Showing posts with label one year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label one year. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

happy birthday, ainsleigh hope!

We celebrated Ainsleigh all day today. This year has zipped by! It is a blessing to be mama to a girl who is so full of life and energy. I've been feeling really down, but this morning we spent time with Ainsleigh's almost birthday friend, and another good friend, and it lifted my spirits so much. Maybe because we all brought treats ... We gave the little girls pedicures and I felt better emotionally than I have in DAYS. We need our friends, sisters! 

Darling, darling Ainsleigh girl,

You are one!! What a fun year it's been! You like to sit in mama or daddy's lap while you play. You love your brother because he makes you laugh. You can walk a little bit, but you prefer crawling. You love food - oranges and grapes are your favorite. You talk and sing all the time. You are VERY, VERY loud. You love music - you clap and bounce when your brother turns it on. You like to put things on your head. You're developing a sense of humor. You call your people mama, dada, and bra (brother). You know how to wave and stack, and climb. You celebrated your birthday by climbing on the kid table with the toy bus. You fell off and hit the side of your eye. You might have a tiny shiner for your first birthday party!

We love you so much, and we are so happy you are ours. There is a part of me that needed you so much, baby girl. You won't understand until you yourself are a mama, but when I say you are my hope I mean you literally made it possible for me to breathe deeply after years of shallow gasping. You are the answer to so many prayers.

Love you, Ainsey girl!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

our story/part 3

I wasn't going to share another piece so soon, but tonight is a break the rules that don't really exist kind of night. If you want to read the other bits I've shared you can find them here:

I sat in the passenger seat of our car holding Charlotte's urn. The back was stuffed with mementos of her, including a large piece of art from a friend which I had wanted to leave at home, but Jonathan insisted on bringing it and I wasn't going to say no to his only request.

I felt sick to my stomach. I peered over my belly, a five month bump growing bigger every day, to the floor to make sure the notebook with the words I wished to say was tucked inside my purse. I shifted back and forth on my seat.

“Do you think anyone will come? I mean, I know people have said they will come, but do you think they actually will?” I asked Jonathan. “It is a fairly depressing event. A first birthday party for someone who can't be there. A quasi memorial service a year after the fact.”

Jonathan patted my knee. “They'll come. People will come because you are important to them.”

That's what I was worried about. I didn't like asking or expecting people to do things for me. I didn't want to force anyone to sit through an awkward remembrance service. But I needed my loved ones there. On Charlotte's first birthday I needed to have her remembered, even if I had to force a few hands. It was so important to me it made my heart burn with wanting and hope. I needed the flowers, the ceremony, the cards, the sandwiches, the cupcakes, the opportunity for people to speak about her. I needed to leave some of her ashes where we were happiest. Where we heard her heart beat for the first time, where I labored with her, where she briefly entered this world. Oh her time here was brief - from my womb to her daddy's hands to heaven – but she still mattered and I needed to know the tiny seconds of her life were seared on hearts other than mine and her father's.

When we arrived at the birth center I walked down the short path between the parking lot and birth center. I stood beneath a giant clump of lilacs that must have been planted a hundred years ago.

“I think we'll plant the rose and bury her ashes here,” I said to Jonathan. I was glad we were allowed to leave a small memory of Charlotte in the place where she was born.

Jonathan nodded then tilted his head toward the road. “Is that Patricia?”

I looked at the white car speeding up the hill. “Yes, that's her.”

“She's flying,” Jonathan observed as he walked back to our car to unload.

Patricia hugged me tightly then showed me the place close to the front where the rose would go.

“I thought you would want it more to the side ...” I let my voice trail off.

“This is fine,” Patricia said.

Patricia clipped lilacs and other flowers while Jonathan and I prepared the room where Charlotte was born. We set up candles, to be lit immediately after the short service, and displayed photos and mementos of Charlotte around the room. We would each say a few words, then allow others to speak if they wished. While a close friend sang “One More Day” by Rocket Club we would bury Charlotte's ashes and plant a yellow Charlotte rose. Then we would give people time to pay their respects and leave a few pale yellow rose petals beneath the rose we planted. At the end food would be offered as well as a chance to walk through the room where Charlotte was born.

We had the morning planned out, minute by minute, thanks to a friend who designed most of the service. I thought I was prepared, but as I rested a moment on the bed in the room where Charlotte was born I began to dread the event. People were arriving, many of them early, and as they drifted from their cars onto the lawn I began to realize they would want to see and talk to me. I was not ready to be social. I had isolated myself for too long. I wanted people there, but I also wanted to stay inside and remain in the background. I had become comfortable with observing life. I had forgotten how to live without the twin weights of sorrow and wishing holding me within a bubble of solitude.

I stepped into the kitchen where Patricia was arranging the last few flowers into a vase. “I'm not sure about this.”

Patricia paused to rub my back. “This is good. A lot of these people haven't seen you since, right?”

“Some,” I agreed.

“This will be good for everyone. They need to see you and know you're okay.”

I placed my hands on my belly.

Was I okay? I was five months pregnant, alternating between traversing valleys of anxiety and stress with mountains of hope and wanting. Was I okay? That was debatable, but I had invited everyone to come and I needed to get myself together.

“I'm not ready yet,” I whispered to Patricia as I retreated to the bedroom.

