Tag Archive: baby


Some days, as a stay-at-home mom, I literally find my self walking around the house, doing nothing… Please note: this is NOT because I am lazy or that there is nothing to being a stay-at-home mom (and part-time freelance writer, let me just add – by the way, why do I feel like I have to justify myself?!)

Pic taken by Melissa van Zyl Photography  www.melissavanzyl.co.za

Anywhoo…

If I decide to sit down in front of the computer to do some writing, Alex starts climbing up my leg, crying for my attention or for me to pick him up (yes – I have tried all sorts of interesting toys to keep him busy on the floor).

Should I pick him up… he will NOT magically sit stil on my lap while I type. He will pull everything he can off the table and also try his best to play with my laptop.

So I get up from my writing and decide to sit on the couch and do some constructive reading. I promise you – sitting down on the couch is like an open invitation to your baby to come and play with mommy. He will beg and tug at your leg for you to pick him up.

Should you pick him up, there is no chance of you relaxing for even a moment – he has no idea that he can fall off the couch and he will crawl around like a cute little baboon all over the couch.

So I get up and decide to get some house work done. Disaster. As I move form room to room, for example, packing away clothes, Alex will find it most frustrating – you see: just as he gets to the room I am in, I am already on my way out again. Inconsolable tears.

I decide to stand still and do the dishes. Nope – Alex climbs up my leg crying for me to pick him up or just do something amusing.

So sometimes I find myself just lying on the floor with Alex climbing all over me – I have to do my best to not get permanently scarred or bald as he goes for my hair, my eyes and my nose.

On these days, and there are many of them, I find myself at the end of the day feeling a little unfulfilled. If you think it is easy being a stay-at-home mom – you have no idea how difficult it sometimes get.

That said… I love my Alex and I would NEVER change having him. But please, just empathise with me a little bit today.

Love, Nicolette

[to follow Nicolette’s writing, go and visit her blog Nicolette writes: Professional Freelance Writer and Stay-at-Home Mom, click here]

[For some ideas and examples on how to raise your children to be world changers, head over here]

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I stumbled upon a blog by Steve Wiens a while ago, about parents and little children, and it was really great so i emailed him and asked for permission to use it as part of the Taboo Topics series and he graciously said, ‘Yes!’ and also sent me a link to the Infertility blog which he wrote which looks like it will be really helpful for people who have been struggling with that:

    Ten words that describe infertility by Steve Wiens aka The Actual Pastor

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about the hilarious and exasperating journey of parenting small children. But for seven harrowing years of infertility, Mary and I would have given anything to have children, no matter how hard it was.

Here are ten words I would use to describe how infertility feels:

1. Lonely. We saw couple after couple get pregnant before us, our best friends included. When they told us, we high-fived them, then we went home, and hardly knew what to say to each other. We felt lost, sad, and even lonelier than before. We were excited for them; we were just very sad for us.

It’s okay to go home and cry your eyes out when your friends get pregnant.

2. Exposed. Everybody wants to give you advice, and some people say incredibly stupid things. My favorite: “You just need to stop trying so hard!” Some people want to know every excruciating detail of what you’re doing to get pregnant. Suddenly, your most private details are the subject of casual conversation. Once people know you’re trying, people want to know how it’s going, if you’ve done artificial insemination, if you’d consider IVF, and how it felt in that small white room with the gross leather chair & the bad magazines.

It’s okay to avoid the question, smile, and change the subject. Keep as many things private as you can (except to a few trusted friends).

3. On Hold. We were always checking the calendar, wondering if we should plan that vacation, or that work trip, because what if we’re pregnant? Then we stopped doing that, because we would have never lived if we would have scheduled everything around a “what if.”

It’s okay to miss a month or two; you have to live your life. This is hard, but over the long haul, it will create more stress if you feel so trapped that you can’t plan anything. We even found that it’s good to take a month off now and then.

4. Invaded. For women, there are so many things entering your body (probes, needles, drugs) and so many people measuring your progress. Even sex, at the mercy of a calendar or a temperature reading, can feel invasive. The loss of control can almost merge into a loss of self. But, it feels like once you’ve started down this road, there’s no stopping until you get pregnant.

