Monday, February 28, 2011

Double Duty

Two posts in one day after some radio silence!  Wow!  I'm quite the blogger today!

My foot HURTS!   I turned my ankle last night while snuggling Bobby when he woke up (he just cut another tooth and poor Maya has a runny nose!).  I didnt think much of it, but it doesnt feel so nice today.  As the day wears on, the pain does too and I'm getting annoyed.  It's slightly swollen and I'm guessing that I wont be running tomorrow.  Which sucks. :(  Perhaps a swim... We'll see.

Last Day

In the past, I've always been so happy to see February end.  My girlfriend, Ann, and I used to bitch and moan about how much we dreaded this second month of the calendar year and how we longed for the end of those short, 28 days that seemed to drag on and on.  P's miscarriage was always the blight on the month until 2008.  Then, it was his loss, plus the deaths of Nicholas and Sophia.  I couldn't "hate" the month; it was their birth month too, but how it brought the sadness and reminder of their deaths.  And the fact that we were usually buried by snow didnt help much either (I like the snow, but I'm ready for it to be over by February... not a good thought since I live in PA!).

This February started off rougher than I anticipated, but, as it has ended, I feel a renewed peace, so I'm glad it came about.  I know that I will always link February will sorrow, but I think that, finally, the sense of joy at having each of my little February blessings finally outweighs the anguish of losing them.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Recently, in my doula and childbirth educator training, I've had to do my coursework on death.  I knew it was there... I knew I'd have to do it... I know that you cant talk about birth and pregnancy without discussing death.  As my instructor put it so clearly, death is a part of labor.  And she's right.  When 25% of pregnancies end either before birth or shortly after the baby is born, death truly is a part of labor.  And, since my specialty will be working with parents as they are delivering a child who has already passed away or who is not going to live long after birth (or, later on, parents who are pregnant post a loss), it makes sense that the death aspect of my coursework is one that I'll need.

But that doesnt mean it wasnt hard.  Really hard.  Harder than I had anticipated.

Part of it was that, when I started those chapters, I was gearing up to attend a funeral for a baby who had died.  I dont know the family.  Their information was given to me by another local blogger.  I knew it would be tough to go, but I also remember the strangers who attended the funerals of our children.  I didnt know them... They had either heard about us or knew someone close to us, and wanted to express their sympathy and offer support.  It really touched me that people cared, even when they didnt know us.  So, I wrote out a Mass card and slipped in a prayer card, and got dressed to go.  It was a half hour to the church, which gave me time to reflect and meditate.  I was okay... I got to the church and stepped inside.  That familiar smell of flowers filled the air and I felt my chest start to tighten.  But I was okay.  I filled out the guestbook and waited in the receiving line.  When the baby's uncle asked who I was, words stumbled out, and he thanked me for coming and supporting his brother and sister-in-law in their grief.  Finally, I was face to face with the parents.

I recognized the look on her face.  She had sat down because she could no longer stand.  Her husband held her hand, trying to stand for both of them.  Her eyes were glazed, her look far away.  I spoke to her, and she nodded and tears fell down her cheeks.  I knew that look... That why look... Why my baby?  Her daughter wasnt premature.  She was full term and went in for a scheduled c-section.  Something went wrong.  Her uterus ended up tearing and, somehow in the delivery, the baby was deprived of oxygen...  She never recovered.  (You can read the full story here)  It was a shock to read...  This couple fully expected to bring their daughter home a few days after her birth...  There was no reason to think they wouldnt.  And then... the unthinkable.  The unimaginable.  And they were at her funeral.

The father hugged me.  He thanked me for coming and for praying for them.  I almost lost it then.  In his grief, he thanked the people who were there...  I dont remember being able to find too many words at our childrens' funerals... Thank you was one phrase I do remembering uttering.  His words brought it all back.  But, still, I was okay.

But that tiny coffin.  With that beautiful little girl inside.  I felt my chest tighten and my body go cold.  I stood there for a moment, asked God to watch over the sweet little Saint whose body was contained within, and slowly walked away.  I didnt stay for the service.  And I barely made it to the car before I sobbed.

As I left, I went back to my life.  I went to the bakery and got fresh bread, to the local farm and picked up free range meat and raw dairy products.  I came home and made lunch for my family.  I talked to Peter about Bobby and Maya's tumbling class that we'd gone to earlier in the day.  We played, we hung out, dinner was made and fed, the kids were bathed and put to bed, and I sat down to start on some classwork and listen to the archived lecture.

I made it about 2 minutes into the lecture before I turned it off.  I read a paragraph of the lesson and a few pages of one of the books before closing them.  Not happening.  I just couldnt do it.  I thought of reading ahead and doing something different, but instead, I just stopped.

But, Tuesday, I decided that I would get back on track and get busy.  It took me a few hours to listen to the 45 minute lecture.  I'm glad it was archived because I wouldnt have made it through the entire thing live (not and retained any information).  A lot of it is stuff that those of us who have lost children know already, especially if we read up on infant or pregnancy loss afterwards or, in my case, became active in the ALI community.  Diseases incompatible with life... Prematurity... Miscarriage... Stillbirth... SIDS....  Helping the parents afterwards... What to say.... What not to say.... How to help....  Remembering that the parents arent the only people you are supporting, but the baby as well...  That the parents have rights.... That the baby has rights...  One of the parts that really struck me was that the instructor, near the end of the lecture, talked about the baby's rights.  The right to be named, to be held, to have formal recognition of their life and death.  "If the parents cant hold the baby, then you hold the baby."  Those words stuck out in my head.  She's right.  Everyone grieves differently and I've met plenty of parents now who regret that they couldnt hold their child- that no one held their baby.  If we hold their baby, if we take mementos and photos- even if we hold onto them for months or years- then, when that parent is ready, there is something...  In my dealings with orphaned parents, some of the deepest anguish comes from not having held their babies, named them while they were with them (although many name them afterwards), not having funeral rites (or knowing that those rites were available to them), and not having any photos/mementos of their baby/babies.  If, in the most horrendous thing they have to do, I can help alleviate those "afterpains", then it is well worth my own journey.

