Mom Friends Postpartum Care Kits: The Hero We Deserve

[Jerry Seinfeld voice]

What’s the deal with babies getting all the stuff?

baby shower gifts

My first born was hella spoiled.

I mean, let’s be real: when it comes to getting that baby out, mom does all the work.

She nurtures it inside of her for nine long months, and when the big day finally arrives, she endures the most painful hours of her life in the form of labour or severe abdominal surgery.

And don’t even get me started on the recovery process.

Guys – this baby thing is no joke. Mom deserves something for her efforts.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

MOM FRIENDS POSTPARTUM KITS: THE HERO WE DESERVE

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Look, I’m all about showering babies with clothes and toys and RESPs, and I am so incredibly grateful for everything that I have been given.

But like the Food Shower, sometimes it’s good to give mom a little extra something. Whether that something is in the form of food or adult diapers – there isn’t a new mom I know who wouldn’t welcome it with open arms.

Speaking of adult diapers, I was fortunate enough to receive the Above & Beyond the Bump Postpartum Care Kit courtesy of Mom Friends, a Canadian company that is working to bust postpartum stigma and increase women’s access to practical information, peer support and postpartum resources.

[Frank Costanza voice]

Finally, a Tucks for the rest of us! (And a bunch of other sweet PP swag, too, so keep reading).

ABOUT MOM FRIENDS

Mom Friends was founded by three Canadian women who know a thing or two about what moms really need after giving birth. They’re moms themselves, so they’re not afraid to tell it like it is: having a baby is serious business, and women need all the support they can get.

Adult diapers? Check.

Cooling pads for your nether regions? Check.

Delicious milk chocolate to snack on while in labour? HELLA CHECK.

They know what’s really going on during that joyous postpartum period, and their kits definitely reflect it.

Don’t believe me?

Keep reading.

The Kits

Mom Friends Postpartum Kits

Currently, Mom Friends offers two postpartum care kits – Beyond the Bump ($65) and Above & Beyond the Bump ($93) – chock full of practical and essential items moms need after delivery. Click here to learn more about them from the official website, or continue reading to see what is in my very own personal kit.

ABOVE & BEYOND THE BUMP

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

I don’t know about you, but when I pack a suitcase, I fold everything poorly, cram as much as I possibly can into it, zip it up, and say a little prayer. These kits on the other hand, are clearly packaged with expert care. First impressions are everything, and Mom Friends impresses right off the bat.

Unlike me, it’s obvious that this company pays close attention to each and every detail, and that includes everything from the packaging to the products themselves. There is no cramming. There is no praying. Simply a flawless box polished with a delightful bow.

It’s basically a work of art. I almost didn’t want to open it.

Almost.

There’s a reason I’m a writer and not an entrepreneur – but enough about my failed dreams: let’s get to the good stuff.

FOR THE LADYBITS

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Mom Friends has mom covered from head to vagina – literally.

Let’s start with the latter.

We all know that for most women, labour means that their ladybits are about to have the worst day of their life.

But it doesn’t have to totally suck.

This kit has everything a woman could possibly want to ease postpartum discomfort “down there”, including:

  • Adult diapers
  • Feminine pads
  • Granny panties
  • Epsom salts
  • Tucks personal cleansing pads
  • Witch Hazel
  • Perineal spray bottle

Why this is awesome: Thanks to Mom Friends, I don’t have to look the 17-year-old Shoppers Drug Mart cashier in the eye when they ring up a sale of bulky, overpriced adult diapers and mondo pads. Also, did you know that Witch Hazel can be applied to a cesarean section scar to reduce pain and swelling? I wish someone had told me that two-and-a-half years ago.

FOR THE BOOBIES

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

To help mom out on the upper deck, this kit also contains:

  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • Disposable and reusable nursing pads

Why this is awesome: For the breastfeeding mom, there’s no greater joy than not having your expensive nursing bras stained with over-eager breastmilk. I’ll also take no cracked nipples for $100, Alex.

FOR THE MOM

Mom Friends Postpartum Kit

Keeping hydrated and fuelled for what could be a marathon labour is no small task.

And that’s just pre-baby challenges.

