Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bobby's First TimeOut

Bobby decided to end November with his first timeout.  It's no secret that Peter and I dont believe in spanking (although we do smack hands to get an instant shock of "NO! DONT DO THAT!").  So, today, since Bobby insisted on pulling his sister's hair, I took him to his bedroom and left, closing the gate.  It's a five minute timeout (this is becoming a perpetual issue) and, as he is standing at the gate, whining (no tears crying), it is breaking my heart!  We aren't cry it out people (CIO method) and even though he isnt really crying, it is just killing me!

Update @ 8:15: And lest Maya be left out, she slapped Bobby in the face and got her little hand smacked.  Now that child wailed!  I swear... Drama, Drama, Drama... You'd think we were on the TNT network!!  Law and Order, anyone???

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happiness Revisited

It's hard for me to imagine that, 2 short years ago, Alexander was born and died five minutes later.  It's even harder for me to realize that, in 2 months, it will be 3 years since Nicholas and Sophia were born and died soon after.  My life... gone.  Fallen apart.  The old me: dead.  Never to return.  Happiness vanished forever.

Or did it?  Could it?  Is happiness so fleeting... so mortal... that it cannot transcend death?  Isn't love stronger than death?  Isn't love the precursor of happiness?

I think we orphaned parents hold to the truth that our lives have been irrevocably changed and are hearts so shattered that we will never be able to go on.  Breathing hurts.  Living hurts.  How could it not?  We are alive, our days go on, while those of our children do not.  We age, one painful second at a time, but they never will, stopped as perpetual X hours/days/year olds.  Dreams ended.  Life- over.

And, for me, I know that whenever someone told me that my grieving should be over, that I should move on, that things were for the best, it just cemented me in my pain more.  Move on?  How does one "move on" from the death of a child?  How?  How could I?

You dont.  I havent.  The world has gone on around me.  The sun comes up and goes down.  Rain causes the earth to grow through her cycles.  But I cant move on.  I cant move beyond the deaths of some of the most important and most loved people in my life.  Nor, do I want to.

But it has become a part of me.  It no longer is about "moving on" or even "going forward".  It is simply about living a full life, the fullest life that I can because, as some remnant of their DNA floats within my body, it is the only life on this earth that continues for them.  It is living a life that results in Bobby and Maya knowing that they are my world... That gives them the life they deserve to have.  One that is full of memories of the past and hope for the future.

The old me died.  How could she not?  And, in that death, she gave birth to a new me... A me that tried to look beyond the fear and hope... A me that died again with Sophia and birthed Alexander's mother, who tried again and tried to believe that lightening wouldnt- couldnt- strike twice.  A woman who died and thought she may stay dead until she found life once again.  And now... This woman who has died and been reborn over and over again.  Who is she?  Who will she be?

She will be happy.

No.  She is happy.

The day before Thanksgiving, I loaded Bobby & Maya into their stroller and we walked to the library, then we did our errands.  And, as I walked through the crisp, fall day, I was slapped by happiness.  I was happy.  I was content.

It was a shocking realization.  And, as we walked, I had such an internal conversation with myself.  "Happy?  You cant be happy.  Your children died."

And I contemplated that.  Yes, they did die.  They will always be dead, in the physical sense, in this world.  I will never get them back to kiss or hug, hold or snuggle.  And that realization beats me into submission time and time again.  It rips the ground from my feet daily.  

But they lived.  They lived within my body.  They lived on this earth, albeit briefly.  They live in my soul and my heart and my memories.  They always will.  And that is a beautiful truth.  Yes, they died.  But they lived!  And that is more important.

And, I have Peter.  My love.  My soulmate.  The guy who smiles when he sees me in the morning.  The guinea pig who lets me test out my recipes on him.  The man who loves me unconditionally and has helped bring our beautiful family into existence.

And, on top of that, I have the privilege of today with Bobby and Maya.  I pray for tomorrow, but I can't dwell on it.  I have today.  And I desperately dont want to lose today because I am too focused on what might be tomorrow.  Those kisses and hugs and laughs... They will only be today for today.  I can't control tomorrow, so why waste my precious today worrying about it?

I will never be the person I was.  And I dont want to be.  That person didnt see joy in the small things.  She didnt see beyond herself in a lot of ways.  She wasnt Nicholas's mother or Sophia's or Alexander's or Bobby's or Maya's mom.  She wasnt the mother to our miscarried babies.  She wasnt... me.  Not the real me.  Not the me you see now.  

I'll also never "get over" being a bereaved parent.  My grief will never just vanish and my pain wont end.  It will always be with me.  I'll always miss them.  And that's okay.  It's a part of me.  And that part of me can find strength and wisdom and peace... and happiness.  True happiness.

