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FTIAT: My Blog Saved Our Family

Shannon (Mynewfavoriteday) spoke with such candor about the simultaneous grace and hardship in her life since becoming a mother, I was immediately drawn to not only her prose but to her.

When she asked some months later if she could interview me for her blog, I was delighted. Could she ever! I was excited to complete the interview, but even more excited when the interview unearthed a few similarities between us. It turned out Shannon and I were both (a) Oregon Ducks (b) living in SoCal after (c) each spending some time teaching in Japan.  While I couldn’t really tell you if there’s such a thing as fate or if it led to our connecting, my heart frequently weights in with a hearty (get it? comic genius right here!), “You betcha!”

Shannon’s voice of gratitude, love and compassion brings light to the gloomiest of days, and yet she is also a vocal advocate for her children—and her readers. As you’ll see if you meander over to her page, which I sincerely hope you’ll do, her “About me” is in part about her well wishes for you.

Recommended post: Lost and Found on Hallowed Ground

My Blog Saved Our Family

‘Whenever someone sorrows, I do not say, “forget it,” or “it will pass,” or “it could be worse” — all of which deny the integrity of the painful experience. But I say, to the contrary, “It is worse than you may allow yourself to think. Delve into the depth. Stay with the feeling. Think of it as a precious source of knowledge and guidance. Then and only then will you be ready to face it and be transformed in the process.’
–Peter Koestenbaum

To say I had sorrows could not begin to describe the emotional place I was in in March of 2011.

As I sat on the couch with my legs crossed and my computer in my lap, my babies were on the floor. E in her baby chair with the oxygen tube delivering her the air she needed to survive with each breath while her monitor quietly registered her heart rate and oxygen levels with each beat of her pulse. Q happily rolling around on the floor knocking into seemingly every hard and potentially dangerous surface with his overly large head. My precious babies were now 18 months old from the day they were born, but because they had been born 3 terrifying months early, they were supposed to be developmentally around 15 months. Supposed to be.

It became clear after E came home after her 4 months in the NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) that something was wrong. She wasn’t engaging, or looking at our faces. She wasn’t cooing or doing any of the things her brother was doing, or anything that any baby her age would be doing at any age over 20 days old. She was now 18 months old and virtually the same developmentally as a 2 month old.

I was crumbling into tiny little bits and pieces: one moment, one breath, one conversation at a time.

The resolve and strength I had been mustering and presenting to the world was only seconds from falling down around me. Everything was at stake. Our lives were at stake. I was no longer able to construct a future for us.

Like so many families, I, as mom, am the hub. And with 2 babies with medical and developmental challenges, I had been thrust into a world I had not imagined or planned for.

As a business professional, I am good in a crisis. Methodical. Rational. Practical. Resourceful. I can navigate systems and present my case to get my desired outcome.

I had been doing this in our personal life for 18 months and now it was all at risk.

I no longer really wanted to get out of bed. I wanted to stay there, with the babies. Just be with them. Shut the world out. Pretend. Pretend that for 5 minutes everything was “normal.” Not our “normal,” but “The What to Expect When You’re Expecting” normal. I wanted to pretend there were no wires or monitors. I didn’t want to talk about how they were doing, or what E’s prognosis would be, or have to make anyone feel better about our situation so that they wouldn’t worry.

I was consumed by worry but couldn’t show it and rarely spoke about it for fear of making it so.

At work I would cry, in the car I would cry, alone with the babies I would cry. I would never cry in front of anyone else; only when I was alone.

All around me people had regular babies. Happy, healthy babies. As those babies grew, they surpassed E in her own development. More cracks and tears into my façade.

I just wanted to hide.

So there I sat on the couch, hiding in our house with our precious babies but knowing I had to do something. I knew I needed therapy of some kind, but I couldn’t fathom sitting across from a therapist who had never sat in a hospital day after day as their children nearly died and came back to life on a semi-regular basis. So, a therapist was out but therapy of another kind quietly lurked at my fingertips.

