Sep 29, 2013

There's an Elephant in the Room

I have a hard time knowing how to answer when someone asks, "How are you doing?" It's not necessarily because I don't want to talk about what's been going on or how I'm feeling, but just that I don't really know what to say. I don't always know how I'm doing. And most of my processing, crying, and thinking things through occur at night with the stillness and quiet of laying in bed.

Also, I've discovered that I've become the friend who makes outings awkward and uncomfortable. I don't like to use the word "hate" very often, but I'm pretty sure I hate that I bring a big elephant into the room with me. I drag it around behind me, my elephant who is chained to my ankle (or rather, my heart), and everyone is keenly aware he is there but no one wants to say anything. My "baby-who-died" elephant. I don't want to make people uncomfortable, but he is a part of me now. And I hope that at some point my elephant becomes less awkward, and even though I hate his awkwardness, I guess you could say that I love him. Because he is my story. And I would rather have my strange and difficult "baby-who-died" elephant than nothing at all.

(Am I losing you here as I delve deeper into this whole "elephant" thing? I'm getting a little caught up and carried away in this the symbolism.)

And it's hard. It's hard and uncomfortable and awkward, for all of us. I don't blame anyone, because I'm sure before all this happened I would be the exact same way. And maybe not all people who've lost babies and loved ones would agree, but I say just bring it up. Don't be afraid that bringing up my baby will remind me of his death because he will always be in my mind. I know that you might be afraid that I don't want to talk about it, but that's okay. Please. Ask. (Just choose gentle words.) And if I don't want to talk about it I will let you know.

There are so many things about this that are hard, I am continually being taken by surprise. I suppose if I had thought about it, I would've realized that I have an elephant permanently attached to my heart, but of course I'm so stuck in my own head and my own world that I didn't even notice when he appeared.

xoxo christine

As an aside: I can't decide if I like using this elephant analogy or not (even though I keep using it). We bought a stuffed animal elephant for our baby while we were in San Diego this past spring. It was long before we knew anything other than that we were happy to be adding to our family. The elephant is Calvin's and will always be his. I used "elephant in the room" simply because everyone knows what that means, but if Calvin's animal is an elephant I'm not sure that I want this ache (and awkwardness) to be associated with that. On the other hand, maybe I can think of my heartache as his stuffed elephant always being with me.

Sep 27, 2013

The Universe and Hobbes

I have been trying to write a blog post all week. There are so many thoughts and emotions tangled together in my mind, every time I get started I don't seem able to put down a coherent or cohesive text.

The service we had for Calvin felt good. We had our immediate family together in a small chapel with a few meaningful songs and comforting words spoken. I know that he didn't need any of it to be welcomed into heaven, but it sure brought some peace to my heart and soul. In fact, it felt oddly refreshing to cry together as a family.

It is still not easy, though. I think there is something to my thought last week of never healing but just feeling less broken. Or maybe you do heal, but it's like a scar where the injury itself is healed but the area is never the same. The skin is more sensitive and a reminder of the pain.

I don't know. Just a thought.

Yesterday at Paige's dance class I overheard a cute little pregnant woman mention that she had six weeks left. Masochist that I seem to be, I immediately checked the calendar to confirm that yes, she is due the same week I was with Calvin. When I got home Adam informed me that a coworker of his is adopting a baby that was born on August 17, the day I delivered Calvin. These things, they sting. It hurts, not because of what they have, but because of what we don't have.

Sometimes I wonder if the universe is trying to tell us that we weren't mean to have three children here on earth. Sorry guys, three's just too much for you, so STOP TRYING. I know it's more than a little ridiculous, this thought, but it still creeps into the corners of my mind sometimes.

Anyway, we're all doing okay, I guess. Taking one day at a time...every day.

And yesterday we got a package from a friend who made a Hobbes for our Calvin. Because every Calvin needs a Hobbes.

