Pregnancy Update: 15w3d

Thursday, April 23, 2015


We were on vacation last week and I didn't pop out my laptop once.  Since posting from my phone isn't really convenient and things have been busy, here's a slightly delayed update.

Two weeks ago, I saw Dr. B and we saw a healthy, bouncing baby who **looked** to be a boy.  Needless to say, Maya was not thrilled and was still holding out hope that he would be a she.  But, this last Monday, the results of my MaterniT21 came back that we are having a genetically healthy, baby boy.

Lucas Andrew: 13w3d

While we were on vacation, we settled on his name: Lucas Andrew.  Lucas is Latin and means "light" or "illumination"; it is a derivative of the name Luke.  Andrew is a Greek name and means "strong man" or "warrior"; alternately, it can mean "courageous".  So, together the name means an "illuminated warrior", or "illuminated man of strength".  His name fits in with the names of our sons, and, like them, he is named after some special people.  Lucas was the childhood friend of my brother-in-law, who even now inspires happy memories for Peter; Andrew is the name of our parish priest and, partly, is responsible for why we had the faith to continue having children after our losses.  He visited us in the hospital, as our newly assigned parochial vicar, after Alexander died, and he serves our parish as wonderful pastor these days.  Lucas couldn't be named after more wonderful people.  He is due to be born two weeks before St. Luke's Day and I would love to have him baptized on St. Andrew's Day in November.  We shall see how that all works out!

These days, I feel okay.  Very tired.  Emotional.  Nervous about the future.  I'm still teaching; I taught three classes over two days and, honestly, this very moment, my muscles hurt.  But I'm grateful to still be on my feet and busy.  Michael's pregnancy showed me that the TAC works and I'm not scared of the future; that being said, I'm just tired: emotionally, physically... Just about every which way, I think.

It's hard emotionally to realize that, gestationally, this coming Sunday is the day I went into labor with Nicholas.  Then, in 8 days, it was Alexander; the next week, Sophia.  While we were on vacation last week, it really hit me and I know that 16-18 weeks are going to be tough in that way.  I'm trying to just to not think about it too much.

Hello, Second Trimester!

Monday, April 6, 2015

I'll post about other things later, but here's a light hearted one!

So, we've made it to the second trimester!  Woo Hoo.  Only 6 more months to go; October 5th will be here before we know it.

I've finally stopped feeling nauseous all the time and puking nearly as often.  I'm tired- excessively so- and am always hungry at 3am, which I have a feeling will show up at Dr. B's this Thursday when I have my next appointment.  I had to rerun my panorama bloodwork because they didn't have enough to assess fetal DNA last time; those results should be in this week as well.  Maya is still convinced the baby is a girl, although Michael weighed in for boy the other day!  We'll know who is right soon enough!

We have a baby girl's name mostly picked out (have a first name, still debating a middle) but we have nada on a boy's name.  We're usually good about having these in the first tri... We're a bit behind here!

Out of Sorts

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I feel so out of whack theses days.  I don't even know where to start.   As I logged into Blogger to type an update to this current pregnancy, I tried to look through the blogs I "follow" (and I use that word liberally since I can't tell you the last time I actually had the time to read things that weren't related to either a near 2 year old or 5 year olds) and I realized that I'm just so disconnected.  I haven't even been to this space in a year until two posts ago, and even before that, I was a pretty light poster.  Which, when you look at the years before and take into effect that I'm supposed to be writer, is sad.

But back to the disconnected feeling. 

I wanted to click on the blogs of the folks I once thought I knew, these women that I used to pray for and talk to regularly, who made up a core group of understanding friends, and I realized that I don't know most of them anymore.  I've kept up with some, and I'm grateful for the modern technology and texting plans that have allowed that to happen even with all the crazy in my life, but for the most part, I don't know what is going on in their lives.  Reading an update would leave ,me with more questions than answers, and that, I think, is a pretty good overview of my life these days.

