Chandler contemplated moving into the van full-time, though she was skeptical. “People would say things like: you have a baby, why would you do that, that’s not safe.” Despite this, she persisted. “I went straight to the source itself and asked Leo if it was something he wanted to do. His eyes got so big and he said: ‘I want to sleep in the van!’” A year later, the mother and son are still living this minimalistic lifestyle— sleeping oceanside, hiking Hawaii’s valleys, and practicing veganism in a thriving plant-based community.Read More
I never got to hear my daughter cry, or laugh, or even breathe. But I got to hold her and feel her against my chest as I cradled her lifeless body for eight hours. I slept with her in my arms and carried the illusion she was slumbering peacefully, even though I knew better. Even though I knew this was a whisper of the life she would never get to have and the moments we would never get to share.Read More
It is in these weakest moments that we are at our worst. That we treat ourselves the worst. I love my son. I already love my daughter, who is just weeks away from making an appearance into this world. But there are days, more than I want to admit, where I do not like being a parent.Read More
I’d agreed to the Pitocin when my contractions didn’t strengthen after eight hours, the Nubain when a day had passed under the fluorescent hospital lighting and I still hadn’t slept, the epidural when the contractions weren’t dilating my cervix according to established medical timeframes. The full buffet of medical interventions I’d vowed to avoid was up for the taking, and I’d sampled many of the offerings, starving for the bliss of my newborn child against my skin. The c-section was the final course, served up like the dessert I knew I didn’t want but just had to try.Read More
Many assume that second time mothers have it together; that being well-informed they are good to go. We don’t often recognize the courage it takes to enter that space again, this time fully aware. The creation of a life - and all that goes into it - is no less magical when the curtain has been pulled back, but the second time you are the magician’s assistant rather than a member of the audience.Read More
To put it simply: I missed working. I missed the morning chit-chat, the random venting sessions, the ability to go out for lunch, or sit and read at my desk. I didn’t miss the deadlines or stress, but I missed the person I was while at work.Read More
I know there will be days when I want to throw in the towel, or run away, or have a mere five minutes to take care of my own needs. But from the first contraction of childbirth, my body started screaming: this is not about you.Read More
The obstetrician stood on the other side of the delivery room, putting on his gown and gloves. “Take a practice push,” he told me.
So I did.
Our son, Maverick, shot right out and my husband caught him. Apparently after having two other babies before that, I no longer needed practice. I have never seen a doctor dive across a room so fast.
That whirlwind of a delivery was the starting point of a saga that would last several weeks because Maverick was born dying. I thought I had a normal pregnancy, but Maverick had contracted a rare bacterial infection in utero. He arrived a couple weeks before his due date in a last-ditch effort to survive.
We live in a rural area, so I delivered Maverick in a hospital that doesn’t have a NICU. Therefore, he was immediately transported by ambulance to a town two hours away to receive treatments in their NICU. I basically gave birth, took a shower, checked out of the hospital, and left to go be with Maverick. My husband and I weren’t allowed to be in the ambulance with him because there was so much equipment for Maverick that there wasn’t enough room for us.
We repeated that pattern again a few days later when the neonatologists at that NICU realized Maverick was not improving. In fact, he was doing worse. He was then sent to a specialized children’s hospital three hours south, and he was put in the “room of last resort” where he could receive the few treatments that existed to help babies with his complications. His situation was dire, and no one held out much hope.
All of it is a blur to me. There is something strange that happens in the mind of a mother whose child is dying. Fear takes over, and everything moves in slow motion. I lost track of days and time. I was never hungry, but I was never quite full, either. I slept, but I was always awake. I pumped breastmilk every two hours in the hope that one day Maverick would be able to eat it, but I sobbed the entire time knowing he may never get that chance.
My husband and I sat in Maverick’s NICU room for hours, days, and eventually weeks. We weren’t allowed to hold him or even touch him while he was sedated. The hospital staff wanted him to focus all his energy on healing, and they didn’t want our touch to distract him from that. I experienced an ache that I cannot fully describe. Mothers are supposed to hold their babies, nurse them, and cuddle them. I was not able to do any of that, and I felt very alone even though I was surrounded by people.
Wondering what Maverick’s outcome would be nearly made me crazy. Not knowing is harder than knowing. Wondering every moment was excruciating. I wanted answers, and I wanted security. I received neither.
But then one morning we walked into the NICU to resume our vigil at Maverick’s bedside, and the neonatologist met us at the door. I immediately assumed the worst, and my heart felt like it was pounding through my ribcage. That’s when the doctor told us, “I have no idea how this happened, but Maverick is improving. We’re seeing all the signs we’ve been waiting to see.”
And that began Maverick’s journey to healing.
Within a few weeks, Maverick was well enough to come home with us. He was able to nurse and be held. Our other two children snuggled him and welcomed him home. We hadn’t been home in weeks, and it felt so good to just be a family.
We didn’t “return to normal” right away. Normal is something I’m not sure I’ll ever feel again. Maverick is a miracle, and there is nothing normal about that. We’ve had to be overly cautious about his health. Friends and family had to follow strict precautions when visiting during his first year, and he’s had a couple health scares since then. We all had to heal after that experience— physically and mentally. But now, 12 years later, our new normal is wonderful. Maverick is healthy, happy, and never sits still. That baby that literally shot out of me during his delivery has not stopped moving since then. We’ve also added two more children (they’re twins) to our family, which makes five kids total. That’s our normal now, and we’re loving every minute.
About the Author:
Carrie Sharpe is a Communication Consultant and Speaker at He says, She says. She has been married to her husband, Ryan, for over nineteen years. They have five children, including twin daughters. During their marriage they have experienced everything from financial strain to miscarriages to the life-threatening illness of their son, Maverick. Carrie describes that experience in her signature talk, “Trusting God With Our Maverick.”
Carrie believes that the foundation of every great relationship is effective communication, so she loves to help people overcome communication challenges and strengthen their relationships. She coaches clients in public speaking, marriage and family communication, workplace communication, and pageant interview skills.
Carrie earned her degree in Political Science and Psychology from Lake Superior State University. She homeschools her children full-time, and she runs her communication business from home. Carrie also has over twenty-five years of pageant experience-- competing in them, judging them, emceeing them, and coaching contestants in interview skills. She is a Huffington Post Contributor and has been quoted in a variety of publications. Carrie has spoken across the United States and Canada about marriage, relationships, and communication skills.