My babies

The babies are (finally) sleeping again. Although it has been a rough week of tests, waiting, and results, there is another side now to my life as well, a side that is no less important now that I’ve got cancer. In fact, it’s more important than it has ever been. My babies — my little boys — sustain me, and keep me reaching within myself for more and more strength, more and more energy, more and more love to share with them.

It’s hard, this sharing. The cancer makes me want to curl up in a ball and go to bed for a week while we wait for the chemotherapy to begin. The pain, the stiffness, the aches, and the worry threaten to consume me in this time of uncertainty and waiting. But I can’t give in to this pull, this gravitation sucking me inside myself like a black hole, threatening to pull all of myself inside until I collapse.

Because I have two precious babies to live for.

One almost half a year old, and one almost three, they are so little and yet so amazing to me. They are people in their own right, and they have needs and wants and ideas of their own, and that in itself astounds me.

The little one is teething. His second tooth appeared this morning, after long days of screaming and screeching as the infrequent tylenol wears off and the teethers refuse to satisfy. We’re trying to encourage him to take a binky now, as we have off and on since his first airplane ride at 8 weeks, but he spits it out just as he always has. He’s suffering, a bit, with the teething now, since with his first tooth he had the ultimate mama-comfort available to him, and it got him through the tough parts. He nursed his way through the teething of the first tooth, nearly round-the-clock, and it helped. I know it helped, because every time he popped off, he screamed until he rooted around and found me again. With this tooth, we’re offering him binkies, and teethers, and cold jelly-filled teething rings, and bottles of milk, and frozen washcloths. But he screams and screams and all he wants is his mommy’s breast. Whenever I hold him, he lurches toward my left side and opens his mouth. That — and the screaching — is breaking my heart.

The older one — how funny it is to think of my little Widget as the older one — is talking so much more these days and telling stories all the time. He understands so much, this one, and yet I know he’s too little to talk to really about what’s happening. But he knows something is happening, and he hasn’t let go of Mama for a week. He comes and takes my hand, and asks me to “go play roads” or trains or outside, and we do. He cuddles up with me on the couch if I’m tired, and “read Busy Day books” or others of the dozens that we have at hand in every room. He cries for me if it’s time to go to sleep, and asks to “go Mama’s room” if it’s stormy outside, convinced that my room is where I can best “keep (him) safe.” I rub his back and tell him that I will always keep him safe. That Mama will always love him, and I will always keep him safe. And he relaxes and falls, reluctantly, asleep.

The boys are beginning to interact more. When Little Bear cries, Widget walks up and says “Bear cry,” offering ideas like “go sleep,” “tooth hurts,” and “want toy?” as he offers Little Bear a toy, or a teether, or just his hand to hold. Yesterday, he was holding the baby on his lap (carefully, oh, so carefully supervised), and he turned to whisper in Bear’s ear, “keep you safe.”

I’m not sure where this obsession with keeping them safe came from. I think it’s because that’s how I comfort Widget in the dark of night when the thunderstorms roar. He is terrified of thunderstorms, and he needs company and comfort if it’s stormy outside. So I keep him company, and keep him calm, and keep reassuring him when he jumps that I will keep him safe. And it helps him sleep. It is wonderfully reassuring that he now wants to care for his brother in the same way, offering comfort and reassurrance the best way he knows how — offering a toy, offering a binky, and offering him the words “keep you safe.”

And today, I pray that God will keep all of us in his hands, keeping us safe.


33 Responses to My babies

  1. Binky says:

    I’ll second that prayer.

    The picture of your oldest holding your youngest and whispering “keep you safe” is sweet, sweet, sweet. That’s the overarching dynamic that most often comes to mind when I think of two brothers, close in age. It has to be one of the most special bonds two people can have.

  2. Angela says:

    My son also keeps me going. The sweet little things that children do are such a blessing.

  3. lilliberal says:

    Such sweet dear little ones. You are blessed with such wonderful children, and they are blessed with such a strong mama.

    Warning: Unsolicited suggestions below.

    The teething:
    Hyland’s teething tablets
    Razzberry teething pacifier
    Frozen milk, ice, baby food, or banana in a “baby safe” mesh bag. My son will chew and suckle on it forever. The munchkins are harder to clean, but they have a teething ring as a handle. The sassy ones look like the best, though.

