Tag Archives: I am a Mormon

A Nap Time Lesson

The kids are in their cribs supposedly napping.  Instead, I hear Emily yelling “Hi!” and Andrew giggling. I can picture them.  Emily is pressing her face against the mesh walls of her Pac N’ play while Andrew, on his hands and knees, stares at her through his own mesh surface.  Their faces are lit up with unadulterated joy.

They are best friends.

When in our living room,  Andrew is not too interested in me.  His eyes are stuck on his sister.  They follow her everywhere.  He smiles as she runs from room to room, creating havoc.  He babbles when she starts singing.  He laughs, really laughs, when his sister twirls, hops, and jigs to unheard music.

I look at them and remember.

The horrific pregnancies.  The long nights.  The colic. The postpartum depression.

The easy births.  Our first moments together. Their first smiles.  Their first laughs.

The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the frustrating, the fun, the painful, the joy–mixed together in life’s blender, a combination of bitter and sweet, to be drunk daily.   And I do.  Every last drop.  Because it’s worth it.

Right now, I listen to their silly noises and I feel at peace.

One day I will have another baby.  I will feel their movements inside me.  We will grow together for nine months.  We will meet and I will cry tears of immense joy.

That sweet baby will have instant best friends.  Soon  I will hear her or him laughing and playing with their siblings during nap time, and I will remember today.  I may even read these words again.  My heart will swell–for a second time–with feelings of great gratitude.

A tender mercy that I will not forget, but will embrace.  Fully.

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Becoming the Mother I Want to Be

When I had Andrew, something happened.

I was tired, I was lonely, I was stressed, and I was overwhelmed.  Ben was working, attending school, studying for the MCAT, and trying his best to be there for me and the kids.

My little boy was fussy, very fussy.  He cried and cried, I cried and cried, Emily cried and cried.  I pushed joy away so I could have room for misery.

Emily was growing, maturing, turning into a toddler.  I wasn’t ready.  I wanted her to help me, but I didn’t want her to be adventurous or seek autonomy.  I wanted–I needed–her to sit down next to me, playing quietly.  Not running from mess to mess, taking advantage of me nursing to get into everything.

I was unrealistic.

I found myself turning into an awful mother. I went from using calm tones to relying on harsh tones; being happy and engaging to being angry and distant; patient to impatient.

My husband’s busyness and my loneliness excused me from improving my behaviors.

Until one day I really looked at my daughter.  What I saw was not a little monster trying to ruin my life, but a little girl, a toddler, who was discovering her little world, begging for me to help her.

How I viewed motherhood changed.

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the leaders of my church remind mothers (and fathers) that we are to nurture our children.

Nurture: to feed and protect; to support and encourage, as during a period of training or development.  (Source: Dictionary.com.)

I do feed and protect my children every day, but do I support and encourage? More importantly, do I support and encourage my toddler as she discovers her world?

I am not ignorant.

I knew what I could do to temper her melt downs or aide in her autonomy seeking behavior.  That is what my degree is in. Yet I was neglectful and I took the easy way out.

I have had several impressions reminding me to use my education to help me parent.  I ignored them.  Silly, really, considering I am often moaning to Ben that I can’t use my degree.

I am thankful that God is patient with me.

I can change and I will change.  These changes will not happen immediately, it will take time for me adjust my behaviors.

I feel powerful, I know that I can do this.

How have you grown/changed as a parent?

This post is (now) part of  “I’m Finding the Bigger Picture” event.  Click on over to see more events!

Bigger Picture Moment

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Please Keep Me and the Baby Safe

The following is a real account and happened to me last week. In an effort to expand my writing, I decided to turn it into a short story.

Her husband quietly woke her up, expressing his regret that it was already time to leave.  She quickly dressed and brushed her teeth.  After dropping her keys and wallet into her purse, she buckled her 6-month-old son into his carseat.   She kissed her sleeping daughter’s cheek, grateful that her friend agreed to watch her.

In the car, she and her husband were quiet.  It was much too early for substantial conversation, so they stuck to general chit chat to keep them both awake.

Before long the airport was in view.  With anxiety building, she parked in the space reserved for drop-offs and hopped out.  She hugged her husband tight and kissed his ready lips.  A second later he was walking away and she was back in the car, pulling away from the curb.

Her mind was swirling with emotions.  The trip was to be short, yet her heart still ached.  She watched as water dropped sporadically on her windshield, teasing the tears out of her eyes.

Her brain, on a constant watch,  alerted her to the potential danger.

“Oh crap,” she muttered.

Thoughts of her broken windshield wiper sprang to her mind.   In the high speeds of the freeway, the passenger’s side wiper would often get thrown off its set rhythm and hit the driver’s side wiper causing it to overextend itself off the window.   This could prove dangerous when the rain was intensely pouring and it was dark.

A little prayer began working itself up from her anxious stomach.

“Please keep me and the baby safe.”

She intently watched the road, hoping the rain would continue to sprinkle.  Her vision was horrid in the dark and only worse in bad weather.  If the rain turned more unfavorable, she would be in a lot of trouble.

