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Cut The Cord and Cut Loose Your Soul

Those of you our dear readers and faithful Leo followers, who have had more than one child can perhaps relate to this phenomenon of having a totally different attitude towards your second child than your first. Though I know our case is not typical since our first also came into our world with a bang, wrecking havoc on carefully laid plans and ending with a stint in the NICU and a brand new scar on my previously unmarked tummy.  Leo, of course, blew that experience out of the water by the emotional trauma and damage, not to mention the loss of years off our lives through sheer stress and worry. Is it normal for siblings to try to one-up each other while still in utero? Hmm, food for thought. In any case, when Nika was born, I remember feeling, for the first time in my life, that my happiness, like a beacon for my very survival, was implanted in her tiny fragile body. That my heart had ripped itself out of its home of so many years and had taken up residence in this little squally being. If anything happened to her, it happened to me.  Perhaps that sounds kinda poetic, but honestly? It was exhausting! Getting up ten times a night to listen to her beating heart with a stethoscope was definitely exhausting. Not to mention the times she got sick or had a fever over a hundred from which I was reduced to a blubbering wreck of nerves. I can't imagine why I never got those baby blues, maybe because I was too busy trying to see to my baby dictator's every possible (and impossible) need and I just didn't have the energy to spare to feel depressed. At least at that time... I didn't need a counselor to tell me that something in this picture was very wrong.
As Nika grew, I started realizing that all my stress and worry was actually not only damaging me, but it wasn't exactly healthy for her too. What was that about nature vs nurture? Well, my nature was definitely messing up her nurture. I knew it, but I didn't know how to change it. I didn't that is, until Leo came along. With Leo everything was so scary, so wrong, and so immediate. There was no place to hide and no time to come up with some nice excuses or denial. Like in war, we switched into survival mode. My little trend of putting my heart into my child wasn't advisable since he was predicted not to survive past birth. If I wanted to live, I couldn't lay down and die with my baby. It helped knowing that I still had a child to live for at home. And guess what happened? Instead of feeling paralyzed, I felt freedom. Instead of feeling stressed out and worried, I felt peace. I'm not saying that our journey with Leo has been a cake-walk, because boy it hasn't, but what it has,  has been bearable. My love for my son has no limits, because he is completely free from me. He doesn't carry my heavy heart, though he sure as hell carries my pride. He tempered my heart in the fire, and then gave it back to me, stronger and better. I realized that if I had to bury my child, I would. And live to tell about it. Not because I didn't love enough, but because I loved so much that I stopped putting my picture into my child's picture frame. And when I did that, the mind numbing fear that was plaguing me with Nika, that fear that threatened my very survival during Leo birth was gone, like a piece of blowing grass.
I find myself reliving and relearning these things as we are (yet again) facing Leo's impending surgery. I have to remind myself that my heart, fully armored and updated, is safetly beating in MY chest, and that Leo, being the tough little tank he is, can forge his own path through this life, without having to drag his sorry parents along by the back of their necks.
Thanks to you all for keeping up with our guy and for your love and support. Keep reading, and please we love to know that our words aren't just spinning off into the bottomless nexus of data; leave a comment!
 Here we are with Nika (9ish months)

 And here we are again with Leo (at 7ish months)

 Here I am with Nika when she was not even 24 hrs old

And here with Leo also when he wasn't even yet a day old. 


Hows that for some double cuteness?


  1. Double the cuteness, double the DuMoulin fun.

  2. I love how you makes the experience so tangible. It makes me wonder if I've put my heart in my children...hmmm.

  3. Such wonderful thoughts about the experience of loving our children, including the dangers and temptations! It's giving me a lot to think about as I deal with my kids starting to leave the nest. sigh. "a broken, humiliated heart Thou will not despise."

    I love the bottom 2 pics of Nika and Leo - they definitely look like siblings!

  4. Beautiful post.

    We continue to pray for Leo and hope there are no more delays in the surgery!

  5. I took care of Leo in the NICU. I LOVE your blog!! I am so glad the "experts" were wrong. I, for one, am not surprised. He was just too bright eyed to be what "they" predicted. He is spectacular and beautiful and I LOVE watching his progress.

  6. Wonderful post, Anna. It is amazing and awe-inspiring to see what God has wrought through what many people would view as a tragedy or failure. You all have become such strong beacons of light! I remember your dad saying once that marriage is like two rough rocks rubbing together until at last they are so smooth that they fit together - it seems like parenting is similar - we have so many rough edges to smooth out, patience to gain, selfishness to eradicate. You are definitely managing it faster than any of us with the double and triple challenges you have to face - like rocks that were just thrown into a fire instead of having years to wear down their rough edges. I salute you both! And we will continue to pray for you all. xoxo Lydia & family

  7. Praying for you all, and sending love from the UK!

  8. Dear Sterling! We would like to use this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to all the wonderful nurses who took care of our grandson when he was in NICU! Your loving and peaceful manner also extended to every member of Leo's family, and was a soothing balm for our shocked nerves and aching hearts. Thank you so much! You guys are the best! God bless your kindness!
    Leo's grandparents, Fr.A & m.G

  9. Anna,

    I loved this post, and it is really interesting to me because of the idea of your heart living in your kids. A week or so ago, one of my friends' oldest children turned 4, and she put as her FB status that it had been 4 years since "this heart of mine started walking around outside my body." Apparently this is a pretty common way of expressing what it is like to have children, but her post was my first encounter with it. Your blog post, just a few days later, was my second encounter with the idea.

    Anyway, when I first read her post, I thought it was an interesting way of expressing what we feel for our children, but it didn't really resonate with me. Now that you talk about your experiences with Nika and Leo, I wonder if it is my own experience with loss of a baby that affected me in a similar way to your experience with Leo (not that the experiences have been the same, by any means--you have gone through so much, I can't even imagine it).

    Anyway, you always give me a lot to think about. We all miss you so much, and you are so dear to our hearts.

  10. Thank you for this wonderful blog. You continue to inspire me!

  11. Your words certainly aren't just spinning off into some bottomless nexus of data.
    Please keep on writing, and thank you!Love to you all.

  12. God bless you! I'm holding Leo, and all of you, in prayer.


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