Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dear Liam

This week we celebrated your graduation from The Children's Garden Nursery School.  Your first school graduation of many in the years to come.  But not your first "graduation".... you have already graduated from  rolling, to crawling, to toddling, to walking, to running at full speed.  From watching the world, to participating in it with eyes wide open.  From babbling, to talking in full sentences (non stop I might add! lol).  From relying on me for all of your nutrition, to making up your own mind about what you do and do NOT want to eat. 

As you graduated from Preschool 

 Last September.  You have already grown so much!

Lately I have been more of a sap than usual.  Every night before I climb into bed myself, I tiptoe into your room to make sure that you are all tucked in and not sleeping half on and half off the bed (which is often the case).  I find myself taking my time lately.  Watching how peaceful you are as you dream, and wiping that little piece of hair off your forehead that I love so much.  When we first moved you into your "big boy bed,"  you seemed so tiny.  Now you seem to fill up the space.  When did that happen?  I wish I could bottle up moments in time so that I could always remember things exactly as they are.  Remember you exactly as you are right now.

You had that little piece of hair even then!
You are just....awesome!! And amazing!!! I love the way that you attack the world each day.  Like there are SO many things to see and do that you have to get started right away.  There is nothing better than your smile and laugh each morning to get me up and going too.  You are so much fun to be around.  People comment on this all the time.  You just have this infectious way about you...people want to make you laugh and smile because it makes them laugh and smile too.  You love your morning cartoons, and Eggos with fruit on them.  You love to be outside.  You could probably stay out there 24/7 if we let you, and be quite content.
You are finally able to reach the peddles on your bicycle, so you love to go for bike rides around our neighborhood.  You are SO fast though!  I can't imagine how you would be without your training wheels.  I probably wouldn't be able to keep up any longer!  Actually, you are pretty much fast at everything you do.  It is very rare to find you walking somewhere. More often than not you are running.  And falling. And banging into things.  You pretty much always have a few bruises to show for your troubles.  Currently you have about 4 on your legs, a scraped knee, and a bruise on your cheek from falling at preschool that does not want to fade away.  But one of the things I love about you is that you always get right back up.  The first time you rode your bike down our laneway, you wiped out at the end.  You cried a little, and then got back on and rode around the block.  You made me so proud.
I know every parent probably says this at one time or another, but you truly are just SO smart buddy! The way that you put things together always amazes and delights me.  You make connections between things, and you are able to describe the world in words that just seem far too big for your little body.  You can count upwards to twenty now (with a little help here and there), you know your ABC's, you can spell three words with confidence: Liam, Mom & Dad and you are always asking me how to spell other names (Chloe, Addy, Nana, etc.), and you are SO good at problem solving (doing puzzles, putting Lego together, building things).  Part of me wants to keep you home with me next year, or just send you to another year at preschool, but in my heart I know that you are ready for bigger things.  So we have made the decision to send you to Junior Kindergarten. Eek! 

Oh how my heart is going to take a hit that first day that I have to leave you in the big, big school and say "have fun!"  Just driving by your new school already makes me nervous. lol.  But as in all things like this, I will probably just end up taking my lead from you little dude.  You seem to just jump right into new things.  With a smile and a hug, you are usually on your way.  Preschool, swimming just love new adventures :)  I think you will thrive at your new school.  You will also be learning a new language as your school is a French Immersion school.  I am hoping you take to this as you take to other things. 
What else about you right this moment Liam?  You still have a few "lovies" that you take to bed with you, or hold onto when you are not feeling well.  Your monster blanket that I made for you years ago. Your stuffed sea turtle named Squirt (that I often call "Squirty" just to make you laugh and hear say "NO's Squirt!!").  Your little bunny that came in the box we took home from the hospital after saying good bye to Oliver.  You named him "Baby Brother Oliver Bunny" and there is no short form.  You still sleep with your moon light on, and music playing.  Water beside your bed is mandatory (we hear about it if we forget! lol).  You love fruit and vegetable, but hate pretty well all forms of meat (except pepperoni on pizza, chicken fingers and tacos.  All the "nutritious" forms of course...).  You love frozen yogurt before bed.  You love to read books, and play with your cars.  You love going to the park and chasing after the big kids.  Lately you have loved taking showers rather than baths (oh my how you are growing up!) and you are obsessed with flossing your teeth.  You are funny! And you know it.  You are now in the "why" faze and you are full of questions about the world around you.  Never stop asking questions ok :)  You are also in the "I can do it by myself faze" so I am trying to remember to hold myself back and let you learn some things for yourself. 
Like I said before, you are just AWESOME Liam!! I am so, so, SO proud of you and always will be.  You have taught me so much already, and I can't wait to see what new things you come up with in the future.  I am so blessed.
      Love Mommy

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hills and Valleys

I have heard it said that the grief journey is like a series of hills and valleys.  I am learning this to be true. 