Happy Weekend.

xoxo christine

Sep 19, 2013

Less Broken and Broken and Friday Photos

It was a bit of a rough week. We marked one month since delivering Calvin on Tuesday, and my emotions took me by surprise. (Although I'm not quite sure why, as anyone who knows me well will agree that I'm an emotional person.) The following day I got a tattoo of Calvin's footprints on my wrist. My first tattoo. It feels like a step in the right direction of Healing.

But of course Healing is a process. (And maybe one is never "healed" but just "less broken"?)

Tonight I had a meeting where we wrote down the members of our families. When I took a paper for each of my girls I thought, this breaks my heart. It felt really unfair that I didn't need another piece for Calvin. (In fact, I felt like I should even have four.)

I feel incredibly sad and empty tonight.

And now I have no way to transition into photos from our week. So I'm just going to dump them here and pretend that this post is really well put together, even thought it's so obviously not.

She had her first day of tennis last week... and loved it. 

I finally got around to setting up an area with some of our reminders of Calvin. The elephant we bought for him in San Diego, the hat he wore at the hospital, and his tiny footprints.

It's their favorite place to eat lunch.

A beautiful memorial to my son.

xoxo, christine

Sep 17, 2013

One Month

Today marks one month since I delivered Calvin. One month ago his little heart had stopped. One month ago he was no longer in the safety and coziness of my womb.

I miss him. I miss the girls kissing my belly and telling Calvin goodnight and whispering, I love you, Calvin into my belly button. I miss feeling his body nestled against my hips.

It feels harder today, to know that our baby didn't get to be healthy. That our baby didn't get to come home. Mostly I don't like to ask, "Why did this happen to us?" because I feel like it implies it should have happened to someone else. Mostly I don't feel angry, because I know God didn't "do" this. Mostly I just feel sad that things couldn't have been different.

Tomorrow Adam and I are meeting with our church to formalize the memorial service planned for this weekend. I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that we are planning a service for our dead son. But I am glad we can do this, have a service for him. Have a service for us, really.

I miss him today. Just like I missed him yesterday and just like I will miss him tomorrow.

I love you, little guy. I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you. But I do love you, so very much.

xoxo, christine

Sep 13, 2013

Friday Photos

I've decided (for this week, anyway) to end on a happy note, with photos of what we've been up to this past week. There is joy amidst the sorrow, laughter as well as tears. I feel blessed to have such wonderful girls to help keep me going.

She got her ears pierced on Saturday. And then Sunday morning one of them fell out and she refused to let me push it back in. Now I have a beautiful new pair of pink sparkly heart earrings. (And she won't be getting her ears repierced anytime soon.)

Preschool orientation.

Wednesday we had an impromptu jaunt through the sprinklers.

Working together on the Leapster.

First day of preschool.

Happy Friday!

xoxo, christine

Sep 12, 2013

Iceberg, Straight Ahead!

**I wrote this the other night, basically a stream of consciousness, similar to a journal entry. It is just the tip of the iceberg.**

The other day my therapist asked if I talk about Calvin when I think about him. I don't. And she suggested that I start. The thing is, I don't even know what to say. That I miss "before" when my friend was sending me texts with name suggestions because I was having a hard time finding ones I really liked? That a week and a half after we lost Calvin, when the girls were throwing pennies in a fountain and making wishes I thought, I know my wish, and no amount of pennies will bring Calvin back? That I regret not giving him more kisses when I delivered him? That I miss the girls talking about him and giving my belly kisses and telling baby Calvin good-night? That even though I try not to make a big deal out of it, my heart breaks a little bit when Hope doesn't want to talk about him and when Paige brings him up? That we're meeting with the church next week to plan his memorial service and I don't even want to think about it? That come November, long after most everyone else has forgotten, I will be relieving it all, mourning an uncelebrated due date? That this holiday season I will be reeling from knowing (yet again) we should have a new baby in our family? That even though my brain tells me that he knows how much I love him, my heart hurts from fearing he doesn't? That every article I read, every sermon I hear, I am looking for how it pertains to me and my grief? That I desperately want him to come to me in a dream? That the other day I randomly told a woman that before we get a dog I want to have three kids and then I wanted to kick myself and cry? That when I see a family with three or more kids I think oh how lucky!? That this whole thing has me questioning my faith, not because I think, "How could God let this happen?" but because I know it wasn't God's doing but just a random fluke of biology? That even with those questions, I have to believe that he is in heaven because I can't stand the thought of anything else?

