So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

One day last year as I scrolled through Facebook and viewed image after image of smiling 5-year-olds in their adorable caps and gowns, proudly displaying their diplomas, I felt it. It was familiar, but not so much as it once was. The pit formed in my stomach, my eyes welled a bit, and I suppressed a tinge of jealousy. Ebb and flow, ebb and flow. The feelings washed over me. You see, I have a 6-year-old daughter with complex disabilities. She did not get to have a Pre-Kindergarten graduation like the children of my friends and acquaintances as she’d been in a special school since she was three. 

The moment she entered this world, a tidal wave of emotions formed. Overwhelming elation, fear, sadness, surprise, pride (you name it, I felt it) crashed all at once in my heart. She was not the baby I expected, yet she was perfect to me. I loved her immediately and fiercely. She was not born well and rather than enjoy our first day bonding together as mother and daughter, she was whisked off to the NICU while a nurse kindly suggested I take a valium as an alternative to continuing to wail through the night. Merciful sleep soon enveloped me. My sweet girl is a fighter and after 10 days, I was swept up in joy when they told me she could come home.

The joy was short-lived as medical issue after medical issue, developmental delay after developmental delay revealed themselves. My world was a blur of therapists, hospitals, specialists and googling late into every night trying to understand “Why my baby?” The sadness and fear once again threatened to overtake me. It felt as if I were gasping for air only to suck water into my lungs. Grief is suffocating like that, and I did grieve the child I thought I would have as well as the mother I thought I would be nearly on a daily basis.

Time marched on as time will do and, little by little, I embraced my new normal. In my life, the inchstones are cause for massive celebration and there is an abundance of happiness in the small things. The milestones, though, contain glorious feelings I wasn’t aware I could achieve. I saw my 6-year-old walk for the first time this year and I don’t think words can capture the height of emotion I felt. Months later the novelty of seeing her upright hasn’t worn off. These moments could never be appreciated as they are were it not for the other side of the emotional see-saw that I’ve lived through.

McLaineandMommy
She makes all the moments worth it.

I am now able to attend the birthday parties of her peers, laugh along as they learn to tell real jokes, and watch them interact with one another without feeling like my heart will split open. However, I still get that sting from time to time for one reason or another. It may be a Facebook feed full of Pre-K graduation photos, seeing a girl her age take off on her bike for the first time, have her first real boyfriend or be accepted into college. When you have a child who is not developmentally typical, I think there will always be a layer of grief somewhere below the surface. It gets buried deeper and deeper below as the years go by, your child grows, develops and has accomplishments, and you come to terms with your new normal. Every once in a while, though, that sting of grief will surface when your child experiences a struggle that other kids don’t.

All of these moments are worth it because I get to be her mom. 

Lauren Cootes

A mostly stay-at-home mom to a spunky six year old diva with an unknown genetic syndrome and a four year old, wild tornado of a boy, Lauren is passionate about faith, family, food, fitness, social media and all things special needs. She prides herself on being awkwardly honest, is a lover of people and immensely enjoys their stories. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauren.cootes Instagram: https://instagram.com/HonestyandGrace

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

Dear Grandmother, I’m Not Ready to Lose You

In: Grief
Elderly woman and granddaughter touch foreheads

I had a visit from my grandmother the other day. It wasn’t a regular sit on the porch with a cup of tea kind of visit. It was more of an “I have something I need to tell you” type of visit. She’s been unwell for some time, and I guess I had sort of hoped she would get better, and she would be back to herself soon enough. I noticed when she sat down and tears filled her eyes that it wasn’t going to be a normal conversation. Her eyes widened and she struggled to get her words out without...

Keep Reading

Love Carries On in the Ones We Raise

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and son hug

From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life. My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress. He was always there. Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I...

Keep Reading

Friends Can Be a Sanctuary

In: Friendship, Grief
Group of friends hugging

A sanctuary is defined as anywhere people go for peaceful tranquility or introspection. My friends became my sanctuary when my husband, Frank, died. They became my refuge and my safe place. Friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts in this world. It is beautiful, comforting, ever-changing, and, for me, a fixed point.  My friends seemed to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Their love and constant support got me through the worst of times and gave me the courage and confidence I needed to move forward.  I could never give an adequate thank you to...

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 Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections