Will You Let Her Go?

When I was pregnant with baby #3, I wasn’t excited but I wasn’t unhappy.  My mind was preoccupied with running after my two boys who are under the age of five and I really didn’t have time to focus on baby #3.  Some days I felt pregnant, but most days I did not.  I remember telling my family that I knew I was pregnant but it didn’t feel like it.  I even remember talking to my baby asking, ‘Are you in there’, because I didn’t feel like I felt when I was pregnant with the boys.  The aggressive progression of growth that I knew everyday when I woke up in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening that yes, I was definitely pregnant.  My husband and I knew this for sure, that we wanted this baby to be a girl.  I longed and wonder what my daughter would be like, ‘Would she be light skinned or dark skinned? Would she have brown eyes or green eyes like my husband? Would she have my dimples? Would she be funny? Would she be athletic or brainy or would she be both? Would she and I become best friends?’  I would love to have a daughter of my own.

The pregnancy was very different than my boys where I had morning sickness all day for the first six weeks. I couldn’t smell anything sweet without gasping. I couldn’t eat anything sweet because somehow it would over stimulate my taste buds and I would feel nauseated.  When I ate something, I was nauseated.  When I didn’t eat anything, I was nauseated.  The only thing that would help is when I ate spicy foods (which I don’t usually eat) and drank very cold water.  I would eat cheese hoagies and cheese and egg sandwiches and cheesy bread. The biggest thing I noticed is that I felt and looked smaller than I was with the boys.  I thought maybe it’s a girl this time. It’s got to be a girl.  The odd thing about this pregnancy was I was reluctant to tell people that I was pregnant.  I remember with my boys I told everyone and anyone I was pregnant.  When I was in the parks with this pregnancy, however, I wanted to tell the other moms and dads I was expecting my third child, but something held me back.  It was like I was having a ‘secret baby’ that I didn’t want anyone to know about.

Around the fifteenth week of pregnancy, I took a Cell Free DNA blood test to see if the baby had any chromosome abnormalities such as Trisomy 21, 18, or 13 and to find out the sex of the baby.  The following week, my husband was bugging me to call the genetic counselor to find out the sex.  I left her a message late in the afternoon and didn’t think much of it.  The following day, I received the call from the genetic counselor. She told me the baby tested positive for Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome).  I couldn’t believe it.  She suggested I set up an anatomy scan as soon as possible to see if the baby had any signs of the syndrome.  Since I was going to my midwife the next day, I decided to do the scan that day as well. I’ve asked her what the sex of the baby was.  She asked me was I sure I wanted to know because people usually wait until the anatomy scan to see if the baby is alright first.  I told her I’ll ask my husband first and then give her a call back if he wants to know, too.

I called my husband while he was at work and told him what the genetic counselor told me.  He looked up the syndrome and I could tell in his voice that he was shocked and hurt.  My husband started reading the characteristics of the syndrome and the survival of the baby wouldn’t be good if the baby made it to term.  I’ve asked him if he wanted to know the sex and he didn’t until after the scan.  After I got off the phone with my husband, I’ve made up my mind that if the baby did have Trisomy 18, I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy.  My husband text me asking what test did I take and I called him to tell him it was the cell free DNA test.  He read that the test could be false positive and the baby may or may not have the syndrome.  I think he was trying to hold on to hope that maybe this was one of those false positives and we would find out that our baby was fine.  I, on the other hand, wasn’t so hopeful.  My motherly instincts felt that something wasn’t right and thinking back to those symptoms I felt earlier in the pregnancy, my body was telling me that something wasn’t right either.  My husband and I just hoped the ultrasound showed us that we had a normal looking baby.

December 18th around one o’clock p.m., my husband and I went to the anatomy scan of our baby.  I remember sitting in the waiting room looking at a couple of mothers or mother to be with their baby bellies.  One mother in particular belly was big enough that she must have been there for her twenty week scan.  I looked at my little pouch of a belly and noticed that I wasn’t as big as her.  Although I was 16 weeks and 1 day, after having two kids prior, my belly should be bigger.  Seeing this made me worry more.

The ultrasound technician called us to the room to get a scan of the baby.  As I laid there on the table getting ready to see our baby, I’ve imagined if the baby had Trisomy 18, we would see some deformities and I embraced for the worse.  When the technician smoothed the wand over my belly and I saw the image of our little baby, I felt a little relieved.  It didn’t look like anything was wrong with the baby.  Then the technician showed the side view of the baby’s head and pointed out that there was slight nuchal fluid in the back of the baby’s neck.  “This is a sign of Trisomy 18,” she said.

She continued with the scan.  She scanned the baby’s brain and noticed two cysts on the brain which isn’t normal.  I started to tear up and had my right arm over my head.  I remember the technician telling me to put my arm across my crest with coldness in her voice that showed very bad bedside matter and showed she was only concerned about doing her job.  I’ve glanced at my husband and saw he was tearing up; wiping small tear drops from his eyes to stop the tears from running down his face.   She scanned the baby’s legs, back, arms, kidneys, and bladder which looked normal.  Then she scanned the baby’s stomach and intestines and said there was fluid in the intestines.

