Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for offering me so much support with that last post.  I needed it, and you all came through.  I really appreciate the friendships that I've made through this amazing community (I wish none of us had to be here, but at least we have each other since we are, right?!).  

Now, on to new business!  We've been gearing up for Christmas.  About time, huh?!  I mean, it's only a week away.  I'm still not done shopping.  I've barely done any wrapping.  I don't have any idea what kind of food I'll be taking to our various shindigs, but I'm not stressing about any of that.  Which is unlike me, but I'll take it! 

I wanted to share a video of Addalee cutting a rug in a sporting goods store during one of our Christmas shopping adventures this week.  She had been going strong for a couple of minutes before I thought to get out the camera.  And of course, she stops when she realizes I've got it going, but it's still fun to watch her tap her foot and shake her booty.  She's definitely my child...and she's a much better dancer than I am! :)

Finally, I'm going to leave you with Addalee's Santa picture for this year.  This was the best picture out of the bunch!  I couldn't help but laugh hysterically as I watched the train wreck of her fighting desperately to escape Santa's grip.  Then Santa started laughing, and so was the photographer.  I was in tears by the time I got to see the pictures.  I tried to pick the worst one - picture a red face, fully open screaming mouth, and dress pulled even more to her waist than in the one below - but Arthur wouldn't let me!  Ha!  Any way you cut it, these are precious memories...and I'm so thankful for them!

So, without further ado:

I just can't see this and not laugh...poor child!

But P.S. This picture was taken less than a minute after the one with Santa.  She wasn't (too) traumatized!  Whew! :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Fear

Where have I been?  The answer is right here, the whole time.  I’ve been waking up each day, feet hitting the floor, going non-stop, (thankfully) cleaning sippy cups and dirty hands, torn tissues/”snow”, attempting some Christmas shopping, putting Addalee to bed, then myself and starting over.  I feel like I’m so far behind – on everything, in almost every aspect.  I feel like I’ve just not got the time to do anything all the way.  And I don’t enjoy that feeling, not in the least.  So that’s at least part of the reason I’ve been a bad blogger.  Another part of it is I’ve been discouraged.  I feel like I have the same ol’ things to say, and who really cares anyway!?  I know, I know, I have lots of support, and I couldn’t do this without each of you.  Your comments are like high fives (lame, maybe, but true!). 

But I think the heart of the reason I haven’t been updating is fear.  I’m almost scared to update about this precious little girl that I’m carrying.  I’m terrified to ASSUME that she is going to arrive, safe, alive and healthy.  As a matter of fact, I don’t assume that.  The ugly truth is that I almost assume she won’t.  Basically, I’m the queen of worst-case-scenario since Caroline passed away.  I used to believe that things were going to work out fine until I had a reason not to.  Now I believe the worst until it’s proven not to be the case.  Isn’t that ugly and gross?!  Yuck.  I sure think so.  It’s no way to live.  It’s no way to feel.  It’s heavy carrying around all that nastiness…yet I just can’t seem to lay it all down.  As I sit, just about 30 weeks along, I’m not convinced we’ll be keeping this girl.  I love her, I want her, I even need her, but I can hardly allow myself to imagine holding her and loving her here at home.  I know that things can seem almost perfect just before they fall apart in the worst way.  I’ve lived the beautiful pregnancy that ends in a funeral.  I’ve seen the still screen of an ultrasound of a perfect baby with no heartbeat.  I’ve walked out of the labor and delivery ward with nothing but a memory box and a floppy belly.  And those are the things that I feel I need to be almost always braced for.  I can never completely let my guard down.  And that just plain sucks.

I didn’t intend to come here and give everyone a dose of Debbie Downer, but I guess I really needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for listening, thanks for caring, and thanks for loving me even though I'm not all sunshine and daisies! :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I know the day is almost over and people are probably thinking more about those Black Friday sales than Thanksgiving at this point, but I wanted to quickly say HAPPY THANKSGIVING from our family to yours.

I found this picture of Addalee last year (ha!).  

My, what a difference a year makes!

We're so blessed!

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Little Turkey Shirt

Since Thanksgiving is next week, I thought I’d share a little project. 

I wanted to make sure that Addalee had a little something special to wear for this year.  Last year, we had been given a cute little “My First Thanksgiving” onesie to wear, so mama didn't have to do any planning!  This year though, we didn't have anything special, so I knew I had to get busy!

I looked on Pinterest and found a bunch of adorable little turkey shirts.  I could buy one for upwards of $35 bucks, or I could be cheap crafty and make my own for less than $10.   It was a quick and easy project and I think it turned out super cute! 

