Tag Archives: compassion

The importance of seizing teachable moments

Today, Janis over at Sneak a Peek at Me blogged about Teaching your Children about Differences. Sadly, this post is rooted in an experience she and her son were affected by today. During a trip to a local zoo, several children stopped and stared at her son. Their parents did not seize this opportunity to teach their children about differences. So she’s blogging about it to bring attention to this serious issue.

I agree with her.

As the mother of a special needs child, I have had to field questions about my own daughter. But my daughter’s issues are not clearly visible to those around us. So the challenges I face are different. It’s when my daughter speaks that we get questions. You see, she was born with a cleft palate, recessed jaw, and a floppy tongue (glossotopsis). This is officially known as Pierre Robin Sequence in her case because there are no other genetic syndromes along with her diagnosis. She’s had six surgeries, the first one at just 9 days old, the most recent one just over a year ago.

Her speech, while improved, is far from the normal expected speech. We have to constantly remind her to speak slowly. To enunciate. And yes, my four-year old KNOWS what the word enunciate means. And I know way more about speech therapy than I ever imagined I would when I started down Parenting Lane.

Our daughter tries her best. She does get frustrated because she’s terribly bright but more often than not, her ability to use her voice and words gets in the way of what she wants to share with us. She gets worn out and doesn’t want to try. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand her. And sometimes it’s hard for others to understand her. She worries about being teased. And it happens. Someone asks her a question, they can’t understand the response, and voila. We get a question.

While it’s not the same as Janis’ situation, I understand the basic emotions. Immediately I worry they won’t understand or that they’ll make fun of her. The only place I’ve had to field an insensitive comment about her condition has been from a fellow kid in her special needs pre-k class. And I answered it appropriately. I seized it as a teachable moment by explaining to this child that issues with speech were what Charlotte needed help with because of the way she was born. But that she was trying her hardest at making her speech better each and every day. The child nodded and went back to his coloring. Charlotte shot me a grin (she had overheard the child’s question) and went back to her coloring as well.

It is important to us Charlotte understand how she was born. That she know we are not ashamed of it and she can do whatever she wants to do with her life. We celebrate the smallest of achievements – like this year – on her fourth birthday? She blew out the candles all by herself for the first time EVER. The first time she blew up a balloon? Squeals! Bubbles? Lots of squeals!

She did not start talking until she was nearly two years old, maybe even older. We talk with her a lot about her speech and why she has problems with it. She openly shares with us when she’s frustrated with it and we work to heal those frustrations together. She’ll be starting a regular pre-k program later this summer and is very worried about other kids making fun of her. I’ve been making sure to sit down with her to talk about her options if that happens. She’s getting very good at asking questions and opening up with us about her worries and concerns. I’m happy to see this development because it means I’ve done my job right in being open with her about what’s going on in her life. I know there are more battles down the road. Right now though, I’m building the base of a very strong building for my daughter. I want her to stand tall no matter what comes her way. I want her to know she’s perfectly okay the way she is because GOD made her that way. That we love her no matter what.

And if we see someone different out in public and one of the kids say something, we are down at their level immediately, explaining to them that GOD makes everyone different, that some of us may need extra help but that’s okay. We tell them we should love everyone the same, be polite to everyone, and that pointing and staring is not okay. We tell them that people who are different are still people and want to be treated with the same compassion, respect, and dignity as everyone else. So far the kids are doing great with this. I hope this is a lesson they carry with them for life and infuse into their own children’s lives. Because acceptance and compassion are half the battle in being the bigger person.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 10.27.09: What’s YOUR Postpartum Mood Disorder Story?

women talking in sunset

Original Photo taken by tranchis @ flickr

This site was started to help me re-frame an unexpected pregnancy after two rather nasty experiences with Postpartum OCD. Turns out that by doing so I not only helped myself but managed to help a lot of other women along the way.

There was a point during my suffering when I dreaded having to retell my story. Looking back I should have just typed the whole thing up and kept copies on hand – kind of like a resume. (Hey – not a bad idea if you end up having to hunt for a decent doctor!) But there came a turning point where my story began to foster a sense of strength and self. Finally I began to bloom.

We’re all at different points on our journey. Some of us are right in the thick of it, some of us a bit further out, others are fully recovered, some have relapsed and are struggling right back out thanks to the path we carved out the last time we fell down. But we are all in it together.

Rather than retype my entire story here (cuz that would take some time!), you can click here to read about “The Day” I was admitted to psych ward. And if you’re brave enough (ie, preferably not in the thick of it or relapsed) you can read another piece I’ve written here about some of the thoughts I had when things were so dark I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face.

For me and for many others, telling our story or even venting has become a powerful source of personal therapy. It’s a way to just get some of the stress out of our body, our mind, and even possibly work through issues.

So let’s get to just talkin’ here. I want to hear your stories. I want to know what you’ve gone through/are going through. Speak up. We’re here to be supportive, compassionate, and lend our hearts.

I can’t wait to read what you have to share!