Most days, I feel like who I am is hidden- I cant say gone because then I'm afraid I might not know where she went or how to get her back.  The days feed into one another and the weeks go by without any rhyme or reason.  The last few I've been able to keep up with because each Monday flips me into a new week of pregnancy.  I keep up with the months because they bring me closer to Michael being aged in years instead of months.  But, for the most part, it's just MoTuWeThFrSaSuWhereAreWeAgain.

Homeschooling is tough stuff....Not for the faint of heart.  It's been clear since we started hardcore last summer, but I think pregnancy has put it into even more perspective.  When I was pregnant with Michael, Bobby and Maya were in preschool two mornings a week.  They visited my in-laws one day a week, and I was able to just sleep when I needed to and rest during the day.  They also took three hour afternoon naps, which meant I had another slot to rest (and a spot on the two days where they were home all day).  After Michael was born, they were in camp three mornings a week, visited their grandparents one day a week, and Peter was home for the day during the week where we were all together.  Then, they were in school five mornings a week while I was home with a baby who still nursed and napped much of the morning, so I was able to nap right along with him until my life got back on track hormonally and I wasn't so tired. 

Now, I'm so utterly exhausted all the time.  Trying to balance schooling, playgroup, weekly field trips, plus the nights I teach and have other obligations, like music and scouts, I'm a walking zombie at times.  Pregnancy really slapped me upside the head this time and it's harder than Michael's and, honestly, harder than I anticipated.  And that just adds to the unexpected stress that homeschooling had already leveled at me.

I'll be honest and, hey, maybe I'm in the minority of homeschooling parents, but I absolutely despise it.  I think it's a great thing in general and, truly, it is the right choice for our kids.  It's amazing to see them "get" things and to see how we are able to really tailor every single subject into their needs and enjoyments.  But the ground work that goes into it...  The dealing with the autistic outbursts and trying to judge exactly what is too much/too little/the right tool/the wrong tool and making sure things are put in play as they have to be to stop said meltdown.  Some days, I don't even know what I've done right or wrong to create the outcome and the stress from that alone...  I'm lucky that I know a homeschool mom who is a similar situation so I don't feel crazy or like it's just me, but that doesn't make it harder.

And the kids are smart.... Like really smart.  So trying to keep up with them without pushing them too far or not pushing them hard enough.  Sheesh.  We finished our kindergarten curriculum in six months in about 90 minutes, four days a week.  They have different strengths and weaknesses and Bobby was ahead of Maya in some subjects while she was ahead of him in others, but by January, we had busted out the few first grade books we hadn't already opened.   Based on their current activities, we'll be done around Michael's birthday in July, give our take a week.  Which means August brings us a second grade curriculum.  I'm sure, with an October baby, things will slow down for us, and I don't plan on buying the third grade curriculum with the idea that we would get into it early.  I could always order it if need be, but my thought is that with the types of work in second grade, we will slow it down.  But still, that's a workload... And second grade means Sacramental prep, so that's more activities and more to do in a schedule that already seems crazed.

I'm trying not to stress about it...  Clearly failing in that way, but I tell myself that things will be fine.  People homeschool with babies, multiple aged/leveled children, different needs, etc.  We can do it... Right?  Of course we can.

There's a fair amount of my homeschool stress that is of my own making.  I have my own ideas about it is should go, how I want it to go, etc.  and those ideas don't usually (always? ever?) mesh with the kids and their ideas or needs.  Which makes it tough.  Since deciding to really play off their interests and desires, it has gotten easier in the application but not in the stress levels of Mama's end.

Part of the out-of-sorts comes from selfishness, too, I think.  I know what life was like before having kids and I know how much time I was able to give to my own interests.  Now, with a hectic family life, there is only so much time to go around and someone has to get shortchanged.  Daily, I feel like that is me; after all, who else can it be?  (I think my relationship with Peter gets shortchanged too, truth me told.)  I teach a few classes a week, and that money keeps us going on field trips and enjoying those days out.  I have GS stuff, which Maya loves and, while it's a lot of work, I enjoy spending that time with her and the Troop.  I'm active in church, which is a nonnegotiable and, now that Maya is in the children's choir, that's another layer.  There will be cross country again in the fall.  It keeps for busy days and nights and weekends that are rarely "free".  It doesn't leave much time for personal running, which is my version of Xanax, or writing, which is my place of inner peace.

