Friday, May 9, 2008



Worry is a powerful thing.

Anxiety is probably my worst enemy in life. Sure, I worry about things that normal people worry about, but most often, I worry about things I fully recognize I absolutely cannot control, which is more than disturbingly neurotic. I even worry about how much I worry. And this worry seeps into my down time, my resting time, my prayer time, and my commuting time. In fact, just about the only time I am able to shut out worry and anxiety is when I work.

So, I work … a lot.

In college, I would take more courses, read more books, study more hours and write extra papers. As a “grown-up”, I do more emailing, write more strategies, develop more angles to projects already on the docket … etc. etc. etc.

Things always look better in the morning light, and most of my worrying starts at night. So, since it’s 8:38 on a Saturday night, bear with me.

Currently, I have been worrying a great deal about my vocational life. Making the big move from Youth Ministry (a place I loved and a mission about which I was passionate) to my new role at the Publishing House (where – although yes, I have a passion for the mission, I haven’t been working long enough to know if I love it or not) has been a bit of a sleep-depriver for the last three weeks.

But, today, all that worry was well and truly trounced by a new, monster anxiety – for our little Sydney.

Today, Sydney was officially diagnosed with a condition called positional plagiocephaly. In addition to learning to spell plagiocephaly without requiring a spell check – the past few days have been fraught with mind-numbing moments of concern followed by mind buzzing moments where I generate more questions than any Mommy should be allowed to ask. We have come to learn that plagiocephaly is especially common in babies who are born breech (which, as faithful readers know, was very much our reality with Miss Sydney Grace, starting back at 24 weeks of pregnancy and lasting until her surprise early arrival at the end). After x-rays and consultations at Children’s Hospital, we have learned that Sydney’s condition is not the more serious condition, craniosynostosis, that would require surgery, and we have learned that we have an array of treatment options to consider.

We have learned that we are not bad parents (though I am having a really tough time not blaming myself entirely) and that even though we have done tummy time, and repositioned her sleeping positions, etc. etc., this condition is very common given her early birth and her “I like to hang out breech” reality. Overall, we should be (and really are) really thankful. After all, today as I sat there in the radiology department at Children’s, I saw many, many Mommies and Daddies with many more reasons to be worried than our little family.

The thing I am worrying about is this: am I doing the “right” things for Sydney? I work. Is that a good decision? I’m not home to watch her 24-hours each day. I can’t guarantee that her head isn’t turned left too many hours (we have EXCELLENT women watching our precious baby …). Have I spent enough time playing and holding her? Am I to blame? And what if the treatment option we decide to use doesn’t correct the problem? I don’t want to fail her.

That’s the root of it all. I don’t want to fail Sydney. Not now. Not ever.

And the reality, as we all know it, is that I will. Actually, the reality is that I already have. And at some point, the Gretchen-who-hates-to-let-people-down is going to have to get over the fact that she is less than perfect. It’s not that I don’t “get” this. But it’s time to really, really get it, or else I have this sneaking suspicion that I am going to miss a whole lot of genuine, authentic opportunities to be comfortable with being the Mom I Just Am, as opposed to the Mom I Am Obsessed with Trying to Be.

And, maybe I am wrong about this, I think that Mom I Just Am is going to enjoy life a whole, heck of a lot more.

My friend, Lori is forever telling me to give myself some permission to go easy on myself. And you know what, she’s right. If I have any hope of being the “best” kind of Mom for Sydney, I need to whole-heartedly embrace that I am often going to be the worst and – rather than dwelling in that and rolling around in my own absurd and ridiculous pity party – LET IT GO!

So. Depending on what we decide, you all might see some fun photos of our little Miss Syd wearing her super cool new ‘DOCband’ helmet … and I hope that you’ll all cheer along with us as our little bug gets her noggin back in shape. Hers is external; here’s to hoping that Mom gets her internal noggin back in shape right along with her.

Do they make that helmet in the adult size?


Kari said...

There will be much better advice from much more experienced people I'm sure, so I won't even try. I can, and will, pray for peace in your decisions...especially between the hours of 11 pm and 2 am...those are when I can become the most anxious if I let things get to me. Many prayers!

Katrina said...

