The Labels that Define Us

It’s been a really long time since I’ve logged in to this space. The last time I sat down to type was August 30, 2015. The very next day my life changed forever. I found out I was pregnant with our second child. In that time since we’ve built our house, had a baby girl, sold our other house, survived the hardest season of our marriage, continued to raise a toddler, work, and so on. But it’s that day, August 31, 2016 that has brought me back here today.

Emerson Lee was born 22 days early on April 19, 2016. Just another hiccup on top of all that I had already experienced.  I threw up for nearly 24 weeks, all day everyday. I was more uncomfortable that I thought humanly possible. The swelling was out of control. I hated being pregnant so much in fact that I couldn’t even talk about being pregnant. I also never thought I wanted a girl. I only wanted to be a boy mom. So when I found out we were having a girl, after some concerning blood work that turned out to be nothing, I was in a straight up slump. It wasn’t until month seven of my pregnancy that I finally decided to embrace it and realize how great this new journey was going to be.

Well, when you have a baby at 36 weeks 6 days, that label that baby as a late-term premie. If you’ve ever had a baby with the “p” label attached to them, you understand the exact anxiety that comes with it. Emerson didn’t need to spend time in the NICU you. While she had very low blood sugars and was cold for the first few days of her life, she was thriving. She nursed better than her brother ever did, had better hair, and despite being breech which lead to an emergency c section, her delivery breeze.

Life at home was full of anxiety and happiness. Then it all started to happen. The reflux. The dairy intolerance. The soy intolerance. The torticollis. The flat head. The asymmetrical face. The under developed motor skills. For the last six months, this is how we’ve lived our lives. Surrounded by all these labels. Labels that literally ate me alive. I’ve spent more time losing sleep over whether my baby is gaining enough weight, not chocking on her vomit or if her head has been rotated enough, than I ever did over her needing to wake up to actually eat. As we continued to progress and all these other situations arouse, my life spiraled into anxiety so deep that landed me in the ER with migraine induced panic attack.

I know that my situation is far less worse than that of other parents and I would NEVER overshadow what people go through on a daily basis. I guess what I’m trying to get at, is I let these labels define how I lived. I did nothing but devote the last six months to OPT exercises, $47/can formula and reflux medication. I’m not sure at what point I started living on autopilot and stopped enjoying living in this precious moment, but I did.

My closest circle of friends have assured me that had I never pointed out any of her “differences” they’d never know, but me, I lived those “differences” day in and day out. Those labels were the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed.

Actually, it wasn’t until the other night when I was driving home in the dark, alone, that it hit me smack in the face. I knew today was coming and I finally felt a sense of relief. You see today, was our very last OPT appointment. Today, we get to rip off some of those labels that have eaten me alive for months on end. Today the physical therapist looked me in the eye and said “I cannot believe how far this little girl has come. I’m so proud of her and you should be too.”

I love Ann. I love what she has done for my family. How she has taught me so much about being a parent to this little girl who has challenged everything I thought I knew about being a mom. Most of all though, through this ridiculous season, I have learned the greatest lesson of all. Don’t let those labels define you.

We all label. I work in the greatest labeling industry. When Emerson is older we are going to talk about this time and she’ll never remember any of it. She’ll probably tell people how she broke my water and tried to enter this world feet first, but she’ll never know that for the first six months of her life she was one giant label. She never stopped being that happy loving little girl (well except when Ann came over for sessions). I never realized what all this was teaching me along the way, but now it all makes sense. My kids are going to continue to be labeled in everything they do for the rest of their lives. But I hope they know those labels are nothing. It’s what you make of those labels and how you live life that really truly matters.

I’m not sure when and if I’ll ever come back to this space again. I’m not sure if anyone is still waiting for me to throw a bunch of word vomit on a page and call it a blog. But if I never make it back, please know that no matter what life has labeled you as, it’s what you do with those labels and how you let them affect you. Don’t let labels define you. Don’t let them run your life. Be you. Let those labels simply be that, a little label overshadowed by the life you live.

I’m really excited to finally living life as a mom of two instead of just going through the motions and letting everything else get in the way.

For someone who thought she never wanted a girl…this girl sure has changed my life in the greatest way possible (while still buying $47/cans of formula, worrying when the hell she’ll roll over, praying a boy never likes her and you know all that other mom nonsense).

 

 

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