Saturday, November 24, 2007

At the Holidays

A friend posted this and I thought I would too. It's a really good look inside the hearts of grieving parents. It's a tough time of year, made even tougher if people forget to remember.

Do not worry that mentioning the name of the child will "remind" bereaved parents of their child. We remember our child every minute of every day. We want to talk about our child. Mention his name. One of our biggest fears is that he will be forgotten and one of our biggest joys is to hear his name.

Understand that we are parents without the right number of children. Because of this we experience over and over again fear, anger, guilt, sorrow, loss of future, isolation, abandonment. These are not steps that we work through but feelings that will continue to return forever with various intensity and in different forms.

Keep in mind that there really is no "closure" to the grief for the loss of a child. How can there be? Such loss is against nature and against all that we understand in the passage from one generation to the next.

What you say to bereaved parents is less important than that you say something. Ignoring bereaved parents is only adding to the burden of grief. Simply asking "How are you doing?" can be very helpful. But do it often.

When bereaved parents return to the workplace, make sure that you stop by, even if it's just to say "hello." After the loss of a child, parents often feel as if they are starting all over. This "new life" is just in the infancy stage and a friendly word makes a difference.

Call bereaved parents just to let them know you are thinking about them. Don't be insulted if they do not call you. Grieving saps energy for a long time.

Never think that grieving parents are somehow "holding onto their grief. "There is no such thing. The loss of a child causes endless grief that becomes part of the bereaved parent's inner self forever.

Remember that grief is not a process that one goes through a step at a time. Grieving is a roller coaster ride, and it is circular. The first couple of years, we are numb. When the numbness goes away, we are shocked to see that the world has gone on without our child. When we come out of this numbness, we are different people with a new sense of what it is to be "normal."

When parents lose their child, their hearts are broken. A huge hole is left. This hole will never heal - only the jagged edges around the hole may heal with time. Our grief, not always in the same form and maybe not as intense, will be with us the rest of our lives.

It does not matter how a child died or whether he was one week old or sixty years old. Nor does it matter whether there are surviving children. There is something absolute about the loss of each and every individual child.

Certain times of year will trigger intense sadness. Birthdays, anniversaries of the death, holidays, Mother's and Father's Day, weddings and funerals are just some. We can never properly prepare ourselves for these days. A simple "I am thinking of you and I know this day must be hard" goes a long way with bereaved parents.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It is amazing what can become "normal" to us . . .

Normal for me is trying to decide what to take to the cemetery for Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s day, and Easter.

Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.

Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral and being at the cemetery. Yet, feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers, see that casket, and all the crying people.

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming because you just don't like to sit through church anymore. And yet feeling like you have more faith and belief in God than you ever have had before.

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your families' life.

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand 'what if's' and 'why didn't I's' go through your head constantly.

Normal is having the TV on the minute you wake up and the last thing as you go to sleep at night. . .feeling the desperate need for noise because the silence is deafening.

Normal is every happy event in your life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind because of the hole in your heart.

Normal is telling the story of your baby’s death as if it were an everyday common place activity and then gasping in horror at how awful it sounds.

And yet realizing it has become part of our normal.

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and their birthday and survive those days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fits the occasion.

Normal is feeling a common bond with friends in England, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and all over the USA, yet never having met any of them face to face.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother and meeting for coffee and talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned house or did laundry or if there is any food in the house.

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have children because it is not worth explaining that they are in Heaven. And yet when you avoid that problem you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your children.

And last of all normal is hiding all the things that have become normal for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What impropriety or limit can there be in our grief for a man so beloved?
~Horace, Carmina

A friend recently asked me if I wished my blog was anonymous, and I admitted that sometimes I did. I would like to facelessly/namelessly be able to share my deepest feelings without fear of judgement. I would like to be able to say I am still grieving without being accused of selfish motives (apparently if I say I'm sad, it's just so people will comfort me). Unfortunately, through some lessons learned both here and in real life, I have come to understand that there will always be people who judge us, and hiding behind masks doesn't make it any easier to bear.

I am still sad. Despite what others might think, it's not depression. I know depression, have experienced it quite deeply, and still deal with it. This goes deeper than depression, and it's completely different. It is grief, and it is profound. I've gotten really, really good at fooling people. I can do what they want . . .act happy, don't mention my boys (it might upset someone!), and pretend that everything is going great. But the thing that scares me is that I've gotten so good at it, I almost fool myself sometimes. Looking through my picture folders on my computer last night, I realized it had been months since I'd looked at Brian and Sawyer's photos. I went through them, and immediately the tears began to flow. What hurt the most was my sudden realization that I'd been trying so hard to convince everyone else I was okay I had neglected to spend time with my sons.

So tonight, this is what you get. My ramblings and my music. I updated my song list because when you can't speak grief, music can do it for you.

Grief. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal.

~C.S. Lewis

Sunday, October 21, 2007


"I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends."
~William Shakespeare

I said in my last blog that I was going to tell you about meeting another angel-mom, as well as my weekend with Jim, so I am starting with Part I and moving on to Part II later on.

Over the weekend of October 6th, Jim and I had originally planned to participate in the SHARE Walk in St. Louis. It is to benefit an organization that provides free materials to grieving parents after the loss of a child. One of my angel-mom friends here, Heidi, had invited us to join her team, and we were really looking forward to the event. All of the babies' names were to be read aloud in memoriam before the walk, and they would all be printed on the t-shirts. I thought it would be a wonderful way to honor our sons' memories. Unfortunately, Jim couldn't get the time off work. Being one of the newer employees means that you basically have to do what they say when they say to do it, and they don't give "time off" to really anyone. It was his weekend, he had to work, and that was it. Period. So I was really bummed that we couldn't go.

Well, it's funny how things work out sometimes. I believe that God has a hand in these things, but whatever you believe, it's pretty amazing when one door closes and a window opens, which is what happened to us.

When I was pregnant with Brian, still in my first trimester with no hint of the tragedy that would befall us, my friend Nicole told me that her sister, Amy, had lost her son, Tyler. He was lost at full term, and it was a huge shock to everyone. At the time, I remember crying when Nicole told me and feeling very, very sad . . .but I had no idea that soon I would be able to relate to the deep pain Amy was going through. Even though I sympathized with her, I couldn't truly understand, because I never thought anything like that would happen to me.

Well, as you all know, a few months later, I lost my own son, Brian. Nicole gave me Amy's email address. I was really nervous, but I decided to reach out to her. As kind and caring as everyone around me was, I needed someone to talk to who really understood. Amy responded right away, and gave me her phone number in case I ever needed to talk. She was the first angel-mom I had met, and she really helped me through my grief.

A couple of months later, we were both expecting again. We supported each other through the months of worry and anxiety. Once again, tragedy struck, and I lost my second son, Sawyer. Amy was pregnant with her daughter, Gabrielle, and terrified of losing her, but she still stood beside me as I dealt with the loss of Sawyer. All moms deal with grief and fear differently, and I've had some friends who, while pregnant again, pretty much ignored me . . .I think out of an understandable terror that it would happen to them again too. Amy never did. She always helped me, listened, and cared about what I was going through. And even though I'd just lost my second child, I tried to be a good friend to her as well. I encouraged her through her worries and prayed for her and Gaby every day.

Nothing made me happier than the day Gabrielle Nicole was born, a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Amy was still very sensitive to me. She didn't know if she should send pictures, because she didn't want to upset me. I told her that she deserved this happiness, and I would never have wanted anything else for her. How could I wish my unhappiness and grief upon anyone else? She knew this, but she just didn't want to make it harder for me. It didn't. It gave me hope to know that Gaby was a success story. It made me believe that I could try again.