Something else she mentioned was taking care of ourselves as birth assistants.  Talking it out, writing it out.  That it is okay to be grieved by the process.  It was really validating.  One of my fears was how will I deal with the pain that I'm feeling.  Obviously, the pain of the parents is the most important, but I know that I wont leave births where babies die unscathed.  Hearing her say that and offering advice for how to handle the emotions I will have was extremely helpful.

The thing that really hit me when I finished the assignment was that this really is what I'm meant to do.  I've struggled with how to make lemonade so to speak.  I've accepted that my children have died.  That death is part of birth.  That I was blessed to have them for the moments I did and that, just as the Spirit door swings to let life into this world, it swings to let life exit it.  That I would do it over again if it meant mothering them all.  I've accepted that their deaths were part of their lives.  And, truly, although my heart will always hurt and I will always miss them, I am at peace with their deaths.  I carry them with me.  Forever.  Always.  I am thankful that Bobby and Maya are here with me because it does lessen the emptiness of parenting children who are not physically with you, but I would like to think that, even if I hadnt been able to deliver children who lived, that I would have eventually found peace.  But, beyond that, I wanted the impact they had on me to help others.  It's one of the reasons I blog; I do it for me, too, mind you.  It is helpful and has brought me into contact with wonderful men and women all over the world.  It's one of the reasons I got involved with Face2Face.  But, the biggest thing, is Mending Heart Bellies and my training to be a doula and CBE.  That is Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, and my miscarried babies coming to life in this world.  It is because of their lives and the experiences of being their mother that this has come out... My lemonade, I suppose.

But I know the days ahead will come with storms.  They must.  You cant support families dealing with loss and death and expect to walk out into the sunshine.  But, if I can let them know that there will be sunshine... one day... even if it is only peeking out from behind dark clouds... then it will be worth it...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saying Good-bye

It's hard to believe it... But my mind is made up.  I'm saying good-bye to Dr. B.  It's nothing he's done... It's me.  But it is so hard.  This from the girl who said "I'm sad I only get to see him once a year now!" when I was telling Sarah how much I adore the man.  But, really, I dont need to see him...  I'm no longer a high risk pregnant woman who needs the care of an OB. I realize he's a trained gynecologist as well, but I'm not a high risk gynecologic patient either.  Outside of my "poor obstetrics history", I'm the average woman when it comes to getting a pap smear.

Let me back up...

Prior to meeting Dr. B. in mid December 2007, I saw my midwife for my well-woman check each year.  I love her.  She's a CPM (certified professional midwife- learn about the different types of midwives here) and has the most lovely demeanor.  When I struggled with fertility, I turned to her first.  When I got pregnant with Bobby and Maya, she was my first prenatal appointment.  I met Dr. B. through her, as they had worked together in the past.  From 2007 on, it seemed I was perpetually pregnant, so it made sense to have Dr. B. do my annual as well.  Last year, I was five months postpartum and my period hadn't returned (which I had expected since I wasn't regular anyway), so I thought I'd see him to chat about that.  And then, honestly, it slipped my mind to call my m/w and make an appointment, since I'd made an appointment before leaving Dr. B's office anyway.

But recently...  Recently, it has been on my mind a lot.  Even though my body sucks at birth, I believe that my experience is the exception (although, in the IF community, we have a higher than average rate of loss it seems) instead of the rule.  I believe that midwives should handle labor and delivery for the vast majority and that there should be nothing like "elective cesarean".  (I'm not judging anyone else's choices... Just staying my feelings).    Midwives assist and support a woman in laboring; OBs (in general) manage pregnancies and deliveries.  And hey- I have no issue that my pregnancies were managed; I had problems and managing my pregnancies were the only things that ultimately allowed me to birth children who could live outside the womb.  But, in general, that isn't the case.

But, I'm getting off point...  I believe in midwifery for both birth and woman care.  As I'm talking to Peter, I  tell him that I miss my m/w and her care, that I miss that feeling of community, that feeling of being partnered with care.  I miss going to her home, where her office is, having a cup of tea, and sitting there for an hour, discussing what is going on and having the exam be part of the experience.  It is nothing like sitting in a waiting room for who knows how long, going into an exam room, having that taken care of, and making an appointment for next year.  (This being said, I love Dr. B- love him.  But he's a busy guy who deals with a lot of higher risk women and is usually out of the office a bit for deliveries, etc, that come up; he's also not a 5-minutes and done doc- if you have issues or questions, he gives you as much time as it takes to talk to you and doesnt make you feel like you are taking up his time.  In the grand scheme of things, he's a kickass OB and I adore him.  A-D-O-R-E him.)

So, a few nights ago, I decide that this will be my last appointment (it was on Tuesday).  I would go and give him my good-bye speech, and that would be that...  And I'd probably cry. Because, yeah.  I care about those folks that much.  Peter's mom was going to watch the kids (since that office is usually pretty busy, not to mention I'm acutely aware that some of those patients are not in a place where they need to be around babies.  Been there...)  Of course, when you ask the Great Spirit to give you a sign that you are on the right path, be prepared for your scheduled event to not go as planned.

Tuesday morning, Peter's mom couldnt come with me because something came up.  No problem!  The nurses would have given me a hard time had I not brought the kids with me, so... no deal.  We were going to meet Peter for lunch (his new office is close to the hospital) so now the kids can see him during the day.  I leave at 10:25 for my 11:45 appointment (it's 45 minutes away, but I want to try and get a decent nap in for the kids, since they normally start their nap between 10-11am and sleep until noon-1ish.  So, we load up in the car and set off.  Maya cooperates and is out in a few minutes.  Bobby... Not so much.  We are five minutes from the hospital when he falls asleep.  Of course.  That should have been my first sign.  No, my first sign was when I called and got the only person in the office I dont like and, when I asked her if Dr B was on schedule, she gave me lip about how that can always change... Blah, blah, blah.  I explain that I understand that, but I have my kids with me, and just want to know if, at that moment, appointments are on time.  They arent.  That was my first sign.    But, I digress.

We pull in, I get my ticket, and park.  It's 11:25.  I have enough time to get cash from the ATM (to leave the parking garage), go potty, and get to his office by my scheduled time.  Of course, the kids wake up as they get in the stroller and aren't happy, but not crying.  We do the ATM and bathroom (where Maya proceeds to freak out) and get to the office.  When I push the door open and see every chair filled and the standing room only (with other people standing), that should have been my third sign to just leave.  But, no, I go in.  And stand.  And Maya freaks so I pick her up.  Bobby's not happy he isnt being held, but he's okay.  Finally, I'm able to check in.  And then we go to a subwaiting room (also full), so I can get the kids out of the stroller and put them in their backpacks which (for lack of a better word) have "leashes" on them so they can have some independence but I can keep up with them.

