The BS of Parenting

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Somewhere in the middle of the night, my dear husband tried to hand off our five month old. His efforts to settle our sweet offspring had failed. Being the loving wife I am, I growled, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Then I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and came out saying, “You’re poo pooing all of my plans!” What plans? Probably the plans to solve all the world’s problems. Thanks to Chad’s poo poo we’ll never know.

Naturally I have no recollection of this exchange.

You see, it’s been over six months since I last had a night of uninterrupted sleep. Solly may only be five months old but you know I wasn’t sleeping those last weeks of pregnancy. I was waking overnight to pee, blow my perpetually congested nose, attempt to find a comfortable position, get a snack, or simply sit owl-like on the couch, awake for no good reason. Third trimester glory right there.

Here’s the truth: the first twelve months of parenting are about survival. It’s a swirling vortex of sleeplessness, teething, diaper changes, laundry, growth spurts, developmental leaps, feedings, mood swings (both baby’s and parents’), and drool (hopefully just baby’s). You tackle one day at a time, doing whatever gets you to bedtime…or just the next chunk of sleep you can manage to snatch. It’s nothing but BS.

What? I meant Basic Survival. Natch.

36-funniest-and-hilarious-parenting-memes-4We’re in the trenches with Solly. It is no joke. He is adorable, sweet, and lovable. He is also challenging. This being our second, we were surprised how much of the BS stuff we forgot. It happens pretty quickly once the infant stage ends. This is a necessary phenomenon; if it all remained crystal clear, parents may not sign up to repeat it. While only children are totally fine, if every family just had one kid eventually the human race would die off.

There’s a bit of a problem with that forgetfulness, though. We can lose the grace new parents so desperately need. Luke 23:34 ought to be the theme verse for the BS of parenting. “Forgive them, for they (have a helpless infant at home and therefore are so exhausted they) know not what they do.” (That’s from the AAT, Amanda’s Amplified Translation.) It’s for this reason my husband and I have committed to the following maxim: for the first year of a baby’s life, parents get a free pass. Cranky? It’s probably just BS. Inflexible? BS. Irrational? Snippy? Fallen off the face of the earth? You got it…BS.

Admittedly my timing is little self-serving since we’re not quite halfway through the Solly year of BS. Partly I want to plead for understanding and empathy in case my hubby or I do or have done something that offends or makes no sense to you. I also write now because it’s fresh and real and for our future selves, I want to set a reminder to extend that same grace to future new parents, no matter how their particular brand of BS manifests.

Every kid is different so the BS of parenting may be unique for each family, but if we can all agree to assume the best of one another – especially new parents – it’ll make all shades of BS a lot easier to handle. Then all of humanity, new parents, veteran parents, and non-parents alike, can raise their voices together in a grateful chorus celebrating babies, parents, the continued existence of humanity, and the varied BS skills we employ!

Pregnancy Following Miscarriage

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It was the day after Easter when the labor cramps kicked in and the thing so many pregnant mothers dread began – I was losing our baby.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Until this year I didn’t know such an awareness month existed. I had no reason to know; I had never experienced such a loss. This year is different. This year there was our Smooch.

Most of you know I am currently pregnant. We’re expecting a son this January. People assume he is our second child, but they don’t know about the little one we lost earlier in the year. They don’t know about our doctor being unable to find baby’s heartbeat. They don’t know about the emergency ultrasound. They don’t know about the blood draws so HCG levels could be measured. They don’t know about the bleeding, the contractions, the guilt, the grief, or the sadness. Why? Because nobody talks about this stuff.

Now, here I am pregnant for a third time and the invitation to worry is strong. Thanks to the loss of Smooch there’s a cloud that stalks this pregnancy experience. That little doppler tool now not only checks for baby’s heartbeat, it increases mine. Until our 20-week ultrasound a large part of me didn’t feel safe anticipating a new child. I have no journal chronicling this pregnancy because I can’t imagine wanting to read it later. It’s not that things are much different physically from the first time around; it’s that they’re wholly different emotionally.

I want to connect with this baby, but it’s so much more difficult than it was with my firstborn. I have to work around the scar of miscarriage.

I was pregnant with Smooch for eleven weeks. For some reason, development did not properly progress and we lost the little life of our second baby. If this is not something you’ve experienced it can be very difficult to understand. So much of it is invisible to those on the outside. There is no funeral, many people didn’t even know there was a pregnancy, and in the midst of it few parents have the energy to put words to the experience. But for those who must walk this road the loss is quite visible. It is tangible. It is felt both emotionally and, at least for the mother, physically. I know the moment I was no longer carrying Smooch. That moment will be with me forever. Likewise, the memory of these lost lives linger with their families. These children deserve to not be kept secret.

My dear friend Lacey started a family necklace for me when I got married. There is a leaf with our anniversary date, a leaf with Phin’s initials and birthdate, and now a tiny heart to represent our Smooch. I look forward to adding a leaf with new initials and a new birthdate this coming January; mostly because it means our baby will be here, but partly because it means we know he was born safely. He made it.

Scratch that – WE made it.