Friday, May 31, 2013

back to meal planning and a sleep update

I finally sat down and planned out a month of meals. With morning sickness and general pregnancy tiredness I've been really lazy about meal planning and grocery shopping. A few months ago I got frustrated with out budget because we were always over in the food department. Instead of adjusting to the additional cost of Bennett's food I threw the entire plan out the window. This month I'm going to keep track of everything we spend and then we will redo our entire budget. Blah. I seriously wish I could hire someone to do this stuff for me. I hate it.

If you have a little one with dietary restrictions, or if you yourself have them, how do you manage the food/money issue? We buy mostly organic fruits and vegetables as well as local, organic meats (most of the time). Add in Bennett's specialty foods (and my cravings) and there goes the grocery money. I wish using coupons was an option, but every time I look at coupons I get frustrated because they're for foods we don't eat.

My mom went shopping with me yesterday, which was so nice. I could have left Bennett at home with her and gone by myself, but I like to have company. We went to three stores to buy everything for the month. I could have gone to a fourth, but didn't have the energy. Then I left a bag of groceries in the car and didn't realize it until the milk in the bag had been sitting out too long. Oops.

On the sleep side of things progress is being made. Phase two has not been as bad as I expected. In fact, Bennett is doing really well. We're down to one or two night wakings - usually one - and he settles within 10-15 minutes of waking. We go in, readjust his covers, pat his back, then leave his door open for 10 or so minutes to make sure he's asleep. Most nights he sleeps until 4 or 4:30 before needing settled.

Bennett is putting himself to sleep as well. We do our nighttime routine then leave his door open for thirty minutes or so while he puts himself to sleep. It's only been two weeks since we began the gentle sleep training process. I can't believe how far we've come. I'll write a post with tips and ideas in the next few days and then I will stop writing about sleep.

Until the next one comes along.

Speaking of that, we have the big scan a week from today. Eeek. I don't feel ready. The 20 week scan is so nerve wracking. I'm always worried something will be found, and then there's the whole gender issue to contend with as well. Now that I'm nearly halfway through this pregnancy time is speeding by. If this little one comes early like Charlotte and Bennett I'm already halfway done.

When I mentioned the approaching halfway mark to J the other day he said, "I'm sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" I asked.

"Because you have to birth that baby."

Thanks for pointing that out, J. I'm trying not to think about that part of the process. I'm going for the ignore until I can't ignore any longer method this time. Seems like a good plan, right?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

a treat for b: gluten, egg, dairy, nut free bread

Sweet, sweet bread 

B has been doing so well with our new sleeping routine. I wanted to do something special for him since he's adjusted so well and been a little trooper. He's a little young to understand the concept of a reward, but I still wanted to do something. I'm not really into buying toys as a reward, so I chose a bread baking day instead.

I found a recipe with a handful of ingredients and went to our local health food store to buy what we needed. I felt a little like a kitchen witch, buying strange ingredients like arrowroot starch, coconut nectar and teff flour. It was expensive, but most of the things we buy for B are costly.

I used this recipe, but instead of hazelnut butter I used sunflower butter. We just figured out that B is allergic to safflower, but sunflower is okay. *happy dance* We made the bread, let it rise, then I put it in the oven while he napped. The original plan was to make it after nap, but he refused to sleep then passed out in my lap at 2:00. Tricky boy climbed up, held my hand and asked me to sing to him. Five minutes later he was out. For his after nap snack I prepared a plate with plain bread, bread with sunflower butter and bread with goat cheese (finally found one he likes!) B ate it all and asked for more.

I was really pleased with the end result. The bread was simple to make, easy to slice and tasted pretty good. Honestly, it's easier than trying to find something at the store he can eat. I'll probably add this to my baking/cooking routine for him because it's high in protein and calcium, two things he desperately needs in his diet.

Monday, May 27, 2013

toddler bed saga (part two)

Phase one is complete! Dance and sing with me! Okay, maybe not that, still feeling a little nauseous. Let's sit really still and eat chocolate instead.

B understands that the toddler bed is where he must sleep. He doesn't try to come with us, or climb in my arms or wail "mama!!" when he wakes at night.

