Safely Here...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

8 comments
The wi-fi at the hotel sucks (read: is SUPER SLOW) so I'm not sure how frequent I will update unless, like now, I am the only person awake and dont have to worry about wasting family time to try and log on.

We arrived safely yesterday, around 5:30 local time.  We fed Bobby and tried to feed Maya (who refused) and then headed out to my parents.  Maya was being a crankopotomas, and we were all glad to get to my Mom's and get her out of the car.  As we were socializing, she was nawing on my finger and... A TOOTH!!!  Maya's first tooth has broken through the skin!  You can barely see it, but oh can you feel it when she bites.  Sadly, I think her finger nawing (unless they are her own fingers!) are coming to an end.  Poor baby... No wonder she was cranky.  A knife was cutting through her gum!    (Although she got her revenge... About an hour outside of Nashville, she was really upset and so we pulled over to see if she was hungry, and MAN, did she STINK!  So, in the car because of the weather, I had the pleasure of changing a nastyass diaper that would make grown men cry.  I mean... Yuck!)

On our way down on Friday, guess who got pulled over before we even left PA?  (I wasnt driving so that should narrow it down a bit!).  The highway patrolmen comes over and says (and it was all I could do to not laugh at the exchange), "Is there a medical reason that you are driving 86 in a 65?"  Peter, with all sincerity, says "No.  I have no excuse."  I honestly think the guy was shocked.  He took his info and, after what seemed like forever, returned with a warning for speeding (no points, no fine) and a citation for not having a proper sticker on the license plate.  Now, here's the kicker.  The fine is only $25 but with all the taxes, etc, it's $125! However, the fine for reckless driving, which it would be because it's over 15mph over the limit, would be a lot higher, have points, and impact our insurance.  So, I happily will hunt down a post office so that I can get a money order (since I didnt bring my check book) and get this thing in the mail.

All's quiet in the hotel, since Daddy and babies are still sleeping. Sadly, no pics because the wi-fi is uberslow, but I'm sure I'll have lots to do when we get home to get photos from April, May, AND June online...  I know... I'm so far behind with uploading photos.  My apologies!!!  In a bit, we'll get the kids up and fed, so we can make the 10:30 Mass at the local church, and then head back to see my parents and figure our some sort of plan for the week!

Halfway There!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

4 comments
So, we hit our goal (plus one exit) and stopped in Salem, VA for the night.  The kids did a great job.  We ended up leaving around 10:20 (they ate at 9:30), stopped at 1:30 for a feeding (and lunch!) , 4:30 for a feeding and gas, then 7:30 for the night, where they had solids, bottles, and played.  They slept for 90% of the drive, and played the other 10%.

All that being said, as much as I hate flying, the idea of renting a car and carseats, and shipping everything down (did I mention I should get a gold star for packing so much stuff in the space I had?), flying and the 2 hour trip...  I can see the appeal!

And, let me shout out my love for Peter.  Even though we were just going to stay in a hotel wherever we stopped for a night with no reservations, etc, he picked the one with a fitness center so I could get in a run this morning!  How thoughtful!!!

Well, I'm runned, showered, and in the process of babyeating before I get them dressed and we grab some breakfast (the hotel feeds us too!  Woo Hoo!), then we are on the road again for the second half of our journey!  I cant wait to see my mom!!!

We're Leaving!

Friday, May 28, 2010

11 comments
I can't believe in!  In about 9 hours, we will start a 800+ mile trek with two 8 1/2 month olds!
Given, they are pretty darn cute, but still... That's a long time in the car!

I figure our housesitter will be here by 9ish, and then we will head out soon after.  Thanks to my MIL, I was able to do 90% of the packing and loading of my car (have I mentioned how much I love my XC90?  That bad boy holds EVERYTHING).  I'm finishing up now, and hope to get to bed by 2am (I'm not doing the first bout of driving so I'm not too worried...)

***
We picked up our bikes yesterday.  I rode mine to the gym for my yoga class, and then back home.  AWESOME.   I mean, really.  It was great.  

***
After some discussion, Sarah and I have decided to attempt the August Triathlon that I talked about previously in jest.  I am a Shape subscriber, and they have a 3 month Tri training.  So, here we go... Training starts Monday.  We'll be a little behind, since the training is for 12 weeks and we have... 10 until the competition, but we'll see...  All we can do is try... (Or should I say "Tri"!)

***
We had the annual town fair, and were lucky enough to see some of the EMTs, including the Chief that was with us through so much.  It was great to see them.  He took pics of the kids and emailed them to the squad, and invited us to come in and visit with everyone.  It was sweet.  I'll have to post the video of the kids on the carousel (with Mommy and Daddy of course!) and of Daddy and Aunt Sarah on the swings (while Mommy and babies looked on). 

***
Wish us luck on our trip!  Hopefully I'll find time to post in between visits, etc, but if not, I'm sure I'll have good stories when I get back on my (30th) birthday!

***
Oh, and in truly awesome news, dear friends of us just learned that they are expecting... two days after Alexander's birthday.  I have to say that it is so sweet to imagine them cuddling a baby on his second birthday.  I know he's watching over their little one in a special way, and I couldnt be happier for them.  After such sadness in recent news, this just took me over the moon (and then some).

Drumroll Please....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

4 comments
The winner of the $60 CSN Giftcard is.....


Pat !!!!


