I am mama to 18 month old Calvin and dog mom to our dog Arnold. My husband and I live in central Phoenix. We volunteer for Make a Wish together. I work as a nurse for PCH in the Homeless Youth Outreach Department. I work full time so Calvin spends the work week with my mom. But when I am home, we enjoy going to the Teapot, the museum, the zoo, Luci’s at the Orchard, and just about anything outdoors. When I wake up early enough, I enjoy taking yoga and spin classes. As for Calvin, he has had two surgeries and will have at least one more when he is 5 or 6 years old. He is currently in weekly feeding therapy to learn how to love food as much as his mother does 😉 But he is extremely healthy, bright and is thriving, thanks to his amazing team of cleft providers.
MM: What have you learned about yourself after becoming a mom?
LK: I have learned how to tap into a strength that I never knew existed.
At 19 weeks along, we learned that Calvin had a cleft lip and palate at our anatomy scan. As an expecting mother, I was flooded with grief and fear and an inexplicable amount of guilt. As a pediatric nurse, I was consumed by searching for a cause and worrying about other possible complications or unknown health problems. I had no idea what this diagnosis would mean for my child or his life. I spent much of the remainder of this pregnancy worrying and obsessing about what else could be wrong or go wrong. Fast forward to the unplanned and emergent c-section of my son, to the viral meningitis at 5 days old, daily taping of his lip, maintaining a stent in his nose, using a special feeder, lip repair surgery at 3 months and palate surgery at 7 months. I made it. Somehow I made it. I went back to work full time. I pumped exclusively for his entire first year of life. Along the way, of course I struggled with feeling that I was inadequate and somehow failing as a mother. But now, I am able to look back at our experiences in the first year and feel so much pride. The courage and the strength just came. As I often wondered, how will I be able to do all of this, a friend reminded me, you are doing this, every single day.
I did not do this alone of course. My husband was/is my strongest supporter. But after becoming a mom, I also learned who my village was. And I was blown away at the kindness and support of so many amazing friends, family members and co-workers. I had no choice but to lean on them. And I did a lot of leaning 🙂 I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who lift me up as a mother and as a human being.
MM: What advice can you give to other moms?
LK: You are enough. You are already more than enough. Honor and respect your journey. Comparing yourself and your child to others/the internet is not productive (but oh so hard not to do). Embrace the feelings, the good and the bad ones. There are so many ups and so many downs. Know that it is OK to ask for help. Know that it is OK for motherhood to feel difficult, impossible even. Be in the moment as much as possible. Try to take things one day or even one hour at a time. Say yes to help. Be kind to yourself. Trust your instincts. You are the expert on your child. Even when Dr. Google makes you feel otherwise. Lastly, parenting is not a spectator sport. Don’t let the lady in the checkout line make you feel otherwise. 🙂
MM: What is your favorite part about being a mom?
LK: Right now, my favorite thing in the world is hearing him say, ‘mama.’ It will never get old and is the sweetest sound I have ever heard… I love all the firsts and watching discovery happen before my eyes. Especially for Calvin, watching him overcome cleft related obstacles has been such a gift.
I still remember his first smile like it was yesterday. 3am, diaper changing, pumping, and most likely crying, and out of nowhere, he just smiled at me. My mind was filled with worry, my body beyond exhaustion and I was awake wondering how I will ever make it. In an instant, one smile had the power to dissipate every worry or fear. I never knew or could have known that my heart could be this full.
To quote another mother, “Motherhood is walking around with all of your nerve endings raw and exposed. It is the most extreme measure of being alive.” Truly, I feel so alive and enriched by motherhood and even on the hardest of days, it feels like falling in love over and over again.
Moms are amazing. They do it all for the love of their kids and families. At Modern Milk, we want to celebrate amazing moms! Do you have a mom friend that inspires you? Is there a mom in your life that could use an extra hand? Tell us about her! “Mominate” your favorite mom and tell us why she rocks. The mom of the month will be highlighted by Modern Milk and be spoiled with fun goodies 🙂
Send in your mominations today!