Brave boy preparing for what's to come (he's not crying, he had an allergic reaction after eating toast from the trash (see last post) and his face is smeared with cream)

B does not understand how to sleep through the night. That's phase two. And it is going to be a rough one. Oh mercy, tonight is night one and I already feel like crying even though he has yet to wake.

After trying the two/three method I wrote about in the last toddler sleep post for a few days we realized it was 

a) stupid
b) totally not working for us 
c) absolutely not right for B

J came up with the brilliant idea to put B in bed, then step outside the door, but leave the door open so he can still see us. It's working really well! B loves sleeping in his toddler bed, he climbs right in at night, and after we do the usual bedtime routine he usually falls asleep within 10-15 minutes. This is a vast improvement over our previous time (1-2 hours!!!!). He has also started staying in bed at night when he wakes up. There are far fewer wailing trips to the door to wait for one of us to stumble downstairs and urge him back to bed.

However, we are still stumbling downstairs multiple times a night to settle him. 

SO - phase two: teaching him how to go back to sleep without any assistance at all. We're going to start slow, let him fuss a bit before we open the door and let him know we're there, then work our way up until he sleeps through the night. Sounds simple, but I don't know if it will work. I'm so tired from phase one (and I had a lot of help from J!) I'm not sure I'll survive phase two. B is tired as well, but we are making progress so we're going to push on.

We're having a little fun too: a couple nights ago it was 4:45 in the morning and I could not get B to settle. I'd been up 40 minutes and just wanted to sleep so I left his door open a crack and went back to bed. I woke up at 7:15 to toddler feet racing through the downstairs of the house. As B called out, "Hi, Iz!!" from the living room I kicked J awake and said, "Baby's on the loose! Go get him!"

I have no idea if these posts are helpful, or useful, but this is how we are gently sleep training our toddler. I'm not saying waiting until 20 months is ideal, but it seems to be working. I'll follow up with another post or two, perhaps do one on how we set B's room up now that he's a free agent at night.

One other bit of news that has nothing at all to do with toddler beds: I figured out how to tweak the Blogger settings so I can directly reply to comments via email. I think it's working ... ?? and I really look forward to using the feature!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

toddler food allergies // tears // difficult seasons

While getting in the car at the grocery store today I glanced at the car next to me and saw a mom leaning over the backseat handing half a cookie to her little one. She was eating the other half, of course, and the smile on her little's face when he accepted his half almost made me cry.


a) because of pregnancy hormones

b) because there has to be serious advance planning - and I usually have to do the baking - before I can share a cookie with Bennett.

Everything comes in waves and cycles. There are days, weeks, months even, when Bennett's allergies feel manageable and easy. Then there are times, like now, when I just want to feed the kid a peanut butter sandwich because I'm exhausted and if I have to read the back of one more food package I might scream.

This morning Bennett wandered into the living room eating toast crusts. I was busy writing the grocery list. When I looked up I stared at him for a second then jumped to my feet and grabbed the toast from his hand. I blamed myself, thinking I had left my plate out after eating toast just before bed last night, but when I flipped up the trash can lid there - a good ways down - was the remainder of the toast. Usually when he starts messing with the trash I hear him, but this morning I didn't hear a thing.

Bennett was itchy all day. We kept an eye on him, but wheat just makes him itchy and rashy - his poor mouth looks just awful from being in contact with the bread - so we didn't give him anything (other than homeopathics).

While we were out grocery shopping I continued my quest to find bread he can eat. I know he doesn't have to eat bread (what would I put on it anyway?) but the kid is eating toast out of the trash, obviously he feels like he's missing out on something. All gluten free bread has eggs, egg whites, or safflower. Even the gluten free flour tortillas I was looking forward to buying him have egg whites. I could make his bread, but I'm barely keeping up with his food as is. Adding bread in seems like a lot right now.

This evening J made taquitos for dinner. I looked up gluten free flour tortilla recipes online, but didn't write down a recipe, or buy ingredients or remember to find a recipe with ingredients we have in the house so Bennett had the filling without the tortilla. No big deal, really, but it was the last straw.