From the time the babies were conceived through IVF, we had kept a journal for them. Thoughts, sentiments, pictures to show them just how happy we were they were coming to be and had come to our family. In the writing I had found some catharsis. Relief. As if air could fill my lungs can come out through the pen as it rolled across the paper.

Almost hauntingly my fingers started typing “blogging platforms.” And so it was. I would start a blog. It would be my therapy.

As I am optimistic by nature; my idea was to get back there. To pull myself out of the darkness that was enveloping me. The darkness would not beat me. My precious babies we here and alive and we would make it through. The simple gift of being here, in this world, fighting to survive, was enough to incent me to remember that each day can be and will be “mynewfavoriteday.”

And so 8 months later, “mynewfavoriteday” has become something greater than me.

It has set me free. Free to grieve, free to feel, free to speak, free to share, free to be supported, free to be me. To say my blog saved my life is not an exaggeration. It saved my life, as I know it. The positive, mostly happy, optimistic, compassionate, empathetic, hopeful, loving, and resilient, life as I know it. So today, in this great honor to guest post on TMiYC, I am grateful for my blog as it saved my life and the life of our family as we know it.

last: Two Ships | The Strongest Woman I Know (3/16/12) : next

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  1. March 2, 2012 at 5:58 am

    What an amazing and extremely touching post. Wow. Thanks for sharing, Deb. ❤

  2. March 2, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Beautiful, Shannon! You’ve really drawn me in and taught me more about your life and the reason you write. This is an excellent example of the therapeutic potential of writing and, more specifically, blogging.

    And you are not alone. I think every parent who has a child with special needs or developmental delays or medical issues will agree when it comes to “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”: we hate that f*cking book. It represents so many hopes and dreams crushed and lost. But then, we don’t focus on that, do we? We can’t. We wouldn’t have survived beyond toddler-hood.

    Remember, you saved you. Your blog, your readers… We’re just willing participants in the co-creation of a better life. Namaste.

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:05 am

      Thank you Chris! Exactly, that book for all it’s help for parents with healthy and well-ablest children becomes a nemesis with Special Needs, even in title. But as you say at some point we accept that and move on. I know I had to make the choice to start to share but I also desparately needed to know I wasn’t alone and that is what carried me over time. Everyone’s Love support and comments helped change me little by little carrying the weight away from my heart. I love your insight thank you so much.

  3. March 2, 2012 at 6:26 am

    The simple gift of being here, in this world, fighting to survive, was enough to incent me to remember that each day can be and will be “mynewfavoriteday.”

    Incredibly beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  4. March 2, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Shannon you have my rapt attention and have since you first reached out about ivf and trying to get pregnant. Your love and strength give me more hope in this intense time of fear than you can imagine. Thank you so much. And Deb, thanks for doing this series. Again. I gain strength whenever either of you shares so beautifully, so honestly.

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

      Awww Katy, thank you. It’s a hard time and we sometimes just need that helping hand and hug. I am sending one to you right now! Whatever you need, when you need it, I am here my friend. xoxo

      And yes, a big thanks to Deb for having me and for always sharing with such strength and wisdom.

  5. March 2, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Shannon, this is beautiful! I’m so glad you found catharsis in writing, and was able to restore yourself to YOU. I am so blessed to be able to read your blog. Your love for appreciating the good in life is so overwhelming, I can’t help but be joyful myself! Thank you for sharing this oh-so-difficult time in your life, and where you found help and healing. Much love to you! xoxo

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:20 am

      Thanks so much Christine. Yes, restoring myself to ME, I like that so much. I am so grateful my blog allowed me to meet you and your love and support has meant a ton to me. I find great inspiration from you too and although our situations are different I find that we often are experiencing similar emotions:) ❤

  6. March 2, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Aw Shannon, I wish I knew you back then. I had my own sorrows after having my one son. Learning there would be only one. Losing parts of myself. Being stuck in the hospital for 9 days while my infant started out in the NICU.