So . . .you're probably wondering where this is all going. Nicole told me that Amy was going to be in town, and asked if Jim and I would come to dinner at her house on October 6! After not being able to go to St. Louis to meet all those other angel-moms, it was so strange and amazing that this was the exact weekend Amy would be in town! We accepted, of course, and I finally met Amy and her daughter Gaby, as well as her and Nicole's mom.

We had a great dinner and shared a lot about our children, Brian, Sawyer, Tyler, and Gaby. There were definitely some tears, but laughter as well, and joy in the birth of Amy's daughter. She encouraged me a lot, and let me know that she supported my choice to try again. It was a wonderful evening, and I am so grateful to have been able to meet her. At the end of the evening, as we said goodbye, she said that she felt a special bond with me because of what we'd been through and hoped that I felt the same. I can't imagine where I'd be without Amy's friendship. She has helped me in so many ways, and I always know that whatever I'm feeling, she will understand. She never tells me how I should be dealing with things, or what I should be feeling, she just listens and she "gets it." I'm so glad we got to meet, and I look forward to our continuing friendship and more children for both of us.

And I have to say a HUGE thank you to Nicole, who has also been there for me through EVERYTHING. I'm really glad she introduced me to her sister, but I'm also glad for her. I value her friendship and presence in my life very highly. when I lost the boys, both times, she was there for me in so many ways. She gave donations for their headstone, she sent cards, she talked to me every day, she called, she wrote me emails . . .but most of all, she cared deeply about me and our children. These two women have been the best kind of friends anyone could ask for.

Nicole, Gabrielle, and Amy

Amy and I

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

She's BAAAACK . . .

Okay. Not really. I haven't got time for a full blog. Honestly. Work has been really tiring, and on top of that, I had some major dental surgery and lots of blood and swelling and pain and not eating and not sleeping. Oh, and vicodin (which didn't work at ALL) and codeine (which helped a little).

I'm off the painkillers and dealing with life. I want to tell you all about meeting my angel-mom friend, Amy, a couple weekends ago. I also want to tell you about my weekend with my love. So that will follow soon, I promise. At least by this weekend.

Oh, yes, and before you ask . . .the babymaking has begun. I just finished my first period since I went off birth control. So wish us luck and send up lots of prayers for the safety of our future baby-in-the-making. And always remember our boys, our first loves, our guiding stars. We are especially thinking of them during this month of remembrance.

"You cannot catch a child's spirit by running after it; you must sit still and for love it will eventually return."

~Arthur Miller

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Well, it's been awhile since I've blogged, so I thought I was due for an update. So I'll try to briefly tell you the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

Labor Day weekend, Jim and I both had Monday off. So Friday after work, we left for Siloam Springs in Clayton, Illinois to camp. I can't even describe how GORGEOUS it was there. It was so beautiful and peaceful. The State Park is really a huge natural preserve with a few campsites set into it. It isn't a "campground" where there's lights strung between trailers and campers right next to each other, partying with their grills and beers. It's for nature lovers. We spent the morning on Saturday in Hannibal, Missouri. We went on a tour of the cave that inspired Mark Twain's tales in "Tom Sawyer," which was really cool. I was a little freaked, to say the least, of the bats flying overhead, but I got through without one getting caught in my hair (one of my big fears). We went there when I was a child, and my mom said I screamed the entire way through it (it's about an hour and a half hike). We got back to the campground a little after noon, ate lunch, and went out rowing on the lake. Jim is quite a natural at rowing, and in 2 hours, we managed to see every corner of the lake, which is quite large. Maddie went with us and had a nice time too! Saturday night, we went on a little drive, just at sunset, because on the way, we had seen hundreds of deer and were trying to find some more. We saw lots of them, but when we came to a little secluded area just on the edge of the park, we had an amazing experience. We were listening to the album Kenny Loggins made for his son, which has some really beautiful songs on it. I never thought I'd say I was a Kenny Loggins fan, but this album is truly lovely. We came upon a deer, eating his dinner at the edge of the treeline. We stopped the car, but kept the music playing softly, and rolled down the windows. As we sat, the deer ventured further and further out into the grass, nearer and nearer to our car. He looked directly at us several times, and seemed a bit wary at first, but then relaxed and appeared to trust that we would not hurt him. Soon, he was joined by a doe. We sat and watched them for a bit, and then I noticed a tiny set of ears poking out above the bushes right at the treeline. It was a fawn. His parents seemed to almost give him little signals that it was okay, and he ended up coming out with them. Soon, the whole family was right up near the car. The song playing was "The Horses," which I reprinted the lyrics of below. You will understand after reading them how it felt to hear that song while watching the deer. I realized suddenly how beautiful this was, how amazing and precious. I knew Brian and Sawyer were with us, and I cried, but it was a really wonderful kind of crying. After a few more moments, another car came down the road, and the older deer flicked their white tails at the baby, who ran immediately into the woods. The other two slowly made their way back to him, and soon they had all disappeared. I can't describe in words what this meant to us, but it was such a wonderful moment between us and those graceful animals.

"The Horses"

~Kenny Loggins

We will fly way up high

Where the cool winds blow

Or in the sun laughing, having fun

With all the people that we know

If the situation should keep us separated

I know the world won't fall apart

You will free the beautiful bird

Caught inside your heart

Can you see her? Oh she flies so proud

Cast her wild wings over water and cloud

That's the way it's gonna be little darling

We'll go riding on the horses

Way up in the sky little darling

If you fall I'll pick you up, pick you up

If you fall I'll pick you up, I'll pick you up

You will grow until you go

I'll be right there by your side

And even then a whisper in a wind

Will call me to you in the night.

I hear all the people of the world

In my one bird's cry

I see them trying every way they know

To make their spirits fly

Can you see the moonlight in her eye

Coming from under my wing

You were born to fly

That's the way it's gonna be, little darling

We'll go riding on the horses

Way up in the sky little darling

If you fall I'll pick you up, I'll pick you up

If you fall I'll pick you up...

Then, on Sunday, we returned home for a family reunion. There were about 40 people at my parents house, and we had a lot of fun just hanging out. I really enjoyed seeing everyone. We ate a lot, swam a lot, and laughed a lot.

Last Friday night, Tremont dedicated the school's new football field and athletic facilities. There's a new track, locker room, baseball field, softball field, and football field, all top-of-the-line and beautiful. My grandfather, William Poorbaugh (Brian William is named for him), was the superintendent of Tremont schools until his death from cancer in 1978. So the old football field was named for him, and the new field was rededicated to him. Our whole family attended . . .all of my mom's siblings and their children, my grandmother, and all the grandkids and great-grandchild, Kyleigh. My grandma and her children went on the field for a short ceremony and my grandma spoke. It was very nice. I missed the boys a lot that night, and wished so badly they could be there. I know my grandpa is with them now, and is so proud of them. It gave me comfort that the cemetery where they are buried is overlooking the field. Then Grandpa is buried close by, overlooking the high school. At first we were a little disappointed, because we loved the fields that used to be there--they were so peaceful and lovely. But after thinking about it, we felt happy that our boys would be overlooking other young people playing and having fun. It seems fitting for two little guys to be able to be near all of that life.

At halftime, we left. Jim had to work, so he had to be up at 4 am. He decided to go to bed, and I went out with my brother Joel and his wife, Sarah. We went to a little bar in town, and as we were walking in, we noticed my cousin and her boyfriend walking in ahead of us. Then my aunt and uncle arrived and followed us in! We went inside, and another aunt and uncle were already at the bar, and soon we were joined by another aunt and uncle and my cousin Carrie (who is under 21 and DIDN'T drink, since there was some concern over this)! We had a great night together. The aunts and uncles left after an hour or so, and some kids from high school came in and hung out with us. I had a lot of fun.

Last Wednesday, I was talking to my friend Donna at work, and she said she and her husband were going to see American English with her daughter Jamie (also a friend from work) and her boyfriend. They wanted us to go, and of course, we had to! If you have never heard of American English, they are an absolutely fantastic Beatles tribute band. Anyone who knows Jim and I knows what HUGE Beatles fans we are, so you can imagine that we are not easily impressed by covers or tributes. It takes a lot for us to enjoy anyone else trying to play Beatles songs. That being said, we LOVE American English. We first saw them several years ago, and have wanted to see them again ever since. They don't just do the early stuff, as is the typical repertoire for most Beatles cover bands . . .but they cover the entire Beatles experience, all the way through to Abbey Road. They also do costume changes, and come out in full Sergeant Pepper's regalia. They even had incense burning during the second act! It was a lot of fun, and I can't wait until they come back to the area so we can see them again!

Then last night, we went out to Kouri's with our friends Kathie and Josh. It was a whole lot of fun, but we're about to go to bed . . .we're still in recovery. We were up until 5 AM! We're getting wayyyyyy too old for that!

Well, that about does it . . .work is so busy, but we're both enjoying our jobs and making more money than usual, which has come in handy. We're trying to build up a little surplus for our next pregnancy. And more pictures of the camping trip next time,which hopefully will be in the next couple of days. We got some amazing shots of the hills, caves, forests, lakes, and rocky landscapes. Hope everyone had a great weekend, and enjoy your week!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Daisy

Several months ago, we nominated one of Sawyer's nurses, Emma, to receive the Daisy Award for Excellence in Nursing. You can read all about the foundation and the award here. Emma was such an amazing caregiver. All of the nurses at St. Francis NICU were incredible, but she went above and beyond even their high standard. She came in or called on her days off to check on Sawyer, she came to his funeral, and she called us at home several times to see how we were doing. She also read a memorial tribute to Sawyer at the ceremony the hospital hosted. She's very special to us, and we were so proud of her for being chosen.

Since we nominated her, we were invited to attend the award ceremony, which took place last Tuesday, August 21. All of the nurses were so pleased that we came (my mom and dad, Jim, and I). They said out of all the times people had been invited, only one other family had ever come to the actual presentation, and while it's enough to just take the time to nominate someone, it was even more special for a family to attend. I started to feel like we were the honorees for awhile!

As I said, we were very happy for Emma, and she so deserves this recognition for being such a wonderful nurse and friend. We will never forget the kindness she showed our son. We only wish we could recognize ALL of those who took such kind and loving care of him. In the picture below, Emma is standing with Dr. Ramiro, Sawyer's main doctor, and Julie, his nurse practitioner. They were both amazing women who fought valiantly for Sawyer's life. These people should be honored constantly, but accept praise by saying, "It's just my job!" Well, it's quite an incredible job, and one that changes and saves lives on a daily basis. They all mean so much to our family.
It was a really beautiful ceremony, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room when our actual nomination was read. Afterwards, Emma told everyone how she thought of Sawyer every day. His collage is near the staff break room, and she said she always pauses to say hello to him. She reminded us that we actually did experience some degree of success, even if we didn't get to take Sawyer home with us. . .we got to meet our little guy, to know his personality, to feel him hold our finger in his tiny hand, to see his eyes wide open and so inquisitive, to see him so active in his little isolette. She said that we shared something very special and she would never forget Sawyer either.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My God Story

At our church recently, we have been asked to share what God is doing in our lives in the form of a "God Story." Our pastor asked me to share my story about the boys, and it was read this morning. I thought I would post it for you to read.

My God Story: A Work In Progress
By Amy Rennie

When I was a child, I had a button with a caterpillar on it that read, “Be patient! God isn’t finished with me yet!” I wish I could say that I was a butterfly now, but unfortunately, I cannot; in fact, I believe that this is a lifelong process. Where I am at on my road right now is probably the most difficult path I’ve traveled. I didn’t intend to take this turn, but it was taken for me, against my own will, and for what purpose we shall someday see.

My first son, Brian, was born and then slipped away from us on July 11, 2006. Victor Hugo once said, “To love another person is to see the face of God,” and I, for one, believe it. I looked at my son’s beautiful, perfect face, and I saw a miracle, pure and true. I counted his fingers and toes, I stared at his ears, his eyes, his mouth, and I knew that God had given me, for however brief a time, a miracle.

3 months later, we were pregnant again, and this time, we had complete faith that things were going to work out just fine. We prayed every day. Our family prayed, our friends prayed, people we didn’t even know prayed. The gates of Heaven were rattling for this little boy who was on the way. I had the surgery to prevent losing him, and everything went well. Then, 23 weeks into the pregnancy, I was put in the hospital on bed rest, knowing that every hour, every day, was another day closer to my son’s potential survival.

Sawyer was born one day short of 24 weeks. He was a gorgeous little boy who stole the hearts of the doctors and nurses who struggled to save his life. He fought with every ounce of strength he had. Even when it seemed there was no chance left, he found, deep in the reserves of his tiny body, more strength to fight.

On the last day of his life, Jim and I decided to stay overnight with him at the NICU. I knew he was a very sick little boy, fighting an infection, a perforated bowel, bleeding on the left side of his brain, hyper inflated lungs, a squeezed heart, and loss of kidney function; however, he had pulled through so many tough times before, I never really thought he wouldn’t do it again. In the end, as we sat at his side, we could see that he no longer had the energy to battle it all. He was a little baby, so fragile and so small, and we knew that he had had enough. The doctors told us it was time to let go. There was nothing more they could do, and tests indicated his systems were failing on every level.

From that moment on, I was at ground zero. If my faith was unshaken the first time, it would not be an exaggeration to say that it was nearly shattered the second. I was angry at God. I was furious. I could not, and still cannot comprehend the purpose of taking another child from his family. I don’t understand why so many people who had been praying so hard were all hurt and bitterly disappointed. I was left, once again, with an empty nursery, a closet full of baby clothes my mom and I had picked out, and a broken heart.

So how did I not lose my faith? Why did I decide not to blame God, but instead try to seek peace of mind and heart? It was not an easy process.

In the end, during moments when I laid it all down at His feet, there were several reasons why my faith held on, strained and thinning though the rope might be.

First, I saw God through my family. My husband, who is a constant support to me, and who loved our two boys with his whole heart and soul. His love has never faltered, not for one second, and he has been an example to me of strength and true, deep love. He worked many, many long hard hours to provide for us, and took such good care of me while I was on bed rest, and then in the hospital. My mom and dad took me to doctor’s appointments, sat by my side in the hospital, took care of me when Jim was at work, and spent hour upon hour with Sawyer once he was born. They believed, hoped, and trusted in God through it all, even in the end, and they gave everything they had for this baby. They were so proud of him, so happy about his life, and so hopeful for his future. They held him and rocked him as he passed from this earth, and said goodbye to their second grandson. Pastor Dave and Alice had spent hours with us in the NICU, praying over Sawyer, asking God to spare us another loss. My brothers, my sisters-in-law, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my grandmother, our church family, and the extended family of my friends were all so loving and supportive that I cannot doubt the love of God.

Secondly, just as I had felt with Brian: when I saw Sawyer, I witnessed my second miracle. How can anyone doubt the goodness and awesome power of God when holding a perfect, tiny baby in their arms? I don’t know why God allowed this to happen to us, but I do know how lucky we were, even if for a very short time, to have had our beautiful baby boys.