I am happy.  Not because of this.  Or because of that.  But just "because".  Because Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, and their miscarried siblings lived.  Because Bobby and Maya live.  Because Peter and I are not just in love, but love each other.  Because I am.  Because you are. 

I dont know if happiness would have come as this secret gift if Bobby and Maya had died... Or if they'd never been conceived.  I dont know if I'd have come to terms with our infertility if we'd never conceived.  And, thankfully, it's not a road I need to walk down or think about.  I'd like to think that, eventually, I would have found peace with the life I was living.  But, truly, I dont know.

But this life, today.  The one I have.  The person I am.  The mother and wife, daughter and friend I've become.  I'm happy.  It doesnt mean there wont be bad days or arguments or frustrations.  But, in my core, there is joy.

This Advent, the gift came early...  I hope you find something similar wrapped in your heart and that, if that is not your gift at present, that it will be someday soon.

Less Of Me

Back in September, I wrote a post detailing how I'd seen a picture of myself in a dear friend's wedding and how deeply it affected me because, indeed, I had "let myself go" for lack of a better phrase.  I'd let the comments of "You carry your weight well" confuse me into thinking that the fact I was carrying more weight than I should be was okay.  That picture changed my world.  It showed me the cruel, honest truth.  I was overweight.  According to my BMI, I'm not just overweight but had that other dreaded "O" word attached to my weight/height ratio.

I cried.  I beat the floor.  I told Peter how unfair it was.  I mean, I'm a good person.  I have PCOS.  I have a thyroid disorder.  I dont eat "that" much.  Hell, I'm running after babies all day and dont always eat!  Sobbing, I told him how it wasn't my fault.

But it was. Looking at my food life, I could see how drinking my weight in soda, making bad food choices when I did eat, not eating a few times a day, and not controlling portion sizes could do.  And then, there was the support I received here.  People shared their own struggles and what worked for them.  And for those eye openers, I am thankful.  But I am most grateful for being told that I am more than the sum of what has happened to me.

Just because I have PCOS doesnt give me leave to not workout.
Just because I have Hashimoto's doesnt mean I can have another piece of cake.
Just because my children died doesn't give me an open invitation to stand in front of the fridge and eat... and eat... and eat...

Hearing that, realizing it- it changed me.  I'm notorious for not having will power, and yet, these last 2 months have seen me a changed person.  A lesser person.  As of tonight, a 21 pound less person.  And, let me just say, I'm really proud of me.

I traded in my soda for Coke Zero or nothing.  It's my crutch, I realize.  But I wont drink soda except for that, so if I go somewhere and they dont have it, it's water.  And I drink water at home... Just because.  I stopped sweetening my tea and coffee (unless it's something special).  I like it black anyway, so this was just a good thing to get back into.  I started preparing our meals from scratch and calculating the calories in them AND really watching serving sizes.  I looked into lighter versions of foods I eat (like bread).

And I still have chocolate.  In fact, I have Skinny Cow Truffle Bars (100 calories) on speed dial!!  When my throat hurt and I was sick, I had one every single day!   And I still have cake.  In fact, I baked a kickass pear cake tonight that was only 80 calories a slice- and I had one slice.  It was delicious.

I write down what I eat religiously.  I told Peter that I'd have to take some "me" time around meal time to log what I eat.  I do it electronically because that helps me; right now, it's a private blog with no access but for me, but one day, I link it and integrate it into this one.  I'm just not at that place emotionally yet; honestly, my weight bothers me and I'm not ready to come clean with how heavy I let myself get.  But, I've decided that, as of Nicholas's birthday, I will.  I have a goal that is reasonable given my current loss and I think I will feel more ready to share in February.

I work out.  I run three times a week if I can and try to get to yoga once or twice.  I have a schedule up, but if I get to it 3 days in the week, I feel lucky.  (Yoga 2x week, running 3x week).  I walk to my errands; it's getting cold, but if I can and the weather holds, I take the kids out to the library, store, bank, and wherever via my legs and their stroller.  The other day, we did all of our errands by walking.  Sure, it took 90 minutes, but that's okay.  The kids loved the fall day and I got exercise on a day that I otherwise wouldn't have.

And then there is today... I logged a five and a half mile run today...  That's my longest run ever.  As in, in my whole life.  My max had always been about 4 miles when I was fit and in high school.  I beat that recently with Sarah.  But today, on my own, I did this huge milestone for myself.  I mapped out the run through town and just let loose.  I walked a few minutes to warm up, then took off and never looked back and kept a 5mph pace.  To say I am proud of myself is an understatement.

