Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Odd Paths

I lay awake a week ago, staring up at the ceiling without a pillow.

It was an odd experiment of sorts. We are often told as EMS providers that if a patient is serious, take away the pillow to open up the airway. So I wondered, why do we have them at all? Would I even miss them?

The horrible thing about losing a child is that you learn about other children, some even older than your own, that die from no known cause or simply because they fell asleep with their face in the pillow or a rumpled up blanket (at least that is the assumption).

Some nights I sleep well, other nights not so much. I watch the soothing flicker of light from Paiden's motion monitor, and then other thoughts tear at me. I tiptoe through the dark house into Emily's room. I feel for her breath, and pull the hair matted down with the dampness of air from her lungs from her face. I reposition her head, and sometimes I take away the pillow completely. There are times I really struggle with having anything in her bed at all. She is no longer a preschooler and yet I still worry.

I hate pillows and blankets around children. I guess the blankets because of Perry and the pillows from other deaths related to babies and children. I fight back a near panic feeling when I see babies sleeping on pillows or toddlers with only limbs sticking out of parents. It always feels like the parents are unknowingly playing a deadly game of Russian roulette. Is your child vulnerable? Like an unseen bullet a parent will never know. Some of us may have loaded guns- will the child roll over and shift? I feel like I am caught in this moment looking at the pictures on Facebook. We can only assume that the child has woken up and either the gun wasn't loaded or the hammer didn't strike the chamber with the bullet this time. I struggle with the urge to message- will they think I need help or am I letting a child die because I am too afraid of being labeled abnormal to say something?

They have research now that says that both the SIDs infants and many of the babies that die in 'unsafe environments' have brain stem abnormalities. The abnormality in the 'unsafe environment' is a bit of a douzer (the safe environment infants are as mysterious as ever). We contemplate this among loss Moms, wondering about toddlers lost. Perhaps a few of the rare toddlers that die are from similar causes after parents become lax ( a vulnerable child rebreathing around pillows and blankets). I feel that many babies do outgrow the vulnerability, but it still made me think. We heat our houses- is it really necessary to have blankets and pillows? If there is no real benefit, do children need them? Children have large noggins, and pillows under a head actually take the airway out of proper alignment.

In any case, Paiden will probably sleep in footed jammies until he enters Kindergarten. His bed will probably be bare for most of that time. And I guess I am ok with that.

I catch myself wondering if I trade Emily's pillow pet in for a travel pillow, the kind that resembles a half eaten donut.

Our Microwave Society

Sometimes I work through things a step at time, but other things (logical or not), will always seem to have a negative connotation for me. At times I look in the mirror and see all the grey or the way my eyes are set in a sad way now and I realize that I am irrevocably changed. I'll never see things the same again- I see the images that make me smile with the transparent scene of what should have been overlaid. At times I feel like something is out of focus when I am dealing with other people, and it is really hard to tell if there is something completely wrong with me or if the situation or person is twisted.

In the end I have discovered that while my perspective has changed, at times there is more than just that. It is a bit of relief really, because I am so used to feeling like I am a stranger in a strange land. You begin to wonder if it is only the matter of you being wrong somehow and out of place. It is sort of nice to realize that perhaps a little of the distortion is from the way that something or someone you are viewing is warped, and maybe, just maybe, this new fragile being is ok in her own way.

I recently had a really nice visit. And it was a complete relief because it meant that I could exist somehow without being torn to shreds. It meant that maybe among a fairly normal set of people that didn't have superhuman powers of empathy, I could exist and just be. I didn't feel like my emotional skin was being singed with branding irons. I'm not saying they were average people, on the contrary they were very nice. But they didn't have magic mind reading powers and they hadn't lost children that I know of. I guess maybe the norm now is not nice (or rather just focused on the self).

I guess you really have to step back from a lot of interaction to dissect things. In a society where we no longer teach children to open the doors for the elderly, pregnant women, men or women with their arms full, or parents holding an infant, why is it surprising that we should see a general lack of restraint where it comes to people with invisible needs? We aren't taught to look at other people, we are taught to think about how everything makes us feel, about our rights, about what is owed to us. I sometimes feel like we live in an emotional hierarchy of needs where most people haven't gone beyond the stage of a three year old.

I remember watching my Mom, who walks with a limp, holding my son at the door to our family life center. Two large teenagers bustled past her. It stuck out to me only because of the place, I guess a bit of a sad statement in itself.

I find myself so used to busy people rushing to cut in line, that when someone is kind and offers to let me go first it comes as a surprise. The young boy who holds the door is a novelty. The mother who passes along her five dollars at a consignment sale in an act of random kindness blows me away. And the kind looking gentleman who stands up at a table simply because a woman has entered the room is a bit of a shock (especially since I have only seen this done three times in my life and it makes me feel like quite the lady). I have become convinced that this disappearing civility is the lubrication that holds together a diverse society and we are losing it.

There used to be conventions, even with grief. There was a grieving period, which even if ambitiously short, at least acknowledged loss and didn't expect normal behavior or appearances at social functions instantly. If I am honest, I wish I could wear all black and send a silent signal to handle with a little care when I am having a bad day. However, we live in a microwave society- if the oven is slow, slap it in the white box; if you are sad you must not be going to the right therapist. Manners or conventions just get in the way with this direct new world order. It is as if we have railed so much against the injustices of the past that we have thrown away what was right with it as well.

I think the grieving get lost in this microwave society. Perhaps you can not always avoid hurting someone who has been mauled emotionally, but maybe we are hurt a lot more than we should be. And we aren't doing it wrong. We are simply surviving the unimaginable the best way that we are capable of.

Friday, December 6, 2013


One thing I have developed an appreciation for is timing. How the slightest shift of a detail can cause a death or in many cases render a message incorrect or destructive.

I was watching a Christian Author who wrote about child rearing talk on the TV. She talked about how tragic it is that you do everything right sometimes as a parent and the child makes wrong decisions. She further went on to talk about the things good Christian parents should pray for---- of course one of these was physical safety. She didn't cover what to do if that didn't turn out either. She just seemed to believe that it is all a matter of praying with faith in that regard.

I tuned her out.

There are thousands of books on Christian parenting.

What I need sometimes is Christian parenting through or with grief. Something not refined for audiences that don't include the grieving. Something real. Something raw. Someone who cries out to God for delivery. Someone to talk to about what parenting a child who isn't here looks like, what it feels like.

There is another Christian Writer that I respect, and his blips around this time of year that link to his website talk about length of life. I clicked on it, and the website froze. I tried multiple times with the same results.

And I stopped.

Because sometimes the message isn't right if it isn't the right time. Perhaps what was spot on for millions of religious people in the US isn't meant for me... maybe not now, maybe not ever.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Sorry- taking away the right to grieve

I'm sorry.

I say this first because I know that I have done the following. I'm just as guilty as anyone. I have caused pain without thinking.

I can only admit it, ask for your forgiveness and go on.


I recently went to the funeral of a dear friend. She was there for me when my son was born, stayed with me at the hospital until my husband arrived, and even more importantly- was there when he left.

Her father had died. It was unexpected in that her Daddy was a fighter. He had never given up, even when left with roughly 15% of heart function. It was unexpected in that he had already been given a cancer free diagnosis two weeks earlier.

Someone said "Well, so it was expected..." when they heard of the recent struggles. I was discussing this later with another sweet lady whose family is battling their own fight. And I said "it really wasn't expected...". And she said "Does it matter?" And although I know that this wasn't actually what I was trying to say at this moment in time, I have said it. Did say it.... especially before I knew. And really whether it was expected or not doesn't matter. It isn't the main point at all.

Knowing means that you have had great loss. It is when people pull away or minimize your loss or take away the right for you to grieve. And it isn't just society as a whole, the child loss community and support groups do it to ourselves.

