Tag Archives: parenting fears

Face to Face with Fear pt 6 by Gregory Bland

pummeled-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centre“I could never love another child the way I loved Katelyn.”   That thought haunted me and catalyzed a tangible fear within my heart. I forced myself to go through the motions . . .

– I read story’s to Lynn’s belly as we lay down at night just as I did with Katelyn.
– I’d play the guitar and sing to Lynn’s belly. A treat that most never hear and for good reason.

– I would speak to the baby developing within the womb, affirming my love, telling stories of what to expect in our family, and awaiting the press of a hand or foot against my gentle hand.

I was hoping somehow all of these actions would diminish my “irrational” fear. It didn’t. I was still scared. Questions nagged me day after day, week after week, and month after month. It was unrelenting.

Could I love this child the way I love the first?

What if I couldn’t?

What impact would this have them?

Am I going to wreck them emotionally?

As the birth date approached my anxiety increased and there was a barrage of new questions. My mind felt as though I was in a boxing ring, back pressed against the ropes, hands up guarding my face as Evander Holyfield pummeled me.

Are we having a boy or girl? I know how to father a girl, but what happens if we have a boy? What do I do then? I don’t know how to relate to boys? I didn’t even have a Dad at home. I don’t know if I could love another girl, let along a boy. How would I love a boy?

I was a wreck internally.

The Dr’s decided that my love would be tested on June 30th when they declared that Lynn would be induced on that day so they could monitor the birth. Instead of watching the fireworks at the Freedom Festival between Detroit/Windsor, I’d be watching fireworks of a different sort this year.

You’d think after 5 months of fighting with these questions I would have resolution walking into the hospital room. I didn’t. Lynn was induced early in the morning and as the hours passed my anxiety increased and my prayer intensified. Lynn may have thought I was praying for her, but I wasn’t. I was selfishly praying that somehow, someway, God would give me the strength to love this child as I should. Would my love be divided? Would it be diminished in any way with the addition of this child? The unpleasantness of that thought was disconcerting and I continued praying.

The hours rolled by and nothing tangible changed. Not within my heart or within Lynn’s body. Nurses checked frequently on Lynn but precious little was happening. Lunch came and went and still no change, “You’re still 2 cm dilated,” the nurses repeated, over and over and over again. As the supper hour passed anxiety ramped up. It seemed as though God was doing His masterful work of forging patience within our lives.

Lynn and I sat side by side on the love seat in the hospital room, not much was said, but I know a lot was being contemplated. All of a sudden Lynn screamed. I mean screamed, it was so loud I jumped to my feet in an instant and almost immediately nurses were running through the door.

Finally something is happening! It was fast and furious, you’re completely dilated and the baby is crowninlove-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreg. One nurse paged the Dr, as the others helped Lynn into the bed. I watched in amazement. (I’ll spare you some of the details.) The Dr. arrived at the room just in time to see the baby being born

He held the baby up and said, “Mr and Mrs Bland you have a baby girl. It’s a good thing she ca
e when she did because her umbilical cord is in a perfect knot and it’s tightening.  Take a look at this . . .”

I looked at her through the tears that flooded my eyes, “Hannah Mercedes,
welcome to our family.” In an instant my doubts and fears were erased. I was overwhelmed with LOVE for this precious child. My love was not divided, it was not diminished in any way, but rather I could tangibly tell it was multiplied!

I thanked God for this little girl’s safe arrival and the instant work He did within my heart. It was late that night, 11:25pm, that all my fears were eclipsed by the reality I had a greater capacity for love.

Until Next time
Consider the depth of love you have for another
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

Face to Face with Fear pt 5 by Gregory Bland

expecting-2nd-child-gregory-bland“What do you mean you’re pregnant? You’re breastfeeding! Is that even possible?” Apparently breastfeeding is not a foolproof form of birth control. Some things you just learn by experience. 😉

The words, “Greg. We’re pregnant, we’re expecting another child,” sent a cool chill up my spine. I did not expect this news. I knew that I should be happy, yet I felt a strange sense of loss. Something inside of me wanted to be supportive, encouraging, & helpful, but I was scared and didn’t know why or how to communicate this with Lynn.

I tried to mask my immediate thoughts, put a brave face on, hugged Lynn and said with less-than-heartfelt words, “That’s great honey.”

I couldn’t help thinking that the life I had grown so quickly to love and the image I had created for our future was suddenly shattered.   All the dreams I had of the three of us gone with those simple words, “We’re expecting another child.”