You’ll need the following supplies:

A shirt or Onesie
Fabric scraps
Fusible Interfacing (I used Heat N Bond since I had it on hand.)
Sewing Machine or Embroidery Thread and Needle


Pick your fabric scraps.  See that red and white polka dot fabric?  Yeah, that is from a pair of pajama pants I got for FREE at a yard sale!  SCORE! 

Lay out your fabric scraps on your Heat N Bond to see how much you’ll need. 

Cut the Heat N Bond to just under the size of your fabric scrap.  That way you don’t end up with a sticky mess on your iron when you iron over exposed parts of the interfacing!

Put the rough (non-paper) side of the Heat N Bond to the wrong side of your fabric scrap and iron.

Now trace the feather and body templates to the paper side of the Heat N Bond on the appropriate fabric.  I cut out 2 feathers in each fabric.  I liked a more uneven look though, so I only gave my little turkey 7 feathers.  I also used a burlap fabric for the body.  You were going to be able to see through it too much (which looked sloppy), so I just put 1 cutout of the body on top of the other for thickness.

I did a practice round of placement before peeling the paper off the back of the feathers and body. 

***At this point, if you’re going to hand embroider a face on your little turkey, go ahead and do it.  I put this step off until the very last and it was less than easy to push the embroidery needle through all the fabric.  But it wasn’t impossible, so don’t panic if you discover you’ve left this step until the end.

I started with the center feather and peeled the paper off the back and ironed it on, and then repeated that for each set of feathers and the body last.

Now you can sew your feathers and body on either by hand or with your sewing machine.  I chose to do it by hand because I liked the imperfection of the stitches.  (There’s perfection in imperfection, in my opinion!)

All done! 

Now you get to put it on your kiddo!  My little model was more interested in playing than sharing her mama’s turkey creation!  But you get the idea! :)

I had to share this picture too.  I mean, she was definitely thinking, "Yeah Mom, you nailed it with this shirt!  Thanks for making for me!"  Ha!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chili Cook-offs and Fevers

So this last week has kind of been a bust. As always, I have these grand ideas of actually getting things accomplished and marked off my proverbial to-do list (which only ever seems to grow, even when I am productive. What's that about?!). But it just didn't work out that way. Life came at us, and we just held on for the ride. 

 I was volunteered to enter a chili cook-off and bake sale charity thing for Arthur's work. No pressure, right. Well, uh, yeah. There was some pressure, for sure! I got in over my head. There was a ton of large quantity cooking to do, and it just turned out, we also had a sickly girl on our hands. Addalee ran a low-ish fever off and on Monday and Tuesday. I had to gather some supplies for my culinary adventures, Tuesday we needed to go vote, and Wednesday was cook-off day. That's a lot crammed into 2 days. Especially with a 14 month old that just isn't feeling quite herself. Thankfully, she was mostly just a bit extra tired, but showed no other real symptoms. By Wednesday, when I had envisioned slowing down a bit, her fever hit 104.5. Yikes. I'm kinda a panicky mama...you could say I've earned the right to be...and that temperature was a bit uncomfortable for all of us. So, we went to the Pediatrician. They looked her over, found nothing bothersome, sent off some bloodwork, and told me to just manage her fever. K.Thanks. I was actually hoping for an ear infection or something we could treat instead of just waiting around on who knows what. By Thursday, she was feeling real bad. So, I took her back for them to run more tests (wonder why they didn't just do that while we were there?!?!). This time there was a flu test, negative (praise the Lord), a catheter to check for UTI (ouch, pitiful and painful to watch), and a virus screen for about 15 common viruses. And then it was back home to await results and manage that hateful fever that came back with a vengeance when the meds wore off. Poor girl was just pitiful. She wanted to laugh and play, but would wear out so fast she'd just end up laying down on the floor. By Friday, she was still spiking her fever in the early morning hours, so we knew it wasn't quite over. I got a call later in the day with all of her test results...all clear. Well, that's great, but why is she sick then?! Final answer: Probably just some type of virus. Okay. I have to accept that. But I really like things to be wrapped up nice ans neat. This wasn't. And I was frustrated, and scared. The next tests to be run were for real illnesses, inflammatory illnesses, make you sick to your stomach type stuff...not a road I was comfortable walking down. After a lot of worry and prayer, she finally broke her fever on Friday night! She's still not 100%, but she's headed in the right direction and we're thrilled. 

