Tag: road babies

Last Time Mom

take pictures in your heart

In the American birth industry (oy ve, it is an industry) a woman who gives birth over the age of 34 is considered “advanced maternal age.” Some statistics say that 20% of babies are now born to women over 40.

So there are a lot of “us.”

I first encountered “AMA” after the horrible appointment in February 2014 when I was told my baby had no heartbeat. My doctor wanted me to schedule a D&C that day, but since I was experiencing no miscarriage symptoms, I chose to wait.

Note: I do not regret this at all. Based on research, it was very possible that my tilted uterus was obscuring the view of the fetus and things were fine. However, God “helped” me out in that 5 days later, I began experiencing pretty severe symptoms along with another ultrasound that showed the fetus was shrinking. I inevitably had a D&C, but I would have never rushed to one.

Anyway, when she sent me away with follow-up paperwork that day, I had to look up everything it had said: “Threatened AB” (which means threatened abortion – potential miscarriage), “AMA.” I am not sure what my age had to do with anything since I had never had a miscarriage nor had any pregnancy complications, but alas. I was labeled.

My granddaughter Nora and me
My granddaughter Nora and me

It became clear to me early in my subsequent pregnancy with Jack exactly what AMA meant. You want to know my unprofessional summation?
It’s a marketing scheme. Surprise! We are in ‘murica, where one of the most natural processes on Earth has been turned into a sanitized and overly-scrutinized-by-insurance choose-your-own-adventure with very little adventure unless women happen to know they can take ownership of their own stories (that’s another post). And being AMA did not mean a darn thing in terms of my pre-natal care or experience, other than I was offered and encouraged to have optional genetic testing done, including an amniocentesis, to determine whether my baby had any genetic defects… even though there was no history in my or my husband’s family to put us at risk for anything other than Celiac disease, dry skin, and chronic stubbornness. 

I declined all the tests.

Please understand my heart. I understand and empathize with why these tests are valuable to some people. I have heard the song “I Will Carry You.” I personally know people who experienced the tragic outcome of trisomy 13 or 18 or have had babies born who needed immediate critical care. But I also know people who did everything preventative in their power, tests, precautions, and were still surprised by a diagnosis in their child that was devastating. And even when we are “prepared” with knowledge, what can we really do in instances of tragedy?

So my heart here was… We are going to get the child we are meant to get. He or she might be in perfect health or might have something severely wrong. Either way, we will care for that child with all the love and resources we can. We would not terminate a pregnancy based on genetic testing because basically, all of them have more than a small chance of being wrong.

Thankfully (and I thank God daily), Jack progressed beautifully. I had a bonus ultrasound at 16 weeks which I thought was only going to tell us his gender (he was, ahem, All Boy), but when the tech took us through indications and markers that I didn’t even know existed and showed us that we essentially had nothing to worry about, my exhale turned into tears pretty quickly.

In a previous post, I mentioned how I compartmentalize my fears. Yeah. I had done that. And I didn’t realize how scared I was that my age or some other factor was adverse affecting my baby until I was told that he was fine.

A few weeks before my due date, I felt like the oldest woman in the world!
A few weeks before my due date, I felt like the oldest woman in the world!

So what good was it to be AMA? Well, here are my thoughts:
A few weeks before my due date, I felt like the oldest woman in the world!

– as a 37 year old with 2 previous births, a miscarriage, and having raised 2 step kids from puberty to adulthood, I had…well, the wisdom of experience. I don’t ever consider myself wise, but at this point in life, I do consider myself experienced. So when other expecting mothers (and I was blessed to be around a lot of them while pregnant with Jack) had concerns and questions, I was able to be That Mom… the Titus Mom…not the voice of expertise, but the voice of experience and encouragement.

