JJ's First Birthday
Time for a smash cake...well...a healthy smash cake!! Recipe here!
Nothing and no one can ever prepare you for how it feels to meet your child. When I gave birth to my first son, Grant, 5 years ago he was 6 weeks early and not only were we so unprepared, but we were so scared! I had an entire NICU team in the room when I gave birth and he was in the NICU for 9 days afterward. The experience was scary, but we felt so lucky that he was healthy and we were able to be in the hands of an incredible team of professionals. I always tell my pregnant friends that meeting your child is the closest thing to euphoria that you will experience in your life. It is the craziest, all-consuming emotion. I still live in that amazing space of happiness with my first child and feel as though I have a 6thsense when it comes to my connection with my son, Grant. I always believed in soulmates, but never realized that the children we create could be those soulmates
After giving birth to a child, you know what that instant love feels like, so when it is taken from you…needless to say, your world shatters. We are so lucky that Grant was a healthy baby and is still a healthy and happy child. I will, for the rest of my entire life, thank God every day for allowing Grant to enter my life and for his health. With that said, I became pregnant a few months before Grant turned 3…with a little girl. I couldn’t believe how happy I was! To give you the short version of the story, we sadly lost our precious baby about halfway through the pregnancy. There was no reason. There were no answers. I have never felt that overwhelming amount of sadness ever in my life. My heart still hurts when I think about her, and I think I will forever feel as though part of my heart is missing. I was so broken. Especially after knowing the love I feel for Grant, and how excited I was to have another child, I felt connected to her and couldn’t wait to see what she was going to be like, and then all there was…was sadness.
After that, I was very ready to get pregnant again as soon as possible. I probably rushed into it sooner than I should have, but I knew that I wouldn’t be better until that void was filled in some way. I knew that she couldn’t be replaced, but that we did want another child. I am very lucky to have been able to get pregnant right away, but then…a pregnancy of complete and utter stress!
Grant is on the left and JJ is on the right!
It’s funny how things work out. I had been contributing to Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family show for a few years and it was my dream job to get picked up on the show full-time. Well, dreams come true when you least expect it because I officially started as a regular on the show when I was pregnant! Talk about a supportive and encouraging work environment. They gave me the job knowing I was going to have a baby and said I could take as much time as I needed. My pregnancy with JJ was a bit of a blur. I had to take progesterone shots to prevent a preterm labor, and I cannot tell you how many times I called the doctor just to see if they could give me an ultrasound so that I could hear his heart. I just needed to know that he was ok. I went into labor 5 weeks early with JJ, and then, it stopped!! It stopped for two more weeks! I was in full labor, 4cm dilated and then…nothing. They ended up inducing me, thankfully, and the labor itself was great. The moment I met JJ was similar to when I met Grant but, in a weird way, very different. I had that overwhelming love that I always bragged about with Grant, but it felt different. I had so much relief but part of me was sad. Part of me felt guilty for being happy about having another baby. I’m sure it was the hormones and all of the emotions in the process, but it was such a rollercoaster of happiness and sadness and guilt…all at the same time! I think this is something moms who have gone through loss often experience. The good news, that guilt fades.
JJ had the absolute sweetest demeanor! He STILL is the sweetest, happiest baby I have ever met…yes, even compared to Grant! They are both so happy, but JJ has a sweet calmness about him that Grant doesn’t have. Grant is all energy all the time while JJ has a softness to him. JJ gave me a run for my money the first few months of his life…well the first year. Yes, he was the sweetest, but he had colic and would cry for hours. Then, my friends, the cold season hit and he got RSV. To make a very long story…longer… JJ and I were taken to the pediatric ICU in an ambulance and spent over a week in the hospital, which also happened to be the week of Christmas. Yup, him and I spent Christmas in the PEDIATRIC ICU…
Those moments in the hospital really tested my mental toughness. I watched my 2-month-old baby get IV after IV and scream and not be able to breathe. It was similar to the stress of having Grant in the NICU, and again…similar but different. Each situation taught me how to be strong in a terrible circumstance. I was strictly breastfeeding JJ to this point, but because my stress was so terrible, I couldn’t produce milk in the hospital. I struggled with the decision to give him formula since I had worked so hard not to up until this point, but my baby needed to eat. I gave in, and I have to tell you, it was the best thing I ever did. I don’t know if it was my breastmilk, but after we introduced formula, JJ’s gas subsided and he was able to sleep, which means he was able to get better. I will warn you now if you want to write a mean comment to me about the decision to stop breastfeeding when and how I did, then it’s time for you to leave my website. It was this experience that really taught me not to judge other moms for their decisions. Some moms cannot breastfeed at all, some moms adopt and don’t even have that option. If you choose to belittle and judge a mom who is doing her best, then you need to re-evaluate your own life…ok off my soapbox now.
I really didn’t think I was going to write this much in this post! When I sat down to write this, I figured that I would talk about how much I love JJ and that would be it, but the story just started to come out.
I will finish this by telling you that JJ has for sure given me a run for my money. It took him months…MONTHS to even sleep through the night once, BUT he is the happiest and sweetest baby in the world. I light up when I see him, I no longer feel guilty for loving him. I look at him and truly cannot imagine my life without him. I know and trust that everything in life happens for a reason, as cheesy as that is to say. I know that I was supposed to feel this pain in my life. I know that I was supposed to feel this love in my life. I know what I have gone through is nothing compared to what other moms have gone through. I know that I am so much stronger and a better mom, and person, because of what I have gone through. I really hope that if you are a mom reading this that has struggled with loss or is struggling with a difficult baby that has colic or doesn’t sleep, to trust that this is making you the person you are supposed to be. OK, now I know I’m getting cheesy and emotional, but that’s what happens when you have kids! The struggle IS real and moms are the strongest!
Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby boy James Joseph! I love him more than I ever thought possible and I am so grateful for him every single day.