Thursday, May 31, 2012

bennett lately

I think it's time for a Bennett picture post, don't you?

First I have to thank Small Bird Studios for fixing up the space a bit for me.  Franchesca is so easy to work with, and patient with all of my changes!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


What do I say?

What can I say?

I felt sick to my stomach all day, nerves rising as the hours wore on.  J called when he was off work, asked if we were going to take an evening walk.

"We can't, we have that thing."

"Oh, that's right.  I forgot."

How could he forget?  I wish I had that ability.

I asked about the complaint and case before we began.  It's all extremely confidential, so much so the investigator would only tell us the complaint was made by a mandated reporter.  At least I think that's what he said, and if it was, I'm really lost as to the origin of the complaint.

I don't know how much I can say.  We weren't told to keep quiet, but after seeing the investigator haul out a huge file hundreds of pages thick this is all feeling rather serious.

The majority of the questions were for me, but at the end J was allowed the floor. He doesn't speak of Charlotte often, not like I do; watching him do so is heartbreaking.

J struggled not to cry as he said his piece, and as he spoke my eyes began to water.  J sees life from a medical perspective, he has a completely different outlook than me, and sometimes I forget to look beyond the medicine and science to his heart.  Truth is, he can speak of his experience with codes and how well the midwives ran Charlotte's, but beneath the words is pain and longing and the knowledge that he couldn't save her.

If I had bravery, or guts, or didn't care so much about pleasing people, I would have asked the investigators to stop, end their queries, seal and forget the giant file they have on Charlotte.

We have so little of her - just fragments of a life that barely was - it hurts to watch others speak of her, hold her records, know things about her.  Wondering if they know something about her I don't haunts me.

I'm her mother and I had to find out she didn't have any birthmarks from the autopsy report.  Please don't tell me there is more I don't know.  Please don't tell me I am missing a piece of her life because I already have so many missing pieces I can't hold them in my hands.

Every time I reconcile the idea that I won't watch her take her first steps, or say mama, or hug me back a new missing piece like her first day of school or her first best friend presents itself and I have to shift the missed moments in my hands around and around and around and I can't juggle more; I just can't.

If I sift through my emotions surrounding this investigation, if I dig way, way down I can find those that have settled at the bottom because I don't want them to see the light of day.  And I can admit two things:

1. I hate this because my midwife is my friend and I am sorry and worried for her.
2. When the circumstances of Charlotte's birth are questioned/investigated/called out I feel like the blame is on me, like people look at me and see guilt and the shame of a bad mother written all over my face and heart.

I don't know if I helped or hindered this evening.  I don't know if my flustered ramblings made any sense, or if they even mattered.  I spoke my truth, I shared my experience and it is out of my hands now.

As the investigation continues, and hopefully draws to a close, I hope those investigating remember there is a grieving family at the heart of it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

monday blues & one embarrassing story

How about a slightly embarrassing story to brighten your day?

Before I share I want to thank my brother for his service.  I know he has friends he is missing and remembering this Memorial Day.  Love you brother, thank you for protecting our country and its freedoms.


I spent my day cleaning the heck out of our house.  I washed windows

cleaned blinds, swept, mopped, organized and alphabetized the spice cabinet.

I AM SO STRESSED AND ANXIOUS I just had to do something besides fret.  J handled B most of the day so I could work out my issues via cleaning and scrubbing.

On top of cleaning and organizing most of the house (the upstairs is still a disaster) I baked bread.

A few days ago I discovered that the bread I've been eating has high fructose corn syrup.  When J came home from work I told him about it.

His response?

"I know."

"You know?"

"It's cheap bread, what do you expect?"

"I don't know, no high fructose corn syrup?"

He shrugged.  "Why do you think I haven't been eating it?"

"I thought you didn't like 8 grain bread!"

"I don't like high fructose corn syrup."

"I had no idea, why didn't you tell me?"

"I assumed you read the label."

"Of course I didn't."


"J, I've been poisoning myself!!"

He laughed. "No you haven't. It's not good for you, but you haven't been poisoning yourself."

"I am going to die!"