Thirdly, if you ever have doubts about God, visit a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. You will see miracles on a daily basis. I saw the love of God every minute of every day we were there. I saw it in the kindness and compassion the nurses showed my son, in the gentleness of their touch, the sweetness of their voices when they spoke to him. Several of his nurses called or came in on their days off to make sure Sawyer was doing okay. They spent countless hours talking to Jim and I, answering every question that came into our heads, never once making us feel as if we were in the way. The doctors showed incredible ingenuity and determination with every new treatment, every new strategy they could come up with to save our son. They did everything within their God-given power to help him. The day before he died, Sawyer had to have yet another complicated surgical procedure, one which he was not really strong enough to withstand. The nurse-practitioner who was to perform the procedure asked us to pray, because she had never done it on a baby so tiny and fragile, and she was afraid he wouldn’t make it through. He did well, and after it was over, she told us we must have a direct line to the man upstairs, because she didn’t know how she or Sawyer had done it.

I cannot doubt God because I saw my son fight for his life in a way I never would have imagined possible. Time after time after time, he proved the doctors wrong and made it through another day. As soon as I first went to see him, my initial joy at the fact that he was alive turned to fear and sorrow, as they told me he was by far the sickest baby in the NICU, and while they would do everything they could, he probably wouldn’t make it. They talked to Jim and I about a Do Not Resuscitate order, what this entailed, and whether or not we wanted to sign one for Sawyer. It was terrifying. However, for 12 days, Sawyer went against all probability, constantly surprised them, and presented them with problems they hadn’t dealt with before. I know, after all is said and done, that Sawyer taught them things that might very well save another baby’s life. He fought until the very end, until I whispered in his ear that it was okay for him to let go. I told him that we were so proud of him, but he didn’t have to suffer anymore. He opened his eyes and looked at his dad and I one last time before he relaxed, and I knew that he had received eternal healing.

Finally, I cannot doubt God, because through all of this, He has shown us the importance of appreciating every single moment. In the half hour we had Brian, and the 12 days we had Sawyer, we truly lived every second. We had never lived like this before, but have realized since that it is truly the best way to live. Never let a day go by where you don’t show at least one person in your life how much you care about them. We only had a brief time with our children, but they knew every second how much they were loved.

I’m not sure what all of this means today. Pastor Dave had wanted me to share my story, and this is where I’m at. I still haven’t figured out why I had to lose my two sons. I don’t know why God chose us to allow this to happen to. I don’t know why He didn’t save Sawyer, when so many were praying so hard. It still isn’t fair, and it still hurts. Am I still angry at God sometimes? Certainly. But I ask him to forgive me, and I know He does. I know how much he loved His own son, who died on the cross, and I know he understands my sorrow, my anger, my frustration.

I will have to continue down this unexpected path, following this turn in my life I didn’t intend to take, and every step I take, I know my boys are with me. I see them everywhere, in every part of God’s creation. I see them in butterflies, in flowers, in birds, in the sun, the sky, the trees, the stars at night. They are a part of every second of every day for me. Not a moment passes that I am not thinking of them. I praise God for the miracles they were and are, and I thank Him for blessing me with the most amazing, special boys. In my clearer, more tranquil moments, I know that they are the lucky ones—they have received their eternal reward. We are the broken ones, left here to miss them, our arms aching to hold them. Perhaps God chose to spare them the agonies of this life and allowed them to go straight to Heaven. Someday I may find out the answers I am seeking, but by then, it won’t really matter, for I will be able to hold them in my arms at last.

My mother-in-law, Jane, sent me a necklace that symbolized our boys, which I wear often. It has two stones on it, in the colors of pregnancy loss awareness of pink and blue. It also has their birthstones—a ruby for Brian, and an aquamarine for Sawyer. Finally, there is a small silver butterfly. As I mentioned at the start, we are all as caterpillars, waiting for the time when we will metaphorically grow our wings and learn to fly. My sons have already gone through this spiritual transformation. One day, my dad came and got Jim and I to come and look outside in the yard. There were probably 40 or more butterflies flitting around in the sunshine. He told us it made him think of Brian and Sawyer and all their buddies, playing together. Jim and I like to go hiking, and we often have seen butterflies that will fly alongside of us, reminding us of our boys. When the St. Francis NICU staff held a memorial service for all the babies lost there, we released monarch butterflies at the end of the ceremony. Each one of us was given a card with a poem on it. I will end with this, as it perfectly represents the story God is working in my life right now. Remember Brian and Sawyer’s legacy of love and compassion, and pay it forward to someone today.

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam.
And for a brief moment, its glory and beauty
belong to our world.
But then it flies on again,
and though we wish it could have stayed,
we feel so lucky to have seen it.

Often in life
what appears to
be an ending
is really a glorious new beginning.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

From my friend Kristen:

I know that as a mother, I will be better because of what I have endured.

I will be better not because of genetics, or money or that I have read more books but because I have struggled and toiled for this child. I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed. I have endured and planned over and over again.

Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams. I will notice everything about my child. I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover.I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.

I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill,take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.

I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight,this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.

Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to,I will not be careless with my love.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured.I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor,friend and sister because I have known pain.

I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body.I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed. I have succeeded. I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen. And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely.I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine,of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth. And when life is beyond hard, I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes I will be a wonderful mother.

~Author Unknown

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well . . .I didn't get so far with the whole Harry Potter thing. Instead, I'm sitting at my computer, bawling my eyes out, because I'm so exhausted, and it's at these times I miss my boys the most. I'm not angry right now. I'm not frustrated. I'm just really, really sad.

This song always reminds us of Sawyer and Brian, and I'm listening to it right now. We played it at Sawyer's funeral.

Fix You
by Coldplay

When you try your best but you don't succeed

When you get what you want but not what you need

When you feel so tired but you can't sleep

Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face

When you lose something you can't replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below

When you're too in love to let it go

But if you never try you'll never know

Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face

when you lose something you cannot replace

Tears stream down your face

And I . . .

Tears stream down your face

I promise you I will learn from my mistakes

Tears stream down your face

And I . . .

Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ok, I'm determined to finish HP and the Deathly Hallows tonight. Jim's already sound asleep, so there's NO excuse!

Oh, and I re-pierced 6 holes in my ears, including one in the cartilage of my left ear. I had to numb each spot with ice, and then try to stick it INTO the ice to get it through the skin. Gross, eh? I haven't worn earrings in about 2 years, so it's kind of exciting.

By the way, the list of "dos and don'ts" is just something I found helpful. I think most of the time, we don't know how to deal with the loss of a child, because it is so profound and tragic. People aren't being cruel or harsh, they just honestly are trying to help, and maybe don't realize the impact of their words. I wasn't saying anyone had done any of these things to me . . .just wanted to post it, because I found so much that rang true, and most of them are things that well-meaning strangers say. I hope it helps people learn how to talk about babies who have died, because honestly, if it hadn't happened to me, I would not know. I probably would have offered a whole lot of well-intended advice that wasn't welcome, because I would want so badly to help. I saw this on Jules' blog (one of my angel-mommy friends) and thought it was really insightful, so I decided to post it.
What we wish you knew about pregnancy loss: A letter from women to their friends and family
by Elizabeth Soutter Schwarzer

Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002

When women experience the loss of a child, one of the first things they discover they have in common is a list of things they wish no one had ever said to them. The lists tend to be remarkably similar. The comments are rarely malicious - just misguided attempts to soothe.