And here's where I love the office.  Everyone knew us.  They all knew us by name: me, the kids.  Yeah...  Even people who have no reason to know we were coming in that day.  By name.  Hugs, the-kids-are-so-big, you-look-great.  Dr. M, who delivered us, ran up and hugged- and kissed- me.  She tousled the kids' hair.  D, Dr B's nurse, came up and hugged us, then proceeded- in the middle of a busy day- take Bobby's "leash" and give the kids a tour of the office.  Dr. B. saw us while coming out of a patient room, and made conversation.  They are like family.  They all worked hard to get us to this point.  They cared.  They didnt need to send cards when our children died or flowers when I was in the hospital and crossed the 26 week point.  They didnt need to stop in and check on us or visit the babies in the NICU, just because.  But they did.  Because, over those 2 years, we became close.  And that is why I love them.

But...  when the time came for everyone to get back to work, the kids were spent and wanted to have lunch and a nap.  They didnt want to be in their stroller, they didnt want to be carried, and they didnt want to be leashed.  They wanted to be able to run around like the other kids in the office.  They wanted to be in and out of exam rooms.  They wanted to go to the nursing offices.  No.  Not happening.  One of the nurses said "Oh, it's okay.  Let them go."  No.  Sorry.  Those kids that do stuff like that are NOT going to be my kids.

I decided to go.  D told me to call her and she'd get me a time that worked better, but honestly, I've had appointment times all over the board and only once- in YEARS- has the office not been overrun.  They are good; they are busy.  But it just secured my thought that I, in my not-high-risk state, don't need to go there anymore.  I hugged D and told her to tell Dr B and Dr M good-bye for me, and promised to send pictures of the kids.

I'm sad that I didnt get to say a real good-bye.  I plan on writing them a letter and explaining how I feel and that, if I ever return to that high risk status, I wouldnt dream of going anywhere else, but that, for now, I'm returning to midwifery care.  I emailed my midwife and I now have an appointment in early March.  And I'm excited to see her again and get back into my philosophy of care.

But saying good-bye to Dr. Bailey is really the end of an era... The end of my childbearing...  It's sort of like saying good-bye to Dr. Lee.  I didnt need an RE anymore so we parted ways and now it's Christmas cards only...  Unless I'm in the area, which is rare, when I call for a visit (but, dont worry- only if there are no fertility patients!  I wouldnt be "that" person!)  And now, sadly, it's time to say good-bye to the pregnant stage of my life too...  There's always a chance that I'll return there, I suppose, but it wouldn't be planned in the sense that Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, Bobby, and Maya were planned.  But I know I'm no longer a candidate for a homebirth or midwifery care during pregnancy; so, of course, I'd go back to Dr. B's office.  Now, though, it's good-bye.  Not really until next year or until next time.  But good-bye.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm Here

I have things to say, just no words with which to say them.  But I am here...

I'm busier than usual.  With the doula and CBE classes, that's got my nights after the kids go to bed pretty much taken care of.  Bobby and Maya are getting more verbal, so my days are filled with trying to do a little bit more with them.  And, as the weather warms, will hopefully entail us getting outside more!  But, that's not an excuse... I've been busy and have still written... That's not it.

Last night, I was caught off guard by the death of a 4 month old baby girl.  I was doing one of my CBE assignments and, as I finished, went ahead and started the next assignment: death.  I had read ahead in my doula workbook and knew that the subject was covered a bit later, but, for some reason, hadnt noticed that it came at the front of the CBE coursework.  I stopped working and decided to blog... and saw the entry... and decided to go to bed.  But a peaceful sleep doesnt come after that.  And checking on your kids throughout the night doesnt guarantee that, as soon as you've left the room, confident that they are okay, that things will continue to be okay.  But, that's not it either...

We had a lovely blog meet-up over the weekend with Genevieve and Lauren.  It was a nice time; a time to just let it all hang out with folks who get it.  I wanted to tell you all about it... How Lauren made a delicious cake and how Genevieve had me in stitches.  How, if you are anywhere close to the PA/NJ border (that's you guys in NYC too!) that you should totally plan on attending our quarterly gettogethers.  But, I just couldnt write anything...  But, that's not it either.

How I manage to log my food every day and am still dropping weight... How I had a meltdown at Kohl's when I went shopping to replace my wardrobe (and dont worry... there will be a post about that... eventually)  But, really, I just didnt have anything to say.

How I'm so super excited about my new venture, even though I am afraid.  How I attended the funeral of a baby on Saturday and wanted to just bawl my eyes out in the car.  How I cant figure out anything witty to say on Facebook because I really just want to ask people WTF on a regular basis.  How I had an appt with Dr B today for my annual, but, after driving 45 minutes there and being met with a standing-room-only waiting room and having a half hour show of "misbehaving, screaming twins", I decided it wasnt worth it and left.  How I'm Just.So.Tired.

But, like I said... I just dont have the words to formulate a post worth  your time.

But, rest assured, I'm still here.  I'm still reading your blogs and commenting when I can.  And, soon, I'm sure I'll be back to the same old verbose person you're used to.  But, right now, I'm feeling a little tender and just dont know what to say.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Send Love Please

Another sweet family has lost their daughter.  She was four months old and will be buried on Wednesday.  Please pop over and send them some love and words of peace.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, Sophia

My dearest daughter, Sophia.

After the way I greeted the morning of your twin brother's birthday- with anger... so much anger- I wondered how your birthday would be, sweet child of wisdom.  No anger today... Just peace.  A deep peace.  A peace that fills the house and my body to its core.  A peace that doesnt replace the sadness that you arent here so I can watch you grow up and share secrets with you and brush your hair before putting on your wedding veil, but a peace that lets me know that you are perfectly fine and happy, and that life is as it should be.  A peace that goes so much deeper than simply saying I have found acceptance in your life and your death and the empty place at our table left behind.  A peace that could only come with the scent of your wisdom that lingers on the air around me.

Tonight was so very unlike the night you were born.  It was snowing then and so cold, even in the afternoon when the EMTs took me to the helicopter.  Today, around the same time, I had your younger siblings out for a walk.  It was windy and cool, but like early spring, not the late winter of your birth.

Your daddy and I had your dinner tonight and we ate a yummy brownie in your honor!  You would have liked it, sweet girl.  I have a feeling that you would have had a sweet tooth like your daddy.  :)  The brownies arent too sweet and are a nice mix of regular, coconut, and hazelnut flours... I know... You'd be a cook like your mama!  Loving to create!  You do, sweetness.... You do...

When I was pregnant with you, I called you my little elephants.  My elefantitos.  Is it coincidence that, on NatGeo, there is a program on elephants right now?  I dont think so... :)

I miss you, SophieGirl.  I miss you so much.  I miss the waves of hair I see cascading over your shoulders.  I miss your gentle mothering on your siblings, how you'd always want to "help" me and tell me that you could do it yourself.  You'd be my little lawyer and philosopher, always working towards whatever common good you could find (and always trying to talk yourself out of whatever I was dishing out if you didnt like it!).  I can hear your laugh in the wind, as the chimes clink together.  I can see your eyes in the moonlight reflecting on the kitchen window.  I feel you in the gentle presence you leave in the rooms of Bobby and Maya as they sleep.

I love you so much, Gaea Sophia.  Wisdom of the world.  My world, my wisdom.  How I love you and miss you.  I know you are with me, and yet beyond me and that brings solace to my heart.

Thinking you today, sweet baby, on your third birthday, and sending all the love in my heart.
Love you,


Hi Sophia,

Three years old.  How quickly the time goes by....

I feel the closest to you of the older kids.  Probably because I got to spend so much time taking care of you - running errands for mommy and daddy, eating dinner with you, and watching Redneck Weddings with mommy in the living room while she was on bed rest.  And because of this I have so many distinct memories of you.  

I think of three year old you as a taller, older version of Maya, but with light brown hair.  You are a little tomboy, just like the statue that Mommy and I run by in the park.  You pick up worms off of the sidewalk and get excited when you find bugs and spiders in the house.  You always want to keep up with Nicholas.  You prefer trucks and blocks to dolls and dressup.  You love animals and nature and when we take walks you are always asking me questions about the types of trees and where do the squirrels live and what type of bird is making the chirrping sound we hear.  I imagine that all of your little Sunday dresses get pretty dirty because when we walk to the park you turn over rocks to see what's there, or if we go to Uita and Grandpa's house you like to look for frogs and turtles and fish in the pond.

I miss you sweetie.  Thanks for the time we had.

Much love,
Aunt Sarah

Mending Heart Bellies

It's strange how our lives sometime take the strangest paths... Paths we never intended or thought we'd take. And yet, it is because of the events in our lives that we sometimes transcend what we think is possible and become someone new.

It happened when I met Peter. When I became pregnant with each of our children. With each of our miscarriages. With each baby that died. With the births of Bobby and Maya, their NICU journey, and their homecoming.

It happened when I decided to take control of my life and my health.

And now, it has happened again. And I'm excited to share this new chapter of myself with you.  And, it seems fitting to share this news on Sophia's birthday, since I've always considered her my Child of Wisdom. 

For a while, I've felt this tug at my heart, this desire to help others who are in situations like ours. To be with them during their hardest moments and support them as they journey back into life after losing a child. To help them claim their motherhood (or fatherhood) even when their child has died. To help them find the will to breathe again, just as I was helped. The idea was there but fear was there also. A lot of fear.

But, I've done it. I've started training to become a labor doula and child birth educator... for parents who are losing their child or have lost a child and are trying again.

There is no greater devastation than your baby dying but, coming close, is that feeling of being alone. That no one understands. Of, months later, regretting what you didnt do (or didnt think to do) and knowing that you cant go back to change it. We were so lucky to have supportive staff around us who helped, but I've learned in my discussions with others that support is often hard to come by. And that breaks my heart. In looking around, I havent found too many groups, save The Amethyst Network, that support parents in the throws of miscarriage or loss (although I'm sure they exist). But that's what I want. I believe in birth and in mothers... Even when we are burying our children before they are born... or, as they are born. I want parents to know they are not alone. I want them, as they begin another pregnancy, to know that they can go through child birth education classes without feeling different or worrying about how they will handle the comments that people sometimes make. I want to help.

When I talked to Peter, he was so supportive. So very supportive. He encouraged me to seek out what my heart was calling me to do and, when I told him that I'd found a program, he encouraged me to enroll. And then, when I told him that I wanted to start working in the near future as a lay-doula, supporting families who are miscarrying, delivering a stillborn child, or delivering a second trimester baby who is too young to save, he told me that he will stand behind me 100%. I'm a lucky woman.

And so... I am proud (and nervous!) to introduce you to my new venture: Mending Heart Bellies.

I've enrolled with Birth Arts International to train in their labor doula program and their childbirth educator program. Looking at the coursework and booklists, I know that I've got my work cut out for me, but I am so excited to get this underway. Once I'm finished, I'll get back into my yoga instruction and pick up the certification needed to teach prenatal yoga. Peter and I are already discussing having our garage transformed into a studio where I could teach yoga out of the house (as well as my childbirth classes) but, for right now, I'm grateful for the lower level, which could serve as space as I need it. At present, I plan to send out information to the midwives and OBs in my circle of friends, letting them know of my desire to support parents who have just been told they are miscarrying or delivering a child they wont be able to take home with them... To let them know that, for no charge, I can come to them and support them, however they may need.

I'm scared. Honestly and truly, I have a knot in my stomach just thinking about this endeavor. But giving birth to this... seeing this start and talking it out with Peter and making the decision to make something beautiful out of this pain... It has eased my heart... Mended it in a way. I feel lighter and more at peace. I cant get three words out of my head... three words that remind me of Nicholas and Sophia and Alexander: strength, wisdom, and peace. I do feel strong. I feel like I've gained wisdom and that I'm seeking to find more. But now, with this, I feel peace. A true, deep peace. Something I cant put into words right now.

So, think of me, pray for me, hold me near your heart in this new venture. I know I'm going to need all the warm fuzzies you can send me.