People came to me. They sat next to me on the bed, wandered the room quietly looking at Charlotte's picture and footprints. When it was time to begin I gathered myself and walked outside. Somewhere around 40-50 people were there. We had friends and family who drove nearly 4 hours to attend. Grandparents, aunts and uncles were there, as well as friends.

The service was beautiful. As Jonathan and I bent to pour half of Charlotte's ashes into the ground I felt a release deep within me.

I had to say goodbye to Charlotte in a public manner. I had to acknowledge her life before I could greet the baby growing within me. Even though it was a year after she died, and even though it should have been a very different gathering, celebrating and remembering her with a special service felt right. It completed the circle of our first year of grief. It did not cap our mourning, or bind our wounds so tightly scars could not be seen, or seal our hearts from the unique pain of losing a child, but it provided a comfortable ending to the first long year of grieving.

As people silently wandered the room where she was born they met Charlotte and came to know her. So much of parenting a child who is gone is in the small details and slight memories. I only have a handful of things I can tell you about Charlotte, but if you are willing to listen I will tell you every single one. On Charlotte's first birthday I felt loved and blessed to have so many pause their lives to listen to hers.

I had worried over the day for weeks. Months even. As it drew near I thought about canceling because I felt like I was requesting too much of people, myself included. When the service was over, as we tidied up and packed away left over sandwiches and cupcakes, I understood that I had done my best for Charlotte on what should have been her first birthday. I opened my heart and our lives so people could meet a child who would never walk or talk or say I love you, but who would always be my first born; the baby who made me a mother.

We packed the car, said our good-byes and headed home. Down the hill, around the curves, into town and over the bridge. I was relieved to have the day behind us. I was pleased with how it turned out. I held Charlotte's urn on the way home just as I had on the way out. Half of her ashes were waiting at home to be reunited with the custom urn and I was worried it would break on the short drive home.

The night before Jonathan and I had opened the lid of Charlotte's urn and carefully pulled out the red velvet bag tucked inside. I had looked in it before, sometime shortly after she died. It was one of those odd moments of absolute horror and insatiable curiosity that came about quite often after Charlotte died. I wanted to look because it was all that was left of her, but knowing she was reduced to chunky ashes with a metal identification tag mixed in made me feel sick. Then I shoved the plastic baggie back into the red velvet bag, pulled it closed and pushed it into the urn with trembling fingers, but the night before her service I had to divide the ashes in half.

“Should we just put them in another baggie?” I asked J as we peered into the urn.

“No, that won't work. Let's take out half, put it directly in the urn, bury that and then leave this here to put back in the urn when we're all done.”

It made sense, but it felt strange to divide Charlotte's ashes in half. There was so little of her left. Was it wise to cleave her life any more than circumstances already had? I made Jonathan do the pouring. I replaced the lid on Charlotte's urn, then set half of her ashes on the mantle in the red velvet bag.

When we arrived home after the service I tucked the red velvet bag back into the urn and set it above the fireplace with a sense of relief. The remainder of her ashes will stay with the urn until it is time for them to be mixed with ours. It is unsettling that she has gone before us. That her ashes wait to be mixed with ours, that we were not allowed more time with her. Our hearts are closing around the pain, drawing it deeper every day. We are beginning to understand the impossibility and unfairness of continuation as we have lived within deep grief for a year and have met a hard truth: life does not follow rules or obey common order. Charlotte went before us and on her first birthday we honored the brief time in our story where she lived.

Monday, September 17, 2012

well checks and "healthy" babies

We're a bit of a mess over here. I am feeling a bit better, but have very little energy. Bennett is reacting to the antibiotics I am on. Sweet boy is just covered in little red bumps and itchy out the wazoo. Unfortunately I am allergic to all 'cillins - i.e. most antibiotics.

His doctor said I could try switching to a different antibiotic, but there's only one other option for me to take and it has a lot of the same ingredients as the one I am on. So. We are to fight through.

I feel like I should keep a running catalog of Bennett's injuries.


Fat lip (pretty much a permanent thing)
Scrape on his forehead
Scrape on his chin
Innumerable bruises

Dear boy.

And at his one year check up this morning I was told that he lost five ounces since his nine month well check. We made it all the way up to the fifth percentile and now we are back in the first. Five ounces isn't much, but he's already so small it is a bit of a concern. His doctor said she thinks he is suffering from "too healthy of a diet."

Well, shoot. Kid is allergic to most everything. He eats constantly, and still nurses a lot, but he is also the busiest blur of baby I've ever seen.

Only he's one now, so I guess he's a busy toddler blur? Please don't tell me I have to stop calling him baby. I just don't think I can.

I went in to the appointment all concerned about his language skills (which are completely fine) because everyone asks if he is saying words and came out fretting about his weight. Parenting is so hard. Being a mama is so hard. The doctor says, "he lost five ounces." I hear "You are failing at the most important job you will ever have. Feed him anything and everything you can get your hands on."

Bennett is sleeping soundly in the car, which is an entirely different problem. Getting him to settle in his crib for a nap is nearly impossible, but he naps in his stroller and the car. Once the weather turns I guess we will be doing a lot of car naps with lots of blankets and books to keep me warm and entertained while he snoozes.

I need to rest. This mastitis is serious business. I am on the mend, but still exhausted. Did you see Bennett's first birthday party pictures? I think we did a pretty great job with his party. 


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