Society, and all of us to some degree, do this or have done it. We qualify things- "if you'd have had your child longer, it would be worse"... really? And did you love your child less at five than seventeen years? ". And maybe it is how we take away cards... if you have another child, or remarry, or make a decision after facing infertility (whether adoption or accepting your family as it is) you can't mourn anymore. Sometimes we even try to do it to ourselves.... but it doesn't work that way.

And we have all read the psychological babble that says with expected loss you experience anticipatory grief that may take away some of the shock of the death. I really don't know how true that is. And if you think about it, we don't allow anticipatory grief anymore. Like if you do not think positively until the moment of death, God or karma won't allow you your miracle healing. I wonder sometimes if parents of children with terminal illness or people facing cancer ever wish they could just lay it out; ask for people to just listen to them say how much they are facing rather than put on a mask that they think is expected. I know that parents that have lost a child to a long disease are often kicked out of support groups once their child dies, as if it is not an acceptable outcome and the family has or is doing something wrong. Do we have a cult of the pink ribbon in a similar fashion for cancer?

The reality of any great loss, is that when you are at the epicenter, circumstances matter little. What you feel is your reality and it isn't wrong and you aren't facing it wrong. Your world is gone, just shadows on the pavement. The emotional equivalent of Hiroshima. It might change things for a casual observer who is miles away- perhaps a more distant relative or friend, but it matters nothing to you. And down the road, even when your card has been taken away, the devastation hasn't gone magically away.

So I am sorry- for my own part I have played.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Perry's Pumpkin #2

Every year we plant pumpkin seeds descended from Perry's pumpkin. Unfortunately this year pumpkins did not do well and we were left with only one or two small pumpkins that were too small to carve. Emily picked out a pumpkin for her one for Paiden, but insisted that Perry already had a pumpkin and his should be the smallest (because in her logic Perry will now always be the youngest and the older you are, the larger your pumpkin). This was a bit of a bummer, but I had even bought a couple tiny ones for his hideout- so we didn't push. I think it really bothered Chris as Halloween neared.

A few days before Halloween I was driving to light a candle as we always do at Perry's hideout. Coming back I put on the breaks. There in front of Perry's church was a large orange object in the ditch. I picked it up, daring to hope and other than a small amount of road rash, it was remarkably intact for a pumpkin that had fallen out of a passing truck.

Chris says that he can imagine a truck filled with pumpkins rolling past and Perry picking one out for his own. It was, ironically, the biggest pumpkin of them all. Chris imagined that Perry would oddly be pleased at this.

Chris and Emily cleaned all three pumpkins. Chris saved the seeds and they will join the remainder from Perry's original pumpkin.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Little Things Terrify You

As a child loss Mom, little things terrify me now.

Last night we tried to place Paiden to sleep in his crib. He cried for quite sometime, so I took him out.

The frightening thing was that once I took him out, he breathed in big gasping breaths and arched his back. He wouldn't be comforted by being held or nursed (and my little guy is a voracious baby). He rolled and crawled in what appeared to be discomfort when I tried to calm him by laying next to him for a bit. I had a few terrifying minutes where I was trying to decide if the gasping breaths were from the previous crying spell or something worse. I have read so many parents write about babies dying in their arms, only arching their back for a moment first. My mind wondered over the possibilities- gas (not usual for Paiden)? A simple fit (not normal as he would almost always forget instantly if alliowed to nurse)? A cardiac arrythmia (how does a baby present anyway, they can't exactly clutch their chest and say their heart is racing)? He wouldn't open his eyes.

Chris tried to take him into the other room with the thought that I'd go to sleep, but I couldn't sleep. I eventually wandered into the spare bedroom.

About 30 minutes later he settled, he opened his eyes and gave me a big gummy smile.

My husband's theory is that the velcro on his diaper was somehow to blame, but in any case, I was incredibly thankful to wake up this morning and see the motion monitor blinking.

He woke up shortly after, which created its own set on new problems, but I can only say we were both happy to have our normal Paiden back.

November- again

I hate this week. I mean really hate it, wish I could curl up in bed and sleep it away.

I hate changing clocks. I hate Nov 6th. I hate the first Sunday in November. In some odd twist of fate the horrible time has conspired to spread beyond the bounds of 24 hours.

I think about the time immediately after. How in shock I was. On one level I understood what it all meant and on another I couldn't really comprehend. Right now I don't even really remember much of the funeral, although the wake I often remember too clearly. I remember speaking a little and Emily breaking down, sliding to the carpeted floor, but that's pretty much it. I couldn't comprehend this heavy weight that had settled across my back, or really hear the words. It is like a Charlie Brown scene from school- Brother Paul is speaking and noise is coming out, but the vowels and consonants do not form words.

At times I sit there on the wooden bench with the fog enveloping me, but not really feeling like it is actually me or that it is real. The box in front isn't what it is, and Perry is in the nursery waiting for me to come get him after it is over. So I can get in the Explorer and take everyone home, kick off my shoes, and watch Emily rolling on the ground with her brother.

They gave me a DVD of the service. Chris said that he watched it and seemed comforted. I wonder if this is something I should do or avoid. Will I feel better after actually hearing the words or curl up in a ball screaming/crying? Do I want to do this? If so by myself or with someone else? I know where it is- in a little gold box from the funeral home along with the sympathy cards, next to Perry's little bank and his blue fuzzy puppy dog.

Part of me does, another part fears that little white box that I will see sitting in front. Some days, you see, I am still in denial. Like if I really let all of my brain process it I will sink down into the blackness, so I shove it down and distract.

But as I contemplate whether Paiden will share the same bank, or if I should let him play with the stuffed animal, the box sits there larger than the actual space it occupies.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Favorite or Least Favorite Time of the Year?

Last year fall was a horribly agonizing countdown to the reminder of the end of Perry's life. We struggled a lot, cried countless tears... all while feeling guilty that I wasn't happy (aren't you supposed to be happy when you are pregnant? I desperately wanted and needed to be and yet my world was still horribly incomplete.)

And this year I guess we are thrown back into the feeling that we are watching a movie where the end is horrible, but we can't shut it off. In odd ways, the memories of Perry come easier this time of year- finding his Halloween Costume at a second hand baby store, the pumpkin hat at the YMCA, the small first frown he gave me when I handed him to ladies at the YMCA, and it isn't all bad. In other ways it's horrible because the bad memories follow the good.

One of the good things we were looking to was taking Paiden to his first fall festival at Hilldale Baptist. My husband geared up to it and was actually excited about the little costumes for Paiden, down to the costume coat that was Perry's. We were planning on reusing, but turning it inside out from a Giraffee to a Koala. I actually could still smell the fabric softner and other scents on the inside... I hadn't washed it after Perry wore it the last/only Halloween.

To my husband, who missed that last/only fall festival, attending Paiden's first was incredibly important to him. And we wanted to experience it together, I made sure I had it off when I looked at the shift calendar.

Then came the news- the fall festival is gone, replaced by two outreach fall festivals in the community. We were all let down. We wanted the festival at our church in the same place. It made us feel closer to Perry to walk the same pavement as we did when he was alive. So I tried to be a sport and we bundled up to go to one of the locations. The first was in the projects- and we thought we spotted it at a field, but it was very small and there didn't seem to be any kids from outside the community. So we picked up and drove to Cunningham. But as we googled to find the location, we discovered it was billed as the school's fall festival. When we got there we drove around looking for a while to discover it was inside the school. The signs outside stated it was a school fall festival. We didn't feel welcome again, and left.

I'm a bit disheartened. My daughter saw the change and said "It's ok Mommy, we can go to the fall festival at the big brick building, you know the one where we said goodbye to Perry."