I need some shelves and a bin for toys
There's now 4 girls and 2 little boys
Being Grandma just melts my heart,
but my den is torn apart!
A small price to pay for all the joys.

 Congratulations!  Please email me and I can send you the appropriate information!

Bike On Over!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5 comments
Peter and I bought bikes!!!  For me, we went with the Fuji Sunfires (different models) from our local bike shop, Indian Valley Bikeworks.  The customer service was AWESOME!!!

Peter has been wanting to commute to work (about 8 miles) and, since the roads in our county are so torn up, his short commute is quite a bit longer!  So, since a friend of ours just started commuting to her job, he's gotten really fired up about the idea.  For me, it's more that ability to trail ride with the kids in tow and to enjoy some leisurely commuting to the gym (less than 2 miles away).

Although... ultimately, if I can get my knees back into shape with regards to running, I'd love to try a triathlon!  So, I got a bike that could handle that...  We'll see... That's a distance 2 year+ goal.  (Even though this one looks so cool...)   Right now, I have to conquer the 5K, LOL!

***
Got rid of some baby stuff on Craigslist.  I gave away a handmedown snap-n-go double, and sold my 2 maetai carriers and our cosleeper.  It was nice to pass those things along, but at the same time, it was heartbreaking to let go of it...  To sort of admit that Bobby and Maya are no longer using them and that there, most likely, wont be another baby (anytime soon at least) to use them.  But I love passing them on and knowing that a baby will use them.  It really warms my heart.

***
Only a few more days until we leave for Tennessee!!!  The housesitter is in place, I've started packing, and I'm working on a list of all the stuff we will need for a long trip.  We leave Friday and won't be back until my birthday on the 7th, so it will be quite the trip with little ones!  I havent seen my mom in over six months and cannot wait!!  T-3 Days!!!  (In the Nashville area?  We'll be having a blogger lunch on Sunday, June 6th, around 1pm at Noshville's-Midtown before we start for home.  Join us!)

***
Please stop by a new blog, and leave a message of support in the face of miscarriage.  There are so many blogs that I follow that are facing difficult times, but it is the support of our unique network that makes things bearable.

***
Oh and... Quad Pictures!!!

Sadness...

Monday, May 24, 2010

2 comments
Please stop  by Ali's blog if you have a chance as she mourns her miscarried baby about losing her daughter due to IC.

Happy 18m birthday, Alexander!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

11 comments
It's crazy to think, little cuddlebug, that you are 18 months old...  That 18 months ago, at 3:45 in the morning, you were born.  That 5 minutes later, you took your final little breath, curled up against your daddy's hands, and fell into a sleep that no amount of praying or crying or wishing could wake you from.  18 months ago, we curled up in bed with you, smelled you in, wrapped you in your big brother and big sister's blanket, and fell asleep.  Part of us wished we'd join you in that forever nap; part of us wished we'd all wake up in the end.  But we woke up with you wrapped in our arms; and you played joyfully with Nicholas and Sophia in heaven.

18 months...  Wow...  You'd be toddling around and talking.  Being Mommy's helper with your little brother and sister.  I think you'd be my calmest of calm.  My peaceful boy.  The one who, when Mommy was stressed or tired, would come over and offer a hug and sweet kiss amongst the chaos.

I dont often daydream anymore about "if" you'd lived.  I know that you were only meant to live for those short months in my womb and those few moments outside of it.  I know that was the fullness of our time with you on earth.  That you paved the way for Bobby and Maya, just as Nicholas and Sophia paved the way for you.

But it still hurts.  It hurts that our memories of holding you and smelling you and snuggling you had to be limited to a day.  A single day.  And, if I expand it out to the late Wednesday night that I went into the hospital through the Sunday morning that you were born, it is still only 4 days.  4 days to wrap my head around the fact that, even though we'd done everything that we'd been told to do, the chances werent good that we'd bring you into this world safely.  4 days to stop fearing what might happen, realize it most likely would happen, and enjoy every single second of having you kicking and flipping... alive... healthy... safe.  4 days to treasure and build memories.

When they told us that you were on your way.  That there was no way they could halt your labor any longer, it was 11pm on Saturday.  I remember the on call OB finding you on the u/s and we watched you kick and play.  Did you know your birthday was imminent?  Were you excited for us to hold you on the outside?  Were you happy because your brother and sister were with you, preparing to hold your hand as you made your journey to the other side?

Mere hours to talk about what we knew we needed to do "this time".  Hours to realize that lightening doesnt just strike twice, but that it can hit 3 times in the same.damn.place.  Hours to call a priest for prayer.  To explain to the nurses and doctors that we wanted a natural, unassisted labor.  Hours to realize that we wouldnt be able to save you and that you would die in our arms.  Hours.  Tiny.Few.Short.Hours.

The priest came around 1:30.  He was a kind man...  A Franciscan brother, called by the hospital in the middle of the night.  What do you say?  A couple is about to deliver a baby who will die.  Come quickly?  But he came.  And he prayed.  He prayed that you would be safe...  That we would be alright...  That we would find the strength to carry on.  That God would grant us a miracle.

