Thank You Angelina Jolie

After hearing about Angelina Jolie’s recent decision to have elective surgery to remove her ovaries and tubes, I feel thankful to her for bringing light and attention to women’s health.  Knowledge is power and having the bravery to use that knowledge to help herself makes her beautiful inside and out.  Jolie’s surgery was preventative.   Mine was not.  But in several years, I will have the power and the knowledge and the option to attack my fear head-on and have a full hysterectomy.  Surgery isn’t ideal.  Neither is early menopause.  But the ability to live life without a permanent sense of dread will make it all worthwhile.

To read Angelina Jolie’s powerful story, check out her Op-Ed piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/opinion/angelina-jolie-pitt-diary-of-a-surgery.html

To read my story one more time, check out my earlier blog here:

Know Your Body

I’m feeling particularly reflective this week on the more serious aspects of life and while I have the time, I’ve decided to get it all down.

Earlier today, I posted about being an advocate for your child (or children’s) health.  It’s extremely important that as parents, we are vigilant and we speak up on behalf of those in our care.  But equally important, is the idea of taking care of ourselves.  I’m reminded of the flight attendant’s speech on airline safety.  “In the event of an emergency, please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”  If our own health and well-being is failing, it is impossible for us to care for another.

I’ve alluded to it in past posts, but tonight I’d like to share a very personal story.  It is in this story that I learned about being an advocate for my own health and well-being and it is from this experience that I’ve grown into the strong and outspoken woman I am today when it comes to health care.  I wrote this cathartic essay last year as a way to cope with a very traumatic experience, but also to shed light on a serious condition that is very unknown.  It’s an honest account of a difficult time in my life.  I hope after reading about my experience, you can walk away feeling empowered to know your own body and to advocate for your healthcare needs, even when met with resistance (or dismissal or crazy stares or or or or…).

And in an effort to show your own self-appreciation, please join in the Milk Free Mama Challenge.

xo,

Cimberly

BORDERLINE

 

Spread out, my back firmly planted against the mattress, I lay crying.  I felt exposed, vulnerable, afraid.  Even though I felt isolated, I knew I wasn’t alone.  The tears were mounting and I reached out for someone, anyone, to hold my hand and tell me everything would be alright.

But the truth was, even though someone did reach out, I knew her words were false.  She didn’t know anymore than anyone else – my mom, my husband, my doctor.  But I knew.  I knew in my gut that things were not alright.  I tried my best to smile through the tears, to put on a brave face as they wheeled me into the operating room.

*****

Newly married, I felt on top of the world.  My husband and I dated for five years before we tied the knot, and even though I was only in my second year of teaching, we were discussing starting a family.  We were excited and hopeful at the idea of raising our own brood.  As I prepped my students, in March of 2008, for their upcoming English Regents Exam and SATs, my husband I and started trying.  The trying and the pressures of a new job put me into full-stress overload, not conducive for a peaceful internal baby-home.  I started getting recurrent infections and the doctors wrote them off as normal female issues.

A couple of months passed by – more infections, more doctor appointments, more co-pays, and no baby.  I sought out doctor after doctor in my OBGYN practice and I still got no concrete answer as to why I was suffering from re-current infections.  None of the doctors thought there was anything drastically wrong with me.  None of the doctors thought these infections were inhibiting me from getting pregnant, except for the fact that I was abstaining from sex so the infections would clear up.  I solemnly trudged on and finished out the school year.

At the end of June 2008, I decided to reach out to the high-risk doctor in my practice.  I knew that the high-risk related to pregnancy and that the chance of him diagnosing something different than the last five doctors in the practice was slim to none, but at least he might have some encouraging words to offer on the pregnancy front.  This was the first time I would meet my hero face to face, my savior in scrubs.

Dr. B decided to do a sonogram to see if that could shed any light onto the situation.  Sure enough, it did.  There was a small cyst-like obstruction near my right ovary.  I would need more tests in a few days to confirm its nature.  So my first meeting with Dr. B at least offered some answers as to why I had discomfort, but to this day, the doctors do not believe the infections had anything to do with the cyst.  I however, wholeheartedly disagree and I believe that my body’s rebellion against itself began with those infections.   I called my husband with the news and then I called my mother.  She assured me that cysts and fibroids were often nothing to worry about.  But for some reason, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Something just wasn’t right.