I wanted to cry. "Honey, the two fall festivals for the other kids replaced it." It saddened me to think that to my daughter the main church campus is important for two reasons (we go to the life center)- the fall festival and Perry's funeral. Now it is only the funeral aspect that remains.

I got to thinking (probably incorrectly?), that while I appreciate outreach, the fall festival was still community outreach and was one of the few threads that used to bind the church together. It drew a lot more children, most were not from our church (it drew a lot of kids from the apartment area my Mom lives)... but take that away and isn't it still worth it just for our kids? I get that Perry is in Heaven by God's grace- the little guy couldn't speak in a complete sentance and demand to get baptised. But I look at my daughter and I desperately want to see her make a conscious decision to accept Christ. Even in my moments of worst doubt, I have tried to keep from getting in the way of her forming a relationship with God. I tried to keep going to church even when I doubted God's love (I know, I know, I've been given so much Grace but try losing a child and tell me that you don't question God or at least examine your religion). I want Church to be a good thing and not just where you go to say goodbye. I want it to be a living comfort, a place that she wants to go to. I want her to have that security, know where she is going after she dies and not fear death. I want to see her progress in the normal way, I want to see her baptised. At the same time, I try really hard not to traumatize her into it as she knows that kids and babies can die. I want her to come to that gradual realization that she needs to ask Christ into her life as a child in any other family in our church might. And I want it to be her decision... not something that I force on her.

She believes she is going to heaven and she understands that there is a connection to Jesus (the baby in the manger). But the pieces don't always make sense together. It's a little like when she comes home from Chruch and recounts the Sunday School lesson- some things are misunderstood in that childlike understanding, and it takes time and exposure before clarity comes. But an important part of that approaching clarity is to be around people that do believe in God so that pieces have an oppurtunity to come together through people that she knows and trusts. I don't want her exposed to the scary side of Halloween that some adults prescribe to. I don't want Christianity to be mere insurance.

Our kids are still the missionfield. And as a parent I believe that we fail horribly if we are so busy that we forget our own child. And busy can be good things as well as the time wasters.

I'm just sad. Sad I don't have three kids here. Sad that I feel robbed of one first that is oddly more important now. Angry that an anniversary date is coming up that no parent should have to deal with.

When the weather turns cool and leaves drop, I think of Perry. When people place the plastic skeletons outside their houses or carve them into pumpkins I start thinking about death and what it has robbed from me like a thief in the night. I think about pumkins still on a porch as the ambulance pulls away without lights on.

So if I get moody, if I seem less forgiving than I should in the fall, is it any wonder?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Giving Yourself Grace

I see so many things about how anger or not forgiving hurts you the most.

Do you want to know a secret? Sometimes it is easier to be angry or mad than to deal with the pain. Sometimes you want to be mad because it means that it is ok for you to feel what you do for a while rather than to give into other peoples expectations that are often based in some fantasy pulled out of a poorly written 'uplifting' work of fiction.

And there's a certain honesty to admitting that. They haven't experienced it, we hope they never do. But it is so hard being expected to give grace so frequently to others as a grieving family when it isn't often extended both ways. I give grace so many times, to strangers who say oddball things, to people who post really hurtful things online (the cutesy ecards primarily), and to others that you hope would know better. At times I am just so worn out. It is a horribly dangerous minefield out there sometimes.

The bad thing about this journey is that it doesn't end in a year. You carry the burden on and get discouraged realizing that this is just the first kilometer of a marathon. You are afraid that if it feels the same, if it takes the same energy for the entire race, you won't make it. You are afraid you must be doing it wrong- after all, you are often told you are not by people on the sidelines who have often never ran a 5K.

Like a marathon, you have to learn that finishing isn't always crossing first. Sometimes it is learning to pace yourself and let the people running beside you that don't have weighted packs pass you just for a short stretch. It is pacing yourself, focusing on your goal, getting up when you stumble. It is running your best race.

Sometimes you have to give yourself grace first, before others give it to you (because many never will), before you give it to others. It is ok to feel this way. It is ok to cut out of events early, even though it has been over a year, it is ok to handle things in a way that feels honest to you- it is ok not to do the generic picture at family gatherings. It is ok to give yourself a break. It is ok to never return to normal expectations. At the same time it is ok to let yourself break from things that served you well early on in your grief but no longer work. Bind the new sores that pop up on your feet and keep going. Learn to pause before the rubbing turns into a sore and put on balm.

Once you give yourself permission, it makes it easier to deal with everyone else who doesn't. I think when you lock yourself into the expected you pull at the bits, and trust me, there's a lot of angry in grief to fuel it. Then you rebel and wind up floundering on your back, crushing more bystanders. Getting out of the expected allows more room for the genuine. It lets you rest a little to regain enough energy to let go of the angry and keep on your journey.

Then you accept that sometimes even when people hurt you deliberately, they aren't worth your hurt anymore. You let go of your expectations for them and accept the relationship that they are capable of.  Perhaps down the road they will grow a little and it can flourish again.

But I am still learning to cut myself slack.

Maybe someday I will run again with that easy fluid motion, even if the pack stays tight on my back. Maybe this pack isn't just crippling, perhaps my muscles are slowly building strength and I will fly when the day comes that it is finally removed. But mostly I think just taking another little step today and not giving up is all I need to continue on and eventually finish.... someday.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Winter Clothing and Swings

So here we go again. Enter grieving Mom into normal parenting tasks.

I had to buy warmer clothing for Paiden. I have largely used Perry's clothes as hand me downs, but Paiden's size is different- at least for a few months. I knew it would be.

I used to be the Mom that had entire wardrobes bought at sales a year or two in advance. It wasn't that I didn't have a chance after Paiden was born and all the winter stuff that remained was very cheap, it was just that I couldn't. I felt like I had somehow spit in the face of fate by buying clothing in advance. I was afraid to now.

I both hate and love that I do not take my children for granted. On the one hand it is the horrible knowing that nothing is guaranteed, on the other hand it is notes on school supplies telling Emily I love her, and moments captured that I might have simply let slip by before.... Like swinging.

The everyday details are miraculous when you see them for what they are.

Photo: Paiden swinging for the first time

Paiden swinging for the first time. Emily insisted. I was hesitant, in some ways I wanted Dad to be there.

He laughed, She giggled. No apathy here either.

And before we left a butterfly drifted around the play equipment, circled us for a while, and was gone.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I have started doing something since I lost Perry. I look at every date I see and it becomes classified into my life in one of a few ways.

Before Perry
Pregnant with Perry
Perry's Birthday
The Golden Age of Perry
Perry's Death
After Perry

Even after Paiden, I still do this.

I find receipts in odd places, expiration dates, or pay stubs. My mind looks, does the math. I found a paystub in my pump bag. It was during the golden days, days worked around October. I paused and memories flooded back. If I could go back and relieve those days, I would. Perry in his carrier, baby leggings, silly excitement over new cloth diapers. Fall was wonderful then, pumpkins and candy, costumes and memories of college days and football games with cold nipping at my nose. Sundays with little boy sweaters, and the serious question of daycare that approached. A future that folded out before me, wonderful and bright. I wanted to see Emily and Perry in happy holiday pictures, proudly shared as 'firsts'. They were so close I could feel the anticipation as these moments hung before me like heavy fruit... in a short time, I was sure, they would be here... I had just to reach out and take them.

I paused. I remembered this paystub- I'd placed it in my bag to go home. But when I got home, it was so insignificant compared to what I saw that it stayed there forgotten. It stayed through the worst days of my life, through initial shock, through days so hard to live that it was a victory to get up and go into the bathroom a few short steps from my bed. It stayed through days of trying, frustration and grief at further loss. It stayed as Paiden formed. It just now emerged...

