Monday, January 6, 2014

Have you experienced a miracle recently?

For a single woman without kids of my own, there are a ton of adorable & awesome kids in my life, all of whom make my world a better place, each in their own way. Whether I get to see them all the time and take them to play whenever I want like Blake, or whether we are sometimes pen pals from far away like Mady, I am so lucky to be Auntie Veronica to all these little ones.

One of the best things about my role in their lives is that I don't have to make any of the rules. It is my job to love them, to play and have fun with them, and and to of course keep them safe-ish when they're in my care. But what I don't have to do - and gladly so - is make the rules that keep them safe. I don't have to form opinions on what is "right" or "wrong" as far as parenting goes; I don't have to think about when to take away binkies, how long to let them cry it out, how often to check on them, bedtimes, schedules, bottles, teething, vaccinating, spanking versus time I have opinions on these things? Yes. But they don't matter because I am the fun auntie. I don't spout my opinions off to parents unless I am asked (on a side note, it is really nice to be asked my opinion or for my advice sometimes, because while I don't have kids, I was raised in a daycare by The Baby Whisperer, and I do have some knowledge on the subject - and hell, even if I didn't have a clue, it is nice to be asked what I think). 

In addition to opinions on parenting, I also have some fairly strong thoughts on pregnancy. Not because I am by any means an expert, but because I feel like people take being pregnant for granted. Getting pregnant isn't something everyone can do. Getting pregnant, despite what they tell you in health class in high school, is not something that happens every single time you have sex. Getting pregnant is hard. Staying pregnant is also hard. I can't even count the number of my friends who have suffered early miscarriages or who have had a really, really hard time getting pregnant in the first place when it was all they wanted to do. Getting pregnant is hard. Staying pregnant is hard. And I feel like a lot of women treat the whole thing in such a nonchalant manner, like they don't know how lucky they are to be carrying their miracle to full term and delivering it according to their original plan with no complications whatsoever to speak of.

There have been some easy pregnancies in my family, and there have been some difficult ones. Some of my cousins have had trouble getting pregnant, some have had to use other means of fertility to get pregnant, some have even been advised not to get pregnant again. But no matter what the path, each of the babies born into my family has been a miracle, and no matter how often I get to see them, I love seeing them grow into their own little personalities. 

This post may seem to be coming a bit out of left field, but really it isn't. In the last three days, I have read several posts from friends going through incredible challenges. One of my coworkers from Old Chicago has a 4 week old baby who has been in and out of the hospital his whole little life so far, due to a condition I have never even heard of called Spinal Muscular Apathy. The more I read their story, the more my heart hurts for all of them - for the baby and all he has already had to endure, for his mom & dad, who have to somehow continue to function through this fear and stress, for his two older sisters, who are too young to know what is happening but old enough to know something is wrong. The whole story is heartbreaking, and all I can do is share their story to show my support, to send positive, healing vibes their way, and to ask for prayers from anyone who believes in the power of prayer.

And then there are my dear friends Matt and Shelly, who just "celebrated" the first year from the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Addison, who was born very premature and was a stillborn baby. I cannot even imagine such a loss. I have talked to both of them individually about the loss of their daughter and am both amazed by their strength as a couple to have survived this past 12 months, and punched in the heart with overwhelming sadness and sympathy even thinking about their story. The more articles I read that Shelly has shared, the more fundraising I see my friends do even as they continue to grieve, the more I am just floored by their story.

This post isn't meant to be heavy-hearted or sad, but rather to remind all of my readers that, being a parent is truly a miracle, because everything about becoming a parent - from conceiving a child to delivering one - is a miracle. Getting pregnant is hard. Staying pregnant is hard. Delivering a baby is hard. Becoming a parent isn't something to be taken lightly. It's a big deal. Babies are amazing little people, and I am so grateful to be an auntie to so many perfect little people, each of whom has their own incredible story.

To every kid, toddler, baby, and baby-to-come in my family, I love you. I love your story. I love where you came from and I will love you no matter where you go. I will be your Auntie V forever, no matter what. You can count on me for love, support, snuggles, and a place to go when your mom and dad are driving you bananas. I will never judge you or your choices and promise to always help you through your mistakes. Chances are, I made the same ones.

Having a baby is a miracle. If you are lucky enough to have a miracle in your life, remember how precious it is that you have one.