I try to focus on the positives. Like how blessed we are to have the money to buy specialty foods, and how lucky we are to have many stores nearby that carry foods Bennett can eat. But the day to day is wearing sometimes (and I really think much of this is pregnancy related right now). I have everything crossed that when we have allergy testing done after his second birthday we'll find out he can have tree nuts. I am hopeful that he will grow out of his egg allergy as well.

But there's so many worries: is Bennett eating too much fruit sugar? How do we prevent cross contamination in a small kitchen built in the '40's? Where are we going this week? What food do I need to bring? Why does he have a rash? Have we introduced something new? Did I forget to check an ingredient list? Why is Bennett's weight stalling again? How do we make sure he gets enough to eat on such a limited diet? Are we doing the best we can? Etc. Etc.

Just to give you an idea of what we're up against, these are the foods Bennett cannot have: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, dairy, corn, safflower (maybe sunflower) peaches, pears, sesame seeds.

Seriously. Lately meal planning has felt like bashing my head repeatedly against a wall. I'm ready for it to feel manageable again. I'm ready to meal plan and go grocery shopping without having a breakdown and/or crying. 

I hope this post doesn't come across as ungrateful or whiny. I'm really tired today (toddler bed sleep training post #2 coming soon). And sometimes I just want to share a darn preservative laced cookie with my son.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

the quiet days

I like being a stay at home mom much more than I thought I would. I like the simple routines and loose schedule that provide structure and shape to each day. The other day B and I went to the library, as we do nearly every week.

When I told him we were heading to the library he surprised me by gathering his library books and bringing them to me. I was planning on keeping them one more week before selecting new ones, but when I asked him, "Are you ready to take these back?" he said, "Yes," so I put them in our library bag.

We were not there on a toddler story time day, but the discovery room was open so B played in there for a while, then we picked out a few books for him. We went to the store to buy one item for dinner, then headed home. After lunch we read his new library books then I rocked him down for his nap.

I curled up on the couch and immersed myself in an infuriating book with excellent character development (Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I need someone else to read it so I can discuss my thoughts and feelings.) It was cold and rainy. Isabel curled up on the rug by my feet and slept. It was so quiet I could hear Bennett's white noise whooshing faintly in the background.

It was perfect. It feels wrong to write that because I always feel like I need to add: well, as perfect as life can be without Charlotte here. But this sweetly quiet life isn't all about Charlotte, or her absence is it? It's mostly about the child who came after, who needs me now, who requires parenting and nurturing day after day.

And there just is something perfect about a quiet house on a cold, rainy spring day with a little boy in comfy clothes snuggled in his bed. In the spacious cavern of grief Charlotte left behind sweet contentment has slowly built a shelter around my heart. And I can't honestly tell you how, or when, that happened. We lose people - and things - that mean the world to us, but somehow we go on. Somehow we continue to breathe, and as the days spool out with consistent rhythm we build a new life in the space left behind because that is the option left to us.

I've had twenty months with just Bennett. When the next babe comes along I'll have two solid years with him behind me. I've just begun to realize that my solo time with Bennett is coming to a close. And it's making me super sad. I dropped him off for child watch at the gym yesterday then couldn't wait to pick him up, even though only a mere hour had gone by.

I'm just beginning to realize how much I needed this time with Bennett. The past twenty months have healed my heart and stitched over some of the raw wounds I thought may never close. The (sometimes monotonous) day to day activities that come with new life have helped me weave my life into something beautiful I cherish, instead of something I have to get through because, really, what other choice do I have?

Bennett may never know how much I needed him. Not any old rainbow baby, HIM. His brightness, his joy, his crazy energy and zest for life has restored some of the mother confidence I so desperately lacked after Charlotte died, and has made me realize how worth it all of this is. Even though it hurts, even though there is remarkable potential for pain, growing and birthing these little humans is so worth it.

And I think, just maybe, I'm finally starting to connect to this third baby. Because I want to see how he or she shapes me. Because I want to learn what he or she has to teach me. Because I want to look back a year from now and say, "Ah, yes, this is even better."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

this is so exciting!

