I started blogging over four years ago. That in and of itself wasn’t too much of a surprise. I’ve been a wanna-be writer since I was a little girl. I was surprised that I’d become so involved in an online community (that was the first shocker). And I was surprised that I felt a certain comfort level necessary to share my thoughts and feelings about my children, my mothering, my family, my life. My journaling in the past had always been for myself. It was private. But here I was….laying it all out there for anyone to see. In an online community, there has to be a certain level of give and take. To have your sincerity come across when reaching out to others, you have to be willing to be open about your own weaknesses, strengths, fears, hopes and experiences. Thus the blog, Tales From the Schweitzer Side, was begun. So this is us….
I am an imperfect mother. I’ll be the first to admit that. After spending almost two years in fear that I would never achieve the dream of being a mom, our oldest son came into the world frightfully early at 26 weeks gestation. We’d been expecting a Christmas or New Year’s baby. Ryley was born two days after Summer ended. When you have a medically fragile child, your whole outlook on parenting changes. I didn’t think I would ever be able to discipline, get mad at, frustrated with, or angry with my precious survivor. I was convinced I would never be able to leave him….that I would become that hovering type of mother who pretty much wrapped her child in bubble wrap to protect him from everything I possibly could. Hah! Fast forward nine years…I’m happy to say that Ryley didn’t let that happen. He’s a feisty, determined, stubborn, loving, empathetic, full-of-life big boy. His premature birth did completely change me and my life. I no longer see pregnancy the same way. I do believe in miracles and the power of prayer, but have also seen enough to know that sometimes God takes our children Home to be with Him, and that’s a hideous pain no parent should ever bear. I’ve learned from Ryley’s birth to not be afraid to ask for help, to be able to reach out to others, you get back more than you give, and that everyday achievements can move me to tears in an instant. Ryley is our first miracle baby. He’s growing up entirely too quickly. He’s as challenging as his neonatologist told us he would be, and just as feisty as he was in the first twenty minutes following his birth.
When your fertility specialist tells you that you have a less than 10% chance of ever getting pregnant on your own, you tend to believe him. Add to that fact you’re still nursing your 3 month old and are completely stressed out as a new mom (especially as a mom to a micro-preemie), you wouldn’t think there would be any shot in you-know-what to get pregnant. SURPRISE!!! Ryley was barely four months old when we found out we were pregnant again. Enter miracle number two…..Grace. She’s appropriately named as 1) after all we’d been through with fertility tx and Ryley’s early arrival, we felt it was only by the “grace” of God we had any children at all; 2) as the only girl, she’s our saving “grace”; and 3) the fact she was not only full-term but was full-term after a completely uneventful pregnancy was pure grace for my mental stability at the time. Grace is a princess. She is rough and tumble enough to keep up with the boys, but girly enough to wear hair bows to match her soccer uniform and insist on sparkly clothes, manicures and pedicures, conditioning spray for her hair, and matching accessories for herself and her dolls. And yes, she and Ryley are only 12 1/2 months apart. I don’t remember much of the first couple of years of Grace’s life….it was all about getting through each day back then. They are *so* close…oh, they fight and argue like any siblings, but they definitely have a bond you don’t always see between brother and sister.
Even after Grace was born, I knew I wasn’t “done”. I didn’t feel our little family was complete. And I felt such a need to get it “right”, if that makes any sense whatsoever. My pregnancy with Ryley was a disaster from day one pretty much. My pregnancy with Grace was unexpected and I lived in fear of a repeat with prematurity every single day. I couldn’t relax, and was afraid to bond with her. My heart and my mind needed to add to our count on my terms. Ethan, our youngest, is my “healing baby”. My pregnancy with him was a dream….I was so happy, so content, and so much more comfortable. His delivery was by far the best experience of the three. He was such a good baby, and I finally felt I got to be the mom I’d wanted to be all along. He’s a little terror now….in Kindergarten and challenging everyone around him. He’s so smart it’s scary. He’s adorably cute, which he has to be to save his own hide. He’s constant trouble, so independent, stubborn beyond belief. And yet he is the first to crawl in our bed very early each morning for snuggles, the first to crawl into my lap to watch tv together.
When Ethan was born, Michael said we became a herd. It seems to fit. We are constantly on the move these days between school, sports, ballet and all our other activities. I have the life I love but never dreamed I wanted way back when. I’m certainly NOT the mom I thought I’d be. I’m certainly NOT a perfect mom, nor am I even close to achieving that level. One of my biggest worries each day is how much everything I do might be messing up my kids for life. Honestly…don’t we all complain about how our parents screwed us up? But my kids are good kids….healthy (for the most part), intelligent, fun, loving, beautiful and so loved.