Tears fall as I remember.

These days it is a confusing jumble. Days or hours of joy, then sadness and loss returns all over again. Even that joy still has a weight with it that never lifts.

And I put it back. Do I toss or keep? I defer.

I return to facebook, but find myself looking and dreaming as I see the dates on friend's pictures... and I categorize again, quietly.
I guess I should tell you, unless you wonder. The joy is still a wonderful surprise, even with the weight. Emily and Paiden have been jewels to me in my darkest days. It is just that you can't undo losing a child or untie the string of longing that binds you still. It isn't depression, it just is.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Good Mom?

I had a friend tell me today that I was a good Mom, the kind that should have a pascal of kids.

And I admit, I thought "If I am a good Mom, why did Perry die?".  Before I lost him, I thought I was a good Mom. I tried. I still try.

But now I doubt. If you are a good Mom, bad things aren't supposed to happen to your kids right?

At the same time, I don't think my friend is the type to lie.

Before I lost Perry, I accepted that bad things happen to good people and good parents. But when it happened to me, for some reason I can't accept it. Strange, I feel like I am punishing myself in some way or perhaps just in denial over the lack of control past a point.

At times I don't feel like I deserve my children because of the guilt I feel, no matter how misplaced(How could I be blessed with three such wonderful babies? I must be a bad person because my sweet baby isn't here.), and in reality I guess none of us ever do. Children are a blessing, but they do not come as a result of whether you deserve them or not. We see bad 'parents' and wonderful parents who never received a child to match.

I don't understand it. I don't think I ever will.

Hoping one day I will be reunited and the answers won't matter anymore.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

5 Months

Paiden is 5 months. An age his brother almost reached. Bittersweet. Relief at him breathing, hands curled in his own hair. Feeling the wrongness that Perry's little brother is now older than he was.

I spent the days leading up to this milestone barely sleeping. Praying that God would not take this little one too. Laying in bed staring at the motion monitor flashing green with each breath on the wall.

Now I am paranoid, I watch my daughter closely in the pool at a friend's house and interrupt nursing Paiden because I am worried she is not being watched. I have started systematically getting rid of the plastic bags in the house... Paiden is going to crawl soon. Chris fixates on small pieces that belong to Emily's toys. I want the mobile moved up higher. Neither one of us says why, but we know.

We can't loose another. I try not to worry, but I know it can still happen.

I worry about family members, how long will I have them? Mortality is very much on my mind these days.

But sometimes sunshine breaks through the clouds. I've seen a lot of black butterflies lately. Are they signs, do I even believe in signs? Memories of Perry flutter through my mind- his course baby laugh, so like Emily and Paiden's. His wobbling attempt to stay upright as I sat him up. He pushed with his arms in an awkward tripod. The way he nuzzled the spoon looking for ice cream the one time (why didn't I let him taste solids? He should have known what applesauce tasted like, he was about ready. I find it hard to refuse new flavors to Paiden, I want to see the list of things he has done begin to pile up).

I remember Perry jumping in the jumparoo- it was already at the second to last adjustment- I had to lower it to the lowest for Paiden's chubby legs. He smiled in delight. I remember him in the black cow diaper (where is it? I hid it to selfishly keep it from the ground). I remember the way his hair was just long enough to curl slightly below his ears, the little sharp fingernails I could never trim because he would always move his hands. I remember how he was just starting to slobber... He didn't play with toys quite the way Paiden does. He teethed on the blue pacifiers, chewing on the base as he held it in tiny hands and jumped. Blue eyes- ears that had just now uncrinkled. A charming smile. His body was so long, when I hold Paiden my mind jumps back sometimes and Paiden feels too short. So patient and yet a rolling mass of movement that could move across the floor. I remember him frowing one of the last times I left him at the Y nursery. Long lashes, a beautiful little boy stretching quietly towards being a toddler. Mr. Wiggles. Emily's Milk Monkey. Black hair fading to brown.

I want Perry. I want Paiden. I want them all.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Fourth Month

I got back from a call and this was the message on facebook from my husband:

"I turned around today and Paiden had rolled up in a blanket on the floor, and was shoving it in his mouth. When you get home all of the small blankets will be in a bag in the attic. I did not throw them away. You can take them down in a year. "

This month sucks. His crib is bare and the only time blankets are used is for tummy time. Flashbacks are in full swing. The fourth month is when babies are clumsily reaching new milestones, like laughing or rolling over. It is also the last month we would share with Perry and not even a full month at that.

As I held Paiden on the fourth I remembered a fourth two years ago with a newborn baby. I remember holding him in the scrapbook/ card making room of the house we were visiting. I remember holding him on the back porch in the shade while Emily swam... I remember someone talking about SIDS with fear. I can still remember holding him in my lap, hands over his ears as the men set off fireworks. The grass was itchy and Emily was sitting next to Violet on her blanket.

How was I to know that my sweet baby had already lived almost a fourth of his life? That time was marching on to an unimaginable time of absence. That I would soon feel emotional pain so raw and heavy that before this I never knew I could feel this bad and yet still somehow survive.

I held Paiden today and was afraid it was the last time I'd see him. I hate all the horrible thoughts like wondering if I dress him in an outfit if it is the last he will wear. I just want Perry back and this nightmare to end.

Meanwhile on babycenter all the Moms are pretty much congratulating themselves on being out of the danger zone because their babies can roll over.

I wish that were me...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Before and After


Not getting to continue a path to promotion/ Realizing that the bags you placed over your child's belongings to preserve the smell were deodorant (and this was the last chance you had to smell him).

The family that lives in a car/ The parents who are jealous of the family in the car because they have all of their children.

Good Friends:
Go out and share good times with you/ Are the ones at your house before the ambulance leaves and stay through the worst times.

Crying Babies:
Emotions between tired and frustrated/ Relief and thankfulness.

A floaty place with clouds, streets of gold, and a vague benevolent God/ An acceptance of God as being complex beyond our comprehension and the only possibility of reunion. The gold is the presence of the body of Christ- those that we love. The décor really doesn't matter.

These are a few of my definitions that have changed. I realize life looks different. It is not all bad, but not all the deep meaningful warm fuzzies that you get from some loss blogs that avoid the ugly. I find myself captivated at times by the smallest things- the pollen on a bees legs or the fuzz behind a newborn's ears. I appreciate time in moments but realize the sum of our life is brief; We are vapor. I feel intense pain never imagined but recognize that loss is only possible because of being given great blessings. Before I wanted a sense of belonging- I worked to help them by volunteering (but that didn't seem enough) and now I find myself tied to a community because a part of me is buried there. The old families in our area accept us now because we are rooted to their church/ area in a way that most newcomers are not. Our son rests next to their parents and grandparents, he lies close to their brothers, sisters, and grandsons that never got to grow up. While I may have put out the fire in their field before, I only became tied to a name after they delivered a casserole to me. I have witnessed both intense unintentional cruelty and the beauty of empathy, from close family and strangers. Instead of being asked "Who is your Daddy?", I have become Perry's (the little baby's) Mom. To some who know only the tragedy that is a sad title, to me it is something beautiful because he is a sweet soul. Treasure lies in people now. I'd give it all up if God would let me trade years of my life for his.

I guess if I had to sum it up I would say that you do not fully appreciate life or other people until you realize we all die. You lose the safety of the naïve, life becomes scary but more beautiful. Great pain is like great fortune- you will either learn from it or squander life further. It will magnify what was there before. You see the cracks and beauty in yourself and others. You will grow closer or further from God as you question him, his existence, and his nature. It is the fire in the kiln, the reason why it is better to be in a house of mourning than of rejoicing. But it is never easy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Perry's second birthday

I guess what has surprised me most about this second year was that I expected it to be easier in many ways. Sometimes it is, but in many ways it all still comes crashing down. I have this desperate need to get away again after Perry's birthday, but am still here. The second year is sort of more of the first with the exception that you know what to expect and more of your triggers, so you can avoid them or know how to handle things a bit better. You don't expect as much out of yourself, although perhaps others do.