I remember that royalty checks used to give me a sense of pride and accomplishment; now, they make me sad.  They are a reminder of what was, and of what I can't seem to make time for.   I've tried.... what feels like a hundred different ways.... I've tried to make the time to dedicate to my craft, and I just cant.  I need more than the "take an hour" here or there.  It's something non-writers don't really understand, I guess.  Nonfiction writing was easier because I could pick up research and lay it out, then take time to pull it together when I had time to spare.  Fiction doesn't work that way; at least it doesn't for me.  Even when it is part time writing, it's hours- not minutes- that I need to be able to spare.  Otherwise, it's not a promoter of peace, it's just another cause of stress.

But there's no time.  Even now, to write and get this out, I'm taking time away from something else that "needs" to be done, that I'll have to rush through, that wont be done "right" in order to just get done.  It's exhausting.  I'm exhausted. 

I'm so done most moments of every day.  And that just leads to more trouble.

I'm not the mother I thought I'd be.  There's more yelling, less laughing, not enough fun, and too much stress.  I spend a part of at least every other day (and sometimes days in a row) hiding for a few moments to just let it out with some tears while it sounds like the house is falling down around me.  When Peter gets home, it's no better, it's just different.  Then there's me running from one place to another to do something for someone else, there's making dinner, doing laundry, trying to spend a moment decompressing from the crazy before to prepare for the crazy that is coming. 

I'll rest when I'm dead, right?  Kids are only young once.... This too shall pass... The minutes are long but the years are short....  It was yesterday that Michael was born, let alone that the twins were born- I know that time goes by so quickly.  That doesn't make the sense of tired and the stress that feels so heavy go away.

I've heard that the first few years of taking on homeschooling can be the hardest and I'm hoping that is what this is.  Three kids, five and under... the stress and hormones of another pregnancy... the schooling and just typical household worries.... 

But I would love to feel a sense of balance return.  Even my 108 Sun Salutations at my Equinox yoga class wasn't able to accomplish that.

PG Update: 11w2d

Dr. B's office just called...  Apparently, there wasn't enough fetal DNA present in the sample they pulled.  So, I get to go back to tomorrow to have more tubes of blood pulled.  Bummer :(

I'm not a needle fan and, honestly, the idea that the baby is ill hasn't freaked me out... I'm actually more nervous of having to explain to Maya that we wont have the gender results for two more weeks!  That kid asks me several times a day if the doctor has told me the baby is a girl, LOL!

In related pregnancy news, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that (fingers crossed) the nausea and vomiting has decided to exit stage right.  Unfortunately, that was replaced (at least yesterday and this morning) with a headache.  After a good night's sleep, where I slept in this morning, I feel better, so I'm hoping it was part sleep depravation/part hormones.

So let's hope that, tomorrow, they get enough blood to complete the test and that my next appointment is April 9th.

Updating... Over a Year Later

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's been a year since I've blogged.
September 2014  (c) Erica Colvin Photography

I didn't intend for that to happen, of course; life just got in the way.  I'd love to find time to write, both for publication and for this little space, but...  Time.  I just don't have enough time.

Where to start.  The kids are doing well.  Bobby and Maya began their full time homeschooling last June, after Catholic school let out for the summer. 
Sept. 2014 (c) Erica Colvin Photography
We bought our curriculum for kindergarten and first grade from Catholic Heritage, and we really like it.  It fits our lifestyle and, while I started off pretty Type A in my planning, we are in quite the "unschooling" mode as far as schedules, me lesson planning, etc, goes.  We use our books and have our field trips, but I don't do things in order (unless I need to, like math), and the kids direct where we go and, in a lot of ways, what we are learning.  And it works for them.  (For me?  Not usually, but it works for them and that's what is important.)  Maya finished up K in early January, and Bobby a few weeks after.  They are both in first grade now, and I anticipate our completion in July.  Which means second grade in the fall...  And making their First Reconciliation (Confession) and First Eucharist (Communion) next Spring.  I struggle to wrap my head around that one!