My Last Breath

This always makes me think of Sophia... Not sure why...  Happy Birthday, sweet girl...  Wish we were celebrating together on earth.

hold on to me love
you know i can't stay long
all i wanted to say was, "I love you and I'm not afraid"
can you hear me?
can you feel me in your arms?

holding my last breath
safe inside myself
are all my thoughts of you
sweet raptured light it ends here tonight

i'll miss the winter
a world of fragile things
look for me in the white forest
hiding in a hollow tree (come find me)
i know you hear me
i can taste it in your tears

holding my last breath
safe inside myself
are all my thoughts of you
sweet raptured light it ends here tonight

Closing your eyes to disappear,
You pray your dreams will leave you here;
But still you wake and know the truth,
No one is there...

Say goodnight,
Don't be afraid,
Calling me, Calling me as you fade to black.

(Say goodnight) Holding my last breath
(Don't be afraid) Safe inside myself
(Calling me, calling me) Are all my thoughts of you?
Sweet raptured life, it ends here tonight 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Yesterday, the kids and traveled to the next state to visit a dear friend of ours and her new baby girl.  The sweet baby had been due on Thanksgiving and, to give you an idea of how awesome this friend (and her hubs) are, when she emailed me to tell me she was pregnant, she said that, even though the baby was due on the 25th, she always thought of Alexander, even though she knew his birthday was the 23rd.  Not very many people speak our childrens' names much less their birthdays, but that is the type of person she is.  She remembers.  And, when she told me she was pregnant, I couldnt have been happier for someone.  I'll never forget how strong she was, at Nicholas and Sophia's Memorial Mass, as she read the Intercessions with tears in her eyes...  How strong her husband was as he helped take the Gifts to the priest.  Needless to say they have been good friends to us and, when she told me yesterday that, had their daughter been born on Alex's birthday, they had decided to use the middle name "Alexandra", it was all I could do to not break down in tears.  Like I said, good people.  Great people.

Which is why, as she shared her birth story with me, it broke my heart.  Because, if I could take God aside and ask that a couple get the birth of their desire, these folks are in the running.  After going full term all the way, K went into labor and was in the throws of it, when her sweet baby got stuck and she was rushed to the OR for an emergency c-section.  As if that wasn't bad enough, their daughter wasnt breathing and scored a 2 on the APGAR (as a comparison, Nicholas scored a 2 on his APGAR).  While the team was trying to get her to breath, our dear sweet friends had the conversation of what to do if she died.  And K told her husband that he would need to call me because she wouldnt be able to talk to anyone else or see anyone else.

That was what got me.  I had to hug her so she wouldnt see me fall apart.

I dont want anyone to want to call me after their baby has been born.  Because I will be the one who understands... if that sweet, loved child doesnt get to come home with you.  And it's not because I dont want to be the parent who understands loss; I've come to terms with the fact that I mother saints in heaven.  But I dont want anyone else to go through that loss, especially someone so dear to me.  The fact that she had to have those thoughts- that she had to fathom the "what if" and the unthinkable- hurts my heart so much.

Thankfully, her daughter was resuscitated and is now a thriving 3 month old.  She is beautiful and perfect and keeping her mommy and daddy on their toes.  As I held her and smelled that sweet "new baby" smell, I found myself thanking all the powers that be- especially sweet little (saint) Alexander for watching over their daughter and getting her safely.

Because, it may sound crazy, but I think my losses and miscarriages buys my friends passes on that grief and heartache.  (I know it's not true, but it's a worthwhile hope).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Revisited

To try and tell Peter just how much he means to me, I broke from our normal "family dinner" tonight.  I still fed the kids at 5:30, and then, when he got home, we did their bedtime ritual of bath, massage, PJ, milk, snuggles, and bed, but then I banished him to a video game and got to work in the kitchen!

A half hour later, I served him a delicious, Valentine's Day dinner: New York strip with mushrooms and onions, mashed jewel yams with almond milk and cardamom, sauteed kale with pimento and garlic, sprouted wheat bread with (Icelandic!) butter, and a lovely petitie syrah, which also complimented the dessert of chocolate chewies (cookies) with fresh strawberries and brown sugar whipped cream.  So what if the meal (with dessert) weighed in at 1240 calories!  It was a nice evening, well spent, by candlelight, with the man that I would marry over and over again.

I love you, Peter.  Thank you for loving me. :) <3

Happy St. Valentine's Day

Maya, Feb 13, 2011
Bobby, Feb 13, 2011

My sweetheart gave me a 90 minute massage at the day spa I visit.  I'm pretty psyched (especially because when I tried to link it another weight goal, i.e. I'll do it when I hit 175, he admonished me that THIS was his gift to me for being his sweet wife on Valentine's Day... Not for some goal.  "Pick something else for a goal," he said, disappearing into the bathroom as he gave the kid's their bath last night).  He's a dark chocolate fanatic, so I hunted down some dark chocolate snickers (which are hard to find around here) and some dark chocolate covered cherries (even harder to find!).

We havent been big Valentine's Day celebrators in the past.  From our very first V-Day together (1999) through 2007, Peter was sick.  Every single time.  He didnt get sick on other days of the year, but on Valentine's... It was a given.  So, I'd usually make dinner and sometimes we'd exchange cards.  But it was rare.  We usually would do something a day or two later... I think you can see where this is going.

On Valentine's Day 2008, Peter wasn't sick.  But when I look back to that year, I dont see it as our first non-sick Valentine's Day.  I see it as Peter working himself nuts... two days before our first daughter was born.  February 14th isnt a lovey dovey holiday; it's 2 days before Sophia's birthday.  It has been for the last 3 years.  Interestingly, we've given each other cards these last three years, but still, no big deal.  I didnt post in 2009, nor did I post in 2010.  As you can see... Not a huge deal in this house.  Other than the cards, I doubt we've done gifts in years.

But this year, for some reason (and without the other knowing) we got each other a little something special... A token of our love for one another.  Most days are sweet around here, but today, I'll list it as an extra sweet day. :)

I love you, Peter.  So very much.

January 30, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Big "O"

...a special thanks to Peter for the title of this post...
(and, go ahead: get your mind's out of the gutter)

There are certain things that as of this moment I am not.  And one of those things includes the big "O"...  I, as of this moment, am no longer OBESE.  My BMI is now "overweight"!  (Who the hell gets excited about being overweight?  ME!)