So this year after Perry's birthday passed again, I was thinking about birthday gifts for him. We went to target for something else and ran across this again:

This time I bought it. Many Moms will buy gifts for other babies in memory of their little one.(I decided it was fine to be less noble and buy it for my own son since I'd already spent a lot of effort donating sleep sacks again this year- its ok to do things just for my family as well. I wanted to see it used in our house). It occurred to me that if Perry were here he and Emily would have loved this one by now. I decided I could buy it for Paiden's Christmas, but as I write Emily is desperately bartering to get me to let her play with it... "I would really like it- to have one of those...". So we'll see what happens. But I still wish Perry were here to play with it.

One new trigger we've found is that Paiden is beginning to roll over. Chris hates and fears it- I try to remember that as much as we'd like him to skip this milestone it is just that- a milestone that all babies have to go through to progress. The bad thing for me is that he knocks off his blinky (snuza motion detector), and so my crutch is not working at night.

Last night he rolled over for the first time in the crib. Chris put him on his back and I heard him pleading with Paiden to stay put. But he continued rolling over and knocking off his snuza at least 6 times until it was finally taken off of him. Then I stayed awake listening for every breath until Chris and Paiden woke up.

During the day it is so so now. I put it on for a trip to the YMCA nursery and it went off before we left the house. I knew he was ok as he was giving me a big gummy grin- but I suspect he has figured out how to make it go off by holding his breath. He seemed especially pleased. I've heard of babies learning to pull sensors off the corded ones, so perhaps this is not as far fetched as it sounds.

I've ordered an angelcare under the mattress sensor for night, hoping it comes in soon. We'll see if he figures this one out as well, but I'm hoping it will work for his bedtime anyway.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Preparing for Perry's Birthday, the power of a name

I once wrote that the horrible thing about Perry's autopsy papers was that it was one of the last official places where his name would be written. And I hated that one of the last times I would see his name would be that way. While it may seem like a small thing, a written name is part of the huge loss you experience when you lose a child. It is taboo to mention them, and even rarer for another person to actually type it as if it will summon death to them to.

But to a woman who has lost their child that name means mornings watching sunbeams, hands tangling in hair, the milky smell of a newborn held to their chest for the first time. It is love and innocence. Eyes that captured a smiling soul.

I placed a request on my facebook page. I was not original, I stold it from other Moms. I wanted pictures of Perry's name. It gives back new pictures that are his alone, and coaxes warm memories from a clouded mind.

And it is wonderful.

Here are just a few:

Photo: For Perry
This one I did. Every little boy goes through a firefighter stage, and if he were here he would have climbed on this ladder truck by now, wearing a small red plastic kid's fire helmet. We would have taken pictures with me holding them, with that pride in my eye that for one moment in his life I was what every parent wants to be- a hero in their child's eyes.

This one is from Aunt Elaine. She often buys ornaments for the new babies. I cry because Christmas is one of the days when I miss him the most- the memories that should be. I'd already bought him a few Christmas gifts, a monster hat and mittens that he may pass down to Paiden. He was such an easygoing personality, I don't think he would mind a bit. This is (I suspect) from her Christmas tree.

This one is from Zotti. Fenway. If you have read my blog you would know that Perry Bryce was named after his Grandpa Bryce. Grandpa loved baseball. Mom and I watched an old film of him running bases while I held Perry. We both hoped that he might like the game too and carry something forward from Grandpa.
Photo: For Katherine Williams...I happened to be sitting on the beach when you posted :-)
Photo: Cozumel. December 2012.
Some from Beaches- How often I write his name when I am off by myself in the sand on vacation, just to see it again.
Photo: The girls insisted on being in the picture, so we all stuck our toes in. :)

Photo: For Perry
Photo: Happy birthday Perry!
In toys and chalk. He would scrawl his own name one day. Others do it for him. In toys that little boys love. As much as I hate stepping on small pieces, I wish I would more often, because he should be at the age of toddler legos and cars.

There are many more (I wish I had the space!!!), and hopefully some I haven't seen yet as we still have a couple days. Thank you gentle friends for giving me back my son's name. You are adding back a little of the sparkle to his birthday.  I am blessed.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grabbing Joy in the Moment

I guess one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that sometimes you have to grab joy in the moment. What I mean by that is sometimes you simply have to live right now- not in the sense as many take it overindulging in their favorite vice, but simply breathing and enjoying what is right in front of you.

So today as I held Paiden I kissed his checks, soft and rough at the same time. I inhaled his milky scent and felt the fine baby hair tickle my nose. And I was happy.

I was happy when I held Emily. I was blessed to hold Perry. And now I hold Paiden and try to let contentment wash over me like a gentle wave. I will be happy in this moment and I will not let darkness drift over it. I will not let sadness place a black stain over my entire life. It may impossible to always hold it at bay, but I chose to stand my ground right now.

I have come to the realization that if I place this moment in the basket with the rest of my life, it will always be lacking. My life will always lack Perry. Sometimes the only way that I can find happiness is to take the present out and hold it up to the light by itself. I study the details sparkling in the sunbeam and enjoy each color that plays in the facets.

If I connect it to the past I have only tears, and if I connect it to the future I have only worry because I know nothing is guaranteed in this lifespan. While many do not live with as dark a past or perhaps do not have worry clouding their future, some of us do. And we have to relearn to live in the now as a child, or quite frankly, there's no joy left to us anymore.

I know I am blessed. The other day Emily, Mom, and I all found four leaf clovers (after telling Emily that the only person who regularly find them them is Lt. Hood). Mine was the only one with a mangled leaf, but it didn't change what it was. It felt oddly appropriate to me- maybe not perfect, but I got to and still do hold something that many other people may never find or overlook in a rush.

Here are a few verses I took ownership of shortly after Perry's death when the world became a terrifying place for me:

    Matthew 6:27-29
    Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.
    Matthew 6:34  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Luke 12:25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his  span of life?

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Leaving for the first time and other updates

As expected, life with Paiden has been a blessing but a trigger as well.

Paiden is definitely his own little man. He is more assertive and looks more like his sister than his big brother. To us, the assertiveness while it translates into a bit more crying, is a relief. I think he would make a loud protest if in a difficult situation. I worry that Perry, being laid back, didn't cry to let Chris know he needed help.

It is sad in a way that he is so used to being poked and touched to check to make sure everything is ok that he simply goes back to sleep. To assume something is wrong rather than that the baby is simply sleeping is our new normal. His big sister is also used to being a watcher. Now when traveling in the back of the Explorer with Paiden, she checks for breathing automatically and reports on her own.

But a new baby brings first smiles, almost giggles, and excitement at simple progress like beginning to play with toys by batting and grabbing. In this way he triggers memories of Perry and Emily doing the same thing and has helped us disassociate the good memories of Perry from the bad. It is nice sometimes to remember Perry happy and not cry automatically.

We also find ourselves trying to make sure we hurry up to do things we regret not doing with Perry. Paiden now is the proud owner of a passport, complete with the world's cutest passport photo. We hated getting into the important documents folder, the death certificate and autopsy has tainted what was once a fun area of the safe. But we filled out the paperwork and were rewarded with one of Paiden's first full blown toothless grins in a diamond sweater handed down from his big brother. The photographer captured it, and we hope that this photo will accompany us on many family adventures.