A few minutes later, the rain started coming down in droves.  Prayers erupted out of her mouth, overlapping each other so that when one ended another began.

“Please keep the windshield wiper working. ”

“Please help me to see.”

“If the wiper is to go out, please help it to go out where I can safely stop.”

As she started descending from the point of the mountain, she saw the wiper struggling.  She knew she only had a few minutes before it would stop working.  She looked around her and realized that cars were behind, ahead, and to the side of her. The next exit was 5 miles away.  She was trapped.

Her prayers returned to the original one.

“Please keep me and the baby safe.”

Like a surreal dream, she watched in slow motion as her windshield wiper overextended itself.  The rain instantly covered her window and all visibility disappeared.

She screamed.

In an eery dichotomy, “Heavenly Father” and “Holy s@$&” escaped her mouth.

Vivid images raced through her mind.

Giving birth to her daughter.

Finding out she was pregnant with her son.

Watching her daughter walk for the first time.

Making love to her husband.

Walking to the duck pond with her kids and husband.

Saying good-bye to her husband.

“I’m going to die.  I can’t see.  I will either hit the car next to me or hit the barrier,” she thought.

A sudden calm enveloped her. Not knowing where the car next to her was, she pulled into that lane, slowing down as she went, and drove into the emergency pullout lane parking within centimeters of the barrier.

She willed herself to not cry.  She waited until all the cars had passed before opening up the door and fixing the windshield wiper. Her legs were shaking, her breathing heavy, and her chest tight by the time she sat back in her seat.

Take the next exit that will allow you to take the back roads home,” the Voice said.

She pulled back on the freeway and took an exit ten miles down the road, following the Voice’s advice.   Thirty minutes later she pulled into her cul-de-sac.  She finally allowed herself to weep.

“Thank you, Heavenly Father, thank you.”

With a grateful heart, she unstrapped her son, shut the van door, and went inside.

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The Whole Crew

As I’m sure you have all noticed,  I write birthday letters to each of my siblings.   I do this to help keep the connection between and them alive.  After the last birthday letterKelly asked for more information about my family.  Kelly, consider this your answer.

I have 9 siblings, 5 sisters and 4 brothers.  I am the second child.  Yes, we all came from the same mother and father.  To satisfy any curiosity you might have,  here’s what my family looks like.

Steve & Kim (Mom & Dad)

These are the leaders of our clan–Steve and Kim.  My dad is busy with work and my mom is busy keeping track of all their children.

The First Born: Ashley

Ashley is a buyer for HerTern, a boutique based out of Alaska.  She is gorgeous, successful, and everything I could have hoped for in an older sister.  She explores her photography and baking talents at her blog–Just {Ash}.

Raul, Brody, & Autumn

I have referred to Autumn a few times for the ultimate sacrifice she made a couple years ago.  She is now happily married to Raul and completely smitten with her son, Brody (who has Down’s Syndrome).

Austin

Austin will be leaving to serve a 2-year mission to Peru in a couple of weeks.  He practically saved my sanity while I was pregnant with Andrew.  I will greatly miss him.

Aaron

Aaron is busy breaking girls’ hearts.  He is an incredible athlete who has had to leave sports due to injuries.  He is a big goof ball.

Katelynn

Katelynn dreams of becoming a paramedic.  She brings balance to our family with her witty sense of humor and kind heart.

Alden

Alden is a strong boy.  His battle with Asperger syndrome often leaves him feeling confused and out of control.  His heart, though, remains untouched.  He is extremely compassionate–often the only sibling that can comfort a crying niece or nephew.

Abby

Abby is a happy, sweet, angelic little girl.  She enjoys snuggling and playing with her little friends.  She has a special place in Ben’s heart.

Kaden

Kaden is the miracle baby.  As you can see, he has grown to be a handsome little boy.  He is adventurous, smart, and loving.

Alivia

Alivia was also a premature arrival, slipping into our family when we least expected it.   Yet,  she has made a name for herself as Queen Alivia.  She is completely a Daddy’s girl.

There you have it–my family.  If you have any questions you’d like to ask about my siblings, my parents, or growing up in a large family, ask away.  I will do my best to provide well thought out answers.

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Little Miracles

In conjunction with the baby shower, Service Soapbox is hosting a writing contest.  This post is my submission.

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My mother’s pregnancy was a surprise.  She was nearing 40 and was not anticipating any more children.  Besides that, we were planning on a move to Alaska.  Moving and familial responsibilities amounted to an enormous stress load placed on my mother’s shoulders.

My mother was a seasoned homebirther–having given birth to all of her previous (8) children in the comfort of her bedroom.   This pregnancy, though, concerned her from the beginning.  Her midwife, after evaluating my mother’s symptoms, suggested she start seeing a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) at our local hospital.

At my mothers 30 week mark, she started experiencing severe symptoms.  One night she began feeling a severe pain that started in her upper abdomen and spread throughout her whole body.  The pain was accompanied by severe nausea.  When the pool failed to alleviate the pain and the nausuea continued, she called her midwife who then directed her to call her CNM.  The CNM advised her to come in immediately. In a remarkable string of events, her home teacher unexpectedly came over and offered her a ride to the hospital and another lady from our congregation arrived to take care of the kids.