 I remember when we lost Caroline, even fantasizing about taking care of her through her childhood sicknesses. I so desperately wanted to mother her. Of course, I never wanted her to be sick, but kids do get sick. And she was a kid. And I wanted all that went with her growing up. I never want Addalee to be sick either, but somehow I can even cherish that I'm being able to care for her, when her cheeks are all rosy and her little head is sweaty, when she throws up all over both of us, when she cries because her teeth really do hurt that bad, when she falls down and scrapes her hands and knees...I get to be her mom through all of that and so much more, and I feel so very blessed. Tired yes, but oh so blessed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Falling Behind

I still have every intention of finishing up the Capture Your Grief series, but I'm having a really hard time finding the motivation right now.  I guess I just kind of feel like I'm so far behind on everything, I'm overwhelmed.  

I'm not completely sure what has me feeling so overwhelmed, but I just feel like I can't catch up.  Things got super busy at the end of October with all the hubbub around Halloween and just plain life.  I'm hoping that this isn't a sign of things to come with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner.  Even if it is, my only option is to hold on for the ride, right?!

Halloween was bittersweet for us, as it seems to be now.  It was the first "holiday" after losing Caroline, so it holds a little special place in our hearts.  There were lots of little kiddos knocking on our door, and we were able to take Addalee around our neighborhood.  So, it was a nice night.  It's such a joy to get to see Addalee enjoy festivities.  She loves getting out and about giving smiles and waves to everyone she sees.  She's such a happy girl.  She is such a blessing.

Our little Kitty

Monday, October 29, 2012

CYG - Day 29 - Music

I have always had a special connection to music.  I come from a very musical family (though none of their talents made it to me), so we were always surrounded by music of all types and styles.  I also grew up in church and had a strong connection to hymns.  Some of these songs offer profound messages of love, strength, comfort, peace, etc.  One hymn I always felt connected to was Because He Lives.

If you don't know this particular hymn, it's message is simple: Through life's challenges and difficulties, we can continue to carry on because He lives.  

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future;
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Those words have offered me strength and comfort over the years.  When I would struggle through issues during school, this would be the song running through my mind.  When my grandfathers passed away, I sang it to myself in those sad times.  Some days I just sang it in worship and praise.

Caroline loved church.  She loved the singing.  She'd kick happily when the music started, and I would sway and sing so she'd be able to feel the music too.  She took part, she was there. 

On October 19, 2010, I had a private praise and worship service in my garage as I finished the preparations on the changing table we'd purchased on Craigslist.  I held my 39 week pregnant belly, and sang to my God.  It wasn't a sad time, or a hard time, but my song was Because He Lives.  She kicked and we shared that special time together.  She was due to be born (by induction to keep me from going past my due date) in less than 2 days, so I was enjoying this quiet time together.  Gearing up, preparing my mind, preparing my heart, preparing my spirit to birth our first precious child.  The rest of the day was non-eventful.  She kicked as she was supposed to, giving me no cause for concern.  But around 10:00pm something went wrong.  I could feel it.  I knew she was gone, but wouldn't allow my mind to admit it.  Within a couple of hours, our train was completely derailed when it was confirmed via ultrasound that our little girl's heart had stopped beating.  

Because He Lives is the last song I sang to my girl.  Because He Lives, her broken-hearted mama can continue in this life.  Because He Lives, I will get to see her and hold her again.  

We even included those words on her headstone.

CYG - Day 27 - Artwork

This is the embroidery I did to hang above Caroline's crib.  It's made to match the bedding.  It turned out so cute in the nursery! I didn't take it down until after Addalee was born.  I just didn't have the nerve.  I also couldn't bring myself to do another one for Addalee, so this is the last one I have done.  It now hangs in our hallway with a picture of our sweet Caroline.

Friday, October 26, 2012

CYG - Day 26 - Her Age

Today's Capture Your Grief topic is her age.  I had carried Caroline for 39 weeks and 2 days when she passed away.  We learned of her death in the evening of October 19, and she was born the next evening.  

Those 39 weeks and 2 days were some of the sweetest days of my life.  I'm incredibly thankful for those precious days with her, I just wish we could have had a lifetime instead of such a short time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CYG - Day 25 - Baby Showers

We had 3 showers when we were expecting little Caroline.  We were filled with such excitement and surrounded by such love and anticipation.  Our friends and family poured gifts, encouragement, and blessings on us and our girl.  It was humbling to be on the receiving end of so many gifts and support.  

We waited until pretty late in the game to have the showers, to be on the safe side.  The showers were beautiful and fun.  There was good food, good friends (and family), and good times with smiles, hugs, and laughter.  They were exactly what I wanted.  