After baby comes, mom needs to be taken care of as well – both physically and otherwise. Fear not, Mom Friends once again has you covered. In the Above & Beyond kit, there is also:

  • Lip balm
  • Lactation tea
  • A soap bar
  • Chocolate and energy bars
  • A water bottle
  • Brochure on postpartum depression

Why this is awesome: While I’m tempted to list a thousand reasons why chocolate is bae, I have to give a shout-out to Mom Friends here for not shying away from the fact that postpartum mental health is important AF. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, as many as 20 per cent of new moms experience varying degrees of postpartum depression, so if you plan on bringing a new mom a savory treat when you visit her, don’t forget to also ask her how she’s doing. It may not be as delicious, but it’s a hell of a lot more sweet.

NOT AS UNFIT

As my due date looms, I’m feeling more and more prepared thanks to the incredible support system I have around me.

But many women aren’t as lucky.

If someone you know is expecting, be a friend. Don’t forget about baby, but I urge you to strongly consider a Mom Friends postpartum kit in lieu of a diaper cake and 20 pack of facecloths.

Trust me – a little extra mom love will go a long way.

Mother and newborn

Four weeks to go until I can do this again!

Less Stuff, More Food: Why The Food Shower Is Where It’s At

This past weekend, my aunt threw me a small, intimate baby shower to celebrate my second little boy who is currently roundhouse-kicking his way across my uterus.

Now you may be wondering: but Becca, you don’t seem like the type of humble, agreeable human being who would enjoy such festivities, so what gives?

It’s true.

I don’t particularly like showers of any kind, including – but not limited to – ones that are thrown in my honour. However, due to the past and present generosity of both friends and family, my tiny black heart has managed to grow several sizes.

This weekend was no exception.

The theme of this shower – and by “shower”, I mean “a relaxing, casual afternoon surrounded by close friends and family sipping wine and eating gourmet sandwiches” – was food.

Food: literally the best part of life.

Food: get in my fat, disgusting pregnant belly.

Food: listen, I can’t stop eating … no seriously you guys, I have a problem.

The Food Shower

The Food Shower is hands down, the most brilliant way to help out second-time moms since rich people invented the nanny.

In lieu of gifts, tacky games, and similar standard baby shower fare, guests were instead asked to prepare and bring a meal that could be frozen, so my family wouldn’t have to worry about eating McDonald’s five nights a week cooking immediately after the baby arrives.

No cooking.

No grocery shopping.

No meal prep.

No dishes.

What new parent wouldn’t want that? Screw diaper cakes and games and registries – give me family, friends, and frozen meals any day.

So if you’re planning on throwing a mom-to-be – especially a second, third or fourth time one – a baby shower, consider this alternative to the standard nonsense.

Less stuff, more food.

You literally can’t go wrong.

Especially with a haul like this.

Gym Class Hero (Ode To My Mother)

Image courtesy of iStock.

“I’d be lost without her,” my friend lamented the other day.

She was talking about her mother.

It was a foreign sentiment to me–the earnest appreciation of the bond between mother and daughter. I suppose it’s because the relationship with my own mother has always been strained.

From an early age, I knew my mother was different from other moms. Around the same time, I believe she came to a similar realization about me; that I was not going to be the daughter she’d always imagined I’d be.

I think that’s when the distance between us began to grow. We have always been two extremely different people from two extremely different worlds. Throughout the years, I’ve lost count of the times and ways we’ve hurt each other; the months we’ve gone without speaking.

Today, the absence between us is as wide as it is far. It will never recede–something I accepted long ago. When I became a mother myself, it still wasn’t enough to bridge the gap we’d created over time and space.

But when push comes to shove, she’s always had my back.

GYM CLASS HERO

It was 1996 and I was in the eighth grade. Gym class had just ended and I was changing in the locker room with the rest of the girls from my class.

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, one of the loudest and most aggressive girls in the class yelled out, “Rebecca smells!” and the room erupted in laughter.

For the record, this was probably the first and only time I’d ever experienced any form of “bullying”. By today’s standards, being called out for stinking up the place (which I did NOT, by the way) wouldn’t even register on the bullying scale.

While being made fun of in front of half the class by the girls who could afford new clothes and dance lessons wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities, I got over it pretty quickly. Again, let’s not even call this bullying.

Let’s call it what it really is–kind of hilarious.

At least I thought so.

I remember casually mentioning the incident to my mother over supper that night, but thought nothing more of it the next day. Life resumed.

At least I thought it did.

Little did I know, while I was eating my lunch in the cafeteria the following afternoon, my mother was on a mission. After the lunchroom cleared out and the children were herded outside, something strange started happening.

