Friday, August 15, 2014

The art of saying "no"

We are now on the move!  Dean's been walking for 1.5 months, confidently these past several weeks.  He no longer crawls much at all.  And he is FAST!  Warren is now following right along, walking further and faster than ever.  With all this mobility comes a word I am repeating more and more frequently: "no".  No, you can't play in the toilet.  No, you can't beat on the fireplace screen.  No, you can't pull out the wine bottles.  No, you can't eat the kitty food.  No, you can't drink the kitty water.  No, you can't pull out the kitty's tooth...oh wait, too late.  Oops...

Keeping track of where these boys are, these eager to explore boys, is such a blessed challenge.  I love that they are mobile, eager to explore, curious minded.  I hate the disciplining that comes with their new-found freedom.  I hate not knowing, especially with Warren's speech delays, what exactly they are understanding.  Do they think it's a new game we play?  And how can I say no with a serious face when Warren turns to look at me, smiles so big, and does a nice slow-motion clap??  (It's the cutest thing ever, by the way)

I'm trying to learn how to best express the dangers (choking, drowning, suffocation, burning, etc) that comes along with each "no."  But most of the time, I feel like a party pooper.  I know they aren't being defiant (most of the time) and that they really just want to see it, look at it, explore it (with their mouths!).  And, again, it's such a joy to watch them figure all this out.  But, at the end of the day, I feel as though a huge percent was spent trying to contain them, telling them no, waiting out the temper tantrum that follows, and then moving on to the next potentially dangerous activity.  Teaching your children no is such an art, one I have clearly not mastered yet.  The good news??  I am sure to get many more years of practice!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Some days are just hard. Anymore, most days are hard, but some days are harder. I am only beginning to realize how much anger I have buried down deep. Here I am, closing in on 2 years later, and I just want to scream "why?!?"  Why is life so hard?  Why is our world so broken? Why do some people endure such heartache and loss while others move along, blissfully unaware of the hurt around them? I don't get it. It isn't fair. Or just. And it makes me question everything that has held me together in these past months. When does the agony end? How are God's plans greater than mine?  I don't see his sovereignty right now. Or his goodness. I am completely overwhelmed by it all.

And yet, I KNOW it to be true. I know I cannot rely on my emotions, which are fleeting and fickle. I have experienced first hand the glimmer of peace and hope that come from knowing Jesus. I know my suffering and the suffering of those around me is due to our broken world, a product of sin. It doesn't make it easier in these late hours when I can't seem to sleep, it doesn't make me feel better, but one day it will. One day it will all be better. But today? Today I'm allowing myself a few hours of anger before I have to pull it together for my children. Today, I'm allowing myself a moment to feel selfish and I grieve the loss of my dreams and plans.  Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Job offer and some art

Today was filled with temper tantrums and a complete lack of naps.  I think my boys know when their daddy will be home late and play that little game with me.  I was feeling exhausted, frustrated, and like nothing I was doing was making a bit of difference.  Sigh.  And then, I open my email to see a job offer sitting there from my very first professional mentor, a man who helped me fall in love with my profession.  It was the first time I saw real PT - not a series of exercises, but skilled, hands-on treatment.  I saw how he cared for his patients, got to know them, laughed with them.  And I was there in the beginning when he started his practice.  And now, 12 years later, he's offering me a position to come back. tempting.  To feel like a productive member of society.  I chose not to do pediatric therapy because it takes so long before a visual improvement is noted.  And the same is true with all our home therapy sessions each week - does it really make a difference?  Do I really make a difference?  Would they notice if someone else watched them?

So, I sigh, and walk back into the kitchen, and see this hanging on my fridge:

Our very first art project.  And I know, I can't leave them.  Not for anything full time.  Not even for a 20-hour part time position.  Nope, this is where I belong.

I love how each picture so perfectly describes my children and their personalities.  At the top, we have Warren: meticulous, controlled, planned.  Each paint dab is carefully placed, perfectly round, well spaced.  He thinks, then he does.  In the middle, we have Dean.  Erratic, energized, and all over the place.  Some dots are smeared, some misshapen.  There is no order or plan, dots are clustered together, and you can just see the energy he put into it.  Not to mention all the paint dots on his arms and face as he was experimenting with it.  And then, at the bottom, we have Reagan (thanks to a very sweet 8-year-old boy whose heart is full of Jesus for drawing it for us).  Beautifully drawn purple butterfly, full of color and joy, perfectly controlled.  I love these pictures and how they speak of all 3 of my children.  I am so blessed one of my Hope Mommies thought of me and the empty fridge/lack of artwork I would have for Reagan and filled that void long before Warren and Dean were ready to make anything.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What to say

I dreamed my whole life of becoming a mommy.  Well, I dreamed first of my wedding day and had that all planned out.  And my second dream in my life plan was to be a mommy.  To have lots of babies.  My biggest fear about being pregnant was that I would have morning sickness or get a stretch mark.  That was how naive I was...I didn't have a clue.  Never did I dream that I would endure so many medical treatments/needle pokes/surgeries to conceive, that I would never parent my first 2 children, that I would deliver a small, still little girl who would never laugh, that my living children would spend their first 3 months living 35 minutes away from me, that I would have 4 therapy appointments each week (and only 4 cause I do the PT myself).  Life is nothing like what I "dreamed" it would once be.  I am so incredibly blessed, and yet I can find myself spiraling down into self pity.  You'd think as time goes by that this would get easier, there would be fewer moments of crushing despair, but it's just not true.  Maybe after 2 years? Maybe 5? Maybe never.