National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding

O Lord, you have searched us and known us

You know when we sit down and when we rise up,

and know our innermost thoughts.

You search out our paths and know all our ways.

Before we speak, you know our words.

When we were knit together in our mother’s womb

You knew us as woman, as child, as man.

Wherever we go, Your hand will lead us.

So guide us along the pathways to hope,

that night becomes bright as day.

So lead us on our walk together,

that darkness is lifted from our hearts.

So encourage us that our sisters and brothers

Who have mental illness shall know that

they never walk alone.

Amen

Grace Awards

Finally! I’m catching up on an entire summer’s worth of stories. I’ve got four good ones here to get us started. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be going through the remainder of my notifications and posting awards here and there. Enjoy!

Grace Award Badge

“Loss of Loved ones reveals powerful strength”

Jackie Friedman, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota

July 11, 2008

Moving and respectful piece about Becky Lavelle, Jennifer Bankston’s twin sister. Jenny Bankston took her life and her son’s life on December 17, 2007 after developing severe postpartum Depression. Becky went on to clinch an alternate spot on the Olympic Triathlon team. Jackie Friedman does an excellent and respectful job of presenting the relationship Becky and Jenny had and also of the grief Becky has endured.

“Book helped mothers deal with problem”

Memory McLeod, The Leader-Post, Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

July 8, 2008

The story behind the book, The Smiling Mask – The Truth behind Postpartum Depression & Parenting. This book tells the story of three mothers and their struggles with Postpartum Depression. My favorite part about the article? One of the authors is quoted as she points out that women with PP OCD are bombarded with negative thoughts but don’t typically do anything about them. THANK YOU Memory, for using that quote.


“Are you ready for your newborn?”

Lisa Martin, special Contributor to Dallas Morning News

August 05, 2008

While this article is not entirely dedicated to Postpartum Depression, the section on PPD is awesome – Lisa includes symptoms, possible treatments, and what really makes me happy is that she mentions PPD can occur anytime during the first year after giving birth. Kudos to you Lisa for not limiting this to just the first six weeks of the postpartum period!

“Birth Trauma: Stress Disorder Afflicts Moms”

Rachel Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal/Health

August 05, 2008

Ms. Zimmerman does an absolutely outstanding job (and what else would be expected from the WSJ?) reporting on Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Clearly she did her homework, interviewed experts, and the article shows true respect and compassion for moms who struggle with this disorder as a result of challenging childbirth. Thank you, Rachel, for a wonderful piece and shedding light on this rare and often undiscussed complication of childbirth!

Four Years and Two Kids Later…

Tonight we visited with family from Florida. They come up once a year and we really enjoy getting to spend time with them. Our conversation tonight sparked the idea for this post. I finally got asked if I get any time to myself. Where was this question four years ago after Alli? Granted, it may have been asked and my mommy brain may have just forgotten it and now that I’m focused on helping other families, this question may have stood out more tonight than in the past if it was asked.

My time to myself is naptime. The kids all go down for nap at the same time and I usually get a couple of hours and typically I don’t get sleepy until they’re just about ready to wake up. Figures, right? This will all change come Tuesday when Alli starts Pre-K. I am still struggling to believe I have a child starting Pre-K. I am looking forward to this and dreading it all at the same time. Looking forward to the break from having three kids all day long but dreading it because it is a disruption to routine and neither Alli nor I do well with disruptions to our routines. I know we’ll be fine after an adjustment period.

I’ve also noticed lately I’m feeling rather unattached to the girls and over-attached to Cameron. In fact, I’ve even joked with Chris that I’d love to have another baby. Not right now of course – we are struggling way too much in the financial district to even consider that a reality. Down the road maybe. Then I wonder how normal what I am feeling is – Is it normal to feel like this? I had two rough postpartum periods with the girls and this one with Cameron has been such a blissful honeymoon experience (ok, so minus the stuff Chris has put me through but hey, that’s not really related – baby stuff has been great) – has it put me into a lullaby delusion of wanting another? And what’s with the detachment from my older two? I still love them and want to be with them but there’s just something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But yet I can pick up Cameron and feel this instant bond with him. Is this normal? I’ve been struggling with this for a couple of weeks now but finally figured out how to express these feelings today.

As for the time to yourself question – Just because a mom has only one baby doesn’t mean she’s got time to herself. Ask if she needs help with anything – the laundry, errands, meals, etc. Ask if she wants to talk or just wants some company. She’s not going to come right out and tell you these things. Offer to watch Baby while she gets a shower or takes a nap. New moms are struggling to navigate an entirely new world just as awkwardly as their babiesĀ  are – Moms need to be mothered too, something we in the US seem to have conveniently forgotten in this era of the Microwave Society, ie., I need it done four minutes ago! When did we get stuck on fast-forward? Slow down. Time isn’t going anywhere but forward and there will be time in the future to do the dishes and clean the house. Right now, focus on YOU. Focus on the new mom who is finding her way and developing her new routine. Be patient with her. Be kind to her. Guide her with compassion and warmth. She will be eternally grateful and you will always be kindly remembered.