One by one, they came up to me.

And one by one, they apologized.

“I’m sorry I laughed yesterday in the locker room.”

“She shouldn’t have said that to you for no reason.”

“I apologize for saying that you smell, I won’t do it again.”

It was a very confusing time.

Don’t Mess With My Child

I never found out exactly what she did, or how she did it.

Did she spend the night calling around to a handful of eighth grade moms, demanding an apology from their daughters?

Did she march down to the schoolyard that morning to meet with the gym teacher?

Did she somehow manage to personally track down and confront each and every one of those girls?

Furious and mortified beyond belief, I refused to speak to her for days. My life was over. How dare she embarrass me like that! I didn’t need my mommy to fight my battles. This wasn’t even a battle!

But that’s the thing. She wanted to fight for me, even if I didn’t want to fight for myself.

And whether she knew by doing what she did, she would make my life a lot worse, I eventually came to understand that it came from a place of love. Despite our differences, at the end of the day, she was just a mom, standing in front of a gobsmacked preteen girl, asking her not to bully her child.

So happy Mother’s Day, mom.

We may not always see eye to eye, but you’ll always be my gym class hero.

So You Want To Destroy Your Vagina: My VBAC Journey – Part 1

Guys, my ladybits are chill.

Like, super-intact and impeccable.

I’m talking fully-functional, here–unaltered and unscathed. That’s because they narrowly avoided the eight-pound fetus that almost came rip-roaring through them nearly two-and-a-half years ago.

Don’t envy me just yet, though.

I am also the proud owner of a six-inch abdominal scar, and vivid memories of excruciating surgery that took weeks to heal–both physically, and otherwise.

I WAS THE 17%: 2014-2015 CesarEan Section RATES in Canada

In 2014, after going into labour naturally but ultimately not progressing, I delivered my son via unplanned cesarean section (c-section). Much to my dismay, I was part of the 17 per cent of Canadian women under the age of 35 whose first baby was born by c-section.

My son’s birth was a hugely disappointing experience, and while I’m grateful for no complications and a good recovery, it left a lasting impact. Mostly though, it motivated me to educate myself and solemnly swear to rejig my plans should I ever be stupid brave enough to do this again.

30 weeks pregnant with #2 = stupid enough to do this again. Image courtesy of Clipartfest.

So You Want To Destroy Your Vagina: The VBAC

Pronounced “vee-back”, this innocent-sounding acronym stands for vaginal birth after cesarean, and is seriously badass.

Why?

Because women who decide to attempt a VBAC are foregoing their right to request an elected repeat c-section, and instead, are willing to subject themselves to 1) hella pain 2) some pretty scary sounding risks and 3) crazy stupid disappointment should the VBAC be unsuccessful.

The good news?

According to OntarioPrenatalEducation.ca, giving birth vaginally after a previous c-section is quite safe, and the success rate for many women is upwards of 70-80 per cent.

Benefits also include:

  • No risk of complications from an abdominal operation
  • Reduced risk of blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Reduced risk of a postpartum fever
  • Reduced risk of an infection
  • Being able to walk sooner after birth
  • A shorter recovery time
  • Satisfaction of having a vaginal birth
  • Earlier start to breastfeeding and better success with breastfeeding at three to six months
  • Fewer potential complications for the newborn

MY TOP 5 VBAC PREPARATION TIPS

This time, I’m doing things differently, so that I have the best chance of sabotaging my vajayjay having the birth I always wanted. I learned a lot from my first birth, and I feel so much better informed and prepared this time around.

Check out my Top 5 VBAC Preparation Tips below:

