Little eyes love watching everything we do and so I try (but I don’t always succeed, far from it) to model positive traits.
During pre-COVID times we would visit a retirement home with a few people from church, but due to the COVID restrictions, we are sending the people some cards with words of encouragement.
Just a small act, but its something that we both love to do (drawing and crafting) and we can do together.
We CAN teach children compassion and kindness starting from a very early age and help them to develop a heart for serving others And not only themselves.
It doesn’t even have to be difficult. There are SO many easy ways parents can help raise kids who have a heart for others and who want to serve others. They say the children of today are self-centered…let us as parents prove them wrong.
Here are some examples of ways that we can serve others during the current COVID Pandemic:
Calling or Video calling people we know are alone
Dropping off a meal and a drawing/card at your neighbors, elderly, single parent, or again someone you know living alone.
Making masks together to give away freely. Follow this link for the proper way of making a face mask.
Think local. Let’s support struggling local businesses.
Shop for neighbors and/or friends.
Donate games of toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore to a family in need (clean properly first 🙂 )
Chalk up someone’s walkway with nice saying, happy pictures, and colorful drawing
Order takeout from local restaurants
Show an example to your children of saying thank you to the medical care workers.
Offer dog walks.
Making the effort to stay healthy. Don’t underestimate how much you’re helping by simply following public health guidelines. Even by just staying at home as much as you can and practicing social distancing when you do go out, washing your hands you’re making a vital difference in your community.
While doing all of this, don’t forget, little eyes are watching. Good job!
Playing with kids without having to get up. Sounds too good to be true?”Mommmmmmy, do you want to play?”, I would consider myself a “fun” mommy. I like to join in crafts, building lego, playing games outside, and even do great voice impressions while reading to my six-year-old. But..some days I cannot do much due to chronic pain. And sometimes mommy’s just tired. Can I lie down on my lounge chair for a while?
Time for an inspiration list with simple children’s games: playing with kids without getting up, so 😉 A bit like games for road trips and plane flights.
So Mommy’s sometimes tired
I tidied up, took care of the lunch, and just installed myself on the lafuma chair outside for a quick read in my Kindle and then… “Mommmmyyyyy!” Does this sound familiar?
Letting my son have some extra screen time does seem tempting, but I have a good screen schedule in place and I don’t want to start making exceptions. (Torrential Storm and having to take him with me to the doctor are already the exceptions)
Playing with kids without getting up
So the kids are basically about their mother’s attention. Me. Maybe I can suggest a few games so I can play with my son without me having to get up.
Let’s give it a try…
Number and word games (guessing)
The classic guessing games are always good for moments like this. You can come up with guessing games by color.
Bumble Bee Bumble Bee
I see something you don’t see
and the color of it is red
But you can also play with letters or numbers. I’m looking for something in this place and it starts with the letter K… Or something with numbers: Name 3 things in the closet that have to do with getting dressed. Or look for 7 red things around us.
I see I see and the color is. What is it?
I’m looking for something with the letter K, in this area. Rara, what is it?
Name 3 things from this room that have to do with getting dressed. What is it?
Look for 7 red things around us. What is it?
Playing with kids without getting up is also possible with fun word games. For example, invent an animal and the other has to invent a new animal with the last letter. Like with: a horse – dragon – kangaroo. Or choose one of the other games below.
Word game with animals, invent a new animal with the last letter. Like with horse – dragon – kangaroo).
Which number am I? Describe the number. I have a dash and a circle. Or I am two balls on top of each other, but they are not completely round.
Turn a string into a number. The other one has to guess which one.
Recite the alphabet and makeup words.
Fun fantasy games
A super fun game without getting up is fantasy hide-and-seek. You take turns pretending to be hiding somewhere in the house. The other is going to guess where, by asking yes-no. Are you in the kitchen? Are you in the cutlery drawer? The nice thing about this is that you can choose ALL the places you can think of. And there’s more:
Making up a song together
Making up a story
Draw faces on fingers or toes and add them into a game
Moving on the spot
Finally, some fun motion games. One of my clever inventions is the game “circus”. This is simply that the kids show me their tricks and capers. By the way, this one is always good for the last energy just before bedtime.
