Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Motherhood – the good, the bad, the ugly

Here is my tell-all about real Ostrand life with three fabulous little girls.


It’s life is exhausting. Probably not any more than another mother in this stage...but let me just say I LOVE our 7 pm bedtimes for all 3 girls!  You heard that right (6:45 on occasion...don’t judge me!).

My current highlights:

Adison Rose (17 months) - is more active and more “into everything” and more “I need my mother now” than my other children two combined. Oh my soul!

ADI ROSE- SHORT VIDEO CLIPS (click below title to view):

Emme (5 years) – her favorite phrase that she must say at least 40 times a day is “I need help.” (we are so proud she has a 3 word sentence now!).  

She knows about 200 signs with words and loves to choose someone to “teach signs” to.  She will carefully select a person, climb up on their lap, and start by signing “friend.”  She also loves to sing but does NOT want...

1) for you to sing along with her - don’t think it’s your voice – she only likes her own or a professionals - or maybe it IS your voice :-) 

2) you to video her singing (this always ends in “No! No! No!)

EMME - SHORT VIDEO CLIPS (click below title to view):

Jensen (7 years) – Lost her first tooth, loves riding the “special needs” bus with her sister to school and has decided she will stay in America while we go back to Africa.

 I said, “But darling...won’t you miss your mother?”  She said, “Don’t worry mom...I can write you letters!” (when has she ever written a letter in her life?)

JENSEN - SHORT VIDEO CLIPS (click below title to view):


Sometimes hard things happen to our kids. No one wants to play with them at recess, the teacher scolded them, they didn’t get invited to the birthday party, their friend didn’t want to play the same game they did, they tried their best but still failed the test, etc.

As moms...we wonder how we can comfort our kids – while at the same time speaking truth about how they can overcome this particular challenge.

I heard about a technique that works well for war veterans who are victims of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), but can work for anyone who has gone through something difficult. It’s called “mirroring neutrons.” I tried it on Jensen and was amazed!  (Source: Sapphire Leadership Group’s PTSD – Restoring Dignity and Hope )

The concept is that someone who has gone through a similar difficulty and overcome it...can actually help you build new pathways in your brain to overcome your pain – in ways that you could not accomplish on your own!

The chemistry in your brain can actually change – pulling you out of PTSD faster – or helping your 7 year old de-tangle new emotions about having a sister with Down syndrome.

Here’s an example and steps...
          1.  You are war veteran severely depressed because you lost your leg
          2. Find a person  willing to sit down with you for coffee who has experienced a severe loss and overcome the pain. This could be anyone – the loss does not need to be similar and does not need to be someone you know really well (just need someone willing to help you out!).  For example, it could be a mom in MAD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) who lost her teenage son 10 years ago and has worked through that loss.
          3.  Tell your story about the loss of your leg until you feel she has connected with your pain and understood your feelings on a deep level
          4. Listen to her story of loss and hear how she worked through her feelings and overcame her pain. Look her in the eye and connect with her emotions and story.

As simple as that works!

So I tried it!  Jensen came to me a few weeks ago, distraught for the first time about having a sister with Down syndrome.  

There are so many great things about Emme – that I don’t think Jensen was ever faced with something that deeply bothered her about it. She had been hanging out with her cousin Ava (her age) and noticed how easy it was to talk and communicate with her younger sister (3 year old Alea).  Jensen was shocked to see how someone else’s little sister, Alea, could so easily communicate, play house or even hold hands and skip across the street.

Jensen and Emme play so well together – that I often forget how different it is for Jensen than playing with other typical kids.

Jensen tearfully said that night, “But mom!  Emme can’t talk to me and it’s hard to play games together.  She doesn't understand me!”

I listened to everything Jensen had to say and encouraged her tell me more – until I felt sure Jensen sensed I really understood her pain.

I didn't try to change the subject, or tell her to get over it or look on the bright side.

Then, when she had told me everything, for the first time I told her my story of when Emme was born.

