Aug 31, 2015

August 17

It's two week later. Two weeks and I didn't write a post for my baby boy. If it were any of my girls I would've made sure to sit down and write. If not the day of, at least within the next several days. If it had been for any of the girls it would've been a birthday post.

But I didn't. I haven't.

And now here it is, almost two weeks after the anniversary of saying hello and goodbye. Except we never got to say hello.

I don't like calling it his birthday. I can't explain it any better than to say it doesn't feel like it was his birthday, even though I suppose I technically birthed him that day.

That is the day they gave me drugs to induce pain. Drugs to help my body recognize that the baby inside me was no longer alive. Drugs to help get him out of my womb and into a tomb.

(Too cold? Too vivid?)

I don't like to call it his birthday because I know that if things had been different, if life had been different, if he had been different, it wouldn't have been his birthday. You might tell me You never know but I do. I know. His body came into our world two and half months early.

He wouldn't have been two and half months early. He would've come at the expected time. The end of October or beginning of November. I know you'll tell me I can't know, but I know. I just do.

August 17th would not have been his birthday.

If things were different.

But they weren't. He was never meant to make it nine months. He was never meant to say hello. He was never meant to live.

He came into our world already gone. And that is they day we remember.

I won't call it his birthday.

(Except to my girls, because for right now that's the easiest. But even when they say, "It's Baby Calvin's Birthday!" or "Baby Calvin's two!" it makes me flinch. Because it doesn't feel right. Not to me.)

The day came and went and we recognized it in the way we did last year, with flowers, a bridge, and quiet words. With love sent out into the universe.

He didn't get a birthday post this year. But of course, he never gets a birthday post. Still, there is guilt. There is always guilt.

I did not miss it because I was too busy. It was not because I couldn't find the time to write. It was not because the day passed unnoticed. It was not because Calvin, my son, is not important.

I did not write a post, I have not written in so long, because I don't want to feel my feelings. I don't want to think about or process or spend any time exploring the lurchy gurchy whatever-they-are feelings regarding the loss of my son.

Lately, when something starts to sneak into the corners of my mind I pinch it with my fingernails and throw it into a box as quickly as I can, eager to avoid any of the feeling. I hide that box in the back of the back of the back of the backest closet of my mind.

Basically, I do the extremely healthy thing of avoiding it at all costs. (I do actually realize this is not the healthy thing.)

It's not because I don't love him. It's not because I don't think he's important. It's just because, right now, I can't. Or I don't want to. Or I can't and don't want to. I don't know. Maybe it's all the same.

Either way, it doesn't change reality. He is still not here. And right now that's pretty much all I can say.

I would do it all again a million times over, even knowing that I would never get to hear him cry, look deep into his eyes, kiss his nose, and tell him I love you.

But I do. Oh I do.

Aug 14, 2015

Rock-A-Bye Baby

It is late. Later than usual.

I push open the door and a triangle of light falls across her body. She is in her usual sleeping position, belly down, feet tucked under, butt up in the air.

As I tiptoe toward her she stirs, and I pause hoping not to disrupt her. She has not been sleeping through the night lately.

Her eyelids flutter and she pushes onto all fours. There is no sound, no cry, not even a little peep. Just the rustling of her body movement into standing position. She is still mostly asleep yet vertical in front of me.

I know all of the reasons I shouldn't, all the reasons I will probably regret doing it, but I pick her up anyway.

One leg tucked on either side of me, her head falls to my shoulder and I am acutely aware of how unbaby-like this position is. She is more of a toddler with each passing day.

Her body pressed against me, our breathing finds a rhythm, the rise and fall of each breath in perfect synchronization. And I am so glad I picked her up. No matter what difficulties it might lead to later.

We sway together for a few more minutes before I gently lay her back down. I expect that it will not be this easy, that there will be crying, back rubbing, maybe even nursing. I expect that it will be many minutes until I get to my own bed.

But when I lay her down she rolls onto her belly, clutching her pink bunny. Her eyes are still closed, her breathing is heavy. I touch her matted hair and kiss her head.

I close the door with my baby sleeping soundly on the other side.

Our quiet moment. The perfect ending to the day. The comfort of those few minutes with my baby tucks me into bed, promising sweet dreams for both of us.

xoxo, christine

Jul 22, 2015

It's Not Just Texting Anymore

Okay, here goes. I am going to be very real here. Because this is a very real issue.

Last night I read this post on Facebook from Momastery. (If you don't have the desire, or time, to read it I will summarize it as basically addressing the issue of being distracted by our phones while driving, how careless it is, how most everyone does it, how we're putting everyone in danger, and how she and her husband made a contract to put their phones in the glove compartment while driving to keep the temptation away. She says so much more than this though, I encourage you to read it.)

Her post led to a conversation with my husband. Although glued to his phone, he does not have nearly as many opportunities as I do to put himself and our kids at risk. Unlike me he is at work all day, and unlike me he takes public transportation during the day. However, HOWEVER, we both have done it. We both have been in the car, in the driver's seat, and checked our phones.