I am still heavy, but it doesnt matter.  Running is an equalizer.  When Sarah and I started training for TexMex at the end of spring, running a mile killed me.  In fact, I dont think we actually ran a mile without taking a couple of walk breaks.  As our mileage has increased, a lot of my being able to do it has been her constant encouragement as we are out.  Today, I was alone.  I prayed, I meditated, I just "was".  And the 5.5 flew by. Really.

I wont win any time trials, but I dont care.  I'm out there.  And it is great.

And, on another great note, my pants have fallen off.  I had to buy the size smaller.  :)  At the end of November, Peter will retake my measurements so I can see how many inches have left me in 2 months, but the 21 pounds?  That's enough for me right now.  I'm thrilled.

The beginning of the journey, at my friend's bridal shower:

Me, as of the day after Thanksgiving:

(What am I eating you ask?  Tonight's dinner was salmon herbed with fresh dill, fresh chives, & freshly grated lemongrass; mushroom & garlic souffle; warm kale & cauliflower salad; and pear cake.  All from scratch.  All never before made.  The salmon is my own creation, but the other three came out of either Vegetarian or The Vegan Table.  Total calories: 930.  While it's higher than my average 750c dinner, there was butter and milk in the souffle, and a large piece of salmon packs about 400c by itself.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bobby's First Haircut

Alexander's second birthday was special for a second big reason: Bobby had his first haircut!

Here he was before...

And here he was after!

I saved some of his hair and, even though it broke my heart to see it go, he's such a cutie pie!

(for all his haircut pictures...)

Excellent Blogs for Fertility Support

I'm honored to be a part of Nursing School's top 50 blogs for Fertility Support.  If you haven't already, stop by and see what other blogs they've selected!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Photo Shoot

Last Year...  Both babies, barely home...

This Year...  Settled into our new home...

Happy Thanksgiving. :)

A Breath of Fresh Air

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that provides free summer vacations to New York City children from low-income communities.  The Fresh Air Fund was established in 1877, and claims to have helped more than 1.7 million children. It programs reach nearly 10,000 children annually. In 2009, 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada; 3,000 children attended five summer camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York; and The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.  In 2008, 75% of the total income of The Fund came from private individuals

I've been asked by the Fresh Air Fund to let you know about the opportunities available to make a difference in the life of a child.  Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.  The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes. 

Maybe you could be a host family or, alternately, donate funds to give these kids a chance to experience a summer vacation they will never forget.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Years in Review

I'm not sure why this year was so much harder than last.  You'd think Alexander's first birthday would have been the hardest, but this year... This year, I felt the need (as you saw) to relive the days leading up to his birth and death.  In some ways, it was cathartic... I was able to accept those feelings, those memories, and let them rest as a piece of myself.  A piece that is at peace.  I am still angry with the initial resident who saw me and the on-call who refused to call Dr. B.  Maybe, just maybe, that would have changed things... But, maybe not.  And, without my life exactly as it was, I never would have experienced my children who followed Alex, Bobby and Maya among them.  And so, in remembering the details, I feel like I am at a place of peace with the events.

Last year, Bobby and Maya had just come home from the hospital, less than 10 days before we celebrated Alexander's first birthday.  We missed his Mass that year because we were still adjusting to the newness of having two infants with us.  We were getting used to the sleep a bit, change diapers, nurse, bottle to supplement, pump, go back to sleep, listen to them breathe, repeat...  We were still learning that we couldnt just allow a few extra minutes to get them ready.  We had the hang of it by the end of the month, but we just couldn't get things together to make the morning Mass being said for him.  Peter's parents went and, although I was glad they were able to be there, to this day, I feel guilty that we weren't.  We took the kids up to Bethlehem and enjoyed taking them on their first real outting.  They were so tiny then... I look back on the pictures of us wearing them in the maetai carriers... My goodness... Tiny.  Their presence took some of the sting out of the pain of not having Alex with us on his first birthday, but this year... This year, we are settled into our life and now... now the hurt hits.

Last year, Peter took the day off work and we took the kids out.  We did something special.  We bought a momento to remember.  This year, since Peter has just changed jobs, he took the morning off for Mass and breakfast, but that was the extent of our celebration.  I came home with the kids and cleaned the house.  Tonight, we picked up a local, organic, free range and humanely killed Thanksgiving turkey from a farm (literally) down the street for the family thanksgiving at Peter's parents.  We picked up some groceries.  We ate Alexander's dinner.  I did make a batch of fresh brownies with Icelandic chocolate (remind me to tell you about THAT sometime!!!) and we sang happy birthday with a candle.  And, on Sunday, we had family over, as has been our custom, for his dinner and a cake (lemon).  But there was no trip somewhere this year.  (Peter did, however, purchase a soft, stuffed cow, which is sitting next to me on the bed.  It's cute and has a sunshine happy face on its chest).