This list was compiled as a way of helping other people understand pregnancy loss. While generated by mothers for mothers, it may also apply similarly to the fathers who have endured this loss.
When trying to help a woman who has lost a baby, the best rule of thumb is a matter of manners: don't offer your personal opinion of her life, her choices, her prospects for children. No woman is looking to poll her acquaintances for their opinions on why it happened or how she should cope.

-Don't say, "It's God's Will." Even if we are members of the same congregation, unless you are a cleric and I am seeking your spiritual counseling, please don't presume to tell me what God wants for me. Besides, many terrible things are God's Will, that doesn't make them less terrible.

-Don't say, "It was for the best - there was probably something wrong with your baby." The fact that something was wrong with the baby is what is making me so sad. My poor baby never had a chance. Please don't try to comfort me by pointing that out.

-Don't say, "You can always have another one." This baby was never disposable. If had been given the choice between loosing this child or stabbing my eye out with a fork, I would have said, "Where's the fork?" I would have died for this baby, just as you would die for your children.

-Don't say, "Be grateful for the children you have." If your mother died in a terrible wreck and you grieved, would that make you less grateful to have your father?

-Don't say, "Thank God you lost the baby before you really loved it." I loved my son or daughter. Whether I lost the baby after two weeks of pregnancy or just after birth, I loved him or her.

-Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It's not something I enjoy, being grief-stricken. I wish it had never happened. But it did and it's a part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own timeline, not mine - or yours.

-Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I didn't want her to be my angel. I wanted her to bury me in my old age.

-Don't say, "I understand how you feel." Unless you've lost a child, you really don't understand how I feel. And even if you have lost a child, everyone experiences grief differently.

-Don't tell me horror stories of your neighbor or cousin or mother who had it worse. The last thing I need to hear right now is that it is possible to have this happen six times, or that I could carry until two days before my due-date and labor 20 hours for a dead baby. These stories frighten and horrify me and leave me up at night weeping in despair. Even if they have a happy ending, do not share these stories with me.

-Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "when I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone.

- Don't say, "It's not your fault." It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility and I failed. The fact that I never stood a chance of succeeding only makes me feel worse. This tiny little being depended upon me to bring him safely into the world and I couldn't do it. I was supposed to care for him for a lifetime, but I couldn't even give him a childhood. I am so angry at my body you just can't imagine.

-Don't say, "Well, you weren't too sure about this baby, anyway." I already feel so guilty about ever having complained about morning sickness, or a child I wasn't prepared for, or another mouth to feed that we couldn't afford. I already fear that this baby died because I didn't take the vitamins, or drank too much coffee. I hate myself for any minute that I had reservations about this baby. Being unsure of my pregnancy isn't the same as wanting my child to die - I never would have chosen for this to happen.

-Do say, "I am so sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it and mean it and it will matter.

-Do say, "You're going to be wonderful parents some day," or "You're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that.

-Do say, "I have lit a candle for your baby," or "I have said a prayer for your baby." Do send flowers or a kind note - every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond. Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am not responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while. If you're my boss or my co-worker:

-Do recognize that I have suffered a death in my family - not a medical condition.

-Do recognize that in addition to the physical aftereffects I may experience, I'm going to be grieving for quite some time. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one - I need time and space.

DO understand if I do not attend baby showers/christening/birthday parties etc. And DON'T ask why I can't come.

Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy. But my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Me, the Blonde?
Today I got my hair cut. I considered getting it highlighted too, but it cost $60, and I don't have that kind of money to spend on my hair. I'm lucky to get a $14.95 haircut from Cost Cutters. However, I do think they do a great job there. I have always been very happy with the cuts I've gotten from Amy and Tiana at the Pekin shop. Today Tiana gave me a cut that is stacked in the back, and then angled toward my face (it's short in the back and gets longer as you go forward).
I then decided to buy a home highlighting kit at Walgreen's. I put the cap on and realized I couldn't do it on my own. Jim didn't particularly want to do it, so I asked my mom to help.
Neither of us had a clue what we were doing, so we called my sister-in-law, Sarah, whose mother is a beautician. She came over and basically told us that we needed to start over. The problem was that the holes in the cap were stretched out and would not work, because too much hair had been pulled through, so you couldn't go back to a smaller amount.
We ended up going to her mom's shop and getting a couple of caps (good thing we got extra, because we had to start again twice) and the "good stuff" to use on my hair. Her aunt said that since my hair is so dark, I would need better peroxide than what they can sell over the counter. Apparently the stuff over the counter is a maximum of "10" (whatever that number means), and she wanted us to use "40," the highest you could go. She measured out the stuff and sent us on our way.
We spent the next hour or so getting the hair pulled through the cap and finally putting on the mixture. We ran out of activator, so Sarah was afraid the back might not turn out. We were both freaking out a little. After about 45 minutes, she thought it looked ready and rinsed and washed my hair.
After drying it, it looked great! I'm really happy with it, everyone in the fam loved it, and Sarah was really relieved that she didn't ruin my hair. I even ran into a friend at WalMart, who (with no prompting from me) told me my hair looked really good. Woohoo!
And finally, regarding Harry Potter . . .I was upset that because of the way my weekend went, I haven't had much time to read it. With every other book, I read it straight through, literally, without sleeping. This time I'm only on the fourth chapter. However, I decided to relax about it, because it's the last book. Not only is it not a race, but it's also the final time I'll read a new HP novel, so I might as well enjoy it. I plan to finish it tonight (haha!) but if I end up falling asleep, I'm off work this week, so I will definitely finish it during the first part of the week. So NO ONE tell me what happens or I'll be forced to kick your you-know-what.
The new me:

The Due Date of Sawyer James

I had pretty much convinced myself that this weekend would be okay. With Brian, his due date was very hard, because we never doubted that we'd make it that far. With Sawyer, we knew he would be early, and we were just hoping to make it to late May/early June. So I thought this day wouldn't hurt me any more than I already am. I still miss him every day, and I thought it would just be another day of missing him.

Well . . .yesterday, I freaked out on Jim over nothing and started yelling at him and crying my eyes out. We ended up leaving the house and went boating all afternoon, then went out for dinner. That was all very nice, but again, at night, I had another freak-out. When Jim was trying to talk to me and asking me what the deal was, I suddenly realized that it was because of the due date. When I admitted it to myself and him, I was able to really cry and grieve for awhile, which I think was good. So much of the time, you have to just "get on with things" and you're either suppressing your feelings or denying them. I thought again of all his clothes, his cradle, all the things I wanted to do for him. For some reason, the clothes thing just breaks my heart, because my mom has a full closet full, and they represent more than just "clothing." They represent all of the hope we had for him, and the way we wanted to be able to take care of him. I went outside and got a little crazy-angry for a bit . . .stamping my feet and yelling at God. I still don't get it. I really don't. It's too much for anyone to have to deal with, to be honest, and most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing. People always ask me "how do you do it?" Do what? I'm not doing anything . . .I'm a walking shell of a person, just trying to deal with what life has thrown me, and not doing a particularly good job of it. People also tell me, "Well, I could never do it." Again, yes, you could, because life gives you no choice. You HAVE to "do it" because you're still here. Even if you don't want to, you must, and it doesn't mean it's easy or you're doing "okay," it's just getting by.

This morning at church, I cried a little more, but this time it was more positive and cleansing. We sang of God's grace and Heaven, and I cried, knowing my boys have already received their eternal reward. They are the lucky ones, and we are the broken ones, left here to wait for our reunion with them.

So, in all, yesterday was harder than today, but it was a difficult time. Yet I feel grateful for it, in a strange way, because every once in awhile, I think I need an excuse to get it all out . . .all the anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and grief. I think it was positive for both Jim and I to be able to talk about it for several hours last night and deal with what we are feeling.