Sept. 2014 (c) Erica Colvin Photography
Maya is a Daisy Girl Scout and she loves it.  I'm her troop leader and, while it is a lot of work, I really enjoy having the time with her and seeing how much she loves it.  We meet at the Catholic school, so she knew many of the girls.  She also sings in the choir at our parish.

Sept. 2014 (c) Erica Colvin Photography
In the fall, Peter plans to start Boy Scouts with Bobby.  We have dear friends in both GS and BS, and I trust her opinion; while I'm nervous about BS for Bobby, she thinks he will do well and Peter wants to give it a go with him, so, we'll be dual scout parents next year.

Sept. 2014 (c) Erica Colvin Photography
Michael turns 2 in July and is growing like a weed.  He's my big boy!  He always wants to be right of thick of things with his big brother and sister.  As a result, he knows his ABCs (verbally and in ASL) and can count to 20 (verbally well to 10, in ASL all the way).  He talks in sign like crazy and his verbal skills are more advanced than the twins at his age.  He's a mama's boy (can't complain!) and I'm still nursing him (21 months on April 2).   He's a sweetheart, and I love to hear him singing.

Sept. 2014 (c) Erica Colvin Photography
The kids are the lights of my life.  Homeschooling is harder than I ever thought possible and, if I'm honest, it is not something I enjoy.  That being said, it is the right choice for them and we will do it until it is no longer the right choice.  I suppose I'm selfish at times because I want more me time, more time to run, more time to write, etc...  Homeschooling takes whatever time I have and it's a lot of work.  I often feel overwhelmed and without outlet.  But, again, it is what is right for our family so we work through the challenges.  The twins have asked to go to camp this summer, which I'm struggling with.  It's hard to let them go, even for a few hours (which we've done before) but especially for longer.  Maya begged to do an overnight GS camp (I couldn't do it!) and now is asking for an all day, GS camp for a week.  I'm looking into the same week for Bobby at a camp that specializes in special needs/autism, since he would be without her and I think he would struggle a little more than usual.  We'll see what happens!

We're well.  Peter is still a scientist, works hard, and is a great husband and father.  The kids countdown to their "Daddy time"! :)  We try to figure in a date here and there, but it is tough and, at times, I know we both feel disconnected.  We miss our "deck dates", where we would sit on the deck after the kids had gone to bed and just talk.  As the nice weather comes back, hopefully, we'll be able to do that again.

I'm still teaching several yoga classes a week, still coach youth cross country in the fall, and will be starting to train for spring races soon (yay for warmer weather!).  I miss running, and even with nursing, the weight I gained with Michael isn't easily melting off, which is more of an emotional struggle verses anything else.  I had an unexpected miscarriage in September (I was actually pregnant in the family picture above, but we had only just found out), and then, just as unexpectedly, found myself pregnant in February.  I'm 10w2d today and had my first OB appointment last Friday. 
9w4d ultrasound
So far, so good.  The baby had a heartbeat of 155bmp and implanted high.  Everything looked well, and I had blood drawn for the Materni21 screen, so in addition to the baby's chromosomal health, we will know the gender within two weeks.  While Peter and I are happy regardless, Maya is desperate and has been praying for a sister. :)  While my morning sickness (which is really 24 hour sickness!) hasn't been as bad as it was with Michael, it's still quite the pain.  Lots of puking and nausea.... lots of ginger.  But I'm still teaching and running, so that's great.  I'm in maternity clothes because I cant stand the pressure of real pants against my belly. 

Well, Michael is awake from his nap, so the 'free time' I'd found is now gone.  I'd like to say that I'll keep blogging, but we'll see.  At this point, I'm struggling to write in my pregnancy journal!

Dust and Ashes

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Once again, the Liturgical Year has turned and we are once again at the start of the season of Lent, at Ash Wednesday. It's a day of reflection. A day to prepare for the solemn days ahead.
 Yearly, people use this as a time to purge an unhealthy habit. "What are you giving up for Lent?" and "I have that up for Lent." are comments you are sure to hear. In addition, there is the movement to "take something on". Instead of sacrificing your daily chocolate, you can instead sacrifice your time to daily spiritual pursuits.

