So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

After three NICU stays, becoming a mom twice in one year, the trauma of losing one child, 80 days on bed rest, all the emotions of bringing our second son home, and everything in between . . . I’ve struggled with figuring out my new life and finding my new self. My new self after loss, as a mom and a parent after loss all while dealing with postpartum depression, PTSD, and learning how grief and joy can co-exist.

Slowly I began noticing a change. New thoughts and feelings that weren’t me. Well, weren’t me a year ago. I needed to figure out the difference between what I needed help working through and what was a part of this new version of me.

As I continued to work through the grief and the trauma, I began to realize something I needed with the new version of me. It was boundaries. I needed self boundaries, boundaries as we build our family, and boundaries to help me work through my grief and trauma.

And guess what mamas? It’s OK to need boundaries.

It’s OK to want quality family time with just your family.

It’s OK to need space.

RELATED: A Mother’s Mind Never Rests, Because We Carry The Mental Load

It’s OK to feel all the feelings and just be still when you need to.

It’s OK to be in the NICU and request others not to touch or hold your child.

It’s OK to not want to share some of the special moments.

It’s OK to want your alone time.

It’s OK to tell others what you need at this time.

It’s OK that those needs and boundaries may change.

It’s OK to miss loved ones and yet want to live in a different state with your family.

It’s OK to need more boundaries from some people and fewer boundaries from others.

It’s OK to know when you need a break.

RELATED: Your Brain Processes Thousands of Thoughts Per Hour—So Yes, Mama, You Need That Break

It’s OK to not know what you need.

It’s OK to ask for help, to see a therapist, or to just confide in your best friends.

It’s OK to need boundaries, mama.

RELATED: Admire the Baby, But Don’t Forget to Nurture the Mother

Identifying and acknowledging boundaries has helped me understand these new emotions because the NICU changes you, losing a child changes you, trauma changes you, motherhood changes you. Share your boundaries with your support system. They may not know these new boundaries exist and cannot help or act unless you tell them.

As we embark on these journeys and find the new version of ourselves, remember: it’s OK to need boundaries, mama.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Justina Oldehoff

Justina Oldehoff is a mom of two preemie boys, Carter in heaven (1/21/19-1/24/19) and Aron born 10/9/2019 who is home and healthy, and a wife of 11 years to Dan. Following the passing of their son, Carter's Cause Foundation was created to honor Carter's legacy and provide resources and support to NICU families, loss families, and support systems. 

When a Rainbow Baby Meets Mama

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
newborn baby on mother's chest

This week, one year ago, was one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Fast forward to exactly one year later, and here I am cuddling you, my sweet boy. I never truly understood what “rainbow baby” was all about, but I get it now. Sure, I knew what it meant and what it represented. I had read the articles and heard the stories. I had seen the meaningful images and understood the definition. But I never truly and deeply knew what happens when a rainbow baby meets their mama . . . until you. When a rainbow baby...

Keep Reading

Losing a Child Changes Everything

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman at beach sunset

I‘ve had my life planned out since I was a teenager. My dreams were to be a teacher, wife, and mom in that order. I would teach elementary school and have the cutest classroom with the greatest lessons, and I’d teach until I was old and retired. The man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet in college, and we’d have a romantic wedding and start our great life together. Then, after a few years, we would have two children, a boy and a girl. We would be a blissfully boring, happy little family.  I didn’t want extravagant...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

Sweet Child, Thank You for Helping Me Navigate the Pain of Miscarriage

In: Loss, Motherhood
Child playing with mother

You’re far too young to understand the words I’m about to write, but still, I will jot them down so the memory pops up and reminds me (and one day, you) just how much of my rock you’ve been over the past years and especially these past few weeks.  Miscarriage has been an unpredictable mess. One that’s taken about two months to be over. Every week, I dreaded my weekly appointments because seeing all those expecting women there was gut-wrenching. I knew I wasn’t there for such a joyous occasion. Rather, just to check that my hCG levels were steadily...

Keep Reading

“God, Please Put a Baby in Mommy’s Belly. Amen.”

In: Loss, Motherhood
Little girl praying by bed

“God, please put a baby in Mommy’s belly. Amen.” She’s added it to her prayers every night for the past year. Woke up two weeks ago. Didn’t feel well.  Dark positive pregnancy test Shock. Joy. Excitement.  Thank you, God. We’ve all wanted this for so long. My husband jumps up and hugs me. He’s so happy, maybe even more than me, if that’s possible.  Three more positive tests over the next week to double-check. More excitement with each definite positive. A Christmas baby. Pure joy.  A few unusual symptoms. Shrug them off. Telling a few people but not too many,...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Mother’s Day Hurts

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding baby near grave, black-and-white photo

I see you moms. I see the moms who will never see all of their children together on this earth at the same time. The moms who dread the question, “When are you having children?” or “Will you have any more?” The moms who pray for that second line, month after month. The moms who are seeing that positive test and don’t know how they are going to make this work. The moms who can’t shake the blues or depression, who feel guilty for not feeling happier about their baby. The moms who feel as though they are doing it...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime