BN Channel Overcoming Adversity

Mad Lauer (preface in memory of Maddie Spohr)

Mad Lauer (preface in memory of Maddie Spohr)

Heather Spohr was one of our very first editors, joining our Overcoming Adversity channel before our launch thanks to a “bloggy” friendship we struck up while her daughter Maddie was in the hospital. maddieHeather’s husband, Mike, was one of our very first bloggers, sharing with us a post he wrote about what it’s like being a stay-at-home dad caring for a preemie baby daughter. It was, to say the least, hilarious.

A strong sense of humor defines the Spohr family. It bonds them. It defined their daughter, Maddie.

Madeline Alice Spohr, daughter to Heather and Mike Spohr, passed away on April 7, 2009. As bloggers, all we can do is rock collectively in disbelief and then scramble to do what we can to send support across the ether that is our relationships.

So Blog Nosh Magazine is filling our table with the bounty that was Maddie. What follows below is what I consider to be the definitive Maddie post, written by her mother about a man that Maddie and I both felt belonged to us. Yes, that’s right: Matt Lauer.

I officially bow down to you, Maddie. Your smile was always brighter and your eyes always more mesmerizing than mine anyway. Enjoy watching him shower naked from now on. You win.

PS- Below every post about Maddie that will appear, you will find links to a PayPal account set up for the Spohrs. In addition, in lieu of flowers, the Spohr family ask that you donate to the March of Dimes. We’re doing what we can to send a little support their way, with a cherry on top from Blog Nosh Magazine.


Mad Lauer {Originally published on The Spohrs Are Multiplying}

When I was seven years old, I got my first crush – David Witherspoon from the TV show Our House (and yes I now know Chad Allen is gay). I eventually moved on to Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years, then Johnny Depp from 21 Jump Street, and the list goes on from there. I knew Maddie would eventually have a crush on a TV personality, but I figured she would be around seven years old like me – not seven MONTHS old.

Madeline has a mad crush on Matt Lauer.

We started to notice it a few months ago. In the mornings she’s fussy, but the second she’d hear Matt Lauer’s voice, she would stop whining and turn her whole body toward the sound of Matt joking with Meredith. We’ve even recorded The Today Show on our DVR so we can play it when she’s especially wound up. It works every time.

Hilarious photos of Maddie follow, so be sure to continue reading…

Miracles in the Flaws

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Lizzie’s Home}

When I was nineteen years old, I found myself taking a front-row seat in an honest-to-God, wish-I-could-bottle-that-feeling miracle.

j-in-phototherapy-unit.jpgAfter a twenty-eight hour labour, an ugly, red, scrawny mess of arms and legs was twisted from my body, four weeks before his due date. The conehead my son sported from his prolonged journey down the birth canal was very pronounced and truly awesome to behold. His Apgar scores were low. He was whisked away for some oxygen.

At that point, I didn’t care where he went, as long as he was being cared for appropriately and I could cover up the bits of my person that in any other circumstance would never be displayed. It is amazing how the most prudish of women can become the most liberal when in the throes of childbirth. There were bits of me that were irreversibly altered by the birthing process but in the end those particular battle scars would fade, and new ones would take their place.

On the second day after his birth, J turned an alarming shade of buttercup yellow which had the doctors scrambling for the big scary humidicrib with fancy lights and cords. You know, the type with holes in the side where distraught parents are permitted to insert only their hands to stroke babies they should, by rights, be cradling in their arms.

My little six-pound-nothing imp modelled a hastily cut blindfold of black vinyl almost every moment of the first week of his life. We were allowed to remove him from the phototherapy unit for feedings and changes only. The rest of the time he was to lay naked and sunbathing, save for his Zorro mask, under special lights designed to speed up the expulsion of the bilirubin from his blood. There’s a reason why babies are meant to be covered up. Meconium poops are legendary, and more so for babies undergoing phototherapy…

Acknowledging Fears

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally published on Hope4Peyton}

I lost a child already.

When I was 21, before I met Peter, I miscarried a baby that I hadn’t even known that I wanted until the moment the choice was taken away from me. My first instinct was to get rid of that baby, that I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t prepared. I spent days planning to make this inconvenience go away. Then the clarity came that I might never BE ready for a baby, but I had one now and I was going to do my best to be a mother. I told the father. I cried when I told my mom. But I was sure I was making the right decision.

Three days later I lay in the hospital, as the child I was just starting to anticipate was lost to me forever. I cried tears from a place inside me I never knew existed. I mourned the baby that was never to be in my arms. I spent weeks laying on my bed, unable to make myself get up, move, bathe, want to live. I felt the most incredible guilt I think a person could feel because I knew in my heart that I had wished that baby away in my days of uncertainty. And now it was gone.