        1. Research hospitals / birth centres in your area
          Did you know that hospitals are required to disclose their c-section rates? For my first birth, I decided to deliver at the hospital closest to my home–without thinking too critically about it. Big mistake. After my hugely disappointing delivery, I did a little digging and was surprised to find out that this hospital had the highest rate of c-section deliveries in the entire city – a staggering 33%! Needless to say, I’ve made a switch.
        2. If your pregnancy is low-risk, consider a midwife.
          Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy, birth and newborn care. In Ontario, they are funded by the provincial government, so their services are free. Furthermore, becoming a midwife in Ontario requires a four-year university education at one of three accredited institutions: Ryerson, Laurentian or McMaster University. If you are looking for an advocate, informed choice, excellent continuity of care, and a more personalized experience with minimal intervention, a midwife is an excellent option. Midwives are generally more open to VBACs as well, which sealed the deal for me, personally.
        3. Consider hiring a doula.
          Truthfully, the idea of having a doula always seemed a little hippy-dippy to me, but I’ve changed my tune in recent weeks. Although they can be costly (services range from $600-$1,000), a doula provides individualized, non-clinical support and care during childbirth and the postpartum period. According to DONA International, doulas have been shown to reduce the rate of c-sections by anywhere from 28 to 56 per cent.
        4. Read read read.
          I’m constantly researching and reading up on pregnancy, birth and delivery, to the point where I almost feel like a first time mom. There is always something new to learn. I highly recommend Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Childbirth Without Fear, and have you heard of the internet? There are dozens of great studies and articles out there pertaining to VBACs in particular, so get into it.
        5. Attend classes or seminars
          Do a little research in your area and see if your local hospitals or birth centres put on any classes or seminars. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending one put on by this program, and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m all in, baby.

But we should probably talk about the risks, too.

VBAC Risks

Typically, most big decisions–like the time I decided to play drinking games with a $13 bottle of Zinfandel–are usually accompanied by certain risks.

Remember university? Me either.

According to The Ottawa Hospital’s Plan of Care for Birth After a Previous Cesareanrisks associated with a trial of labour and planned VBAC include:

  • Unsuccessful trial of labour (due to lack of labour progress or other concerns) which requires a c-section
  • Infection after birth
  • Blood transfusion
  • Uterine rupture
  • Severe injury/damage to the uterus that requires a hysterectomy
  • Permanent harm to the baby or death of the baby

Fortunately, the most serious risks are extremely rare, and typically hospitals–like mine–take monitoring and safety measures extremely seriously.

Guys, my ladybits are chill.

Time to see what they can do.

Stay tuned.

I’m so glad my mother doesn’t read my blog.

I’m Tired of Talking About It: Do I have Gestational Diabetes Or Not?

Are you as sick of reading about my potential gestational diabetes diagnosis as I am of writing about it?

You’re in luck, because this is the last time either of us have to endure it.

After a week of officially freaking out (mostly sulking), not sleeping (there’s a shocker) and eating healthy (barf-o-rama), I am happy–and frankly, a little shocked–to report that I do not have gestational diabetes.

Far from it, actually.

According to science, my fat, disgusting pregnant body is completely normal when it comes to insulin production and blood sugar regulation.

My Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) Results

So what gives?

Why all the unnecessary stress over nothing?

Only around 75% accurate

Last week, my midwife–rather unconvincingly–tried to assure me that the first test I spectacularly failed–the Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)–is actually only around 75% accurate.

Of course, I couldn’t take what a grown woman in overalls was telling me at face value without conducting my own research.

So I did, and it turns out she was right.

According to a study* conducted in 2012, if there are 100 women that actually have gestational diabetes, 74 will have a positive GCT test, and the other 26 won’t know that they have it. The 77% “specificity” means that if 100 random women test positive for GD, 23 of them (including me in this case) don’t actually have it.

Yo, science: listen up. There has to be a better option than putting us through this crap. On behalf of fat, disgusting pregnant women everywhere–please come up with a better plan.

I’ll leave you to it while I power through this box of Oreo thins over here.

No calls.

*Shoutout to my new friend and fellow toddler mom Sarah, who helped me make sense of the study. Women & Science, y’all. 

Three Mugs

This past Christmas, we surprised the grandparents with the announcement of a new baby on the way.

I came up with the idea of sharing the news via personalized mugs, each containing an ultrasound photo. I bought the mugs, and I printed the photos. I carefully wrapped each mug in colourful Christmas cheer, and presented it to each of them on Christmas Day.

It went off without a hitch.

There was joy, and there were tears.

There were only three mugs.

five years

Five years ago today, my father passed away. It’s been 1,826 days, and I still don’t talk about him much. I’ve written more words down than I’ve ever said aloud, and that suits me just fine.

I still think about him, though.

Mostly, I think about what he’s missed, what he’s missing, and what he will continue to miss as my life — and all of our lives — continue on. I think about my anger surrounding his illness and death, and yes, I still curse to high hell the grief that just never seems to subside.

As I lined up those three mugs on Christmas Day, I felt robbed and empty and gutted, but nobody could know. Especially not my mother, whose solitary Nana mug stood bravely in obvious isolation to those of her co-grandparent counterparts.