We got amazing gifts.  Tons of beautiful things.  After the showers, our home was as ready for our girl as our hearts and arms were!  I took time to do tiny little laundry.  I folded and fixed and fussed over everything in her room.  It was all ready.  Everything was ready.

Then it happened.  She died.  She died and we had all of this...stuff.  The stuff that we'd been so excited and blessed to get seemed to be taunting me.  I felt so stupid for ever believing that it was all going to work out, embarrassed for assuming that Caroline was going to be happy and healthy just like "everyone else's babies."  When we came home, and saw all of her things, I panicked.  I wondered if we were supposed to return all the gifts.  Like a wedding that got called off at the last minute, I thought there might be some sort of etiquette that meant I needed to box everything up and send all the pink fluffy items back to the people who'd purchased them for us.  Did I need to include a card that said, "Sorry for the inconvenience, our baby died.  Here's your gift back.  Wish we could have kept it.  Thanks, anyway!"

During my pregnancy with Addalee, I was adamant that we'd have no showers.  Partly because we did get to keep all of the beautiful things given to us for our Caroline, and partly because I felt like it would be tempting fate.  If Addalee had been a boy, maybe I would have felt differently, but I doubt it.  

I'm thankful for the showers that were so graciously given for us.  While those gifts and beautiful things were difficult to look at for a time (and some still are quite bittersweet), they've finally gotten some good use with Caroline's little sister.  Though Addalee wasn't the original baby girl intended for those gifts, she's gotten a lot of good use out of her big sister's things.  And we couldn't be more thankful for that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CYG - Day 24 - Siblings

Day 24 is a picture of Caroline's siblings.  I'm so incredibly thankful that I have siblings to post pictures of.  I remember when we lost Caroline, I felt like we'd never have any other children.  It had taken us so long to get pregnant with her, I couldn't imagine starting that journey over again.  And honestly, I wasn't sure that I wanted to.  I mean, I knew I wanted to have kids, but the grief stole much of my desire to even keep breathing.  It seemed too daunting, too scary, just too hard.  Thankfully, God had other plans and we conceived Addalee just about 6 weeks after Caroline was born.  Wow.  My poor body was a mess, and that pregnancy was quite difficult.  I wasn't really in great health, and back to back pregnancies are tough for even the most fit of ladies.  Our girl, Addalee, was born at 36 weeks because of some complications.  After having an anterior placenta and not feeling much movement some days (FREAKED ME OUT), and gestational diabetes, her growth was slowing and the doctor knew that her cord was around her neck.  He decided it was time, and she was here less than 12 hours after induction started.  Weighing all of 5lbs5oz, she's been a blessing each and every day since we found out we were expecting her.  She's a good baby, happy, joyful, silly, playful, sweet.  

We found out in June that we were expecting again.  Wow, what a miracle!  This pregnancy has been much easier for me.  The grief and fear are still there, though not as much in the forefront as they were with Addalee.  I still panic, but it's not the same...yet anyway.  The further along I get, the more I fear.  It's not that "smooth sailing after 12 weeks" kind of pregnancy I had with Caroline, that's for sure! We've found out that it's another girl! Yay! I have an anterior placenta AGAIN, wouldn't cha know?!  So the movement is a concern for me.  I'm 22 weeks now and feeling pretty good.  This little girl doesn't have a name just yet, hoping to come up with something soon.  We're taking it one day at a time and prayerfully excited to welcome this little girl into our open hearts and arms in February.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CYG - Day 23 - Her Name and Photo

Day 23 - Her name and photo.  This is actually a picture I've shared of little Caroline before, but I just love it.  My mom is holding her, and her Daddy is loving on her sweet little head.  Our family was so in love with her.  We were so excited to have her.  We couldn't wait to meet her.  Oh, how we wish we could've kept her.  Missing her so badly, even 2 years later.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CYG - Day 22 - Place of Care/Birth

I wasn't entirely sure what to show for this day of the photo challenge.  I chose to feature the people who cared for me while I was in labor, giving birth, and after.  These people are so special.  I'm thankful that I had them surrounding me in those difficult times. 

The top picture is Arthur holding my hand and praying.  He was so strong during those first hours (always, really).  When they told us she was gone, he started taking care of me.  Even though his heart was shattered.  He called our parents.  He talked to the doctor.  He made sure I didn't completely give up on life.  He was there.  Always there.  Still is.  I don't deserve a husband like him, but I'm so grateful God gave him to me.