“See the bright color in the intestines?  That shouldn’t be there; it should be solid.”

“What does that mean,” I asked.

“It means the baby is sick,” she says.

I started whaling after hearing those markers on the baby and was asked by the technician if I wanted to stop and get the doctor in and I said yes.  The technician asked my husband to comfort me while she got the doctor.

The doctor came in and said what she saw was the same as what the technician saw and it was consistent with a baby with Trisomy 18.  The genetics counselor came in as well and said that she hoped that I was the one percent that the test was wrong for.  She came to hug and comforted me like I did her when I was there getting my blood test and found out her seven year old son passed away suddenly this year.  I’ve asked the doctor was there any other syndromes that are similar to Trisomy 18.  The doctor said yes, but giving the Cell Free DNA test and the ultrasound, it’s most likely it’s Trisomy 18.  Both the genetics counselor and the doctor recommend the Amniocentesis test to confirm it.

“What’s the use of getting the test if the baby has it,” I asked them.

The doctor and genetics counselor said it was up to me and asked me if I wanted to continue with the pregnancy or terminated.  I wanted to terminate but asked my husband about getting the test.  My husband wanted to make sure definitely the baby had Trisomy 18 before terminating the pregnancy.  So, we agreed to do the amniocentesis.  The genetics counselor suggested to do the preliminary FISH test which the results will come back in three to four days and could help us make the decision on whether to terminate or continue with the pregnancy.

The doctor and the ultrasound technician prepare my belly to do the Amniocentesis testing.  The technician did the scan to prepare for the test and the head doctor came in to review everything that the previous doctor and the technician said.  She also mentions that the baby was about a week to week in a half behind in growth which is common with Trisomy 18.  I was asked by the doctor was I ready for the amniocentesis test and I unemotionally said yes.  The doctor warned me when the needle will pierce my uterus and I felt the sting of the needle.  I was so heartbroken and numb with grieve that I didn’t notice much of the pain of the needle drawing the amniotic fluid away from my baby.  After the doctor took about three vile of fluid, she cleaned off my belly and sat me up.  I cried so loudly that I felt like I was choking on my own air.  The doctors told us Trisomy 18 happens when the sperm or egg has an extra 18th chromosome and once conception happens, the extra chromosome is transferred to the fetus.  The doctors reassured us that it was nothing that we did wrong and it’s very rare that this will happen again if we decided to try again.

After I’ve calmed down a little I’ve asked what the sex of the baby was.  The doctor asked, “Are you sure you want to know?”  I looked at my husband and asked him did he want to know.  He said what ever I wanted to do.  I wanted to know because I was curious and didn’t want to guess if the baby was a boy or a girl.  The ultrasound technician looked up the results of the Cell Free DNA paperwork in the computer and said, “It’s female.”  I burst out a horror movie scream,” NO! NO! NO! Oh My God, NO,” as I banged the heels of my feet on the metal bottom of the ultrasound table.  I cried like I never cried before.  All the anger, sadness, expectations, and horror I let out in that scream would make a person’s heart break.  I told the doctor, “We wanted a girl so bad because we have two boys already.”

I’ve cried for about another five minutes letting my body feel the pain in every muscle, every breath of my being.  My soul felt like it was ripped from my body and I wanted to die.  I felt like this was some cruel joke.  I hated the universe for cursing our family.  I was angry with myself because I couldn’t protect her.  I thought to myself, “Maybe I’m too old to be having babies.  If I got my tubes tied and accept that I wasn’t meant to have a daughter; that my boys were enough, my baby girl wouldn’t be dying inside me right now.”

I finally pulled myself together when I didn’t have the strength or anymore tears I could cry and got off the table, pulled up my pants, and put on my coat and hat. I’ve finally drank the water that was sat out for me and my husband and I headed out of the office.  It was a quiet walk from the office back to where we parked our car about four blocks away.  The walk seems like the longest walk when you walk in silence.   When we got to the car, my husband called his job and also told his mother about our baby girl’s diagnosis.  I called my father and told him in tears about our baby.  My father tried to give words of encouragement and told both of us to be strong. It’s amazing how much a tragic situation can affect so many people and yet although they are hurting for our baby girl, it’s not the same type of hurt my husband and I felt knowing the ultimate decision, the conclusion of this chapter, is to say goodbye to the daughter that we wanted by terminating the pregnancy.

Our families were praying the amniocentesis test would come back negative and it’s something else she can be cured from.  I’ve even prayed and I haven’t prayed to God in a long time, hoping he would bless me with his grace and save my daughter.  However, I also realize if it was confirmed that my daughter had Trisomy 18, I will do right by her.  I would not let her suffer and bring her into this world where she would be in pain and going through multiple surgeries, constantly worrying about infections because her immune system would be so weak, her having a hard time breathing and eating, or worrying about her going into cardiac arrest at a moments notice.  I could not put her through that. I would not put her through that.