So, suffice it to say, this year was tougher than the last.  It's strange how grief comes at you sometimes.  Something you think you'll handle better than you expect crushes you, while the things you expect to knock you down don't hit nearly as hard...

A special thank you to all who facebooked, emailed, and left comments, remembering Alexander on his birthday, especially Aunt Sarah and Aunt Terri, his godmother.  Your thoughts and care mean so much to us.

Thank you, Leila, for sharing Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander on your blog.  Thank you for remembering them in your prayers and keeping them close to your heart, especially on Alexander's birthday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Second Birthday, Alexander

The priest was called and came.  Prayers were said.  We talked and sang and told Alex how much we loved him, that we were happy to have had him with us inside for so long, that we would soon hold him in our arms and kiss him and hug him.  That we were so grateful to be his parents.  That we would miss him very much, but knew that he would be with his big brother and sister in heaven.  We laid down together and took one final nap together.

At around 3:40, I woke up to an intense contraction.  I woke Peter up and we prepared for the final moments of Alexander in the womb.  In a few, breath filled pushes, our little feet-first, breech baby was born.  He kicked and grabbed at the world, finding solace in his father's arms.  We rang for the nurse, while Peter cuddled our son.  As previously discussed when the priest had visited, we asked that she baptize him and let him live his life in his father's arms.  There would be time enough to weigh him, etc, after he had died... We didnt want a moment away from him.

He was baptized and, soon after, his little feet found their rest, his little hands found their peace, and his once active body slipped into a sleep that he wouldn't wake from.  He was weighed and measured; a kind nurse wrapped him in a blanket and, after I had finished delivering, placed him in my arms, and Peter and I rested with him, as a family, as the first rays of sunlight started through the window.  Although the day would have phone calls and visitors, for that moment, it was us, a family, resting together.

After his shift was over, Dr. L. came back.  He apologized for not being able to help us, save honoring our wishes.  Later, when I was on bedrest with Bobby and Maya, Dr. L. once again was covering Dr. B.'s patients and we met again.  He told me that I looked familiar and I said that yes, a little less than a year before, he'd been with me as I delivered my 17 week son.  He nodded and proceeded to tell me what he remembered.  I was shocked that he remembered anything at all, really.  I was just another patient, my son was just another lost child.  But no... He did remember.  And, although I've seen him in his slacks and white coat more than I have any other way, I will always think of him as the doctor who came back to see me in jeans and with his motercycle helmet at his side... The doctor who just wanted to tell us that he was sorry... really sorry.  And to call him if we needed anything.

Our priest came... our new, young priest who we didn't really know all that well...  He came as Alexander was being prepared by the nurse for the undertaker.  He prayed and looked at the pictures the nurses had taken of Alex.  I remember him telling me that he had never seen a baby so young before.  I also remember him telling me that he could see Alexander had my chin.  Things I wont forget... that sentence ever ingrained in my memories of that day.

This passed Sunday, I was cantoring at church.  My dear friend, E, is our music director; she just lost her father.  Her parents are now both awaiting for her on the other side.  And yet, in the midst of this turmoil, she tells me that she prayed for Alexander and was thinking of us.  "He was born on Christ the King," she says...  And he was... Sunday's feast was the feast day of Christ the King; in 2008, it was November 23rd.  "I always remember that..." and I know that she will.  She won't forget... She's like that.  It was all I could do to not break down and cry right then and there.  Because, even though the 23rd is his birthday, it was a Sunday... That particular Sunday...  And, being there, and hearing her words...

That afternoon, we celebrated his 2nd birthday with his grandparents, siblings, and Aunt Sarah.  We ate our tuna sandwiches and tomato soup, then enjoyed some lemon cake.  It's our tradition... their special dinners with family on the weekend nearest their actual birthday... We did the same with Bobby and Maya's birthday party.


Happy Birthday, Alexander.
Two years have passed, although I dont know where the time has gone.  In an instant, my mind can return to your pregnancy and birth, to your kicks and your sweet face.  I miss you so much, my sweet baby boy... my cuddlebug.  I love you even more.
You are always in our hearts.  I hear your laughter in the wind as it blows through the windchimes on the porch.  I see your smile as lights flicker, your mischievous ways inherited, no doubt, from your mother... although I'll never admit that...  Our peacebringer... Our gift... Our Nathaniel Alexander.  Our time on this earth was short, but our time together is unending.
Have a beautiful birthday, my sweet one.  I love you so much.