The kids are jumping and jumping while I secretly stay on my bed. I can’t deny that this often ends in frolicking, but still 🙂 Other fun games with movement on the spot:
Tell me, have you cried today? Did you wake up having trouble breathing last night? Did you and your partner/housemate/child have a fight? Did you put your kids in front of a movie just to be able to take a bath and wash your hair? Yeah? So did I.
Times are uncertain. The news we hear every day at 11:00 in the morning is rarely reassuring. Even when we’re being told each day that all is stabilizing. Between health measures, social distancing and fear of the virus, your breathing is quickening.
Belgium is on a break, but you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut for weeks without being able to get out of it. You’re dizzy, out of breath, you feel nauseous, but you have to pretend that all is well and that you are enjoying it. Posting positive pictures to Instagram with hashtags#TogetherAtHome #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan
So that your brain will finally believe it and give you a break, but also to make your family feel somewhat good or better.
You’re the focal point of your household. The pillar. The one that keeps the roof from falling on your head. The lifeline at the end of each other’s line. The moral support on your keyboard at all hours of the day.
You’re made resilient. Everybody knows that. But then, the incessant “mommmmmy” in your ears, the “what are we eating”, the “what are we doing”, the “how are you”, the “did you take time for yourself today”, the “you should go for a walk” irritate you to no end.
You don’t feel like taking a walk to breathe. You want to go to the spa. By yourself. For a week! You slightly envy your friends in a solitary quarantine. You find it hard to sympathize when others tell you they’re bored… Honestly, you’d just send everyone away.
But you won’t. Because you love them. Because you know it’s just a bad time and you know it’s gonna be okay. You roll up your sleeves, tie your hair up and put a smile on your face so your kids will remember this as their best family vacation ever.
You’ve always been a strong woman. You’re going to be Wonder Woman when this is all over.
I’d like to tell you that your eyes won’t be wet today. You won’t clench your teeth, you won’t smother a scream in your pillow, you’re gonna be okay and that you will be able to wash your hair.
The truth is, I don’t know. What I do know is that Wonder Woman always wins at the end of a movie. It won’t be any different for us.
If you found your way to my post “Homeschool Kindergarten- The corona semester”, you are probably like me, having to keep your children home from school due to the COVID-19.
Life in Belgium
Here in Belgium, all school lessons will be suspended starting today, March 16. However, the government called on citizens not to rely on grandparents to look after children meaning schools will still be responsible for providing care when parents have no choice but to work and for those who work in health care. The suspension of classes is until at least after Easter break. So many of you like me have to keep your children home. Yay?
My ‘dream’ of homeschooling (something very uncommon in Belgium) is coming true. But I know that my “dream” is considered a nightmare for others. I sympathize with those parents who still have to go out to work or are working from home with children already bored since this weekend.
I truly know that staying at home with kids can be a challenge, but it is what it is for now and we all need to try and make the best of it I suppose. But parents, do what you need to do to keep your sanity.
For me it, it’s having a schedule, for others, it’s switching on the TV for the kids while you go take a bath…it’s ok (yes, I’m thinking of you friend). These are unexpected times.
Schools have asked the parents to not treat this time as an extra school vacation but to try and keep our children academically motivated and busy. Some schools even providing homework and objectives.
So here I’m sharing with you what our homeschool kindergarten- The corona semester (3de kindergarten class, Belgium) looks like for now.
We won’t be very strict in following it, it’s more of a guideline. Right now it’s 10:30 am and my six-year-old is sitting on the table drawing Yoshi character from his new Nintendo Switch game. It’s all good momma!
Pinterest is full of great ideas! Here is my board with ideas I love and tried out. Pin some.
I’m going to share monthly with you what has sparked joy in the past month for me. It will not always be things, but it can be an outing, it can be a craft I did with my son, a new recipe I tried out. It can just be anything.
Here is my list of things that have sparked some Joy and given me a thrill this past month.
Visiting the train museum “TrainWorld” in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon and simulating an actual train ride at the end.