I spent years waking from dreams of a crying baby, me wandering halls, searching frantically for that child. I spent months unable to even bear looking at a pregnant woman or a baby snuggled in its stroller. My best friend had a newborn and I was angry and resentful that she got to have her baby. There aren’t words to describe how I felt after my miscarriage: devastated, destroyed, incomplete.

And this was a child I’d never even seen. Let alone cuddled in my arms. I’d never stared into its eyes, felt it’s silky skin against mine, soothed its cry with the touch of my lips to its brow. I still grieved for that child with every fiber of my being.

Thomas’s Story

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine

{originally published on Because I’m The MOM}

When I started this blog I wanted it to be about my family, one of whom has special needs. What I didn’t want was a Special Needs Blog. I realized though, that to ignore Thomas’s story altogether means that there are things I can’t say because they wouldn’t make sense. So here you go.

When I got pregnant with Thomas I was considered high-risk because I was 36. My ob-gyn suggested that I have the 11-week Nuchal Translucency Test. No problem, I thought, this just goes along with being a little older. I have to say though, that every time someone said “advanced maternal age” within earshot I wanted to smack them sideways and shout “I’m not FIFTY for God’s sake. I’m 36! I’m YOUNG.”

About 2 minutes into the test I saw the sonographer’s face go still and she got very quiet. Not a good thing. She summoned the doctor, a very kind man with a very serious face, and he told me that there was a 50% chance there was something genetically wrong with my baby. Probably something like Down’s Syndrome. My husband and I were devastated, of course, and thus began my running of a veritable gauntlet of tests for the next 24 weeks. The thing is, EVERY SINGLE TEST came back normal. Chorionic Villus Sample? Normal. Multiple in-utero echocardiograms of Thomas’s heart? Normal. Ultrasound after ultrasound? Normal. The doctors were elated, but deep inside I knew there was still something wrong.

What do you owe the public?

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally Posted at Mom to the Screaming Masses}


Last week we had our big fishing trip. We took a meal with us, thinking that there might be an eating space nearby. And there was, and so while we set everything up, the kids sat under the gazebo and ate. When the lines were set up and the bait had been (euw!) prepped, we called them out to us and they came running. All except Riley. Often, Riley doesn’t join in, preferring to keep to herself. That’s fine with me. I don’t force her to join in – often, that’s counterproductive to our family enjoyment.

So we were fishing, or, rather the family was fishing and I was watching, because, euw! She strolled from the fishing area to the gazebo, bit her hamburger and walked back. Lather, rinse, repeat. She sang songs to herself and played finger games, stopped to admire some flowers, climbed on the bench and called to me often. When she wasn’t next to me, I kept my eye on her most of the time, flipping from “watch me fish, Mom!” to watching her play. She was satisfied to be alone. In short, it was a time that worked for her. She was content, and that’s a state I strive for. I relaxed, admiring the boats docked in the marina and waving to a woman who walked by with her medium sized dog on a leash.

Until I heard her scream, and scream, and scream – long, ear piercing, heart rending screams that seemed follow each other – as soon as one ended, she began again, without taking a breath.

Holy Ground

Holy Ground

Overcoming adversity

{Originally Posted at Bring the Rain}

Take off your sandals, for the place
where you are standing is
holy ground…

Exodus 3:5

The funeral home called a few days ago (7/8) to tell us that Audrey’s grave marker was in.

week has been hard, and for some reason, this pushed me over the edge
emotionally. I don’t even know if I could say it was sadness, because
I have been waiting for weeks for this call. I wanted her to have more
than the little plastic placeholder with the piece of paper in it. I
was relieved that it was finally there, but it took my breath away to
hear the words. It feels so final.

I told Todd I wanted to go over and see it. We only have one car right
now (I kind of wrecked the other one a little bit, but I contend that
it was the pile of cement’s fault. It practically jumped out and
ripped off my bumper) and the twins had a friend over, so I started out
the door. Kate saw me grab my keys and she started screaming and
begging to come with me. I told her that I was going to see Audrey and
then to the grocery store, and that I didn’t think she would have as
much fun as if she stayed and played with all the girls. She
protested. And then she started putting on her shoes and saying over
and over, “Ona go, momma. Ona go.” When Kate says she “wants to” go,
she is pretty persistent. I didn’t have the strength to fight her, so
I told her she could come. She ran to the playroom and grabbed the back
page of a princess magazine they had been reading, wiped her eyes, and
said “let’s go, momma. I go wif you, just you and kate, momma. just
us, right?”