Then, there's always a combined approach.

Lent for our kids is relatively simple. I don't make desserts so that is their biggest change from a food perspective. They are too young to fast so we don't even attempt that. Instead, over the years, we've prayed a modified rosary, adding to it each year as we move towards the day that we can say a full one.

Peter and I are a bit different in our approach to the season. Many years ago, when we were vegetarian, we made our Fridays vegan since simple "no meat" wasn't a big deal. As we have gotten older, we've tried to take each year and really give Lent meaning, personally.

This year, we are trying something that sounds a little radical but, I think, had the possibility to really expand our faith. We both love to eat and cooking - like, really cooking from scratch, start to finish - makes me happy. Many faiths use different liturgical times to move away from the staples and culinary delicacies of their relative area. For example, a part of fasting for Greeks includes giving up olive oil. It is easily accessible and a common part of Greek cooking. We wanted to embrace this type of fasting, but asked ourselves "what is an American staple food?"

It is so easy to get just about anything at the grocer or local farmer.  Even trying to eat locally and seasonally, while making things difficult, is still relatively easy. So we came up with a new Lenten culinary sacrifice: eating the staples of the poor.

While we aren't millionaires, we are wealthy in so many ways. We are diverse eaters and, pretty much, if we want something for a meal, I get the materials and make it. For many people around the world, having clean water is a dream. For many, having their fill of a basic staple like rice at every meal would be a fantasy. For some in our community, just having three nutritious meals a day is a pipe dream. We want our Lenten journey to make a difference not just for us but in a greater way.

For the forty days of Lent, we will be following a vegan diet that consists of staple foods from around the world. Dinners like rice and beans (Latin America), polenta with cannelloni beans (Italy), rice and lentils (India), you get the idea... will be made with enough to have lunch the following day.  Breakfasts will be fruit or toast. Drinks like black tea or coffee and water are okay. In addition to this, no eating out. No desserts. No snacking. We wont be hungry, which is more than many people have, but we won't be

On Sundays, which are quasi days off, we will pick something from our freezer. It may be vegetarian or not; it will depend on what I grab.

The money we save in groceries is being donated to the local food bank and Operation Rice Bowl.

People think we are nuts. Heck, we may be. But I feel like I'm struggling. I need something to reboot. We practice a strict fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, so I'm hoping fasting and praying will be a bit of a reset. Spending the season really focusing on others and all the things I have in my life.... I am hopeful Lent will be a wake up.

I need it to be. Desperately so.

Lent 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Well, Lent is upon us. Wasn't it Lent just yesterday? The last year especially has been a blink-and-miss-it kind of year.

Peter and I celebrate Lent a bit differently. Back when we were strict vegetarians, we wanted to embrace a sacrifice of food but since we already has given up meat, we needed something different. So, we would go vegan on Fridays. For years, we have embraced a spiritual pursuit rather than giving something up. And then... Kids. How to do honor and sacrifice to the season with the wee ones.

From a diet standpoint, the only big change for the kids is no dessert. Otherwise, they are too young to participate in actual fasting. I plan to just make them regular pancakes on Saturdays too (instead of chocolate chip) but that, again, is about as far as we will take food with them. Spiritually, we have, each year, added more and more to the rosary and done, albeit still abbreviated, a family rosary daily. We will continue that tradition.

And now... Our food. In a country where everything is fairly easy to get, it's hard to give up staples, so we've opted to embrace them. Many people live on the simple staples of rice and beans or some version of it. This Lent, that is what we will do as well. Simple breakfasts of toast and possibly a spread of some sort, lunches of leftovers, and dinners of the staple foods our brothers and sisters from around the globe eat. The money we save will go to Operation Rice Bowl or our local food bank... Haven't decided yet. This Lenten season, gone are the lunches out, designer coffees, and fancy dinners in favor of something more simple that, hopefully, will give us a deeper appreciation for all we have and a renewed Spirit and faith.

Sundays, I plan to make a non vegan meal and we still plan to celebrate St Patrick's Day with our annual dinner. But mm Monday through Saturday... Lent is on.

