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Renae’s Story: The Power of Gratitude

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A precious baby boy dies from complications of acute myeloid leukemia.

Two days prior, he served as the best man in his parents’ wedding.

The story, which likely would have brought me to tears prior to having Clara, affected me in an entirely different way as a mother.

I looked down at my precious baby curled up in my lap, foot resting on my chest, milk drunk; she is finally drifting off for her morning nap. I feel my heart drop a little at the slightest thought of something happening to Clara.

Just moments before reading the story about Logan, I was feeling frustrated, confused and was getting ready to do yet another Google search on how to get your baby to sleep through the night.

Suddenly, that didn’t matter so much.

The family of this precious baby would give anything to be in my shoes, they would have traded years of sleepless nights to have had their baby survive.

Prior to reading Logan’s story, the focus of this post was going to be on practical ideas to help with sleep deprivation. Many friends have recently had babies and I know are struggling, as I am, to get through our mommy days on very few hours of sleep.

I was going to write about the calming effect country music has on me in the middle of the night while I am rocking Clara and how my cell phone is my best companion during a marathon nursing session.

I was going to share how sometimes I just quietly sit and look out the window and imagine all the other moms at that very moment gently rocking, singing and feeding their beautiful babies.

These things help me temporarily and certainly serve as welcome distractions during those tough moments, but do you want to know what really gets me through and what I decided to shift the focus of this post to? Gratitude.

Nothing in life is guaranteed. I know about the rug being pulled from underneath you, I know the pain of losing someone who was supposed to be with you on this journey until the end.

I know about the unfairness of life, illness, cancer and suicide. We sometimes think we have it so bad, that things are so awful, until they are really

Having a spirited baby is tough.

Having a baby who wakes every couple hours at night for nearly 7 months is rough.

Weathering colic and hours of screaming and crying was taxing.  Trying to find a cure for the night-time waking, the fussiness and digestive upset has been exhausting.

The daily battle with PPD has taken a toll…But as I read the story of sweet Logan, I realized that the hour his mom held him when he took his last breath was the same hour I sat near tears on my bed with a screaming baby who wouldn’t sleep.

I was angry, I was tired, I was depressed and in the state bordering ours, a mother held her baby for the last time.

I am not discounting my experience.

It has been a challenge with Clara, however, I must be thankful I still have the opportunity with her to be challenged.  Things could be worse. Things could be>really awful.

We take a lot for granted in life and I think we overlook the power of gratitude, life’s great medicine. The story of Logan is a critical reminder to me about the importance of cherishing every day, even the tough ones, for the tough ones builds strength, character and courage.

While I am no poet, I wrote the following over the course of a couple late nights. It doesn’t rhyme, it may not be in perfect poetic harmony, but I hope the words serve as a gentle reminder to all of us to give thanks for what we have, to slow down, count our blessings and cherish every day.

When Clara screams, may I stop and be thankful for the air that fills her lungs allowing her to breathe on her own.

When Clara wants to nurse, again, after only an hour, may I stop and be thankful she has a healthy appetite, can feed on her own and doesn’t require a feeding tube.

When Clara flails her arms and legs and inadvertently jabs me in the stomach or whacks me in the face, may I be thankful for the strength building in her little arms and legs.

When she refuses to sleep anywhere but on me for comfort, may I give thanks for this special bonding time and that I have the ability to soothe her and ease her pain. I won’t always be able to take it away.

When I complain about all that I have to pack to take her places, may I remember the parents who aren’t able to travel with their babies and would give anything to only have to lug around a diaper bag.

When I am at my wits end, near tears with exhaustion, may I remember the parents in the NICU living on prayers while their babies are kept alive by machines.

When I don’t think I can take another scream, may I remember the parents in empty nurseries who would give anything to fill the room with their baby’s cry.

When I question whether I wanted this, may I remember the women who would give anything to experience the gift of pregnancy, birth and being a mother.

When I want to give up, may the beauty of Clara, her adorable toothy grin, perfect baby smell, spirited personality, infectious laugh and endless energy, give me strength I need to get through whatever challenge we are facing in that moment.

When I question my self-worth, and worry that I am not doing everything right, may I always extend the same kindness to myself that I would extend to other struggling parents.

When I find myself wishing the days away to an ‘easier’ time, may I make a conscious effort to slow down and appreciate where I am now, may I look in awe at Clara from time to time and soak up how amazing it is that I helped to create this beautiful baby.

When I think about what lessons and values I want to model for Clara, may giving thanks and expressing gratitude be one of the most important lessons of all.

And when the days become full and busy, may I always take time to tell Clara how much I love her. May she always know what a beautiful blessing she is, a blessing I will never take for granted.


Renae Carapella-JohnsonMy name is Renae and I’m a running, writing Momma who shares her experiences with raising a beautiful baby girl in my blog, Sole Stories of a Running Momma. In my blog, I write about running, blessings and challenges of motherhood and managing Postpartum Depression. Please feel free to message me and check out my website for weekly posts about what’s going on in my little world!


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

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