I’d like to introduce you to Smarty Stay-at-Home Mom, Heather Leavitt, who has been an avid Smarty reader from Day 1 (we love to hear that!). Heather is a native Charlottean and is married to high school sweetheart, Charley, together now for 18 years. Wow, that’s Smarty! Heather and Charley have a beautiful family: Ian (6), Banks (5) and Ella Chase (2). However, it was an extremely difficult road for them to get there after suffering from a painful miscarriage and the loss of their second child in their three short years of early marriage. We are so honored that Heather would share her personal story with all of us. Meet Heather.
You and your husband suffered two incredible losses while trying to start your family. How did you turn this into a positive experience?
We lost a baby boy midway through my first pregnancy. Shortly after I became pregnant with a girl. Mary died about two hours after she was born due to severe meconium aspiration. At this point we were 27 years old, had been married three years and lost two babies. This is when we turned to Kindermourn.
I had become aquainted with Kindermourn back when my sixteen year old brother Johnny died when I was fourteen. I was actually one of the first to attend their initial “sibling” group. Now I was attending as a parent losing a child. Kindermourn is a place that provides group and individual counseling to parents and children who have suffered the loss of a child. The weekly appointments were lifelines of understanding and empathy. It wasn’t a sad place to go but somewhere I would save up all of these questions and spill them out to work through. These folks are skilled at dealing with we all never want to have to face. They are encouraging in a genuine way – sometimes just helping you get through the day and other times standing beside you when you realize hope.
Since then I have become active speaking as a panelist for Kindermourn. They have several outreach programs that provide training to area Healthcare professionals who can benefit from hearing about my experience while I was in the hospital. We just had one Thursday at CMC NorthEast. I also have been a panelist for their Holiday workshop which helps families get through the Holidays.
What advice do you have for other mommies out there who have suffered from a stillborn or loss of a child?
My unfortunate experience has given me the ability to know for sure that you are going to be okay. I respectfully and wholeheartedly believe that truth and have conveyed that to others early in their loss. Life will be different …but there is joy, there is beauty and there is peace. It takes a lot of time, support and perserverence.
On a lighter note, what is your favorite thing about being a stay-at-home mom?
As hard as it is somedays I would not trade this job for anything. I don’t want to miss a thing…. Reading in my first graders classroom and getting to know his classmates, playground time with my younger ones after school, making brownies with all three kids and pretending we are on food tv, building a fort with the sofa pillows, as of late trying to potty train 🙂 my two year old and trying to teach my five year old to read.
What is your least favorite thing about being a stay-at-home mom?
Laundry and housecleaning. Technically no one tells you that is part of the gig but with three kids 6 and under it is a major part of it. I could use a little less time in the car too. Partially it is my own fault. My mom always drove my brother and I everywhere and went to all of our after school stuff. I hesitate to carpool because I don’t want to miss anything either. My struggle is to keep the ship running smoothly at home while attending all everyone’s everything but I think I am up for it.
What is the funniest thing your child/children have ever said to you?
When my oldest was 3 we thought we would try him in soccer for some silly reason. Anyways, a boy said to Ian “I am really fast.” And not to be outdone Ian thought a minute and said, “well, my shoes are really fast”.
Where is your favorite place to dine with your fam?
Roasting Company, Pei Wei and Cantina.
What is your favorite date-night spot?
Zebra, Bricktops and The Gallery at the Ballantyne Resort.
Favorite birthday party?
My Gym runs a great party for preschoolers. I also love backyard birthday parties at home.
Favorite activity with your kids?
We like to go on the Myers Park High School Cross Country Trail. Although my mom and I once took the boys when Ella-Chase was a wee little baby in the baby sling. On this particular hot day we end up seeing a HUGE black snake! My mom and I grabbed the boys hands, ran that cross country trail at lightening speed while listening to my oldest yell “I want to see the snake!” Other than that it is lovely!:)
Best piece of children’s gear?
My latest favorite thing is the Laptop Lunch Bento Box. I teach a Toddlers class at my younger children’s preschool two days per week and one of my students had one. They are these nifty lunch boxes that have removable compartments in fun colors. They come with healthy lunch suggestions and make packing three lunches MUCH easier.
What is the best thing about raising your family in Charlotte?
I am married to a native so we are both great ambassadors for Charlotte. I like the big city amenities with the small town feel. I like that we can still enjoy an old favorite like Greens hotdog and still have progressive retail options like at Phillips Place. We are lucky to have the best of both worlds.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
Considering the audience I thought the “secret” I should share is that OrthoCarolina has a location that is open after hours until about 9PM. It is located near Presbyterian Hospital. It is much better for taking a child with a broken arm or leg to this location instead of having to go wait for hours in the ER. The facility is clean. The experience is relatively quick and the care is specialized.
I could not live without my…
Mom, dad and of course my husband. My Mom and Dad are my daily sounding board. They have been through a lot and still have this fantastic optimisim. They also have taught me my accomplishments are only limited by my ambitions. It made such a big difference to have that encouragement and I hope to pass that cheerful foundation along to my kids. Even at this early age I am training my boys to look for the right things in a spouse. This “training” started before I had my girl and thought I would truly have to rely heavily on my future daughter–in-law:). Anyways, I tell them to choose a mate like their daddy….someone with a great sense of humor and someone who always helps you to see the silver lining in any situation.
Thank you Heather for sharing your story with us. If you have someone you would like to “mominate”, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.