What are you doing this holy season?

Critique of Everlasting Memories "Bound with Love" Necklace

Monday, March 3, 2014

As I mentioned in Nicholas and Sophia’s birthday post, we decided to begin a new tradition for the kids: since we don’t give Nick, Sophie, or Alex physical birthday presents, Bobby, Maya, and Michael will get a small gift from their older sibling. On Nicholas’s birthday, Bobby got a pretend Mass kit (oh, the cuteness!), Maya got twin baby dolls, and Michael got a football rattle. On Sophia’s birthday, they each got books.

Unexpectedly, I received a present, too.

A few days after Nicholas’s birthday, I received an email from an Everlasting Memories representative, asking if I would be interested in reviewing a piece of their memorial jewelry. With all the craziness going on at Casa Haytko, it took me a bit to actually touch base with her. Within a few days, a black velvet box was on my kitchen table. In fair disclosure, this review is based on an item I received free of charge (approximately a combined $134.95 value); no actual monetary compensation was provided.

The piece I am reviewing is the silver Bound with Love cremation pendant. This particular item is available in silver or plated in yellow gold, rose gold, or black. There are three diamondesque stones that rest in the heart created by the two figures. It is approximately ½” wide by ¾” high. Hallie, the representative I worked with, upgraded the standard chain to a 20” silver chain, which allows the pendant to sit high enough that it is easily visible but low enough that if, for whatever reason, you want to tuck it in a standard cut blouse, you can.

 As soon as the necklace arrived, I was touched by just how beautiful it is and, for our situation, how apropos. (There are a variety of pendants available, some (like this one) that are geared towards parents that have lost one or more children, as opposed to something more fitting for a parent or spouse (which are also available). Some even allow for the engraving of photographs. See the website for more details and options. The necklace looked gorgeous on and I was impressed by the quality; I’m not really a jewelry person and a fair amount of what I own (excluding earrings, which I lose every time I wear them it seems!) has been made by our local jeweler. I can honestly say that I didn’t expect that level of quality from something that is produced in quantity, but the pendant is on par with my single made pieces. And, in this house, it will have to be!

 Remember the chain upgrade? I’d do it if I were you! In fairness, I don’t know what the standard chain is like, but the first thing Michael did when I held him after putting the necklace on was grab at it. At first, I was concerned he would be able to destroy it. But, no matter how many times I pried his little kung fu grip from it, he would return to it. It’s been over a week and I wear it all the time; he has yet to be able to damage the necklace. (And, I confess, it is too cute to watch him kiss the pendant, which he does the first time he grabs it now.) 

This pendant is crafted to be used for cremains, however I told the representative from the start that I would not be using it for such. Mainly, it is a religious reason but it is also a personal one; with running and racing, if I were to lose a piece of the kids somehow, I’d be mortified and devastated. I also wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving them in a jewelry box. With that in mind, this piece is still a beautiful necklace. Unless you know the screw is there, it blends into the side of the pendant and isn’t noticeable. In addition, you can use it for ashes of any sort. For those who don’t wish to wear cremains, you could easily burn a photograph or something similar that represents your loved one, and add those ashes. And adding ashes is very simple: the necklace comes with a kit and step-by-step instructions for how to open, add, and seal. The ashes won’t fall out, nor do you have to worry about someone removing them; once the necklace is sealed, it can’t be opened. 

 From a runner’s point of view, the pendant is heavy enough that you know it’s there but not so much that it is uncomfortable. I’ve worn it for 5K/3 mile distances with no issues at all. The weight seems just enough to keep bounce to a minimum without the potential to distract or bruise. Will I say the same after a half or full marathon distance? I’ll let you know. And that chain… I’ve said it before. If you’ve got the potential to have the chain ripped off by an over-grabby child or you think you’ll wear this during exercise, etc., then I highly suggest the upgraded chain. 