After Oliver passed away, and the dust settled, I had about a week or two where I thought..."ok, I can do this.  My heart is broken, and I will never be the same, but you know what? I am going to be ok."  I had moments during this time where I wondered how the heck I was coping so well.  Did this mean I loved my son any less?  Why wasn't I curled up in a ball in my room, sobbing? How was I functioning like a normal human being still? Well my friends, this was purely just me on top of a hill.  Looking clearly at the new landscape in front of me.  Seeing the sadness behind me, and seeing, away in the distance, what was before me. 

And what proceeds the hills?  Why, the valleys of course!  And how fun are the valleys? (Insert extreme sarcasm here!).  In the two, approaching three, months that Ollie has been gone, I think I have been on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs.  My journeys to the tops of these so-called "hills" do not last very long, but they do afford me a quick jolt of faith and a peak at the journey still left to travel, before I am booted back down again. 

The last two weeks?  Well the last two weeks I have been at the very bottom of the deepest darkest part of a valley.  Under the dirt.  With a boulder on top for good measure.  Okay, so maybe I am being just a tad dramatic.  To put it, not so very gracefully, the last two weeks have SUCKED!  A close friend ended up having her son early, and due to circumstances beyond anyones control, I ended up at her house, minding her daughter while she slept.  I had not slept well (read: at all) the night before, so I was beat before I even showed up at her house that night.  And in their haste, my dear friend and her hubby forgot to put away the boxes of baby boy clothes they had been organizing.  So I sat there, for hours, in a room of sweet baby boy clothes, knowing that my friend was about to meet her sweet son, and my son would forever and always, still be gone.  I returned home the next morning at 3:30am, just mentally and physically exhausted.

 That same week, I went in to work the night shift with a coworker I hadn't seen in awhile.  I was excited to be working with her again, and for the opportunity to just "catch up."  Towards the end of the shift she asked me if I would want to know straight up if someone at work became pregnant, or if I would prefer to sort of stay in the dark.  Umm...well...didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who she was talking about.  Turns out she is pregnant..with TWINS!! She is about to turn 42, and she and her husband have been trying to conceive for quite I am thrilled for her...but also oh so jealous.  I believe I managed to put on a smile for her, and eeked out some congratulations, but boy was my heart already wrung dry from my friends sons birth a few days prior.

Add in a sick little boy who can't sleep, trouble finding quality childcare while my friend (and daycare provider) is suddenly off for the month of April weeks earlier than expected, some family drama and a flat tire on a brand new van...and you can understand why I am stuck in this darn valley.

Now don't get me wrong.  Some days I travel up and down this grief path multiple times.  I find myself feeling so sorry for myself for a few hours, then shake myself off, give myself a pep talk and a stern "one foot in front of the other" speech, and continue on.  But it is hard.  The hardest actually. 

Tomorrow we are celebrating Olivers memorial.  I say celebrating because that is sort of what it feels like to me.  A celebration of a life that never truly got to start, but that was so cherished anyways.  Ollie was so anticipated by myself and my family.  He was, is, and will always be a member of our clan, and I feel like it is right to send him off with all of the love and best wishes that we can muster up for him.  I am wondering how I am going to get through the day.  But I am guessing it will be much the same as the other 84 days since he passed.  A lot of breathing in and out.  And for now, if that's the best that I can do, then I give myself permission.  We are often toughest on ourselves aren't we? I have decided to give myself a break for a little while.  I turn 30 on the 19th, and Olivers due date is the next day, and I don't know what to expect.  How I will feel, or how I will cope.  Just one foot in front of the other right?