My new translucent with a touch of glitter, Jimmy Choo glasses. I love them more in their box than on my face though.
YNAB!!! I have been using this budgeting website for a couple of months, but it was only since this month that I can actually see where my money is going to and where I need to make changes. I love this website and so it’s so easy to use. I actually like doing my finances now.
The Museum of Natural Sciences. Must do the museum, again in Brussels. Tip: For children 5 and up there is the PaleoLab experience during the school holidays. My 6-year-old especially liked rebuilding a stegosaurus.
Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the Lent season. I actually love this more than Christmas. Easter is about the completion of God’s plan that begun with Christmas. I have been following Sarah Bessey’s “Simple Practices for Lent”
Last one and another museum. Yes, I love museums, don’t you? Well this one, The Gallo-Roman museum was not in Brussels but in a town called Tongeren where the Gaul Ambiorix is from. Probably my favorite museum up to now. Each level in the building was dedicated to an era, from the Neanderthal to the Gallo-Roman era. Very child-friendly. With a quick touch with of your audioguide on the item of your interest, you can choose between the children or the adult explanation. Tip: The “Super Guide” who is there during the School Holidays from 1:30 pm until 5:30 pm who knows about almost everything in the museum and lets your child, hear, experience and taste the past.
So that was it for the month of February. Many museums, not so many actual things.
Have you tried/done any of the things on my list above? Any comments you would like to share? Would love to hear. Any more museum recommendations?
I love Instagram and I love following other moms in particular. One of the tags I follow is actually is #momlife. I love seeing artsy pictures of cute children in cute outfits, I love seeing toys and crafts that I haven’t seen before and I love getting local tips or travel tips to try out with my 6-year-old.
I’m currently inspired & captivated with these 5 Instagram mom bloggers from Antwerp that you must go follow now. Seriously, do it. Now!
My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms
Name Jessica // Blog: Exploring Life // Instagram: @jessicanobels– Teacher, blogger and an environmentalist with the cutest girls ever. Something about kids and glasses makes my heart melt. Maybe because my son wears them too.
Name: Lynn // Blog: Averechtse // Instagram: @LynnFormesyn – She is not the typical Instagram mom. She mainly uses Instagram to advocate for people with chronic pain (people like me). She is a gifted writer with an honest pen and recently wrote a book. Truly inspiring woman.
Name: Lies // Blog: Liesellove // Instagram:@Liesellove – She is a #momentrepreneur in the digital world and has a wonderful taste in taking colorful pictures of her super cute family. Also very inspiring when it comes to family travels.
So these were my My top 5 Antwerp Instagram moms!
Who would you like to add to this post? I cannot get enough of these strong power mama’s! Leave them for me in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out!
After a full day of school, playing in the mud and sand, then kneading (almost) 100% natural slime at home plus baking and eating a carrot cake, my child deserves to end the day with a nice hot bath! All parents know that moment of calm and serenity that follows the bath: a clean little cutie who smells like soap, warm in his pajamas and ready for stories. And what if bath time could also be an opportunity to take care of our children’s health by offering them a gentle detox? Zoom on into my 4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath.
These 4 recipes I have come up with myself or found ideas on Pinterest and played with them.
They make falling asleep easier, provide quality sleep and gently cleanse the body of toxins accumulated during the day. What’s more, these recipes cost almost nothing. Why deprive yourself of them?
1 – Detoxifying bath salt with lemon
This detoxifying bath salt recipe is excellent for children with skin problems, irritations, eczema, dryness, etc… It helps to regain well-being when children are very tired from their day. Lemon essential oil is excellent for regaining a good mood and feeling soothed, it promotes a positive atmosphere and an optimistic attitude.
Mix a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda then add a drop of lemon essential oil. Then place under the faucet. I buy the Epsom salt at Holland & Barret.
Let your children soak for 30 minutes under supervision of course!
2 – Purifying Bentonite clay bath
The bentonite clay boosts general circulation and has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent.
Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in hot water and add the tea tree essential oil.
Mix the clay with a small amount of water until all the pieces are removed (use a plastic spoon and a glass jar, no metal in contact with the clay!). Add the clay mixture to the saltwater and place it under the water jet.
