Monday, October 17, 2011

Angel Days and Rainbow Babies

I remember reading a book covering the topics of loss and grief not too long after Matthew died.  One of the topics in the book that scared me was that the second year after a loss is so much harder than the first.  The first you are still experiencing shock and denial and in the second here, you hit reality.  You realize that the person you lost isn't returning and that they did exist and the pain of forever slaps you in the face.  I completely believe that.  I do believe that the second year is like a punch in the throat.

I also believe that there is a part about having a "rainbow" baby that no one tells you about.  No one tells you that it is so similar to that second year.

There is obviously so much joy and happiness with each and every baby you have.  And there is so much hope and promise.  And with a rainbow baby, I think you have a different kind of appreciation.  You know how easily it can sleep away and that turns you into a different parent than you were before.  There is so much gratitude and for me at least, even more patience.

But, there is also a different kind of reminder.  With everything new Samantha does, I'm reminded in a different way of what we didn't have with Matthew.  We didn't get to see that first grin, hear those first little giggles, listen to him click and clack his tongue, watch him explore a lemon wedge, encourage him to take his first steps or chase after him as he laughs, crawling at the fastest pace he has down the hallway.

It's not like I didn't realize I missed those things, but you tend to focus on the big aspects.  The first day of school, the first birthday, the first haircut.  You know, all the milestones and not so much the little things that make up so much of their personality and so much of their daily lives.

I think those realizations made Matthew's Angel Day harder this year than maybe it was before.  And maybe part of it was that daily fear that something is going to happen to Kaitlyn or Samantha.  And knowing that obviously October 15 is a bad day for our household, it didn't make me rest easy.

This year for Matthew's angel day, we took our time getting ready.  We had a big breakfast.  We got dressed and we went to the cemetery with the items the girls and I had purchased the day before.  Kaitlyn had drawn him a picture and wanted to read him a book like she does for Samantha every night.  She was worried about leaving the picture there though because she hates how the cemetery throws things away on a whim when they want to cut the grass.  We noticed some bald patches in the grass and made plans to fertilize it.  We talked to him.  Kaitlyn read to him and Samantha crawled towards his grave marker.

We celebrated him.  We honored his life.  We missed him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Anniversary No One Wants

Tomorrow is our "Anniversary No One Wants."  Tomorrow it will be 4 years since Matthew left our home to never return.

4 years since the frantic 911 call.

4 years since Dusty performed CPR.

4 years since that terrible ride to the ER.

4 years waiting for Dusty to get there.

4 years since the EMT told me there was nothing more they could do.

4 years since she took me into the ER and I saw the team frantically working on him.

4 years since I had to ask to hold him.

4 years since I begged them to at least remove the needle from him leg to cuddle him.

4 years since we sat with his body until the coroner arrived.

4 years since we left the hospital empty handed, again, only to not return for him.

4 years since we had to go home and reenact how we found him with a fake doll provided by the coronor.

4 years since we started waiting for answers.

4 years since we started wondering why.

4 years since our new life began, the life without him.

Tomorrow is Matthew's angel day.  The anniversary of his death.  If I could make the day disappear from the calendar I would in a heartbeat.  Tomorrow is also the "wave of light" and Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness day.  At 7:00 PM people are encouraged to light a candle for the little ones lost far too soon to begin a wave of light around the world for these missed princes and princesses.

When you have a baby, you never stop and think "what will I do if he dies?"  In the excitement of planning nurseries and birthday parties and cake smashing, you don't stop to think about how you would honor his life on the anniversary of the day he died.  You don't think about what the plan will be for his angelversarry.

Tomorrow, we will go to the cemetery.  We will decorate for fall.  We will tell him the 4 things we know he already knows.  We love him to the moon and back.  We miss him so much our hearts hurt.  We wish that he was here to play and learn and grow with us.  And we look forward to being reunited.