 From a customer service standpoint, I found my interaction to be very prompt and extremely courteous. I can imagine that, especially depending on your stage of grief when you contact Everlasting Memories, their sales reps and customer service staff have been trained with how to help you select the piece of jewelry that best fits your lifestyle and honors your loved one in the most appropriate way. While I don’t think I would have sought out jewelry like this because of my own preconceived notions, I encourage you to check out their site. They have necklace pendants, rings, and even bracelets. Items can be personalized with engraving and overnight shipping is available. Right now, a simple “like” on Facebook will also garner you 5% off your order. 

 The arrival of the necklace was very emotional for me, but I think that it tells you the type of company EM is and the type of people they employ when I share this story. Peter had just fastened the necklace when he noticed something on the back that, at first, I had just overlooked as a possible notation of the maker or a symbol of the silver. (Hey! My eyes are aging right along with the rest of me!) I took it off to get a better look and there, on the back, were the letters “NSA”. Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander. Hallie, the rep who initially contacted me and with whom I’ve been working, confirmed that they had engraved it in memory of the children. It was completely unexpected and has made this something I will treasure forever.


Sunday, March 2, 2014


Guess who's eight months old today? Time flies...


Friday, February 28, 2014


I cant believe it has been six years since Nicholas and Sophia were born.  Six years that have been the longest in my life, the shortest in my life, and the breadth of my life- all at once.  Six years I wish I’d never lived and six years that I would trade nothing for.

It was never my intent to wait until the end of the month to blog their birthday posts.  I just couldn’t write anything.  There were no words that fit, nothing that I could say that hadn’t been said before, nothing that I could say that could put into words how still, six years later, my life feels the mark of their passings as though their deaths were yesterday.  Some moments, it hits me that I was that woman, that woman who, although I had struggled with infertility (which is, in its own right, an awful pain), really had yet to taste what true ache could be…  I had no concept of a loss which is unmeasurable, unending.  No concrete abstraction of what longing really was.

I do now.  Oh, how I do.

Since Bobby and Maya’s birth, Nicholas and Sophia’s birthdays have always had a touch of “this is what might have been” because, like their oldest siblings, Bobby and Maya are a boy/girl twinset.  But this year put an entirely new spin on things.  Michael is the age they would have been in February, had their pregnancy not been touched by an incompetent cervix and premature delivery.  Conceived near their time in the year, carried during their time of pregnancy, Michael’s pregnancy (last year) was everything that their was not: healthy, long, viable… surviving.  His life, now, is a taste- if only singularly- of what life with summer babies would have been like in a northeastern winter.  In some ways, just as his birth was healing, having a seven month old for their birthdays has been healing.  In other ways, it has been a knife, tearing open the scars that had sealed over, spilling out the memories, the hopes, and the dreams in a trail of despair.

This February has been hard.  It has been something that I didn’t imagine because I thought, because we are at a place of acceptance and peace in Nicholas and Sophia’s lives (and Alexander’s as well) would not be as emotionally draining and gut-wrenchingly painful. But I was wrong.  I’ve slept through this month in a state of weariness, and yet the month has dragged on, pulling me with it, one snow day at a time.  I’ve sobbed into Peter’s shoulder (when it was free from a child) tears that I thought I’d shed years ago.  I’ve held onto Bobby, Maya, and Michael, breathing them in, because without them, I don’t know that I could find the will to wake up and go on living.  This month both gives me life and takes it away.  And now, once again, it is over.  Will next year be an easier year?  I don’t know, but I’m hoping for that…

As we do on their birthdays, we went to Mass, had breakfast, had their birthday dinners and made a cake.  Each of the kids get a gift from their older sibling on the birthday (it’s hard to explain why we can’t “give” gifts to them in heaven, but the kids like being able to open something small ‘for’ Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander).  The Masses this year were very interesting.  Nicholas’s was tough for me…  While the moral of the readings- don’t fear death, it is not the end but a beginning- were nice, the first reading, from the Old Testament, was the story of King David’s infant son being killed because David killed the first husband of the baby’s mother/David’s wife.  Yeah… Not exactly what I was hoping to hear.  Sophia’s Mass, however, was spot on.  Every song spoke of God’s Wisdom (known as “Sophia” in Greek), the readings were all about the Wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit, and the deacon who delivered the homily did an amazing job.  It was where we needed to be that morning.  It was a way to hear Sophia speaking to us.   Bobby and Maya helped make their birthday cakes, and Maya helped me make their dinners as well.  It’s nice to see them take an interest in being a part of it.


