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.