Thank you SO much to all of you who have sent ecards, emails, messages, and comments. It means so much to be remembered in the midst of our sorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Ok, so my husband has been asleep for the last 4 hours. Our plan was to sleep until about 10:30 and then head to Peoria where I will be picking up my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at 12:01 a.m. However, this plan has not worked so well for me.

I went to my sister-in-law's house and hung out with her and a friend. We ended up going to WalMart and getting some food. I finally thought I could come home and sleep, and I tried, but I just couldn't relax. I watched a little television, and then tried again. Then I thought of some song lyrics . . .I've been wanting to write a song about Sawyer and Brian, so I got up and came to the computer and wrote them down.

Now I have given up. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, only it's way better than that. I can't even describe how pumped I am about this book. Last night I jogged around in circles, laughing hysterically, because I was so excited, so you can imagine what tonight is like. I'm sad too, because it means the end of new HP books. I'm also really scared, because I know some characters will die. It's craziness and I'm loving it. Only it's quite strange, because I'm experiencing this alone. That's why I thought I'd write. I'm also sad because Sawyer's due date is Sunday, and I had figured I'd be reading it with him in my arms, or lying next to me. But I have a feeling my two boys will be right with me, through every twist and turn of this adventure.

3 hours and 28 minutes to go. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

If ever we had an incentive to blog more often, then pushing that nasty picture down the page is definitely it! That thing was G.R.O.S.S. (Ghoulish Representation Of Super Sickness).

I have to go to work now but, as I said, I'll try and get blogging - it's quite nice to be back here!

- Jim

Monday, July 16, 2007

Total Grossness

Well, I thought I'd fill you in on our last adventure . . .a side-effect, apparently, of our camping trip over a week ago.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we'd laid a blanket under a tree outside, and when we picked it up, there were about 30 ticks on it, literally. So when we got home, I was PARANOID about Lyme's disease, and made Jim check me out about a dozen times. I checked him too, and we took really thorough showers to make sure we were totally tick-free.

Well, the tree that blanket was under was also where Maddie, our little dog, laid for most of the 2 days we were there. I had made Jim help me check her for ticks, and we didn't think we found anything. At first. Then, on about Tuesday of LAST week, I thought I felt something. It just felt like a tiny little bump. I asked Jim to check it, but he thought it was nothing to worry about and not a tick, so I basically kind of forgot about it.

So earlier tonight, we were out in the hot tub (incidentally, Jim fell face-first into the hot tub while we were getting in and I laughed for about 10 minutes, but that's another story). Jim was petting Maddie, and all of the sudden he started freaking out, telling me there was something on her neck. I asked him what, and he said a huge green thing. So I came over and looked, and it really was a gigantic, bulbous green mass. I thought at first it might be some sort of tumor and almost started crying . . .but suddenly remembered the tick. We didn't think ticks were green, but we brought her in and went to check it out on the internet.

It turns out that female North American dog ticks DO turn green after they attach and engorge. They basically engorge to about the size of a penny, drop off, run and hide, and lay their eggs. This will infest your house with ticks, because they lay TONS of eggs, and usually do it someplace like behind the baseboards or in tiny crevices in the walls or in cupboards. So we knew we had to get this thing off.

I refused to look . . .I hid around the corner while Jim tried to use tweezers to pull it off. Everything online said NOT to use the match trick my dad used to use when we were kids, because once they engorge like that, the stomach can explode on you. So he pulled and pulled and the sick bastard wouldn't budge. It was horrifying, even from around the corner. After about an hour of trying, we gave our poooooor dog a treat and went to WalMart to find a remedy.

We found a tick and flea spray. It was guaranteed to kill fleas in 5-10 minutes, but the directions actually said, and I quote, "Ticks are tough--spray directly!" No guarantee they would die. We saturated it completely and waited about 10 minutes, then saturated it AGAIN. Finally, Jim tried with the tweezers again, and it still wouldn't come off. He held Maddie's skin taut and pulled as quick and hard as he could, and it popped off and fell on the couch. He put it in an empty can and took it outside to get rid of the eggs. *shuddering*

So, thinking our ordeal had finally finished, we went to clean the area with peroxide. We pulled back her hair to see the wound, and saw the TICK'S HEAD and upper body still wiggling around like some alien being. I seriously nearly passed out. Jim used the tweezers, it wouldn't budge, so we had to cut off the fur on her neck, and he worked at it for about 10 minutes. It finally came free, and I washed her neck with peroxide. Poor baby. :(

This was honestly the grossest thing I have ever seen in my life. I have no idea how to describe it properly, so I am going to post a picture. NOT for the faint of heart, I warn you. I am so glad Jim was here, because if he hadn't been, I would have puked and passed out by now.

Here is what it looked like:

She's wearing a tick collar now, and will be for the remainder of her life, because I NEVER want to see this again. I am still shuddering and feeling queasy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Catch Up If You Can!

Well, I thought I could "catch up" on blogging after a 2 week leave of absence. It's not looking to be as easy a task as I had thought. So much has happened that I want to share. I will try to briefly fill everyone in on a few of the most important events.

First of all, Jim graduated from his CNA training on July 6. I thought he looked so handsome and professional in his scrubs.

He's now been working for a week and really enjoying it for the most part. He's getting to know all of his patients and developing a rapport with them. In fact, he has a "girlfriend" who is trying a little too hard to get him to make out with her! (In case you didn't know, he works at a nursing home, so this is an 80+ woman with Alzheimer's). I'm actually so proud of him--this woman hasn't responded to anyone for a loooong time, and now she just loves Jim! She actually calls him her boyfriend and is very animated when he is around.

The evening of his graduation, we went camping. It was Jim's first time ever camping, and my first time "tent" camping. I always thought I couldn't handle going in a tent--I like camping in a trailer--but it was so much fun! We really didn't want to leave! Ok, so we forgot a lot of things we needed, like the extension cord, a flashlight, bug spray, fire wood, water, paper plates, etc. Thankfully there was a WalMart about 20 minutes down the road, even if it was a WalMart that looked straight from 1985, down to the signs throughout the store, the music playing, and the outfits of workers and patrons alike. And yes, it was unbearably hot all day and most of the night . . .and there were lots of bugs outside, including about 30 ticks we saw on the bottom of a blanket we'd spread under a tree (yikes!) . . .oh, and yes, I saw about 20 skunks scavenging around the other campsites when I came back from the bathroom at 2:30 a.m. And when we went on a 3 mile hike, I have to admit, by the end, I was cursing at Jim for suggesting such an outrageous venture. I almost started crying because I was so tired and mad. Afterwards, though, I was so glad I went, and I would do it again. It was gorgeous. Finding and eating wild growing blackberries was definitely a big plus. The entire experience was wonderful--just to be outdoors, with the air blowing across your back, feeling the sun shine so hot on your shoulders, walking through the woods . . .there's nothing like it. We really had a great time.

Even our little doggen had a good time.

And finally, I wanted to share some things that my mother-in-law from England sent to me recently.

First, I received completely by surprise a package one day. Inside, there was a beautiful necklace.

It is very difficult to capture the beauty and delicacy of the necklace with a camera, but this was the best I could do. The necklace came with a gorgeous card:

It also came with another card describing what each part of the necklace means. First of all, there are two birthstones--a ruby for Brian (July) and an aquamarine for Sawyer (March). Then there is a tiny butterfly. There are various stories from many cultures regarding butterflies, but all signify the transformation of the spirit and the soul, and the unending cycle of life and death. The Celts believed that butterflies were new souls seeking life. It was told that woman became pregnant by swallowing one of these tiny butterfly souls. The card goes on to say, "The metamorphosis of the butterfly is a powerful symbol in so many ways for us when we are grieving. They are the beautiful tiny spark of life that came to us, lighted in our lives for a too brief moment before fluttering away. They are the hope that the transformation that loss brings into our life can result in something different, something beautiful. We may not be the same at the end of our journey, but we have grown, we are able to see things that we could not before. They are the hope that we may swallow that butterfly soul searching for us, and hold a baby in our bodies and in our arms once more."