    But

    Your blog is all about affirmation and moving forward. And it’s wonderful. And this is why you have so many followers. Because you ooze with positivity. It’s hard to imagine YOU crying in your car. But I know it’s true. Because I cried in my car lots of times.

    Sending you LOVElove!

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

      Me too Renee. I feel like we would have been the best of friends and even now just nodding and saying, “yep, I know” means a lot.

      You always make me smile. I do try to ooze, glad it’s coming through! No, but seriously, my blog is built on that premise but also the premise that it’s not always going to be easy and that sometimes it’s good and you just have to cry in the car. But hopefully, after the cry, we can come back and appreciate that we cried and that we aren’t going through any of this alone. Just like I have all of you:) xoxo

  7. March 2, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Shannon, I feel like I know you. We also conceived via IVF and learned at 22 weeks pregnant that our child had a congenital heart defect. Unable to make the phone calls to alert family and friends, I started an email newsletter. It turned into my first blog (Charlottesjourneyhome.blogspot.com) and, I am sure, kept me on as even a keel as possible, especially during nights post-surgery when the docs couldn’t get our baby to tolerate being extubated.

    Once we got her home, we found we had a feeding disorder to deal with. Like you I watched the healthy babies and happy moms and sunk into a hole. Writing about the challenge of feeding my baby helped me through the days when I couldn’t nourish her and worried about her development. It even helped me find the humor in cleaning up a dozen projectile vomits in one day. If the baby could laugh 2 mintues after it was over, she being the one in convulsive pain, how could I not do the same.

    I’m sure you know that your blog didn’t only save your life–there are probably many families who have found it and have garnered their own strength through seing yours.

    Grateful to you today (and to TMiYC), I’m headed over to your blog now, but not before I get a box of tissues.

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:28 am

      Culture Bean, this is an amazing story! You had such foresight and strength to create that blog during a time when you trying to hold you together for your daughter had to be so challenging! But I do see in it’s way how that might have also helped you a great deal. You could write and people would have answers alleviating some of the pressure.

      Yes, I know exactly what you mean! E had severe severe reflux (almost had to get a G-tube) and I didn’t have a single peice of clothing that wasn’t covered in vomit with a great deal of frequency, but like your Charlotte, she would smile and laugh and so I would think, well if she is making the best of this, I need to as well.

      I really hope that’s the case. So many people have shared and stories like your warm my heart. Thank you for sharing this with me. Thanks for coming over to my blog and I will come by to visit you as well.

  8. KSP
    March 2, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Beautiful words my love. You continually amaze and inspire me.

    Your family is grateful for the strength, love, laughs, and sense of direction you provide us on daily basis. I couldn’t be a more lucky man to have you as a partner in this journey we call life.

  9. March 2, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Deb, thank you, thank you, thank you for this opportunity! I am so enjoying this day and in it’s own way the catharsis continues, thanks for allowing me this bit of healing here in your precious corner of the blogosphere. It means a lot to me!

  10. March 2, 2012 at 7:40 am

    What a beautiful and moving post. I was a premature, identical twin born in 1962. My sister didn’t survive. Doctors said I wouldn’t make it either, but amazingly I did. That must have been painful for my mother. Your post helps me see that. Thanks for opening your heart, not to mention your family.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • March 2, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Thanks so much Kathy. Wow what a challenge that must have been for your family, thank you for sharing that with me here. It was the greatest loss for your mother, but what a gift you are to her. Big hugs for wounds that I am sure are mostly bandaged but perhaps not forever gone.

  11. March 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    This is so moving. My brother and his wife are dealing with similar major health issues with their now 14-month-old daughter, loving her and wondering what her future will hold. I feel such empathy for them, and for you. I thank God for my healthy children, then feel a little guilty for that.

    I’m so glad you found an outlet and a connection through the blogging world. I wish the best for you and your family.