A lifetime can last as little has 70 days and leave an impact that touches the world for eternity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

11 months

This little girl is on the go and moving quickly towards her first birthday.  I cannot believe that this is the same little girl that was just in my belly a year ago punching, prodding, kicking and poking, getting nice and comfy in there.

She has grown so much in the last month.  She's up to:
20 lbs and 6 oz, which puts her at 51%
29.25 inches (or so?) which puts her at 73%
19" around the noggin, which puts her at  99.6%

She has really thinned out.  She still has chunky little thighs, but overall, she just looks thinner.  I'm sure it's part "I refuse to drink as much formula" and "If I'm awake, I'm on the go"

There are times when I cannot tell who is a bigger ham, Kaitlyn or Samantha.  Samantha is really big on mimicking you right now.  She loves to make faces and have faces made at her.  She loves playing peek a boo and with any of her toys that make noise.  She is cruising along like a pro now and on a couple of occasions has taken a step or two without holding onto anything.  Considering that she hasn't mastered standing and balancing yet, it might be a little while before she's walking.  

We've been battling an awful yeast diaper rash all month.  We even tried taking her off of all dairy to help, but it didn't really help anything.  So, we put her back on regular formula from the soy.  She hated soy.  Hated it.  Refused it.  She is loving food though.  She eats 3 meals a day and a couple of snacks.  An average breakfast for her is half a waffle and half a banana (she hates eggs for some reason and gags whenever they touch her tongue), lunch is usually some kind of meat, like chicken and veggies, dinner is whatever we're having.  She is down to about 15-18 oz of formula a day and sometime this month we'll start transitioning over to milk.  

Samantha's tongue has healed nicely and she uses it ALL the time.  She's constantly twisting it, turning it, pulling on it, sticking it out and being thrilled with it.  She obviously understands a few words like No, which doesn't mean she always follows instructions, but she knows what it means.  She says a couple of words.  She repeats No back to us and she says Dada.  She says mama, but not to me, mostly when she is tired and hasn't been to sleep yet.  With Dada though, she knows what she is saying.  She is an absolute Daddy's girl and gets so excited when he comes into view.

We're getting close to the girls' joint birthday party and I cannot wait!  Just one more month and she won't be our little baby anymore.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In a week

We will mark 4 years since Matthew left us.  4 years.

I notice that sometimes I fall into the same patterns I remember having right after his death.  A lot of days after feel like a blur.  I have minimal recollection of a lot of things while so many memories are so there and so forward in my brain that I feel like even if I took a scrubber to my brain, they will always be there.

While during the long hospital stay and our NICU stay the internet and message boards provided such a sense of support,  I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the internet after Matthew passed.  I didn't want to stumble across the wrong story, I didn't want to be asked how I was doing, I didn't want to feel pitied.  But, I used the computer a lot.  I played a lot of solitaire.  It was a distraction.  It forced my brain to not think about what we were experiencing.  It took my mind of the incredible pain of engorgement, or the fact that I didn't have any baby diapers to change, any bottoms to pat asleep and if people were around, it offered my an opportunity to be in control.

When my mind wasn't occupied, the tears would not stop.  How could they?  Our baby was gone and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.  A part of our life had ended and time had stopped for him and in a way for us.  Yet, for the rest of the world, life still went on.  People still had to go to work, had to eat, had to clean bathrooms and so did we.  Sometimes I think this is why I still like to stay so busy.

It's funny what the mind remembers.  I remember it being a long time before I could be by myself for even a moment.  I hated being by myself so much that I would have Dusty sit in the bathroom with me when I took a shower.  I'm not exactly sure why I was so afraid of being by myself.  While I can remember hat so clearly, I couldn't tell you how we got through Christmas.  Sometimes I still don't know how we get through Christmas.

4 years ago, we were a happy and hopeful family of 4.  Our biggest concerns were getting through the winter without Matthew being hospitalized with an infection and getting Kaitlyn to and from Speech therapy.  We had no idea what the future held for us.