That weekend would be the longest weekend of my life.  Those few days waiting for the FISH result to confirm my daughter’s condition seem like an eternity.  I decided to name my daughter Angela, Angela Michelle.  I always wanted my first daughter to be name Angela because, it may be silly to some, but I love the theme song of Taxi.  When I found out the name of the song was Angela; I vowed that I would want my daughter to be named after the song.  The song is so soothing, tender, emotional, peaceful, and beautiful that I imagine the personality of my daughter would be the perfect physical embodiment of the song. It pains me that her physical body wouldn’t be able to survive the physical world and my dreams of my daughter will only be in song and not in my loving arms.  To try to get our spirits up, my husband and I decided to put up the Christmas tree and wrap presents and spend the time decorating the tree with the boys which help passed the time.  I was also mindful of the lack of movement Angela had.  It felt like she was just laying there in my belly; kicking softly on my left side only lasting a minute or two and then I won’t feel anything for the rest of the day.  She must not be well.

On Tuesday, December 22, the doctor called to confirm that Angela had Trisomy 18 in every cell in her body, meaning she had Full Trisomy 18.  I wasn’t surprised but still I hoped for a miracle.  I called my husband and told him.  My husband wanted to wait to schedule the abortion because he wanted the full report.  I told my husband that I will set up the abortion within the timeframe of the full report but if it’s later than fourteen days, I’m continuing with the abortion.  I couldn’t let her suffer more than she has to.

Wednesday, December 23, I’ve called the abortionist at the hospital and planned to say goodbye to my beloved daughter on January 6, 2016.  For the next week in a half, Angela’s movements didn’t improve.  Her kicks and or punches felt the same as they did when I first felt her movements at fourteen weeks.  The thought of my little girl dying inside me made me feel so helpless because the point of being a parent is to protect your children.  How could I protect my child from an unseen event?  This helpless feeling makes me realize there is something bigger than me, bigger than God that has control of the situation.  How can I fight something neither I nor God has control of?

On Tuesday, January 5, 2016, I met with the assistant doctor to discuss the abortion procedure.  I’ve asked the question about the baby feeling pain and was told that the baby didn’t feel at this stage. Angela may not have felt physical pain of the abortion; but how could she not feel the warmth of my womb getting colder as they pulled her small body out with cold forceps from the only home she known? The doctor did one final  scan of Angela to measure how big she was and how many dilators they would need to put in my cervix to open me up and take her out.  The doctor asked if I wanted to see the baby again and I said yes.  I look upon my small baby with her heart still beating but just lying still.  The doctor moved the wand over my belly and Angela did not resist or put up a fight.  She just laid there reluctant to move.

As I looked at my little angel, I wonder if she knew today would be the last day that she was going to be alive.  I wonder if she knew she was sick and struggling to live.  I wonder if she knew that I am letting her go because it pains me to feel her and seeing her sick.  I wonder if she will forgive me and know that I was doing what I thought was best for her.

The doctor took the pictures and went to call the nurse and the head doctor to insert the dilators. I’ve lay down as they came in to insert the dilators into my cervix.  I felt the sting of every one of those tiny, hard sticks piercing my cervix opening me up and preparing for my baby’s departure.  Afterwards, a nurse came in to give me information about the surgery, numbers to call if I experience a fever or if my water breaks before the surgery, and final arrangements for my baby.

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016 around three pm, my husband and I went to check me in for the surgery.  The receptionist looked up my name, put an id bracelet on my arm and my husband and I sat in the waiting room waiting for me to be called to the back for preparation for the surgery. The check felt so comfort it felt like I was checking in for a hotel room. We waited for about thirty minutes for a nurse to call us to the back to prepare for the surgery.  I undress, put on the hospital gown, and the IV was placed in my hand. The nurse took my vitals as I waited for the operation room to be vacant and cleaned.  The assistant doctor, who was also performing the surgery, came to give me two dissolvable pills in each cheek to soften my cervix.  As I waited for the pills to dissolve, I tried not to think about the surgery and watch comedy central on the TV with my husband.

We’ve waited about forty-five minutes and was seen by the head surgeon and the anesthetist to tell me what the plan was for the surgery and how long it would be.  When the doctors were ready to wheel me back for the surgery, I’ve kissed my husband telling him I’ll see him when I wake up.  I remember the bright lights on the ceiling as they rolled me down the hallway.  I remember telling the anesthetist assistant when I entered the operating room that the room didn’t look as scary as I thought it would.  I remember sitting on the operating table and then lay down.  I remember the assistant anesthetist giving me something to relax and I felt the effects right away.  The last thing I remember was the assistant surgeon rubbing my hand in comfort.  I remember saying to her, “I’m trying not to cry,” as I felt myself tearing up.  The next thing I remember, I was waking up with the operating team wheeling me into the recovery room.  Once the affects of the anesthesia wore off, I went to the bathroom to pee, got dressed and was ready to leave.

When I got home, I felt relieved that Angela wasn’t suffering anymore, but I also felt the emptiness in my womb and my heart was breaking.  I cried that night, lying in the bed feeling my belly knowing she’s not here with me and a void started to develop in my heart.  To this day, I still feel the void in my heart for my beloved daughter.

angel baby

I never understood what an angel baby was until I had one.