    • March 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Pegoleg, many thoughts of love and strength for your niece and you brother and SIL. So glad you are grateful but try not to feel guilty. We are all on our own journeys and we all learn our lessons of life in different times in different ways. If anything your niece has put much of all your lives into perspective. To understand the empathy and compassion you all have is such a gift for you all and will be a gift from you all that will extend to other families, just as you have extended to me today.:) Thank you. ❤

  12. March 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you. Moved to tears. There is no normal for far too many families and glib phrases make things worse not better.

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      Thank you so much Elephants Child. Yes, normal takes many forms and to presume anything can cause the deepest of wounds. Even now, people sometimes make offhanded comments that go straight to my heart, but I have to pause and realize they cannot know what it’s like I stand in my shoes and so I have to be ok with it so we can all move forward. Thank you for your kind words and so lovely to meet you.

  13. March 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    What a stunning story. I think many of us write for our sanity, but your experience is entirely different from mine. Thank you for sharing this.

    And hugs to your wonderful babies.

    • March 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks so much Natalie, we love hugs! Yes, we all write for our own reasons and mine just happened to really be the thing that kept me losing my sanity, in one way or another. Thanks for saying hi and for your kind words, it means a lot to me!

  14. March 3, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Shannon, it is so touching. You have gone through so much. Your blog is now not only a beacon for you but for others who read it. Thanks for sharing!

    Deb, thank you too.

    Cheers,
    Louise

    • March 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks so much Louise. I so love that term, “a beacon.”. It is my greatest hope that part of what this experience brought was the ability to help others in my own tiny way. I know it’s not much but I hope it does a little something:) I really appreciate your kinds words as always Louise, thank you!

  15. March 3, 2012 at 10:34 am

    “It is worse than you may allow yourself to think. Delve into the depth. Stay with the feeling. Think of it as a precious source of knowledge and guidance. Then and only then will you be ready to face it and be transformed in the process.”

    I sooooooooooooo appreciate this quote. I sooo appreciate your honesty. Beauty.

    Thru my mourning, I’ve been told many things: “It will get better” “It could be worse” “Time will heal.”

    And I’m thinking…

    Nothing could be worse than this. NOTHING.

    Best to just say “I love you. I will mourn w/ you.”

    Love to you, dear. I understand.

    I am still walking thru the darkness myself.

    I think I shall forever….

    Ps. Writing has been my greatest medication & distraction… Always. xx

    • March 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Like you, this quote spoke words I am not sure I could have ever found myself but so appreciated them when I read them for they said, yes, I am allowed, and I need to do this so at some point, I don’t know when, I will start to heal.

      Although it all comes from such a good place, words of comfort can become like words that seem to diminish the experience when that is exactly what you need to do, experience.

      I am sorry for your loss and your mourning and I wish you peace and strength and the ability to grieve as needed. Love back to you and THANK YOU. I think that sometimes it’s ok to always have a little darkness as it helps us stay connected when we can no longer be in the same place. It means great love and what is more beautiful than great love? xoxo

  16. March 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I count myself Lucky to be among your fans, and your friends.

  17. March 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Count me in as another who is in awe. Here is blogging’s highest purpose. Thanks to you both, for sharing and connecting.

    • March 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Winsombel, I love this line, blogging’s highest purpose. I couldn’t agree more and I love that as a way to think about it. Thank you for your kind word and for saying hello:)

  18. March 4, 2012 at 5:44 am

    What a beautiful, powerful post. The written word is such a gift in itself, and being able to share our words with others is a gift beyond measure to others.

    • March 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Yes, I totally agree Life in the Boomer Lane. The written word can be the greatest gift to ourselves and others, I know I have so deeply benefitted from being able to write and to read the amazing words of others. Thanks for coming by and for your lovely comments.