Three days later, my husband drove me early in the morning to the radiological group that would perform the sonogram.  I sat on the edge of my seat, a painful ache in my lower back which I equated with the overwhelming urge to pee out the 32oz. of water I was instructed to hold in my bladder for the sonogram.  In hindsight, I know the pain was caused by more than that.  My appointment was early in the morning and I remember skipping breakfast before we left because my husband and I were going to go out to our favorite local diner afterwards.  My husband sat with me in the waiting room, somewhat detached, and I suddenly felt isolated.  When they called me in for the test, my husband said he was going to wait in the car and I could meet him downstairs when I was done.  Clearly, he didn’t think the test would show anything horrific and clearly he hadn’t yet been trained in Husband –Ettiquette 101 – stay with your nervous new wife during medical testing.  He later learned how to let me lean on him when I needed to.  As I lay on the table and the technician prodded me with her probe, I could feel the tension mounting in the room.  I was in pain and the radiologist was called in.  He prodded too and instructed me to get dressed while he called my doctor.  None of this sounded good.

When he returned, the radiologist explained that my doctor wanted me to go for more tests.  They needed me to go right away to the CAT Scan/MRI office across the street for further testing.  Questions ensued – “Is someone with you?” “Yes – husband in the car.”  “Did you eat yet?” “No.”  “Great, head across the street.”

I ran out of the office, trying to force the tears back into my eyes, but they just tumbled out.  When I reached the car, my husband was on his phone and when he looked at my tear-stained face, he thought I was just angry that he hadn’t waited with me in the office.  I yelled, “Next time don’t leave me.  It isn’t nothing.  Something is wrong and I think it’s serious.  I need to go for more testing – NOW!”  I cried. He hugged me, apologized, and held my hand.   I called my mom, I cried.  I walked into the waiting room of the next office, I cried.  I had to drink some disgusting dye-drink and I cried.  And then I threw up.  My husband rubbed my back and told me I would be okay.  It wasn’t pretty.  I went into the test anxious and I walked out feeling just as worried.  I wish I could say I “ladied-up” and stood bravely, tear-free, throughout all the tests, but the truth is, this stuff was just plain scary.

My husband and I headed home to our two-bedroom apartment and we tried to relax.  We ate, we talked, we watched TV and then the telephone rang.  I almost threw up again.  It was Dr. B.  “Where are you?” – “Home.” – “Where’s home?”  “Great Neck.”  “Good sweetie, I’m in the Great Neck office  – you and your husband come in so we can talk.”  Was this really happening?  It couldn’t be good news if we needed to go right into the doctor’s office.  I knew the tests indicated something bad.

When we arrived at Dr. B’s office, we were taken right into his office and he started explaining.  His words rang in my ears as I tried to process what he was saying.  I gripped my husband’s hand so tightly as tears streamed down my face.  He gripped back.  I asked Dr. B to get my mother on speaker-phone.  And so the words poured out of his mouth, echoing a staccato in my ear.  “Mass the size of a grapefruit. Ten centimeters.  Has cancer-like properties.  Needs to be removed.  Prepare for the worst case scenario – possible hysterectomy.”  What?  I blinked unsure that I heard him correctly.  We were trying to get pregnant.  Hysterectomy?  Seriously?  “Can we extract eggs?” – “Not enough time.  If it’s cancer we need to move on it now.  I’m calling my associate, the head of Gynecological Oncology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.” Suddenly, the words cancer danced away from my mind and I zoned in on the hysterectomy.  No babies?  Ever? I was twenty-five years old and I wanted a family damn-it!

As we left the doctor’s office, my hero-in-scrubs hugged me tightly and whispered kind, supportive words in my ears.  He handed me a tissue and we left the doctor’s office, our heads swirling.  We took the dog for a long walk.  In that moment, I wasn’t afraid of the possibility of cancer.  I was afraid I would never have a baby.  “Eric, promise me something.” My husband gripped my hand.  “Promise me if the doctor says I needed a hysterectomy that you will immediately get us on any and all adoption lists.  I want a family.”  He smiled and nodded.  It was a promise I made him repeat over and over again in the days leading up to surgery.  It obviously wasn’t an entirely rational response to what I had just heard, but it was what my mind was willing to process at the time.

While we walked, I called my parents.  We called my in-laws and told them too.  Then I called my grandparents and asked if we could come over.  We loaded our beloved pup into the car and took the twenty minute drive to my grandparent’s house.  We talked, we cried, we laughed, we ate dinner.