I said, “Jensen, when I had Emme in my tummy...we didn't know she had Down syndrome.  We were so excited to meet our baby girl!  The doctor seemed concerned that she was small, but mama wasn't worried.  I thought those doctors were being silly (those doctors were actually close to labeling me “non-compliant” in my medical file because I really did think they were being way too dramatic)

Then they had to take her out so fast by cutting open my tummy a whole month early...because her heart wasn't working so good.  The nurse told daddy that she had Down syndrome.  Daddy was so surprised he almost fainted!  One of Emme’s legs was as white as paper and the cord was wrapped around her neck three times.  We were worried!

When mommy was in the recovery room waiting to see Emme, she told her nurse (good friend Sara Nylin). “I’m just worried the kids at school will make fun of her!” Then I cried really hard! I was so sad!

That night I was in the NICU – a special place for babies who need nurses to take care of them.  I was sitting by Emme’s little bed and I felt Jesus come over sit beside me.  With an excited smile he said, “How do you like your gift?”  And from that moment on....I knew that no matter what happened and even it was going to be hard – Emme would always be an amazing gift to our family.”

Jensen listened carefully to my whole story and asked a few questions.  But I could tell it resounded with her spirit.

My take-away for moms?  I guess this is what we moms have always known - but now science confirms it. When your child comes to you with deep pain – listen well to every detail.  Make them feel understood. Then reach back and tell them your story.  Be honest with how you felt with a similar pain and how you overcame it. You will physically change your child's brain’s ability to deal with life that can be harsh!


Confession #1: It’s true. Adison Rose broke her leg and it’s entirely my fault due to a should-definitely-know-better-rookie-mistake. 

I wish I had a better story.  I was changing her diaper and I could hear Jensen in the other room, screaming and on the verge of waking up my friend’s sleeping son (in my book – nothing is worse than waking a happily sleeping baby...except now maybe breaking a baby’s leg. Doh!)

Without thinking, I ran to the door of the room and yelled, “Jensen! Quiet!” In that 5 second time period, Adi rolled off the edge and landed with a thud on the carpeted floor.

She only cried for a few moments, and I counted myself very lucky she was OK.  However...the next day...when she still wouldn’t let me put her down without screeching in horror, we knew was something was wrong.  The doctor confirmed our fears...a broken leg.  She was in a hot pink cast for 3 weeks and walked around quite enthusiastically...thumping her little cast as she trotted along like a pirate.  She’s unstoppable!

The worst part?  Everywhere we would go people would wonder (and often ask) what happened.  Of course I had to confess and relive the shame of some serious shady parenting

Confession #2: None of my girls drink milk.  Not whole...not 2%...not skim.  Shhhh!  I tried at first with all of them...making way too chocolately milk several times a day for Jensen.  It was more like chocolate syrup with a dash of milk.

After one or two pathetic attempts with Adi – I switched to a no sugar veg/fruit juice with flax seed oil added (for the fats that are supposed to help with baby brain development).  Many people are disturbed by this.  I used to be a tall-glass-of-milk-with-every-meal kind of girl till I realized dairy could kill you.  Despite my secretly held beliefs in the perils of dairy, it’s  very embarrassing when Jensen goes to her friends houses and proudly informs them, “I don’t drink milk.  My mom says it’s bad for you.”

What kind of mother could think milk was bad for you? Obviously the kind who lets her baby break her leg!

Confession #3: My kid is the one who told your kid there is no Santa Clause.

In my defense...we decided to go with the whole Santa Clause thing and it was quite fun for a few years.  Then last year out of the blue (and no where near the Christmas season), Jensen says to me, “Is Santa Clause real?” I say, “What do you think?” She says, “Yes!” I say, “Well there you go!” “Is he really, mom?” And this went back and forth for some time.

Then she says that same afternoon, “Is Jesus real?”

Now I had a problem.  There are some serious similarities between Santa and Jesus in the mind of a 6 year old.

1). You can’t see them
2)  Both have important roles at Christmas
3) Both “can see you when you’re sleeping...know when you’re awake...see if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!”

She was connecting the two and I honestly didn’t want her questioning Jesus.  So I told her the truth...quickly to follow was the fall of princesses, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.

I’ve made her promise not to tell a soul and I’ve seen her play along with the fun in front of her friends.  But let me say it now...I’m so sorry if she tells your kid!  I have become THAT mom!