One of the most common questions I get as a special needs and medically challenged child’s mother is how do you cope?
Well, my first response is, how do you NOT cope!? Let’s be honest, none of us chose this journey. It chose us. We will never give up on our children no matter what, it’s just what moms do. I’m no better than any other mom. I don’t have any special tricks. But I have found things that work for me and knowing what works for me and what doesn’t has definitely brought a lot of peace and sanity during this journey.
1. COMFORT OBJECT
I always knew that Finn's lovey brought him comfort. One time, I was laying in a huge chair next to Finn in his hospital crib and found myself waking up from a nap with his lovey that had just been snuggled by him. I will say that rubbing those satin ribbons together has been a bit of an anxiety relieving habit for me. It started when Finn was holding it and I would be holding him. I never realized how much I did that until we were out of the hospital and I became more aware. But it definitely worked and was much less annoying to the people around me than chomping gum or clicking a pen! I like the quiet comfort of a lovey! Use my code if you need one for 25% off (FINNSLOVEYS).
Another thing that helped me was laughter. I watched Ellen Show interviews and TONS of hilarious cat videos on YouTube. Y’all, I don’t even own a cat but somehow a cat seeing a cucumber on YouTube made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants!!!
Chocolate was a crutch. I tried to eat real food when I could but I didn’t want to leave my baby and chocolate made me happy so there you go! I don’t regret one bite! :) Dove and Cadbury were my preference but on the other hand, I never met a piece of chocolate I didn’t love!
Separating myself and removing myself from a stressful situation is also helpful. Sometimes, rounds would happen in the morning and it was extremely overwhelming. I felt like I had to make a decision in that moment and I never felt like I was making the right one. So I had to know myself and let them know that I needed to breathe for a minute. I often went to the top of the parking garage where I could see the mountains. I also knew that if I needed to scream, no one could hear me up there. It was a release.
5. THEMED PHOTOS
I love planning for fun opportunities and photo ops with my kids. Anything theme related, I go all out. The kids always get clothes from family (a request since they have plenty of toys) and usually we borrow items or get crafty! It's a passion of mine to show the lovey in the details!
Art is therapy and often I get the kids involved with creating. It also is a wonderful way to make memories which fuels my happiness. Since Finn was in the hospital we have been doing fun painting crafts with feet, hand prints and more!
7. THE RIGHT STUFF
Knowing myself was also very important. Not just knowing but exacting this knowledge and recognizing that it was ok to know that xyz helped and abc didn’t. Usually, abc were certain doctors or people in my life that I knew got me worked up and brought negativity. I tried my best to take that toxicity away and surround myself more with the positive and caring people as well as the cat videos.
I have always been a talker. I have learned so much about Finn's condition that I want to be able to spread awareness wherever I can. By being able to write down my thoughts, it is a therapy and tool that helps ease anxiety. I feel so blessed to be on Team Baby Jack and to contribute to their blogs! Catch up here!
As parents, we will never feel like we are doing enough, but knowing that you are enough of a mom and a human brings peace to tough moments. Take help when you can get it. Anyone that offered a hug was helpful as I knew there was support.
Kindness can be contagious and many people who follow my Prayers for Finn page have seen how much we work with small businesses to give back. During Finn's open heart surgery, we were able to distribute over 300 Baby Jack loveys to families admitted and connect with them. It was a great distraction and brought so much joy being able to see how a comfort object can help someone and show support. Since his first surgery, we have worked with Baby Jack and are collecting for Finn's next surgery at CHOP. Donate a CHD lovey here to help!