I loved Katelyn with all my heart. So much so that this ‘good’ news impacted me in a way I never thought possible. I’m not ready for this. How can I cope? I’m certain my stress markers went out the roof as my mind reeled with questions that I could not seem to answer.

Why am I feeling like this?

I love children, what’s going on inside of me?

How can I cope?

In a very real sense I felt like I was going crazy. I could not put my finger on the source of these thoughts, but I knew they were stemming from something deeper within me. Yes, they were irrational, yes, they were selfish, nonetheless they were real and overwhelming.

For weeks I wore a façade. Pretending to be excited and happy while I secretly wrestled with these questions and guilt over the way I was feeling. I can’t remember exactly the moment it dawned on me, but there was a time I recognized the source of my fears.

Like lightening piercing the darkness a thought shot to the forefront of my mind. “Greg,” yes, sometimes I talk to myself. O.K. according to Lynn, I talk to myself a lot! “Greg,” I thought, “You are feeling this way because you’re scared you cannot love another the way you love Katelyn.”

That one statement resonated with my spirit. Yes, that’s it, that’s it. It’s true I love Katelyn so deeply I am scared I could never love another child in the same manner. I just don’t have it in me.

Although I knew the source of my fear, I did not know the capacity of my love until Hannah was born.

Can you relate in any way? It seems crazy to many, but it was very real to me. I was just plain scared that I could never love another the way I loved the first.
Until Next time
Consider what love is
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

Face to Face with Fear pt 4 by Gregory Bland

Katelyn-birthKatelyn was welcomed into our home with great anticipation and hopeful expectation. As a couple we had been active in many youth/children’s ministries during the years of our courtship and marriage. Believing in, encouraging, and fostering growth in children/teens was something that we loved doing. I had come to believe that our children and youth are more capable than we often give them credit for.

Somehow though, this was vastly different. We were no longer simply experimenting with ideas, offering encouragement, counsel, creating growth experiences, lavishing love on the sometimes unlovable, then sending the kids home to their parents. No. Katelyn’s birth noted a significant shift in our lives.

We would have direct involvement, 24/7, for a period of years. She was not our possession, but rather a gift we would steward, invest in, and encourage toward the fulfillment of her destiny. Even at birth, there was a stark realization that the days were numbered and one day she would be launching out from our home to make her own mark on the world.

I was determined to do the best I could in preparing her for that purpose.

I knew exactly what I wanted to be as a Dad.

Involved.

Proactive.

Communicative.

Involved: I had witnessed a few families disintegrate because of Dad’s over-involvement with work/ministry and lack of involvement on the home front. It seemed tragic to me that the devastation on the relational home front took less priority than serving others outside the family. What I frequently heard from teens was, “Dad’s always available for them, but never seems to have time for me.” In my mind I thought, “What would it profit me to build a great ministry/business and lose my family in the process?” I had determined to set my boundaries and keep them healthy. Katelyn would have my best, not my leftovers.

Proactive: I was determined to fully engage and enjoy each moment while katelyn-bicyclemaintaining an eye to the future. There will be moments of laughter and celebration; I wanted to embrace every one of them. There would also be tears, and the experience of pain; I wanted to foster learning and embracing the value of these moments as well. From the first words spoken, “Da Da,” her first steps, the first bruised knee, first successful ride on a bicycle without training wheels, driving the family car, graduating, college/university, engagement, marriage, and children. Wow, even as I write that, I recognize how quickly time passes. Katelyn is now driving the family car! The often spoken of and ignored reality is, “Our children will not remain children forever.” Time is fleeting. In retrospect, 18 years is a very short time, and I want to make the most of every one of them.

Communicative: Too often I hear; “Dad doesn’t communicate and simply holds things in until he’s so upset it explodes.” “Dad never says, ‘I love you.’ ‘I can’t remember the last time I opened up and shared my heart with Dad. He just seems disinterested or judgmental. So I seek others that I can be open with.”

Our work with children and teens had evidenced over and over that children/teens will open up to those they know love, accept, and listen without prejudice. It was my heart to cultivate an environment where open communication would be the norm, not the exception and I knew that would mean I would have to model this behavior.

I embarked on our parenting journey with great optimism, enthusiasm, and wonder at what God was going to do in and through this little girl. Katelyn was an incredible joy to parent. Our optimism may have been fueled by our experiences throughout Lynn’s pregnancy, God’s deep work within our hearts, and/or our refusal to consider Katelyn a ‘hindrance’ to our lives. Rather we decided to include her in our lives so she could experience life as we do.