 

Some days, I see this situation as just a bad luck experience that happened and realize as I read other stories of Trisomy 18 pregnancies that it didn’t just happen to me.  Other days, I felt like I was apart of a catch 22.  I felt the universe was telling me, “I will grant you the daughter you asked for but the catch is she will be very ill and maybe not be born alive.  If she is, she will have severe physical and mental conditions that will make it hard for her to live a normal life.  She will need multiple surgeries, a feeding tube, breathing tube, and have heart problems.  It will break you and your husband’s heart to see her go through so much pain knowing there’s nothing your can do about it.  Do you still want a daughter or will you let her go?”

I get the question, “Are you going to try again?”  It’s not an easy question to answer because there is no right answer for me.  Some people would say, “In time you’ll get over it and move on.”  How could I get over the biggest, the most painful heartbreak that I could endure in my life?  Some days are easier than others and although the pain of her lost lessens by the day, I can still feel the ache in my heart everyday…that will never go away.

My daughter wanted to be with our family.  She didn’t know that her soul would be in a body that wouldn’t function properly to live a fulfilling life. She wouldn’t be able to walk or talk on her own. She would not be able to breathe and eat on her own. If she lived past a year, she would be mental retarded and stuck in a state of mind of a six month old.  She wouldn’t be able to appreciate the feelings of sadness, anger, happiness, love, confusion, frustration, empathy, or any emotion that we take for granted which make life strangely beautiful.  She would never live to her full potential and knowing this broke my heart. I wanted to take her pain away not be the person to give her pain.  I wanted her life to be easier not harder.  It hurts me so much that I had to let her go because…I wanted her here, too.

 

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Unexpected Counseling With My Genetics Counselor

I am  pregnant with my third child.  Sometimes I wonder what was I thinking.  Having The Don and The Boss (aka Bam Bam) running around like crazy, screaming, yell, fighting, causing a ruckus, I’m beginning to wonder if I am out of my mind to want a third one.  But, there I was last week going to see my genetics counselor to talk about baby #3.

When I was called back to see my genetics couselor, she introduced herself and we proceeded to her office.  “Oh yeah, I remember you from last time,” I said to her but I couldn’t remember her name when she called for me. “It’s Ok if you don’t remember.  I won’t get offended,” she said nicely but matter of fact like.

We sat down to talk about the genetics test and what they look for.  She also went over my family tree to ask if my sister or my husbands brothers had any children.  She asked about my children and how well they are doing.  I also remembered that she had two boys of her own that she doted about last time and was curious to find out how they were doing.

As the genetics counselor was typing some information on the computer, I looked around the office, especially where she had her pictures of her sons on the shelves.  I notice that the pictures of the boys didn’t look like they aged much over the two years.  I thought maybe she kept the most recently pictures of her boys on her phone.

I’ve asked, “Don’t you have two boys?”

“Uh, yeah,” she said but seem kind of cautious with the response as she moved the mouse.

“So, how are they doing?  Are they doing well?”

My genetic counselor turned away from her computer with a empty, shaken look in her eyes and said the words I will never forget, “Well, my elders son passed away,”

I felt like I’ve cut her chest and ripped out her heart.  Why did I even mention her boys?

“I’m so sorry for your lost.  If I’ve known…”

“It’s ok,” my counselor reassured me.  “It just caught me off guard because not many patients knew I had two boys.” I started tearing up. She hands me a tissue.

“I remember that you talked about them the last time I was here.  I can’t imagine what you are going through.”

She turned back to her computer.  My curiousity was eating at me wanting to know how a child so young passes away.

“If you don’t mind, it’s not too personal, how did he die?  I understand if you don’t want to…”

“It’s ok,” she says.  She told me that her son just started second grade, he was seven years old.  He had a high grade fever and the school called to send him home.  He started throwing up a lot and they took him to the ER to find out he had a GI tract infection.  After the ER, she felt it was best for him to stay home for a week from school until he felt better because what’s a week of missed school.  A couple of days later, he gotten worse.  He wouldn’t eat nor drink and wouldn’t wake up, just falling in and out of consciousness.  She had her MIL come by to watch her son to see if he would get better while she went to see a couple of patients.  When she called her MIL to see if he woken up, her MIL confirmed that he didn’t.  So they went back to the ER to find out her son had luekemea and he had blood on the brain.  A couple of days later, he passed away.

Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, maybe it’s because we both have two boys, or maybe because of us being mother, I felt a little piece of her pain.  I could never say I felt her pain because I never lost a child, but I thought of my boys and I couldn’t imagine losing them.  I told her that I couldn’t imagine how she was handling this.  Her response was, “Losing your child is the hardest thing that a person can go through.  Make sure you go home and hug your boys.”

Although I’ve met this woman once before, I couldn’t help but to give her an hug.  Not one of those pat pat hug; a hug like a best friend, a mother, a sister would give.  A hug that lasted for about five seconds.  She accepted the hug as I mention how sorry I am for her lost again.  She mentioned that this is the first time she told the story about the death of her son and she didn’t cry.

After I left, I thought about how my sons gets on my nervous, how loud they can be, or how they can be so noisy that I’m sure the next door neighbors can hear. I also thought about how in just a blink of an eye they could be gone.  No Noise.  No Yelling.  No Screaming.  Nothing.  We hear how other people children die everyday and we see it as ashame but continue on with our day.  Once you hear of a child dying from a parent that is close to you or in your circle, you started to appreciate the noise, the commotion, the temper tantrums, the talked back, everything negative about your child as you know that you may not get a chance to hear or see them again.  When my sons came home from a day out with my MIL, I held them dearly and make an effort to hug them tightly everyday because it may be the last day.