"No you're not."

"I can't feed this to B!  That's it, I'm making bread from scratch."

J's eyes lit up.  He's been hoping for this.

"Great!  I'll mill flour for you."

"What?  Why do we need to mill flour?  Can't we buy it at the store?"

"It will be SO good if we mill our own flour, trust me.  And if the world ends we'll have flour."

"But, so, um, how?  Won't we need wheat?  Like, stalks of wheat?  How does this work?"

"We'll order it online, and then store it in the basement."


"Yes, seriously!" 

And then he disappeared for a while.  He was probably looking up flour mills and bulk wheat prices online.  I didn't ask; I didn't want to know.

I finished off the evil bread a few days ago.  I can't believe I didn't know it had high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, I'm reading labels more carefully now.  I am so ashamed.

This afternoon I whipped up my first two loaves of homemade bread.

And tonight I'll make french toast for dinner from this bread, because when life gets hard, when I feel overwhelmed I take control of what I can and find joy in the small things, like cooking, cleaning, baking, organizing and eating food that brings me comfort and warmth.

*Bread recipe from four minus one makes five*
*Cut salt to 3t, 3T way too much*

Saturday, May 26, 2012

be still

Oh, everyone, all of you wonderful people, hugs.  Thank you for all of the comments on my last post.  It's been so difficult here lately and I really needed to rest my head for a moment and whine.

On Thursday night I received a call and I've been a mess ever since.  As soon as the person on the line said, "We would like to ask you some questions about your daughter's birth," my heart dropped, my stomach twisted in half, and my world tilted, memories flying off the disorganized shelves in my mind.

I haven't managed to right things yet.  I'm in a place of worry and fear and anxiety. On Tuesday evening an investigator and a "subject expert" from the agency investigating the complaints surrounding Charlotte's birth will come to our home (they are being very accommodating and apologetic) to interview us.  He asked if we would be willing; I suppose saying "no," was an option, but I hope - and perhaps foolishly so - that if we do this it will be the end of the investigations.

I cried immediately after hanging up the phone, my stomach in knots, my heart hammering in my chest.  I'm trying to let the worry and anxiety flow through me so it doesn't collect and create a maelstrom of crazy in my brain.  It's not working very well.

We hung a print in our living room recently.  I see it daily, and in the midst of my five minutes after hanging up the phone panic it caught my eye.

print from naptime diaries


God's got this.

Okay, okay, okay.

I'm trying to find stillness and peace.  I'm trying to see this as an opportunity for my voice to be heard.  For our family to say our piece, state our impressions and feelings.

It won't be easy, I don't want to do it, but maybe it will finally bring all of this to a close.

Friday, May 25, 2012

wits' end

I just don't know what to do about B's sleep problems.  I know things just seem bleak because I'm exhausted and in the middle of trying to get him to nap - AGAIN, the morning one was a battle too - but goodness it's frustrating.

We finally had him on a good routine and now he's back to waking constantly.  I think he might be teething, but every time I've thought that before I've been wrong.  Most days I get to the point where my efforts are not working so I give up and put him in his crib where he sobs and screams.  But most of the time that works, and within a few minutes.

Rocking is not wanted, and lately nursing to sleep isn't wanted either.  Standing over the crib was working - and sometimes that still works at night - but most of the time it just makes him try to scale the crib to get to me.

And my saving grace - bringing him to bed with me in the middle of the night, or napping with him - no longer works.  He will not settle anywhere but his crib, and he does not tolerate anyone sleeping next to him.

The problem is that he doesn't want to nap, he wants to stay up and play, but he must nap for his health, and my sanity, so I have to ensure he does.

I've tried everything, I've even strewn toys about his crib so he can play if he doesn't want to sleep right away.  It's like he has to cry some to fall asleep, and when I hold him while he does so it's a harder, more angry cry.

Honestly, I don't know if this is best.  I have no idea if we're doing the right thing. We're trying,  we've read a few articles and books, but what those sleep and parenting books don't tell you is that every baby is different, and what's right for one may not be right for another. (I despise parenting books, but that's another topic for a different day.)