But we'd already had the miracle.  The resident told us, Wednesday night, that you would be born... and you werent.  Thursday morning, when we saw you, with your legs in the birth canal, we were told you couldnt stay inside any longer... but inversion and pelvic tilts reversed that.  When my water broke on Thursday night, they told us you were coming... but you didnt.  On Friday, when we were prepared for the worst news- that you didnt have any fluid- you were swimming around (in a diminished bag, no doubt, but you could still move).  When I began to bleed heavily on Saturday night and they couldnt find your heartbeat, and the nurses prepared us for your stillbirth... you were playing on ultrasound, letting us know that you were alright.  So... We had our miracle.  Many miracles.  We had 3 extra, beautiful days.

And on the fourth day of our miracles, you were born.  Feet first.  The little soccer play that you were in the womb.  Your daddy helped you get your feet squared away so that you could make your entrance into the world.  18 months ago.  A lifetime ago.

When people ask, "Are they your first?" when they refer to Bobby and Maya, and I tell them, no, that we have boy/girl twins and a sweet little boy who passed away due to prematurity, you are that sweet little boy that I mention...  That I remember every single day of my life.

I love you, Alexander.  I love you so very much.  Thank you for the lifetime of love you gave us during your pregnancy and those moments we had you with us physically.  Thank you for letting us feel your peace every day.  Thank you for Bobby and Maya.


Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me bring your love,
Where there is injury your pardon Lord,
And where there's doubt true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there's sadness, ever joy.
O Master grant that I may never seek,
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Truly, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

We love you, our little cuddlebug.









For more pictures...

And the Top 3 Are...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

7 comments
Thanks to my sweet hubs, Peter, for helping to select the top 3 poems for the CSN gift card giveaway!!!  Please cast your votes through midnight Tuesday!



Just Breathe said...

My restroom is bare
It need CSN there
To give it some flare!


Lisa said...

Lisa's bedroom needs
Lots of new bedding for me
Potty training oh my!


Pat said...

I need some shelves and a bin for toys
There's now 4 girls and 2 little boys
Being Grandma just melts my heart,
but my den is torn apart!
A small price to pay for all the joys.

Saturday Training Run

1 comments
Walk: 0.2671
Run: 1.9442
Walk: 0.1242
Run: 1.0322
Walk: 0.0927

Woo Hoo!

Share Some Love

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2 comments
Please visit Brooke.  Her baby boy was born at 16 weeks and she is, as you can imagine, trapped in a nightmare that many of us know all too well.

Why?

15 comments
Why do I watch Discovery Health and TLC and all the other channels that air baby programming?  I mean, let's face it. I'm either sad because it hits too close to home -or- pissed off at the way things are portrayed.

For example...  Watched an 8 minute clip about six 25-weekers. The poor mom is bawling because she tried so hard to hold them in and her body just gave out.  Looking at those tiny 1-2 pound babies made my eyes well up.  One baby came home at 3 months old; the last at 5 months old.  Watched some of "Make Room for Multiples". Now, I know, that technically, a 36 week baby is premature.  That being said, 36 weeks for twins is considered full term and damn good!  Lamenting about having a 36 week set of twins is like a slap in the face.  (Again, I know these folks all have their own circumstances and expectations and this wasnt it, since she had a c/s scheduled for the next week and was expecting that, etc.  Just my crazy, it's midnight, rant...)  And then, there are the "I Didnt Know I Was Pregnant" and therefore I smoked, drank, did drugs, etc, and miraculously delivered a full term baby who had no complications, even though s/he was exposed to drugs in utero and had no prenatal care whatsoever moms.

WHAT.THE.HELL.

Really???  Really???  What sucky ass lottery did those of us who battled infertility and then loss win?

Okay.  I feel better.  Rant over.

***

On to something sad.  Remember when I went to my first mom's group? Well, this month's group had a fair amount of sadness.  The mom I referenced lost her baby.  This was her fifth pregnancy and, at 17w, went in for an appointment to find out that her baby had died around 11w.  As she was grieving, I shared about Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander, and my miscarriages.  And then another woman shared her 24w stillborn son.  And then, another.  All of us had sat around the tables for months.  And yet, no one knew the silent sorrows in our hearts.  And, as we rallied around a new member of this club that none of us wants to be in and, worse yet, wants anyone else to be in, we all were able to see that other mothers hide that same sadness behind their gaze...  That, when they hold their living children, their arms are still slightly empty.  That family portraits are always missing a face or two... or three...  or more.

It made me realize just how much silence we all have.  How loss is something kept close to one's heart.  How, when mothers first bury children, they feel alone.  Because we, the ones who have been there before, are quiet.  It made me wish that I had been more open with the group to start.  The leader knew my history because she knew me from our parish.  And I wrote all the kids names on the info sheet.  And, when asked, I said that Bobby and Maya werent my first children.  But, when we were discussing things, I didnt volunteer information.  It was the first time that I wanted to try to fit in just because I didnt want to have to respond to the "I'm sorry's" or the "It was probably for the best".

And then, when that mom miscarried, I felt sorry that she had to feel alone.  Even if now she knows she isnt.

***

Reba, of Life Without My Twins, wrote an interesting post.  In it, she writes about an encounter with her dentist, who, knowing her history (she delivered extremely preterm twins who died and later had a little girl who is growing like a weed!), made a statement that things, in pregnancy, always work out as they should.  For those of us for whom pregnancy is not a fun experience, those of us who have had our children die in our arms or are wombs, it is hard to fathom that this is how it is "supposed" to be.  In my world, this is NOT how I pictured my motherhood.  I didnt imagine miscarriages, PTLs, IC and cerclages, bedrest, inversion, drug after drug to try and stop a PTL that was bound and determined to happen, and, ultimately, after a decade of infertility, 3 miscarriages, and 3 infant deaths, to have my best case scenario end up as 27 weekers in the NICU.