Yes, my sons still get on my nervous but I see them differently now and handle it differently.  I also appreciated the good like, The Don’s easy go lucky personality or The Bosses determination to be heard, to appreciate their smiles, their sense of humor, their love.

I just didn’t go to get counseling for Baby #3, I recieved counseling from a grieving mother on how to love and appreciate my children.

 

 

Moms: Do You Encourage Your Son To Put His Wife First?

When you gave birth to your son, you knew that he would be the love of your life.  You fell in love with him each day as he learned how to crawl, walk, run, and talk.  You love bedtime when your son cuddles next to you reading his favorite bedtime story.  Your son comes to you when he’s hurt and when he’s happy.  You are his best confidant.  It feels good to be needed.

Then one day, when he’s older, he’ll start becoming interested in girls.  You think to yourself that these ‘girls’ are just a fling and the only one that will have his heart is you, so you’re not sweating it.  You see your son slipping away from your arms but you are still in hands reach.  These girls shall pass and you’ll be right there if they break his heart or he moves on to the next.  You’re still his number one girl.

Fast forward ten to fifteen years later.  Your son meets the woman of his dreams.  She’s kind, thoughtful, hard working, and the most humorous person you’ve ever met.  You can’t believe how this woman has your son wrapped around her finger…so tightly.  Although it’s great that someone is making your son happy, however, the thought of another woman coming between you and your son scares you.  You see your son slipping away from your hands and into the arms of another woman…a younger woman.  Not only does she have his heart, your son announces to everyone that they got engaged.

Your world as a mother has scattered.  “What would happen on holidays,” you question yourself.  “Will I still get to see him every year as usual or will he go to her parent’s house?” “What happens if they have kids?  Will I get to see the grand kids as often as I like?” “Can I come by as often as I like to see my son?” “What if my future daughter in law keeps my son away from me completely?”  These thoughts of another woman ‘controlling’ your son scares you, too. How can you compete with a younger, prettier, outspoken woman like her?  How can you win your son from this woman?  Do you even try?

Some mothers would try to have a say or have control in their son’s life and compete for their son attention and affection when they get married. Maybe because the mother feels that they don’t have a place in their son’s life anymore and would try to make their presents known. The mother will try by changing the way the kitchens organized in her son’s home, or disobeying how the wife wants her kids raised by thinking she ‘knows’ better, or dropping by without notice despite the disapproval vocalized by their daughter in laws.  The daughter in law voices her concern with her husband (your son) in how her mother in law (you) treats her.  Your son loves you and his wife and don’t want to hurt you and feels loyalty to both.  What can he do?

Let’s not get into the biblical sense of a man leaving his mother and father and cleaving to his wife and becoming one (Genesis 2:24).  Even if you’re not religious, when parents interfere with the relationship between a husband and wife, it will cause problems in the marriage.  What some  mothers don’t realize when their son takes a wife and builds a family, it’s his responsibility, his duty, to be the leader of his family; not his mother.  He has chosen a wife that he feels is capable of helping him lead in life and his family.  Once the son chooses a wife, the mother’s duty to her son changes from being his main supporter to the supporting woman in his life since her main job of raising her son is done.

 

The problem with mother in law and daughter in law relationships is usually because the mother in law is overstepping her boundaries because she wants to feel important, in charge, in control, and to have an uninterrupted relationship with her son.  What a lot of these mothers don’t encourage their sons to do once they get married is to consider the wife and his immediate family needs and wishes come first before her own.  If mother’s taught their sons this, a lot of the friction between mothers, sons, and daughter in laws won’t exist.  If mother encourage their sons to put their wife’s needs and wishes first this would avoid:

  1. The son feeling disloyal to his mother:  Usually when the mother does or says something that the daughter in law doesn’t like, the son usually defends his mother’s actions because he feels that his mother didn’t mean any harm.  In his mind, his mother is right, even when she’s wrong. If he chooses his wife and his mother’s feelings are hurt, he will feel disloyal to his mother because well, it’s his mother. If he know he needs to put his wife’s feels first without the guilt of not being loyal to his mother, he can see the situation objectively instead of having a bias emotion that his mother can do no wrong or be subject to emotional blackmail by his mother.  This will also help the son know that he doesn’t have to feel a disloyalty to his mother if he choose to disagree with her for the betterment of his relationship with his wife.
  2. Disrespecting her son and daughter in law: When a son’s mother criticizes her son’s wife, he may be disgusted at how his mother sees his wife and feels she’s disrespecting his choice in a wife and how his family lives.  If the mother realizes that his choice in a wife or family life has nothing to do with how’s he was raised, then she shouldn’t feel to overstep her boundaries by cleaning up after them, cooking for them, or rearrange things around the house. The mother will understand that she doesn’t want to disarray their lives because that’s not the way she would do it.  Her son and daughter in law live their lives the way they see fit.  She would want her son to be happy regardless of how she see her daughter in law and how their family lives.
  3. Mother and daughter in law tension: If the mother knows that her son would stand by his wife, there should be less tension between the mother and daughter in law.  Since the mother knows she’s not the matriarch of her son’s family, there shouldn’t be any competition for that role. The mother realizes that her daughter in law is capable of raising her son’s family without interference unless asked by the daughter in law.  It will be hard to follow after leading a family for years, but if the mother respects her son and daughter law, a better relationship can develop and can bring them closer together if she follows their lead.