B is sleeping now.  When I went in the third time to soothe him he let me rock him to sleep.  Not in a cradle hold, mind you, but tummy to tummy, his head pushed up against my neck, which he used to hate.

This too shall pass, right?


I'll take "been there," "know your pain," "shoot, I'm sorry," but I would rather not hear, "do this, "try this," "you're going about it all wrong."  This is one of those times I need to vent a bit without receiving advice in return.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Right Where I Am 2012: Two Years, One Week, Three Days

Once again Angie is providing a place for the babylost to explore where we are at in our grief.  Here is my post from last year.

I've been up since 5:30 am.  Charlotte's brother decided it was a perfectly acceptable time to get up and begin our day.  He is eight months old, nearly nine now, and watching him grow has shifted the shape of my grief.

Charlotte's second birthday deathday anniversary day has come and gone.  I'm not as bereft as I was after the first one had passed, but I do feel  empty and sad.  It feels like each day before the 14th of May is a build up, a waiting, and then her day comes and it's anti-climatic, so hollow, and somehow I have to find a way to make it meaningful.

And after her day I find myself in a place of watching the spring rain soak the ground and nourish new life, which just guts me.  Spring is a time of growth, of budding, blossoming, blooming, and having a spring baby that died feels like a spectacularly cruel joke.

I feel like the world is going on without me, all I want to do is sit in the grief for a moment, but there's no time.  That's the biggest difference between now and one year ago.  I can't be with the grief like I want to.  I can't fall apart as I would like. We are far too busy with life, family, an eight month old for me to curl up on the couch for a week and let the world fade.

There have been few tears.  I sobbed through Mother's Day, but didn't cry a tear on her day.  I rarely cry, my grief doesn't manifest itself in that way anymore.  Or maybe I don't have tears left, perhaps that first year without her brought so many tears I am wrung out.

I want to cry today.  I'm exhausted.  I'm not eating well.  I'm not eating enough.  I am so worn down.

After her day it takes me a while to regain my footing, find the blessings and joy in life once more.  Prayer and meditation help.  I've rediscovered God and faith this year.  I pray daily once more.  I've accepted the non-answers surrounding her death and life.  I don't understand, but I accept that she's gone and my love and wishing won't return her to me and our home.

I'm in a place of near stability.  Yesterday marked four months of weekly counseling sessions.  Counseling has dispelled much of the anxiety, anger, and raw grief.  I wish I would have started when I was pregnant with Bennett, but I couldn't see a way to manage it.  I wasn't coping well enough to find the help I needed.

Last week I told my counselor I hate this time of year because the remembering hurts so much.  I don't want to feel like I did two years ago ever again.  Those emotions feel dangerously close on her day, which makes me anxious and panicky.

Losing her was so awful - indescribably so - the pain seared my heart, burned my soul.  I'll never be the same again, and just thinking about it makes me feel nauseated.  My counselor reassured me, "But it won't hurt that bad again.  It's been two years, you're healing."

So I am.

Not forgetting, not setting aside, not ignoring, but finding a way to comfortably carry my grief as I build a life without the sweet girl who made me a mama.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

bennett clapping

This eighth month has been insane.  Bennett has perfected his army crawl, learned how to pull himself up on most anything, started solids via the baby led weaning method (kid took down chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and raspberries this evening) and learned how to clap.

Most of these skills he's learned in the past week and a half.

Guys, I'm exhausted.

I have 12,000 pictures to share with you soon - many of them food related - but tonight this short video of Bennett clapping will have to do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

quiet spring afternoon

I don't have much to say.  It's afternoon, it's raining, there are toys strewn all over the floor, B is finally napping.

We've reached a transitional stage, he does not want to be rocked to sleep, but he's not quite able to put himself to sleep from a fully awake state.  So I set him in his crib, leave him alone for a few minutes; he fusses when he's done playing with his giraffe and pulling himself to a stand in every corner of the crib.  I lay him down, give him his blanket, kiss his forehead, and stand next to the crib while he falls asleep.

