Thursday, April 17, 2014

unexpected goodbye: the decision to make it FREE

It's always felt a little strange to put a price on the book I wrote for those navigating the waters of infant loss and stillbirth. Any time someone contacted me, I sent it to them. If I was asked for a resource, I sent it. It never felt right to ask for money. And all the money I received from it has been used to donate to places like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, or to help grow the infant loss ministry at our church I am part of. I know you don't need an accounting of what I have done with the little bit I have made from it, but I want to be transparent and honest about what my journey with this book has been like.

I am working on a second book. A much longer, more detailed, very personal memoir. IF I ever finish it it will be for sale, but that book is an entirely different creature. I want Unexpected Goodbye to reach as many people as possible. I think the best way for that to happen is to offer it for free. Now, if you want to download a copy you'll have to purchase it from Amazon. That is the best and easiest way for me to manage things and protect myself.

Unexpected Goodbye is my heart on the page. It's the words I wish someone had told me after Charlotte died. Please share it. Please pass on the link. And please remember that it is my work. Please give credit where it is due. I put hours of work into Unexpected Goodbye. I spent two years writing and revising the book. It is one of the ways I honor and remember Charlotte. If one person benefits from Unexpected Goodbye it validates my sweet girl and her short life on this Earth.

You can find Unexpected Goodbye at the top of the blog or just click HERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

making the hours pass

I've been able to blog with a little more regularity now that Ainsleigh will settle in the crib for a few hours at night. She's usually ready to be held by 9, but I put her to bed at 6 so that gives me enough time to get a few things done.

Today was a long day. Bennett asked for J no less than five times before noon. Every car that drove by prompted him to ask, "Daddy home?"

At 2:00 I finally tossed both kids in the bath. My sister provided me with the brilliant idea of using the Bumbo in the bath during that awkward too big for the newborn bath, not quite ready to sit up in the big tub stage. It worked perfectly, even with Ainsleigh's attempts to dive into the water. It didn't tip and she didn't fall out. I was right there, of course, with a hand near, or on her, at all times.

Yes, that duck is the temperature gauge from the water birth I didn't have with Miss A. The hospital graciously lets you take it home with you. Here is a memento of your failure - thanks! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

lilacs, lavender, lilies

I cut lilacs from the front garden this afternoon and put them in vases around the house. Lilacs, lavender, lilies, and columbines all grow in our yard. And they all remind me of Charlotte.

Red columbines sitting in a glass vase on the beside table next to condolence cards and a medicinal smelling bag filled with ace bandages and breast pads. Overflowing vases of lilacs on the first Charlotte's Day; a memorial that should have been a birthday. The lavender my midwife photographed on the morning Charlotte was born. The lilies that bloomed just after she died. Calla lilies, like the ones we had at our wedding.

Flowers from the yard. Flowers that were mostly planted and thriving when we moved in. Within the stunning beauty of the countless varieties that can bloom, petals quietly fluttering in the wind, I see Charlotte. Of course she comes to mind. Flowers blossom for such a short time, it's hardly a revolutionary thought.

And for some reason I can put flowers in vases all over the house if they come from the yard, but a bouquet from the florist with certain blooms can send me reeling. In my mind there is a distinction there, one I cannot fathom or understand.. Trauma and memories have rendered this distinction within my brain, and so, it is. I am not sure anything can change it. Expect, perhaps, time. Time has a marvelous capacity to erase and erode. Even when we don't want it to.

Monday, April 14, 2014

little writing space

My response to spring in all its sunny glory is to organize small pockets of the house and feel irritated by everything. I am lucky to be married to someone who doesn't mind that I am focused on inconsequential projects that take up a lot of time.

Today I put a little effort into fixing up my writing space. I do a lot of writing when spring hits, so I finally put up new pictures and organized my tiny area. I have one more picture from our Hawaii trip that I want to add, but B broke the frame a while ago and I haven't bought a new one. We're on our sixth year of living in this house and this is the first time I've put anything on the walls upstairs.