The middle picture is the nurses that delivered Caroline, Rose and Iris.  Rose and I have become friends since Caroline's birth.  I now help her run the support group for pregnancy and infant loss.  She also was one of the nurses that delivered Addalee, and we hope she'll be there for the birth of this little girl that I'm carrying now.  She and Iris were so gentle, compassionate, and loving.  They walked us through the process, told us what to expect.  They helped us with making funeral plans, what to bury her in, and so much more.  They were/are such blessings!

The bottom picture is just after Caroline was born.  My doctor could not have been more wonderful to us.  He prayed with us several times, even having tears in his eyes.  He spent a lot of time with us after her birth, making sure to answer any questions we had.  I love that he was holding onto our moms, Caroline's grandmothers in this picture.  And then they're holding us while we're holding little Caroline.  This picture brings up a lot of emotion for me because it's so real, so raw.  

We were blessed to have Caroline in a hospital with wonderful care for people in our situation.  Our doctor, his staff, our nurses, the nuns...each and every person was so gentle and loving.  They showed us so much grace.

CYG - Day 21 - Special Place

At our house, we have several pictures and mementos of our girl around.  I don't really like to have to keep her tangible reminders put away out of sight.  So I like seeing her face, her feet, just her when I walk through our house.  But we do have a table in the living room that holds a painting of her and the Willow Tree figurines that have been given to us, as well as a photo book of the delivery pictures and a candle.

It's her table.

Caroline's 2nd Birthday in Heaven

10/20/2012.  It's been marked on my calendar since the calendar was new.  Not that it needs a mark, it's a date I'll never forget.  Caroline's birthday.  Her day.  A day with so many memories, so many hopes, so much love, so much happiness, and so much sadness, all wrapped into one 24-hour period.  Well honestly, it's not all held into that one day.  We found out that she was gone on the 19th, her funeral was the 22nd, and her official due date was the 25th.  All of those days are tough.  I have a difficult time on each of them, which is probably why I'm hanging out in my PJs today!  

We decided to go to my parents' house for the weekend.  It was a tough decision.  I was scared to commit to anything except my bed and covering up my head for her birthday.  After some consideration, I thought it would be best if I did SOMETHING other than NOTHING.  So, I packed us up and we headed to my parents' house.  Friday the 19th was hard, but I think the buildup was worse.  My mind is my worst enemy.  I allowed the tears to flow when they came, and I survived!  The 20th came and I had been dreading it so bad that again, the buildup was worse.  We decided to release some bright and happy flower petals into the lake instead of balloons or butterflies this year.  It was nice.  It was good for me, good for us.

Addalee was sweet about it. We gave her a couple of the flowers to have for her own.  She loves playing with anything from nature!  (Including rocks and dirt).  She ended up throwing her flowers in all by herself.  It was sweet and heartwarming.

***I took a break from the Capture Your Grief series for the day to honor/celebrate Caroline's birthday.  Day 20 is Charity.  I have a hard time choosing a favorite, but it would probably be St. Jude Children's Research Hospital***

Friday, October 19, 2012

CYG - Day 19 - Projects

Today is one of the days I dread all year long.  Today marks 2 years since we found out that our Caroline was gone.  I would be lying if I said I'm not having a rough time.  I had high hopes that this year would feel lighter somehow.  So far, it's not.  I'm feeling the dark coldness of heavy grief again, flashing back to those dark hours, straining to remember the beauty of her face, desperate to touch her again.  It's still impossibly hard.  

I've been blessed to have very sweet friends remember these dark days and send sweet notes, cards, messages.  We're going out of town to my parents' house this weekend.  I'm hoping that being out of our house, our town, away from those milestones, etc will help.  I'm taking a gamble that I won't just want to lay in bed and cover my head all day.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'm not just a complete and total mess for the whole weekend.  Here's hoping!


Back to the Capture Your Grief project:  Day 19 is Projects.  For Caroline's first birthday, I made these blankets and donated them to our hospital.  We took them to L&D on her birthday.  I felt happy with how they turned out and that the families that received them would have them to cherish.  I included the butterfly cards with each one.  Inside there was a note from us and some websites and resources we found helpful.

I'm actually in the process of making several blankets again this year.  I didn't get them done in time for her birthday.  I think I just kept stalling because it was a little too hard for me this time around.  But I'll get them done! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CYG - Day 18 - Family Portrait

When we found out that we were expecting another precious little one, we were thrilled.  I started looking around for ideas on how to announce a pregnancy in pictures.  I found all these cutesy pictures of happy families with smiling kiddos and baby bumps.  And they all made me sad.  It was all too real that we'd never have a real family picture.  We'll never all be here for one, never altogether, not here.  Truthfully, that really sucks.

I was happy with how this picture came out, even though it's not what I really dream of.  It'll do.  