It's frustrating, annoying - why won't you just let me rock you?! - but it's better than the emptiness of unused baby items in a dark nursery.

This month has been a studied concentration in keeping it together.  It's not gone how I would like, life has been too much in the way for me to withdraw as I wish, as I need to.

It's pouring, sheets of rain from the skies soaking our vegetable gardens and flower beds, encouraging growth and strength.  When it rains in May like this I remember the weeks after she died in all of its awful shock-struck grief.

It all connects in my mind - rain and May and spring and blooms and a new life ended too soon.

Miss you sweet girl.  Miss you, miss you, miss you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

busy b

This morning B did not want to be rocked before rest time.  We read a book, turned on the white noise machine, turned off the light, and then he was done with mama, so I set him in his crib.

I sat in the living room listening to him talk as I texted a few people.  B talked and talked and talked.  Then he laughed.  Then he talked some more.  I texted my friend, "I just know he's standing up, lecturing to the room at large."

A few minutes later the talking turned to screaming.  Scared screaming.  I rushed in to see what the matter was.  B was standing up, holding on to his crib with one hand and smacking his changing table with the other (his changing table is attached to his crib).  Poor sweetheart was done with the standing and orating, but he couldn't get down, he was paralyzed by fear.

"You have to let go, B," I told him.  "Drop down on your bottom when you're done standing."  I picked him up and rocked him for a few minutes.  Once he fell asleep, I set him in his crib and tiptoed out of the room.

Every day - shoot, every hour - is a new adventure with him.  In a very short time he has changed so much, it's like he found the accelerate development button or something.  B is scooting - he can crawl, but he prefers scooting because he's so darn fast - pulling to a stand, climbing, smacking two toys together, in love with exploring food, and he ditched a feed last night, he only woke once, at 1am, for milk.
B explores the coffee table

This is dangerous territory.  It makes me want a newborn to snuggle.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


We have a busy day ahead of us.  I'm trying to write this quickly while J sleeps and B wreaks havoc/tortures the dog.

Last night the birth center where Charlotte was born had a mama's night out for their clients.  The birth center has been working on building a group of women who support one another; the online group they created is a wonderful resource, and as summer comes there will be yoga/playgroups/more chances to get together.  It's a wonderful thing.

Going to the birth center in May is hard for me, but my neighbor friend who delivered her second with my midwife was going so I went along.  It was fun to meet and talk with people I've connected with online, and there were a few sweet babies to cuddle on too.  B was in bed, that kid is not nice when he's tired.

The gathering was behind the birth center, in the orchard.  The birth center sits on a beautiful piece of land.  I'm SO jealous of the midwife who lives there with her family full time.

Even though I was exhausted after a night out I couldn't fall asleep.  I thought about the evening, about how hard it is to walk into those situations with my one dead, one living baby.  I told my friend I hate being the one who brings down a party with my dead baby.  And with it being May there were conversations with the midwives about how I am, how they are, how it is two years later now (I forgot how healing it is for me to see them during this time, to have people who were there remember with me).

I was thinking about that anon person who said I need to move on, stop dwelling over Charlotte's death.  You know what?  That would be nice.  I would love to be a mom who can walk into a situation like last night's with a living baby or two, no dead darling darting among the shadows in my mind.  It would be a relief to feel normal, to feel like a mother instead of a grief stricken shadow of a person.

Honestly, I hate knowing I would be a completely different - not necessarily better - parent had Charlotte lived.

I'll never know what it's like to parent without grieving. I'll always have my extra spirit baby no one can see.  I'll always have to decide how much, or when, to share. I'll always be the one with the dead baby.  It's an awkward cross to bear, it's a strange place to be.  I don't know if I'll ever be comfortable with it.

ETA: I think most people are comfortable with me and my story, I just FEEL super awkward about it all.

Friday, May 18, 2012

what I want

This is a long list, I have a whole lot of wants, but what I really want right now is to share Charlotte's story.  I feel compelled to grow, to speak, to write, to meet others who are struggling and find relief in the sharing of pain.

In October there's going to be a conference in Indianapolis for Christian bloggers - Influence.