This is not to say that the mother shouldn’t be apart of their son and his wife’s family. She should. It’s not to say that the mother in law should be a doormat to the daughter in law if she is not treated fairly or with respect. She shouldn’t allow it. It’s not to say that if his mother is ill or in dire need that the son doesn’t have an obligation to help, take care, and be there for his mother. He should be there for his mother when she really needs him. It’s to say that the mother doesn’t have the right or privilege to dictate, demand, impose, or force her views upon her son’s family when he has a wife that can run his family the way he see fit or force her son to choose between her and his wife.

It’s disheartening, some mother’s somehow sees the wife as competition instead of a helpmate to their sons.  “She’s taking him away from me,” is how some mother’s think.  Honestly, that’s what should happen.  The son needs to live his own life without his mother. Do you remember what it was like to be the daughter in law when you enter your husband’s family?  Do you remember first meeting your mother in law?  Did you like every smart, passive aggressive remark she made about your cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and fashion sense?   Don’t be her.

Us as mother’s of sons lived our lives, had our husbands, and raised our children.  Let’s trust that we’ve raised our sons to picked a wife that can live their lives the way that’s works for them and makes him happy and let us be the supportive parent. Remember, we are still their mothers; that will never change. Our role in our sons lives is just different.

 

A Thanksgiving At Home; Because Traveling Is Overrated.

Our household usually has Thanksgiving at my mother in laws house.  Although we’re literally right around the corner from her, it’s a hassle to get the kids and go over to her house.  We’re usually the first ones there and have to wait for the other family members to show up.  Once they show up, dinner usually doesn’t start until thirty minutes later and the event is usually two and a half to three hours.  After being ‘convinced’ to take some leftovers home, we walk back to our house, have to put the kids to bed, and then, we can relax and unwind.

This year was different.  My husband was in a bicycle crash which broke his wrist and hand and has suffered from a concussion. My mother in law had her Thanksgiving dinner early because she was going away on Thanksgiving with her friend.  My husband just got out of surgery five days prior.  We  weren’t going to my mother in laws dinner because my husband was still in pain. I was exhausted from taking care of the kids, taking care of my husband, and driving him to and from work.  We were offered to go to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving, but my parents told us that my husband should rest and get better from his injuries.  So, we had our first Thanksgiving at home this year.

It really was a nice change to be at home on Thanksgiving. The kids can relax and watch TV, the hubby can relax and watch football in the comfort of his own home, and I, well, I cooked (I guess nothing changed there) but it felt really good to be home for the holiday to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. We didn’t have to tell the kids to get ready two to three times.  Didn’t have to deal with the crankiness of Bam Bam because he’s sleepy. Didn’t have to wait to eat because my inlaws were running late.  I have to say, it’s was great being at home.

My boys helped me mix the blueberry muffin mix.  Bam Bam mostly tried to eat the batter and The Don was very helpful putting the mixture in the muffin pans and help mix the batter for the pear cobbler.  The Don was happy that he can get a chance to make something to eat.

The Don Mixing

The Don Mixing Batter

These are the memories that we don’t get when we go out to eat with family; memories of cooking together, watching the game together, and being at home relaxing together.  It’s unfortunate that we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving because of my husband’s broken wrist and hand, however the memories that we get to share on this Thanksgiving are immeasurable.  Why would it have to take an accident to stay home with family on the holiday?  I believe once in a while, it’s good to be home with your immediate family for the holiday’s to make some memories of your own.  After all, when you’re ready to eat, you can eat.  When you’re ready to put the kids to bed, you can.  If you want to wear pajamas at the dinner table, you can.   

Although your extended family may be disappointed you couldn’t make it if your decided to stay at home this year, it’s good to build some new traditions and memories of the holidays of your own that you and your kids can remember for a lifetime.  Also it’s good to relax on the holidays because honestly, traveling for the holidays is overrated.

A Letter To My Sons: How to Act When Approached by a Police Officer

Dear Sons,

Growing up as African American boys, it is unfortunate that I  have to give you “The Talk”. It’s not the talk that you might think of. I will need to talk to you about how to act when you are approached by the police. Notice I didn’t say ‘If’ I said ‘When’ so you won’t be surprised when the police target you.  Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t never be afraid of the police because the majority of them are here to protect and serve the community.

national-arrest-handcuffs-police-school-to-prison

Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

However, growing up as African American boys that will become men one day; some police officers have in their minds a stigma that is associated with African American men. This view of African American men isn’t totally the police officers fault; the media have betrayed African American men as hoodlums, drug dealers, murders, robbers, and rapist. These imagines of African American men make police officers more suspicious of you even if you don’t participate in these activities, but you may fit the “description” of a person that they are looking for. And there are police officers who are racist and will try to tempt you into doing something irate, so they have a reason to shoot or arrest you because they have a chip on their shoulder and want to take it out on you. Don’t fall for it.