Monday, November 22, 2010

And then there was blood

I was feeling confident going into November 22, 2008.  The day before had been, well, boring for a pregnant woman who had pPROMed.  By tonight, two years ago, I was happy we'd gotten another day, no worse for wear.  I was drinking a lot of water, wasnt leaking fluid, and could feel Alexander moving around.  I fell asleep, wrapped up in Peter's arms, waiting for the weekend to pass so that I could- fingers crossed- get a cerclage on Monday and carrying Alex through the new year.

I woke up around 11pm, covered in blood.  The bed was covered, my waist and below were covered, Peter was drenched.  I woke him up.  My worst fear was that I'd delivered in my sleep.  Peter quickly discovered that Alexander had not made his entrance, but there were huge clots and I was bleeding pretty terribly.  We rang for the nurse as he changed his bloody clothes.  Our favorite nurse from our time there- the same nurse who would ultimately baptize Alexander before he died- came in and paged the doctor as she set up the doppler.

I willed a sound to come out, but... nothing.  She looked and looked... Nothing.  "I'm sorry," she whispered, but I wouldnt let her go any further.

"He's not dead."  Even though I couldnt feel him moving... even though there was no sound from the machine... I just knew.  He couldn't be dead... He couldn't be.

Our door opened and another nurse, followed by Dr. L., who happened to be a friend of Dr. B. and was covering his patients, came him with an ultrasound machine.  Our nurse explained that she couldnt find Alexander's heartbeat and I tried to hold back a sob as Dr. L. started the ultrasound.

It was black.  I couldn't see a thing... including my cuddlebug.  I was on the verge of a complete meltdown when the doctor pointed and said "There he is, right there.  He's moving... But I dont think we're going to be able to see him too well."  He looked for what seemed like forever before shutting the machine off and, with a pained face, explained what we were facing.

My placenta had started to pull away from my uterus.  Labor was inevitable.  Alexander would be born soon... when was a matter of guessing.  But there was no delaying it any further.  I will never forget the look on his face or the gentleness of his voice as he said "I'm sorry, but there is nothing I can do to stop this."

But then, he said something that I am so thankful for.  Instead of trying to convince us to induce labor or to take medications to ease the birth, he looked at us and said "What can I do to help you?"

This doctor that I didnt know, that I'd never met before that evening, wanted to know how he could help...  Not what he could do from a textbook or how he could administer this drug or that one, but how we thought he could be assist us...  Peter explained to him that we had delivered extremely premature babies before and that we wanted to be as alone as medically safe, that we would deliver naturally and didnt want intervention, since we knew that Alexander's time would be measured in minutes- if we were lucky.  Dr. L understood and told us that he wouldn't bother us unless we rang for him, and advised the nurses to give us our space.

Our nurse asked if we wanted a priest called, which we did, and she left, and then we were alone.  Alone to contemplate the inevitable.  Our son would die.  He would be born only to leave the world.  It is the cruelest of realities... to know that you can't save your child.  To know that you would do anything in the world to do so- that you would die yourself if it meant that they would live- to know that nothing is enough.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Uneventful Day

November 21st, 2 years ago, was rather uneventful.  My water had broken, but labor didnt start.  A friend of mine, who was pregnant and a few weeks behind me, visited.  My room was switched around due to construction on the ward.  All in all, pretty uneventful.  Dr. B. visited before leaving and promised that, if I were still pregnant and Alex still had fluid come Monday, he'd buck the system and put in a cerclage with the hopes of getting me to that line in the sand of 24 weeks.  It was a day of hope.  The ultrasound showed a happy, moving baby in amniotic fluid, in spite of my membranes prematurely rupturing.

I prayed a lot that day.  I prayed for the weekend.  I prayed for a moving baby.  I prayed for just another 24 hours with him.  Any time wouldnt be long enough, but please, I prayed, just another day...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And then there was water

Laying in bed, in inversion, praying for just one more day with Alexander safely inside and doing pelvic tilts to get his little feet back through my cervix, I waited... And waited... And waited...  As I was falling asleep, I sneezed and everything was drenched.  My worst fear had come true.  My water had broken.  The nurse- a sweet nurse who, afterwards, left the hospital and went into a midwifery training program and practice- checked and, sure enough, it was amniotic fluid.

We were told to expect labor within the hour, but... nothing.

And still... nothing.

The next morning, Dr. B. ordered an ultrasound and, amazingly, Alexander was fully above my cervix.  I was still partially dilated, but he was swimming in a bag of water and seemed fine.