It’s okay to say what you need, and it’s okay to shore up your boundaries in whatever ways you can.

5. Awkward. During one of the first visits where I was given the small cup and ceremoniously ushered into the small room, I actually ran into some people from my church afterwards. Of course they had their baby with them. I had a small cup that contained very personal contents with me. They asked, “What are you doing here?” I mean, what do you say?

It’s okay to laugh at yourself sometimes. And when someone catches you with your cup in your hand, that’s all you can do.

6. Angry. Unfair is the password that gets you into the infertility club. Mary tells a story of a friend asking her if she was angry with God. “No!” she blurted. “I’m angry at pregnant women!” She knew this was irrational, but she also knew that it was good for her soul to be honest in safe places. You actually may be angry with God, and you may need to find some safe places to be honest about that.

It’s okay to express the darkness, even the stuff you’re terribly embarrassed about, because it’s good for your soul. But in the right places, with people who can handle it.

7. Stressed. Even though it seems like a stressed out couple is less likely to get pregnant, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine finds that there is no proof stress causes infertility. Besides, trying hard to “not be so stressed about it” never worked for us. It also didn’t help to “just stop trying.” Everybody has a friend who was infertile for 73 years, and the day they stopped trying, they got pregnant. That never happened with us.

It’s okay to be stressed. Don’t stress about your stress. Trying hard not to be stressed is silly.

8. Despair. The cycle of hope and despair with infertility can take you out. I remember getting so excited when Mary was 2 days late, and just knowing that this time, it’s going to happen! Then, a few days or hours later, when she told me she got “it,” I would plunge into despair. The alternative is to temper your hope so that your despair doesn’t get so low. After about a hundred months of experiencing this cycle, we found that the best route is to keep hoping, and if it doesn’t happen, keep crying. It’s too hard to pretend that you’re not excited and that you’re not depressed. Be excited. Be depressed.

It’s okay to hope, and it’s okay to cry. Keep hoping and keep crying.

9. Loss. This was not how it was supposed to be. This was not what you dreamed it would be. And you don’t know how it will end.

It’s okay if you don’t know how to wrap your mind around your emotions. Be gentle with yourself for not totally having control of how you feel from moment to moment.

10. Ambivalence. Every time you have to go through another kind of treatment, you ask yourself: “Is it worth it? Do I really want it that bad?” And then in the very next breath, you are taken out by the sheer magnitude of how much you want a baby.

It’s okay to want and not want. That’s normal.

If you’re struggling with infertility, it can be such a dark time. You have to be out loud with each other about what you need, and every journey will be different. You have to give yourselves permission to do this journey in whatever way makes the most sense for you.

My blessing for you as you struggle: May God give you what you need, when you need it, over and over and over again.

[To catch more of Steve’s blog, The Actual Pastor, click here]

Continuing my sharing of positive news:

Anyone who has heard Nick Vujicic speak or seen him on a video will have been deeply inspired… Nick’s Wikipedia page gives a brief intro to this giant of a man:

‘Nicholas James “Nick” Vujicic (born 4 December 1982) is a Serbian Australian evangelist and motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare ‘disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability and, at the age of seventeen, started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limits. Vujicic presents motivational speeches worldwide, on life with a disability, hope and finding meaning in life. He also speaks about his belief that God can use any willing heart to do his work and that God is big enough to overcome any and all disabilities.’

today on the ‘book there was this picture of Nick holding his new son simply with this comment:

nickandbabofynick

‘Dream come true. Holding my Baby Boy Kiyoshi. Amazing grace and gift from God. Love you all so much. Thank you for your showers of prayer.’

i feel like that is inspiring and positive to the nth degree…

to visit the site Nick started, Life Wihtout Limbs, which has a lot of inspiring material on it, click here

Answering the ‘baby’ question

The way I work through things is different to how many others do. I experience something, think and pray about it and when I feel that I’ve heard God about something, I write about it. Sharing what God has taught me in challenging situations is like the ‘acceptance’ phase of grief. This blog post has been several months in the making and tells the story of something that we have battled with in 2012. But in the end, there is great hope.
A strange thing happened after Willem and I got married. Babies started to act differently around us. They’d giggle and smile at us and coo adorably. We would never hear loud wailing or witness tantrums, only sweet parenting moments like a mother and baby giggling together or a father taking his daughter out for a stroll in her pram.