The next morning, my mom and I headed to the hospital and we met with Dr.  M.  He was wonderful and understanding and he took his time explaining everything as we both cried.  The right ovary would almost definitely need to be removed and depending on what biopsies showed once they went in, a hysterectomy might be needed too.  I repeated over and over, “I want to have a baby.”  He promised to be as conservative as possible and to try to preserve as much of my fertility system as possible.  We left his office, my mother feeling hopeful and optimistic that things wouldn’t be as bad as we initially thought, and I left once again with the sinking pit in my stomach.

Two days later, the first week of July passing by, I was in the hospital pre-op, my family flanked at my side. My parents, grandparents, aunt, and husband were at the hospital with me and I was texting funny photos to my brother from my cubicle.  I got my Heparin shot in the belly.  And then it was time.  I was loaded onto the gurney and wheeled to the operating room, my family trailing behind me with words of encouragement.  We pit-stopped outside the actual operating room and I was left alone in the hallway, crying on the gurney, isolated and afraid.

In the operating room, they anesthesiologist tried to no avail to get an IV running into my arms.  My small, shifty veins were retreating in fear.  He tried nitrous gas to calm my nerves and bring my veins forward, but I started to panic because I could no longer feel my feet.  The nitrous mask was quickly ripped off and the warming salt cloths began.  Forty-minutes later, the IV was in, the sedative was administered, and the surgery was underway.

I awoke in recovery to visits from my family and I was in and out of consciousness.  Over the course of the next day, I learned that the doctor had cut an incision tracing from above my belly-button down to my pubic bone.  I was hacked open, my right ovary and tube removed, my bladder, stomach, and surrounding organs and tissue biopsied.  I was in extreme pain, I felt like half of a woman, and I still had no definite answer as to whether or not I had cancer.  So despite the fact that I had my left ovary and my uterus, I didn’t feel confident that I would be able to use them for baby-making, because I could still be facing the big C.   I felt guilty for not being more grateful.

Over the eight days of my hospital stay, my family and friends visited or tried to visit. I had bad reactions to the pain medication and I was hallucinating, depressed, and I felt like I was suffocating. The catheter came out and was forced back in again when I couldn’t pee on my own.  I was in a lot of pain, but I was pulled out of bed to walk circles around the hospital floor so that my incision and muscles would heal faster and the giant pockets of gas that were pumped into my body while I lay open and exposed on the operating table could expel faster.  My mother dragged me around the floor with words of encouragement.  My dad held my hand.  My brother tried to visit and I begged my parents not to let him come because I didn’t want him to see me the way I was.  At twenty-two years old he was not a child, but my younger brother nonetheless, and I wanted to protect him.

I couldn’t shower because of the incision and I was afraid to stay alone at night because it was difficult for me to move around on my own.  My husband sat with me after work.  My parents hired a night-nurse, my nurse-goddess, Phyllis, and she took care of me from 8pm-8am.  I fell in love with her sweet voice, her kind words, and how she tucked me in at night.  She washed my hair and gave me sponge-baths.  As demoralizing as it was to be a grown woman being bathed by another, I felt so safe and loved in her care.  Years later, I still had her sweet voice saved in my voicemail messages to listen to on a rough day.

During my hospital stay, there were a few bright moments of laughter.  The corn muffin my parents brought me that looked like a bird’s head and beak had us hysterical laughing.  My mother-in-law’s attempt to be helpful by bringing me a bagel with butter  has us still laughing years later.  I hadn’t eaten in days and the doctor insisted I start somewhere.  I agreed to a bagel with butter and my mom asked my mother-in-law to get it for me.  Happy to help, she arrived with my bagel.  I took one bite and nearly threw up.  “This doesn’t taste right.”  Everyone in the room agreed it was just that my taste buds were off because of the medication and the fact that I hadn’t eaten in days.  “Have another bite.”  Another bite, another sour taste.  “Seriously, this butter doesn’t taste right.”  Turns out, I wasn’t crazy after-all.  It was mayonnaise.

There were also scary moments.  Like the Steel Magnolias moment when my mother raged her mother love and protection and went full-blown mad screaming psychotic on an intern for explaining that the large red rash growing on my leg was a staph-infection.   Antibiotics needed.  Intern scared.  My mom angry that I contracted another problem while I was recovering.  Her love was strong and powerful.

On the sixth morning of my hospital stay, the resident doctor arrived before I was finished using the bathroom, a ritual that Phyllis and I perfected so the doctors would only assess me in bed and not in the bathroom.  This time though, she burst into the bathroom to check my incision.  I tried to explain that I hadn’t looked at my belly yet, swollen and swathed beneath bandages and gauze, but the words wouldn’t come out fast enough and facing the mirror at 6am, I saw what was left of my stomach.  It looked like a train track from hell.  It was swollen, red and black, and the staples that were holding me together protruded angrily.  I was horrified.