Just because I love his sweet face! No post is complete without it :)

(Note:  I just wanted to add that I am extremely happy for my friends and their sweet little ones that have arrived/are on the way.  Sometimes I think I come across as the wicked witch of the west in my "oh no..not another baby!" way of speaking.  But the truth is, I LOVE babies!! I want more babies myself.  I am just pretty fragile still.  And seeing/hearing about babies right now just has this crummy side effect of reminding me that my son is dead.  No real good way to sugar coat it sometimes.  Seeing facebook feeds of my best friends with their beautiful families, and their "big sister/big brother" t-shirts first time seeing their sibling in the hospital pictures...well those just do me in still.  I push myself to be present though.  Because that is who I am.  And one day I just know that I will see a baby and the first emotion that will spring forth will be pure joy.  One day.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Feeling Exhausted!

Today I am just tired.

Tired, tired, tired.

I feel like I am carrying this heavy weight around with me all of the time, and I can't seem to find a way to put it down. I wake up, trudge through my busy days...getting Liam ready for school or daycare, getting us dressed for the frigid weather outside, getting Liam into the van, getting Liam dropped off, work, suppers to prepare (or help clean up after...I don't cook too often. It's better that way!), bathtime, stories to read, clothes to put out for the next day, toys to pick up, dishes to finish. All very normal things. Things I enjoy doing! But lately by the time I am finally able to just "sit" at the end of the day...I am just beat. 

Emotionally, physically and mentally just exhausted.

Is it horrible to admit that I am just tired about thinking of my dead son?  I am tired of even having a dead son.  I am tired of seeing his perfect face every single time I close my eyes, and knowing that  will never see it again in this lifetime.  I am tired of feeling so cheated and so defeated.  I am tired of seeing reminders of pregnancy everywhere, and thinking "that should be me still!"  I am tired of questioning everything I thought I knew about life. 

I am tired of pretending like I am back to "normal" when I am at work.  I am tired of acting "normal" but feeling so completely not normal.  I am tired of wondering whether or not today is the day I finally lose it.  How can I be coping this well?  Should I still be at home, unable to leave my bed like other babyloss mothers I have heard from?   

I am tired of my heart breaking on a daily basis every single time I read about another mother who has lost her baby.  I feel like I need to be a part of this community.  This group of woman who have gone down the road I am on, and who have survived (are surviving?).  But I pay a price for it.  I feel this immense sadness for each and every person touched by the death of their child, and often go to bed with the names of dead babies in my head.  Because each of them had weight in this world and their names deserve remembrance.

I am tired of talking about death.  All of the time.  Like it is such a normal thing to talk about.  I sometimes find myself discussing things like urns and autopsy's like they are a normal part of conversation, until I catch this glimmer of horror in the face of whomever I am talking to, and I remember that they are still on the other side.

I am tired of trying to gauge my emotions.  Am I happy right now? Sad? Angry? What the hell am I feeling?  Am I ready to start trying to conceive another child? If not now, when? Will I ever be truly ready again?  What if this happens again? What if we have a girl next time and Liam is the only boy on Bills side of the family, but he's not really the only boy because of Oliver.

Gah! I am just....tired.  And cranky tonight apparently. Maybe I will diverge into another happier topic... 

Valentines Day is tomorrow, and I could care less.  Weird.  I am more excited that it is pajama day at Liams preschool and I have wrangled my work schedule so that I can at least drop him off.  I so badly want to have the picture of him running off in his monster pjs and slippers, to keep me company throughout my day tomorrow.  How I adore this boy!  I watched him in the tub tonight, all long limbs and big smiles, and wondered when it was that I blinked and he grew into a "boy" and not a "baby."  He is such a constant source of amazement and wonder for me.  And probably the only true reason that I am coping as well as I am right now.  His laughter and zest for life are so contagious, I just get swept up.  And I am totally content to live in his world for awhile.  On the floor, happily playing with trains and cars, and wondering when it is time for a peanut butter sandwich. How I wish Ollie could join us! He would probably adore his big brother as much as I do. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Thinking about God...

Kind of a deep post tonight...

My relationship with God has never been easy and straight forward.  It has always been a twisting path of hills and valleys, bumps and roadblocks.  But it is a path that I walk gladly, knowing that I can never truly lose my way.  I am learning that the easy paths are not always the best.  We learn and grow so much from all of the detours along the way. 

I think my personality tends to lean more towards the questioning of things.  I like to understand how things are the way they are before I make any decisions.  For example, this weekend we stopped in to our car dealership in plans of trading in our existing van for a new model.  All was going well until the very end.  I suddenly felt like I just didn't have ALL the facts to make such a huge decision.  The walls started to close in and I just had to get out of there.  Basically, I panicked.  I needed to see the numbers and the facts on a page and just mull it over.  I pulled my shit together though and we were able to complete our purchase (while I waited in the van with Liam so as not to freak out again!).  Kind of a weird example. But there you have it. 