A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.  When I first started this journey in the fall, mine was *gulp* 37.6.  So, not just obese but close to morbidly obese (which is anything over 40, which I was inching close to).  In order to get my BMI into "overweight", I needed to hit 191.  As of this morning, I am 189.  No longer obese.  (Curious what you are?  Click here to calculate.)  In order to get out of the dreaded "overweight" category, my "normal" weight BMI begins at 159, so 30 pounds away!

But for now, overweight isnt dreaded.  It's been anticipated and hoped for.  It's been worked for.  Worked hard for.

And I'm proud.  So very proud of the work I've done and getting to this point.  I've traded one big "O" for another.  And, hopefully by my birthday (which is my goal for hitting 150- my goal weight) will see me trading in this much hoped for "O" for an even more hoped for "HW": Healthy Weight.

It's a good place.  I'm pretty psyched. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Whisper in the Wind

“Miscarriages are labor, miscarriages are birth. To consider them less dishonors the woman whose womb has held life, however briefly.” –Kathryn Miller Ridiman

Remembering you, sweet little Peter, the first baby to ever take hold of heart and live in my womb, even if for a short time.  I know that, today, each whisper of the wind will be your voice telling us that you love us and are well.

Sleep peacefully, baby P.

(It seems only fitting that our first F2F meeting is scheduled for tonight... RSVP if you havent already...)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dreams Say the Damnedest Things

When I met Peter, I was 17 and a senior in high school. I was visiting the military college Peter attended and we met briefly.  What happened after is history.  Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love and get married, etc., etc., etc.  Oh, did I mention girl was dating another boy (and boy was dating another girl)?

I dont often look back on my life and think about the folks I no longer run with.  But, every now and again...   My mind slips back to the "other boy".  And I cant help but wonder...

He and I were good friends.  Really good friends.  And then, my junior year, it became something more.  We dated, didnt date, and then senior year, dated again.  We were pretty serious until I met Peter.  Then, that relationship unraveled, I broke it off, married Peter, and the rest is my life.

I left things badly... I've always regretted that.  I was young and in love (with Peter) and didnt think about his feelings.  I'd never felt anything like I'd felt when I met Peter and in the "everyone else be damned" sort of way that teenagers have about them, I didnt care about the side effects.  Or, more accurately, I didnt think about them.  The last time he saw me, he shook his head and called me a bitch.  We were sitting on my front porch. It was a week or two after our relationship had dissolved.   I'd just told him that I was engaged.  He was angry.  He walked away.  I never saw him again.

It's always haunted me.

Sort of like the first time he told me that he loved me.  I dont remember if I told him that I loved him back.  I did... In a different way, of course, than the instantaneous love that blindsided me with Peter.  But it was a love nonetheless.  And did I tell him that?  I dont remember and, now that we are adults with children of our own, I dont suppose it matters.

When I joined facebook months ago, he sent me a message.  Something brief.  A how are you sort of thing.  I responded and, perhaps foolishly, apologized for how things ended.  He never responded...  I know it shouldnt have bothered me, but, if I'm honest, it does.  I had no plans to reconnect, but... I dont like cliffhangers either.

And then, last night.  I dreamed of him.  (Not like "that", you crazy people!)  We were friends, like we used to be.  Peter and Bobby and Maya were there... It was my life.  Only, he was in it.  While Peter and I were chatting during the kids' bathtime tonight, I told him about the dream and my regrets.  That I miss him and the friendship we had.  That I often wondered what would have happened had we ended on better terms (or never had a relationship to end, only a close friendship).  Peter's response?  It's never too late to reconnect.

Perhaps he's right.  I dont know.  But I'm willing to give it a shot.  Is it possible to pick up a friendship that has had a 12 year hiatus where the last words spoken were in anger?  Is it possible to let go of guilt and hurt and engage in a true friendship again?  Or should we let those who know our innermost secrets flow away in the wind and work on building new friendships and telling new secrets?

I dont know... And I think it is the not knowing the answer that has me wondering "what if?"

Sleep Training: Week 2

Click here for week 1

Thursday: Bobby 1h25m, Maya 2h5m
Friday: Bobby-45m, Maya-1 hour
Saturday: Bobby-1h50m, Maya-1h45m
Sunday: Bobby- 2h15m, Maya-2h
Monday: Bobby-20m, Maya-10m
Tuesday: Bobby-1h50m, Maya-1h55m
Wednesday: Bobby and Maya-20m

Thursday: Bobby- 10h5m asleep, 45m awake, 4 wakings, total sleep for the day 11.5 hours
Thursday: Maya- 11h15m asleep, 30m awake , 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 13h20m

Friday: Bobby- 10h55m asleep, 35m awake, 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 11h40m
Friday: Maya- 11h asleep, 45 awake minutes, 2 waking, total sleep for the day 12h

Saturday: Bobby- 10h30m asleep, 1h awake, 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 12h20m 
Saturday: Maya- 11h asleep, 45m awake, 1 waking, total sleep for the day 12h45m

Sunday: Bobby- 10h30m asleep, 1h30m awake, 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 12h45m
Sunday: Maya- 10h30m asleep, 30m awake, 1 waking, total sleep for the day 12h30m

Monday: Bobby- 10h35m asleep, 30m awake, 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 10h55m 
Monday: Maya- 10h15m asleep, 1h15m awake, 1 waking, total sleep for the day 10h25m

Tuesday: Bobby-10h45m asleep, 21m awake, 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 12h35m
Tuesday: Maya- 11h15m asleep, 10m awake, 1 waking, total sleep for the day 13h10m

Wednesday: Bobby- 10h20m asleep, 25m awake, 3 wakings, total sleep for the day 10h40m
Wednesday: Maya-10h50m asleep, 1h10m awake, 2 wakings, total sleep for the day 11h10m

Better?  Worse?  It feels like it is getting better (although yesterday was NOT a good day as far as napping was concerned, and sleeping reflected that).   We bought Bobby a white noise machine which really helped with naptime today, so I'm hoping that shows a positive influence on his sleeping.  We've also been putting Maya down when she is still awake just really tired and she self soothes to sleep.  That hasnt happened with Bobby yet, but we are working on it!

