The Love of a Mother

Categories: Family, Featured, Gospel, Infertility

This last week was Mother’s Day. It was my fourth with a child in my arms. But it was not my fourth Mother’s Day. In 2014, the first Mother’s Day I had a child in my arms, someone asked me how I was enjoying my first Mother’s Day. I wasn’t sure how to answer that because it wasn’t my first. Brett had been honoring the mother in me since our marriage, seeing in me as Adam saw in Eve while they were still in the Garden of Eden, that she was the mother of all living. And I’d been honoring my own mother in some fashion since 1979, the first Mother’s Day after I was born.

All mothers love their children. Yes, all. Some of them aren’t very good at showing it. Some of them don’t know how to show it properly or safely. But all mothers love their children. In early 2012, before I was pregnant with Iddo, so before most would even consider me a mother, another mom, doing her best to love and defend her children, told me that I would not be a good mom because I was not doing for her daughter what she thought I should. This woman loved her daughter, as she should, but didn’t know how to express that love in a way that didn’t hurt others. I keep in my inbox an email from a friend who knew the situation where she told me “You are a great mother” and then listed several reasons why she would say that.

Note the tense in that email. It was not a statement of future status. It was present tense. I had no children. Yet she told me “You are a great mother.”

I’ve been thinking about the “tense” of motherhood with Mother’s Day this past weekend as I’ve seen this quote several times.

No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child.
– Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold Thy Mother“, General Conference, October 2015

Elder Holland does not specify the location of that child. Is it a child in the womb? Is it a child in arms? A child who has already returned to heaven? Or a child who has not yet left heaven for earth? I would answer yes to all of those questions.

The love of a mother does not require the physical presence of a child to be selfless and devoted. I loved our children long before they came to our home. And I will love them for eternity no matter where they go from here.

Time to Talk

Categories: Family, Gospel, Health, With the Kiddos

When I have a nosebleed I make sure it’s a good one. Twenty minutes is a quick one. Thirty to forty-five minutes is average. When it starts getting close to two hours is when I start to think that maybe I should think about maybe going to a doctor. It’s been that way my whole life. And I’m not the only one in my family that is that way so nosebleeds aren’t something that we freak out about in my family.

Unfortunately Iddo got my nose. Last night was her worst one yet. At 10:30pm we heard her crying in her room and when we went to go check on her she met us half-way in the hall covered in blood and dripping more. I led her into the bathroom, sat her down in my lap, held some kleenex at her nose and started washing her off with baby wipes and singing to her to help her calm down while Brett wiped up the drips on the tile floor and checked out the damage to her bed (which wasn’t a whole lot, surprisingly).

I ended up sitting with her for over an hour as we waited for it to stop and then waited to make sure it stayed stopped. Since she eventually told me to stop singing it gave us plenty of time to talk. And talk we did.

We talked about family history and genetics. I told how her nose is like my nose and like her grandparents’ noses and how that’s because we’re all family and related.

We talked about human anatomy. Because she likes to read our copy of “The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body” she’s familiar with platelets in the blood and what they do. So we talked about how her body was sending platelets to her nose to help the bleeding stop but because of how bad it was bleeding it was going to take a lot of platelets. And then we talked about how she was going to need to take it easy today and drink lots of water today while her body worked on making more blood for her. She asked how her body tells her stuff, like how it tells the platelets where to go. So I asked her if when she needed to go potty if her body told her with words or with a feeling. She said a feeling. I asked her if when she was thirsty if her body told her with words or with a feeling. She said a feeling. I asked her if when she was tired if her body told her with words or with a feeling. She said a feeling.

We talked about personal revelation. After talking about how her body talks to her with feelings and not words I explained that that is often how Heavenly Father talks to us too. When He wants us to know that He loves us He will often tell us with a feeling instead of words. When He wants us to know what to do he will most often tell us with feelings and not words. When He wants us to know He is proud of us, that He is happy for us, he most often will tell us with feelings instead of words.

I am grateful Heavenly Father gives me feelings and impressions so I can take advantage of these moments to talk with our kids whenever they happen to come up. Even if it’s after 11pm while we’re sitting on the bathroom floor.

Setting the tone

Categories: Family, Happy Things

Last Friday I took our kids to the library for our regular every-third-Friday trip to the library. As they were wandering around, sitting in every chair to read their books, checking themselves out with the laser scanner, etc (all in the kids area), I saw an older gentleman watching and I could tell he was getting ready to say something about me having my hands full or something like that.