I went home to my parent’s house to recover. I needed constant help and care and my husband had to work.  I spent many of my days crying, the hormonal imbalance of losing one ovary taking full control over my body and my emotions.  I ached, I walked, I cried, I laughed a little.  My parents forced me to get out of bed, to travel up to our summer home for some fresh-country air.  I healed slowly and my mom allowed me five minutes a day to wallow in my own misery.  Then it was back to eating, walking, healing, recovering.  I waited three weeks for pathology to come in and I hoped and prayed that I didn’t have cancer.

When the news arrived that the mass was what they called a borderline ovarian tumor – borderline cancer, I was told that I would not need further treatment.  I was instructed to see a medical oncologist to firm up the diagnosis.  She agreed that removing the mass with cancer like properties would suffice without chemotherapy and she reminded me to see my surgeon on his strict schedule to make sure I stayed healthy.  I was told my recovery from the surgery should take approximately six months and then we could discuss starting to build a family.  The doctors suggested cancer support groups in the hospital if I needed to talk through my experience, but I didn’t feel like I belonged in those groups.  My tumor was only borderline cancer.  I lost a part of my reproductive system way too early in life, but I didn’t need my ovary to live.  I would survive.  It was hard for healthy people to grasp the scope of my fear and worry and it was hard for those suffering through chemo to take my scare seriously.  I walked the borderline alone.   As far as I know, they don’t make support groups for women with half their reproductive organs and I certainly never heard of a support group for women with borderline ovarian tumors.

My life drastically changed that summer.  I lost my innocence.  I learned that bad things could happen to me – I was not immortal.  I learned that although it’s not commonly discussed or heard of, Borderline-Ovarian tumors do exist.   I learned that when my doctor does an intake at my appointments, he always writes, “History of Ovarian Cancer.”   I learned to be grateful for close-calls and miracles and the power of family strength, love, and support.  Without the fierce love and prayer directed my way, I wouldn’t have been laughing and smiling as quickly as I was.  Most importantly, I learned to be an advocate for my own health, an attribute of my post-cancer-scare self that makes me extremely proud.  I don’t second guess my intuition anymore.  I am highly in-tuned to my body, my health.  I feel transformed.  I often encourage my family and my friends to listen closely to their bodies and to not ignore the power of inner intuition.

Four months, post-op, I found out I was pregnant.  Because I was hyper in-tuned to my body, I was certain a week prior to a confirmed pregnancy test.  We wasted no time trying once my incision healed and the scar stopped itching.  I joked that my body just needed a good cleansing before it was ready to be home to a baby for nine months.  I baked my doctors cookies to say thank you.  Nine months later, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, the first of my three little boy miracles.  It was years later, after my first baby was two years old that my family accidentally told me that when the doctor came out of the operating room, he felt confident that the mass was cancerous.  Those weeks where I waited and prayed, my family all thought the worst.  But to keep me positive and focused on healing despite the outcome, no one let on.  They smiled, joked, laughed with me, and we went about regular daily life.

So now, three babies and years later, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at my scar, think about the surgery, mull over the what-ifs and face the fear of it all happening again.  When I get sick, I get scared.  I’m afraid of germs.  I try to eat organic whenever possible.  I cut out Parabens from my shampoos.  I know a hysterectomy near age forty is an almost certain preventative possibility.  But also, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel thankful for my health, thankful for the body that in one moment betrayed, in the next, gave me three healthy, happy little boys.  Although there was a time that I felt like less of a woman with only half of my reproductive system, I know that I am more a woman now than I was before.  I have the strength to believe in my own instincts, to trust my gut, and to advocate for my health and the health of those I love.

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Let Teachers Teach and Let Kids Be Kids – My letter to Governor Cuomo

Across Long Island, teachers unions are imploring parents to take a stand for the education of their children.  As a teacher and a mother, I fully support a teacher’s right to teach and a student’s right to learn.  Not looking to take this blog in a political direction because I am not a political person by nature, but as a teacher and a mother I feel it’s my duty to raise awareness for the detrimental situation being forced on our students and teachers.  Read on to see what I emailed NYS Governor Cuomo and if you support the cause feel free to share my letter on Facebook or write the governor yourself or even just use the hashtags – #LetTeachersTeach and #LetKidsBeKids.