17 Month Schedule (HHB)

Happy 17 month birthday, Bobby & Maya!!!
(and it's on a Thursday too!!!)

(Originally posted here)

It's funny how, since I kind of poo-poo the idea of schedules (hey, I'm pro-BabyLed everything!) that it's this combo of baby-led and scheduling in our house as we near the year and a half mark.  So, at 17 months old, here is a loose time schedule and what we do around the Haytko house!

Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays
7:30am Babies wake up (if we are lucky, sometimes it's closer to 8!), morning snuggles
8am: Super Why cartoon
8:30am: Breakfast!  (for a sample menu, click here)
9am: Breakfast clean-up and change out of PJs.  The kids pick out their own outfits.
9:30am: Homeschooling (we play with puzzles, identify animals, and usually watch a 10-15m program on either ABCs, animals, or 123s)
10:15am: Snack Time! (for a sample menu, click here)
10:30am: Storytime (2-3 stories)
10:45am: Bedroom cleaning (the kids "help" make their beds and straighten up their floors; clean baby laundry is usually hung up during this time)
11:45am: Lunch prep for Mommy, independent play
12pm: Lunch time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
12:30pm: Lunch clean-up, independent play, nap prep (since the kids still snuggle for naps, I usually take the most tired one around now to try and get them down, then switch to the others)
1pm: Nap-time
3pm: Snack Time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
3:15pm: Homeschooling (we play with puzzles, identify animals, and usually watch a 10-15m program on either ABCs, animals, or 123s)
4pm: Independent Play
5pm: Religious Cartoon as we wait for Daddy to come home (around this time is about when they start asking for "Daddy" and climbing on the loveseat to look out the picture window for him.  It's also when I start dinner prep).
5:30-5:45pm: Dinner Time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
6:15-6:30pm: Bath Time
6:45-7pm: Massage with lavender lotion and PJs
7:15pm- Nighttime Bottle of milk fortified with rice
7:30pm- Snuggles and Bedtime!

7:30am Babies wake up (if we are lucky, sometimes it's closer to 8!), morning snuggles
8am: Super Why cartoon
8:30am: Breakfast!  (for a sample menu, click here)
9am: Breakfast clean-up and change out of PJs.  The kids pick out their own outfits.
9:30am: Playgroup at our local church
11:30am: Arrive at Uita and Grandpa's house for weekly visit afternoon.
The kids spend the afternoon at their grandparents' house, where they have their lunch, nap, and afternoon snack.  They play with their grandparents and have stories.
5:30-5:45pm: Mommy and Daddy arrive; Dinner Time at Uita and Grandpa's house!  (for a sample menu, click here)
6:15-6:30pm: Leave for Home
6:45pm: Bath Time
7pm: Massage with lavender lotion and PJs
7:15pm- Nighttime Bottle of milk fortified with rice
7:30pm- Snuggles and Bedtime!

7:30am Babies wake up (if we are lucky, sometimes it's closer to 8!), morning snuggles
8am: Super Why cartoon
8:30am: Breakfast!  (for a sample menu, click here)
9am: Breakfast clean-up and change out of PJs.  The kids pick out their own outfits.
9:30am: Homeschooling (we play with puzzles, identify animals, and usually watch a 10-15m program on either ABCs, animals, or 123s)
10am: Snack Time! (for a sample menu, click here)
10:15am: Leave for Music Class
10:30am: Music Class
11:15am: Leave Music Class, pick up PawPaw for visit
11:45am: Arrive Home, lunch prep
12pm: Lunch time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
12:30pm: Lunch clean-up, independent play, nap prep (since the kids still snuggle for naps, I usually take the most tired one around now to try and get them down, then switch to the others)
1pm: Nap-time
3pm: Snack Time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
3:15pm: Visit with PawPaw
4:15pm: Leave to take PawPaw home
5:15pm: Arrive home, Religious Cartoon as we wait for Daddy to come home (around this time is about when they start asking for "Daddy" and climbing on the loveseat to look out the picture window for him.  It's also when I start dinner prep).
5:30-5:45pm: Dinner Time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
6:15-6:30pm: Bath Time
6:45-7pm: Massage with lavender lotion and PJs
7:15pm- Nighttime Bottle of milk fortified with rice
7:30pm- Snuggles and Bedtime!

Saturdays and Sundays
7:30am Babies wake up (if we are lucky, sometimes it's closer to 8!), morning snuggles
8am: cartoons
8:30am: Breakfast!  (for a sample menu, click here)
9am: Breakfast clean-up and change out of PJs.  The kids pick out their own outfits.
Weekends are tough.  A lot depends on what our plans for the day are and when we go to church.  They still get a snack mid-morning and their lunch around noon, followed by an afternoon nap, afternoon snack, and playtime.
5:30-5:45pm: Dinner Time!  (for a sample menu, click here)
6:15-6:30pm: Bath Time
6:45-7pm: Massage with lavender lotion and PJs
7:15pm- Nighttime Bottle of milk fortified with rice
7:30pm- Snuggles and Bedtime!

*Of course, if I have errands to do during the week, things get changed around.  I try to make sure they get at least an hour of directed schooling and at least an hour of independent play NO MATTER WHAT else is going on through the day.  But we are not a rigid family.  Education can be done anywhere and comes in a variety of ways.  


When the milk bar at your house is larger than the upstairs booze bar (most of our booze is kept downstairs at our "real" bar), you know who REALLY rules the roost.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nicholas and Sophia's 3rd Birthday Cake

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(originally posted here)

Lemon Cake
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup almond milk

Raspberry Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch 
4 oz raspberries, reserving 12 for garnish
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter. softened
2-4 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest

Spray 3 8" pans with cooking or baking spray and preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until light; add lemon zest and lemon juice, and beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Change speed to low and add flour mixture and almond milk, alternating. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25 or until done. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes before turning out on plates to finish cooling.

While the cake is cooking, heat the raspberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar over medium heat.  Use a potato masher and mash the berries until the texture of jam.  Bring to a boil, then whisk in cornstarch.  Remove from heat.  As the mixture cools, it will thicken.

In a stand mixer, combine butter and cream cheese and mix on medium high.  Slowly add in the sugar.  Drizzle in enough lemon juice to make the desired texture.  On low, add in the lemon zest.

