Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul: Stories to Inspire and Warm the Hearts of Soon-to-Be Mothers

Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul: Stories to Inspire and Warm the Hearts of Soon-to-Be Mothers

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623610937
Publisher: Backlist, LLC - a unit of Chicken Soup of the Soul Publishing LLC
Publication date: 08/28/2012
Edition description: Original
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 349,332
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jack Canfield is co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, which includes forty New York Times bestsellers, and coauthor of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. He is a leader in the field of personal transformation and peak performance and is currently CEO of the Canfield Training Group and Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Foundation for Self-Esteem. An internationally renowned corporate trainer and keynote speaker, he lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Mark Victor Hansen is a co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Hometown:

Santa Barbara, California

Date of Birth:

August 19, 1944

Place of Birth:

Fort Worth, Texas

Education:

B.A. in History, Harvard University, 1966; M.A.T. Program, University of Chicago, 1968; M.Ed., U. of Massachusetts, 1973

Read an Excerpt

Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul

Stories to Inspire and Warm the Hearts of Soon-to-Be Mothers


By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery, Nancy Mitchell

Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-7894-9



CHAPTER 1

WE'RE PREGNANT


Babies are such a nice way to start people.

Don Herold


It Will Change Your Life


Time is running out for my friend. We were sitting at lunch when she casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." What she means is that her biological clock has begun its countdown, and she is being forced to consider the prospect of motherhood.

"We're taking a survey," she says, half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life." I say carefully, keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says. "No more sleeping in on Saturdays, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I mean at all. I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her.

I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of childbearing heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never read a newspaper again without asking, "What if that had been my child?" That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.

I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for child care, but one day she will be going into an important meeting and she will think about her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her child is all right.

I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five-year-old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in the restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years—not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her children accomplish theirs. I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My friend's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the ways she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is always careful to powder that baby or who never hesitates to play with his son or daughter. I think she should know that she will fall in love with her husband again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my friend could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried desperately to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threats of nuclear war to my children's future.

I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to hit a baseball. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it hurts.

My friend's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I say finally. Then I reach across the table, squeeze my friend's hand, and offer a prayer for her and me and all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into the holiest of callings.

Dale Hanson Bourke


I'm Ready


I stared at the stick in disbelief. Two straight, pink lines. No doubt about it—pregnant.

Oh my God!

A mix of excitement and sheer terror washed over me. Sure, my husband and I had talked about having a baby. I just didn't think it would happen so fast. It seemed like one minute we were talking and the next, I was standing in front of the drugstore's home pregnancy section debating whether I should buy the single- or the two-test pack.

I had a feeling—early mother's intuition maybe?—and bought just a single test. That was all I needed. We were having a baby. And I'd never even changed a diaper.

What were we thinking?

My husband, Joe, developed the baby pangs a year ago. I, on the other hand, was seized by fear. I wasn't ready. I'd look at a baby and mentally count the bottles of Pepto-Bismol the parents would consume once that bundle of joy hit those turbulent teens, or I'd calculate how much four years of college would cost. Then the baby bug bit me—and not a second too soon.

Now my body's on this wild, hormonal ride, and I have to say, sometimes I want to get off.

I'm close to thirty years old, but my complexion is sixteen. Nausea is my constant companion. My friends even ask for upchuck updates. I never drive anywhere without an air-sickness bag by my side, and I've thrown up in so many restaurant parking lots that I've thought about asking if I could just rent my dinners instead of buying them. My bladder has shrunk to the size of a lima bean, requiring me to pee exactly every thirteen minutes.

And I'm so acutely tuned in to pain—yeah, that bodes well for an easy labor and delivery—that I swear, early on, I could feel each and every cell dividing. Hypochondriacs are not good pregnant women.

More proof. When two barf-free weeks passed, I panicked. I felt so normal I figured something had to be wrong. Maybe I wasn't having a baby after all. Maybe it was a hysterical pregnancy. My husband assured me the only thing hysterical about this pregnancy is me.

And my maternity underwear.

I'm not sure which is scarier—having my body feel so out of control or those enormous, one-size-fits-all panties. At four months, my belly's still at that awkward is-she-pregnant- or-is-that-a-beer-gut stage. My little Buddha belly is enough to keep me out of my stylish silk undies, but it's still too small for the maternity briefs. I can pull those things up over my chest.

I think I just invented combination bra and underwear. I'll call it the brunder. If I can sell that idea to Victoria's Secret, no more worries about our kiddo' s college tuition. But I have to say, the most amazing transformation of all—even more than filling out that maternity underwear some day—is how neurotic I've become about this little person who isn't even born yet. It all hit when I saw the first sonogram of our baby on the monitor. That's when I really and truly realized this was our baby. Our baby. The nausea and frequent urination, all the inconveniences, well, they just melted away. They didn't matter anymore as I looked at this amazing person. Our baby.