I think perhaps the worst trigger I have recently faced was going back to work. I cried. I held Paiden longer than necessary, afraid it would be the last time I saw him as I placed him grudgingly in his crib. Big tears fell at work and I wasn't sure whether I felt relief or regret at passing the combat test to get back on shift. I didn't sleep much during the nights and felt an exquisite joy as my muscles relaxed when I heard that he was still there in the morning.

My Mom stayed overnight with Chris so he wouldn't be alone and we fumbled through somehow. I am hoping this feeling of fear will gradually fade. I understand why many parents change jobs after facing a loss, but I also remember the support I was given after Perry's loss. I have been blessed by them.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Life as a mom to a newborn after loss is a different ball of wax than before. Before I was grateful that they were here and just assumed that if I installed outlet covers and cabinet locks, made them wear helmets on bikes and use car seats all would be well. Now when I watch my son and daughter breath as they sleep I am simply happy that they are, in this moment, here now.

I don't assume.

Sometimes fear still strikes a month after my son Paiden's birth. He slept for four hours the night before and I woke up terrified. I had a moment where I thought I hadn't turned on his monitor and he had died. Across the room 'his blinker' flashed green and red and I felt an exquisite sense of relief.

In some ways he is worse than the children of others for fear inducing moments, because he is mine and I fear his loss with an intensity that you have to have been where I have to understand. That moment before his shirt shifts with his breathing is terrifying.

There are other reminders too at times that my life has not be normal these past couple of years. I took Emily and Paiden to the mall for pictures with the Easter bunny. I took a toy of Perry's as his place holder and was fairly happy with the set up, even though Paiden had decided he was quite happy sleeping and the Easter bunny would simply have to hold him patiently. The scene in reality made me feel a little contentment, as I felt that one day I will see them all together with God's grace and there would be a little boy or a man there in place of a rubber teething toy. The scene on paper however was a differet matter. The colors were washed out for some reason (perhaps they were seeking a 'soft' pastel look for Easter?). Paiden looks a lot like Perry at times and while intellectually I like the picture, at a gut level it unsettles me. Paiden looks too pale.

The other reminder was a simple guilt sell. My MIL had bought pictures from Walmart of Emily and Paiden. I didn't really want to buy additional photos from them because I had taken some really nice ones with Ms. Merri. Walmart included extra pictures for a reduced amount that they would 'throw away' if I didn't want them. I had a moment where I wanted to explain that this was a low down tactic, because after losing a child you simply can't throw away pictures, even if they aren't 'good' ones and you didn't really want to buy them... because in your mind you know you deleted or refused 'bad' pictures of your lost child and you are afraid that by refusing you are making this same mistake.

But in the end I didn't. The store was closing permanently, this woman had been notified a couple days ago while she was on vacation that the 'studio' was closing, and I didn't want to drop an emotional bomb on her- although really someone knows that they are jerking heart strings with this sales tactic even if not to the true extent.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hello from Perry

Photo: A hello from Perry.
Sometimes I still pray for signs that Perry is ok. I did this a few days ago around my Daughter's birthday. When we came home from her party, we had about 18 balloons and a 5 year candle. She and Dad lit the candle in Perry's lantern because they wanted to share her birthday with him. When Emily came home she decided that she wanted to release all of her balloons for Perry. We watched them float into the sky. There was a storm that night and when I woke up, I peeked out the back door to survey the damage.

And there on the small peach tree outside our house was a single balloon, the color of the baloons we released the other day. I showed Emily and Chris the balloon and when Emily asked where it came from, I told her that Perry gave one balloon back and that it was a 'hello from Perry'.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Phoenix

Photo: Paiden Bradley Williams
From wikipedia:

In Greek mythology, a phoenix or phenix (Ancient Greek φοίνιξ phóinīx) is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was subsequently adopted as a symbol in Early Christianity. The phoenix is referenced in modern popular culture.

In his study of the phoenix, R. van der Broek summarizes, that, in the historical record, the phoenix "could symbolize renewal in general as well as the sun, Time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life".[1]

At 7:00 am Chris and I headed in to work. Chris thought something was up because at about 9pm the night before I was tidying up. Chris lit an extra large candle that night for Perry, still thinking of and taking care of him in our own way. By the time we got into Nashville at around 8pm, we detoured to Vanderbilt. This time the front staff at triage put me immediately into a room. I was at 7, placed on a monitor. The anesthiologist came in. By the end of his talk I could already feel pressure and I sent Chris out to get the nurse practioneer. They were already headed in to tell me the good news that I could finally go off the monitor. About 30 minutes later (after begging them to help me and various other assorted words I can vaguely remember) Paiden was born at 9:31 am. I have to admit that I am glad that I was planning on going 'natural' anyway, because I think if I had been planning otherwise, I might have panicked quite a bit more. The rapidness reminded me of Perry's birth, and I was very glad that we had started carpooling together that week. I think I would have been stuck on the interstate calling 911 otherwise.

I guess you might remember all of my nightmares? Well everyone was very careful with us, as if they sensed the tension. The one exception was the nursing student. As Paiden arrived, I heard her exclaim "look at the knot in the cord!". I heard the nurse midwife tell her that we didn't need any additional stress and she quickly explained to my husband that it was still lose and inserted a finger to show him. I wondered at that moment if that knot was the bull in my dreams, and imagined some divine finger keeping it from tightening. In any case, I am glad that we didn't know earlier as everything turned out well and I can only imagine the level of stress I'd have felt. But that little knot reminded me how fragile life is, it seemed to whisper that I'd been gifted with another child and not to take him for granted.

I guess it was natural for us to compare Paiden to Emily and Perry at birth. He was a large 10 lbs 1 oz, the biggest of all. His eyes were slits, the same as his siblings. His cheeks seemed puffier, but the hair was that same dark brown almost black. His hair was thick like Emily's. At times Emily and Perry seemed to swirl in Paiden's features, but his feet, small and compact instead of long and narrow, reminded me that he was his own being.

About an hour after his birth, I laid down to rest a bit and I felt a cold drop on my back. I looked up and there was nobody around me and the air vents were across the room. It reminded me of a tear. I felt the moisture with my hand and convinced myself I wasn't imaging it, but I still haven't decided what it was or what it meant. Far from being sad, I was at peace on Paiden's birthday.

When Paiden was taken from me, Chris followed. He was brought back in a sleepsack. The next week they were expecting the sleepsacks to come in to begin using them in the nursery. Paiden's group will be some of the last babies to only use receiving blankets. The nurses were kind enough to bring us one of demonstration sacks, and I can only imagine what Chris said or did that prompted this. But I was grateful for the thoughtfullness as this was the one thing I hadn't brought with us in the duffle bag.

After bathing him, we refused to let him be wrapped in a blanket instead of his sleepsack. I realized then that we were clinging to it so tightly because we firmly want to believe that if we do this simple thing, Paiden will be safe. Later, I found myself watching him and the clock as he slept, feeling relief everytime he cooed or grunted, and walking across the floor quietly to feel for warm breath from his nose if he hadn't made a noise in five minutes.

The next day, as I rocked him and watched the snow drift down outside the window, I heard the helicopters take off and land. It reminded me how similar and yet different he and his birth were from his brother. I thought about the irony of sitting in a maternity wing and hearing the life and death sounds of lifeflight. Perhaps the other patients did not think about it, but I did. I hoped that what was a good day for us was not the beginning of the rest of their lives 'without' for another set of parents. But I forced the thought away and just enjoyed him curled against me. This was not our bad day, and we needed our good day. It was ok, I told myself, to just enjoy it.

