Tonight my phone rang at 10pm and it said unknown. These last few months an unknown call means it is my mom’s facility. It was late so my heart sank. Is mom ok? For the first time in at least 3 years my mother was on the other end of the phone. As I held my newborn son in my arms, I listened to her as she jabbered on for at least 5 minutes. I say “jabber” because my mom has makes absolutely no sense when she talks. She has recently started to make up words and she has her own language. Almost immediately when I heard her voice, I began to cry.
I have to be completely transparent. I have not seen my mom for three weeks. Three whole weeks. (Almost four) That is the longest I have EVER gone without seeing my mother since she moved to Texas in 2009. About three weeks ago I was able to sneak away and see my mom alone without any of my three children. I could not handle it. Call it post pardom hormones, but after about 5 minutes of being with my mom I had a breakdown in her room. Looking around at all of the pictures we have of us, pictures of my brother and I as kids, pictures of our families now… it was too much. After I collected myself I followed her out to the main dining area to be with the rest of the community. My mom never stays still, she is ALWAYS walking. I saw some of her favorite nurses who asked about my precious newborn son and I lost it again. Ugly cry. Then I felt terrible because these women and men who work in these facilities have a hard enough job as it is. The last thing they need is for a crying family member to further solidify to them that this disease sucks. As I gave my mom a hug I realized how much I really needed her at this moment in my life. My life was harder than it had ever been. A 3 nager who was testing my patience daily, a 19 month old that was becoming Evil Knievel and a 3 week old son. Not to mention that my newborn was giving me the ride of my life with breastfeeding. I needed her advice. I needed the one person in my life who knows me better than anyone else ever will.. tell me it would be ok.
After a few minutes I put my cell phone on speaker so my husband could hear her. He isn’t able to visit her as often as I am and even though I tell him stories he doesn’t understand how bad she really is. And to be honest I think it breaks his heart also. I told her how much I loved her and missed her, but she did not repeat it. Usually she will say, “I love you too, honey.” She then started saying something else I couldn’t understand and then one of her sweet nurses got on the phone. She told me that my mom has been carrying around my picture all day. When the workers would ask about me she would say, I love her.. I love her…I love her. Her nurse said that she making them all cry with how she was acting. They were crying because she knew what she wanted. She wanted me. They asked if she wanted to call me and she said yes. And then my mom, who doesn’t ever stay in one place waited there for me to answer the phone.
She knows. Somewhere in her foggy brain she knows i haven’t seen her in three weeks. She misses me. My mom is still in there.
For some of you that may not know, my mom has late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. She has had it 5 years and is now in her 3rd facility in 3 years. (That will be an entirely different blog post.) Losing a mom is so very hard. I know that anyone who has lost a mother at any age can relate to the feelings of loss of such an important person in their life.
What I want to convey in this post is why I am so PISSED! Families of people who have Alzheimer’s Disease have to face a double blow if you will. Not only do we all have that feeling of loss, but we actually to watch it happen slowly. Imagine your loved one being right in front of you… You can see that their hands are still the same to hold, their eyes still have that loving sparkle, yet they have no clue in the world that they even know you. Traumatizing.
This horrid disease makes people die a slow and painful death. It is hard on the patient, but even harder on the family. As a young mom of three small children there is no reason why I should have to be facing this. My mom is 66 years old.
For the past three years I have raised money for our local Alzheimer’s walk in September. Every year I have beat my fundraising goals and this year is no different. I can’t physically do anything for my mother anymore, but I can put a name and a face to this disease. Share my stories and my struggles so you know that this is a very real threat. It could happen to anyone.
This year I am starting earlier with fundraising and building my team.
Has Alzheimer’s Disease affected you in some way or are you afraid it might in the future?
Did you know that every 66 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease? It also kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined! This disease is serious and is only getting worse! Join me in my fight. All proceeds go to funding and research.
Will you join my team and help find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Or will you donate to our team, Melanie’s Memories Matter to help us reach our goal? Thank you in advance to all that can help. <3
Today my son is 3 weeks old. It also marks the fact that 3 weeks have passed and I have yet to breastfeed him. Now to some of you it may not seem like that is a big deal. To me, it is one of the most heart breaking things that I have encountered in motherhood. Yes, I am one of those women. The one who loves to breastfeed. There is just something about looking down at your sweet baby and knowing that this little person is being nourished completely by your body. God really is amazing. The breastfeeding bond is unbreakable and was one of my favorite parts of being a mom to my girls. And then the Lord gave me this perfect little boy and my whole world has been turned upside down of what I have ever known about breastfeeding.