I was very clear about what I did not want. I did not want any interventions I didn’t need. I didn’t want to gain unnecessary weight. I didn’t want my baby to have bottles or a schedule.  I didn’t want to fuss with things that didn’t matter or try to take care of anyone outside my immediate family. These were all things I did differently when my girls were born… I had an unnecessarily clinical aftermath of Kaity’s birth (and probably an unnecessary C-section, but that is also another post), I had a hard time losing weight, I didn’t know enough about breastfeeding and gave up for the wrong reasons, and I tried much too hard to take care of more than what or whom I needed to.

I also knew what I wanted. A gentle C-section (thank God this was a readily available process at our local hospital and with my preferred doctor). On-demand, relaxed breastfeeding. Not too many visitors (I lost on this one a little, but only because our baby is so loved).

– I knew what to expect. This mattered on so many levels. I knew what to ask for during all the pre and post operation procedures. (Rod got to be with me during most of my pre-op, not because I was nervous, but because it is boring! If only I had asked for this when I was getting my D&C..)! I knew how to cope with the surgical pain. But more importantly… I knew time was going to fly. I knew Jack would look like a different person in a week. I knew those blurry, mostly-sleepless first nights would not last forever. I knew it was just as important to take pictures with my heart and mind as it was with my camera. And so I savored every single moment. And I still am.

I can espouse on and on about the privilege of being a “last time mom.” I guess that’s a more applicable and less smart-aleck way of reusing the term Advanced Maternal Age. Even though my hair is graying and 40 is only a year and a half away, I don’t feel advanced about much of anything. The longer we are raising kids, the more questions parenting brings. That is why it is important to be a community that shares with love and encouragement. I hope as a mama and stepmom and grandma (this still makes me smile and shake my head), that is what I will always do.

On the road, day 21 of 26

So, on our home of metal and wheels,  far we have visited:

5 states

Dozens of friends, one set of grandparents, 5 aunts, 3 uncles, 2 cousins, one baby!cousin, and one ‘Aunt Jen’s Sister!’

(as well as Mary Poppins, Lilo, Stitch, Buzz, Woody, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, & Pluto).

2 Crackerbarrels, 1 Mexican restaurant – twice, and untold Walmarts

1 dog named Jake

4 churches

1 convention

1 historic city

1 favorite MOUSE HOUSE – where we’ve ridden horses/ponies, boats, trains, more buses, rollar coasters for the first time, and laughed ourselves silly.

We miss our beds, our car, and our FAMILY&FRIENDS at home.

(And I seriously miss my washer and dryer…like, I am going to pet them when I get home).

(OK, and what with the fall premieres, I do miss my DVR, too).

But we give thanks for a life that takes us the homes of people we love, churches that welcome us, little hidden diners, Flying J truck stops, beaches, mountains, places where the pace is slower, and … to adventurous unknowns, together!

Roadschooling and how to change a life

Dedicated to my road/homeschool mommy pals: Maureen, Deanna, MarthaJulie & Renee. Miss you all!

Today we visited a radio station. I wanted to consider it a bit of a field trip for Miranda and Kaity, but ~

they met Jessica, and liked her, a LOT.

So they did not see the studio or go live on the air. In fact, it was difficult to get them to take a picture with their Daddy while he was on the air.

But they did play office with Jessica, seemingly mastering the most important part: ordering lunch.
(For the record, the lunch being ordered was pepperoni pizza and spaghetti. My children are all about the carb-laden office diet… which of course, calls for mid-afternoon sugar!)

While Miranda and Kaity were keeping Jessica’s hands busy protecting office equipment, Rod was on the air with our friend Bruce Edwards, the drive-time voice of Lexington’s almost 25-year old southern gospel station. However, music was not the subject in question

this photo by keelymariescott.com
Our trip to Colombia with Compassion International was.

The staff at WCGW have decided to sponsor a child!

So today, the life of Robinson, a 14 year old boy in Nicaragua, was forever changed.

Every time a child is sponsored, it means that the project church he attends received funding earmarked for him – funds that help provide DAILY healthy meals, clothes, school supplies, and sometimes, even medical care or help for his family.