I am trying to take all the conflicting emotions surrounding a new baby in our house as they come. I try not to judge myself for how I feel, I just accept that they are normal for us. Sometimes I am scared when Paiden is asleep and then I try to cut myself slack. If other sleeping babies are hard, why shouldn't Paiden also be sometimes? But I love the fact that Paiden is the first baby I have held since Perry, there was no guilt, sadness, or anger there. Instead of being the first baby since Perry, it is the first time I held Paiden, if that makes sense. We have cried a lot the past few weeks, but we have also smiled. Emily gets to hold a new brother. I start to think in terms of the future again instead of just the past. While I can't decide which is better- past or present, I know my ideal would hold some of both. And that is truly a relief to me as I wondered at times if all of the best in life was already behind me. Perry's death is no longer the period that serves as a insumountable wall around my life. Is it still defining? Yes, but the frozen in time feeling has eased a bit. Some of the sharp bitterness remains, I don't think losing a child is something you ever get over. But there is life in the ashes.

Paiden is my phoenix.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I have been putting off writing this blog entry for a while now, but I feel it is time. Paiden Bradley Williams joined us in early March at a whooping 10 lbs 1 oz. He seems incredibly healthy and alert.

I guess I put off writing this update for several reasons. The first is that I have been sorting through a lot of complicated emotions. I can't understand how Paiden is here although it should be nearly impossible and yet Perry isn't. I heard someone say something about a higher power, and yet while I am incredibly greatful, I am just going to say that I am not sure how it works. Because I know that there are many women and their family that have prayed for a child and never received one the traditional way. Some of my friends have never had a positive pregnancy test, some have simply never met the 'right' spouse and do not believe in having children outside marriage, others lost children as I have and yet circumstances and/or nature have not been as kind to them. I know that like me, there are many more who prayed for safety or healing and yet do not have their children anymore. I can only say that I am grateful for every one of the children I have been blessed to hold, that I am giving up on human understanding. I will try to hold every moment with my Daughter and Son in the coming years as a gift, but will continue to view Heaven with a longing for reunion.

I know that some that have not lived it will not understand that healing does not happen completely here. They will not understand why my emotions are complicated when I hold a new baby. But really that's the answer- Paiden is a new baby. His own gift, but not his brother.

I realized just how complicated everything was on the second day of Paiden's life. As I nursed him in the early morning, bleary eyed and worn from a sleepless vigil, my mind hit a scratch in my memory. For a second my tired mind did believe that I held Perry. It did not hurt because of that, I did not feel any horrible sense of betrayl to Paiden. It hurt because for a couple minutes the burden was lifted off my shoulders, the world seemed normal and right again, and I was truly happy. When I realized Perry was still gone, the weight crashed back down. I have become so used to the heavy gravity pulling at me that I had forgotten what normal felt like. What living with all your born children was like... And it left me sobbing for what was lost.

At the same time Paiden has filled some of my longing. He has nudged me along a bit- even as I have been struck by memories of his brother wearing some of the same clothing, it has felt good that they are not doomed to be relegated to boxes of memories anymore. In some ways Perry's memory has become more alive, more of him living as his brother is now, and less of the terrible OTHER.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Crib Notes

February 16, 2013

Finally set up a crib today. It's the one we used at Mom's house. Couldn't get Chris to agree on anything so I made him get it down (he has a huge mental block). So it takes up too much space in our bedroom, but at least there is a place for baby when it gets here. I cried as I cleaned up a couple spots of old spit-up (Perry took a nap in there at Mom's house before she brought him home). And this is stupid, but I took the sheet off the old mattress and can't bring myself to wash it yet. Strange to be happy and so miserable all at the same time.

I am just trudging through mounds of stired up memories that make me remember all the good and bad with Perry. I was looking at the results of the baby's last ultrasound and found myself disappointed. I realized it was because it was obvious from the measurements that this is a new child- huge noggin and average body versus Perry's small head and super long body. Consciously I know this is a new baby with its own unique fate, but subconsciously I think I am still looking for Perry so I can bring him home and wake up from this nightmare. My house is also regaining some of that baby smell (from diapers) and thoughts just flood me. Simple things like making sure I have enough disposables for trips in each size (no 2's- because of how hard I tried to use them up before Perry outgrew them). Finding a swim bag with diapers for Perry. Getting rid of the bed where I last nursed Perry because Chris always felt bad that Perry didn't have his own room and is making space for a nursery.

I also get a lot questions regarding family size. I guess I am just so spectacularly huge it is an instant topic of conversation. I tell people that I have two children and I hear so many comments about how brave I am to have a third. I don't say much, because it is true. They just don't understand the extent and the why.

Infant loss and trying again

What I wrote while I was quiet: Advice to a Mom who had lost an infant to SIDS.

There are so many ways to lose a child beyond SIDS. The reality is that while it may happen again, so can any number of things. At some point you have to decide if you are willing to let the fear of loss keep you from trying and loving again. My answer is no- I did not let Perry's death or my 5 m/cs keep me from this LO (although I will admit I was bone tired of TTC and may call it quits with an exclaimation point after this one). I'm also 36 and the RE basically told me it would take a miracle so it was a now or never proposition with us.  Does fear strike deeply? Absolutely! But all I can do is take reasonable precautions and appreciate every day I have with my children. I act in faith that this infant will join us and that we will get to keep and enjoy him/her on Earth. I am tired of living in fear.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Joy and Sadness

I find it very interesting how joy can coincide with sadness. Most people seem to think that there is only room in the human heart for one emotion at a time and that is not true. Granted the joy seems muted, very cautious and careful- afraid to be naive in the moment and to believe that it can last.

Pregnancy after loss is very much the embodiment of this. It's why I don't post openly about a pregnancy until the outcome is determined. I don't forget my son because another child grows in my womb. I wish in some ways it would be as easy as many think, but I realize for that to be true it would have to be Perry in there- the cells of his being reforming.

I went and bought a few clothes for the baby yesterday. I realized while holding a cute little shirt and agnozing over what size to get (in Gymboree a 3.99 cute shirt is a rarity- get it why you can), I had two choices- one was a size 3-6 month and the other a 18-24 month size. One is the size the baby will probably be once it gets here in the late winter/ early fall and the other the size this baby should be in a year /or the size that Perry should be now. All of a sudden it turned a simple choice difficult, as if by choosing the size I was choosing between children. I held up the shirt with a pair of little pants and realized I was trying to figure out in my mind how big Perry should be. In the end I bought both- I could afford it, I didn't want to choose, and the baby could probably wear them both anyway.

It is an accomplishment in many ways- that I trust that this baby will be born. That it was an ok decision because I trust this child will live to see a year, that the tags will eventually come off. I was even able to look in the closet and look at all the unworn little boy things, plus a few that had been worn but hung up.

The strange thing about the timing of this child is that because I always try to buy on discount about a year or so in advance, whenever I buy clothing I will be thinking of Perry.

Perhaps Emily is right and it is a little girl and I have spent foolishly instead of wisely. But honestly I am tired of NOT buying from fear and would rather waste a few dollars at this point. That's life after loss, knowing fear with a familiarity that few will ever know and yet choosing to believe it is a bluff this time.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Baby

I haven't posted about my pregnancy for many reasons, the first being that I have really horrible luck with pregnancy in general and lot of things going on in my life- I hate prayer request time because I don't want to keep blowing everyone out of the water. The second is that pregnancy doesn't mean everything is ok now, and I wanted to share with you here about my son.

But I do have to tell you that there are so many aspects of pregnancy that are harder after losing a child. The first is a horrible fear, how can I ignore a stillbirth or any other type of loss when I have had m/cs and lost a healthy baby? After one contraversial post, the bad dreams intensified. I dreamt there was a bull that had been banished from the area, but had returned. He was tracking me, and as I ran a little voice said he will kill your child and CPR will not help. I had a kind person give me a ride- the scenary was very much like West Texas and Eastern New Mexico with cattleguards, desolate landscapes, and skinny cattle nestled in the russian thistle and mesquite. The person let me hide for shelter in a trailer, but none of the windows had coverings and I was forced to hide in a tiny closet with a green plastic handle. I could hear the bull and eventually I tried to flee, but he gored me. He was killed, but the damage was done. A Dr was there. I was placed on the table to operate and get the baby out. CPR was performed (tiny BVM mask and all the procedures followed to a T) and the boy child was small and still, cold in my arms.