    Suggestions for the desire to nurse- a pacifier and a sling. If you’re not up to slinging him, the husband can do it. Hold him in nursing position in the sling, or inwards-facing in a Mei Tai or other soft carrier- bjorns don’t work as well, with the pacifier and just walk, rock, sing. This is how my son started using a paci after rejecting it for so long. He prefers the 0-3 month Nuks and not the age-appropriate 6-18 month pacifiers.

  4. whymommy says:

    Will try. Thanks, Lilliberal. Teething is a tough time for everyone, isn’t it?

  5. NYfriend says:

    A beautiful post, WhyMommy. My heart is breaking too, but I know your overflowing, abundant love for them will get them through this tough time. Your strength will prevail, and all they will remember is the love you bathed them in.

    I second Lilliberal’s advice, try the Hyland’s Teething Tablets or the Hyland’s Colic Tablets. Sometimes one works better than the other. They are very safe, the amount of actual active ingredient is soooo small. They work on an energy level, not macroscopic like herbs, Tylenol, food, etc. Call me if you want to talk more about the 2 tablet types you have. 🙂

    And give Widget an extra hug from us, the story of him whispering to Little Bear is truly heart warming. What an amazing little guy you are raising, your “sharing” is shining through him!

  6. twithhoney says:

    It always surprises how intuitive little children can be toward other people’s pain (teething).

    And here’s some reassurance that God will continue to hold all of you in His hand.

    John 10:27-30
    My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

  7. Robyn says:

    Hi! One of my daily go-to websites/blogs is called Today I noticed a link to another blog called* I decided to check it out. It was there that I saw a blurb and link to YOUR site.

    I’m a big believer that EVERYTHING happens for a reason and in God’s perfect timing. I read your entire blog, starting with your first archived posts last year all the way through to today’s entry. I smiled, chuckled, oohed and ahhed as I read about the boys. I nodded and affirmed when I read about the science and crafts. I sighed and grimaced when I read about your pain and then your diagnoses. But it was when I got to the the posts about the 4th of July cookout with the amazing turnout you had, and the pink bag of goodies you discovered when you went out to throw the diaper away, I realized I was crying. The feeling of tears dropping onto my thighs tipped me off.

    To read it all, from the very beginning, is better and more heart wrenching than any book I’ve read in quite some time.

    I am a 35 year old teacher-turned-SAHM with 3 precious daughters (8, 5 and 2). I have recently started my own event planning company so I can work from home. Why now? Because my middle daughter (the “strong willed” one!) will be starting kindergarten next month. THat makes 2 in school and one in preschool. I’ve been a bit excited about that. I adore my children, but she (the middle one) has always been my biggest challenge and this new milestone is a happy one for me (as in “We both survived the toddler years and “Phew! I get a bit of a break from her now!”).

    My point(and I do have one)…[as you would say!!]…. is your blog has motivated ME in two big ways:

    1. Upon completing this comment I am going directly upstairs, taking off my shirt and bra, and doing as thorough of a self breast exam as I know how. Then, first thing in the morning I will be calling to make an appointment for my first ever mammogram.
    2. I am going to spend the remainder of the summer hugging, playing with and talking to my girls more than usual before school starts back up and less time working on getting the business up and going. That can wait until school starts. AND, I am going to make a concerted effort to NOT be as happy about Miss THANG going off to kindergarten.

    I am praying for you, WhyMommy, and for all the other Mommies out there who are where you are. I am thankful for you and your contribution to the Internet. You have just gained your newest faithful reader.

    Thank you for your honesty. I admire you more than you can imagine. I have absolutely no doubt you will beat this cancer.
    God Bless.

  8. You have lovely boys.
    And they have a lovely mama.

    And, if this can be done right, you, friend, are doing it right.

    Rock on.

  9. Emily says:

    Yeah — them interacting more is great. Until you find the older one with the chain from the blinds wrapped around his brother’s neck. Or until the younger one figures out how to use those teeth on the older one.

    I’m just saying…

    And then, you show up at the older one’s school for an event, and he gets upset because you for once left his brother with a sitter. “Where’s my brother?” he wants to know.

    I wish you all a thunderless night.

  10. Jacquie says:

    Your words are beautiful! Your Widget, how sweet is he.