But, in a way, he's right.

I cant imagine a world without Bobby and Maya.  Without his smile or her giggle.  His "monkey face" and her drama queen hands.  That world cant exist.  A world where I never have "Mayakisses" or "Bobbyhugs".  Where I dont have him hold my neck like I'm the only person in the world that matters.  Where there is no sweet girl to reach for me when she is scared and hold my hand as she drifts to sleep.

My world is worth everything: the pain, the hurt, everything.  It has to be.  How could it not be as it should be?

God knows, I would have done anything in the world... Anything... To save my miscarried babies... To save Nicholas.  Sophia.  Alexander.  I would have stood on my head for months if it meant a lifetime with them.

And that moment...  That was our lifetime...  I wouldnt trade a lifetime of heartache for that second of bliss when each child was born.  I couldnt.

It's hard to hear.  And, perhaps, if I was still waiting for the "happy ending" as crazy as that sounds to write, I'd think the dentist was a jerk.

But sitting here...  Hearing them sleep on the monitor after holding them in my arms until they fell into a blissful sleep...  I cant picture it any other way.

I got to have them all.  I live in the only world that I could live in.  It did work out.  Even if three of my children were only in my arms for a short time before ascending to a new life.  Even if two of my babies spent weeks in the hospital because 27w5d was all my body could give them.  Even if it breaks my heart every single day.

"A sword will pierce...your...soul..." (Luke 2:35)

Mama

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

15 comments
Bobby said "Mama"!!!

He'd been going with "Ma"  "Ma" "Ma" in a long string, but finally, he put it together to say "Mama".  Peter was holding him and I was cuddling Maya and he wanted my attention, so he said "Mama" until I looked at him.  And then I was rewarded with a super adorable smile.  :)

Quad Update

Monday, May 17, 2010

2 comments
For the latest on Sonja's quads, click here.  (It's a great post full of good news!)

I've gotten a lot of questions asking how they are doing, so I've posted a "Check on Sonja's Quads" box on the right of the blog.  Check in as you want!  I'm sure they'd appreciate your support and prayers!

Another Giveaway!

14 comments
While the last few years have seen very few (if any, until recently) giveaways, I have been asked by CSN Stores to host a $60 gift certificate giveaway!  And I am happy to help one lucky winner get some spending "money" to update their home.  Perhaps you are in need of a pair of sectional sofas for your living room remodel, or you'd like some new kitchen cookware or maybe updated bathroom lighting.


Or, happy of happies, perhaps you are designing a nursery!

Whatever the case may be, leave a comment (or two or three or as many as you want!) to enter.

Here are the rules...

  • Leave a haiku or limerick about a room of your house that you are thinking of updating.  (for example...  My bathroom is bland/It needs some serious help/Like a nice gift card)  It doesnt need to be good, and the funnier the better. (Only one limerick or haiku per comment, but you can leave as many comments as you'd like.)
  • Leave a comment between Monday, May 17th, and Friday, May 21st.  I'll go through and pick the three funniest, and then readers can help choose a winner with their votes!  (Voting will end May 25th and a winner will be chosen!)
It's that easy!!!  So... think about what you'd like to do if you win... And then leave as many poems for our reading pleasure as you'd like!!

(In full disclosure, I have received NO goods or any sort of monetary gift for hosting this giveaway.  CSN simply contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to host a gift certificate giveaway for my blog readers, and I agreed.  I receive no commission of any sort for your participation in the giveaway.)

In Training...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

6 comments
In high school, I did a fair amount of morning running before school, but a horrible car accident in college in 1999 left me with a decent bit of knee damage, so my running has been sporadic at best.  Every now and again, I try to pick up where I left off, but it is short lived (and usually not the most pain free).  But, Sarah, Terri, and Seraphim (aka Sarah)  have really inspired me to try, try, try, again!  So I went to the running store (where the customer service and experience of the guys there kicks butt!!  LOVE THEM!!!)  and got a new pairs of shoes (Saucony), since my initial runs in my old (read: bought these just before Nick and Sophie were conceived...) shoes were met with a little foot asleepness, and started a real training plan (3x week/2 miles) to train for a 5K that Sarah and I are (gulp) running at the end of June.  Two weeks in, and I've upped it to 2.5 miles thrice weekly (starting this week).  And yesterday, I even picked up 3 new shirts (well, 2 are for yoga mostly since my ugly-but-effective-for-monster-boobs bra will show) and a pair of cool shorts and pants (that will do double duty for yoga) at Target (Champion brand, and on clearance to boot!).  Today, I did my first outside run alone (normally my outside runs are with Sarah and I train by myself at the gym before my yoga classes).  But, this morning, since we had Mass last night, I got dressed in one of my new, groovy outfits, laced up my sneakers, and headed out.