You know you're the mom of a kid with food allergies when a new EpiPen makes you super excited. (I'm not getting paid for this post. The makers of the product don't know me from Adam). Just watch the video. If you have allergies, or a little one with allergies, you'll understand why I'm excited.

More information about the new Auvi-Q EpiPen can be found here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

toddler bed saga

We are on night four of Operation Bennett Sleep Through the Night for the Love of All That is Holy Please. There is a plan, provided by our naturopath before we decided to take a break from that doctor, but the plan does not seem to be working.

The basics: night one we spent two minutes in the room with B using comforting words, then stepped out for three minutes, then put him down as we normally do (sitting next to his bed). On night two we went in for two, out for three, in for two, out for three, then settled him as we normally do. Bet you can guess what we did the following night.

Every time B wakes up during the night we do the same routine. Our doctor said, "it works because kids get bored." Well, B is far from bored. He's mad, and maybe even a little anxious, but he is not bored. As soon as we step out of the room he flies out of his bed and beats feet to the door where he wails until we come back in. And at the end of the in and out time it takes us FOREVER to settle him down (I'm talking 45 minutes to 1.5 HOURS).

After three nights of 3-5 hours sleep broken into chunks I'm feeling a little crazy. Pregnancy fatigue is not helping, of course. J has been stepping in as much as he can, but I try to preserve his sleep since he works every day. Also, naps are super hard to come by so I don't get to rest during the day. We're going to try this for a week, but by the time we reach that goal I might be certifiable.

And if this doesn't work we don't know what to try next.

Sleep has always been a major issue for us. I think some of it can be chalked up to B's allergies (he was itchy for a good chunk of his early months, which meant a lot of interrupted sleep). Another bit of it can be blamed on me, I think. I've always believed that if B needs me he should have me, which means if he wakes at night he expects to come in to our bed. And there have been times when I need him; when I need to know he is alive and breathing through the night. He's never attached to a toy or blanket. He's never learned how to self soothe. And all of our attempts to teach him have failed miserably.

I feel like I've completely failed in this area of parenting. B is 20 months old and I can count on one hand the number of times he has slept through the night. I really hope this plan kicks in and works in the next couple days. I have no idea what to do if it doesn't.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

chuff-chuff! {fun toddler activities in the willamette valley}

B and I went on a fun play date with my mom and nephew while J was at work today. There is a train park 45 minutes from here where kids can ride little trains. It was a blast. B is really into trains right now. We rode 5 times before my mom and I called it in. The trains are great for little ones, but not so friendly for mamas and grandmas. Especially pregnant mamas. My back, hips and pelvis are quite sore this afternoon, but B had so much fun I don't mind. He is currently sleeping in my arms, which makes me dread bedtime this evening as it is already 4:00 here.

There are two types of trains. This type you sit on the bench while your little one sits below you. I liked this one, but B couldn't see as well. Older kids can sit on their own, of course. The other type is a very narrow bench which you straddle. B loved those trains because he could see really well, but it was very, very uncomfortable.

Molalla train park is open 12-5, Sundays only, May through October. Admission is free, but a donation is suggested. Parking is very, very limited. I recommend getting there a few minutes before the gates open. There is a great picnic area and room for kids to run around. There is a small cafe with a few items. The bathrooms are clean and nice, though there isn't a diaper changing station. I highly recommend this activity if you live in the Portland/Salem area. No one paid me for this post. We just had a super fun morning and I want to share the park information with local parents.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

nervous, but brave enough

This morning we stopped at J's work before doing the grocery shopping. J thought it would be fun to take a look at the baby, see if we could guess the gender. I was reluctant because we did the same thing with Charlotte and I'm wary of repeating anything I did while pregnant with Charlotte. I was also terrified of seeing a still baby with no heartbeat, but I heard the baby yesterday and felt the baby today so I knew things were most likely okay.

Having J do a quick scan is a fun way for him to be involved in the pregnancy. He doesn't come to appointments - though he will be there for the anatomy scan this time - because of his work schedule so he doesn't have nearly as much interaction with the baby.