Most importantly – MOST importantly, it means that this kiddo will now have a personal relationship with a sponsor who loves him, sends encouragement to him, prays for him, and cheers for him.

Jessica, your words will mean the world! – Want to know how I know?

Well for one, there’s Leo.

For two, meet Ben. We did this past Friday at the NQC Compassion breakfast.

Ben was born in a city in Kenya whose name translates to “trash.”

When he was eight years old, he began attending a Compassion project and started school.

He is now in his 20s. He graduated with a degree in Physics. And his family? All believers in Christ!

Think your words don’t mean anything?

Think what you show your kids on field trips or in your daily life don’t amount to much?

Your words and actions, to a child, can change a life!

The Facebook of Judges, Mommy Chapter

Photo: KK climbs to the top!

Confession: I can’t kick Facebook.

Even though I generally have more fun with Twitter,  even though FB can be fraught with drama, I can’t give it up. I have a great time wishing people Happy Birthday even if I haven’t seen them since junior high, I like looking at pictures of people’s kids and vacations and proms, I am seriously happy to have reconnected with teachers I’ve had and friends from Saukview School and people we only see occasionally on the road and to keep up with  friends who live far away.

But I hate, hate, HATE FB drama. I hate when people use their status bar as a weapon or a way to vaguely suggest something BIG is going on so everyone will ask WHAT? These things are the sure ways for me to hit that ‘delete’ button.

There’s another button I’ve been using  lot lately, though, and it’s the HIDE. Because I can’t believe some of the things people write… people whom I am certain would not say such things in Real Life. And I am not talking about the ‘drunk’ FBers, the bitter victims of break ups, or the chronic vulgarity-users. I’m talking about The Mommies, including the Good Christian Mommies, who seem to have the market cornered on what is good for EVERYone’s children.

I have always been a firm believer that everyone who seems to have it All Together likely doesn’t. I’ve told people before: I struggle with new mommies who have perfect figures, because mine is far from the less-than-perfect (but looking back  4 years and 25 pounds ago, pretty hot) one that I had pre-pregnancy. I admit, I have not made my shape a priority, though my appearance pretty much grieves me. I’m a hair and make-up girl, I take pride in looking nice, even if I’m going to just be home all day, but if one more person mistakes my Leftovers for another baby on the way, I might be performing lyposuction on myself. I have made many vows to go running, to stop eating junk, blahblahblah, but I haven’t stuck with anything. It’ MY problem, and when I see Beautiful New Mom of Infant who looks like she belongs in Maxim, it’s hard for me not to hate her a little.Furthermore, being around the skinnies makes me feel inferior.There. I said it.

OK. That was a tangent, and not the real issue here. the one I see running rampant among my 700 or so peeps on FB is the judge-y-ness of other people raise their kids. And it irks me to the bone.

When Rod & I got married 7 years ago, I returned to school to finish my teaching degree. It was a grueling process of a few years: I gave up a great job with great benefits, I was gone 4 nights a week for classes, and then there was the 15-week exercise in torture called Student Teaching (all while going through fertility testing, his dad’s long convalescence with Alzheimer’s, and other fun, blended family stuff). I was fortunate to score an immediate full time position… and then 4 months later, my miracle pregnancy stole the spotlight of my new career.

I had always assumed I would be a ‘working mom,’ but pretty much the moment that test shouted YES, I was in tears telling Rod I had no desire to leave my baby with someone else for 8-9 hours a day. I KNOW many moms don’t have a choice in the matter, and I respect that to the utmost, but I was blessed to have a choice. I had Miranda in November 2006, less than one year after earning my hard-won degree…and the way things are going, I’m fairly certain I won’t return to conventional teaching, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Of course I second guessed that decision, particularly in the first months as I still kept in touch with colleagues, as I missed my Career Clothes, as I longed  for  ‘something else’ to do. I tried a number of avenues (& I apologize for my brief MLM craze & thank all those who had parties for me). I never dreamed that by the time Miranda was 2 (& Kaity was still an infant), that I would have a work-at-home business with my husband, equal to a full time job in its hours, but less predictable than any job I’d ever had.