I mapped out a run through our neighborhood, and started off with a 0.14 walk, then jogged a mile and a half, walked another 0.07, then jogged 0.8, before cooling down with a 0.15 walk back to the house.  My total was 2.6647 miles in 37 minutes.  (Now, I realize, for "real" runners, this is slow as Christmas to kids on January 1st, but for me, with my injuries and the fact that I legitimately "JOG" and don't even attempt a real run, I'm pumped!).  My gym time is 2 miles in 28 minutes, with a handful of short walk recoveries.  But this drops my time by almost a minute per mile!  I'm pretty happy about that! And, it included hills- something my treadmill runs do NOT have!

Stay tuned and maybe, just maybe, I'll post the picture Peter took of me in my running outfit...  Maybe... We'll see...

And the Winner Is...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2 comments
Rachell!!!

Please email me your contact info and I'll get your book in the mail!

CD1?

Friday, May 14, 2010

6 comments
I really cant even believe it...  Exactly 4 weeks after my last spontaneous period, another one started this afternoon!  Is it too much to hope for that my system might be normalizing?  Wow.  (I don't know too many women who get as excited as I do when I find Mother Nature calling, LOL)

Tips for Medical Professionals

Thursday, May 13, 2010

4 comments
If you havent seen this, I strongly urge you to check it out and to share it with the medical professionals in your life.

Thanks to Delekatala for creating it and sharing.

Bad Habits

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

4 comments
Well... I think Bobby and Maya are more like me than I care to admit sometimes.  From what I hear, it is common for babies (and older kids or, maybe, um, even adults, um, like me...) to pitch their heads forward when they fall asleep in the car.  Maya tends to slump to one side or lean her head straight out.  Bobby, and I still havent figured out how he manages this strapped snuggly in his carseat, will lay his head on his thigh!  I have tried everything.  Every kind of neck/body pillow thingamajig sold for babies.  Nothing works.  I dont even want to think about the amount I've spent on these worthless things.  I've bought "award winners" and "I-love-these" items and still... Nothing.  The only sort of workable one was a pair of carseat "wings".  They werent perfect, but at least they were okay.  But the kids hated them and would scream and cry.  Maya eventually learned how to unhook the velcro, and they would throw them if they could get them off.

But, with a 12+ hour trip on the horizon, we decided we had to try something, so back to the drawing board.  I tried everything I hadnt before, to no avail, and finally bought two pair of wings (the others were really gross, so I tossed them).  I put them on before we left BabiesRUs.  Maya whined as she tried to figure out how to unhook them, but I must have velcroed them well because she couldnt and eventually made some unhappy noises and dozed off.  Bobby actually moved them!  He pushed them down the straps, moved the carseat fastener, and turned one into a pillow so he could- no kidding- sleep on his thigh!

I give up!!!

Born Too Early

1 comments

On Wednesday, May 12, at 2 p.m., the Health Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on "Prematurity and Infant Mortality: What Happens When Babies are Born Too Early?"

Dr. Alan Fleischman, Medical Director for the March of Dimes, will testify about the long-term consequences of being born too soon and promising interventions.  The March of Dimes will also be asking Members of the Subcommittee to support reauthorization of the PREEMIE Act to set the stage for increased funding for prematurity related research, education and demonstration projects.
To watch the webcast, go to the Energy and Commerce Committee websiteat 2p.m. and click on the title of the hearing. 

Nashville

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 comments
As many folks know, Nashville was devastated by floods last weekend.  Being as this is my hometown and I have family that is still there, it has been heartbreaking to see it on the news, and hear my family and friends discuss all that has been lost.  Thankfully, my folks (fam and friends) werent too badly hit, but the damage is everywhere.  Hotels and landmarks underwater, countless homeless, 20+ dead.  For an area that isnt by the ocean, this is huge.  And heartbreaking.  (Want to help?  There's a Red Cross donate link to the upper right of my blog).

Well, we had plans to visit at the end of the month.  A housesitter is in place (thanks Dad!), stuff is ready, and we are preparing what we'll need for the babies.  At first, our timeshare said that they would be open after the 16th.  Then we got the bad news that they are going to be closed until the end of June because the damage was worse than they had initially thought.  They rebooked us: TWO HOURS AWAY.

Really?  2 hours?  That's the closest possible thing???

So, today I was online and finally found something, 20 minutes from my mom.  We'll have to pay for it (although it will be the same cost as our gas commuting 2 hours each way, so really, it's a bargain when you consider that we would have been in the car for 4 hours a day).  It looks like a nice place, so hopefully it will turn out to be.  All we really need is cleanliness, a small fridge for formula, hot water for bottle washing, and A/C.  On-site laundry would be nice, but I can go to a laundry mat if I need to (since I'll need to make sure the kids have clean clothes!).  But, best news, it's so close to family!!  Woo Hoo!

I miss my mom and grandmother SO much, not to mention the dear friends that I have there.  I cannot wait to see everyone.

And... Speaking of seeing everyone... Are YOU close to Nashville?  If so, we'd love to hook up for a bloggy lunch!  We'll be leaving on Sunday, June 6th, and will be having lunch at my favorite deli, Noshville's, in midtown.

Let's say... 1pm.  I've had a couple of FB requests to get together!  Be there and bring your fam or be square!  (On that note, email me to let me know if you do think you'll come, so that I can get a large enough seating if need be!)

Seasons of Solace (review)

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I was contacted several weeks ago to review a book of grief poetry and photography.  Days after agreeing, Seasons of Solace: a story of healing through photos and poems, by Janelle Shantz Hertzler arrived. Ms. Hertzler, a native of Canada, now lives in Pennsylvania with her young son, after losing her husband to a drunk driver while they served as missionaries in Thailand.  The book itself is beautiful, and the cover art immediately drew me in.  (Although, with two babies, it did take me a while to finish the entire 77 page book).