It was like a conspiracy – these babies sensing our newly-married-ness and using cuteness propaganda to convince us that we wanted one too. They’d look at us with an expression saying, “Have one of us, one of us.”

Then, the family and friends joined in by asking us questions like, “So when are you going to have children?” When you start dating everyone questions you about when you are going to get married and as soon as you get the wedding band, the baby question comes up. It’s like people are constantly pushing you into the next life stage. They have good intentions, but sometimes they aren’t aware of the pressure that places on people.
Willem and I have been married for five years. We have our own place, secure jobs and a steady income. He’s in his early thirties and I’m in my late twenties. This makes us prime candidates for the ‘baby’ question. I have even had a friend tell me that my biological clock is ticking so we should hurry up! So, why haven’t we started a family yet?

We can’t.

That’s the simple answer, but the journey to this answer has been anything but simple. It started over two years ago when Willem and I decided that we were ready to start a family. We were emotionally, financially and spiritually ready to enter the next life stage – parenthood.

Almost immediately, life became all about schedule and watching the calendar. We changed our diet and tried to get healthier. Life became about sacrificing anything that could get in the way of us having healthy children. I even refused to take any medication that wasn’t safe for pregnant women in case I was pregnant. I made mental lists of pregnancy symptoms and every hint of nausea became a sign.

It was an emotional time of negative pregnancy tests and anxious prayers. It was so difficult to be disappointed every month. During this time of heightened health awareness, Willem discovered a lump in his testicle. It was malignant – he had testicular cancer.

He had surgery to have the lump removed. Thankfully, they managed to remove all the cancer but he went for radiation treatment as a precautionary measure. It was the most difficult experience that we had been through as a couple (you can read about how we got through this time by reading my blog post ‘The One you can cling to.’)

Willem’s treatment finished and all his blood work came back clear. Earlier this year we had a scare, but, praise God, the cells they were concerned about were benign. We felt comforted by the fact that the cancer was gone, and that the treatment wouldn’t have affected our ability to have children.
But still, I was not falling pregnant. In our desperation, we decided to get professional help. We visited my gynaecologist and Willem’s urologist and went for several tests. Willem also went for a biopsy. In a two week period it was discovered that Willem’s body does not produce sperm cells and that our chances of having a baby are very close to none. The only possibility we have of conceiving is a very expensive and invasive surgery with a very slight chance of being successful.

It’s difficult to describe how I’ve felt since getting the news. I’ve gone from feeling devastated because I’ve always had the desire to be a mom, to feeling guilty for not being strong enough for my husband whose own sense of loss was magnified by my sadness. I’ve had mornings when I just wanted to stay in bed and cry.

I have learnt that I am not strong enough to deal with difficult times but that God is the one who is strong and I’ve needed to draw on His strength daily.

Our friends, colleagues and family have been so amazingly supportive. Our church family has been so wonderful with their prayers and encouragement. The first place we went to after we got the bad news was church where our pastor’s wife prayed for us. It was just what we needed – to stay God-focused during such a painful time.

I’ve had people tell me not to give up, that it’s God’s will for us to have children. Others have encouraged us to adopt. It’s been tough to really figure out what to do. I really felt strongly that God wanted us to have children and I’ve had prophetic words from others backing that up. I started to question whether I heard from God or if it was just my voice, or whether He meant that one day we would adopt and that’s how we’d become parents.
I’ve had to let go of the schedule, ignore the calendar. It may seem strange to find this difficult. For two years I had made trying to have a baby a huge priority. I’ve had to let go – and it’s been hard. I’ve learnt that it gave me a sense of control and being able to have this control made me feel more secure.

The truth is that we can’t control this situation. There’s nothing we can do to fall pregnant. This is out of our hands now. It’s been very frustrating…but also freeing in a way. We have to take a step back, there’s nothing we can do. We can only leave it up to God. After months of pain, I feel at peace with this. I feel secure in trusting God with this matter.