When it comes to God, I will be the first to admit that I have always had trouble just believing.  I believe that Jesus existed.  I believe in the fundamental goodness that is innate in all of us.  But God.  One power.  Ruling over everything.  I have always had trouble feeling comfortable and at home in that place.  As much as I wish I could just get there, it seems to be an ongoing journey for me.  I think God is probably okay with that. 

Lately I seem to be feeling a shift in my relationship with God.  Brought on, I am sure, by my son's passing.  Where do you turn to when it seems like the whole world is just suddenly out of focus? Who do you yell at and curse when there is no one or nothing to blame for something so unimaginable happening to you? Who do you bring your innermost fears and doubts and questions to when you are ashamed to even say them out loud?  For me it has been God.

I have been trying to go to church more these last few weeks.  Trying to find a parish that fits me (and hopefully Liam).  I attended mass at Our Lady of Sorrows this morning with a friend and colleague.  It was pretty well filled to the rafters with people which I loved.  Just walking in the doors you could feel this sense of joy and community as everyone came together to worship.  And I found it so fitting that at the front of the church was this beautiful stained glass window depicting Mary.  Most often you see Jesus on the cross front and center in Catholic churches (at least the ones that I have been to).  Jesus and the cross were certainly there today, but it was Mary that watched over us.  During my long night of labor with Oliver, it was Mary that I prayed to and seemed to sense around me.  During the next hard days, it was Mary that I wept to. I think this church may be a fit.

I am praying that this new found devotion to my faith will continue on.  Sometimes I "pick up" something only to put it away again for awhile.  Cross-stich, sewing, painting, learning Italian, learning French, knitting, crocheting.  I am hoping that doesn't happen this time.  I feel like I just need Him right now.  To help me find my way out of the dark places I often find myself in.  To help me find a way to be the new version of myself (I know I can never just go back to the person I was before).  To lead me down the path that I should be on, and to ease my burden from time to time.  I am praying that there is some greater purpose to all of this happening. 

I was thinking today about how things in life are preordained by God.  That there was never going to be a version of my story in which Oliver lived and we got to spend this lifetime with him.  My brain goes over and over what could have been done differently...could we have saved him somehow? this thought today brought with it a little peace.  There was never a tomorrow that had Oliver alive and well in it.  That was not his path.  I can't say that I will ever stop imagining this pretend tomorrow, but it helps to know that God has a plan for all of us.  For some reason that only He knows, this it what my story looks like.  I am hoping he is a little kinder to me in the next few chapters, but if not, then that is already written as well and I know He will be there with me. 

So now, I just pray for the future.  I pray that God will watch over all of those I love here on Earth and that he will be with us all in the times that we most need Him (and especially in those times that we don't think that we do).  I pray that He will grant me peace and help me on this journey.  I pray that he will someday bless Bill and I again with another living child.  I pray that Oliver's memory will never, ever fade and that I can someday remember him with only a smile.  I pray that I can find a way to incorporate Oliver into our daily lives so that Liam will grow up knowing and loving his brother.  And I pray, most of all, that Ollie is safe in Heaven and is just waiting for us all to get there.

Friday, January 18, 2013

On Life

Life is such a beautiful mess isn't it?

I feel this so much more poignantly since the loss of our sweet boy Oliver.  Since his passing, I seem to look at the world in such a completely different way.

Joy is magnified by a thousand.  I bathe in the sound of Liam laughing.  I breathe in the fresh, crisp winter air and just feel it in my lungs.  I relish in all of the little things that make up my day...the smell of clean sheets, the way the windows shine after they are washed, how yummy iced cappuccinos truly are.

Sorrow is magnified by a thousand.  I cried when I received my Parenting magazine in the mail yesterday and realized I no longer needed to flip right to the "pregnant" advice, or peruse the "newborn" advice section.  I ache when I think of my good, good friends holding their new littles, and how empty my arms will feel.  I pine for the day when I can see my baby again. 

I took this as I was leaving for the hospital on the day before Ollie's birth.  I can still feel how happy I was that I was going to spend the morning listening to my baby's heartbeat.