Finally, the necklace has 2 stones for their healing properties: Blue Agate and Rose Quartz.

The Blue lace agate is a protective stone, guarding against negativity during the grieving process. Its gift is the endowment of a "bold heart." It helps us to develop and realize our inner peace. It is a stone of hope, cleansing, and harmony. It is also a kind and gentle stone, sheltering us during our time of vulnerability.

The Rose Quartz is the stone of love and emotional healing. Its soothing energies gently help the wearer to heal from their loss, to ease their anger, hurt, pain, and fears. It promotes forgiveness and loving, bringing back an emotional balance. It nurtures us during our time of need.
These two stones were also chosen for their color, the colors of the Pregnancy and Infant Loss awareness ribbon . . .baby blue and baby pink. These colors symbolize the loss of all babies.
She also sent me a book:

I would highly recommend this to anyone, both mothers and fathers, who have lost their children. It is a wonderful resource.

Then, yesterday, we received another package from England, this time a card and a framed poem for Brian's birthday.

Absolutely perfect. It is already in the boys' nursery. We are so lucky to have two sets of parents who both care so much. They love their grandchildren with all their hearts, and have supported us through this entire process, and we can't thank them enough.

Well . . .there it is! All the major info I can think of for now. You're all caught up (if you made it to the end, as I doubt many of you did, and I wouldn't blame you)! It's a little long-winded, but just think of it as several smaller blogs.

Peace and love to you all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brian's First Birthday in Heaven

Today started out beautifully. As one of my co-workers remarked, "Brian sent us a gorgeous day today!" It was cool (after a loooong hot and humid spell) and sunny.

I took cupcakes to work to share with my co-workers. Everyone really enjoyed them, and kept the little rainbow tags I made to go along with them. Several of them put them up in their rooms. The tag said Brian's name and birthdate on the front, then on the back it said, "Today is Brian's First Birthday in Heaven. Please remember him in your own way. Say a quiet prayer, and send him your love. Celebrate his special day by paying it forward . . .In this way, his spirit lives on."
Jim picked me up after work, and we went straight to Pekin to get his birthday present. We chose a small garden flag to post on his grave. It has a picture of a butterfly and a quote about miracles.

Jim also bought him some small sports balls . . .we're particularly fond of the soccer ball. His daddy wanted so badly to teach him to play.

And we got him this card.

At 6:00 p.m., our family and a couple of close friends gathered at the gravesite. Our pastor, Pastor Dave, had us all join hands in a circle around the grave and led us in prayer. Then Jim and I cut the ribbon on the birthday balloon we'd put by his grave and let it sail up to Heaven.

After that, I passed out cupcakes to all of those present. Tears and hugs were freely shared. Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) brought flowers for their little angel.

Jim and I stayed behind at his grave and sang a quiet happy birthday to him. Then we talked to both boys for awhile, and said our goodnights to them. I told Sawyer to make sure Brian had a fun birthday! Then it was off to the NICU, where we gave them cupcakes and a big bowl of candy. We enclosed a note to tell them that even though Brian wasn't mature enough to be helped by them, we know if he had been, they would have done everything and more, just like they did for his little brother, Sawyer. We wanted to thank them for all they'd done. They were so excited--they gathered around and started eating the candy as we stood there.

Now we are back home, and just wanted to share our day with you all. Thanks to every single one of you for your prayers, birthday wishes, ecards, comments, and notes to let us know you were thinking of us and Brian on his birthday (and Sawyer too, of course!)

Today I felt more strongly than ever the fighting spirit of my boys. I believe Brian fought with all he had, and then he gave that spirit to Sawyer . . .so Sawyer fought and fought, and he had Brian backing him up. I know deep in my heart that my boys would never, NEVER want me to give up. I have talked to my specialist and gotten my referral to Dr. Haney in Chicago. I plan to call him next week when I am off work again. I simply cannot give up when I know that our next baby will have Brian AND Sawyer behind him or her, willing their brother or sister to live a full and happy life. When I have witnessed the miracles they were and are . . .there is no way I can quit now.

Finally, did any of you see that sunset tonight? One more gift from our little guys to us . . .it was stunning!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tomorrow is Brian's First Birthday in Heaven. I have just been working on preparations for his memorial. I will post details and pictures tomorrow, but I didn't want to spoil anything for some of my friends who are coming, so I am waiting. I hope you all will remember him in your own way, and say a prayer to send him your love. If you wish, you can light a candle at his memorial site.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Star Thrower
by Loren Eiseley
1907 - 1977

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

All is Well

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It it the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

Henry Scott Holland
Canon of St Paul 's Cathedral
"Make New Friends, But Keep The Old"

When I was young, I attended church camp. I remember learning that old camp song:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver, and the other's gold.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been thinking a lot about a good friend of mine, also named Amy. We grew up together. We've known each other since we were five years old. We lived on the same block, with one apartment building in between our houses. One of our major goals in life when we were children was to accomplish the world record for dandelion chains. We spent days making one that went from one end of the block all the way to the other. However, we eventually grew tired. It was a long dandelion chain, but we were pretty convinced that the world record must go at least all the way around the block. We never called the folks at Guinness.
Oh, and that camp song? We used to sing it in a round, and every other song we could possibly somehow make a round out of, endlessly.

As we grew up, both of our families moved to different houses in town, but we stayed close. We were both on the speech team and acted in reader's theatre and contest play productions. We both played the bells in band. We continued to share a close friendship all through high school.

After graduation, we moved to different cities. We kept in touch via phone calls and visits. I was in her wedding, and she was in mine. Even when she moved very far away, to Hilton Head, we continued to keep in touch and stay close friends. Eventually, she moved back to the area, and our friendship was easier to maintain.

Over the last five years, we somehow grew out-of-touch. Not intentionally. It was just one of those things, where you are going through a lot in your life, and then one day you suddenly wake up and think . . .oh, my gosh! Years have gone by, and I haven't even spoken to this person! I was reminded of Amy because my brother, who is a teacher, met her daughter at his school . . .and she just graduated from 8th grade. I remember her being a little girl! I remember going to Amy's house when her third daughter had just been born. I realized the other day I wasn't even sure how many children she had, and how old they were. I realized how much had changed for me since we'd last talked . . .I'd been through a divorce, gotten remarried, changed professions, moved several times, had two children. What had she gone through? Did she still live in the same place? Would she still want to be my friend? Would we have anything to talk about? The questions went on and on . . .

I found what I thought was her phone number under her husband's name on the Internet. I called several times over the course of a week, and each time got the same strange response. I would ask if Amy was there, and the man would say "no." Hmmm . . .ok? I would say, "Do you know where I can contact her?" "No." *click*

So finally I gave up. I felt weird continuing to call this guy, who wouldn't really tell me if I even had the right number. I thought . . .well, at least I tried. Maybe we'll run into each other sometime.

A few days later, I went back to the daycare where I used to work to pick up some of my things that they'd boxed up for me. My boss said, "I had the greatest talk with Amy the other day!" (She, too, attended our school). What? "You called her?" I asked. "Yes! She's doing really well!" Wow! So Jennifer had Amy's number. Great! I asked her to email it to me, promptly went back home, checked my email, found the number, and called it.