At just eleven weeks old, our little miracle was already so perfectly formed, yet so small—just four centimeters—that Joe nicknamed the baby "Speck."

It was much too early to tell the gender, but I saw a little girl taking her first steps, walking to school, getting her driver's license, going to college, getting married, having babies of her own. Her whole life flashed before my eyes right on that screen. I thought about what a big, ugly world is waiting out there for Speck. One filled with cancer and war and junior high dances. How could I possibly protect her from all the bad, while letting her experience all the good?

Yes, in that instant I realized there are much scarier things than that shapeless maternity underwear. But you know what else I realized? I'm ready.

Kristen Cook


The Journey Begins


Most people return from Las Vegas with winnings or souvenirs. My wife came back with a baby.

After loading Gina's suitcases into our van at the airport, my wife handed me a small package. Thinking it would be a wonderfully tacky souvenir, I ripped through the paper only to find myself face-to-face with a positive pregnancy test.

Now, my wife and I had been trying to have another baby for quite some time. So, when I saw the test, my first thought was "What the heck is this?" Not very poetic, unfortunately, but very much the truth. So, I immediately looked up to find my wife smiling.

"But how?" I mumbled, knowing exactly how but not when or where.

"I was sicker than you'll ever know in Vegas," Gina whispered, so as not to let on to our boys in the backseat. "So, my mom took me to a doctor. And, with all the other tests, they wanted to make sure I wasn't pregnant. But, I guess I am."

Another baby. A third boy? A first girl? A swarm of thoughts and feelings went through my skull and down into my arteries. I'm happy. And scared. And worried that I won't be a good enough dad. And proud of "big brother" Jeremy. And nervous that Gina and I will now be outnumbered. And sad for Matthew that he'll no longer be the baby. And hoping we'll be able to make them all feel special. And, most of all, so in awe of my wife who, once again, will show how a woman is a miracle, how she brings forth life and beauty and peace into a world so dearly in need of all three.

There aren't many things to top hearing that there's a baby on the way.

The journey begins ... again.

Jim Warda


Inner Sight


Sometimes the greatest "inner sight" comes from the insight you gain while trying to help others. I was reading through the posts of a women's Internet group and stumbled upon a kindred spirit. There was a question posed by a young mother that caught my attention and inspired me to sit down and compose a letter of my own. She stated very simply: "I'm a thirty-something mother of two children. For months my husband and I have been considering having a third child. I am very hesitant about having another child for dozens of reasons (some being money, and mostly other selfish things). I would like to know if any moms out there are going through a similar situation of uncertainty?"

Suddenly I felt I was no longer alone in my ocean of confusion and choice. Here was someone I could relate to! Maybe it wasn't unnatural for me to be thinking so hard about having another child. I sat down at my computer and began to let the words and feelings flow.

Dear Stacy and Others,

I'm contemplating motherhood. Again. Everyone in the household seems eager and willing to welcome a new member to our family. My son is clamoring for a little brother or sister. My husband grins from ear to ear with every glance drool-faced babies lend him as he stands in line at the supermarket. Those little cooing bundles of "cute" instinctively single him out of a crowd and put on the charm. He puts his arms around my waist and tickles my ear with a half-whispered "I'm ready."

Dinner conversations often include lobbying from my six-year-old son. "Mommy, I think I should learn to knit. I could make socks and mitts and blankets. Little ones, of course." It is a serious commitment when Pokemania has been replaced by knitting. I teasingly read off a checklist to the family. "You're sure you are ready for mood swings and cravings and crying and late-night feedings and crying and colic and burping and more crying?" The husband smiles, "Oh, yes." The boy chimes in with an enthusiastic "Yes!"

They seem so sure, beyond the point of affirmation. How is it that they are so positive? Suddenly all eyes are on me. I look around for someone else to ask. No one steps forward. I think to myself, "Am I ready?"

When I put the question to myself I find that I am at a crossroads. How does a mother decide whether or not to bring another child into this world? I could ask a million women, but this is an answer that is ultimately found alone. This is a question that requires long walks, hot baths, meditation (and perhaps large quantities of chocolate).

At any given moment I can easily think of a logical list of reasons why being pregnant again might not be the best idea. Overpopulation, the trials of raising a child in today's society, money concerns, the difference in years between children, and another ride on that carousel that reels past a million milestones a minute.... These all seem to argue against recurrent motherhood. There's standing room only in the back of my brain as these taunting thoughts of certainty line up to be heard. "Are you ready to crave tuna fish and watermelon for months on end? Do you really want to watch your body become some sort of alien creature's again?"