B enjoyed seeing the baby and helping J scan. It was difficult to tell what the gender was because baby was curled up in a ball. And J brings home the bacon by scanning hearts and veins., not babies. He's only scanned a couple baby bellies so he doesn't have a lot of skill in that area. He's 80% sure we figured it out correctly. I'm 85-90% sure.

SO -

What is it B????

Brother or sister?

Look at that sweet hand! Hard to tell, but this is the tummy and there's a knee in there somewhere too.

We're not telling.

We'll share after the official ultrasound.

What do you think?

Boy or girl?

Friday, May 17, 2013

baby three: 16.5 weeks

First of all: how in the world am I 16 weeks already??

I finally heard baby's heartbeat via doppler today. I have no idea why my babies like to hide from the doppler until 16 weeks (it's not placenta placement) but goodness is it nerve wracking. I was feeling a little worried today when it took the midwife a while to locate the heartbeat, but I felt the baby moving around quite a bit last night (first really strong movements!!) so I knew things were most likely fine.

Our anatomy scan will be here before too long, and the week after that will be the halfway mark. Unless this little one comes early like its siblings. Then I'll hit the halfway mark in a couple weeks!

I feel completely calm about this pregnancy and the baby's arrival until I think about B turning 2 in four months. A month or so after he turns 2 we'll be bringing another baby home! (fingers and toes crossed, of course). Thinking about it that way makes me want to start planning and organizing.

This pregnancy is so different from my first two. I don't have the words to explain it at the moment, but it is very, very different.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

finding solid ground

I went out for pedicures and "dinner" with friends tonight. I say "dinner" because we hit up Taco Bell after our pedicure appointment. Hey, all together we're two pregnant mamas and one nursing mama: we needed tacos.

After "dinner" I meandered home instead of taking the quickest route. I had a lot on my mind. I just wanted to drive, listen to music, think a while. When I woke up this morning I felt calm and renewed. It's like everything that happened last week is gone. And, finally, I don't care what people think about the choices we made for our daughter (I know this could swing back the other way, but today this is where I am). Truth is, there is some information I haven't shared. There are things we know that I don't feel the need to share. I blog a lot, yes, but some of what happened is still private.

I feel like I compacted that first year of grief into one week. I had to cycle through all of the emotions - from guilt to accepting the unknowns to assimilation. Maybe my new year doesn't start on January 1st. Maybe it starts now, May 15th, the day after. I always feel a lot better after her birthday passes. Especially when it passes and all my loved ones are still breathing. It feels risky to be pregnant on May 14th. It feels risky to let B or J out of my sight.

This evening as I drove I listened to a play list I put together last year. It starts with songs that remind me of Charlotte, followed by songs that remind me of B and ends with songs of praise and worship. The last song that was on before I pulled into the driveway is called "Beautiful Things." I feel like the Lord used the beautiful mess that was Charlotte's death to create something in me. To change me. To shape who I am and how I interact with the world as a mother, friend, spouse, daughter, sibling ...

When I was younger I would drive around listening to music and think, "It gets better than this. It has to." And life does get better, but it gets harder too. Everyone has their crisis. Every person has the worst moment of their life. Some haven't encountered it yet, but I hope my worst is losing Charlotte. 

It's not okay that we spent yesterday remembering Charlotte instead of celebrating her. I'll never be done grieving and missing her. But I can honestly say where I've ended up is okay. It's good even. And I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Three: Charlotte's Day 2013

On Charlotte's birthday we spend time together as a family. Last year we went to the beach, this year the zoo. Once again I spent Mother's Day crying on and off, but haven't shed a tear today.

It was a tough day, but okay too. For the first time in a week I didn't think about guilt or fault or blame. I just leaned into my family and enjoyed the day. Three years ... in so many ways it feels like a blessed miracle that I'm still alive and breathing and living without her. Some of that blessed miracle is all of the people I've never met who remembered Charlotte with us today. Thank you for loving her and supporting us.

If only ...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I have a little boy

Who wipes my tears and plays the harmonica for me while tears fall until my eyes burn.

He says, "Mama, mama, mama" with some distress as he gently dips his tiny fingers into the tears covering my face.

I say, "Sorry, sorry, sorry. I miss your sister."

I feel like half a mother.

Because she died.