CYG - Day 17 - Birthday

For Caroline's first birthday, we had a beautiful balloon release.  I posted about it here.  I wanted to cover up my head and pretend like nothing was going on.  I wanted to wake up from the nightmare of losing little Caroline.  I didn't want her to have an official first birthday.  Something about it made it more real.  A full year.  She was gone for a whole year.  There was something very final about it.  As if you can be more final than what we already were - she was (and is) gone.

Her second birthday is only 2 days away.  I'm walking around in a daze.  I can't think straight.  I just kind of float around, not really fully "there."  I hope that it's not obvious to everyone I come across, but I know that those closest to me are seeing it.  I hate that it has to be this way, but I guess I'm kind of kicking it back into survival mode.  I had hoped since I survived her first birthday, this one would be a bit easier.  Holding on for the ride, and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CYG - Day 16 - Release

Day 16 is a picture of a release.  Many people in the baby loss community do a balloon, butterfly, lantern, etc. on special days.  

The picture I'm sharing is from Caroline's first birthday party.  Our family and friends gathered and we talked about our girl, shared some tears, and lots of love and support.  We released yellow, pink, and white balloons, along with some words for our sweet girl.  It was a beautiful October day...picture perfect.  Well, almost. 

CYG - Day 15 - Wave of Light

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  Everyone around the world is invited to light a candle at 7:00pm local time and keep it burning for an hour, in remembrance of  babies gone too soon.  The idea is that there will be a wave of light over the whole world for 24 hours.  What a neat thought!

I lit my candle for my sweet Caroline, for the sweet babies of the friends I've met along this path, and for all the others missed.

CYG - Day 14 - Community

Day 14 is community.  Back before Caroline passed away, I had no idea losses happened as frequently as they do.  I truly didn't know that stillbirth happened at the end of otherwise picture perfect and healthy pregnancies.  I kind of thought that things like that were all but squelched by modern medicine, etc.  

That being said, I had no idea of the sheer amount of people out there who were broken-heartered, just like us.  I was blessed to be able to meet several amazing women and families with stories not unlike my own.  Many of the new friends I've been blessed with are online, through groups and blogs.  But I've also been blessed with a small little group that meets at the hospital where I delivered the girls, once a month.  I'm actually helping run the group now, and I'm so happy about that.  It feels good to know that I could be there for someone who is hurting.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

CYG - Day 13 - Signs

As a BLM, I do recognize butterflies as a sign.  I find comfort when I see one.  However, when I was pregnant with Addalee, it had been a rough road.  Pregnancy after a full term loss was scary, difficult, exhausting, and uneasy.  I was terrified most days, often convinced that the new life I was carrying was going to end as abruptly as her big sister's had.  I knew that I couldn't bear another loss, but I was thrilled to be given the chance at having a living child.  So, it was a roller coaster of emotion.  It was probably about 3 weeks before Addalee was going to be born, and I saw the first rainbow since Caroline's death.  Not only was there 1 rainbow, but 2!  I felt like it was a promise from God that we were in His hands, He had a plan for us, He was blessing us.  I wanted desperately to believe that it was a sign that our Caroline was happy and safe, and that our little Addalee was going to get to stay here with us, alive and healthy.  I believe Caroline is being held and loved on, I wish beyond all measure that it was my arms holding her!  They ache to do just that, but I'll take comfort in the hope that I WILL get to hold her again one day.  And it's definitely taken a little of the sting that I do get to hold her little sister here (and hopefully will her next little sister come February).

CYG - Day 12 - Scents

When I was pregnant with Caroline, we painted her nursery.  The smell of the paint seemed to take forever to go away, so I bought an air freshener to plug in.  I found this really cute ladybug wallflower from Bath and Body Works, and fell in love with the Pomegranate Lemonade scent.  After having it plugged in for a little while, many things in her room had this smell.  After she passed away, I had to unplug it.  I haven't had the nerve to plug it in again, even though I had the refill.  It's not that I don't want to smell her, because I do...it's just that it's somehow too hard.  So I just keep the refill and the plug in as part of her things.  

CYG - Day 11 - Supportive Friends/Family

I've gotten a little behind on posting, but I'm going to try to catch up. 

Day 11 is Supportive Friends and Family.  We were blessed to have so many loving and precious people surrounding us after we lost Caroline.  This picture is of a sweet angel bear, a little lamb from a flower arrangement sent to her graveside service, and just a few of the cards filled with love and support.