Checking myself out Have you seen this book yet?

Before he got the chance though I started the conversation with a big smile and said “We have a lot of fun.” Because we do. And that’s what I want my kids to hear adults talking about with regards to them. That they are a joy. That I have fun. That our life is a great adventure. I will not bash my husband in public and I will not do the same to my children. Enjoying our kids is a choice, and it’s a moment to moment choice I have to make, not even a day to day choice. And some times it’s a real hard choice and some times I choose differently. But I try real hard to enjoy them when we’re out in public because I never want them to hear me talking to others about them not being good or fun. Iddo asked me once what “hands full” meant and that’s when I knew we’d been hearing it too often.

As I talked with that proud grandpa that afternoon I realized that I’ve been taking that route, cutting in before strangers can say something stupid, a lot lately. And it’s made me enjoy going out a whole lot more. Besides, it allows me to set the tone for the conversation. When I start it I get to hear about their fun kids or grandkids. Instead of passing on misery we get to pass along joy.

Sharing

Categories: Gospel, Infertility

A question was posed in church this morning about why people dealing with certain trials needed to come out and tell everyone what their trials are. Shouldn’t they just keep that to themselves since it’s really nobody’s business to begin with? It was a very specific trial being discussed and not one I personally struggle with, but it made me think about my own trials, how much of them I share, who I share them with, and more importantly, why I share what I do about them.

One of my major mortal trials is my infertility. I will never get pregnant without the extreme efforts of medical specialists. Technically, the only people who really need to know about this are my husband and my doctor. It’s really nobody else’s business. And yet I often feel driven to share this trial with others, and for a variety of reasons.

I share so that others will know they are not alone. In a church with a strong emphasis on families and children, where people make off-handed comments about God sending so many children to the righteous women today, it can feel very isolating to not be able to have children or not be able to have as many as you would like. Knowing that others have been where you are, and kept moving forward, can really help you to move forward as well.

I share so that others will understand why I react the way I do in certain situations. Some baby showers I can go to. Other days it’s just too hard. Some days I can laugh off your question of if I’m pregnant or not. Other days I’m going to go home and sob some ugly tears. And before I was ever married and making actual plans for kids I was never one to play “pass the baby” with the babies of others (I wait for the mom to offer to let me hold the baby, I never ask), so after going through all we did to get them here, I’m rather possessive of our kids and I’ll-just-hold-them-the-whole-time-thank-you-for-the-offer-but-I’ve-got-this. At one point I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to hold my own babies in this world so I’m going to hold them as much as I possibly can now that I have the chance.

But the big reason I share my struggles is because of how my struggles, my weaknesses, my trials, have affected my relationship with my Heavenly Father. If I share my testimony of prayer it will include all the prayers we offered while undergoing treatment. If I share my testimony of family it will include all that I learned about the eternal nature of family while we experienced the loss of children we never got a chance to meet. If I share my testimony of Heavenly Father’s love for me it will include the peace He gave me when I was at my uttermost bottom. If I share my testimony of service it will include the strength I was given when I prayed not for myself, but for my husband who was suffering in his own way right along side me. If I share my testimony of fasting it will include the strength we felt from the fasts our families and friends did on our behalf.

I cannot explain to you who I am without explaining this part of me to you.

So no, you might not need to know the details of my mortal struggles. But if you don’t know my struggles you can’t know me.

Nicknames

Categories: Family, Remembers, Work

Nicknames have rarely stuck with me. My name isn’t one that can be shortened so there isn’t a natural nickname to associate with it so I never really had a nickname as a child. There were a few boys in elementary school who tried to nickname me Smiley, I believe as an insult based on tone, but it never stuck. Probably because they were trying to annoy me with it and I thought it was fitting so they gave it up.

When I graduated from college and started teaching I felt like I wished there was a ceremony or something in my culture that gave a new name to people when they reached a new stage in life to acknowledge the change, but I didn’t have a name I could change to. And then my students happened. My 5th graders the first year I taught nicknamed me Miss Giggles about half way through the year and I decided there are a lot worse names that students can come up with so I grabbed onto that one and ran with it. The second year I taught I introduced myself to the students and told them they could all call me Miss Giggles if they wanted. Within a year or two most of the younger grades didn’t know my real name, a lot of the teachers referred to me as Miss Giggles, and even the principal called me Miss Giggles a time or two.