After arriving at the hospital, they took her vitals and had her take a urine test.  The L&D nurses (and her midwife) were beyond concerned when they found her urine to be saturated with protein and her systolic blood pressure over 200.  They admitted her immediately, began pumping drugs into her system in an effort to lower the blood pressure and to send steroids to strengthen the baby’s lungs in case of an emergency C-Section.

As I’m sure you have already guessed, my mother had a severe case of pre-eclampsia.  After a few ultrasounds to evaluate the health of the fetus, they discovered the presence of HELLP syndrome.  With this realization, they deemed it safer for the baby to be on the outside than inside the womb.

My brother, Kaden, was born at 31 weeks weighing 2 lbs. 10 oz.

As you can imagine, his low gestational birth meant a long fight for him.  He was in the hospital for 6 weeks and left weighing 5 lbs and with a bunch of equipment (heart monitors and respirator).  Still.   He was home.

Seeing how modern technology saved my brother,  I became quite active at my local branch of the March of Dimes.  While I only did menial tasks like helping send mailers and other paper things, I felt like I was helping an organization that saved my brother.  I felt like I was giving back.

My brother is now 7-years-old. He still bears certain marks of his premature arrival, but overall he is healthy, smart, and quite active.

I guess this is my way of publicly saying thank you.  Thank you people who took care of us while my mother was in the hospital and for the 6 weeks that my brother was in the NICU. Thank you doctors and nurses who saved my brother’s–and my mother’s–life.  Finally, thank you March of Dimes for funding research that made it possible for my brother to be here today.

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A Birthday Letter for Two

Katelynn and Alivia:

It seems nearly impossible that out of the 365  days of the year, God chose both of you to be born on the same day.   To honor the both of you,  your letters will be posted on two successive days.  Starting with Katelynn (she is, after all, the oldest) today.

Dearest Katelynn,

While looking for a picture of you, I came across this one.  I sat and stared for a while.  No, not at my cute little guy, but at you.  At how beautiful you have become.  I think back to when you were born.  You were a delight from the beginning.  I think God blessed Mother with you because Aaron was so exhausting.  He sent you to bring balance back into the family.  You did and still do.

I’ve never told you this, but I felt a lot of guilt about your baby years.  I felt I should have held you more, played with you more, and paid you  more attention.  I was sure that my selfishness had ruined our relationship forever.  This idea held me back from basking in your delightful spirit for many years.  I didn’t think I was worthy enough.

I know it must be hard, smashed by 2 older brothers and 3 older sisters, but you have learned to hold your ground.   Your voice is often the reasonable one amidst the torrents of nasty remarks.  Your slick sense of humor can ease tense moments.  Your calm demeanor helps us all to be more patient.

You might be younger than me, but I look up to you.  Your courage in all situations stuns me.  Your desire to do what’s right no matter what makes me shiver.  Your valiance.  Your strength.

You are a strong young woman.

I have no doubt the Devil shudders when he sees you.  May that always be the case.

With admiration and love,

Amber

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10 Things You Don’t Know About Me: Manly’s Name

The Sugar Doll Award came with a requirement: a list of ten things you may or may not know about me.  I thought I’d turn this into a writing assignment for myself.  So, over the next ten days,  I will share something about myself.

To start this ten-day series, I thought I’d unveil the name of my youngest child: Manly.  This little guy has been the heart of all my posts of late.  (He is doing much better,  by the way. )

When I was expecting Manly,  B and I argued over boys names for months.  We finally concluded we would narrow our list to 3 names and choose his name when we first met him.

A month or so later,  I was exhausted from a month straight of pre-term labor contractions at night.  My body ached.  My spirit was listless.  I was wanting this pregnancy to end, but not wanting my little guy to come early.  I asked B for a Priesthood blessing.  In the middle of the blessing,  B had an impression for what to name our baby.  After he was done, he told me.  I listened,  thought,  and agreed.  The name was not what I expected, nor was it necessarily what I wanted.  But, it felt right.  That was enough for both of us.

We looked up the name on the internet and found its meaning to be “man, warrior” and “manly.”  We laughed and decided “manly” would become his nickname on-line.

Are you intrigued by these hints?  Let me lure you further along.

In the Christian tradition, this name belonged to one of the first followers of Christ.  And, for all you art connoisseurs, this person has been the focus of many religious paintings.  One of my favorites was painted by the talented hand of Caravaggio*.

Still don’t know?  Well, the name of this painting is The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew.

Okay, okay, enough suspense.  His name is Andrew.  He is my little guy.

He has grown from a 6 lb. 8 oz. little thing

to a 14 lb. 4 oz. chunk.

I wasn’t very excited about having a little boy.  I just didn’t know what to do with a boy.

Now?  He has my heart.  I love his chubby cheeks,  his lopsided grin,  and his blue eyes.  I also love how he clings to me.

He is a Momma’s boy.

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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