This month we chose Ali North as our Warrior Mom of the month. She has an amazing story of strength and faith. We’re excited to share it with you!
Lisa & Liz
My life before becoming a mom was very different- to say the least! I was a professional dancer and my first job after graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Alabama was as Miss Mississippi 2003. I competed for the Miss America title and spent the year traveling my home state advocating for underprivileged children and arts in after school programs. I married my wonderful and talented husband, Will, in 2004 and we spent the first 4 years of our marriage performing all over the world. We moved to L.A. in 2007-just in time for the writer’s strike and recession! It seemed like a great time to start a family…
I have four children- a daughter who is 7, boys ages 3 and 4, and a baby girl who just turned 1. Somehow, all four are strong-willed! I keep reminding myself that is a good thing! Though close in age, they are each so different in their interests and in what they need from me as a mom. I am definitely learning that there is not “one way” to parent, nurture, and discipline. I am also seeing their interests evolve and am seeking how to encourage them in activities where they will thrive- even if I have to let go of my own ideas of where I wanted them to succeed.
My transition into motherhood with the birth of my first child was actually really smooth. I struggled a bit with letting go of performing, but being a mom was always a dream of mine. Even having two little ones was amazingly okay- three? That knocked me off of my feet. We were living in a small 2-bedroom condo and I was home all day with 3, ages 4 and under. I definitely struggled for at least a year with being overwhelmed. I felt like I was still a good mom with 2 kids- by 3, I was just surviving! It seemed I had no freedom or control. We were not in a position to hire help, and I was drowning. Thankfully, as they each got a bit older and I surrendered to not being a Supermom, the clouds lifted.
Though we wanted a fourth child, our little Haven surprised us early! Four children in 6 years? I thought would be my greatest challenge as a mother, until Haven was diagnosed with Hypotonia at 4 months-old, resulting in other issues. Suddenly, I had a child who needed therapy three days a week and was far behind on milestones. Just when I thought that was too much, she was hospitalized three times in one month with severe respiratory issues.
I am definitely able to pinpoint my lowest point in motherhood. I was lying on the hospital floor of the PICU, crying out to God to save my baby as “code white, code white” rang out overhead and 20 people ran in to help Haven, who’s lung had collapsed. Though I have had my share of challenges in life, this was the greatest testing of my faith. When you are not sure if your child will make it, you find out where you place your trust. The Lord brought me through the 3 longest days of my existence when my tiny girl was sedated and on a ventilator fighting for her life. He was with me in His presence, the amazing medical team, and through an UNBELIEVABLE outpouring of love and support from our family, friends, and community.
I had always had great sympathy for moms with sick children and would say the pat phrase, “I can’t imagine.” Well, now I can imagine. It is something you just can’t understand until you go through it. It is a club you never wanted to be a part of, but it makes you a warrior. Liz Svatek is a mom I texted from the hospital more times than I could count, knowing that she had been through numerous trials with her son’s health and that she knew exactly how I felt. I began to hear stories I never knew from friends whose children had suffered in the NICU or from seizures and illnesses. They got it- and they knew just what to say and do. And those with healthy children? You know what- they got it, too. Though they “couldn’t imagine,” they hugged their babies tighter and rallied around me like an army of fierce, fighting women.
My mom and mother-in-law took the first flights out to be here with my other children, a friend started a Go Fund Me page where 150 people gave so generously that I cried every time I saw a new donation; another friend began a Meal Train and we were sent the most incredible food that truly kept me going when I was so weak. Moms took my older children for playdates and baked cookies for the nurses in the PICU; their preschool sent meals, toys for the children, and cards for Haven. Some friends talked their way into the PICU to hug me; others who couldn’t get past security sat in the lobby and prayed for Haven-the stories go on and on. I knew friends and family were incredible, but seeing our community in action changed me forever. The love was just so tangible.
Haven is home and growing stronger daily. The prayers of many availed. What a story I have to tell her some day.
The best part of being a mom is being able to physically see my hard work pay off in my children. Don’t get me wrong- I have plenty of days where I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and am not worthy of my “mom” title, but then I put on my armor and step back into the battle of motherhood because the cause is so worth the fight.
After the birth of my second child, I felt very called to help other moms as they prepared for the babies through education, registry help, and more. I studied under the International Maternity Institute, became a Certified Baby Planner, and opened Sweet Expectations. I also believe that being honest in our struggles and fears as moms is powerful and connecting, so I have a blog called Pregnant and Praying.