To Prepare
When the cakes are cool, place one of the layers on a plate.  Top with some frosting.  Layer on  the filling. Add the second layer, top with frosting, and then top the frosting with filling.  Add the final layer and frost the top and sides.  Garnish the top with the reserved raspberries.

24 servings:  315 calories
***NOTE: 24 servings is a sliver of cake per person.  If you have the traditional "slice" and only get 12 slices of this cake, there are 630 calories per slice.***

(For a change, exchange the lemon for an orange or try blackberries in lieu of the raspberries)

Helping Noah

Could you help a special little boy?  I bet you could!
Click for details!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Nicholas’s birthday was the toughest yet.  I think that, in retrospect, I thought the first year would be the hardest.  It would be the culmination of what wasn’t… Of who wasn’t here.  In some way, I thought that time would ease the ache, that (perhaps) his loss (and the loss of his siblings) would get easier.  I knew the hurt would never go away and that I would always wonder what life would have been like if only if… If only I had carried Nicholas and Sophia longer… If only Alexander had lived… If I’d never had a miscarriage… If we had  5 (or gulp, 9) children running around…  I knew the thoughts would come and that I’d have to accept them in order to be as whole of a woman (and mother) that I could be. 

But this year… The anger, the pain, the sorrow… I didn’t expect it.  I wasn’t prepared for it.  I blogged about the missing, the anger, and the day in general.  I blogged about his lasting effect on those who love him with us.  But I haven’t talked about what happened after…  After the sobbing and the puking and the horrible realization that he isn’t coming back… none of them are.  It’s taken me days to process and even more time to try and put it into words.  I still don’t know if I can.

The last three and a half years has seen Peter and I through so much.  After years and years of trying unsuccessfully on our own, we sought out reproductive assistance in the fall of 2007.  Since then, we’ve birthed 5 babies and miscarried 3 others (on top of our original miscarriage in 2000).  We’ve watched three of those babies struggle for life outside the womb and die.  We’ve watched two others struggle but come out on top.  I’m watching them now.  They are watching one of their foreign language homeschool programs and eating their mid-morning snack.  Every so often, Bobby will come up behind me and bite my leg and laugh, knowing that I will scoop him up for a quick squeeze and kiss.  Maya will run inbetween my legs and the half wall (where my laptop spends the day) for a quick snuggle before darting off.  It’s a life I can’t even begin to imagine not being.  I can’t imagine this not being part of who I am.

February 1st saw us putting the monkeys to bed and sitting down to watch Modern Marvels… and cry… and cry some more.  Prior to that, it saw me at the gym, running my anger out on the treadmill, pushing my body to the brink of what I was capable to that night.  It saw me in the car, sobbing.  Later that night, after the Modern Marvels and the weeping and the puking, there was a need for deep sleep.  You know, that sleep.  The one where you don’t dream because your entire body shuts down… Where you are, as close as you can get in this life, dead to the world.

I slept.  Deeply.  Restoratively.

And when I woke, I woke to a new world with new thoughts.  Thoughts that I’ve pondered and haven’t been able to share until now.

I believe in a life after death… that our lives don’t end when our life on this world does.  I believe my dead children live on- and they lived before as part of the Great Spirit (that we all were once a part of the Divine before becoming our Conscious Soul).  I believe that they are a part of everything on this earth: the sky, the moon, the sun, the wind and rain, the trees and rivers.  An animistic view, I admit… A Native American one… I still recall my mother pointing to the stars and telling my little brother and I that they were the souls of our ancestors, looking in on us.  It’s something I tell my own children even now…

When we die, I believe our Spirit finds rest with the Great Divine, but that we are allowed visitations to those left behind… Or that the grief of those left can, in some way, hold back the departed ones they love.  

When I woke up on February 2nd, I felt this… I don’t know… conviction?... that somehow, I had been holding them back here… That my grief was somehow keeping them from finding complete peace.  (That isn’t to say that they aren’t at peace or that, if I somehow wasn’t grieving they wouldn’t visit us spiritually… Far from it.)  It was this feeling that it was time to let go.

To let go of the pain but not the memories.
To let go of the hurt but not the joy.
To forget but to never stop remembering.
To move forward without moving on.

I suddenly felt lighter… Free… As though a part of my journey through grief was ending and a new chapter was beginning.

And it wasn’t just about losing Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.  It was for my miscarriages.  And my infertility.   And my incompetent cervix, my c-section and loss of breastfeeding.  For the lost dreams and the broken promises of a happier tomorrow.   All of it.  It was as though Nicholas opened my heart and poured all the anger and hurt and brokenness down the drain and then filled it up with hope and promise and joy.  The heart still has the scars of being broken, but he healed it and made it able to hold those things again.  He made it full again.  His name means strength and defender; his sister’s means wisdom of the world; and their little brother’s means gift and warrior.  They are all those things to me… gifts, wisdom, strength, my defense against the dark and cold of loss.  And, this month, they gave me those things again.

A reason to keep going… To be better… To never give up… To let go of the sorrow…

Right now, it is a day by day mantra, a journey of being and hoping.  I know that there will be days where the tears come and I accept them, with my whole heart.  I know there will be days where missing them will smother me, but they will be my air.  I know that sometimes my heart will want to explode but Bobby and Maya will help them hold it together. 

I’m going to be okay.  I’d like to tell you that I knew that before, but it was just a hope.  I know it now.  The heaviness is gone.  The mind-numbing grief is gone.  It’s been replaced by knowing- deep down- that they are all around me… And always were.  That letting go of the anguish only means having more room to take them completely in.

Their deaths don’t have some sort of rational reason that I will ever understand.  But I don’t need to anymore.  That desire to have some sort of blame or reason is gone.  Replaced by the knowledge that their lives here had a purpose.  And that is enough.  No longer because it “has to be” but simply because it is.
They have changed me.  I am a changed because of them- because of all of them.  Each child has left an irremovable mark on my soul.  I’m a better person because of them.  I am grateful for that. 

This birthday, Nicholas gave me the real present. 

It’s okay.  I’m okay.  Truly.  Deep Down.  Okay.

(please don’t hate me for changing my background… Peter didn’t like the other one and with my newfound “lightness”, I wanted something a little “lighter”)