Working at home – and now both of Randa & KK’s parents do – brings with it a different set of boundaries and issues and decisions. Like every other parent, we are never really ‘off,’ but sometimes, we need to work while the kids are awake and there is no sitter. Sometimes I am giving an interview while they are screaming over a toy. Sometimes I am talking to my boss while helping someone potty, and many times while cooking dinner. Sometimes, God help us all, I plant my kids in front of the TV for a movie or two so I can ‘get some stuff done.’ This is often a source of guilt for me, but sometimes there is not a better option, and my Friends, a word I am using more and more carefully, understand.

Because there is a flip side to the chaos that is our work from home/work from the bus life. My kids have traveled extensively in their short lives. They have seen countless concerts, been to many kinds of churches, and made friends of all ages from people in many different regions. They can sing and have a sincere interest in music. They know how to recognize a time of prayer. They know how to adjust their schedules…on the road, they are often up past midnight and sleeping until 10am…and they are in great health.

Our “chaos,” our lack of convention, flexible schedule, incessant movie watching means that we get to be with our kids most of the time. It means we get to take them to work with us. It means we get to do fun things in different places because when we travel for work, we can often build in some fun time. It means, praise God, that after the madness of May & June, we can take most of July off, and likely December too… So the kids are pretty forgiving that during May & June, I don’t bake the bread, the pizza is out of the freezer instead of  from scratch, and a playdate is 60 minutes at the park with a box of crackers instead of 3 hours at our house with a catered-style lunch.

Our “chaos” also means that things like potty training or craft time or a sugarless diet or whatever 21st century American mommies are supposed to do a certain way… doesn’t get done a certain way. And seriously, until you’ve tried keeping a 2 year old dry while schlepping her through the mountains on a 40 foot piece of steel or taking her in and out of 6 meetings in a day, you really can’t know. What I can tell you is that she will be potty trained…we’re not worried. Nor are we worried about the long-term affects on her health if she eats a cookie before lunch or a piece of taffy during a church service to keep her calm/content.

Photo: Randa thrives in spite of processed cheese.

I am not responding to any specific criticisms I’ve received. My mommy friends mostly have lives completely  different than mine, but are fully supportive of each other. We play off one another’s strengths and support each other in our shortcomings. I could not ask for better people to navigate this road alongside me.

And truly, I think much of these FB JUDGMENTS of which I speak are not meant to be so stinking critical. I just wish women would consider how their statements might sound to others. That kid wigging out in the store while your precious one is sitting perfectly still might have a tummy ache, might be a much-tossed-about foster kid, might have been in court that morning, might have a developmental difference, or might, you know, just be having a bad day like everyone else is entitled to do. That mom letting her child eat a TREAT instead of a meal? Perhaps they just came from dropping Daddy at the airport for a long trip, or the dog just went away on a permanent trip. And that kid who has a bottle, a sippy, mom’s milk, a diaper, a paccy, a blankie, co-sleeps, blahblah whatever longer than yours did? Ask yourself: why do you care?

I know there are some less-than-great moms out there and some kids who are just plain unruly. But how could we possibly tell the difference from a brief encounter? How can we possibly know what their lives are like? And really, are Pull-ups or processed American cheese or the occasional popscicle for lunch going to cause our children to drop out of school and develop into societal menaces? Is it going to make us better moms or our children better people if we are measuring our own successes by the “shortcomings” of others?

All we can do is the best we can do… and I think part of that best is choosing to support other moms and kids trying to figure this out instead of letting them know how to do it better/just like we would. Before you hit that ‘submit’ button, consider what others might post in response to seeing one of your challenging mommy moments.