There are times when I do get emotional about the situation and all the pain floods back, but I then run to Him for comfort. My focus is on entering into His rest – a place where I don’t forget His promises amidst the negative situation I’m in. He has promised to give me life, and life to the full (John 10:10.) He has promised to prosper me and give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11.) Whether these plans include us becoming parents, or not – they are perfect.

So, if someone asks me when we are going to start a family, I will say, “I don’t know.” I don’t know if we will conceive naturally of if we’ll adopt. I don’t know if it’ll happen next year or when we’re in our forties. All I do know is that I trust in a God of the impossible, in a God whose timing is perfect.

It’s all in His hands now. And I’m finally okay with it.

I’d really like to thank my dear friends who have been on this journey with us- friends who I have confided in from the beginning; friends who comforted me when I’ve struggled or had moments of weakness in the marking room, who have asked me if I was okay when I needed to vent. Thank you for your support and prayers, thank you for your understanding and patience. You are amazing blessings.

[to connect with Melanie or follow her and her writing, you can visit her blog here]

i said to my beautiful wife Valerie the other day something along the lines of ‘what do people write statuses [stati?] about on Facebook if they are not entering into a relationship or having a baby? [or these days in americaland making some kind of staunchly pro this party or anti that one political statement] as it just seemed like the majority of statuses [stati?] i was reading were about one of those…

two things come out of that, the one for those of you who are celebrating is this:

for people who are single and don’t want to be or those who have lost a child or been struggling to have one, these must be incredibly difficult posts to read – depending on the amount of friends you have and how filtered or not your feed is – because it is hard to celebrate someone else’s status when you are mourning your own…

and so it becomes a tough one – because you don’t want to, and shouldn’t minimise your excitement merely because someone else has gone through a hardship… but i think being aware, and even intentionally so – making some kind of motion towards someone you know who your status may be hurtful for – is a really life building thing to do… acknowledging [in a behind-the-scenes personal email or a live take-them-out-for-coffee invitation] that they might be going through a hurtful time and is there anything you can do or be aware of that might help…

realising that while your new relationship or engagement or new baby is the focus of attention for you now and is the center of your world and rightly so… that for some people out there it is simply one of six new relationships, two new engagements and five new babies that they are seeing…

this is a tightrope and a tricky one and i don’t know that there is any answer beyond awareness and sensitivity and possibly taking a step when it is someone you are really close to that is that person who might be hurting… i do imagine that being straight with them [in terms of how much they may want to hear about your new relationship or baby] could be a healthy thing or just giving them space to speak about their situation and hurt or loneliness or current vibe.

this all sounds a little morbid. but it’s not. or doesn’t have to be. i think this is an incredible opportunity to discover and celebrate community. that somehow, at the same time we can celebrate with those who celebrate but also mourn with those who mourn [or just be bummed with those who are bummed].

anyone else have any thoughts on this..?

to become aware of the unique amidst the deluge read this one

i said to my beautiful wife Valerie the other day something along the lines of ‘what do people write statuses [stati?] about on Facebook if they are not entering into a relationship or having a baby? [or these days in americaland making some kind of staunchly pro this party or anti that one political statement] as it just seemed like the majority of statuses [stati?] i was reading were about one of those…

and two things come out of that, the one for those of you who are not the ones celebrating is this:

it is easy to get caught up in the fact that in the last week you have witnessed thirteen new relationships, seven new engagements, two weddings and heard that four of your friends have announced their pregnancy, an adoption came through and two other friends had a baby just from reading statuses [stati?] on Facebook…

it can begin to feel like a deluge and “aw no, not another one” can quickly become the response and the temptation to write some less than authentic comment on the latest pic can be strong…

but it is important to remember that for each individual involved it is not “another one”, it is their one. it is important and significant and it is beautiful and worth celebrating and it is special and life-changing [at least for today but probably for the rest of their lives] and that as much as it might feel like a deluge for you, the witness, for them it is unique… and has to be treated that way.