One more day had come true.  We were fighting a racing clock, but we had that one day, and for that, we were- and remain- extremely grateful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Was To Come

Two years ago, I had just left yoga...  Just like now (although this isn't prenatal, it's Ashtanga).

Two years ago, I had come home, expecting a nice evening with my husband... Just like now (and add Bobby & Maya to the mix.)

Two years ago, my world fell apart for the third time that year, when I saw blood and knew that my pregnancy with Alexander was compromised.  We rushed to the hospital, where I was admitted.

Two years ago, tonight.

And, now, it starts the spiral of all that was and was to come.  All that I was prepared for and yet, could never be prepared for.  The conversations of "if" and "hopefully" and "we want to do this if he comes "too" early"...  Conversations no parent should have, especially more than once.  The start of "been there, done that, and this is what we want to do different."  It all started tonight... Two years ago...  Such a short time in the grand scheme of things, and such a long time: 730 days...17,520 hours... 1,051,200 minutes... 63,072,000 seconds.    A huge amount, when you look at Alexander's life on earth as a mere 300 seconds.  But they were beautiful seconds.  Beautiful ones.

So, here we go... The two year countdown to his two year birthday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

365...plus 1

365 days ago, my beautiful daughter, Maya, came home from the hospital.  Finally, at last, they were both home!

Now, they are so big I cant fit both of them laying down on my lap!  

Peter, the proud papa, held them in his arms, their bodies miraculously draped in the shape of a heart...

And now, today...  One year later...

A year ago, as I was preparing to take Maya home, in the NICU filling out paperwork, I couldnt help to think of a year before.  A year and a day, actually...  It had been a Wednesday night.  After my prenatal yoga class, I'd seen that dreaded spotting.  Racing to the hospital and faced with a resident who refused to call Dr Bailey (and not having his cell number with me), we began Alexander's labor that, ultimately, in spite of Dr B's care as soon as he came in the next day, couldn't be stopped.  

Taking a daughter home... begging to keep a son inside a little longer...  The irony couldn't escape me if it tried.  The same hospital.  I'd been on the same floor in APU...   I would have given my right arm for the possibility of the NICU but, at 17 weeks, that wasnt even close to being a possibility.  Alex was simply too young...

As we approach this year of bringing Maya home, it also begins the descent into two years ago, into what was and what might of been.  I can't believe Alex's 2 year birthday is less than a week away.  That those few days in the hospital really were our last with him.

That he paved the way for the two miracles who are walking around my living room and playing together...

Blogging For Preemies

One in eight babies is born premature; 12% of American babies are born at 32 weeks gestation plus.  1.5% are born between 28w and 32w, and 0.5% are born prior to that.  Some live; some die.  It's a truth that no one talks about in health class.  Infertility?  Someone else's problem.  Prematurity?  Won't happen to my baby.

Why is it that we forget?  Why is it that we dont think about the 13 million babies born worldwide who are delivered prior to their due dates?

I'm a mother to that 0.5%.  Every single baby I have carried has come into this world prior to 28 weeks.  Although we were super close- 28 hours close- to that 28 week mark, all of my birthed children are 2nd trimester babies.  Expert medical care... Outstanding prenatal care...  And still, in our developed, middle class world, there was nothing that could be done.

Prematurity isn't someone else's problem; it's mine.  And it's yours too.  We are a community; one premature baby impacts all of us.  And something can be done; research can be funded.  Answers CAN be had.  But it takes more than one OB willing to risk his license or professional associations.  It's more than just changing ACOGs mind about what constitutes the risks of pregnancy and a problem like IC.  It's you and it's me.  Speaking out.

Speaking out on behalf of the babies who don't have a voice because prematurity took their lives.   Babies like Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.  Babies like my uncle.  Babies like those blogged about on many of the blogs I follow.

Speaking out on behalf of the babies who we are grateful enough to hold in our arms, kicking and laughing and playing, in spite of the incredible odds they faced by being born too soon.  Babies like Bobby and Maya. Babies like me.  Babies like Bobby's godmother, Jody, and Sonja's quads.  Babies like my nieces and my younger cousin's youngest son.  Babies, again, whom are parented by writers of some of my favorite blogs.

You have a voice.  I have a voice.  And, one day, God willing, they will have a voice too.  But, until they do, it is our responsibility to make sure that people know.  Prematurity isnt the punishment of a drug using mother or the poor and destitute.  It is a problem for all of us.  It is a problem for those of us who dont worry about putting dinner on the table and those who struggle for every meal alike.  It is a problem for white, black, red, yellow, purple, and every color inbetween.  It doesnt care what your country of origin is or how often you attend religious worship.