It is also possible to make a clay paste that you can massage on your child’s body before bathing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes and let your child sit in the water and rinse.
3 – Detox bath with ginger
This bath is especially recommended for sick children! Small blocked noses, congested bronchial tubes, etc. can benefit from these two simple ingredients.
One cup of magnesium flakes and 1 tablespoon of organic ginger powder. Place the mixture under warm running bath water and let your child soak for 20 minutes.
I will be given my little Baba this bath tonight as he has been coughing profusely lately.
4 – Revitalizing bath with apple vinegar
This recipe is particularly suitable for children with skin problems. Apple vinegar helps to rebalance the pH of the skin and treat minor skin problems such as eczema, sunburn, itching, etc. It is a must to have at home but be careful, it is important that it always contains the mother of vinegar. I use the Bragg cider vinegar, but you can use any kind you like as long as it is raw and “with mother”.
Vinegar is also great as a conditioner for shiny and soft hair! If you don’t like the smell, add a drop of EO of real lavender to the mixture. The use of essential oils for children must be well thought out, and especially the oil must be of high quality!
Mix 500 ml of unpasteurized apple vinegar with the bathwater. Soak your child (or yourself!) for 30 minutes and dry thoroughly.
What’s the difference between Magnesium flakes and Epsom salts?
Magnesium flakes contain magnesium chloride and Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium flakes are purer and actually safer to use on children. They also absorb into your skin much faster than Epsom salts and the effects last longer.
Keep in mind:
When I mention essential oils, I am referring to quality, therapeutic-grade oils. I’m not talking about using diluted and watered down oils.
Try to keep them in the bath for 20 minutes to get all the benefits of the bath.
Lather them up, if you wish, with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil. I add in a few drops of lavender and give my son a light massage as I’m putting on his clothes.
Give your child some water or leave some beside their bed. Detox baths can make you thirsty. We always have a full reusable water bottle next to the bed.
Cuddle on the couch or in bed and read a good book before kissing them goodnight! Magnesium promotes sleep so they should sleep very well! Good for you! 🖤
I hope you’ll enjoy these few recipes and that you little angels will have fun playing splash and help them to sleep well.
To you, my child’s teacher, to whom I entrusted my little one a little too early for my taste. You, who every morning when I arrive at the school, have a smile on your face. You confirm to me that I made the right choice. That even though my mother’s heart is heavy to carry when I walk through the door, the most precious thing in my eyes is in good hands.
To you, my child’s teacher, who marks every birthday with sensitivity and celebrates every celebration to the delight of the little ones. Who even goes so far as to push our participation in order to make each experience unforgettable for our babies.
To you, my child’s teacher who simply takes the time. The time to listen to him and me, to prepare with attention the activities of the next day in order to amaze the children, to cook recipes with love and by knowing the preferences of each one. To take the time to comfort one while you must also entertain the other. Taking the time to go outside to play, even if it means dressing them layer after layer or creaming them every ten minutes. At pick-up, take the time to tell each parent about the day in a hurry.
To my child’s teacher, to the one who raises my son, who binds up his scratches when he hurts himself on the playground. I am grateful for all your small attentions and for all your work. To the one who treats my son as if he were her own; thank you for everything.
You are in a profession that demands the best of yourself in order to pass it on to others. A profession that, unfortunately does not get the credit that it deserves. I have spent many hours in your classroom and just keep on being amazed by your abilities and calmness.
And to you, my child’s teacher, my son finds himself in you. I trust your passion, your interest, your skills and your love; thank you for everything.
Maybe you’ve heard about before and asked yourself, what is mild parenting?
While pregnant with my last baby I had been reading many websites and books on parenting. Like most parents right? But at the time of my last pregnancy it had been 20 years since I had my first. I must have this parenting thing down…
Well, I did learn a lot while parenting my two first children who are now in their twenties, but I regret some parenting choices I then made and wished that I had better tools. I’m “mild” with myself. I mean, I was a teen mom, who’s parents did not do a great job themselves. Everyone was swarming me with their advice and I did what I thought that I had to do ( someone told me I was starving my child and that I needed to thicken my breast milk with sugar and cornflour). There was a lot of me getting angry and a lot of punishing, chore boards and stickers involved. Not that I was physical, but my eldest son had spent a lot of time in his room, broke.