  11. Jenn says:

    It is amazing; the bond among siblings. I’m sure as they grow, it will touch you even more than you can believe.

    And the prayers–I’m saying them, all the time, a constant humming.

  12. jen says:

    it’s so true. we must protect them, and i can’t imagine all the swirly thoughts in times like this, but of course, it’s them. always. and from your news yesterday, your very good news, there will be lots and lots and lots of protecting for the decades to come.

  13. LawyerMama says:

    “keep you safe” Yes. Keep all of you safe.

  14. lamarguerite says:

    Thanks for being so real! It is refreshing. I too form many wishes for your good health. In your spare time (you may wonder what’s that?), you may enjoy visiting my blog, “My Inconvenient Truth: The Daily Sins of a Green Girl Wannabe”. As a mommy like you (although of much bigger babies, mine are 16 and 18), I am concerned for the future of my children. Hence this blog, where I document my daily struggles with trying a good green girl. Not easy, and very humbling, just like motherhood.


  15. bon says:

    it really is all about the little ones, isn’t it? one of the keenest shifts that occurs in motherhood…even when it’s about you, your concern – so much of it – is with those little lives who bring you wonder and joy. you write about it beautifully, and with grace. keep all of you safe, indeed.

  16. mom says:

    My prayer as well.

  17. I have been praying for you and wanted to pop in and see how you are doing. I was thrilled to see the news that the Cancer had not spread, but what a heartbraking post about your little Bears teething and so beautiful the love from his brother. Your words are so real and touching, it means so much that you are sharing your journey with us. What wonderful boys you have. I hope that tooth pops in soon to give you both some relief.

  18. Izzy says:

    When Little Bear cries, Widget walks up and says “Bear cry,” offering ideas like “go sleep,” “tooth hurts,” and “want toy?” as he offers Little Bear a toy, or a teether, or just his hand to hold. Yesterday, he was holding the baby on his lap (carefully, oh, so carefully supervised), and he turned to whisper in Bear’s ear, “keep you safe.”

    The sweetness of a little boy loving his baby brother with such tenderness brought tears to my eyes. What an angel 🙂

  19. Stimey says:

    Honestly, that’s one of the best things about having kids: seeing them watch out for each other. With all we’re going through with Jack, I am encouraged that he has a brother on either side to take care of him. Just like with your kids, friends will come and go, obstacles will come and go, hurt and joy will come and go, but brothers will always be there.

    I am also sending wishes of safety to your family.

  20. Colleen says:

    So sweet. It just reinforces my belief that my Zoe needs a sibling soon. Someone to look out for. And someone to look out for her.

  21. What a beautiful post! And what wonderful, caring children you are raising.

    Be proud, and draw on them in those times when you just don’t think you have it in you. They give us so much, don’t they.

    Here’s to a peaceful night to you all 🙂

  22. Ally says:

    That little Widget, saying “keep you safe” to his baby brother. Oh, that is beautiful.

    I can only imagine how it must break your heart to know that your breast would comfort Little Bear, and not be able to give it to him. I hope that darned tooth pops through soon and Little Bear will feel better.

    Love to your sweet little boys! And to you.

  23. Lady M says:

    Sweet, sweet babies.

    I’m glad to hear that the cancer hasn’t metasticized elsewhere. Wishing you all the best.

  24. mamatulip says:

    Chips off the ol’ block, your kids are…

    So glad to hear the cancer hasn’t spread. I’m thinking of you this week.

  25. Sonia says:

    I put your button up right away and I’m pulling for you!! 🙂

  26. Good grief, you are a lovely writer.

    You make me feel so fiercely for you. Is it possible to be this intensely proud of someone you’ve never met?

    Apparently so.

  27. Jennie says:

    What a sweet boy! You are doing a great job, mom.

  28. mo-wo says:

    Sweet babies make good medicine

  29. Jo says:

    I hope this article I wrote a few years ago will help bring you strength during this. I wrote it because I realized that no matter what I HAD to get through my two cancers just like it sounds like you are thinking too. Good luck in your fight and I will be rooting for you…

  30. MommySherill says:

    I’m so moved by this. I am REALLY rooting for you to stay well and strong through treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask/push your doctor for Neulasta shots to prevent fatigue.

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