In many of my pregnancies I get a feeling that it just wouldn't make it. With Emily and Perry there was residual fear, but not so clear of a feeling. So for a while this dream has sort of held me captive. I look at the dream and I can see it two ways- a clearinghouse where my brain associated a comment made by a relative as killing my son emotionally again (perhaps the bull being masculine represented the writter who set me far back). Or the other that this was the not all is well feeling again. So I have not had a good peace about this pregnancy and sadly won't now.

Anyway, I'll try to write a bit more about this experience as we go, but no guarantees. I am trying very badly to pretend normal with this pregnacy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Battle Scars

You read it on baby center: how almost every woman on earth hates her stretch marks and is trying to eradicate them. I tend to think of the scars similar to marks on the lifeline of my palm.

And in a way this textured roadmap of my childbearing years is more interesting than an airbrushed picture anyway. I'm over that vanity. Vanity will always fail you anyway because nothing can always remain unblemished. I have only to look at the small wrinkles and increasingly grey hair in my mirror to realize that. It's not fair that I have aged 10 years in one, but this is reality.

I don't hate my scars, and in part, as I have written before, it is one of those reminders of Perry that will not be erased. The proof of his genesis and Emily's- two things I can never hate.

At the same time, I think it is also because it is sort of how I feel inside. Battled, perhaps ugly looking, but made primarily from love. Even if the scars are jagged, they would not be there if I did not care. The root of pain from loss is complicated, tethered to deep true emotions.

This body has done much better than I ever hoped, even with other losses mingled in. It continues to bless me everyday- and even without the aspect of pregnancy, my body lets me hold those I love. It lets me smile and cry. Dance and bend over with pain. Both, I now realize, very much a part of human life fully lived. The only people in life that will not have large losses at some point are those that held people far from them. Safe, but full of voids.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pictures without Perry

We face a dilema many people do not.

What to do with an incomplete family picture. For formal ones you can set a picture in the back, those who know understand, those who do not understand will not see it. A smiling baby boy- perhaps the one where he is jay bird naked and just photoshop the front part for a nice photo.

But the ones that kill me are the going to Walt Disney, family event type ones. I can stand the pictures of just Emily (wouldn't she have had some of just her anyway?), but the ones with Chris and I a swell feel false. This is not my family as many who see it assume. There is more to it than this. I hate any photo of us in it without Perry. With a blind shredding sort of hatred at times, with a knock you down crushing loss in other moments. Neither makes me want to buy it or put it up.

Not sure what to do really. I almost bought a large locket with a clear front for Emily, now I wish I had... some way to keep him in our photos. He is always there anyway, just in our thoughts now. I want something so we can post these pictures without regret. A way to show today without feeling like we are somehow removing him as time goes on.

We have this timeframe where there is almost a blank book, a lack of photos. We need it to come to an end, as this time flies too quickly (I realized this as I came to recognize that we may be picking Emily up from daycare for the last time in a few weeks). But we need to do it in a way we can remain true and with a complete lack of guilt. Joy in the present shouldn't have to be tinged with sadness, but yet I recognize it is unrealistic to pretend and not address it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Straddling Worlds

This is an odd time in my life- I think the fog descends and leaves at its own will. At times it is like your brain defaults to life before Perry, that all this never happened. Other instances I still wake up and expect him to be there, the pack n' play simply hidden by the bed.

At times I feel happy, Emily twirls and leaps in her 'powerful' dances. Meaning returns occassionaly at work, I feel satisfaction with a class that has never been taught before. I begin to take more interest in random things, and have started reading things again that are not related to death or the bible.

In other instances, life will never be simple again. I am reminded constantly of how abnormal my loss is by facebook ecards. I listen to Sunday School lessons and wonder if people really think life is so simple. Naomi isn't a cardboard bitter woman to me. They talk judgementally about her, but I see God's grace as she holds a newborn Grandson in her arms and she regains a little of normal future that was denied to her. Maybe years of hearing about other woman's Grandchildren by the well are erased as she finally has this too. She probably wondered if she would ever have any of this normality.

In some ways I feel like I am understood more by the 60 plus crowd. There is a generation that is facing and has faced loss, where my generation is still in the midst of baby showers and kindergarten school plays, or perhaps high school kids putting in college applications. Some of the 60 plus class understands closets of clothing with the person no longer there. While for many it may be parents, some have faced the very wrong experience of seeing children taken before their time. I think there also comes a better understanding of human nature and the short fluttering brevity of human life. I think Heaven has become more meaningful to them- a place of reunion and not theory. To many of my class, I suspect Heaven is not a longing for them yet. Wonderful perhaps, but a distant concept.

And here I am, straddling the world of the young and old. I know sometimes the older woman behind me probably looks at me and thinks I know nothing of loss as I stand in line holding my young daughter's hand. The young think I am bitter perhaps because they haven't tasted the sting of death enough to realize that I'm not really angry so much as I am just changed. Life will never be the same and I am a new person, better in many ways, but at a really high cost. But more serious and not as into play anymore. Somebody's joke, I know, is another person's tragedy- sometimes my own. I see faces more, feel other's pain more. Things you can buy in stores do not bring the joy they once did.

At the same time, I know I have a lot of life before me- which is a bit of the extra cruelty of a child's death... Because most people, by the time they taste a lot of loss, are closer to reunion. I do still go to  preschool parties and stuff myself in the tiny chairs. I live in the world of alphabet magnets on my refridgerator and art made out of handprints, kids toys in the floor. I have a child who loves holidays and pours happily through decorations with me in the craft store.

And then when we are done making our selections, I travel down the road and put them up on my son's grave. I still love and think about Perry daily, I just don't tell many people these things anymore as you are supposed to be over things. You get tired of being judged.

If you don't believe that people think a child's loss should largely over in a few months, you have only to tune into Ricky Lake where parents five months out are portrayed as frozen in grief. These are very normal parents actually, and I am saddened that instead of receiving the support of others they are receiving the judgement of strangers. They know, as they walk off stage, that perhaps they should have just pretended, or worst yet may believe her words and feel like they are abnomalities.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Stone Saga Continues

There is a bit of frustration that Perry's stone is still not complete. For reasons beyond our control, the angel is still not up. The artist couldn't understand the importance of the Oct 31st date (trying to get it installed before the 1 year anniversary of Perry's death). And now it is too cold for the special masonry 'glue' to set. Initially it was supposed be done while summer was still in full swing and has drug out into a year long process.

In some of this, it has been extremely aggravating for Chris. He is task oriented and it drives him nuts. At the same time, I feel like there is a boiling anger associated with the project that may be misdirected. I don't think he realizes it, but I think deep down he is angry we have to have a stone at all. He doesn't understand why my anger doesn't rise to match his at times, and it is because I think he doesn't always understand the true root of his own. He is upset because his son should be here.

I don't know it is what I envisioned, but at the same time it is much more than a flat stone. I am happy and yet unsatisfied with it all at once. Because I believe that deep down, nothing is good enough... nothing can fully express what it is we feel for Perry. And nothing short of the grace of God that we will only experience in heaven can bring him back.

The angel is waiting in darkness in the work shop for spring to release him.

I'll show you the full project then, which has a lot more to it than a simple base.

I wonder if then we will have a sense of completeness about it, or if we will be sad because that final check mark is done.