I really, really, really want to go.  Like, what furniture can I sell so I can go?  But I don't think this is the right time.  Bennett will be just over a year, he'll still be nursing quite a bit.  J works full time, and then some, he's picking up some extra work at the hospital so we can pay our debt off a bit faster.  It just doesn't make sense for me to go.

Letting things happen gradually has always been a problem for me.  When I want to do something I want to do it RIGHT AWAY.  I don't think about what the future holds, how going to a blog conference may be more feasible two or three years from now.

I want to GO, I want to DO, I'm READY

but this blog is just something I do on the side.  It blesses me greatly, but I don't make any money from it, and the only way I'm going to a blog conference is if I make the money myself, and making money is not my focus, or job, right now.

I want to PUBLISH, I want to SPEAK, I want to SHARE

but that may not be the role God intended for me.

So I'm trying to be PATIENT, LISTEN, ACCEPT

and put my whole heart into being a mother and wife.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

adventures in baby-led weaning

When I decide to do something I do it full force, all out, with spirit and soul.  So when we switched over to baby led weaning a couple days ago I decided to do so with abandon.

This afternoon my mom and I went out to lunch after an appointment.  B came along, of course, and he was fussy because he didn't take a good morning.  We ate at a new cafe, it was a trendy modern concrete box of a place which someone set down across from the hospital where Charlotte died.  A really random place for it, but hey, it's wine country, it works.

We asked for a high chair, but they seated us in a booth and it just didn't work.  I was like, really, you want me to put my baby, who manages to twist and contort himself enough I worry every time I stick him in one of these things, three feet below my seat?  Only I'm polite so I just asked for a booster seat.  Yeah, like that was going to work.

As soon as the food came (turkey avocado sandwiches) Bennett decided to dig in.  He was grabbing at my food, reaching for my plate, squawking.  I decided to be super cool casual mom and let him munch a bit even though I didn't have a bib.  As I told my mom, I've had better ideas.

Bennett ate a little bit of bread, smeared avocado all over the place, did his best to launch himself off his booster seat and onto my plate where he would have full food access.  He really wanted my fries, but they had spices on them so I wasn't sure if I should let him try.

Then I gave him to my mom to wrangle so I could eat a few bites.  He immediately grabbed a slice of avocado off her plate and tried to get it to his mouth.  All we could do was laugh, the situation was completely out of our control.

After our lunch adventure I realized how much Bennett loves to choose and eat his own food.   Life is interesting, parenting is interesting; it's a study in patience and listening.  Bennett may only be eight months, but he's telling me he wants to feed himself so I have to back off my plan and let him do his thing.  Super hard for this control freak, but necessary.

So tell me, how does one do this?  I have a book, but I'm still confused.  I'm concerned about allergies.  Am I supposed to introduce one food every few days like with purees?  How does that work when Bennett is selecting what he wants from our plates?  Do I just not worry about what foods we're introducing when? Just today he's had bread, avocado, broccoli and banana.

I'm totally fine tossing a few bits on his tray and letting him do his thing, but I want someone to tell me it's okay first.  I'm a rule oriented person, baby-led weaning is a bit undefined for me to be comfortable with it.  And I don't know if I have the confidence required.  I think I'm a bit afraid I'll break him, or something along those illogical lines.

I'm struggling with the mess of it all too.  I'm such a clean freak I want to wrap Bennett in plastic when he eats.  I need to buy better bibs, as well as stain remover. Any recommendations?

Thanks, as always, for your advice and thoughts.  It's much easier to ask you what to do than spend hours trolling the internet or reading a book.

To end I thought I would share this picture of Bennett:

He's sucking on lavender from the garden.  Perhaps that's taking baby-led weaning too far? (:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

8 months!

I'm a week late on this, it was one of a thousand details I let slip through my fingers as Charlotte's birthday approached.

Bennett is so busy, I spend a lot of my time making sure he doesn't motor out the front/back door, down the stairs, up the stairs, over the dog, under the dog ... you get the idea.  Kid is crazy busy.  Here he is stuck on his toy basket.  He made it down, eventually.

