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Apple, pecan, pumpkin, humble

I haven't posted in... whatever. Sue me. The child, she does not sleep.

I spent Thanksgiving with the usual assortment of relatives and refugees, mostly from Cameroon (the refugees, not the relatives, who are mostly from Ohio and California). I was talking to one of the men over dinner, and asked how long he had been in the U.S. Four years. I later asked if he had any children (I had my squirming, spitting child on my lap at the time) and he told me he has a five year old daughter. The last time he saw her, she was a baby, maybe just learning to walk and talk. Now she is a child, running around, talking a blue streak, in school. He hasn't seen her in four years and has no idea how long it may be before he sees her again. The red tape to bring her here is daunting - asylum hearings, expensive physicals, immigration interviews. He must bring here here; he cannot go visit her. He left his country and his daughter behind because he feared for his life. He feared that his government would imprison or kill him for doing things that are legal and championed in the U.S.

Each of the 10 or so refugees I dined with last Thursday has a similar story. So many aspects of what has happened to them are tragic, but I can't stop thinking about the children. Maybe it is having a daughter of my own that suddenly made it so real to me. I don't know how they made that choice, I don't know how they get through each day and month and year with no idea when they may be reunited with their families. I don't know how they stand the thought of their children growing up without a mother or father and I don't know how they find the strength to get up every day and struggle in the hopes of holding their children again.

And my problem? My child is too much with me. She keeps me awake by only wanting to sleep with me. She keeps me from doing laundry by only napping in my arms. I feel humbled, chastened. I keep thinking of these people I've met, and others like them, who would give everything they have for their child to keep them up all night. Who would gladly take my worst day with Mia and rejoice to have that same terrible day with their own child. Now when I lose my patience, when I am so tired and frustrated that I start snapping at my baby who is, after all, just being the baby she is, I try to remember these people who's fondest wish is to have what I disparage.

So tonight when Mia wakes me up (if she lets me go to sleep at all, which she didn't last night) I will try hard to be grateful for the opportunity to hold her and kiss her and rock her for hour after hour. I will try hard to rejoice in it, for those who cannot.

Comments (26)

Thanksgiving just continues throughout the year...

So dinner with refugees? How does this happen?

Aww beth. that was a beautiful post. I hear Ben and Jerry's and JD for breakfast works wonders. ;)

Very nice post. It is very similar to how I feel working in oncology. When I am complaining to my husband or myself or anyone who will listen about the annoying thing my 11 year old did, or the naughty thing my 2 year old did...I try to remember that some of my patients would give ANYTHING to be able to feel well enough to scrub the pudding off the wall like I had to do.

aaawwwwwwww I love that story.

It took me having my 3rd to really appreciate even the hard parts... I got over complaining for some reason - possibly 'cause our 3rd is likely our last, and now I find I'm savoring every sweet morsel.

Good, good, good on you for realizing this so early into it!

Enjoy, she will soon be a very big girl and no longer in your lap!

If being grateful doesnt keep you from despair, there's always alcohol! Hugs - the sleep deprivation part of your tour is almost over, take heart.

Lovely post Beth!! And so true, it goes too quickly.

beautiful post. i hope mia lets you get some sleep soon.

This was such a lovely post. So sad, but really lovely, nonetheless.

You are fortunate, although I can't imagine how hard it must be to go without sleep. I hope this passes quickly!

I agree, this post was incredible, beautiful, and sad. I will eat a little of that humble pie with you, if you don't mind.

But can I also say? Don't be too hard on yourself. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture! It's no wonder you are struggling. I hope it is over soon!

Beautifully written. Good luck, and I hope you get some sleep soon.

That was a beautiful post.
I feel for you in dealing with a non sleeping baby.
I dont know what your personal parenting beliefs are .. what you will or wont, can or cant do, and the last thing you probably want is advice but I would like to recommend the Baby Whisperer book if you havent read it. It isnt easy, it isnt fun.. but it works, for me and for many many others I know. I hope it helps! Mia is gorgeous and you and Chris are so very lucky to have her. Good Luck!

Wow, thanks for that. Needed that today, We had a rough night last night as well.

amazing post! Thank you!

I understand how you feel. It is hard to feel grateful when you are so sleep-deprived.

I hope she sleeps for her very soon. :-)

sending lots of sleeping (anywhere but in your arms) vibes your way!!!

That does help put things in perspective. I guess I CAN listen to "Jingle Bells, Batman smells" sung at top volume a couple of thousand more times.

Very good point. I was just sitting down to take a break from my cranky little baby and I feel a bit chastened by your story. While it is hard to step back and think of these things while a baby is screaming and you haven't slept in days, it is also important to try and do so. So, thank you for the reminder.

You are killing me. Stop making me cry when I read your blog.

Have you considered sleep training Mia? We sleep trained our little guy when he was 4 months old and had great sucess with it. We both read the book "sleeping through the night" by Dr. Jodi Mindell and agreed on a strategy. Our Zach doesn't go to bed pefect every night, but the extra hours of sleep we get more than make up for it.

Beautifully said. It's gift the work your in-laws do with refugees. Give em a hug for me. - A refugee from Vietnam

This was lovely. I completely understand how you feel. It is so hard at times, but you're right...we are blessed to have our little bundles when others have not. Happy holidays and sleepy wishes your way!

Becoming a parent makes some of
the tougher things in life hit home even harder. Personally, I can't even handle certain episodes of "Oprah" or "Children's Ward" anymore.... It makes you cherish what you have....

Thank you for a much-needed reality check.

Lovely and heartbreaking, too. I totally get that.

Beautifully put. Gratitude is such a humble-r, isn't it?

A child is a gift whose true and total value isn't known till you've held them in your arms. Once you know the love your heart can give to your own, the pain of others losses is almost overwhelming isn't it?

I wept for that man, I wish I could help him in someway. The world is a cruel place at times.

Kiss that baby for me, for him for all of us whole know the love of a child.

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So the Fish Said...

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