My dear sweet Nicholas,
Happy 6th Birthday!  I look at your baby brother, and in his face, I see so many of your characteristics: he has your eyes.  I can’t help but wonder what other parts of you live on in him.  I know that you watch over Bobby, Maya, and Michael, and I can’t express how much it means to your dad and I that you are always looking out for them, as a big brother, and as one of the smallest (but nevertheless important!) saints in heaven.
This year especially, I’m marked by your absence on earth.  I injured my knee playing with Bobby and wasn’t able to go on your birthday run, which was tough because I really look forward to sharing that alone time with you guys on your birthdays, but I’ve tried, throughout your birthday month, to really meditate on you: who you were while you were with us here and all the ways you show us who you are since you aren’t growing up with us.
Although you have your own song, this year we took Bobby and Maya to see “Frozen” and I was struck by one of the main songs, “Let it go”.  I’ll never let you go, my son, not of my love for you or of the special place you hold in my heart and soul.  But each year, a bit more of the pain of losing you fades; in order for it to do so, however, it has to come back to the core, front and center, and burn me all over again with the cold flame of death.  I think the part of the song that really confronted me this year was the line:  “one thought crystallizes like an icy blast:  I'm never going back, the past is in the past.”  The me that became your mother when you were conceived in 2007 is gone.  I can’t go back to her.  Sometimes, it’s strange to me that she ever existed at all.  The only me I can remember is the me that is here now.  Fractured and yet, somehow, still together.
Happy Birthday, sweet baby boy.  Six years have gone by but, in my heart, you’ll always be right here with me.


Dear Sophia,
Happy 6th Birthday!  Time has flown by- how are you six years old already?  Just yesterday, it feels like I was in labor with you.
When we were in church for your birthday, the deacon kept talking about the voice of God speaking to us, about God’s Wisdom among us, and all I could think of was you: the Wisdom of the World.  This world simply couldn’t contain you; you were part of us, part of the here and now, and yet always superseded us, I suppose.  I’m just grateful, even if losing you was the ultimate price, that we were able to have you for the time that we did, and for the forever that we’ll always have.
I’m sorry, as I was to your twin, that I couldn’t go running for your birthday.  Last year, as pregnant as I was and as cold as it was, your Aunt Sarah and I volunteered at what she calls the “Sophie Race”.  But, this year, it wasn’t on your birthday.  Not running seemed so… off.  Once my knee is back to normal, I plan to do a half marathon for you and Nicholas combined: 6 miles for each of you, and that other 1.1 for me I suppose .
Music… It speaks to me in so many ways.  This year, your dad and I found a song by accident.  It’s October Project (the second incarnation of the band) and the song is called Reason to Forgive.  It’s only ever been released as a demo. Kind of makes me think of you in that way too…  But it talks of an unfillable emptiness and how I know that feeling. No matter how many years go by, I know I still will.
I miss you, baby girl. So much. I wish I could just have another moment with you in my arms.
Happy Birthday, Soph.  Mommy loves you so much.


Reason to Forgive (October Project)

In the dying light of an empty room with the window open, I have dreamed of you.
When the evening enters like a dark perfume, I am shallow-breathing as if emptiness could fill me up.

In the quiet heat holding back the rain, I am outside waiting and I say your name to the storm inside me that will still remain when the sky is empty, and the world goes on without you.

The moment leaves almost as it came. The feeling stays.

In every way that you are beautiful, and every way that I refuse to see.
I find a reason to forgive you now, and leave you inside me.

In the holding on and the letting go, is the way you lose, and the way you grow.
When the feeling enters like a wounded ghost… Let the night be gentle when I say how much I miss you.

The moment leaves almost as it came. The feeling stays.

In every way that you are beautiful, and every way that I refuse to see.
I find a reason to forgive you now, and leave you inside me.

In every way that you are beautiful, and every way that I refuse to see.
I find a reason to go with you now, and leave you inside me