I go back and read those cards every once in a while.  I'm humbled each time by the love poured out in the words from our friends and family.  I'm so thankful for each word, they still offer comfort, almost 2 years later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CYG - Day 10 - Symbol

Day 10 is a symbol.  There's something about little white flowers that make me think of my sweet girl.  I think it has something to do with how pure and dainty they are, just like my Caroline.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

CYG - Day 9 - Special Place

I wasn’t sure if I should share this, or try to come up with another special place.  But, I decided that I’d just tell the truth.  My special place is the shower.  Strange as it may seem, it was a place that I felt super close to Caroline, and still can go to feel peace.

When I was pregnant with her, I’d talk to her as I stood in the warm water.  I’d wash my belly and tell her that I was giving her a bath, too.  She’d kick and I’d just keep talking to her about everything.

After she died, I could hardly stand to shower.  It was miserable.  I couldn’t do anything but weep and almost collapse under the weight of the grief when I had to shower.  It was bad enough that I had someone sit with me in the bathroom during my shower time for quite some time.  I just couldn’t be alone.  Not in there.

Since then, it’s become a place where I can go and talk to her, cry for her, grieve for her.  So, as strange as it may seem, my special place is the shower!

Monday, October 8, 2012

CYG - Day 8 - Jewelry

Today’s subject is jewelry in memory of our loved ones gone to soon.  I’m sharing the necklace that a sweet friend made for me after we lost Caroline.  I’m also sharing my heart earrings.  They were an anniversary gift from Arthur before we had Caroline.  I happened to have them on when we went to the hospital that terrible night.  I’m thankful that I had them on now, because they’re special to me and they were part of my time with Caroline.  Now I wear them on any special occasion.  I wore them when I gave birth to Addalee, and plan to when this precious little girl (hopefully and prayerfully) gets here too.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

CYG - Day 7 - What to Say

Day 7 is “what to say.”  There are actually about a zillion things that are appropriate and helpful to say to someone who is hurting.  I remember getting many cards that warmed my broken heart.  The sweet words that people sent to us to tell us how sorry they were for our loss and how they were praying for us were so comforting.  It was really nice to know that we weren’t all alone.

Almost 2 years later, it does my heart so good to hear people just say her name.  Remember my girl.  Remember that we love her still and miss her always.  Tell us that you still think of her, of us, and our family.

When all else fails, just tell us that you’re sorry.  If you can’t think of anything to say, just say you’re sorry.  If you’re terribly uncomfortable, it’ll be obvious (and probably the opposite of helpful) if you force more, so just keep it simple. “I’m sorry.”

Saturday, October 6, 2012

CYG - Day 6

Day 6 is “what not to say.”  Bleh.  I hate that there are so many crappy things that have been said to so many people with already broken hearts.  Thankfully, there haven’t been a ton of stupid comments made to me, but the ones I have had – Yuck.

One that I probably hate the most is, “God just needed another flower for His garden.”  Okay.  Stop.  What?!  Are you flipping kidding me?!  The God that I know values the life of MY child (and every single other child) higher than that of a FLOWER!  I know that people just say things out of shock and ignorance, but gross.  This one makes my stomach turn and my blood boil. 

Possibly tied though, was “You’re lucky, there was probably something wrong with her.”  Did those words seriously just come out of your mouth?  Lucky?!  You can’t be serious.  How is anyone lucky when their beloved child dies?  How am I lucky that I gave birth to a much loved and much wanted baby who never took a single breath?  Here’s how it really is, I love her.  I love her unconditionally.  If there had been something “wrong” with her, I would love her the same.  Yes, I know that raising a child with special needs would change some aspects of our life, but I certainly would rather have her here than not.  No matter what. And by the way, it was a CORD ACCIDENT.  There was NOTHING wrong with her.  But thanks anyway.

“You’re so strong, I could never handle something so terrible.”  Well, thank you ever so much for the compliment?  I’m incredibly flattered that you think that I’m somehow chosen or worthy to have lost my child because of my strength.  Yes, I’ll accept that I’m strong.  Somehow.  Because I haven’t completely crumbled under the pressure of such a terrible loss.  But there are days, those days that are dark and lonely, sad and confused, angry and inconsolable.  On those days, I’m not strong, and all I want to do is cry and hide.  But when it’s your life, you figure out how to survive.  It’s not my strength, but borrowed strength from prayers and love that have gotten me this far. 

“At least you didn’t get to know her.”  The problem with this statement is that I did know her, at least some.  Granted, it wasn’t as well as I would have known her if she had lived 10 years, 10 days, or even 10 minutes, but I knew her.  She lived in my womb.  She had a personality.  And we planned our life with her.  She was a family member.  She IS a family member.