Here's the thing. We think that because we're not texting, because we aren't tapping away at the screens and squinting to find the right letters that we're safe. We're not texting and driving, oh no, not me. I would never be so reckless and careless and stupid to do that. But it doesn't matter. It's not just texting anymore. It's EVERYTHING.

Do you peek at your phone while driving? Do you? Because I know I do. And I know other people do to. I've looked over when passing other cars and seen them. My phone "dings" announcing a new text and I just peek at it to see who it's from. I'm stopped at a red light and I just peek at Instagram to see who posted since I last checked.

I'm not texting. I'm not. I'm just checking. It's just a quick glance. No biggie, right? Wrong.

Are we really so addicted to our phones that we can't go twenty minutes without looking at it? Are we so attached to our electronics that we can't just drive our cars? Why does being in the car automatically feel like the best time to make a phone call? Why does a red light seem like a perfect opportunity to check in on Facebook?

My husband and I have made an agreement. Our phones go away when we are in the driver's seat. I have three kids in the car with me ninety-nine percent of the time. I do not need another distraction. I have three perfect and beautiful and wonderful distractions who I would die for. Why in the world would I be willing to put them at risk by checking my stupid phone?

Not anymore. Not ever again.

This morning I saw this video circulating Facebook. I'm pretty sure it's the video Glennon mentions in her post. It is terrible and painful and raw. And the woman in it is not texting. She is not. She is peeking. She is peeking at her phone and the end result is the worst thing imaginable.

We think that if we're not texting it's okay. It's not that bad. It's not that distracted.

It is.

Please stop. Please make a contract, a pact, a vow to put and KEEP your phone away while in the driver's seat. It's not just texting anymore. It's "peeking" too. It's "checking" too.

Please put your phone away. Please please please. For your family, for your kids, for your safety, for everyone else out on the road. Do not check your phone while driving. It can wait.


Jul 8, 2015

A Birthday Written in the Stars

My dearest Nora May,

Today you turn one. A whole year. 365 days of life. 365 days of you. 365 days since the first moment you came into the world, our world, bright eyed and probably crying (but I don't remember clearly if you actually cried right away or not because I was still reeling from such a fast and painful delivery. I however, was definitely crying.)

Every moment with you has been filled with joy, layered with happiness, wrapped in love. It is like you knew what we needed before you were even here. Although not without your tears or anger, you are a happy baby, your smile garnering comments from strangers wherever we go.

I hardly remember what our life looked like before you, you fit so snuggly into our family, a missing piece we didn't even know was missing until you were here. And then when we held you in our arms, when we brought you home, when we looked at you and snuggled you, it was like, Yes, of course. There you are.

How can it already be a year since you were that teeny seven pound newborn? I look at you and I still see that baby, but then I look again and I see an almost toddler who cruises her twenty-two pounds around the house like the boss, pulling herself onto every piece of furniture she can, going straight for any crumb, any cord, any thing that is sure to elicit a "no-no" from a family member.

This past year has had some difficulties, for sure, but even in my frustrations, even with the agony of sleepless nights, all is well, all is right. On this day last year, on the day you left the comfort and warmth of your home for the past nine months into the unknown and cold of our world, you brought with you so much joy, so much love, so much healing to my mama heart.

My worry of how your sisters would feel, how they would adjust, was unfounded, they opened their arms wide, their hearts already synchronized with yours. You are three sisters, a trio. You look for them when the are not there, you smile when they enter the room, you are ready to get in on their fun.

Nora, this year has gone too quickly, my heart aches at the thought of you no longer being a baby. And yet, I am so happy and thrilled to see you grow and flourish. I could never want to keep you a baby forever. Every day with you is like unwrapping a present. You have given me more perspective, more understanding, and even more love into my heart than I thought was possible.

Your life was written in the stars long before I was ever here. But I am so incredibly thankful, and so incredibly grateful, to be your mother. Happy Birthday, my sweet Nori. I love you SO much. Thank you for bringing your light into our lives. You make it brighter.

Love, hugs, and kisses,

Jul 5, 2015

A Very 'Mary' Un-Birthday, to You

I know that birthdays aren't your favorite, at least your own birthdays. I get that. I really do. Marking the passage of one more year, of the illusive Time, the never-ending march toward Next, it does not always feel like a reason to celebrate.

Once you hit a certain age a birthday just doesn't have the same thrill and excitement that it once did. The joy of opening a wrapped up doll when you're a new three-year-old, the anticipation of a turning sweet sixteen, somewhere between becoming an official adult and the years after, a birthday starts to lose it's magic.

But, even though I get it, I still want to tell you Happy Birthday.

I am happy that those 'few' years ago your mother welcomed you into the world with tears and sweat. Another healthy daughter. There were smiles on their faces as they cradled you, kissing your eyes, breathing in the smell of your head, caressing your cheeks. The overwhelming love and joy that your mother and father felt for you, the reason that they celebrated you every year, remembering that first July 5th when you took your first breath, cried your first cry.