Home decor is not my strong suit, but I am slowly working on making the house look a little nicer. I feel like it has so much potential - little cottage built in 1939 - but I don't have the skills to make the house sing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014


A few days ago we had our first hearing aid fitting appointment for Ainsleigh. We ordered her a tiny pink hearing aid, which will be available in a few weeks, and had her first mold taken. The molds are a pain in the behind, but it is the less permanent option, and right now we don't feel willing to make a choice for her that can't be reversed. Because she is small and growing we will have molds taken every two months or so, but soon enough that won't be necessary.

We went to an amazing seminar put on by the educational service district here. I like working with the ESD - hey, it's free (well, we pay for it with taxes) but there are some definite disadvantages (way, way, way overextended staff). The seminar from a renowned speech pathologist was a definite bonus, however. J and I learned a lot.

One of the most striking things I took away was the fact that from birth until 4 or 5 years old children are learning to listen while from 5 on (school age essentially) children are listening to learn. Our job is to provide Ainsleigh with a very solid listening foundation which will hopefully minimize any issues that may come up in a school environment. For example: One of Ainsleigh's challenges is her inability to focus in on one speaker in a crowded, noisy room. This makes classroom life very difficult.

Children with unilateral hearing loss often become overwhelmed by noise and then withdraw and don't hear anything. They retreat because straining to listen all the time is stressful. Hopefully we can work with her on asking for help, recognizing signs of fatigue, and knowing it's okay to take breaks.

Whenever I look at the big picture I feel a little overwhelmed, so I remind myself that people often don't know children with unilateral hearing loss are partially deaf. I think Ainsleigh is going to be fine, but we are striving to provide her with tools now so that we can (hopefully) avoid some of the common issues that arise.

I realize this post may not be interesting to very many, but it's helpful for me to document what we are learning and how we hope to proceed. I may forget everything by tomorrow. I was so tired this afternoon I told my mom and sister, "Bennett is in changing J's diaper." when asked where they were.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

little changes and a big habit

We are slowly changing over to a healthier lifestyle. I say slowly because J does lots of research and tries to gently coax me along while I kick my feet and demand more sugar. A lot of our diet changes have come about because of Bennett's allergies. There are many things he cannot have, and I'm not going to make two dinners, so I cater to his needs.

By far my worst habit is diet soda. I'm careful with it. I don't have unlimited amounts, but after I have a baby I give in to the craving for a while and drink a can a day. I'm trying to quit right now - well, quit having it in the house at least - because I know it's terrible for me. Of course quitting at this time of year may not be the best idea (I'm so weak and sad!) but the thought of aspartame poisoning is fairly frightening. (For those who don't drink soda, who are able to say, "Oh, I don't like soda," I want to be you. I also would like to be one of those people who, "doesn't really care for sweets.")

I gave up hot chocolate every morning a couple months ago. I didn't want to, but I did. The calories, the sugar and the fact that it bothered Ainsleigh's stomach all contributed to that. I've been slower to give up diet soda.

I have to admit, this is like the ultimate confession for me. I write about a lot of personal things, but I always hate copping to my love for diet soda because I know how bad it is.

If I was left to my own devices I would eat the worst kinds of food. Well, if I was left to my own devices and stripped of the knowledge J pours out. Some of the changes we've made - butter, real butter!, avocado oil, mineral rich salt - have been easy, but others - easing up on the diet soda love - have been hard.

I'm not giving diet soda up entirely. When I hit the movies with my girls you better believe I'll have a bucket of soda and gallon of popcorn (even at 10pm) clutched in my hands, but I am going to stop buying it (once I finish off the two liter J brought home with pizza tonight - it was free, people!)

This post is a way for me to stay accountable. I can talk myself into just about anything at the grocery store, but if this post is in the back of my mind I won't put the soda into the cart. I'll think, "I said I wouldn't do it, but now I am, so I have to tell, and I don't want to do that," and the soda will go back on the shelf.

It's way too easy to think, "today is hard, I'll have a soda!" I'm really trying to switch over to, "today is hard, talk to Jesus." It's not easy, and there needs to be room for grace, but I want to find comfort in my relationships instead of food, and this feels like a good place to start.


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