The photography is breathtaking.  Focusing on nature scenes, Ms. Hertzler's technique makes the simplest image of a leaf or feather serene in both natural beauty and heartbreaking sorrow.  Without looking back at the pages, in my mind's eye, I can see a photograph of a red leaf against river rocks.  At first glance, it is a natural eavesdropping of a fallen leave against a riverbed.  But, from a grief perspective, the blood red leaf lays alone against the dry, waterless stone.  Soft on hard.  Life dying on death.

Ms. Hertzler rediscovered her love of poetry in response to her grief, and as a tool for releasing her feelings.  Although only a few of the poems in their entirety spoke to my heart, the majority of them had sections of them that brought tears to my eyes or made me think "Yes, I understand...".  Poems like "Gap in Time" (I sit in an unseen gap in time./He's dead.  I don't know it.../Emptiness between the wings of cherubim,/where God said, "I will be met."),  and "Pearl Earrings" ("Dead inside,/I resolve to join the living.../Choosing to love and live/is no guarantee there/wont be more loss and death") have lines that caused my breath to catch in their brisk honesty , while her musings on picking up her husband's things in "Personal Effects" will speak to anyone who is left with only tangible reminders of a life lived and the ignorance of thoughtless words.  But it is the simply titled "Your Stories" that brings the measure of loss to full impact.  ("So many stories have gone/that only you knew.../You are so much more/than thesum of your stories./Yet that is all we have left,/so we will cherish them.").

Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5, and would recommend it for those who have lost older children or adults close to them (although, those who have lost pregnancies, infants, and young children will also find poignant moments that speak to the soul as well).  Curl up with the book, a hot cup of herbal tea, and a window view on a stormy afternoon at dusk, and let yourself grieve and grow.

Interested in winning a copy for yourself?  Leave a comment below, and I will randomly pick a winner via drawing names of readers out of a hat!  The giveaway will end on Friday (May 14th).

For more information on the author, you can click here and to buy a copy of Seasons of Solace, you can find it here.

In full disclosure, while I was not compensated for reviewing this book, I did receive a copy at no cost (a $17.95 value).

Seasons of Solace
by Janelle Shantz Hertzler
Published by Synergy Books (c)2010
ISBN: 978-0984076048
$17.95 list price

Happy 8 Month Birthday, Bobby and Maya

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(I'm not sure why this went to my drafts... It was written last night)

Sweet Bobby and Maya,
It is crazy to think that you were born eight months ago and that we have had you home almost six months!  You bring such sunshine into our lives, and we love you so very much.  Watching you grow up is a dream come true.

The Quads Are Here!!!

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Please continue to pray, as these sweet 28 weekers begin their NICU journey!  You can check Sonja's blog for updates.  Here is her post today:

We're overjoyed to announce the arrival of our 4 children, 05/11/10:

Baby A
Sophie Therese
12:28 AM
1 lb 11.5 oz

Baby B
Ethan Nicholas
12:29 AM
2 lbs 5.9 oz

Baby C (identical twin)
Liam Thomas
12:30 AM
2 lbs 5.7 oz

Baby D (identical twin)
Jude Ambrose
12:31 AM
2 lbs 8.6 oz
length

The babies are in the NICU. They were delivered by emergency C-section when Sonja began to bleed rather heavily and spontaneously after an otherwise uneventful day. I'm sure she will provide more details in an upcoming post. Sonja is resting comfortably right now, getting some much deserved rest.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers along the way.

Shhh.... We're Reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

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(originally posted here)




Of course, they arent "really" reading, but they loved to hold the book between them and take turns turning the pages.  Maya, especially, has the dexterity to hold the book and turn pages on her own.  She loves her board books (probably because she can hold them easier AND eat the pages) but she does well with regular books too.  I have to keep the library books away from her for fear that she will love them too much!  Bobby is more than happy to have you hold the book and he'll help turn the pages.

Happiness...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

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This is what Peter and the children got me for Mother's Day, along with five gorgeous red roses and 2 beautiful cards (the one from the children had 8 flowers on it).

It's called, simply, "Happiness".

Happy Mother's Day

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Thank you to Sarah and her brother for always doing the most beautiful tributes to those who have lost children for Mother's Day.  This is just beautiful.  She does grief photography here.

***

Mother's Day...  A hard day.  A beautiful day.  A day to celebrate all our children, who made us moms, even if they arent here for us to kiss and hug.  A day to celebrate all of us.  Happy Mother's Day, dear friends.

(not the most flattering picture, but probably the best way that I end every day since Bobby and Maya came home)

Pray for the Quads!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

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Sonja looks like she may be in labor!  Pray for a safe delivery, if this is, indeed, time.  She is 27w4d.  Click here for her update.

Their Rooms...

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Something that we've cherished in our home are the rooms that we created for our children.  Nicholas and Sophia had the "big kid" room... Alexander had the nursery... Bobby and Maya, the school room.  At some point, I always realized the rooms would switch around...  But until we actually switched the rooms, I dont think I realized the impact it would have on me.