Because three years on I still think maybe, just maybe, it was my fault.

Because I can take a picture wearing the sweater I wore the last time I held her, with my boy on my hip and new life starting to show in my belly and that's as complete as our family picture will ever be.

I love the little boy who calls me "mama," and I love the little soul we don't yet know, but I'll always feel incomplete; like this holiday isn't for me because I wear motherhood so awkwardly, misshapen as it is by grief and sorrow.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

it's a choice

While working on the Save the Children project I asked the Lord to keep me humble and help me mind my words. I feel so much pride when I get to share about Charlotte, but I wanted to curb the pride so my words didn't become about me, or how amazing I think I am. I wanted the focus to be babies and what can be done to ensure children have the best start at life.

When I checked my blog traffic mid-morning I noticed a lot was coming from a site I've had problems with before. My stomach dropped. I didn't realize sharing our story would stir the anti-midwife / out of hospital births pot.

I stewed for a while. I posted on my personal facebook page and grumbled to the Lord about how I wanted to be humbled, not put through an emotional wringer. I went on a long walk with a friend. She reminded me that Satan uses our weaknesses to bring us to our knees. Because I've found strength and hope in the Lord throughout this time the enemy will try anything to lower my spirits and make me doubt my faith. Then my brother shared Romans 8:30-39 with me and when I finished reading the verses I looked to the wall where the following scripture hangs: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).

And I remembered:

I don't have to fight this battle.

I don't have to let it bother me.

I don't have to let it get under my skin.

I don't have to make my blog private.

I don't have to correct the lies.

I don't have to change anyone's mind.

I don't have to fight.

I woke up this morning disheartened. I forced myself to read what was written (but not the comments, oh no, those are vile) because I thought I might do something about it. I thought I wanted to fight. I thought I should fight.

I vented. I went on another long walk. I talked to J about how I was feeling. And then I decided to let it go.

I'm not going to fight.

It doesn't matter what anyone on that website says. I am held tight in the arms of Jesus and I am surrounded by people who love me and my daughter. I'm not going to engage with someone who uses the death of a baby to further her agenda without caring about the people who have lost that child. I'm not going to argue with someone who thinks I deserve to be without my Charlotte because of the choices I made. I'm worth more than that. Charlotte's story is worth more than that.

If one grieving mother or father reads about Charlotte and feels a little less alone, and if even one baby is saved because I was brave enough to speak about my loss, that woman, and everyone who frequents her blog, can say all the nasty, slanderous things they like about me.

I don't have to hate her, or wish her harm, or try to defend myself. I can let it go. I might have to let it go every. single. morning, but even in this I can lean into my faith and choose joy over sorrow and love over hate.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

11,300 babies (US) // 1 million babies (worldwide)

Photo credit: Save the Children

A couple months ago I connected with the non-profit Save the Children. They put out a "State of the World's Mothers" report every year with a specific focus. The focus this year: newborn health.

You can find the full report HERE and a little bit about my experience with infant loss in the sidebar on page 58. (Charlotte's story is in USA Today as well as The Huffington Post. Find those articles HERE and HERE)

A few facts from the report:

"The US ranks as the 30th best place to be a mother."

"The US has 60% of all first-day deaths, but only 38 percent of live births."

"Newborn deaths now make up 43% of child deaths (under 5)."

"When first-day deaths in the United States are compared to those in the 27 countries making up the European Union, the findings show that European Union countries, taken together, have 1 million more births each year (4.3 million vs. 5.3 million, respectively), but only about half as many first-day deaths as the United States (11,300 in the U.S. vs. 5,800 in EU member countries)."

Charlotte's death was not preventable but many of the deaths occurring in the US and around the world are. The report details the problems, but it also outlines cost effective solutions.

It breaks my heart that so many of these deaths are preventable. In the US, many newborn deaths are linked to premature birth. Women need access to health care - including information about nutrition and the importance of breastfeeding - and quality prenatal as well as postpartum care for themselves and baby.