[which may be extremely tough if you are the person who has just broken up with your significant other, or been broken upped upon, or not been able to fall pregnant, or lost a child]

and so the call to get your mind into that place of realising that each announcement or declaration or celebration that happens on the social networks you are a part of, means something significant to the people posting/sharing it and to not simply treat it [even in your mind] as “aw, another one” but to try and celebrate with your friends and let them grasp the fullness of the uniquity of their occasion.

i think a great way of doing that is by stepping beyond the social network – making a phone call or taking them out for some caffeine-enriched beverage or inviting them round for a meal or something live where you can face to face [or mouth to ear] let them know that their thing is a big deal… and you choose to celebrate with them.

thoughts?

to make sure you are aware of the deluge in your unique, read this

I read the post from the friend of yours who is still in so much pain over losing her baby and it made me feel so much less alone. She puts into words so much of how i’m feeling. Words that I haven’t had for the last 7 months.

I had an abortion. I never thought those words would apply to me. But they do. I desperately wanted my baby. But the doctors told me he would never live. Non-viable. Not compatible with life. Such ugly words.

I was so sick while I was pregnant. My hormones took over and I was also miserable and depressed. I even said at one point “I’ve changed my mind”. I didnt mean it, but oh how I wish I never thought it! I wanted my baby. Then the doctor said everything wasnt ok. He was querying downs syndrome and spina bifida. And sent us into a spiral of turmoil and despair. One of my early reactions was “I want it out”. We prayed and prayed for a miracle, for guidance. My gynae mentioned termination and we just didnt know. Do Christian people do this? Could we? But could we cope with a disabled child? We were so afraid. For 5 days (the longest five days of our lives) we prayed. We asked for clear answers, for guidance, for a miracle. We prayed that we wouldnt have to make the decision. Then we went to see the specialist who said that our baby would die. Probably not make it to term, and definitely wouldnt live more than an hour or two if he was born. She said it was so bad that she would terminate the pregnancy up until the day before i gave birth. She said that she was a Christian and she would still do it. We went to our church and the minister said the same thing. That he and his wife had suffered through a number of miscarriages and he would still terminate the pregnancy in our situation. We thought we had our answers. There was no possibilty of any kind of life. We didnt want our baby to suffer in utero for as long as he may live. We were afraid to continue with a pregnancy, just waiting for our baby to die. So we decided to end it. We went to counselling at church the night before the procedure and i left there with peace.

I was terrified on the day. They gave me tablets to start the process, and pethidine and i spent the day floating. When the doctor came to see me, I was in so much pain, and I just wanted to get it done. I drifted into the anaesthetic, thinking when i woke up, this nightmare would be over. Then I woke up and it wasnt. My baby was gone. I wasnt pregnant anymore. I had gotten rid of this life that I never appreciated enough. I only realised how much i had loved that baby now that it was gone. I woke up a mother. And racked with guilt for every moment of not being grateful enought to be pregnant. Filled with regret for spending the morning wishing it was over with, rather than cherishing my last moments with my baby inside me. For panicking and not waiting a little bit longer to make the decision. I just felt like I had killed my baby.

Its been 7 months and I still dont know what to do with it. I didnt decide my baby would never live. God did. But I did end his life. I know that I prayed. I prayed that God would stop us from terminating if He didnt want us to. Instead, all sources seemed to point to it. Is it ok with Him that we did what we did? Or did we fail some major test? Can I just be allowed to deal with my grief, or should i be dealing with guilt as well? I didnt trust God anymore. I was so angry with Him, with everyone. With everything. I was suicidal. My heart and my faith were shattered. Still are. I am able to function more normally now, but its like there are two of me. the one is logical and dispassionate and says we did the right thing, the merciful thing. Our baby’s heart was beating, but we had lost him nonetheless. The other half of me is just bleeding, and screaming with pain. Did God lead us to do what we did or did I just kill my baby? And regardless of how our baby was lost, he is still gone.