I’m going to give you some advice to save your life when you are approached by a police officer:

Cooperate: Ask the officer: “How can I help you?” Listen to the reason  why the police office pulled you over or stop you in the street. Speak when spoken to and don’t talk over the police officer. If you were speeding, admit you were speeding and take the speeding ticket. If they ask for ID although you may not be required to show it to them, give it to them to avoid a confrontation. Also, make sure that your hands are visible so the police officer can see them e.g hands out of pockets, hands on steering wheel. If you need to reach for your license and registration, tell the officer where they are located e.g glove compartment or wallet, and ask permission to get it. You don’t want the police officer to think you are reaching for a gun. Finally, do not run away.  This will give the police reason to be suspicious of you and more reason to shoot you.  If you don’t have anything to hide: cooperate.

Don’t get irate: If you know that you did not do anything wrong, don’t give the officer any reason to arrest you by giving them an attitude. Also, don’t touch a police officer in any way, or they can arrest you for assaulting them. Let the officer see that they made a mistake instead of arguing with them that they may have targeted you because of your race. Even if that is true, it’s irrelevant as far as you are concern. Your concern is to clear up any misunderstanding calmly and non-threatening manner that won’t give the police officer any reason to detain you.

Know your rights: If the police decide to give you a ticket or try to book you for something that you didn’t do, know your rights. Know that you can fight the ticket in court. Ask the police officer: ‘Am I being obtained, or am I’m free to go?’ If they bring you in the police station and try to charge you with a crime; know that it’s your right to remain silent, know that you are entitled to a lawyer, know that you are entitled to a phone call. If they want to search your car, know that you have a right to refuse a search by saying, “I don’t consent to searches.” If they do search your car without permission, you have a right to complain about the officer violating your rights with a lawyer. Finally, whatever you do, ‘DON’T CONFESS TO SOMETHING YOU DID NOT DO!’  You may think that the police will let you go if you confess but they won’t. The police officer can legally lie to you to get what they want. Keep protesting that you need a lawyer.  Matter of fact, make sure you remember a criminal lawyer’s number just in case you get held up.  Remember, you get one phone call.

Show the police officer that you will cooperate, but smart enough not to give up your rights in the process. Don’t be stupid and think that the police officer is disrespecting you and try to physically or verbally fight back. Knowing these three things will keep you alive to tell the story and to fight to live another day if you’ve been wronged. At the end of the day, it’s your word against the police officer’s and since the police officer has authority, who do you think the judge is going to believe?  Be smarter than the police officer’s perception of you.  Although your ego will get damaged, it’s better than winding up dead in a box or arrested for a charge that could have been prevented.  Stay calm and check your ego at the door; you’ll be a better man for it.

Love,

Mom

I Let My Sons Know They Are Handsome Just In Case Someone Tells Them Otherwise

There are some experts that say to never compliment your children on their looks because you don’t want them to grow up vain.  Also, these experts want parents to believe that  focusing on looks would make them shallow and superficial because they will believe beauty is important.  If parents focus on how their child looks, it can cause self esteem issues as a result if they can not live up to those standards of beauty as they get older. How can you not let your child know how beautiful they are?  I think it’s a hurtful thing to do to a child.  I can tell you from first hand experience that this isn’t true and not telling your child that they are beautiful or handsome can lower their self esteem tremendously.

As a child, I was never told I was pretty or beautiful by my parents.  I don’t remember anyone ever saying that I was pretty or beautiful.  My parents would always say how smart I am, but never complimented on my looks. Maybe they didn’t want me to think that looks would get me everywhere or anything in life. I was taught that looks didn’t matter or ‘shouldn’t’ matter. I believed it until I entered middle school.  As I entered middle school and high school, I was seen as unattractive and was told that I was ugly.  I was the dark skinned, big glasses, acne faced, skinny girl who dressed like a tomboy.  I wasn’t attractive to any of the boys and the boys I was interested in saw me as only ‘one of the boys’ or ‘like a sister’.  If the boys weren’t interested in dating me, I must be ugly right?  I sure did felt that way.

Me at 17 years old

Me at 17 years old

I remember when I was in tenth grade; there was this self esteem questionnaire that was passed out. I remember there was a portion of the questionnaire that addressed appearance.  It had a list of choices which was rated above average to below average or something similar to those choices on certain body part that you like about yourself.  Most of my responses were average.  Somehow I was showing my mother the questionnaire and my dad walked in.  He looked at my answers and in one of the questions was about my nose. My answer was that I had an’ average’ nose.  My father told me,“There’s nothing wrong with your nose.  There’s nothing wrong with you.”  He was offended that I felt so negatively about my appearance. He also wanted me to change my answers on the questionnaire. My father asked why I thought this way. I told him that people in school call me ugly.  “You know you’re not ugly.  You know you are beautiful,”  he tells me. However, my dad never said to me that ‘I was beautiful.’