I have met several amazing women through my journey of loss, and there is a general consensus that people don't know what to say.  And honestly, it's a no-win situation for friends and family.  Do I bring it up?  Do I ignore it?  Where's the balance?  And, as time goes on, it because less awkward to avoid the conversations and that's what happens the majority of time.  This is not geared toward my specific family or friends, so please don't think of it like that.  But, as I've gotten to know these women who have also experience stillbirth or infant loss, there are several things that are important to all of us across the board.  As this blog is no longer just shared with family, I thought I'd take a moment while my heart is longing for my sweet daughter to put those thoughts into words.

First, please do not forget to ask about our children or how we are doing.  As the days pass, we rarely have an opportunity to talk about our heavenly children.  It feels as though the entire world is moving on, though we know deep down that is not the case.  When you think of our child, please send us a note or text to let us know.  It is SUCH a blessing to me to know that Reagan had an impact in life, that her short time on earth was meaningful to someone other than her parents.  The same is true of every other woman I've talked to.

Second, please realize new babies are always hard.  It doesn't matter how many years have gone by, seeing a newborn always reminds us of our precious little ones.  For me, even seeing my own children reminded me of Reagan and her perfect little face.  I am thankful every day that God gave me boys and not a little girl, because then I might struggled even more.  For me, every little baby girl picture I see takes my breath away for a second.  Those who lost a boy, it's the opposite.  For those precious women who have lost both...I don't know how you hand it.  Yes, God is molding me every day into a new person, helping me to see things in an eternal perspective, helping me to forgive.  But something about newborn babies takes me right back.

Third, holidays stink.  Always.  Every single one of them.  This is across the board, from all women I know.  I am praying that gets better with time too, that I will be able to celebrate Christmas with Warren and Dean, watch the joy on their faces, attend a Christmas Eve service, etc without holding my breath and waiting for a moment when I can slip away, curl up in a ball, and sob.  Easter this year was the only holiday I really wanted to celebrate, only time when I could be thankful Reagan was already in heaven.  Every other time it was supposed to be a large family gathering...Reagan's first Thanksgiving where she could have eaten some turkey, seeing her little stocking hanging on the mantle, watching her excitedly open presents, etc.  None of those things happened.  It's heartbreaking.  So, please be a little extra sensitive during holiday times, as emotions and hormones are raging, especially that first year.

And finally, please pray for all of us.  I am overwhelmed at the number of women who experience a loss so deep, each and every week.  I am constantly seeing on our Hope Mommies page new moms who have had to say goodbye to their children just too early.  As someone who was completely oblivious that this even happened, I am shocked at how frequent it is (1 in 160).  That is so many women.  I cannot imagine enduring such pain without my faith and trust in Jesus, knowing he died for Reagan and that she is in heaven now.  But, so often, that is not the case, and there is just emptiness left behind.  Whether you know someone who experienced infant loss or not, lift this group of women up in prayer...for healing, for peace, for strength, for them to be open to God's glory no matter how difficult.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Getting dressed

Any new mother will tell you what a challenge it is to find the time to shower.  Much less blow dry the hair, put on makeup, fix the hair, and put on the big girl clothes.  I have been living in that world.  I have always, always had myself put together.  You would never find me running out to the grocery store in a t-shirt.  My hair was done, face on, professional dress for every day at work.  I absolutely HATE t-shirts.  They're not comfortable, the neck feels like it is strangling me, and it just makes you look frumpy.  You're kidding yourself if you think you look good in a t-shirt.

During the first 3 months, when I went to the NICU, I continued to pump round the clock, getting up 3 times each night so I was never going more than 3 hours at a time and was coordinating that schedule with the boys feeds during the day.  Yet, each day, I showered, put on real clothes, dried my hair, (Thankfully my hair requires only a blow dry and no straightening), and drove to see my babies, timing my arrival for their first feeding for each day shift.  Once we were home and isolation started, things quickly deteriorated.

It really snuck up on me.  I had these tank tops that I would nurse in because I could use it to pin down their hands (hands that like to grab and poke and pull).  Then I ordered 2 more of them, because they were just "so comfortable."  Eventually, I was washing my hair every other day because it was too time consuming to try to blow dry the hair I hadn't had cut in over 1.5 years.  And then, it became showering every other day.  Then, sometimes only 3 times a week.  This week, though I have showered and laundered the clothes, I realized I wore the same navy tank top 4 days in a row.  So gross.  Even though it was washed at least once, maybe even twice, in the middle of that, the realization of what Andrew was coming home to dawned on me.  Ugg...I had become a woman who no longer felt, looked, or acted like a woman.  I was taking my new role as mommy to a totally unnecessary level.  So yesterday, I showered AND blow dried my hair (gasp!).  And then...I put on real clothes.  Like, a shirt that wasn't used to pin down my children's arms and some khaki shorts.  Big day.  Andrew commented on how nice I looked and I didn't even get to the makeup part of things.  What a complement.  So today, I put on (drum roll please...) a DRESS!  That's right, I am wearing a dress.  It's cotton and quite plain, it's actually comfortable, it has a few drool spots on it, and I am going absolutely no where.  But, I feel like a human being.  And it's wonderful.  My new mission is to get dressed in real people clothes on a regular basis.  Particularly once isolation starts back up and I'm once again confined to these few walls.  It's the little things in life that can bring some sort of healing and semblance of "normal" into the life again.