I love my children so much. They are my world and I wanted to change the way I parent. I wanted peace in my home, in their hearts and mine.
Mild parenting is binding parenting. And in order to be able to do that, it is important to connect with yourself.
Then one day I went to a lecture given by this kick-ass psychologist woman named Nina Mouton who comes from Ghent. (a kick-ass town to visit too)
Nina came to talk about mild parenting, a term that I hadn’t heard before. Unconditional parenthood, attachment parenting, RIE parenting…on the other hand, these concepts have often been around our ears in recent years. Briefly until now, for me, this only meant: wear your baby/child until your back breaks, breastfeed it until your nipples fall off and sleep together until the age of 16. I knew a lot. Nina made me look at this approach differently that afternoon.
Because there was Nina, with her obvious -and at the same time magical- vision to just being there for your child. Uh okay. And what after that? Nothing. After that, the rest usually comes naturally.
It seems simpler than being there for your child, isn’t just the physical presence. It’s main commitment to an emotional bond, and you do that by leaving space, naming emotions, and letting the child be who he or she is.
Any “awkward” behavior usually has an underlying desire. The real underlying wish is the reason a child will show difficult behavior (for us). This kind of behavior is always a signal (“help me, I don’t know anymore”). There are very different wishes: affection, autonomy, closeness… It is up to you to find out what your child wants and to name it 🙂
Once you know the underlying wish, you can start naming what you see: what feeling do you think is behind the behavior? Stick to the basic feelings: angry, scared, happy and sad. Other feelings are still too unclear for young children (e.g. jealousy).
Let the feeling be there, don’t neutralize it as soon as possible because it bothers you or someone else (“you shouldn’t cry”). “Children have a right to their injustice,” Wow, I understood that there for the first time.
Often a child already knows that certain emotions are not okay and they start looking for a way out. A very nice example of this is a child that hurts mom, gets a reaction to it and starts running away. Or the child that doesn’t want to sleep, starts crying very hard and after a while says it has a stomach ache. So that’s why it is crying and not because it doesn’t want to sleep.
This educational approach is really something of our time. In the fifties, there was not much attention to parenthood. You sent your children out onto the field and hoped that just as many would come back in the evening.
When I was a first-time mom the behavioral approach was the pinnacle: punishing and rewarding until your child is completely molded the way you want it (in my opinion still a form of conditioning that brings little added value, they really don’t learn anything in the end because my eldest son just stopped doing chores for money because he started a student job). Even now, these theories are often proclaimed as “the” means of raising children, just think of the super nanny. Until the stickers came out of my ears and I didn’t know it at all.
Nina Mouton doesn’t like punishment either. A child will learn something if there is a “natural consequence” from certain behavior. E.g.: don’t clean up, then there’s no time for a story. It is not a punishment if a child has a choice.
Mild parenting, all well and good. But how can you be a mild parent with sleep deprivation? That went right through my head. I sleep very badly, and when my son was still nursing, he was nursing sometimes every two hours. Nina devotes a chapter to that, too. Self-care is the code word. A few tips:
Be authentic, stay calm. Get out of the situation if you’re in danger of being overwhelmed. Then come back to what happened afterwards.
Find a mommy buddy. (check)
Don’t be a champ all the time, it only takes energy from you and they won’t learn anything from you (except for a child of the most aggressive age ever, of course).
Find out what gives you energy and what requires energy from you (energy guzzlers).
Do things you did before the birth of your first child. (for me that was playing with Barbies)
You can’t do everything, choose your battles. (That’s one I’ve already mastered!)
Define your own boundaries: e.g. safety and health is not an issue.
Determining a “higher goal” can help: what values and norms do you want to give when they are out of the house? Is that what you are doing right now important? Often what you want NOW, and what you want later, is very contradictory. A higher goal can be: I want a child who can stand up for his opinion. What do you do if that child doesn’t want vegetables in his spaghetti sauce… He stands up for his opinion, doesn’t he?