What your friend writes about how people are, and how she feels in church and how much it breaks you inside to have people make their pregnancy announcements around you – all these things are real to me too. At first I couldnt function at all. I would go to work and sit there, waiting for the day to end. I couldnt focus. I would write in my journal, telling God how I couldnt go on. I would go home and just want to be dead. I’ve moved forwards from there now. I was given new projects at work and had no choice but to focus. So I fuction again. But it is still dark. Some days are better, and I tiptoe through them, hanging on to a tenous thread of sanity, not looking around me for fear of something setting off the darkness again. I feel like i am lost in a dark cave. I dont know the way out, and I’m stumbling around bashing up against things and hurting myself. Sometimes I see a glimmer of light in the distance and I follow it for a while then i trip over a rock and get disorientated and its dark again. I dont know how to fix it, i dont know how to come out of it. I’m just praying that my dark days will continue to lessen.

People want to help. My mother sent me scriptures – about how God took Davids baby away as punishment (ok?!). One idealistic soul apologised (6 weeks after the fact) for not making sure i did the right thing (I’m so pleased she knows what that was becasue I still dont), another told me all about the many babies that she lost – again with the best of intentions (ok, she has 2 perfect children now, but i cant contemplate the thought of having to survive this again and again. She’s on the other side of it now. Will I ever get there?) And the one who told me she thought she was pregnant and considered aborting the baby cos they were done with having children (i guess she was trying to tell me she doesnt judge me, which i appreciated, but otherwise, it didnt help!). And my husband. Who decided on “tough love”, refusing to do housework in order to force me to function (we’re still debating on the helpfulness of that one). My husband didnt feel as shattered as I did. He feels we were given a clear answer and he feels that he protected me from having to carry our child even longer, while waiting for him to die. His mom got very sick soon afterwards and so he had more real things (for him anyway) to focus on and I felt so alone. Some unlikely people did help me though. While some were saying things like “you’ll understand when you are mom” (who may acknowledge my pain, but not that i am every bit as much of a parent as they are. I am a mother and i have had to make a much more difficult decision for my child than they have ever had to make for theirs!), other people understood how torn up i was, understood that I am now a mother and it is these people who helped me stand again: My gynae’s wife who visited me in hospital and hugged me while I cried, my GP who supported me when I went to his office and burst into tears, giving me tablets for the short term and making sure I was in counselling for the longer term, the woman who pulled me aside at a breakfast and took me away to cry while she held me and prayed for me and my baby, the woman who said to me “You didn’t kill your baby”, the woman who took the time to find and send me a poem that someone who went through a similar experience wrote – on exactly a day that I needed it most, and my husband’s assistant who phoned me on mother’s day to wish me happy mother’s day – not an easy call to make, but appreciated more than he will ever know.

So now I’m standing again (or at least trying to). I’m still looking for God again, I’m looking for answers, I’m looking for a way forward. I thought I heard God, but everything I thought I heard turned out to be wrong, so maybe the abortion was too. But I get stuck there, because the alternative is equally unthinkable and I dont know that I wouldnt do the same thing in the same situation again. I dont know that I would either (or how I even could), and I just wish I had the answers. I wish I had peace.

I dont. What I do have is pain and a new empathy for people who decide to have an abortion. The terror, for whatever reason, of not being able to handle whats coming, and how it can seem to be the best solution. I wish I could say it is… I dont know. What I have learnt is not to judge others. Ive learned that some days it feels like I’m too broken to breathe, but somehow I do. And I do still belive in God. That all things are working for my good. I dont understand how, I dont understand Him, and it doesnt make it better, but I am trying to hang onto that fact. That His was are higher than mine, His thoughts are higher than mine. The last couple of weeks, I have been hearing again and again that I should be praising Him through everything. I’ve also been surrounded by pregnancy. One morning I listened to a talk on praising God through pain, then later walked past an old friend in the shops who was heavily pregnant. God, in His mercy, didnt have her stop and speak to me, but i nearly vomited right there in the shops anyway. It hurt so much. But i went home and sang. I sang on the way to the car, all the way home and for the next 45 minutes as I unpacked and cooked dinner. I sang (and cried) to God every song that popped into my head, and slowly some measure of peace descended.

I pray that I will find complete peace at some point. And some kind of answer as to the ethics of what we did. I’m praying that we will have healthy children in future and that I will remember that God is God. He is almighty and my days are in His hands. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” 2 Chronicles 20:12.

And one day, I pray that I’ll get it.

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