It was the right number, but no one was home. I left a message--my husband teased me for sounding so nervous. I was nervous! I didn't know if she'd even want to call me back!

A few hours passed, and she didn't call, so I tried again. This time, she answered. Literally, within minutes, we were laughing and chatting away. Amy realized halfway through our 90 minute conversation that we were acting just like we did when we were teenagers. We decided to get together tomorrow night and hang out.

No matter how much time goes by, true friends are always true friends, and no matter how much changes in our lives, these things remain the same. Sure, we'd both been through various diverse experiences, which we openly shared with one another. But the heart of our friendship and care for one another remained the same.

I'm really looking forward to seeing her again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Headstone

I've been talking a lot to Jim about the whole criticism incident of the last few days. As you can see, I erased the blogs in question, simply because they were wallowing and self-indulgent. I freely admit this, and I'm not ashamed of my feelings. Everyone feels worthless and a failure every so often. It's okay to go through and experience all of those emotions. However, it's not worth it to me to get criticized for such feelings by people hiding behind the mask of anonymity. I have a feeling the comment was written by someone who knows me, and I think I know who it was. I can't say it didn't hurt me . . .but then I'm not supposed to express hurt, am I? That means I'm "lashing out." :) Anyway, the person was right in a few things. I am depressed, and I do need help (although, if they really cared about helping me, they were certainly insensitive about expressing that). However, if my "husband, parents, and family" are there for me, why shouldn't I lean on them? I would help them . . .in fact, I'd do anything for them, and they know it. If they don't want to help me, then I don't expect it. Perhaps the comments were written by a family member who felt guilty because they thought there was some sort of perceived expectation there? I don't know. I really hope not, because that would break my heart. I thought I knew everyone who read this blog, and wasn't aware that anyone was a "lurker" here. Nonetheless, I don't expect anything from anyone, but I welcome people's comfort and advice when it is freely given, and I appreciate my husband, parents, and family for all they have done to be there for me. I just hope the comments weren't written by someone in my family who resents the help I've needed. As far as counseling, I am looking into that possibility. However, I think it is very healthy that I am able to write about my feelings. To me, it is the same as counseling (and I've spent years in counseling, so I say this with knowledge and experience). I am able to purge those feelings rather than let them sit inside my mind, festering away. It is healthier for me to get out the hurts I feel, whether they are valid to others or not. It was actually counseling that taught me the journaling technique, and taught me to be honest at all times about my feelings. Aside from all of this . . .no one can "fix me." Not my family, not a counselor. I can learn to go on, try to move forward, and I can get better, but unless someone can bring my children back, they can't "fix it." So no, I can't find a way to "fix myself," nor can anyone else do it for me. I never criticized anyone else, never "lashed out" at anyone, and I don't deserve to be accused of that, even if everything else was true. Long winded, sorry. I just hate the idea that now I must censor my own blog to avoid being hurt by my anonymous friend again. From now on, I would hope that this person would have the courage to speak to me honestly and openly . . .they say no one is being honest with me, but neither are they, because they are afraid to talk to me. I am more than willing to discuss these things, but not when I don't even know who I'm talking to.

Ok . . . the end! Now the news!

The apartment hunting was . . .well, rather fruitless. The apartment in Roanoke was about the size of our living room. Then I spent 4 hours driving around Eureka, to find only one apartment, rented by a rather creepy man, furnished with furniture from 1952. It was hideous and tiny. And expensive. So . . .we keep looking!

We got home to a pleasant surprise. The boys' headstone was up! We usually drive through the cemetery every day, and hadn't had a chance to yet (it was about 3:30). My mom came upstairs to let us know that she'd driven through and it was there.

So we finished up eating our lunch and took the camera up to the cemetery. We were both very pleased with the results. The stone is beautiful. It's very small, which to us is perfect, because they were such tiny baby boys. It's simple, and it's elegant, and it really is a wonderful memorial to their little lives. It was a rainy and gray afternoon, but we took some pictures so you could see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Good Night

All things considered, it's been a good night.

First of all, I do want to address a few things regarding my blog. This has been my cleansing tool. It's been a way for me to say all the things I want to say about my boys. I clearly can't walk around all day long saying them, so I write them here. I have always been a writer, in that it is the most spiritual, most effective way for me to deal with my emotions. If someone reading my blogs felt that I was miserable 24/7, they would be wrong, and perhaps it is because I have given the wrong impression, or not been clear about my motives.
I have a lot of "normalcy" in my life. I read books, I take walks, I go swimming . . .I watch tv and movies, I hang out with family and friends. I smile a lot. I have fun. If I haven't focused on those things in the blog, it's because I have primarily used this space as a way to deal with the "other" emotions . . .the ones that need expressing, but can't always find the proper place and time. I never meant to convey my life as a completely bleak existence. I have seriously considered writing a book, and perhaps it is time to start. I have found myself, in the past, apologizing for writing about my grief. People encouraged me to continue doing it, so I did. And I genuinely mean it when I say I have tried to help others. I haven't tried to be an inspirational wellspring, or a counselor, but I have tried to be honest. It's not easy to expose your heart, but I did so because the last thing I wanted to hear were fake niceties after losing the boys. I figured others might feel the same way, and just want to read honest emotions. After losing Brian, I discovered several other womens' blogs that were raw and emotional, and those were the ones that helped me the most. I still feel some of what I've written has been helpful, because people have told me so. They help me as well, by being honest about their grief and not pretending or using cliches, like "time heals all wounds," or "every cloud has a silver lining." I don't pretend to be a self-help guru or any such thing. I don't think I'm better than anyone else. I just tell the truth about my experience, and that's the best I can do. Helping myself heal and trying to help others aren't mutually exclusive . . .I have written as an emotional healing journey just as much as I have done so to reach out to others, and to be reached out to.
It has only been 2 1/2 months since Sawyer died, and I am still processing everything . . .and I have used this little corner of the web to do it. I never intended to bring anyone down, hurt anyone, lash out at anyone, or be "angry" or hateful toward anyone. Those were the furthest things from my mind. I do sincerely apologize if anyone has taken offense to anything I've written. They haven't been directed towards anyone who reads this blog, and I have tried to point that out repeatedly, but maybe it always needs reminding. I appreciate all the people who would even take the time to read my thoughts, let alone respond to them. So thank you all, and I really will try to write about the good times more often as well.

So . . .about my night. I got a message from the manager at CVS in Washington. He wants to interview me. I am excited--it's the one place I applied that I thought would actually be quite fun! They have good wages and benefits as well. That's always a plus. So . . .wish me luck!

Also, I am going to look at an apartment while Jim is at his class tomorrow morning. It sounds promising. It's tiny, but very affordable, which is what we're looking for at the moment.

The reason we've decided to rent (not buy) is that we had a long talk the other night about our goals for life. We want to start living again, feeling better, doing things that will help us to make progress. One of the main things we have dreamed of for a long time now is moving to the Northwest . . .either Washington or Oregon. So we decided to work our butts off for the next year and save as much as we possibly can, then move! We are really serious about planning this and trying to make it happen within the next year or so. We're very excited about it--we're already looking up places we might be interested in, staring at pictures and maps, looking up average temperatures, etc. :)

So . . .again, wish us luck with everything. Hopefully within the next 2 weeks we'll have new jobs and be in a new place! That will be a start!
Beyond that, I have been walking for exercise, trying to eat better, taking care of my skin, and swimming/tanning a lot. I decided after those posts that I am responsible for my self-image, and I am the one who will have to change it, so I have begun a daily routine. We'll see how long it lasts. ;)