You can email Governor Cuomo at [email protected]

 

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I write this letter with appreciation for the difficulties your job presents and how you work for the state of NY, but with equally great concern for the state of our schools.  I write as a former student in Queens and Long Island, as a SUNY Binghamton graduate, as a trained NYS English teacher, and as a mother of three young boys beginning their educational journeys.
Growing up in Bay Terrace, I was blessed to attend P.S. 169.  At the time, the school was truly phenomenal.  Not only were we learning to read and write, but also we learned about money by actually going food shopping with our classroom teacher.  We learned about Thanksgiving by actually working with our teacher to prepare a Thanksgiving Feast like the Natives and Pilgrims did together – a great lesson in teamwork, measurements, time, and history.  We learned about the stock market with a stock-exchange program and we followed the Dow and Nasdaq.  We learned about healthy living and the dangers of smoking with a robot that replicated the damage a cigarette would do to a human lung – to this day, I’ve never picked up a cigarette in large part due to the fear my FIRST grade teacher instilled in us with that lesson.  We learned about businesses with student-run school-wide businesses — “The Fourth Grade Friendship Factory” (We made beaded bracelets and sold them to our peers.  We learned about teamwork, counting, patterns, and used our fine motor skills) — “PACA – People Against Cruelty to Animals” (We made healthy snack bags and sold them in the cafeteria during lunch hours.  We donated a portion of our proceeds to North Shore Animal League.  We learned about healthy eating, teamwork, packaging, and caring for others by doing charity) — “Looney Ballooney” (We sold latex and mylar balloons during lunch periods and delivered them to classrooms at the end of the day.  Parents and students were able to purchase balloons for birthdays, get well situations, and so forth.  We learned about team-work, punctual delivery times, money, responsibility, and the different types of gasses aka SCIENCE!).  We used our imaginations and artistic abilities throughout the school year to showcase our knowledge in Math and English and History and Science.  We had school plays and music and computer time.  We had library and special assemblies. We had time to celebrate birthdays and national holidays. This all occurred in grades K-6.  It was the enriching experience every child needs to lay the groundwork for a wonderful and meaningful school experience.  From the lessons I learned in those early grades, I went on not only to graduate High School and SUNY Binghamton with Honors, as well as top of my English education Master program at C.W. Post, LI, but I also grew into a well-rounded, kind, caring, responsible human being.
My parents moved us to Long Island when I started High School for the academics and safety in the Long Island schools.  Now, as my oldest son navigates through kindergarten on Long Island, I am able to see the STARK difference in schools today versus years ago.  My son’s teacher is everything I could hope for for my son’s first teacher in public school.  She’s kind and caring and invested in my son’s well-being and education.  But she also acknowledges that she is currently teaching first grade material to kindergarten students as mandated by Common Core and the State.  There isn’t time for birthday parties and classroom art projects.  There’s time for dittos and math and reading and rote memorization.  You see, the teachers need to prepare the students for testing.  Recently, my aunt found a picture of my son’s teacher over twenty years ago when she taught my cousins.  In the picture she is teaching a math lesson dressed as a Hershey Bar for Halloween.  Because back then, there was actually time to let kids have fun in school and have enriched experiences – they were allowed to celebrate birthdays and holidays and dress up for a Halloween parade. My son is intellectual and artistic.  He loves learning.  He’s thriving in school.  But when he talks fondly of education, it’s his memories from Pre-K that he cites the exciting things he learned about nature and history.  What is that saying about the current state of our education system?  Our kid’s are not guinea pigs for a new system and our teachers need support to educate the whole student, not just the student that needs to pass a test.
As a former High School English teacher of inclusion and non-inclusion students, I know first hand the pressures that exist on our students to perform well and get into good colleges. I also know first hand of the dirty politics that exist within districts.  And I fully agree that there are MANY teachers and adminstrators that are not up to the task or are corrupt in their practices.  I know that first-hand.  I also know, that by making teachers’ job safety reliant on test scores and the observations of non-education based outside observers, it is not only detrimental to salaries and job security, but also to the students forced to work tirelessly to memorize testing material.  It’s detrimental to the students that want to know more – the students like my son, who ask “why?” and genuinely want to learn the answers.  It’s detrimental to the students that do not test well because of anxiety or learning disorders.  It’s detrimental to the educational system — students learn differently.  Not all students that test well are smart and not all students that don’t test well are dumb.  They just learn and process information differently.  Teachers are trained and certified by New York State because we complete programs that prepare us and qualify us for the job.  Let teachers teach!  Let teachers teach creatively, freely, with care and consideration for all learners.  Let students be kids again, to learn creatively and with hope and optimism instead of learning how to pass a test.
Again, I write this letter with respect for your job and what you do for NYS, but I implore you to show equal respect for my professions as a teacher and a mother.  I am in a fortunate position to know what a student needs to succeed as well as to know what my own child needs.  #LetTeachersTeach #LetKidsBeKids
Sincerely,
A concerned teacher and mother