The only other nickname I can claim is Princess Eilonwy. When I started getting involved in online forums I used the name “Eilonwy” from The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander as my screen name. It’s the name I was using in the online dating site when Brett and I met so it’s the first name he knew me as. When it’s just the two of us he often still calls me Princess because of that. So it’s not a widely used nickname, but it’s one that means a lot to me.

I don’t anticipate getting any new nicknames as my life progresses. But then you never know.

I’m so crafty

Categories: Family, Happy Things, Infertility, Life

When we were struggling to get pregnant and wondering if and how we would ever have children, I started seeing this graphic online and it honestly bugged me.

crafty

Because I’m crafty gosh darn it! And several times I cried because of all the things I could make and do, I couldn’t make people. And yet I looked at the world and saw all kinds of people making other people and not appreciating what that fully means and seeing it as the incredible and miraculous blessing that it is.

Now, having had the blessing of being able to have children I can honestly say it is a singular experience unlike any other. And it is an incredible blessing. The potential that these mortal and imperfect bodies have is immense. And it has very little to do with my crafting abilities and what I can do with a sewing machine or a glue gun.

As part of this blessing I am so grateful I have been able to breastfeed our children as much and as long as I have. I will confess to not always enjoying the middle of the night ones, but even those have had a sense of the sacred about them. Not only was my body able to create these tiny humans, but it has helped them grow as well.

Knowing that my time nursing is limited and will probably end before I’m actually ready, in October we had a photographer come and record for us what it is like for me to get all three kids lunch and down for naps, including nursing our two little ones. It’s kind of a crazy time of day, but it’s one that we’ve worked out a real good routine for and it was great to have it recorded like this.

keeping watch
being watched
needing more cuddles

I hope I never forget what an incredible blessing it has been to be able to give birth to our children and help them grow. Nor do I want to forget that the role I played wasn’t the only role. It took me, Brett, our fertility doctor, the embryologist, the scientists and doctors over the last 40 years who made IVF as successful as it is today, a quick thinking/working OB who didn’t let Shimei die right before he was born, and God. He is the ultimate creator. Just look at all the people He’s made.

Not for their ears only

Categories: Family

There’s something about having a baby or small child with you that seems to give most people the impression they have the right, or even duty, to say or do stupid things. How many strangers’ heads would you rub or feet would you grab? Exactly. So why do strangers feel it’s okay to rub a baby’s head or grab their feet? Let’s think about this for a minute.

And then if you happen to have two babies (or from what I hear, three or four), then even more people feel it is their duty to remove their mouth filter and just say whatever happens to come to mind.

Thankfully most of the weird people say the same crazy things so by this point, over a year-and-a-half in to having twins, and having heard the stories of other moms before they were born so I could prepare myself, I’ve got some pretty standard answers to their pretty standard crazy.

But my replies aren’t just to help the stranger reattach their mouth filter. My replies are also in large part for the benefit of my kids, who also have to hear these crazy comments and who pick up on them.

One comment I hear a lot is “double trouble!” by some person thinking they are being clever or funny. I definitely don’t want my kids thinking they are trouble of any kind so I always reply to that one with “Nope. Double the fun!”

Another one I hear a lot is “you must have your hands full.” Now that one can seem innocent enough. Until you are trying to explain to your 3-year-old what “hands full” means because she’s heard it so often. How would you explain it? I told her it means you’re busy and have a lot to do and have a hard time doing it. Isn’t that what you think of when you hear the phrase? Would you want your kids thinking you have a hard time being their mom? Now there are moments where it’s hard, definitely, but I do not want them thinking that’s the status quo. Because I baby wear, I’ve had a lot of fun replying to this one most frequently by holding up my empty hands and saying, “Nope, hands free!” And even now that the two little ones are walking everywhere I’m still mostly hands-free. In fact, with their pack-packs, Shimri is often carrying my wallet and keys for me and Shimei is carrying the diapers so I’ve just got my phone in my back pocket. So still, hands-free!

Look kids! No hands! Ready to go!
Note: I’ve only ever actually worn all three kids once, for this photo.

Hopefully my replies help the stranger think about what they are saying and maybe filter a little better in the future. Thankfully I haven’t had anyone say “I’d kill myself if I had twins” (seriously! who says that? because I’ve heard stories) or “Better you than me” (to which the reply will be “we think so too”), but I hope my kids always only hear me talk about them in the best of terms. They’ll live up to what we expect of them and I expect a lot of fun and adventures, so that’s what I tell others we do when I know my kids can hear.