Going into the nursery and "big kid" room, I always felt the children they were made for, even as Bobby and Maya were sleeping there.  Before they were born or when they were in the NICU, going into those rooms gave us another way to connect to their brothers and sisters.  Once they came home, we even referred to the nursery as "Alexander's room" between ourselves.

When we started changing their rooms around, it was a shock to see them stripped bear.  The nursery becoming the office was the hardest transition, but it was strange to walk by the "big kid" room when we were taking furniture out.  It almost felt like we were evicting Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.

But, as Bobby and Maya's rooms came into focus, it became clear that we werent evicting anyone, rather, that their rooms were growing into the rooms they were to be.

A nice addition was that we brought Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander's box back into our room.  It has been in the nursery, and then in the shared bedroom, since Bobby and Maya came home, and now, it is back in our room, next to me.  I've missed that; I'm glad that they are back with us.  Where I now think of as "their" special place.

Still, I cant lie and tell you my breath doesnt catch at times, walking by and seeing "BOBBY" or "MAYA" on the door, and looking in to see their things decorating their rooms.  But it is beautiful to walk in and feel their presences in their rooms...  To see what we helped create for them, and what they take to the next level by simply sleeping there.

Another peace, I suppose...

Dreamcatcher

Friday, May 7, 2010

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Maya has some of the most crazy nightmares.  Sometimes, I cant wake her up.  She gets so deeply intertwined with them that she wont wake, no matter how many times I say her name, kiss her cheek, or hold her upright.  Finally, I went out and bought a dreamcatcher.  I wanted to buy two, but the ones made by the Apache woman that I wanted, were sold out.  She is currently in the process of making more, so I bought a Lakota one to tide me over.  It's pretty, just not what I had in mind.  (They have no Cherokee ones, which I would like for family background reasons, but the Apache ones are breathtaking.)  I havent decided if I will put it over the crib where they nap, or if I will hang it over Maya's bed, and just hold off on having one over Bobby's bed, until the Apache ones arrive.  At that point, I'll put the Lakota one over the crib, and the Apache ones over their beds.

I hesitate to say, but perhaps Maya is a bit more on the "sensitive" end of the scale.  Bobby may be also.  In fact, I think all children have deeper sensitivities because they are closer to the Divine.  But I dont want her having nightmares.  I bought a Mayan smudge stick as well; I figure it cant hurt to smudge out the stagnant energy.  There is already a picture of the Blessed Mother and Christ-child over their beds, along with a cross, so now we will add the dreamcatcher, and hope for the best!

(Not sure the significance of dreamcatchers, click here)

Sense of Peace

Thursday, May 6, 2010

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Sunday, Sarah and I went and spent an afternoon alone.  It was funny because, even though we see each other regularly, it's often "Mommy-Aunt Sarah" time and not "Michele-Sarah" time.  While it may sound strange to Peter, it's not the same. We still chat and hang out, but we're both focused on the baby in our arms.  And that changes things.  So, Daddy got some Daddy-time, and Mommy and Aunt Sarah put on their Michele and Sarah faces, and left.

Now, of course, our trip was focused on getting things for the kids, but we also played the radio loud and sang along (Bon Jovi anyone???) and then grabbed iced coffee and just laid back for a half hour at Starbucks.  We got a great (second) highchair and some beautiful outfits at a consignment store, then off to Target, where the kids got their first exersaucer (and, because of how they play with it, we may be getting a second one...).  Aunt Sarah spoils them and, although I tell her she need not buy them things, she doesnt always listen (and the kids love her more for it... although I think they love her lots because she gets down in the floor and plays with them!)

We had just left the house and were talking, and it dawned on me that, although the pain is just below the surface, and although I know it will always hurt, and I'll always wonder "what if...", that I've come to a place of peace about our miscarriages and Nick, Sophie, and Alex's deaths.  I cant hear Bobby laugh or watch Maya clasp her hands in front of her when she smiles and gets giddy, and want for something else.  To do so, to wish our losses had never happened...  It's to wish them away...  To wish more than just Bobby and Maya away...  I love them all so much; I want them all so much.  The pain is a small price to pay to have held them all, to have known them all, to have loved them and love them still.

It was as if a huge weight of grief lifted off my shoulders in those first five minutes from home.  I still miss them.  My arms ache to hold them all.  My heart hurts.  But, in that pain is peace.  A peace that I was their mother- that I still am.  That they lived, albeit shorter than we wanted, inside of me and in their father's arms.  That, without them, there wouldnt be Bobby and Maya.

I watch them sleep and I see their siblings in their faces... Hear them in their laughs...  Feel them in their hugs...  And it's good.  It's okay.  It is a balm for my bleeding heart.

We passed Alexander's due date on the 3rd.  We've never really put much stock in EDDs, but it was crazy to think that, had he been born a year ago, there would be no Bobby and Maya.  It will be eye opening as well, I think, to pass Nicholas and Sophia's in July, and realize that our cuddlebug wouldnt have entered our lives, in addition to Bobby and Maya.  I have no doubt that we would have had more children... But it wouldnt have been them...  And my life, although I wouldnt know it, would be emptier.

It's strange... This new place on the journey.  We've been walking towards it for a while.  And how can you not?  Living brings you farther from loss, but living with children after a life walked with empty arms brings you a day closer to milestone after milestone.  It shows you just how much you really, truly lost when your babies died; it shows you just how much you gained because of it.