Joy, sorrow, happiness, pain, enlightenment, confusion....they combine in this wonderful tapestry of the human condition.  These days it is hard to pinpoint what exactly I am feeling at any given moment.  When people ask that question....the question that all the grief stricken get many, many times a day..."How are you doing?"...the most honest answer I have come up with is that is depends on the second in which you ask me.  I may be sobbing and sobbing as I feel the loss of all the "what ifs/what woulds" (What color would Oliver's eyes have been? What would his voice have sounded like? What would it have felt like to see Oliver and Liam playing together? What would it have felt like to snuggle with both my boys on cold winter mornings?  What if this is all just a bad dream? The list goes on and on and on), but as I sob, I am also smiling.

I smile because Oliver was here.  He had weight in this world.  I felt him.  I knew him.  I smile because he blessed us and I believe his life will continue to be a blessing.  They say the Lord works in mysterious ways.  Well, I have faith that he will find a way to work miracles through the life and death of my son.  I may never know what these miracles were, but that is okay.  I am planning to help God out on a few of them. 

This post is a little bit of a rambling of my confused mind.  But I guess the point is that YES, life sucks sometimes.  Life is cruel, and unrelenting, and often makes us question what the freakin' point of it all is.  But life is also SO, so beautiful, and purposeful, and filled with grace.  It is NOT fair that I lost my son before he even had a chance to live, it is NOT fair that Liam will never get to meet his brother, it is NOT fair that my heart is broken, it is NOT fair that God chose Oliver to join him so soon.....but I am choosing, each minute of each day (sometimes not succeeding, but boy am I working on it!), to see the joy. 

I am hoping that Oliver, in Heaven you are smiling too right now and that you can feel my love radiating up to you. XOXO Baby Boy!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Life in Pictures

Dear Oliver,
Baby boy, you were SO anticipated and wanted and loved!! I wanted to show you this... 

"They say that time in heaven is compared to 'the blink of an eye' for us on this earth.  Sometimes it helps me to think of my child running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what {he} is doing that when {he} looks behind {him}, I'll already be there."
  ~Author Unknown

Oh, to hold you again would be Heaven!

Friday, January 11, 2013

On Being Grateful

Today I am feeling like I am angry at the whole universe.  Like I want to scream and curse and throw things.  So in honor of this, I am going to write about the things that I was grateful for today (confused? Welcome to my world right now! Where emotions makes no sense, and the road always leads somewhere unexpected.)

I am grateful for: Bill waking up with Liam (once again) so that I could have time to lie in bed for a little longer.  It takes me awhile to adjust to my new reality every morning now, so time alone is so welcome.

I am grateful for: Dropping Liam off for a playdate with his best friend Adeline.  He has been wanting to see her lately...he asked if she was driving with us to preschool both days this I was so happy that he finally got some good play time in.

I am grateful for: A friend that loves my son like her own, and even though it is hard for me to be around her right now (her son Henry is due one month after Oliver was due...we had had so much fun being pregnant at the same time), she gets it, and is still there for whatever I need.

I am grateful for: The crummy weather today (freezing rain).  It allowed my little family to hunker down all afternoon and to just enjoy one another (and some extra nap time!).

I am grateful for: A job to do that requires manual labor.  We had just bought paint to freshen up Oliver's room prior to his death, so we have decided to just go ahead and paint the room anyways.  It feels nice to just "do" something productive with all of these thoughts running through my head.

I am grateful for: Time off from work! Oh how I would not be able to function there right now.

I am grateful for: Listening to my husband and my son playing together.  Liam was laughing so hard he must have had tears in his eyes! I love hearing them together.

I am grateful for: My son Liam and my husband Bill.  They are the best things in my life, and the reason that I am still moving forward right now.  It is so tempting to stay in bed all day and just cry, but my Liam is like a force of nature.  He sweeps me up in his path and makes me smile.

I am grateful for: The small amount of time that I had with Oliver.  I wouldn't change those months/weeks/hours for the world.

I am grateful for: My extended family.  I can feel how much everyone cares for me, and how much they are all praying for my small family, and though I don't have sufficient words to express myself, I am so grateful to each and every one of them.

I am grateful for: My faith.  I know that my God can take whatever I throw at him, and boy have I been testing that this month.  I know that Oliver is safe in His arms and that brings me peace.

So, although my heart is broken, there are SO many things that I am thankful for! I am going to keep reminding myself about these things over and over again.