“Just you and me, Kate. We’re going to go see Audrey.” She climbed in her car seat, clinging on to the magazine page.

whole way to the cemetery, I watched her smile in the rear-view mirror.
I love taking each of my girl’s out for “alone time,” because we get
to connect in a different way than when we are all together, and I
think it helps them to know they are each so special to me. Kate
really needs this time, especially lately.

got to the cemetery and I grabbed my camera to take pictures so Todd
could see Audrey’s marker. I obliged when Kate asked to take off her
shoes. She loves the feeling of grass in her toes; she is the kind of
kid who wants to “feel” everything fully. She wants to touch the
flowers (pluck mercilessly), sort my purse (turn upside-down and use up
my new lipstick), and to enjoy her food (shove fistfuls of it into her
mouth while closing her eyes and purring “mmm-mmm.”). She doesn’t know
how to do life halfway, and I love that about her.

grabbed her little page and started walking around the cemetery with
this big grin. I spent some time talking to Audrey, and then asked her
if she wanted to come over with me (she had discovered the joy of
stealing the little flags from several vases….don’t worry, they have
been returned…).

She looked up at me, confused.

“Ona see Audrey.”

right here, honey. They just gave her a special new plaque that tells
about her. It has her name on it.” I ran my fingers along the letters
and she took a step in my direction, then stopped.

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Hierarchy of Suffering. Who wins?

After Hurricane Katrina, there developed something of a hierarchy of suffering along the Gulf Coast:

* You lost the bottom floor of your house? I lost my whole house.
* You lost your whole house? I lost my house and my job.
* You lost your house and your job? I lost my sister.
* You lost your sister? I lost my whole family.
* You lost your whole family? I am dead.

That’s right, the ghosts of the dead walk the streets of the Gulf Coast. Their presence is always there, reminding us that it could be worse. We could be dead.


The Every Day Battle

Overcoming adversity

Originally published on I Should Be Folding Laundry

Before reading this, you need to know that in February of this year, Beth, at 20 weeks along in her pregnancy with twin boys, went to the doctor and found that the babies no longer had heartbeats. She shares with us her journey in grief and recovery every day on her blog, and below is a little taste.

Ever since
my life has returned to “normal” I have found myself suppressing my
feelings and not sharing with anyone how I am really feeling. I think
I need to be brave, after all, I am a mother and wife, I’m supposed to
be brave, it’s what we do.

I put my make-up on each morning, I make my bed, I feed my kids, I
smile and try to laugh, but truthfully? I ache. My heart aches, my
body aches. I just can’t seem to figure out why this has happened.
It’s not that I think this type of thing should not have happened to
me, I just have a hard time believing it has happened to me.
I am so sad. But yet, I hide that sadness from others because I don’t
want to make others sad and I even find myself hiding the sadness from
me, somehow, because it never seems like a good time to be sad and it
never, ever seems like a good time to cry. There are places to go and
people to see and who wants to see someone crying? or someone who has
just cried their eyes out pleading for this to all be wrong, pleading
that maybe somehow, those babies are still alive in my belly, living
off of the orange juice and ice cream I loved to feed them.

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Learning to Accept My Autistic Son

Overcoming adversity

Originally published on Mother of Confusion

My son was born after midnight during the cooler days of May, before the Central Valley could blaze triple-digit temperatures.

The delivery room was packed full of people. The doctor, several
nurses, my husband, my parents and my mother-in-law were in attendance.
As my son emerged into the world, I expected him to gasp and then cry
about the abrupt ejection.

He did not.

Instead he was quiet and blue. The umbilical cord was wrapped around
his slender neck several times. Of course I didn’t know that yet, but
the jubilant faces of the others gave way to peaked, pinched

When I asked what was wrong. The response was, “Nothing. Everything’s okay. It’s okay.”

The reassurances scared me. I was only 20-years-old, but already I knew people lied when things were really, really wrong.

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Overcoming adversity

Originally published on Loralee’s Looney Tunes

I visited my son’s grave today.

There was no special reason. No holiday or anniversary. No family or friends that live far away who wanted to pay their respects. I was just driving and saw the snow on the ground and wanted to check on my son, clean up his grave, and remove the decorations that I put up for Autumn.

Matthew is buried in a beautiful spot. We put him next to family, a cousin of Jonathan’s that was killed in a car crash with his grandmother when she was only 19. It makes me feel better that his cousin is close by. I will be buried near him, but not next to him because that space was occupied, which makes me very sad.

It used to make me angry.

The grave right next to my son is occupied by what they call a “Pauper grave”. Meaning, that the plot was donated and the family doesn’t have the resources for a headstone. There is a metal marker that has an index card with typing on it. The womans name has been obliterated. All I know is that death occurred in July of 1998 and that she was only 41 at the time of passing.

In the four years since my Little Bug has passed, my feelings about “Her” have changed. It’s still hard to know that this stranger gets a place that I yearn to have, but instead of being angry, I began to be curious about this neighbor of my son. Who was she? What was she like? Did she have any family?

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