As I changed my answers on the questionnaire so my father could feel better about himself, I on the other hand, did not.  I felt I was lying to myself.  My teacher who graded the questionnaire could tell that I was lying, too, because it had to be obvious of the eraser marks on what my intended answers should of been.  Adding up the corresponding number to the answers I gave, the test concluded that I had an inflated self esteem and pretty much full of myself because everyone has something that they don’t like about themselves that they would like to change.  It took me years to see myself as beautiful physically and when someone compliment me on my beauty, I either think they are joking or delusional no matter how genuine the compliment was.  I still feel this way sometimes.

handsome boys

The Don and Bam Bam, My handsome boys 🙂

When I look at my two boys, I tell them how handsome they are every chance I get.  There is nothing wrong with me or anyone complimenting them on their looks.  Granted, I don’t want them to think that looks are everything, but I don’t want them to think that it’s wrong for someone to compliment them on their looks or if they compliment on someone else’s looks either. There are going to meet some mean people who are going to tell them that they are ugly; that their head is too big, or their nose is too wide, or their smile is too crooked. These comments wouldn’t affect their self esteem because the most important people in their lives think otherwise and they will  know what these people are saying about them isn’t true.  If no one ever tells them that they are beautiful, how would they know?  They will start to believe what people say about them.

Telling your children they are pretty, beautiful, or handsome can only enhance their self esteem.  It’s not only telling them that they don’t have to change, but it’s telling them that they are perfect just the way they are.

Why are we letting society tell us what toys our children should play with?

Parents of today seem to need validation in the way they raise their children.  They look to the media and society for their approval, whether it’s parenting style or whether it’s ok to tell your children no without hurting their feelings.  If they don’t get the validation from society, the media, or heaven forbid their friends and family; these parents see it as an injustice to them and their child. They also think that people are telling them how to raise their child.  This is especially true when it comes to gender stereotyping; whether it’s right to give or not to give a gender specific toy to their child.

A lot of parents think it’s wrong to have a boy toy section or have a girl toy section in the toy store or having boys or girls toys at all.  Every kid has a right to play with any toy that they want.  I agree… but you don’t need society to tell you this.  Why do we need society to give its blessing to whether a child should play with a gender specific toy or not? Just because some parents find gender specific toys offensive doesn’t mean every parent does.  Maybe there are boys who like “boy” toys and girls who like “girl” toys.  Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and a boy wants to play with dolls and girls like to play with trucks.  Ok, just go in the girl section to get the doll for the boy and the boy section to get the truck for the girl. This is common sense to me. Who cares what people think?

These parents think that society should be setting a gender neutral toy campaign to shield their children from getting picked on because they’re playing with a non-gender specific toy hoping other parents will follow suit and allow their children to play with a toy not specific to their child’s gender. Do we need to force parents to persuade their children to play with non-gender specific toys? Why can’t we teach our children to be themselves, not to care about what other people think or say about them, help them realize that not everyone will agree with the choices they make and to realize that’s ok, too?  As long as those people don’t cause physical harm to your child, let them think what they want to think.

To be happy that stores like Target bend to the will of some overly sensitive people doesn’t change the fact that the majority of boys and girls prefer gender specific toys regardless of what the store label the aisle as.  In the hopes of changing the color walls from blue for boys and pink for girls to a brown panel backing isn’t going to make boys wander into a section of dolls and say “Hey, I can play with Barbie’s now since they no pink wall telling me it’s a girl toy.”  Or a girl wanders in a section of trucks and says, “Here’s a toy truck.  Since there’s no blue wall behind it, it must be for girls too.”  I think it will take more than some color wall paper to end gender toy stereotyping my friend.

Children like the toys that they like and getting rid of gender specific labeling or colors in toy stores aren’t going to change that. If a boy wants a truck or an action figure, he’s going to go to that section to get one.  If a girl wants a doll or a kitchen set, she’s going to that section to get one.  In my opinion, gender neutral toy sections in stores are trying to persuade a child and their parents to wander in a toy section that they’re not interested in with the hopes that the child or their parents will pick a non-gender specific toy instead of a gender specific one because now there’s no blue or pink color background or labels that distinguish what is for boys and what is for girls. Shouldn’t the parent tell their child, it’s ok to play with whatever toy they want regardless of what color or select label is shown in the aisles? Why does society need to do that for us?

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with having gender specific toys and I also don’t have a problem with children playing with non gender specific toys either if they choose.  I believe having a difference in boys and girls is a beautiful thing and to try to make everyone the same isn’t showing children to appreciate the difference in everyone whether they play with gender specific toys or not.  Accept it or not, there is such thing as gender and there are certain traits in majority of boys that gravitate them to certain toys (motor vehicle, action figures, and toy guns) and certain traits in majority of girls that gravitate them to certain toys (dolls, stuff animals, and dressing up items) that makes boys and girl toys sections logical.  The toy section labels aren’t there to limit the availability of toys for both genders.  The limitation comes in the mind of the parent because they’re afraid of what people think or think that limitations are set upon their child.

Children should be able to play with any toy they like regardless of what gender aisle you find the toy in. If you want your child to play with a non-gender specific toy, go in that aisle and get it. Society doesn’t need to tell you this.