Robbed because he’ll never get to meet my sons.

Empty because he never got to see me become a mom.

Gutted because I know he would have loved my kids more than anything in this world, and he never got the chance.

But when I became a mom, I spent some time reflecting on being a part of the Dead Dads Club as a parent. Here are my top three pieces of advice to fellow club members with little ones, or little ones on the way:

1. Stop feeling let down by good things.

Creatively revealing my pregnancy to my mother and in-laws over the holidays should have been fun, but it just ended up feeling insincere and forced. I felt like a giant, phony ball of excitement as I plastered on a fake smile, waiting for their reaction. I was too focused on who wasn’t there, and not focused enough on who was. I ignored their joy, and focused on my misery instead. So if you’re standing where I am right now, stop looking through each one of life’s milestones with grief coloured glasses. You can’t go back. You can only keep living your life. The good things — I mean the really good things — don’t come around very often. Cherish them.

2. It’s okay to feel cheated.

I hate that my dad never got to see me become a mom, but what hurts even more is my sons won’t grow up to know him. I got 29 years with him, but all they’ll get are faded photographs and grainy, 80s-era home movies. But that’s life, and life isn’t fair. It’s a sobering reminder, and it’s helped me to appreciate what I do have a lot more. Yes, I’ve been robbed. But I’ve also been blessed. See #3.

3. Remember that they’re still here, in a way.

Though I’ll never again hear his voice, see his face, or surprise him at the holidays, my dad is still here, in a way. I get to see him every day. No, he didn’t get a mug this past Christmas — but he got something that nobody else did. Something infinitely more valuable.

He got his smile.

And nobody — even death — can take that away from him.

To My Newly Pregnant Friend

Image courtesy of Babycentre.

You’ve been waiting for this for so long, and it’s finally here. It probably doesn’t even feel real at this point.

But holy crap, you’re pregnant!

I couldn’t be happier for you, and I am so thrilled you are joining me on this journey. We’ve been on this adventure together before, and we’ve had many since. There have been ups and downs, but today, everything is up. Everything is good. I want to celebrate and shout it from the rooftops. There are so many things I want to say, and there are some that I know I don’t need to.

I don’t need to tell you how exciting this is.
I know how hard it was for you to get here, to this place. How frustrating this journey was, and how much you had to sacrifice. But it paid off, and nothing can compare to that feeling: the joy of a brand new life, the simple thrill of things finally working out, and the quiet anticipation of the days ahead. Hold onto that excitement, because frankly, you are going to need it.

I don’t need to tell you how scary this is, either.
More than anyone, you know the flood of emotions that comes barrelling in the second that line turns pink. For most women, it’s a moment of pure, utter joy. But for women like us, it’s a little more complicated. After the initial shock, there’s a brief moment of happiness, which quickly melts into fear. Overwhelming, crippling fear. Will it happen again? And will I survive, if it does? Let these feelings in, but don’t let them win. Don’t let them stamp out your joy.

I don’t need to tell you that there are going to be some dark days.
Any pregnant woman will tell you that pregnancy isn’t full of sunshine and rainbows. It’s certainly not “glowing” for many of us, and it can be a long, uphill battle physically and mentally. We both know how easily the mind drifts to dark places during those first few weeks, and I won’t sit here and tell you that it won’t happen again–because it will. It will happen many times. But don’t worry — you’ve got this.

I don’t need to tell you that the darkness doesn’t last.
You’ve been down this road before, and you know just as well as I do that there will be days where you feel like you can’t face anything, or anyone. This darkness will come and go, but I promise you it won’t last. Remember that, when you’re in it. When it seems like it’ll never end, remember that it always does. You’re living proof.

I don’t need to tell you that this is going to test your relationships.
Family and friends can be your rock, but they can also make you feel like you’re sinking. It’s not their fault — often, the people who love us the most are the ones who come up short. Lean on the ones you can trust, and leave out all the rest. They will understand. And if they don’t, that’s on them.

I don’t need to tell you this might also affect your work.
At the end of the day, I know you take pride in your career, and care about doing good work. But this is going to test that. In the coming weeks, you’re going to be exhausted, preoccupied, and most of all, careless. You’re going to be frequently absent for appointments and tests, and the worst part is, you’re going to make mistakes and maybe even fall behind. Just remember to take care of yourself, and do the best you can. It’s all we can ever do.

