hearts since Cameron’s 12-month checkup, when she had yet another ear infection and we were referred to the ENT.  We knew we needed to wait to see what the ENT suggested, but the weeks leading up to the appointment included lots of conversations between T and me, weighing different scenarios, different options, different what-ifs.

We went to the ENT open-minded and anxious.  Within two minutes of Dr. M examining Cameron’s ears, we learned she had her fifth double ear infection (in six months) and that her hearing was as muffled as it sounds when you stick your fingers in your ears.

When he told us to do just that – stick our fingers in our ears to hear how muffled it sounds – my heart broke and my decision was made.  When I looked over at T’s face, I could tell his was, too.

It was an unspoken understanding.  An instant exchange of glances between the two of us told me that we were both heartbroken that our sweet, wild, nonstop little girl had no clue what the world really sounded like.

So the ear tube surgery is scheduled.  Thursday morning.  And while it is considered a fairly simple procedure, I can tell you there’s nothing simple about handing over your child, your heart, to a team of doctors who are going to put her under anesthesia… and walking away.

I can tell you that I know we’re making the right decision.  I can feel it in my bones after much thought and many prayers.

But I can also tell you that I am sick to my stomach with “what-ifs.”

I cannot wait until it’s all over and done with – a thing of the past – something to check off my proverbial list.

And while there will undoubtedly be many, many more difficult decisions to make as a mom, this one has me sleepless, stressed, and prayerful.

So, if you’re the praying kind, please add our little girl to your list on Thursday morning.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on staying positive and focusing on the end result of our decision -- no more ear infections or weekly alternating doses of antibiotics, and our sweet Cameron Kate having the opportunity to clearly hear all of the joyful noise this world has to offer.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wait for it...

Last week I was meandering through classrooms at the school where I work, observing and enjoying the view from the frontlines.  In one particular classroom, a teacher was giving a math lesson.  She asked a question, and called on a student who eagerly raised his hand.

He spouted out the wrong answer.

The teacher urged him to rethink his answer and rework his math.

Other than his pencil scribbling on his paper, the room was silent.

We waited.  And waited.  And waited.

I wanted SO badly to help him, give him a hint, call out the answer.

But we waited.

And finally...

He got it.

And the teacher moved on to the next problem, and the class went about the rest of their day as usual. 

But I was so affected, by something so minor.

Because the teacher had given this child some wait-time, let him think through the process, given him as much space as he needed, he was able to find success.  Even moreso, the teacher had obviously conditioned her students to this type of practice, as not one student huffed or puffed in frustration at how long it took the little boy to answer, nor did anyone call out the answer.

They waited, too.

Giving students - children - this window of wait-time, this opportunity to take their time to think, explore, try, fail, try again, succeed... is imperative.  And sometimes we're all so consumed with moving on, getting to the next question, checking things off the list - we fail to allow for the awkward silence, the minutes when a child's brain is ticking, connecting, figuring things out.  But, as both educators and parents, it's SO important to do that... let them figure it out without always doing the figuring out for them.

So, remember, when you’re tempted to jump in, and help, and hold their hand, and give them the answer...

Just wait for it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Better late than never, right?

And yes, of course she was a cupcake.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Room 120

So, Cameron has had a rough time transitioning to her new, toddler classroom.

In her infant room, she LOVED "school."  Would barely even blink at drop-offs, and often, when I'd show up to take her home, she'd keep going about her business, playing and running around the classroom like the wild little girl she is.

She was known as the "easy" baby, was go-with-the-flow, and never really fussed or cried unless she was sick.  She would even walk over to her crib and pull out her sleep sack when she was ready to nap, following her scheduled to a T.

And then, we rocked her world and threw her into Room 120.

With the big kids.

With the kids who sleep on cots, and sit in chairs for snack time, and go outside for recess.

With three new teachers who don't quite know her yet, or understand her temperament, or get her unique little personality.  Teachers who also don't know just how neurotic and worrisome (but supportive!) I am.

Three new teachers who are undoubtedly qualified, who will grow to love her (and hopefully me)... but three new teachers who aren't - well - her old teachers.  Her FIRST teachers.

They say there's some kind of magical bond babies form with their first away-from-parents-caregivers.  And CK is definitely attached to the teachers who first introduced her to life away from Mom and Dad.

And now, we've had to take her away from their loving embraces and strip her of that comfort.  Which has been very hard - for both her and me.

She's been fussy, having trouble sleeping, and refusing to put Melvin down (her one comfort item at school - a favorite stuffed monkey).  When she's dropped off, there's a quick-distract-her-with-breakfast-strategy to avoid total meltdown.  And when I walk in to pick her up in the afternoon, she completely falls apart.  With a look on her face like, "Omigosh-Mama-WHERE-have-you-BEEN-this-is-TERRIBLE-why-did-you-LEAVE-me-here-with-these-strange-people-take-me-HOME!"

As a worrisome and my-daughter-is-my-world mama, I spend a lot of the day thinking about her, wondering if she's okay, imagining her crying and wishing she were somewhere else, with someone else.

And as everyone knows, I would give just about anything to be able to stay home with her, so that doesn't help the emotions I've been feeling lately, knowing she's not really happy all day long.

This experience has given me a lot to think about, a lot to reflect on.  Truth is, we can find a lot of opportunities for growth in the uncomfortable life moments.  And when you're a parent, you're guaranteed to experience a lot of uncomfortable life moments.

Sure, she's only 1, and in a toddler room - But one day she'll be 5, and in Kindergarten.  And able to voice her concerns much more clearly.  How will I handle it when she says, "I hate school" or "My teacher is mean" or "I don't have any friends"?  Just imagining those scenarios makes my heart want to fall apart all over the floor... It makes me want to wrap my little girl in a bubble and protect her from all of the tough stuff, the fearful, the hard moments, the heartbreak, the scary.

But then I wouldn't be doing my job.

Because that's where we learn, where we grow, where we become strong, good people… in the moments that require courage.  Because we can't learn how to be brave if we don't ever need courage.

And growing up in this big, scary world, there are going to be a lot of moments when my little girl is going to need to learn how to be brave.  To try.  To fail.  To try again.  To cry.  To put a broken heart back together.

And during these moments, I will be there to hold her hand, to guide her, to cry with her, to pray.  But sometimes I'm going to have to learn how to stay on the sidelines and let her figure things out on her own.  To allow her to fail so she can muster the strength to try again.  To let her heart break so she knows just how good love feels.  To be scared, to find courage, and to learn when to be independent and when to ask for help.

When this transition, this one of MANY transitions we'll experience as mama/daughter is over, we will all be ok.  She will learn that though things can be scary at first, and a little uncomfortable, she can make new friends, try new things, and have new teachers who love her just as much as her old ones.  And that her mama will always be there for her at the end of the day. 

And I can learn to continue trusting other people to care for and protect my little girl.  To take a step back, loosen my grip, and let her (and myself) grow.

I can learn to be okay with watching my Cameron Kate navigate the waters of life when things get a little tough without immediately jumping in to try to save her.

Man, this whole mama thing is hard work.  And we've only just begun.

Who would've thought trying to transition to the toddler room would be so hard on me?