  19. March 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Greetings from London! What a beautiful post. Our bub came close to dying before she even started living, so I know the realities of NICU and I know how grateful we are that her major battles ended the day she left hospital.

    I look forward to continuing to read of you and your family’s progress on My New Favorite Day x

    • March 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      It’s such wild ride and for any parent being that close to losing your most precious gift makes you so grateful! I am glad to hear all is well with your little but now, bless her and you all.

      I love your blog so I am so thrilled we can share in one another’s journeys. xo

  20. March 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Hi, Shannon, and thanks so much for sharing your story! When I read the title to this post, I immediately said to myself, “Oh, wow, that’s me!” It’s not my story in the sense that I do have a healthy child and I’m grateful each and every day for her, but my story in the sense that I, too, began blogging as a way to cope with my life situation as a single working mom. I begrudged that title for years and went through heck and back about four years ago, through some really tough stuff that put incredible strain on mine and my daughter’s life. It just about broke me. Through reading the blog of a good friend (Five Things At Once-Jeff Silvey) I decided, “Hey, maybe I need to do this. Maybe THIS (writing) would be something that could help me gain acceptance and also allow me to share with others what I’ve learned.” And, wow, it has in multitude. So much that I no longer dwell on my SWM-ness, nor do I define myself by it any more. In just a year’s time (almost) so much healing has come-and the connections we make, aren’t they completely priceless (Deb!)? In fact, just this past weekend I was out riding (horses), and my instructor said Friday was her new favorite day! I quickly told her that I’ve read a blog with that title, and I love it! That’s no coincidence. 🙂 Well, I could say more and more…but, I’m only supposed to be commenting. 😉 Hugs and blessings!

    • March 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      Kasey, thanks so much for this and I am so sorry for the delay in responding! I am so so so happy to hear that you have found a way to cope through blogging and find yourself in a different place now. You are not defined by your SWM-ness and you are a role model to many for many reasons:) The connections and people are amazing and bring such light into our lives much like you have done for me today in reading your words. I am glad you are on the other side, no longer breaking. And thank you so so much for your anecdote about your riding horses encounter (I love to ride horses, but never get too:)) and ‘Mynewfavoriteday’ it means a lot to me. Hugs and blessings to you too!

  21. March 6, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Glad to see a post from Shannon here. Beautiful sharing and hugs to you and the family Shannon! 😉

  22. March 7, 2012 at 1:32 am

    There are some lights that seem to shine brighter than all the rest in this world. They provide a beacon of hope in the darkness and somehow make a bright day brighter. They are different and, it is when they share that light with the rest of the world, despite their own pain, the world becomes a brighter place. Thank you, Shannon, for sharing your light so generously, in this post and in your blog. You make my world and the rest of the world a brighter place to be, and those two minis are especially lucky to call you mama. Beautiful post–and thank you, Deb, for hosting it! Love and hugs to both of you!

    • March 7, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      The whole comment has me weepy! Thank you! Your words never cease to touch my heart and make me feel brighter. When I am questioning myself or my voice you are like an anchor in my soul. “They are different and, it is when they share that light with the rest of the world, despite their own pain, the world becomes a brighter place.” This captures my heart in a way that I cannot describe without a longer (much longer) response but it inspires me immensely. xo and hugs.

  23. March 19, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Such a painful time for you… and you write, not with bitterness, but with a sense of a healing process (that maybe still happening). Your pain really is the platform that you have to speak eloquently to the many thousands who have similar struggles. I love the idea about thankfulness and more so about grace.

    • March 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      Peter, this is so wonderful thank you. You are right that I am not bitter for I have found so many gifts in everything we have experienced. It’s not to say that I haven’t struggled or wished for easier times on occasion but I know that we are so lucky.

      I so appreciate your kind words and to be honest it’s people like you and Deb who is hosting me that help give me the reminders I need to keep moving forward with gratitude and grace. So thank you.

  1. March 2, 2012 at 6:08 am
  2. March 16, 2012 at 5:30 am

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