May 29, 2014

It was a Mother's Day Miracle

It was Mother's Day weekend. The girls and I were lounging lazily in the living room when Adam called to them to clear their dinner plates. Hope sighed, slumping her shoulders and rolling her eyes.

It's hard to be a kid sometimes, isn't it? I asked her, surprising myself at the genuine sentiment.

(I have many times thought sarcastically, "Gee it's so hard to be a kid..." but this time I found myself actually believing the words. It would be hard having someone else constantly tell you what to do or not to do, what's okay and not okay, and what needs to be done first and then next, when all you really want to do is play.)

I wish I was a grownup! Paige piped up.

Yeah, it is hard. Hope nodded. And then she continued. But I think being a grownup would be harder.

The best Mother's Day present ever! It took all of my energy to keep my butt in my chair and not jump up and down shouting, Yes! Yes! Yes! It is hard being a grownup and Thank You my darling daughter for recognizing that.

As a million hard grownup-y things raced through my mind (money and bills, health and illness, cooking and cleaning, appointments, and life worries), I smiled at her and acknowledged, Yes, it can be hard being a grownup too. Why do you think it might be hard?

Well, you have to do other things you don't want to do instead of play.

I pulled Hope into my lap, thankful that she still lets me, and squeezed her tight. Oh, it is so hard to want to play and do fun things and have other non-fun things that have to be done instead.

It would have been very easy for me to fall into my Mom Guilt mode and bemoan how this must mean my daughter feels like I never play with her and I am ruining her childhood and all she'll remember about these days is how I have priorities other than playing. But I didn't. I brushed off my guilt and doubt because I know that I do spend time with my girls, and maybe it's not always sitting on the floor playing Barbies, but we have a lot of fun doing other things together, and I'm okay with them being able to play with each other or by themselves. And it's okay for them to see that I can't (and don't) spend all my time doing their will either.

(Besides, at least she understands that I would rather be playing but sometimes I have other responsibilities too. Non-fun ones.)

She surprises me, my six-year-old, with her deep and grownup thoughts and observations, even though I shouldn't be surprised at all. She sees so much more than I realize, or even that I see. And I love it when she opens up and invites me in to what she is processing and thinking about.

I am so glad I have these little people in my grownup life to point out new perspectives and remind me that they are their own people too. It was a very nice Mother's Day (especially considering I was not looking forward to it), and would have been even if Hope hadn't announced her recognition of grownups not always having it easy, but that was definitely a bonus.

xoxo, christine

May 21, 2014

Twinges of Excitement

This week marks 31 weeks into this pregnancy. When I look back on the previous months, the time seems to have moved quickly, but as I look toward the next nine plus weeks, it feels like it is a long way to go. Often times, I wonder how I'm going to make it.

This pregnancy has been wrought with a lot of new emotions as well as pregnancy discomforts. There has been an awful lower back and radiating pain down my legs, which is worse at night. My eyes are fuzzy and require a pair of glasses I got in college which are the lightest prescription possible, but actually help with focusing. And the Braxton Hicks contractions are more numerous and uncomfortable than I ever remember.

I have spent this pregnancy filled with worries and fears and if it hasn't been another chromosomal abnormality or the baby dying (and being stillborn) for an unexplainable reason, it is now feeling convinced she will arrive early and be premature. This thought keeps me up at night, counting contractions and analyzing any sensation, new or old.

Even though I don't want her to come until she is big enough and strong enough, sometimes I find myself just wishing this pregnancy could be over with, simply because I want her in my arms. My last pregnancy our baby died while in my womb, so even though I know that she is in the best and safest possible place right now, sometimes I feel like she might be better off coming early, just so she doesn't get betrayed by my body like her brother.

With all my fearful worrying, the doctor snuck me in for an extra ultrasound today, just to put my mind at ease. And although I know it won't keep from worrying for the next two months, it was so wonderful to see our baby girl dancing around on the screen. Excitement is something I have been lacking throughout this pregnancy, even though there is plenty of joy and love, but hearing her pass her "test" with flying colors, seeing her practice breaths, counting her toes, and getting a look at her squishy little face brought on the much-needed (and forgotten) excitement.

In about two months (hopefully no more) we will be welcoming this baby girl into our family. I am just trying to hold onto that as much as I can and remind myself that she is safe and my body knows what to do to keep her that way.

xoxo, christine

May 12, 2014

A Thick Fog has Settled In

I have not felt like myself lately. I have been distracted, like I can't get a clear view of the thoughts in my head, and I certainly can't focus on conversations happening around me, even when I'm in the middle of one. I have felt moody and irritable, even more so than usual. I am tired, and I feel like I'm not getting enough sleep. (Pretty sure I just heard my husband guffaw at that one.)