You see, there’s still a lot of work to be done for me but now that my youngest has turned 6 years old, I can already see the difference mainly in our home and in myself. I very much prefer the mom (and person) that I have become, calmer and milder *insert smugness here*
There is so much more peace and happiness in our house now that I just wish that I had known (and understood) then, what I know now. Many things would have probably been different.
When your new baby is delivered, you anticipate it being the best day of your life. For me, that event on a cold, December day and was one of the worst days of my life.
My youngest son was born after I went into early labor. I had already been in hospital since week 24 with a placenta previa and inexplicable early contractions. To say I was scared is an understatement. He was going to be born way too soon.
Recently an acquaintance and now friend of mine had her baby delivered six weeks early and was terrified of what she was going through. I told her my story and she found such comfort in hearing the emotional similarities. Though everyone’s singular situation is different, I believe we all take solace in knowing the commonality of the emotional pain, trauma, and uncertainty that we’ve endured.
Way to soon
I was filled with emotions finding that my son was about to be delivered almost three months early. When I first arrived at the hospital at 24 weeks with heaving bleeding I was being prepared for the birth right there, right then. I’d never heard of such a thing. I couldn’t imagine a newborn baby could survive outside the womb four months before he was scheduled to be born, but I soon learned today’s neonatal medicine is amazing. An army of specially skilled doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and surgeons, saved my son’s life. But not on that day yet.
I did not give birth at the 24th week when first arriving. No, I was kept in hospital, on bed rest for 7 weeks, given a dose of magnesium and a steroid shot to help the baby’s brain and lungs develop. Eventually, the contractions stopped as did the bleeding and I was sent home for further bed rest… However, 6 days later I was sitting in the front seat of my in-law’s car with the window down in mid-December because my mother-in-law was chain-smoking. I couldn’t blame her. I left the hospital almost a week before with the warning to come back in ASAP if I began bleeding, or we both could die. And yes, I started to bleed again. My worried (ex)husband was still at work across the border in the Netherlands, wondering if he should come to the hospital. The hospital was eerily quiet as I waited nervously for the diagnosis. I was told I would get another a dose of magnesium and a steroid shot to help the baby’s brain and lungs develop and that they needed to do an emergency c-section. Overwhelmed, I was terrified of what was about to happen.
My husband arrived, worried something was wrong with so much commotion. I was brought to the operation room and my husband needed to wait in the waiting room while they would prep me as they promised to get him once I was ready.
I remember sitting at the edge of the operating table, waiting for the doctor to give me an epidural. The whole time I was praying and feeling incredibly guilty that my body was not able to care for my baby anymore.
That it could not keep the baby safe and that my baby now had to be brought into this world…way too early. I could not protect him anymore. I had failed.
The first epidural did not work for some reason, at least not as quickly as was needed. They gave me a second one, trying to convince me that the pain I was feeling was not real. When the first incision went into my belly, the pain was indescribable. I screamed and my heart and blood pressure went off the chart and so they had to put me fully under. The anesthesiologist grabbed my throat, told me that they needed to do this and that everything will be ok, she put the oxygen mask on and out I went.
The next thing I remember was waking up from a dark fog, just realizing what had happened and I started asking, no yelling, begging for my baby. Again, I feel this dark fog coming back upon me.
I hear the nurse or was it a doctor, calling for help because there was blood everywhere, I pass out again. I come by once more, again calling for my child and I hear them asking for my husband.
That he might be able to calm me down.
He came. I don’t remember what he said first, but when I asked if our son was alright, he answered that he didn’t know. That he was still waiting for the nurse to come and get him when they wheeled out a baby in an incubator and that he knew that it was our son.
They rushed our son off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), he wasn’t breathing.
I faintly recall a conversation with one of many doctors during the weeks leading up to my son’s birth, about the survival rates and complications likely with a baby being born this early.
To prepare us they even showed us books on how babies looked like at each week. They even gave us a tour of the NICU. We were well prepared, but you never truly can be.
As I lay in a hospital bed in the recovery unit, praying for my son. I negotiated with God. Don’t we all do that in dire circumstances?