 

 

 

 

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It’s The End of The World As We Knew It

I’m back!  After a month-long hiatus on the blogging scene, I finally have a quiet moment to sit down to write.  My husband and I both celebrated our birthdays (and our oldest’s half birthday – big deal. we know!), we wished my cousin and her husband “see you soon” as they embarked on a journey to start a new life together out of state, we did activities with the kids, and we survived the massive amounts of snow that hit the tri-state area!  But the most significant event that occurred is that little Mr. M gave up the boob…

And just like that, our almost fifteen month journey of co-dependence ended.  Mr. M is no longer an extension of me.  He’s a big boy now, independent and out there on his own.  He no longer relies directly on me for a vital part of his nutrition.  It’s the end of the world as we knew it…

I wish I could end that tune with “and I feel fine,” but I can’t.  The truth is, I am torn up inside. Зарабатывайте играя только на https://777gaminatorslots.com/resident/.  It’s a bittersweet moment.  I’m part proud that my little guy easily transitioned away from nursing without issue.  One night, we just went for it, I sang him a song, put him in his crib with a little sippy cup of water and his lovey, and he happily drifted off to sleep.  It’s every nursing mothers’ dream… Or is it?  I left his room and within five minutes, I broke down in tears — I cried for how quickly the past fifteen months flew by.  I cried for the loss of this direct bond shared only between him and me.  I cried because I was afraid he wouldn’t need me anymore.  I cried because I already missed his sweet cuddle against my chest.  I cried because I realized I wasn’t going to be burning an extra 500 calories per day – Haha!

breastfeeding joke

 

Having a a baby takes an emotional toll on a mother, but it also profoundly alters a mother’s body for life.  Tight parts are now a little more wobbly.  Clothing fits differently.  Many moms I know developed permanent allergies postpartum.  But an almost immediate toll on a mother’s body is the hormonal fluctuations.  The happiness, the joy, the sadness, the fear, the feeling that the world is crashing down around you.  And for a nursing mom (at the very least, in my personal experience having done this three times), many of those hormonal changes resurface when nursing ends… So fifteen months later, I’m finally getting my body back.  I’m finally becoming a woman again and not just a feeding station.  But I’m also coming off the high that breastfeeding stimulates.  And I’ll be the first to admit it – I feel happy, I feel down, I feel overwhelmed with emotion.  I feel my body temperature fluctuating.  I feel the fleeting sense of the nursing “high” – the jittery, butterflies in my stomach I always felt when nursing.  It’s a giant mess…  I’ve cried a lot.

But in stronger, more clarifying moments, I feel proud.  I’ve successfully nursed three beautiful, healthy little boys for thirteen, twelve, and almost fifteen months (from oldest to youngest).  I overhauled my entire diet to accommodate little Mr. M’s allergies, and it transformed the way I look at food and what goes into my body.  I’ve learned that to be a strong mother, I need to also take care of myself.  I’ve learned that I have a strength and intense will-power and when I dedicate myself to something, I don’t give up until I’ve tried my very best to succeed.

And the most important lesson I’ve learned — life is fluid and ever changing and the way a child needs his mother changes too.  And although, at the time it seems like the world is ending, my little baby doesn’t need me anymore, he in fact, needs me more than ever – to love him and show him how to be the very best person he can be as he continues to grow.

Three nights after Mr. M stopped nursing, I sat in my room tearing up, when I heard him start to cry.  Our typical instinct would be for me to go in and nurse him quickly back to sleep.  But instead, I crept into his room, scooped him from his crib, rocked him in the chair as he rested his head against my chest.  And lo-and-behold, the little guy fell fast asleep.  I kissed him and hugged him and cried.  But this time, the tears were tears of joy.  I realized, I brought this beautiful little boy into the world and I gave him enough security in the world to know that he didn’t need to nurse anymore to feel calm, safe, and loved.  All he needs are his mommy’s arms to feel the love (and of course his daddy’s too!).

IMG_9955

So long nursing and babyhood and hello toddler-land!

xo

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