Katelyn’s first ‘rock concert’ was experienced when she was just 2 weeks old. Lynn and I sat closer to the back of course, and watched as Katelyn’ quietly slept through all the ‘noise.’ Her first camping trip took place when she was 9 weeks of age. This was no simple feat for a nursing mother, let alone the fact that we also included 20+ teenagers on this outing. She survived and so did we. Frankly, the youth we worked with loved the fact we included Katelyn on our outings.  Her first major car ride followed shortly thereafter when we traveled from Ontario to Nova Scotia by car. Again, no simple feat, but we recognize the benefits these experiences had on Katelyn because we included her and did not regard her as an inconvenience.

The first 5 months of parenting were an absolute joy for me. I loved having this little girl within our lives. The joy, excitement, and love I felt for Katelyn seemed to grow daily. It was a love I had not experienced before.   A love that I didn’t even know I was capable of having or expressing. Simply put, I was content being a Dad, and loved the fact I was given the privilege of shaping a life that was entrusted to our care.

In my mind things couldn’t be better.  I loved the new community we were living in, our new ministry seemed to be going well, loved the young people and parents we were connecting with, and absolutely loved being Dad.

It seemed nothing could shake me.  That is until one evening I noticed something ‘slightly off’ with Lynn.   Her eyes always betray her and that look told me she had to say something but didn’t quite know how to bring it up.

“What’s up?” I asked. “It’s nothing,” she replied. Both you and I know when a woman says it’s nothing, it’s never ‘nothing!’ So I pressed her, “Come on. I know something is going on inside that pretty little head of yours. Tell me.”

What she proceeded to share rocked me to the core.  Fear gripped my heart quickly and I immediately felt panic and a sense of disorientation I can’t even put into words.

“What do you mean . . .”

Join me for our next installment when I share my journey into fear and what I discovered about myself as a Dad.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and The Legacy Centre

Face to Face with Fear pt 3 by Gregory Bland

Emotional turmoil may be a gross understatement. Lynn and I left the Dr’s office with incredible resolve to love whomever we welcomed into our growing family.  Still there were moments that we were completely broken.  Emotions would run wild, tears would stream, and fear would once again show his ugly face.  My fears centred around my ability to provide a loving and supportive environment for this child.  I hoped so, the question continued to linger, “Could I?” Lynn’s fears centred around the health of the child.  The potential of Spina Bifida presented some unique challenges and Lynn’s motherly instinct was quickly approaching over-drive.

Lynn and I talked a lot, cried, and prayed together too.  In retrospect, I believe this is something that fostered some of the relational closeness that we still enjoy today.  I am uncertain what may have happened had we simply shut down, or ‘crawled inside ourselves’ during this intensely emotional season.  Sharing our honest thoughts, feelings, and desires allowed us to remain connected and strengthened our relationship together. Taking this one step further, we reached out to others as well, we are a part of a larger faith community that states emphatically, “When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer with it.  When one member rejoices, we all rejoice.” We were made to share our journey together.

Heart pounding and knees slightly weak I stood to my feet following the pastor’s invitation and began sharing with the church family what we were currently experiencing.  My voice cracked and tears flowed freely as I recounted the emotional visit we had with the specialist just three days prior. I shared our decision, the resolve we had, and the fears that lurked beneath the surface and simply asked that people would pray that both Lynn and I would have the capacity to love whomever we welcomed into our home and for wisdom as we navigate the course set before us.

What an overwhelming response.  The church family gathered around us and began to pray as we requested. Simply put we felt loved, supported, and sensed an incredible reassurance that we are not traveling this journey alone.

My compassion for Lynn grew day by day as I helplessly observed sickness take it’s toll.  Lynn loved pregnancy but pregnancy did not love her. She was violently ill during all three pregnancies and even hospitalized with our last child.  My love for this unborn child grew richer with each passing day. There was an excitement mounting within my heart.  The possibilities, the honour of moulding and shaping the precious life that would be entrusted to our care.  My fears and apprehensions had turned to excitement and anticipation.  Would we have a girl or boy?  What did God have in store for them?  How would they shape the future?(Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle was realized shortly before the scheduled c-section.  Listening to this song catalyzed thoughts about having a baby girl.)