“God, if you do this for me, I PROMISE I won’t let you down, I will dedicate my life and his to You Lord”
I just wanted this baby to be OK.
They told us that he weighed 2140kg and that he was 47 cm long, he was big for a 31-week-old baby.
I had no idea what this meant. Would he survive then? Could he even breathe? Could I see him? Hold him?
That evening they brought us to the NICU to meet our little man. My Lord was he ever so gorgeous. He didn’t look like the pictures we had seen of preemies. Yes, his tiny, fragile body was poked and prodded with tubes, he could not breathe and was wearing a c-pap so we could not fully see his face.
But gosh, he was beautiful. His body had a rosy red color to it, plump and he still had fuzz all over. We couldn’t see his hair color yet, as he was wearing a bonnet to keep all the cords in place.
Life in the hospital
I stayed in the hospital for 8 days, and even though I was not supposed to walk around yet, I was walking up to the NICU a few times per day, staying for hours.
Starring at this wonderful child. But he was struggling. He still could not breathe on his own, could not eat of course and he had a condition that we didn’t know about until after he left the hospital. Baby apnea, making him suddenly for no reason stop breathing. Something common amongst preemies.
Even though he looked stable, the first 48 hours were crucial and it’s horrible, that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen. His alarms went off, a lot. They had to nudge him and poke him, a lot.
I spent hours, days crying. I thought I’d run out of tears, but I didn’t. After my youngest son’s birth, we spent 65 days living in the hospital fighting for life.
I say WE because I (we) was with my son every step of the way as were our family and friends, caring for our other children at home, bringing diners, praying for us and for loving us even though I did not feel lovable at that point.
And today — as he’s on the verge of turning 6 years old when I am writing this.
Even today when I talk about how life started for my 6-year-old son, many times I cry. It’s real trauma that I didn’t recognize as post-traumatic stress. I discovered this recently after having started therapy this past year… The trauma didn’t end when our son left the hospital.
We still had spent many days in and out of the hospital due to his being a preemie. Hospitals almost felt like a second home for the first few years. I was terrified each time that I would lose him. Even if we were there for a simple check-up.
It must have been a week after he arrived home that my eldest son noticed that his baby brother wasn’t breathing in his cot.
We rushed him to the ER and he stayed again with an infection, but we also had to do a sleep test and we found out that he had baby apnea (meaning that he would just stop breathing) and we got to take home a monitor that our son needed to wear all of the time.
It gave a false sense of security and every time that it went off my heart raced and I would rub his little tummy asking him to breathe.
But today he is 6 years old and the last time we spent a night in the hospital has been 3 years ago.
When you see him now, you would never even think that he had such a hard time starting life. He was born big, and he still is a very tall boy, towering over other children his age.
He does very well in school even though he needed to redo this past year of kindergarten due to some delays in his developmental milestones.
But now he is eager to read and write, and his favorite things are the arts (crafting and performing) and building towers and houses for his action figures and stuffed animals. His lego building skills continue to impress me.
He loves playing with our two Dachshunds and cat and just loves all animals. It’s a love that he and his big sister share and he even recently got to sit on her horse for the first time.
When picking him up from school he runs into my arms and covers me with kisses, wherever we are he will cuddle up to me and give me kisses and I hope that he agrees with me that when he is older that you can still be cool and love your parents. 😁
Sometimes he sleeps in his bed, but he still mostly snuggles up to me in mine. Then I think of the first days of his life when we couldn’t snuggle. So, I will take all the snuggling that I can get.
He is kind, creative, loving and mischievous as all children are.
I look forward to this coming year, the year of six, and I can’t wait to see the things that he will learn to do.
And I am looking forward to watching him grow up and one day seeing the man that he will become. My heart is so full.
My son, my miracle. Our blessing. Happy 6th Birthday dear Baba.
BTW, I highly recommend this book, “Hold your prem” written by Jill Bergman that was given to me by a friend.
It helped me to prepare for the early birth and gave me tools on how to bond with my child despite the traumatic first moments of an early birth.
I always recommend it and gift it to parents who could benefit from it.