It strikes us all.  And it brings us to our knees.

And it is time to fight back.

Because, really, if we dont, who will?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Her

So, we all know the blogger...  The one who writes, writes, writes when she is venting about her frustrations with infertility, who writes daily about her pregnancy (especially after loss), who is no stranger to asking for prayers during bedrest, who blogs about babies past, present, and future...  And then, boom, takes home a baby or two, and then writes periodically...

Yep... I'm her.

And I'm so sorry.

It isn't that I don't want to blog or read and comment.  Truly, it isn't.  I want to.  Desperately.  Because, even though I've never met most of you in person, I feel like I know you.  I feel like we are friends.  I care about whether you are cycling, whether "it" worked (whatever it was), if "it" didnt, and how I can support you.  And not just because you've supported me (and still do), but because you have a place in my heart.  Whether it's because of PCOS, or IF, or loss, or adoption, or simply because we've connected on some level... I care.  And I'm sorry that it must feel like I don't because I've become "the sporadic blogger and blog reader."

I can blame the move, but let's face it, that is a blip on the screen.  I can blame homeschooling, but infants are about 1 hour per year of life, so that means about an hour of my day is spent formally schooling.  I can blame keeping a house clean or grocery shopping or running after two toddlers.  But, really, it comes down to excuses and life and being busy.  And letting things slip through the cracks.

And I'm sorry.

But it just isn't you.  I've neglected IRL relationships too.  Too much to do here, my calendar too full there.  I've even missed coffee dates that I set the date for because I forgot!  It's terrible.  And I feel terrible about it.

I dont want my blog to be a "sunshine" blog, where it was open and going during the rough patches and now only chats about the good days.  I dont want it to be only a memorial to my children who died and a brief glimpse of my children who lived.  I want it to be my space, my area to catch up with you, while I visit your spaces and catch up with what you have to say.  It's going to take me a while to carve out some time during my days to read and write.  I know this.  And I ask that, while that is happening, you dont think I've forgotten you.  Because I havent.  You're in my thoughts, even if I havent popped by in a while.

And, when I can, I promise that I'll get back to regular entries.  I will.  Even if they are done from my bed before I doze off at night!

Bobby and Maya are sleeping peacefully... in their beds.  It's amazing.  These two little people I held on my chest for every nap and quite a bit of their nightly sleep are now napping in their beds and sleeping in their rooms at night.  My house is straight and clean (well, clean enough that I'd be okay with unexpected visitors!).  The dishwasher is running and laundry is cleaning.  The last two mornings- Peter's first two at his new job!- I've had the pleasure of watching my husband play with our kids as they wake up early to see him before he leaves (because of the commute- 1/2 an hour- and his start time, he gets up and leaves earlier than he used to).  Those same mornings have seen me making breakfast and sending him to work with a homemade, packed lunch.  I'm feeling awfully domestic... I like being a homemaker.  I enjoy playing with the kids and feeding them nutritious meals and teaching them things like "the white sheep says baaahhhh".  I like even more when they repeat things back or can identify things we've talked about (like the number 8).

Alexander's second birthday is next week... One week away.  I still can't believe it.  Two years.  Where has the time gone?  Then the holidays... Then Nicholas and Sophia's third birthdays...  Life moves on, the sun rises and sets... Against the backdrop of a cracked heart.  Once shattered, glued back together with love and tiny hands.

Hugs to you all... Many, many hugs...  And, I promise, I wont be gone (either from here or your blogs) for long...

Monday, November 15, 2010

1st Annual Robert's Run

Thank you so much to everyone who donated and supported us for our first annual Robert's Run, as part of the Lemon Run, which benefits Alex's Lemonade Stand.  We set out to raise $500 and we ended up bringing in $850 of the $100K total raised by Sunday's run!

Peter pushed the kids, his mom and aunt walked, and Sarah and I ran.  She and I completed the 5K in 37:58!  As you can imagine, this 5mph pace really thrilled us.  We were able to cheer Peter and the babies in, before missing his mom and aunt crossing the finish line and catching up after.

It was really an awesome event and one that we look forward to participating in years to come!

Click here for more pictures (including a close up of our shirt design!)

Our New Home

It's been so long since I've had time to really read other blogs (or write my own!).  Unfortunately, today is no different, but I wanted to post about our new home.  (If I dont do it now, it may end up like my yet-to-be-written post about their first birthday!)

We love our new place.  It just feels "right".  I've driven by our old house and, although I still drive by it with the feeling that our children were born there and that makes it special, that is the only feeling that remains.  This house fits us... It fits our family.  It's our home, in the true sense of the word.  The old house was home too, but it was never 100% ours... This one is.  And that is a wonderful feeling.

