It's Okay to Feel
I'm a mom of two beautiful daughters, Norah Lynn, who just turned 2 years old, and Gwendolyn Goldie, who is 4 months old.
Norah, aka Henry (I'll elaborate), was a completely healthy pregnancy. It was a long, excruciating, posterior birth but healthy none the less. Henry, who we were told was a boy at 20 weeks (in TWO ultrasounds) was born Norah. That's a whole other blog post in itself that maybe I'll get to sometime. ;)
Gwendolyn Goldie, though her gender wasn't a surprise to us, but the tons of tests and scares were.
Let it be said that I am lucky. I am blessed to have two healthy, happy and prospering daughters. I feel tremendously for those who have had much tougher situations than me, but I had to tell myself, it's okay to feel.
While I was pregnant with Gwen, our first scare was low fluid levels. I got a call after a routine ultrasound letting me know my amniotic fluid levels were low and needed rechecked. Now if you were anything like me, you have no idea what that could mean. So I did what anyone does and GOOGLED IT. Don't do that. It will tell you a scrape is impending doom.
During the ultrasound everything ended up being okay, so weight off the shoulders.
Then, you guessed it, they found something else. We got the call right before Thanksgiving about something they found on the last ultrasound, a "soft spot" on her heart. They told us not to worry, it could be nothing, but that we needed a consult from Iowa City to double check. If you're still like me, you worry. I heard "heart" and was a mess.
After waiting long weeks trying not to be a stressed, mess over the holidays, because that in itself wasn't making Gwen's environment any better, we finally had our ultrasound. Everything checked out okay, thank the Lord! and guys, I was HUGE. Like topple over kind of large..
We could finally take a breather, we thought, being thankful for the follow through but annoyed with the unnecessary stress.
My natural birth was so much better the second time around, let me tell you. We got to leave the hospital after just 24 hours! Before leaving our family doctor had to make a trip in to give Gwen a routine once over to give us the go ahead for home. During this routine check up, he found two things. One, a dimple on her lower back which needed further testing to see if it resembled any sort of spina bifida, thankfully tests came back normal. Second, a hip click. He checked this by applying pressure to her hip joints to make sure they were stable and in place. He filled us in on what this could mean and scheduled a follow up ultrasound and orthopaedic appointment in Iowa City. He reassured us it could be nothing but wanted to be sure in his slightest assumptions, which I am forever grateful for.
We took our little Gwen to Iowa City at just 11 days old. We were terrified and totally lost in a giant hospital, talk about stressed out. They concluded after an ultrasound that she had hip dysplasia but she was so little they didn't want to do any corrective procedures hoping that by our return check up at 6 weeks it would correct itself.
When we returned 6 weeks later, we had no such luck, with her right hip being "okay but not in normal range" and her left being "completely unstable". Gwen had to wear a pavlik harness for 7 weeks. This meant, being careful, no cute outfits I had picked out, no baths, and adaption.
My heart sank. I struggled with how I should feel for so long. Of course I was thankful, so incredibly thankful for our family doctor and his follow through and so thankful that it wasn't a chronic or life threatening issue. It was a problem, that had a solution.
But this is where I struggled.
I fought guilt for so long. "It's her hip, it should get better." "Other parents go through much worse, I can't complain."
But I felt so sad, and this sense of grief I'd never had before.
Grief of missing out, not getting to snuggle my kid like every other parent. Grief of feeling like I should have done something to prevent this. Grief of missing out on all the cute baby moments that were crowded by appointment after appointment. Grief of no fun, bath time, baby carriers, swaddling and changing how I breastfed. I was consumed by watching her so closely and hardly letting her out of my sight incase something else could go wrong.
I had to learn that it's okay. It's okay to feel. Even if some people have it worse, that doesn't mean you can't be sad. It doesn't mean you can't feel like you missed out. You have to be strong for them when they can't. Just know, it's not your fault, you're not alone, and it does get better. It's not for the faint of heart, but you got this. If I did it, so can you, because all the heartache now is worth the effort later. Even when you're child isn't 100% healthy, they are 100% loved and that's what really makes the difference.
My Gwennie is now almost 5 months old, healthy, happy, beyond loved as always, and has two 100% normal hips, and even if she didn't I'd love her just the same. It's okay to feel sad, but sadness doesn't have to last. Remember to find the joy, it eases heartache and that's what makes them smile too.