The Lesson I Learned in 2014 – I Was So Wrong

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I can admit it. I was so super wrong about how our life would be with our third child, O, born in January of this year.

Sweet, blissful ignorance…

I thought it would be easier now that I’m older. I was 18 and 20 when I had the first two – so young and so dumb. Looking back, it’s a miracle they survived. I was so unaware of what could go wrong! I just didn’t think about it. I just learned as I went and luckily, they were both super easy, super healthy babies. Flash forward a full decade, and I’m thinking I’ve totally got this. I’ve done this twice before. M is 12 and E is 10. They’ll be able to help me out, which will really make it easier this time. If I could do it at 20 and still manage going to college, it’ll be a breeze now that I’m 30 and a stay at home mom! It’ll be fun…(famous last words, right?)

Before she was even born, my little O made it clear that things would never be the same. Everything I thought I knew about motherhood went right out the window the day we were told she would be born with a major heart defect.

Transposition of the Great Vessels.

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Let’s hear that one more time: Transposition of the Great Vessels, or TGA for short. Even the name is overwhelming. I am pretty sure the cardiologist was forced to repeat this news 10 times before I heard it. The world was on mute for those first moments. I could see her mouth moving, but there was literally no sound for me. It truly took a moment to hear what this doctor was telling me.

In order to survive, she would need to undergo a balloon atrial septostomy immediately after birth. This would create a hole in the atrial septum of her heart in order to allow oxygenated blood to reach her body. Then she would need open heart surgery – called an arterial switch – a few days later. They weren’t even sure if I would be able to hold her after delivery because she would have to be immediately transported from the delivery room at one hospital to the cardiac cath lab at the children’s hospital. OMFG…

We went into shock at that moment and we still haven’t fully recovered. The days following her birth are a blur. I’m not sure how we got through it. I have never known fear like the fear I felt on surgery day. For 2 days afterward, her chest was a huge, gaping hole and you could literally sit and watch her heart beating. Indescribable.

We lived in the NICU for a month (33 days to be exact) while she recovered. That period of time was traumatic for everyone and it still feels like some distant nightmare. Like it never really happened. We got through it with the help of amazing family and friends and she is totally healthy today, thank goodness.

Going home, I was a nervous wreck. She still had a huge chest wound that had extended our NICU stay because it somehow got infected with staph! We couldn’t hold her like a normal baby. We had to be gentle and she could not lay on her tummy at all. She wasn’t eating well yet. I was terrified of bringing this tiny, fragile little angel home. What if I don’t know what to do?

That month in the NICU had left me feeling powerless. Powerless as her mother unable to control what was happening to her, unable to take away the pain, unable to hold her and comfort her. I also felt powerless as a human being as I realized that sometimes really bad stuff happens and there is nothing you can do about it. I really struggled with this. I felt panicky, hyper vigilant, out of control…and completely powerless.

It didn’t take long for O to put everyone in their place! The fragile little heart baby from the NICU transformed into what we lovingly call Hurricane O

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She’s intense, demanding and stubborn as hell. Her voice is loud and she has a lot to say. She has no patience for incompetence. I am constantly being cussed at in baby babble. She never sleeps. Ever. She’s 6 months old and it was the best day ever when she slept for 4 hours straight one night. A normal nap is around 10 minutes. She wakes up refreshed and full of energy, ready to attack. I am O, hear me roar!

You know what though? I LOVE her craziness! I love her intensity and stubbornness, and how loud she is. She has been a fighter from the start and is a force to be reckoned with.

She is FIERCE.

This journey has challenged me in ways I never imagined. I’m exhausted. I also cherish every minute of it and I feel honored to be her mother.

This is O’s world now and we are just living in it.

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What was the biggest lesson you learned this year? I’d love to hear yours!

**This was previously published back in August, but as 2014 comes to an end, I’m reposting it. I think this was my most important lesson of this year. **

If you are enjoying the blog so far, please share with your friends! Your support is appreciated! Plus, the more the merrier, right?!

Awkwardly Late News!

My very first blog post was also my very first article submission and….

It was featured on Mamapedia!! How cool is that?!

I know I’m WAY late, but better late than never, right?! I just had to share and brag a little. It inspires me to write more, which I definitely need as I get going again!

10 Ways Living with Kids is Like Having a Bad Roommate

This morning I found myself in awe at how much my house resembles the aftermath of a tornado. Or the result of a deranged burglar, turning everything upside down and inside out on his quest – not for jewelry or money, but for toys and snacks.

My older kids are theoretically big enough to clean up after themselves. (Theoretically being the operative word here.) However, I’m certain we’ve reached a new level of messiness as they enter their tween and teen years.

I had my son (M) when I was 18 years old and my daughter (E) at 20, so I’ve never actually had a roommate of my own. Despite my lack of real world roommate experience, the kid-to-roommate comparison entered my mind today. Of course they’re not my roommates. They’re my children and I love them dearly. But hey… I have to find the comedy in what would otherwise be my daily undoing in this mess of a house.