I don’t need to tell you that nothing is guaranteed.
This one hurts the most to write, because we both know how true it is. I promise that I will never be the friend who tells you to “hang in there,” or “it will be okay,” because I don’t know for sure that it will. Nobody does. I do know, however, that today, you are pregnant. Today is a good day. Hold onto that while you wait for tomorrow to get here.

I don’t need to tell you that I get it.
I get it all–every last hope, fear, frustration and sprinkle of joy peppered in between. If anyone gets exactly what you’re feeling in this very moment, it’s me. So whether you’re scared about a loss of symptoms at 6 a.m. on a Thursday morning, or having trouble deciding on names for your new baby the day I go into labour, know that I will be there to answer the phone. I’ll always be in your corner since you’ve been in mine pretty much since the day we met.

And in a few short months, you’ll have another person to look out for.

Lucky kid.

You’re In Hell

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for a long time.

Last year, it was too raw. Too new. It was still difficult for me to find the words, even after a full year had passed.

Today marks two years to the day since the worst day of my life.

Two years ago today, I almost lost my son.

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It started a week prior with enough to make any new parent concerned: a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea. But on February 19, 2015, it became dire. My three-month-old was emaciated, dehydrated and in obvious distress. A decision was made, and an invasive emergency procedure was done to save his life.

He was then immediately transported to the ICU, where the nightmare continued.

The next few days and hours are a blur, but there are few moments that stand out, and always will.

The Video

We alternated nights in the hospital – only one parent could stay overnight at a time. On this particular night, my partner was there and I was home. I wrote about what it was like being at home here.

That night, he took a video of our son minutes before everything changed. I didn’t receive it until the next morning, something I have yet to decide was a blessing or a curse. It showed my baby writhing in pain, eyes sunken and darting around wildly, tubes protruding.

I’ve only ever been able to watch it once.

The PICC Line

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Due to a completely destroyed gut due to a severe milk protein allergy, my son couldn’t receive anything orally. A regular IV wasn’t enough, so he had to be given something called a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line – an extremely invasive intravenous line that enters the body midway up the arm and extends to the superior vena cava (a fun little vein above the diaphragm that has the important job of returning deoxygenated blood to the right atrium of the heart).

This was the only way he could receive the nutrients he needed to keep him alive while his body healed.

The Brain Ultrasound

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I’ve never spoken about this one because I’m still not quite sure it was real. A photo exists, so it must have been.

Later that day, a team of neurologists were brought in to perform an ultrasound on my little boy’s brain. The purpose of this, we were told casually, was to assess whether or not there was adequate blood flow to his brain after the crash that sent him to the ICU hours earlier.

In other words, they were checking to see if he’d had a stroke.

Not much more was said. Instead, watched as they huddled over a portable ultrasound machine, whispering quietly amongst themselves. I don’t think I blinked as I observed them move their tiny wand over his tiny head, for what truly seemed like hours. Maybe days. I don’t know.

They didn’t speak to us, or even acknowledge our presence. They were stoic and mechanical; pointing and writing, whispering and analyzing. They left as quickly as they appeared, and it wasn’t until several days later we were told everything was fine.

You’re in Hell

While everyone around us was sending their love and well-meaning but essentially empty platitudes, there was one person who was brave enough to tell me what this really was, and where we actually were.

“You’re in hell,” she said.

It was strange hearing that at the time, because I was so used to being placated by gentle words. I had grown so accustomed to hearing things like “we’re praying for you”, or “things will get better”, that when I was told that I was I hell, it shook me a little.

But through all the noise, her words spoke the loudest. She was a mom who had been through similar trauma, and she wasn’t afraid to cut through the bullshit. She allowed me to acknowledge that this was a place that no parent ever wanted to be, and it was okay to be angry. It was okay to be scared, and it was okay to admit that for the time being, the darkness wasn’t going anywhere.

But in that moment, I understood that one day, it eventually would. I will always be grateful to her for that.

Two years later

Two years later, you would never know that my truculent little fart machine overcame an almost inconceivable trauma. I often look at him and wonder what life would be like if he weren’t here anymore.

I don’t allow myself to push those thoughts away.

I force myself to think them, because I know what it’s like to teeter on the brink. I don’t speak about my gratitude, because I can’t find the words. I remember hell, because we made it through.

And you will too, if you’re there.

I promise.

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