xoxo, christine

Sep 10, 2013

Her Lips Are Sealed

Trying to get information out of my Kindergartner is harder than wrestling my kids down for their doctor's shots. Every day after she gets of the bus, when I ask her what she did that day her response is a shrug of the shoulders and an I don't know.

I don't know how many hours I've already spent (she's only been in school for a week), asking questions and getting the bare minimum of responses. I try to ask non yes or no questions knowing that otherwise there will be no elaboration.

Most often I find myself asking those yes or no questions and filling in the information for her. Did you have circle time today? Yes. What did you talk about at circle time? Blank stare. Did you talk about getting to know each other and the letter A? Yes.

I'm beginning to wonder if the answers she gives me are actually accurate or if she's just saying Yes to appease me and get me to shut up. I could ask her if she danced on the backs of elephants and she'd probably tell me yes just to get me to leave her alone.

I've thought about denying her after school snack until she tells me about her day. Or, even better (or maybe worse), offering her a piece of candy to talk. Desperate times here, people.

It is definitely hard to go from feeling so connected and aware of her days and experiences at preschool to blindly stepping into Kindergarten. She seems to be having the time of her life (she was disappointed that there was no school over the weekend -- which I'm very glad about), and I am the one feeling anxious and bittersweet about this next stage of her life.

It's a big change. And while I love to see her so happy and excited, it is hard for me to know that her days at home with me are coming to an end. Of course, this is how it goes, I'm sure, with the first child. By the time Paige gets around to Kindergarten maybe I'll be pushing her out the door.

But probably not. This momma just likes to know what's going on. And I will continue to bug my five-year-old as much as I can so that she knows that I care. And when she does finally want to talk to me about her day, I am all ears.

xoxo, christine

Sep 8, 2013

In the Dark of the Night

The sun goes down. The stars slowly start to twinkle. It is quiet. But mostly, there is darkness.

It is night.

At night there are boogeymen and bad dreams and scary things lurking in dark corners waiting to come out. Night time means monsters under the bed and racing thoughts of all the bad things that might happen.

Since losing Calvin, I have had an overwhelming heaviness that something bad is going to happen to our family. Something else bad. It is a big giant, rotten watermelon sitting in my gut, eating away at my insides.

When I met with my therapist and told her of my irrational fears about something horrible happening to one of my daughters and how I just know I could never be able to deal with it, she reminded me that before this summer I probably thought I would never be strong enough to go through an experience like my pregnancy and loss of Calvin. She's right. I thought, and felt my shoulders instantly relax.

About twenty minutes later, on my drive home, the anxiety came back at about about two thousand percent. Wait a second. Maybe that's why this happened. Maybe that's why we lost Calvin. It was God's way of showing me that I'm a stronger person than I realize. What if it was His way of trying to prepare me for something even more devastating to happen? Immediately, all those terrifying scenarios of bad things that could happen to my two living children, filled my mind.

Mostly, I am able to keep worst-case scenarios at bay during the day. But at night? In the quiet and stillness and dark? They come creeping out of the shadowed corners.

My boogeyman is not of the under-the-bed-monster variety. My boogeyman slips into my mind and fills it with all the ways my children can get hurt. It reminds me that as much as I want to be able to protect them from everything bad, I can not, and there will be things in life that cause them hurt.

My boogeyman taunts me with visions of bruises turning into terminal cancer, school lockdowns, kidnappings, and things I can't even get myself to put down on paper. He encourages my imagination and tells me over and over that there is no rhyme or reason about bad things happening, that just because it feels like your family has been through enough, life just doesn't work that way. More bad things can come.