“You’re young, you’ll have more kids.”  I found this grating, but not particularly awful.  People that I love said this to me, and meant it with nothing but the best of intentions.  It did, however prove that they didn’t quite completely ‘get it.’  I did want more kids, yes.  But more than my next breath, I wanted HER. 

There were other statements.  But these are the ones that have particularly stuck with me.  Thankfully, I have had infinitely more comforting and loving comments than ignorant and inconsiderate. 

Hoping each of you have had gentle, sweet, and loving comments!

Friday, October 5, 2012

CYG - Day 5

Day 5 is a picture of the memorial.  I’m sharing a picture of Caroline’s spot.  It's on a beautiful mountain, with a gorgeous view.  It's peaceful and pretty.  But difficult to visit.

This is a picture of Addalee playing at her big sister’s grave.  I feel a little weird every time she wants to play there, but I think it’s a good thing.  I feel confident that Caroline would like that, so I’ll keep letting her crawl around (or hopefully walk soon), and play…but not eat the pea gravel! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

CYG - Day 4

Day 4 is a picture of my most treasured item.  The truth is that I can’t pick just one.  I have chosen to share a few of special things.  The monogrammed box is actually meant to be a toy box, but we use it to store special things that remind us of our girl.  In there, we have cards and little things that people sent, her baby book, a teddy bear given to us at the hospital, etc.

The little blue/green box is what they sent home with us from the hospital.  On top is the flower that they hung on our door to signify the sadness inside. It contains a lock of her hair (probably one of the most precious things we have), her hand and footprints, a disc of pictures, a beaded bracelet that the nurses made with her name on it, her hospital bracelet, and a card from the nurses and staff that took care of us.

Finally, there’s the purple blanket.  It was handmade by a co-worker of my mom.  She had the forethought to bring it with her to the hospital that sad night, and it’s been a blessing that we had it.  It held our sweet girl while we held her.  And I cherish it.  We actually took it to the hospital and swaddled Addalee in it after she was born.  We plan to with each baby.

So these are my treasures.  They’re precious to me and I’m incredibly thankful to have them…at least they’re tangible.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

CYG - Day 3

Day 3 is an after loss self portrait.  Ugh.  I had a really difficult time finding a picture for this.  One problem is that there just aren’t a ton of pictures of me in the early weeks and months after Caroline’s death.  Another problem is how I look in the ones that do exist.  I kind of hate to see myself during that time.  They’re hard to look at.  It’s hard to see myself still looking pregnant, puffy (or just plain fat), sad, ugly.  That kind of grief is ugly and it came out in how my face and body looked.  I can tell that there’s no real light in my eyes.  The smile on my face was forced and all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed and cover up my head.

The picture that I chose is from Christmas 2010.  It had been 2 months since we lost our girl.  We were having our traditional family gathering at my grandmother’s house and I was just going through the motions.  I mean, I didn’t give two flying flips about Christmas that year.  I really just wanted to ignore it and for it to go AWAY!  But, it didn’t.  It came and people were still happy and I was still sad.  But when a camera is in your face, you plaster a smile on your face, and pretend that all is well, right?!  So, that’s what this picture is.  I’m smiling.  I’m pretending that I’m happy on that Christmas day.  I’m putting on a face that says that I haven’t completely fallen apart and I’m not .2 seconds from giving up, even though that’s how I felt.

My beautiful mom is beside me, loving me, supporting me.  But I can tell from her smile that her heart is broken too.  This is such a sad “Merry Christmas” picture!  But it’s the best we had that year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Capture Your Grief - Days 1 & 2

As I said yesterday, I’m struggling with words right now.  October is a difficult month, and I’m excited for this, well distraction, for lack of a better term.  I saw the Capture Your Grief 2012 photo challenge from Carly Marie and Project Heal.  I felt like this was something that I could do each day, as a way to process all that this month holds, the good, the bad, and the impossibly hard.

I'm playing catch-up to day 1.  It's Sunrise.  It’s been a dreary couple of days here, so I decided to capture a different type of sunrise.  This is my little sunshine, Addalee, waking up this morning.  She makes my heart smile.

Day 2.  It's a Before Loss Self Portrait.  We weren't really big picture takers of me during my pregnancy with Caroline.  I fully regret that now, but it is what it is.  So as a result of my hiding from the camera, we don't have a lot of pictures of me pregnant with her.  However, we do have some.  This one is from one of the showers that were thrown for us.  It was just a few weeks before we lost her, and if you could see my face, it has a big fat perma-grin.  I was happy, things were beautiful, she was healthy.