B-Day
Watching Lynn’s C-Section has to be one of the most incredible events I have witnessed.  I cringed as the Dr. skillfully took the scalpel and drew it across Lynn’s abdomen.  I cringed a little but being intrigued I continued watching.  Looking briefly at Lynn to see if she was ok, our eyes connected, I smiled and said, “Just a little while longer and we’ll see who it is.  Joshua or Katelyn.”  She smiled in return and I turned my gaze back to the Dr’s skilful hands. now cutting through the uterin wall.  The anticipation was so intense I could hardly keep from smiling.  The crown of a head appeared, then shoulders, arms, midsection, and legs came into full view as the Dr. held the baby high.  From the warmth of the womb to the cool operating room this child was destined to change our lives forever.

bland-baby-2days-gregory-bland

“Do we have Joshua or Katelyn?” Lynn said through slurred speech.  I turned, smiled, and said, “We have Katelyn and she is a beautiful baby girl.”

What an incredible season of our lives.  Emotional turmoil.  Facing  fear.  Solidifying values.  Seeking strength and wisdom that goes beyond ourselves. Trusting God’s sovereignty when we don’t understand.

Would I change a single moment of that season?  Not a chance! Walking that journey has been very formative within my life.

As I conclude this part of our series Face to Face with Fear, what fears have you faced and how has that shaped who you are?

Until next time,
Face your Fears for they are working a greater good in you.
Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland

 

Face to Face with Fear Pt 2 by Gregory Bland

ultra-sound-gregory-bland Downs? Spina Bifida? Keep your options open?  Adrenaline surged through my body as my mind raced, grasping the weight and meaning of the Dr’s words. Did I hear correctly?  Does he mean what I think he means?  “Pardon me.  Could you repeat that please?” I ask in disbelief.

“We have discovered a dark spot on the brain and are uncertain what this is. From what we can tell, developmentally the fetus is far behind where it should be at this point in the pregnancy.  The clenched fists and little to no movement have us thinking that this child will be born with Downs or Spina Biffida.  Would you like us to do amniocentesis so that your options are open?”

My mind began spinning like a kid on a tilt-a-whirl at the county fair.  Trying to slow my thoughts and grasp for an extra moment of time to think I turned and looked briefly into Lynn’s eyes. Tears had swelled to the brim and were fighting for release.  I could taste the sting of salt in the back of my throat. Emotion was high.

Hoping for solace, understanding, and a hint of affirmation from Lynn I allowed my gaze into her eyes to linger. I knew the decision I wanted to make.  The direction I wanted to go.  I simply wanted affirmation and support from her.

I was gripped by a gruesome reality in this moment.  I had not taken the time to share my deepest fears or concerns with her.  Yes, we were married.  Yes, we loved one another.  Yes, we told each other everything.  Ok, maybe not everything. This I hadn’t!  What would she think if she really knew my thoughts?  How would she react to me then?

With steely eyes the secret fears stared from their hiding places within my heart reminding me that I kept silence on this issue.  Lynn’s expression softened.   Somehow I felt she knew.  Understanding my fear but also the decision we needed to make, or more accurately, I wanted to make.  She smiled and squeezed my hand a little firmer as if to say, “It’s ok Greg.  I know what you are thinking.  I understand.  Please know that I will support your decision.”

Gaining control of my runaway pulse I turned from Lynn and looked toward the doctor.  His eyes were noticeably different than Lynn’s.  Hers were warm, supportive, and understanding.value-acceptance-gregory-bland  His were cold, calculated, and begging an answer.

Searching for the right words I mustered up the courage to speak and say what was on my mind.  I could feel my pulse racing and my heart pounding as I opened my mouth. Finally the silence was broken and I began to speak, broken at first, but with growth strength and resolve with each passing word.   “I don’t think you understand.” I began, “We do not want further testing done to keep our options open.  We will love whoever this child is that is coming into our lives!”

There it is.  Out in the open for all in the room to hear and see.  Face to face with fear I had a new determination and resolve.  The words spoken, a decision declared, and the toughest part of the journey still ahead of us.  Would my life validate the words of my own lips?