He slides toward the watermelon in my gut, injecting it with poison, making it bigger and heavier. Making sure I know that it is there. That my gut is telling me something is wrong. Something else is coming.

I want to say that I know it will all be okay. That everything is fine and it's just a mixture of anxiety and grief. But even today, with the sun streaming in and the girls playing on the floor at my feet, I can't say that, because I don't know. No one knows. Maybe there is something waiting around the corner, another journey that feels impossible to navigate, but maybe not.

I just don't know.

All I know is that at night, in the dark, my boogeyman is waiting.

xoxo christine

Sep 5, 2013


We survived the week. I survived the week. (Even though we still technically have Friday to complete, I'm going to go ahead and assume that we survive that too.)

Adam is back to work. It feels like it always did. The biggest adjustment for me has been feeling completely and totally D-O-N-E by the time he gets home. I find myself a bit crabby with the girls while we're trying to get dinner made. Actually, now that I think about it, I guess my adjustment of Adam being gone all day again has not been that great. It's fine during the day, but by the end of the day (and now week) I feel utterly burnt out. My patient level is almost down to zero. Not sure what I can do to fix that, but I have to figure something out. My impatience is embarrassing (not to mention taxing on my husband, I'm sure).

Kindergarten has been pretty successful. Hope was excited to go back on her second day, which I'd say is a good sign. Our one mishap was that the bus completely missed her stop today, so I drove her and thus she was late. Not a huge deal in the whole scheme of things, but to a five-year-old whose world is only just beginning to expand, it might as well have been the end of the world. Oh, the crying and the tears! She was devastated not to get to ride the bus to school today, and was still crying when I left her at school. (Luckily there was a smile on her face by the end of the day, so we'll just go ahead and call it okay.)

First day of Kindergarten

My little three-year-old teenager started dance tonight. What cuteness! With her tights and big tutu, not to mention the ballet shoes and bun in her hair, she was just about the most adorable ballerina I've ever seen. We avoided a meltdown when, on the way to class, I discovered that Paige was expecting to put on a She was a little put out to discover that she has to have class and practice first, but she seemed to get over it in time to stretch and jump and point her toes.

First day of dance

I am just exhausted. With all the Kindergarten first-day anxiety (mine, not my five-year-old's) and trying to remember our new schedule, I couldn't fall asleep until after three in the morning on Tuesday. I am having a hard time adjusting to the idea that the stay-at-home part of Hope's life is ending. And along with that, how infrequently I will get to see all of my mom friends who weathered those early years with me. With kids at different schools and different schedules, I fear that this school year is going to seem pretty lonely.

Next week Paige starts preschool and Hope has her first tennis lesson. Slowly we will find our pace and get into a routine.

But, we're here. We made it.

That's enough to be thankful for.

xoxo, christine

Sep 2, 2013

It is Reality

It is the start of September. The start of school. The start of pumpkin flavored coffee and bagels.

The start of our new reality.

Our past two weeks have been like a mini-break from real life. Now tomorrow it starts up again. I am dreading Adam going back to work. As I mentioned before, his work giving him this time off has been a huge blessing. The time we've had together as a family has been so needed, and I've just wanted to wrap the four of us together.

But while I've been soaking up my family, I've been neglecting other things (um, mostly other people). I'm afraid that I have not been good at answering or responding to messages and texts. And now that Adam's going back to work and I will find myself without him all day, I'm afraid that I've hurt people's feelings and isolated myself.

Reality is coming and it is booming like a drum.

There is so much going on right now, I don't even know what to do with myself. And I'm having a hard time falling asleep at night. As soon as my head hits the pillow my mind seems to speed up. All day long I am dragging and ready to nap on the couch, but come ten or eleven o'clock and my brain decides that there is too much to do and think about to allow my body to rest.

I hear it coming, getting louder and louder, right outside the door.

It is Reality after losing Calvin. And I am not ready.

xoxo christine