Forgive my photography skills; they suck.  The nice pictures you see will probably not have been taken by me!

Click here for all the pictures.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Year Ago...

A year ago, Bobby came home from the hospital.

And what a difference a year makes.

For a person-to-person comparison, here he is, being held by his Aunt Sarah.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Robert's Run- It's Not Too Late!!!

It's NOT too late!!  You can still register to run the Lemon Run, benefiting Alex's Lemonade Stand, or donate to fight childhood cancer, in memory of Peter's younger brother, Robert, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and passed away in 1987.  Click here for more information: http://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/70055


(emailed to contacts and posted to my blog & facebook)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

14 Months

It's hard to believe that 14 months ago, I was laying in my hospital bed, trying to sleep and recover from a c-section, desperately wanting to get upstairs to see Bobby and Maya who were spending their first night of almost 9 weeks in the NICU.  The last few months have flown by and I cant believe that now we have walking, talking toddlers who are into everything and touch my heart and soul every day.  I really can't believe it.  I cant believe them!  They are amazing.  I tear up just thinking about it.
Halloween, 2010
Maya, with her one piece of chocolate

Bobby, after his one piece of chocolate

It's been crazy around here, and I'm sorry I haven't been around.  First, we moved.  I promise, a nice post about the new house- complete with pictures.  We are really happy here and I am happy to report that it is home.  It feels great to walk through the doors and know that this is "our place".  Pictures are on the walls, boxes are unpacked... It's wonderful.  And the kids love it too.  That makes it even better.

Then, we went to Tennessee.  My mother had told me that my great-grandmother had really declined since we saw her over five months ago, so, we decided that since we had the time to do so since Peter is off, that we would go down and make a final visit.  I am so glad that we did.  The kids were able to see her again and she was able to see them again.  She passed away shortly thereafter, surrounded by those who loved her and cared for her.  We were able to be there for the viewing, although our flight coincided with the actual funeral and we couldn't, in spite of our best efforts, work out a change.

In going to Tennessee, the kids had their first (and second) airplane trips.  They were amazing!  They were quiet and either played or slept.  And the airline (Southwest) was great.  Because the flights weren't fully booked, they were given courtesy seating (meaning their carseats could be taken on board to take up an actual seat- a $300 value!) and the flight staff did everything from carry our umbrella strollers to the plane once they were gate checked, to help us unload once we arrived.  The Philly-to-Nashville staff were spectacular and the Nashville-to-Philly staff were very good as well.  We also encountered several good samaritans while boarding who helped carry the two carseats so we didnt have to fool with babies PLUS carry-on bags PLUS seats.  All in all, a great experience, and one that I would definitely repeat.

It's late here and I'm tired, but I wanted to leave you with some happy weight news.  In five weeks, I've lost 14 pounds, simply by watching calories and exercising 3 times a week.  Thank you; you guys inspired me to get off my butt, stop making excuses, and do something about the way I was feeling.  I appreciate it. :)
Happy Halloween, Mommy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Robert's Day

Today marks 23 years since my brother-in-law passed away from neuroblastoma, the same childhood cancer that took the famed Alex (of Alex's Lemonade) from her family.  Back in 1987, the death rate was in the 90%s... Now, it has dropped to 50-60%.  More children in remission, more children with their families... Where they belong.

23 years...  23 years of Peter on earth without his brother and best friend, of his parents without their youngest son.  Time that I'll never get to know his laugh or his artistic sense.  Years that Bobby and Maya won't get to be read to or played with by their uncle.  It's so unfair.  So heartbreakingly unfair.

And yet...  One of the most comforting thoughts in the wake of Nicholas's death was one that Peter shared when we came home.  "He has a daddy in heaven.  Robert will be his dad until I can be there."

I've often thought and blogged about my feelings that the Blessed Mother watches over the children of the world who have died, and that I believe she will mother my babies until I am there with them.  But I have to confess that, when I imagine Robert taking their hands as they passed from my arms into the Otherworld and leading them to that Space where there is no time and where the souls wait until we meet again, I can breathe a sigh of relief that they are loved and held and taken care of by someone who loves them like I do...

Today, we will celebrate 7 years of a beautiful life and the memories that have made the last 23 years bearable with a morning Mass in Robert's memory.  And then tonight, we will have the original memorial dinner at our favorite Italian restaraunt, raising a glass to a boy who left this world a better place than it was before him...  A brother who gave his brother and sister-in-law the peace of knowing that he was there to take our children to a Home that we couldn't bring them to.
Peter (L), Robert (R)