 Charlotte's third birthday is in one week. By sharing our story I hope to prevent pain and loss for future mothers and fathers. I would appreciate it if you would help by visiting the Save the Children website to learn how you can take action, sharing the State of Our World's Mothers report, the article from USA Today and this post. I can't buy Charlotte a present, or bake her a cake, or ask her what kind of birthday party she would like, but I can raise awareness about neonatal loss so other families can have all the moments parents expect to with their children.

Will you help me?

Monday, May 6, 2013

cease all functions

In late April/early May I swear there is a switch in my brain, or body - maybe both? - that flips over and renders me useless.

I can't make phone calls.

I don't want to shower.

I can't remember anything.

I have lists all over the house:

e-mail this person, message that person, call about this, call about that, do the laundry, sweep ... 

After two (or more) weeks of staring at the list with "get referral of endocrinologist" I managed to do it this afternoon. It wasn't hard, but it felt hard. I honestly thought about calling my mom and asking her to call for me, but then realized I will be 30 soon and I mean, really, how pathetic can a person be?

I can take care of myself (iffy) and I can make sure B is fed, clothed, freshly diapered and loved, but I can't manage much else. J does a lot around here when I'm pregnant, but now that we both have the May blues this ship might go down.

You know how I said it's not bad this year because I'm not crying all the time? Well, I guess it is bad. I guess it's just a different kind of bad. It's a 'I just want to eat tacos and cheeseburgers, drink liters of ice cold diet soda (don't worry, I won't) eat spoonfuls of cookie dough, cuddle with B and stop using the phone/showering/engaging with the world.'

And I don't think I realized how bad it is until I went from bed to the gym in my pajamas and spent two weeks trying to find the courage to call for a quick referral. When Charlotte died it's like all of my little idiosyncracies mushroomed into full blown phobias (I didn't drive or talk on the phone for a long time). After a while they settled back into idiosyncracies, but when spring comes they become phobias once more. Does that make any sense?

This is one of those, my baby died and it just might have made me crazy posts.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 3, 2013

for charlotte

I think one of the reasons this May feels a little easier is because my focus on Charlotte is a bit different than usual.

I've been bursting to share something with all of you, but didn't know what exactly was happening or what my involvement would be.

And, well, I still can't share everything, but I can promise that in 4 short days - May 7th - I will tell all.

What I want to write about tonight is how it's making me feel - if I can do so while still skirting the issue.

I can say I've been involved in a very small way with the non-profit Save the Children and their annual report on worldwide maternal and neonatal health.

It's been so nice to feel like I'm doing something concrete in memory of Charlotte this year. Working with Save the Children has kept me busy, distracted and focused on how to help others. It's reminded me I can do more than sit in the pain and wallow. It's reminded me I can shape my unending sorrow and build an unexpected and beautiful life from the ashes of my expectations.

And it's been healing to spend so much time speaking of Charlotte's short life and how it impacted me. I feel grateful to have so many opportunities to invoke her name. I speak Bennett's name 3,000 times a day, but weeks can go by without her name crossing my lips.

A friend stopped over to borrow something today. When she saw me she said, "Aww, you're wearing your Charlotte sweater." And while I am wearing my Charlotte sweater and eating cookie dough I'm not a massive emotional pile this year. Perhaps it's simply because it's the third year, or perhaps it's this project. It's different, strange even, not to feel completely wrecked.

Those who have gone before, how was the three year anniversary for you?

Time for a little more cookie dough and a good book. I'm trying to focus on taking care of and nurturing myself as her birthday approaches. Make sure you stop by May 7th to hear all about what I've been working on.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

may ritual

At the beginning of May I make a batch of egg free chocolate chip cookie dough.

I press it into a glass container, snap the lid closed.

When I feel sad, or overwhelmed or angry I take the container from the fridge, unsnap the lid and spoon out a bite of cookie dough.

If it's a bad day - looking at you Mother's Day - twelve spoonfuls helps a little.

There is something comforting about cold cookie dough and salty tears.

This year is not too bad so far.

It seems like there's a little less grief crouching behind the smile.

Last year was bad. There were a lot of spoons in the sink.

There have been some tears in the car - for some reason they often come in the car - but overall it's not too bad - yet.

This helps.

And of course B soothes much of the raw ache.

I still see her in him.

3 years.


Here it comes.


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