I love you guys! Sydney is going to do GREAT, don't you worry! And you are a WONDERFUL mommy, Gretchen. Don't ever doubt that!

Tammy S said...

Not that I know a whole lot as a mother, but it's really only the beginning of the worrying. Our children's lives will be peppered with times that give us reasons to stress out enough that we believe we have ulcers.
Sydney will be okay. You are most importantly armed with knowledge of what is happening right now. With that knowledge, you can educate yourself to help her. After all, knowledge is power.

Jacob was dx with Major Multiple Food Allergies and Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease when he was 2 years old. This was after about 3 months of testing and biopsies of his stomach. I cried and blamed myself for months. We have seen and continue to see several specialists, and we have had to completly change what we feed him, where we shop and so on and so on. He went to every therapy under the sun, OT, PT, Speech, Behavioral... you name it.
As for working vs not working? You have to do what is best for your family. God will take care of all of you no matter your decision. I worked FT until just recently. I was working and sending Jake to school while he was going through all of this. It often meant taking time off for doctor's appt's and therapy. Praise God my boss understood. I just had to work around Jake because he was #1.
I know it's all overwhelming now. Sydney was fearfully and wonderfully made, and God blessed her with an amazing mother who cares and loves her very much. You will both be fine. You are a strong woman that loves her daughter. Sydney couln't ask for anything more! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

CStaude said...

You are an awesome Mommy and Leon is an awesome Daddy! But worry is part of the turf of being a parent... just know that you are NEVER alone out there in parent-land! You have a lot of people willing and able to listen, to pray, and to hold your hand when you need it most! Sydney does too! That's the great thing! It will be okay... no matter what... because you love Syd and she loves you... the rest is the "small stuff" of life...even if it seems big right now!
Mom & Dad

Susan Steege said...

God is bigger, Gretchen. Bigger than you. Bigger than positional plagiocephaly. And GOOD. God is so good. Lean into Him.

Brian & Erin said...

From Mom to Mom... I know. I understand. I have prayed. I will continue to pray.

With love-

Gauntlets said...

You know the really great thing? Our kids our Baptized, which means that every single one of our screw-ups gets covered over by the good, holy, abundant, perfect gifts given by the Church.

This Holy Mother never changes, and she's got our backs. :) Stay the course.

Chelsea & Nick said...

The picture of Sydney that is titled "Daddy's Girl" is BEAUTIFUL!! What pretty little cheeks!

Melissa said...

You are such a wonderful mom! Just remember that God gave you and Leon to Sydney to be her mommy and daddy, and he gave Sydney to you both to be your daughter! You are perfect for each other because that's exactly how God planned it! God knows that you're not perfect, but His plan for your family IS. Remember that He won't give you more than you can handle. He's walking with you every step of the way in your journey together. Remember that He uses our weaknesses to draw us closer to Him so that we will rely on His limitless strength. Remember how much He loves you! Keep trusting in Him to see you through this and everything else that motherhood will bring. You're in my thoughts and prayers! : )

God's blessings,
Missy : )

Michelle said...

Gretchen, First of all, your Sydney is so beautiful, just like you are. Second of all, I know what the worry and anxiety that come along with motherhood, and aunt-hood...You didn't know my sister, Robyn, but we ended up teaching at a school in Perry County the years that she had her two boys. Ethan had severe heart trouble...3 surgeries before he was had breast cancer the following year....Karl and I lost a baby before we had Anwyn, and the grief, guilt, depression, that has crippled both of us, has just been terrible. When Anwyn came along, my anxiety turned physical, and meltdown depression followed. So just be careful. ASK about medication for yourself if you need to. Since I don't talk to you often, I don't know how you're doing, but I will tell you, that it took me 3 years to get brave enough to ask for the meds and get into the counseling, but after Greta has come along and we took care of the medical aspects, I feel MUCH better. Worrying is real. Intellectually and spiritually, I know it's not necessary, but it doesn't stop the butterflies and sleepless nights. I will pray for you and your little family. We are not far if you ever need me! I will never forget that almost every time we sang that song in Germany, the one where Eddie had the solo....from cried almost every time when we sang..."and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." I pray he does that for you. These little ones are too precious for words, and the parental love and responsibility is just gigantic. I know this is a tough time for you, but remember you are BLESSED. LOVE, MICHIE