It's easier, I'm sure, because I know that my children live on in the next world, and that they arent "lost" to me.  It's easier because Bobby and Maya are here, safe and sound.  It's easier because I am married to a man who is my "lean to", who shares my brokenness and my wholeness.   It's easier because I still feel my babies all around and dont feel completely separated from them.

But it's hard too...  To look at Bobby and Maya and wonder... To know that life wouldnt be the same...

When we got pregnant 9 years ago, we were still, very much, children ourselves.  Fairly early into our marriage, financially insecure...  We would have made it work, but we would have struggled.  Little P wouldnt have had the life we wanted for him, but he would have been so loved.  Two and a half years ago, when we got pregnant with Nicholas and Sophia, we were more emotionally ready.  We knew the pain of miscarriage and infertility.  But we were still part of the ignorant pregnant.  We walked around in the bliss of early pregnancy, not really considering loss as part of the equation.  We werent as financially stable as we wanted to be and knew that, once I stopped working, money would be tight and it would be hard to swing things.  But we would have worked hard to give them a good life, and they would have been loved.  Our miscarriage with Little D was hard to swallow...  It was hope in pain, light in darkness.  Even though we were only pregnant such a short time, dreams were shattered all over again.  But pregnancy with Alexander brought with it a renewed hope.  And the belief that "lightening couldnt strike twice".  We were still broken from Nick and Sophie's deaths, and we were terribly afraid, to the point that we didnt tell very many people that we were pregnant, for fear of telling them we werent.  Not telling didnt exactly save us because lightening can strike twice in one place.  Losing Alexander was the pinnacle of pain.  Nothing- not even a previous infant death- provides an inkling of what it feels like to lose another child, another pregnancy.  At the end, we were able to find peace in knowing his birth was imminent, and we were able to enjoy the time we had with him.  But there was really no way to prepare for the pain that we knew would come.  We still werent where we wanted to be financially, but we had moved into our home just before getting pregnant with Nicholas and Sophia, and we were prepared to do whatever it took to give Alexander a stable home... He would be loved... And that was most important.  Like D, sweet little Z brought us such joy for the short time she was with us.  She gave us permission to hope again... to believe again...  to find the strength to breathe again.  When we found out that she wasnt with us, the pain stung like a child who believed in Santa only to find out, by mistake, that it was their parents all along.

When we got pregnant with Bobby and Maya, we had already decided that we wouldnt try again if they passed away.  We felt like we couldnt control what happened and didnt want more children to suffer (if they did suffer) from being born so early that every breath was a struggle and painful.  We opted for the cerclage with hope that it would work.  We did the bed rest and every other thing we were told.  And seeing Bobby and Maya, breathing and pink and big for their gestational age...  It was such a hopeful time.  The impact of their prematurity weighed in after, but at that moment...  They were perfect.  Our NICU rollercoaster wasnt that bad, and I think that also played into feeling like they were going to be okay.  We were in a position where we could be at the hospital, where we werent living paycheck to paycheck, so that fear was alleviated. We dont have a lot of family nearby, but we have friends who are family, and we were very supported.  Bringing them home, and having my mom and grandma here, and Peter's parents and my dad here, and our friends... It was such a scary time, but such a happy time.

The last eight months have been insane.  Floods of grief, showers of delight.  Pain mingled with joy.  Aching arms filled.  Aching hearts cuddled.  Baby kisses to wipe away orphaned mother/father tears.  And now, finally, a sense of peace.  A feeling that this- the here and now- is the why.  That, although I'll never know why it is the "why", that I have to embrace it.  For Bobby and Maya.  For Peter.  For Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.  For our miscarried babies.

For me.

You Are a Beautiful Mother

Sunday, May 2, 2010

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United in grief, we find love and strength.

Thank you, Carly, from Love Reign Over Me for creating International Babylost Mother's Day (1st Sunday in May)

Per Your Request...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

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I received some questions about the bolsters, so here are some pictures.  To make, per our friend's instructions, take a large, soft towel.  Fold the edges over to accommodate the size of bolster pillow you'll be using.  Make a tight seam. Slip the bolster through. Viola!  You can wash the towel when dirty and, when the kids dont need it anymore, remove the hem and you have two nice size towels!






















***
I think one of the strengths of blogs is that you can share opinions and advice with other folks, so thank you for all the questions and advice and comments about moving Bobby and Maya into twin beds.  


We opted to do this over buying another crib.  Our crib was $300 and, now that the kids together have grown out of it, it was either move them into twin beds or buy another crib.  Peter and his brother went to beds early (I think Robert was 8 months old).  We decided that we'd rather spend the money for another crib on other items.  Their beds are only 19" from the floor (including the mattress) so there isnt a huge fall, when you consider the height of toddler beds.  Peter bought "invisible rails" for the sides, so, once the bolsters dont work, we'll move to those.  (And, honestly, I'd like to see those go up sooner rather than later...)


The kids sleep better in their own rooms than they did before.  In the crib, although they loved (and still love during naps) to snuggle, there wasnt a lot of room for them to move around.  In their own beds/room, Maya can sleep without being woken by Bobby, who gets up a bit earlier than she does.  And Bobby doesnt have to worry about being slugged by Maya, who just wants him to hush and go back to sleep! 


As to what we'll do when they start to walk around...  I have no idea!  At this point, they love their sleep and want to go "night night".  I'm sure that will change, too...  I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there!!!