Of course there is also the list of delightful wonders that childbearing promises as well. These thoughts gently come to mind and wash the roughness of argument away. Memory offers me visions: the anticipation of a new life, the first wiggles within the womb, the love that is shared between parents, the graciousness my son will learn from having a sibling, and the quiet admiration that comes when someone else's grandmother spies your all-encompassing profile. I sit and remember what it's like to have a tiny hand grasp my finger and how the first bubbly baby smile made me weep with gladness.

In those silent moments of self-examination I am challenged to set logic and warm fuzzies aside and look to something else to guide my way. Such a decision cannot be made with cold practicality or mere emotion. I am more than thought. I am more than feeling.

Harriet Beecher Stowe once said: "Most mothers are instinctive philosophers." I believe this to be true. Whether it is labeled as instinct, intuition or Universal Truth, most mothers would agree that something beyond the prattle of life converses with their inner being. I try to steal as much quietude as I can these days waiting for the sacred dialogue to begin.

I think back to when I carried my son and how his spirit, somehow made known to me, seemed to have made the decision with me. (As if it were a task he had cosmically asked me to be a part of.) I always feel compelled to honor his presence in my life by saying "when I was pregnant FOR him" rather than "when I was pregnant with him." We named him Ian, "gracious gift." Although I parent and teach Ian daily, I also feel gratitude in knowing him and in being one of the guides in his life. How very different pregnancy and parenting seem when I consider them as requested privileges.

As the question comes again I look and listen into something beyond myself and ask.... Am I ready? Is it time to be called upon again? Is there someone waiting for my mothering touch?

Am I willing to carry this soul and shelter it with mine? Not just for nine months, but for our lives. Not giving mine up in the process, but becoming more of who I am because of it. When my heart can answer with a grateful "yes" and I feel the Universe whisper it back ... I will be ready.

Blessings, Ami

Ami McKay

P.S. I'll let you know the due date :)


Delayed Gratification


Any woman who has dealt with infertility knows the painful longing that accompanies the condition. When my husband and I decided it was time to think about having a baby, I never dreamed it would be a ten-year venture with infertility doctors, consultants and lawyers. Although I was brought up in a very loving family, I was an only child, and I always wanted several children of my own when I married.

Unfortunately, my mother had taken the fertility hormone DES (diethylstilbestrol) when she was pregnant with me, which was later linked to numerous medical problems in women, ranging form ovarian cancer to infertility. But because my mother was no longer alive, much of the medical information vital to my condition was unavailable. After my husband Ben and I had tried for nine months to conceive, I knew deep down that having a baby of our own would be a long ordeal.

The first year consisted of fertility drugs coupled with artificial insemination. We felt certain this would work and were discouraged when it failed. In vitro fertilization (IVF) was then suggested, which is a process where the woman is injected with fertility drugs to enable her body to produce an increased number of eggs. The eggs are retrieved and fertilized outside the body, then placed back in her womb. Our first try was successful, and we were ecstatic. I was very careful, feeling so lucky to finally be pregnant, but I unfortunately miscarried twins at eleven weeks.

The disappointment was unimaginable, but that same year I went through two more IVFs; one was an unsuccessful fertilization and the other time I miscarried. After so many months of hoping and praying, living by my cycle, doctor visits, blood tests, and discouraging phone calls, I knew that my mind and body needed a break.

For the next two years, both my husband and I changed jobs and settled into a life of two working professionals. If we couldn't be parents quite yet, we would be successful in our careers. After a move to Baltimore, we decided to look into treatments again, as well as the possibility of adoption. So, back to the same grind of injections, tests, doctor's appointments—but all with the same disheartening results: no baby.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother's Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery, Nancy Mitchell. Copyright © 2012 Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