I was kind of chalking up the moodiness to the approaching Mother's Day, a reminder of my two beautiful daughters, but also of my son who is not with us. Every time my husband asked about what I might want for Mother's Day I just sort of shrugged, not really eager to celebrate or think about the day. In fact, one of the only reasons I acknowledged the day yesterday was because both Hope and Paige knew it was Mother's Day and were super excited about it and to give me the little things they made in school. (Which, by the way, was totally adorable and so worth it in every way.)

The day itself was actually not too bad, I enjoyed being with my girls. But the days leading up to yesterday were rough. And I still feel like I have a little bit of an irritability hangover from all the emotions last week.

My mind still feels fuzzy. I don't know if it's "pregnancy brain" as I've heard people call it, or something else entirely, but I know that even when I'm talking with friends I feel distracted, like I can't quite put my full attention into what they're saying. Which is a pretty crappy feeling, to be honest, because I don't like to seem unengaged when I'm with people.

I kind of feel like hibernating. Like maybe I should just spend these last few months of pregnancy snuggled up at home, taking long naps, and avoiding complex conversations (which at this point kinda feels like all conversation).

Even this post feels untethered. I can't quite focus hard enough to make sure that what I'm saying makes sense, or if it fits all together. So I'm just going to go ahead and assume that even in my confusion, if people don't understand what I'm saying, they'll at least understand that I'm foggy.

And maybe I'll try to take a long nap this afternoon, too.

xoxo, christine

May 6, 2014

Conversations in Blue

We are painting fingernails. Hope has chosen a bright blue, one no one has used in months.

I hesitate, but only for a second, before saying, This reminds me of when we all painted our nails this blue for Calvin's memorial.

Yeah. I was thinking that too, Hope comments, her eyes watching every stroke on her nails.

Paige scoots in closer. Did I wear that color too?

Yes, honey. We all had our nails painted this color for Calvin's memorial.

What's a memorial? Paige asks, and I realize that even though she knows Calvin died, her memories of last year have the haziness of a three-year-old, and unless we talk about it, she probably won't remember.

I explain as best I can, that the memorial was a way to remember and say goodbye to Calvin, that our immediate families were there, we were in the little chapel at our church, the priest said some nice words, and we all were crying.

I didn't cry. Hope announces. I was bored.

Yes, Hope. I remember that, too.

Did I cry? Paige looks up at me, her hands cradling her face.

Some. I think that seeing everyone else so sad made you feel pretty sad too.

* * *

I am closing up the last of the polish, lining them up to be put away. Hope is waiting for her nails to dry and Paige walks in, her hands clasped together, her eyes searching mine.

Mommy? I miss Baby Calvin.

I pull Paige into my lap and squeeze her. Me too, baby.

I wish we had two babies.


She sighs and rubs my belly. This baby and Baby Cal.

I wish we had two babies, too.

Baby Calvin would be first. Then this baby. She declares firmly.

Yes. I confirm. Baby Calvin came first, then this baby.

She pushes on my belly button. I hope this baby doesn't die.

I hope this baby doesn't die too.

But Calvin was sick. Hope interjects with authority. This baby isn't sick.

You're right. So far she's been healthy, but we never know what might happen. But she is growing bigger and stronger, so hopefully we will get to bring her home. I don't want to upset them, but I also don't want to make a promise that gets broken, so I try to encourage hope without completely denying the possibility that we could lose her too.

* * *

When I am in bed, I think back to our conversations. I am glad that I brought up Calvin's name. I only wish I had reminded Paige that Calvin is always with us. That even though we miss him and wish he was here, he is always with us in our memories and in our hearts.

* * *

I have been feeling especially emotional and delicate lately. I think it is perhaps because this weekend marked the point in pregnancy that we found out Calvin had died and delivered him. Twenty-eight weeks and five days.

For the last four days or so, I have been wearing blue bracelets. I have several, collected throughout the years from various places and people. They are significant to my loss of Calvin only because just now I have decided to wear a blue bracelet (or two) as a way to remind me that I am a mother to a son, not just daughters.

(Even though I already know this. Even though I have his footprints tattooed on the inside of my wrist. The blue makes me feel happier about having a son. Not just the sadness of losing my son.)

I also light his candle most evenings. The smell is comforting, whether I am sitting and thinking about him, or just going about my usual evening routine. It is the candle we picked out to light on his due date, the smell having no similarity to the actual smells from the day of his delivery, but the scent has become "Calvin" to me. And I find it reassuring, that sweet blueberry aroma, wrapping around me like a cozy blanket.

* * *

I am sad about so many things surrounding losing Calvin. But I also want to feel the joy of having him with us, of remembering him. I guess, for now anyway, adding a little blue to my days makes that feel like a real possibility.

xoxo, christine