I am thankful that, although surely not perfectly (because no one is a perfect parent), they parented you and loved you the best way they knew how. I am thankful for you because you raised a pretty amazing son, who also happens to be my husband. I think it's wonderful that you came into this world, because without you, there would be no him. Without him there would be no us. Without us there would be no family.

All those birthdays led to you having your son. All the birthdays after that led to your son being the kind of man I wanted to marry. All your birthdays after that led us to here, now.

But I am not only thankful for your birthday because I am thankful for the man you helped raise. I am thankful for your birthday too, because I am thankful to have you in my life. You. I am lucky enough to be a woman who can say quite honestly, I like my mother-in-law, I enjoy spending time with her, I respect and admire her, and I love her dearly.

You are an amazing and beautiful person.

And even though it might not always feel the greatest to celebrate turning a year older, I am thrilled to be celebrating such a woman, who raised a son, who welcomed another daughter, who gets to spend time with and love on her granddaughters.

You are why we are celebrating. You are who we want to celebrate.

Happy Birthday!

xoxo, christine

Jun 23, 2015

She'll Always Be My Baby

I imagine it is not easy to be the middle child. One day you are the youngest, the littlest, the cutest, the sweetest, and all-of-a-sudden there is someone younger, smaller, and getting all of the "oh how cute!" comments herself. One day you get first dibs on laps and the next you are relegated to whichever lap is open, if there even is one.

And, while she will always be my baby, Paige is no longer the baby, which can be somewhat of an adjustment. An adjustment, I will add, I think she has handled amazingly well. Of course, that's not to say it's been all happy and easy, but as I look back to the past year, I see our ups and downs with the warmth of knowing Paige is still Paige. Her light is still just as bright, her emotions in just the same spot on her sleeve, her awe of her big sister and her pride at having a little sister growing each day.

Lately I have been reveling in her sweetness, the comments that cause smiles and even sometimes giggles (as long as she isn't caught by surprise and then completely embarrassed).

The other day as she and Nora were high-fiving over and over she said, Mom, it's just like running a mile...but with your hands!

As we pulled out of the driveway we had a direct view of the flowers she and Hope (with the help of their grandma) planted in a pot for their daddy for Father's Day. When I see those flowers, they give me twinkles in my eyes, she told me. And then she sighed.

The way she occasionally asks to be wrapped in a towel and cradled like a baby, googooing and gagaing in true baby form.

When she ties one of Nora's blankets around her shoulders like an Elsa cape, tosses her arms in the air, and starts singing Let it Go.

The way she stands on the couch in her third outfit of the day, most likely a dress, most likely with accessories, as she performs for her audience (real or imaginary).

And most recently, when I had a mini temper tantrum and huffed into the kitchen, I turned around to see her arms reaching out to give me a hug, her wide eyes staring into mine, and her soft words, Mommy? Are you okay?

I know that there is a lot going on right now, with only more to come as she starts full-time school this fall, but I am certainly enjoying what her five-year-old personality gives us every day. And I am incredibly thankful that she is all middle child, just the way she was born to be.

As she used to tell me every night at bedtime, I love you fru and fru, Mom.

I love you through and through too, Paige. Always.

xoxo, christine

Jun 22, 2015

I Want to Understand: Truth Telling Tuesday

I am a feeler. When I hear about something bad that has happened, I don't hear about it, I feel it. My heart is weighted down, aching in sorrow, every beat a vibration of pain in the world. I am a feeler. And that is why I am selective in what television shows I watch, frequently avoiding the news.

I don't want to be ignorant. And because of this, I struggle with my decision to skip the evening news. I want to know what is happening in the world. I want to know what injustices people are suffering. I do not want to turn a blind eye, to maintain that "ignorance is bliss" because I don't want to be afforded the luxury of ignorance. Yet, my media intake is filtered, mostly via my husband because there are days that it hurts too much to see for myself.

Over the weekend I had a conversation that left me feeling a bit rattled. As I ruminated about my contribution to the conversation I was painfully aware of my white privilege, and embarrassed about that privilege especially because a dear friend of mine does not have that luxury. I want desperately to do right by her, but I know that there are times that I won't and times that I don't. My discontented heart led to a late night text to my friend promising her that I am trying.

And I am trying.

The next day, discussing it with my husband, my body still felt agitated and shaky. I know that there are many people out there who disagree with me. I know that there are many different opinions and points of view. I get that, I really do. I can even (try very hard to) respect that. But what I want is to understand. It is important to me to understand everyone and where they are coming from. The problem is, I'm not sure how to understand points of view that I so completely disagree with, and (even more importantly) I don't know how to understand a different point of view without feeling like I am endorsing it.

My husband reminded me how much of this is related to my personality. How important it is to me to understand, how deeply it is that I feel. Which, although painful, is not necessarily a bad thing.

And all of this, the feeling and discomfort, the wanting to be able to respect other opinions, the desire to understand other people, the learning to be okay with the inability to change people's minds, it is hard. It is so incredibly hard.

My feeling heart struggles so much. It is so difficult to understand everyone, but I want to. I really want to. I just don't know how to do that without my heart hurting. But maybe I can't. Maybe the hurting is part of it too.

xoxo, christine