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Here’s my Top 10:

1. They leave dishes everywhere.

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Never mind the sink. What’s a sink? Who needs it? This coffee table works just fine! On the floor or under the bed? Sounds like a plan to me!

I am constantly going through our house, rounding up dishes from every room and every surface. I’m sometimes mind blown at what could only be described as a science project growing on some of them. That was food at one point, right?!

2. Hampers are invisible…

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How hard is it really to just put the clothes in the hamper? It requires no more effort than dropping them on the floor right beside the dang thing.

3. Trash cans are invisible too.

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Wrappers, water bottles, paper towels, etc. They’re everywhere. It doesn’t matter how many times we address this, it still happens daily.

My son has this odd habit of tearing up anything he can. His fave is styrofoam cups. He’ll sit there and deconstruct the entire thing into a pile of confetti. This isn’t limited to styrofoam by any means, don’t get me wrong. While that may be his preference, equally satisfying are paper cups, plastic cups, or pretty much any disposable item in his vicinity. He’ll gladly reduce any and/or all of those things into unrecognizable piles of paper crap all over the house. I like to call this behavior peculiar. I’m positive I will continue to find tiny chunks of styrofoam long after he’s moved out. It’s everywhere. No matter how often I sweep or vacuum or clean out cushions. There’s always more.

4. If they do locate a trash can and it happens to be full, they begin construction of the trash tower.
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This is yet another little annoyance that defies all logic. You are creating a new problem simply because you’re not in the mood to change the bag. WTF?! Get with the program, peeps!

5. They never replace the toilet paper.
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Sometimes, I think they do this because they want to see me lose my shit. This would definitely do it if it weren’t for my unwavering determination to show no weakness. They can’t break me! On the outside, I’m cool as a cucumber. On the inside, my blood boils.
6. They eat all of your groceries.

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I know this goes without saying. They’re kids. It’s my job to feed them. Still, I’d like it to last at least until I can have a bite too. That empty fridge would actually be an improvement at our house. Our kids like to put the empty containers back in there. Are you really fooling anyone with that? Great idea! Let’s just put it back in there, pretend it’s not empty, and it’ll be like it never even happened. Oh so NOT clever…
These days, if I want something, I have to hide it somewhere or put it where they can’t reach, which usually means I can’t reach it either. Otherwise I’m S.O.L.

7. They always find your candy/cookie/goody stash, no matter how clever you thought it was.

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Yeah… That just sucks. And I can’t even come up with a tactful way of addressing their sneaky ways. After all, I was trying to beat them at the sneaky game by hiding it in the first place. Not to mention the entire “lead by example” failure I become by stashing candy so I can binge on chocolatey goodness in quiet solitude, when the need arises (the need WILL arise, make no mistake). As soon as I’m made aware of such a breach, any anger I feel quickly turns to guilt when I really look at the situation. They usually get a pass on this one.

8. They use your stuff without asking.

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To avoid reliving this nightmare for the tenth time, I’ve mostly given up wearing makeup. Not entirely, but it’s usually minimal. The basic, boring stuff isn’t nearly as appealing to an inquisitive toddler. Plus, I refuse to spend that much money to replace everything again. Such a waste.

This applies to pretty much anything you find important. Cell phones, laptops, jewelry – nothing is safe.
9. Privacy is a foreign concept.
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You know what I’m talking about. We are all in this zero privacy boat together.
10. They’ve taken over your DVR, canceling scheduled recordings, deleting shows you have yet to watch, and replacing it all with their stuff.20140805-021814-8294202.jpg
The same goes for your Netflix account…

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Kinda like a bad roommate, right?

No but seriously, I found myself really getting locked in on these small annoyances. It seemed like every time I walked into a room one or more items on this list would be glaring back at me. It was becoming the only thing I could see and it was driving me crazy!

Life with kids does get overwhelming and this morning I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and yell “I give up! Good luck with your trash tower! I’m out. Peace…“.

But just as I felt like throwing in the towel, there was a segment on the morning news about how to tell if you’re a good or bad roommate. The nightmarish stories were hilarious, and I definitely needed the laugh. Reflecting on my situation with a whole new perspective, I realized it’s not so bad. Overall, I’d say I have some pretty great roomies!

These tiny things are nothing to freak out about. It’s life. They’re kids. Our house is going to be a mess, despite my best efforts. It’s time that I accept and embrace this reality, because if I’m lucky, I’m going to be cleaning up this shit for a good long while. 🙂

I would love to hear your stories! It’s always good to know we are all in this motherhood thing together. It’s liberating to share the stuff we usually keep to ourselves, for fear of being judged by the mythical Super Mommy. This blog is 100% judge-free, and I’m definitely not Super Mommy. 🙂

If you are enjoying the blog so far, please share with your friends! Your support is appreciated! Plus, the more the merrier, right?! </u