Now this picture of my middle child with the breast pump may seem silly, but to me it is a sad reminder of my new reality. When my eldest was this age and I was nursing her sister (my kids are all 18mo apart), she would put her baby doll to her chest and sign “milk.” Now that baby is a big sibling and using the pump because that is how she see’s me feeding her brother. 🙁
First, I need to apologize. I judged some mothers wrongly in the past. Whenever I heard a new mom (or any mom) say, “I tried to breastfeed, he/she wouldn’t latch” etc. etc I rolled my eyes. Yeah.. right. Usually this “trying” only lasted a week or so. This made me believe that said mother didn’t work hard enough to make it happen. It always happens if you give it a little time and effort. Right…..
Turn back the clock to three weeks ago. My labor was long and I barely had any sleep from the night before when my water broke. (Birth story coming soon!) I only pushed 18 minutes, but being 5’1” and birthing a 9# 9oz baby with no drugs on very little sleep was pretty exhausting. I remember a few minutes after he was born my midwife put him on my breast to eat. Little dude was happy, yet didn’t latch. Not then or not even when we got home from the birth center a few hours later.
My milk came in on day 3 and I thought for sure that when that happened he would jump on the milk train and we would be good to go! Nada. After a day or so of frustration my husband said we should just try a bottle because we were both at a loss. And tired. Chasing a 3 year old and 18 month old is hard enough. Add a newborn and we were officially entering crazy town around here! Did I mention we were tired? I would try at the beginning of each feeding to get him latched and we would always end up resorting to the bottle. He would scream and cry every time I would put him to the breast. He would get so angry he would turn purple and pull his hair out. We now call him Mr. Intensity.
Every time I saw him drink a bottle I would secretly go to my room and cry. I would never touch the bottle. To me I felt as if something was my fault. I am his mother and I can’t feed my child. I know how to do this. I have done this for over a year with both of my girls. Guilt set in and tears flowed, frequently. My poor husband didn’t (and doesn’t) know what to do. It is never something I can really explain to him either.
Through these last three weeks I have had a friend of my midwife who is a NICU nurse come over to help with positions, a lactation consultant has come over twice and we had a lip tie revision done last week thinking that was the cause of my son’s inability to latch. Today we saw his pediatrician to have him checked. He saw nothing alarming that would cause him not to latch. The consensus is that he has some muscle soreness from birth and it is making his upper body tight. This in turn may be causing him not to be able to relax his body and fully extend his tongue. Crazy really. I had no idea this was a thing. Breastfeeding really is hard and each child is different. I am now realizing that I was extremely lucky with my girls.
The message I want to convey with this post is how sorry I am. I should never have assumed that any mom who said they have tried to breastfeeding.. either a day or many months, was any less of a mom because they couldn’t nurse their babies. This stuff is hard and there should be absolutely NO mommy guilt for how you feed your child. Formula, boob, pumping. Feed the baby, give it love, end of story.
Side note: Moms who pump are ROCK STARS! I barely pumped with the girls and hated it whenever I did it. Now being an exclusive pumper for three weeks, it has given me an even bigger understanding of how amazing these moms are. And why aren’t they praised more for all that they do? Nursing a baby is easy. Baby is hungry, put on boob and done. When you are a pumping mama you have to get the necessary pump paraphernalia ready, pump, freeze or put milk in fridge or bottle, feed the baby and then wash all of the junk to do it once again two hours later. All of that ends up being almost an hour, so you end up only having an hour before you are getting ready for the next feeding. IT SUCKS! So moms that pump, you deserve a gold star and a high five. I don’t know how much longer I can do it.
My story doesn’t end here with breastfeeding. I don’t have an “end date” yet for when I will stop trying. I still want to try a few more chiropractor appointments and go to an occupational therapist to see if some exercises can help him. Call me crazy, but I want to make sure I have exhausted all of my tools before I throw in the towel. Otherwise I know I will regret it.
One of my favorite things in our master bedroom is these precious blocks that an amazing photographer, Kay Harmon did for us. They are my nursing blocks. I actually look at them often as they take me back to those special moments I spent nursing my girls. The baby snuggles, the hair twirling, the kissing of little fingers, unforgettable moments. To think I won’t have those moments with my son breaks my heart, but you better believe I am going to give it 110% to make it happen!