He can pull himself to a stand now too.  He likes to do it in the bath.  I feel a heart attack coming on every time I see him scaling the tub walls with his letter of the night (we bought him a letter/numbers set for the bath) clenched between his teeth.  Just last week I was able to set him in the bath and play with his toys, splash around with him.  Now I have to keep my hands up at all times, ready to catch him when he goes over.

We still haven't tackled solids.  If someone wants to take over this portion of Bennett's upbringing, call me.  Bananas, carrots, broccoli are the only things he will tolerate so far.  I'll be honest, I wanted to do the purees, Baby Bullet (terrible product name) make my own baby food thing, but it's just not working so I am reluctantly jumping on the baby led weaning bandwagon.

Of course I have to say, 8 months already!?  I guess I should start planning his first birthday!

Who am I kidding, it's already mostly planned.

(in)courage guest writer

Blessed to be featured at (incourage) this morning.  To read click HERE

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

lavender, lilies

Thank you for the love, everyone.  My heart is blessed, we were uplifted as a family on a very difficult day.

It was so strange to be intensely sad again, to feel overwhelmed by grief, like I couldn't get my head above water.  Today isn't magically better, it doesn't work like that, but at least I'm treading water again, and it feels like the shore is near if I just float a bit longer.

It was so strange to be attached to my phone again.  To check for emails and text messages in the middle of the night.  After Charlotte died I would wake in the middle of the night, reach for my phone, scroll through old comments, read new ones.  Comments seem so insubstantial, just a few lines, an acknowledgement, a nod, a hug, but they are lifelines in this mess.

It was so strange to drive through the west side of town yesterday.  Down the hill, the sun beating through the windshield.  I glanced at the clock, my stomach rolled - 4:30.  Two years ago I was in the same spot at the same time.  My mom was driving, J behind us in our car.  I wanted to be with J, but I couldn't get from my mom's car to ours - and then there was that empty car seat in the back - so I let her carry me home, hot, uncomfortable, bruised and bleeding, swollen eyed.

I asked her to stop at Dairy Queen.  I wanted vanilla ice cream with M&M's.  I gave up chocolate, you see, because of that one moment when Charlotte's heart skipped a couple beats. There was no reason for it, it was probably normal, but the only suggestion, the only thing I could do to ensure her safety was to avoid all caffeine, so I gave up chocolate because it has trace amounts, and it turned out not to matter.  

So it'd been months, no chocolate, and I asked my mom to stop from the back seat, I couldn't even move to the front I was so beat, but the traffic was terrible so I said, "never mind, never mind, just take me home."  And she took me home, then went to the store for vanilla ice cream and M&M's because that's what moms do when the world is crashing down, they fix what they can.

I cannot believe how hard yesterday was.  And the day prior.  Shoot, Mother's Day was harder in some ways.  I couldn't stop crying, it sucked.

The way I felt on May 14, 2010 - and in the days following - was unspeakably awful. I don't want to feel that way again, ever, it just hurts too much, and I felt those emotions coming back as I remembered vanilla ice cream with dots of color, columbines from the yard in a glass vase, slowly wilting and dropping soft petals on the nightstand, cards accumulating on every surface, hushed voices, weary faces, red-rimmed eyes.

Life altered, turned upside down.

The point of an anniversary is to remember, but it's wrenching this remembering, absolutely wrenching, and I need time to recover.  Now is when the retreating occurs, when I don't want to interact because I can't, I don't know how to be normal, it takes me a while to get back there, to find the blessings again, to recognize how life has changed, to see how this May can be less sad than that one.

This morning I cut lavender and lilies from the yard.  The lilies were here when we moved in, the lavender was a gift from our midwives last year.  I set them in a vase, placed them on the bookshelf, in the sun.

It's my way of letting the light in.  I haven't wanted cut flowers from the yard since she died, it's been too painful, especially the columbines, the sight of them just breaks my heart, but I want to acknowledge, I want to cradle her spirit, and in lavender she exists, a sprite come to watch over our home and hearts.

Monday, May 14, 2012


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