Baby's Choice Colleen M. Story xv

1 We're Pregnant

It Will Change Your Life Dale Hanson Bourke 2

I'm Ready Kristen Cook 5

It's a… Father! Stephen Harrigan 8

The Journey Begins Jim Warda 14

Inner Sight Ami McKay 16

Delayed Gratification Patricia K Cameransi 20

Enjoy Your Baby Heather Black 24

Breaking the News Helen Colella 29

Great Expectations Liane Kupferberg Carter 32

2 Nine Months and Counting

Did You Just Eat a Watermelon? Anna Wight 39

Flying Nicole Smith 41

My Baby Brother John Conklin 44

The Eleventh Hour Melanie L. Huber 45

Garbage Day Gil Goodwin 48

Notes of an Expectant Father Scott Cramer 49

My Hero Patricia Franklin 55

I Know What You've Been Doing! Becky Walker 58

A State of Bliss Jan Butsch 59

Hair Raising Susan Everett 63

A Mother's Journey Elizabeth Butera 65

Expectant-ness Barbara Warner 66

3 For Expectant Fathers

A Crash Course in Epidurals and Diapers Gary Thompson 72

Father Hens Hugh O'Neil 77

Deep in Dadland T. Brian Kelly 83

Love Letters Robin Silverman 87

The Mercedes Ken Swamer 90

Daddy's Girl Nancy M. Surella 92

I've Never Been So Scared David E. Mittman 95

4 Challenges Along the Way

The Baby's Stash James A Nelson 100

A Precious Gift Kelli S. Jones 103

My Unborn Baby Saved My Life Elisa Kayser Klein 106

A Gift of Love Phyllis DeMarco 112

To My Child Heather James 116

How Bubba Lukey Got His Name Del Doughty 118

The Mouth That Roared Barbara Hoffman 121

Tears Bonnie J. Mansell 124

Miracle Baby Bill Holton 129

Lesson in Courage Ami Fox as told to Dianne Gill 136

Dads Will Be Dads Susan M. Lang 140

A Life or Death Decision Heather Black 144

Cute, Cuddly and Calls All the Shots Ray Recchi 149

5 Special Delivery

A Trusting Love LeAnn Thieman 154

Why Our Son Is Named Fox Mary Jane Strong 159

Baby on Board Allan Zullo John McGran 164

Baby Mall Carol McAdoo Rehme 168

Pre-Parenthood Jeanne Marie Laskas 169

The Labors of Love Claire Simon Laisser 172

Two for One Elisabeth Sartorius 176

Our Story Judy Ryan 180

Letting Go Kate Andrus 184

6 Small Miracles

Blessed Laughter Susanna Burkett Chenoweth 188

Grandpa's Precious Gift Sharon Crismon 191

My Father's Tears Robin Clifton 193

Miracle of Life Antoinette Bosco 195

Love, Friendship and Miracles Debbie Graziano 199

Book of Dreams Barbara Mackey 202

Sickest Baby in the ICU Cindy Anderson 206

7 Memorable Moments

Generations Sherrie Page Najarian 214

I Was Chosen Tucker Viccellio as told to Susan Alexander Yates Allison Yates Gaskins 217

Keeping the High Watch Eileen Davis 220

Grandpa's Surprise Ruth M. Henshaw 222

Love Notes Debra Ayers Brown 224

To Our Baby Girl Audrie LaVigne 227

Baby Toys Lynne Murphy 229

A Friendly Face Jennifer Reed 230

Unexpected Blessings Cynthia Hummel 234

Man in Labor Brenda Ford Miller 236

The Decision Cindy Barksdale 238

Fingerprints Mary Ostyn 242

Baby for Sale Marsha Priesmeyer 246

For Now Caroline Castle Hicks 247

Love in the Rearview Mirror Jim Warda 249

Breathe Lynn Noelle Mossburg 251

8 On Motherhood

My Previous Life Gayle Sorensen Stringer 254

Good to Be Home Jackie Fleming 256

Everything Old Is New Again Francoise Inman 259

They'll Be Fine Patsy Hughes 262

Rhymes and Reasons Antionette Ishmael 265

The Beholder's Eye Carol McAdoo Mime 267

The Hug Martine Ehrenclou 269

Alone Time for Mom Crystal Kirgiss 272

Let Me Michelle Mariotti 275

Happy Birthing Day to Me Deborah Shouse 277

Seems Like Yesterday Lynn Plourde 281

A Perfect Gift for a Not So Perfect Mother Kyle Louise Jossi 286

That Day Ann Mainse 289

I Wonder Now, What Moment Lori Elmore-Moon 292

9 Expectant Wisdom

If I Were Starting My Family Again John Drescher 296

Children Are… Meiji Stewart 300

Fantasy and Reality Clash with Birth of New Baby Jan Butsch 302

United States of Motherhood Joanna Slan 305

Surviving the Early Years of Momhood Jacqueline D. Carrico 308

Who Are Harder to Raise… Boys or Girls? Erma Bombeck 312

On Being the Mother of Twins Marion Bond West 315

So You Want to Be a Mother? Erma Bombeck 321

Growing Up Pains Liane Kupferberg Carter 325

Love Letters to My Daughter Judith Hayes 328

Guilt-Free Parenting Sharon Linnea 331

Who Is Jack Canfield? 337

Who Is Mark Victor Hansen? 338

Who Is Patty Aubery? 339

Who Is Nancy Mitchell? 340

Contributors 341

Permissions 353

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