You have no doubt surmised that the story is far from complete.  I will continue writing another day but first let me ask a couple of questions for your consideration and thought today.  When I shared with you that I had not told Lynn my deepest fears relating to a ‘uniquely gifted’ child what thoughts went through your mind?  Are there topics of conversation in which you just ‘won’t go there’ with your spouse?  What benefit do you see in ‘risking’ entertaining those conversations with our spouses?Until next time can I encourage you to be open and honest about your greatest fears.  It might just bring a greater understanding and healthier connection between you.
Thinking of you and the health of your relationships today
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

 

 

Face to Face with Fear by Gregory Bland

Down-SyndromeOne of my greatest fears after marriage was having children, particularly a child with ‘special needs.’  I can’t really explain why, but the thought of this terrified me.

I was actually disturbed and somewhat ticked off that this theme or topic kept surfacing during my education.  In one of my dev psych classes there was a guest speaker who shared the incredible difficulties they had with their ‘developmentally delayed child.’  I remember sitting there almost overwhelmed as I listened to the horrendous experiences they shared with us.  With great care I listened to every detail that outlined what I feared. Lack of sleep, exhaustion, family difficulties, temper-tantrums, stress, and total breakdowns, none sounded appealing to me.  I am sure there must have been something positive in there too, but I simply didn’t hear it.  I was newly married, the topic of children was on our minds, and all I thought was, “There is no way I could live like that.”

I remember distinctly thinking to myself, “God.  Why is she here today, right now, at this time? Is this some strange way you are trying to prepare me for the future?”  It might seem odd, but that thought served to feed my fears, not relieve them.

Interestingly during this time in a completely unrelated course,  one of my assignments required that I write and conduct a Baby Dedication for a couple in their forty’s who had recently given birth.  They had been married 20 years and although they had tried and petitioned God for a child it wasn’t until after woman’s 45th birthday that they discovered they were expecting their first child.  At first both were excited and thankful. After the birth of their little girl though, things changed.  Dad couldn’t accept the child and grew resentful toward God for allowing them to have a Down Syndrome  child after faithfully serving Him for years.

Here I stood again, before people who were experiencing something I secretly dreaded the thoughts of.

Something stirred within my heart as I researched and prepared a Baby Dedication that would somehow bring encouragement and hope to Mom and Dad while at the same time honoring the unique value of this little child.

It wasn’t long after this that Christine came into our lives.  My wife Lynn was a TA at a daycare and as you might guess, Christine had ‘unique giftings’ herself.  Spending time with Lynn and Christine afforded me the opportunity to personally see both the unique challenges, like listening to Bananas in Pajamas 153 times before supper, and joys of spontaneous laughter and everything being a ‘new discovery’ raising a ‘uniquely challenged’ child might bring.

There was a change.  Slight as it was at first I noticed my attitude begin shifting.   My outright fear was being replaced with apprehension.  Over time I recognized I was beginning to soften and become more comfortable around those who were ‘uniquely gifted.’

Besides my social awkwardness I believe it was the potential unknown and my perceived inability to provide the necessary care that fueled my fears.   It is interesting to me that God continues to lead us down paths that forge character within our lives.  Most often these are very uncomfortable seasons within our lives where thoughts/motives and our deepest thoughts surface so that they can be examined and surrendered to Him.

I remember clearly the excitement I felt when Lynn said, “Greg.  We’re pregnant!” (Yeah, well, you and I both know she was pregnant, but we did experience it together.)  Both of us ultra-sound-gregory-blandentered into this stage of our marriage with great enthusiasm, hopes, and aspirations for the family we would raise. Listening to our child’s heart beat for the first time was exciting.  I marveled at two things, one, the technology that makes this possible and two, there is life here that Lynn and I have created together.   What an incredible thought!  This child will be a wonderfully complex blend of Lynn and I and we have the wonderful privilege of investing within their life. What an honor that is!

Night after night I read stories and sang songs to this child as Lynn lied upon her back.  Both of us dreaming and sharing what we believed the possibilities our little family would have.   We were excited.  Finally, after a long wait, we will have a child of our own.

Adrenaline surged through my body as my mind raced, grasping at the weight and meaning of the Dr’s words. Did I hear correctly?  Does he mean what I think he means?  “Pardon me.  Could you repeat that please?” I ask in disbelief.

“We have discovered a dark spot on the brain and are uncertain what this is. From what we can tell, developmentally the fetus is far behind where it should be at this point in the pregnancy.  The clenched fists and little to no movement have us thinking that this child will be born with Downs or Spina Biffida.  Would you like us to do further tests so that your options are open?”

In that moment I stood face to face with fear.

Until next time consider what your greatest fear(s) in parenting were and how you responded when face to face with them.  In part 2 I’ll share more of our journey with you.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland