Sunday, May 3, 2015

Just the beginning

This spring marked 7 years since we moved back to Michigan from California.
Seven Years.
I ask myself, just how in the blink of an eye, we have been back here as long as we lived out in CA.
Most days I still don't believe it.
Part of my heart will always be in Orange County...
by the ocean,
at Camp Pendleton
and with all of my friends who I had to leave.

And this spring also marks the journey we began with Will.
The journey of hell.
So this spring, I was ready to start something new.
Since moving back here, so much has changed.
Some things are good,
and some things are not.
Either way, my health and weight has been a constant thought.

Tim and I were so fit out west.
Sure, we didn't have kids and all we did was work, eat great healthy food (besides In-n-Out) and exercise.
Being active out there is easy.
Not so much.
So in true Michigan fashion we packed on some winter weight, add that to the grief of losing a child and some other pretty big stresses and we found ourselves somewhere we had never been:
Well, I'm sick of it.
I'm sick of not wanting to get out of bed most mornings.
And I'm sick of always feeling like I need a nap when my son takes one.

As of tomorrow Tim and I will be doing the IsaGenix IsaBody Challenge.
And I couldn't be more excited.
For me this system has everything I need and want.
I'm not going to get into details just yet because I want to experience it first.
But blogging about this journey is going to help with my accountability.

So let's see where this next little adventure takes me...
because I'm ready for something fabulous.

Friday, July 11, 2014

In honor of Will

About a week before Will's birthday and heavenly anniversary I begin to get emotional.
Its this strange thing that I can never fully explain or even understand,
but my heart and soul know that these few days are solely his...
and he becomes the center of my thoughts.
Even in the chaos that is now my home.
I just can't even begin to imagine that it has been 6 years since I last held him.

Sure, we have found a new "sense of normal" but Will's death is still in my daily thoughts and I know now that won't ever change.
With the passing of time, I don't cry like I used to.
And I gladly share his story without tears.
but for whatever reason...
Mid-July leaves me quiet in my thoughts and a bit weepy.

Last night I poured a glass of wine and did my quick scan of Facebook while cooking dinner.
Then I saw something that literally took my breath away.
I turned my attention to an organization that had been linked by a consignment shop where I sell my boys clothes.

This organization accepts women's wedding dresses,
and makes them into Angel Gowns.
What are they exactly?
Beautiful gowns given to families for the babies that never get to leave the hospital.

This is the destiny of my wedding dress.
And it couldn't have come at a better time.

My gown is currently sitting in a box in our garage,
the last of some boxes that I don't know what to do with exactly.
Too valuable in memories, it has been saved with certain dreams.
Moved across the country twice.
Stored for too many years in the dark.

Its time for that dress to have a new meaning and a new life.

The night that Will died,
the nurses did the best with what they had.
Donations to the NICU in the form of handmade gowns and blankets.
But these Angel Gowns?
They are sacred and absolutely stunning.

The outfit the bereavement nurses put Will into when they brought him to us?
I absolutely hated it.
I have never said anything.
Didn't want to make anyone feel bad.
But it was this awful scratchy white gown that looked like something I would dress my Cabbage Patch Kid in as a little girl. Cross-stiched red hearts and all.
And I was absolutely horrified that the one outfit my son wore was the same one he would die in...

Simply put: It was so ugly it distracted me from the moment.

I had expected to see him simply in a diaper and brought to us wrapped in a blanket.
I wanted to be able to hold him for the first time, at 52 hours old, and take in his features that I would never again be able to see in this life.
His arms, legs, his beautiful head without some doll bonnet on it.
I just wanted to see...Him.

After that first hour, and Will's heart had eventually beat for the last time,
the first thing we did was change him.
I had found this tiny blue outfit at Baby Gap,
but the legs and sleeves still had to be rolled up.
The one irrational thought pulsing through my head was at least he was in something soft and comfortable...
It probably seems confusing to people that have never dressed their baby for the first and last time.
That I would even care about what he was or wasn't wearing.
But what he wore, ended up being in nearly every photo that I will ever have of him.
That outfit is preserved in time and now sits in his box.
I have one small box of things in which to remember my son.
And that little blue outfit I changed him into is a huge part of that.

Now suddenly, 6 years later, I know that if Will had worn an Angel Gown it would have been the most beautiful thing. A meaningful keepsake. A most thoughtful gesture given by a stranger. So that is what I want to do. In honor of Will.

Here is where I will be shipping my wedding gown next week
In Honor of Will for his 6th birthday
July 17~July 19, 2008:

NICU Helping Hands
C/O Ideal Partners
6913 Camp Bowie BLVD Suite 181
Fort Worth, Texas 76116

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where has the time gone?

Most days are filled with trying to meet the demands of my crazy children.
There is always some sort of complete chaos going on in our home.
If I want peace and quiet, I go to hot yoga and lose myself for 60 seems I can never get there more than 2-3 times a week when I should probably go every day.
And the days just go...

But even so, I find its May.
May. And the year? 2014.
How has it been 6 years since we have moved here and this whole thing began?
To anyone who has had a child die, I will say that we have finally established our "new sense of normal." And yes, its taken 6 long years. But I can finally say that I am happy.
That is something that I never thought I would feel again.

And even though I am happy, and loving my children and my life...
the grief is still there.
It still sneaks up, surprising at times.
Today I went to the store and the cashier announced my total: $17.19
Those aren't just numbers to me.
They are forever tattooed on my soul as Will's days: July 17: his birth and July 19: his death. Why those numbers? Why together? And why today?

Or last week when I was at hot yoga and the teacher was guiding us in our breath and talking about its meaning (as they do a lot) and she used this analogy of watching a loved one sleep or watching someone else breath...
And my mind immediately went back to those 52 hours in the NICU and watching my sweet baby's chest rise and fall. I watched him breathe and pleaded with God to heal his lungs. He was so beautiful and perfect and yet on the inside there was something broken. And as everyone found their breath in class I was suddenly struggling for mine as tears streamed down my face.

And so it remains with me.

Nearly six years later. On the outside I may look put together again...and happy. Hell, I even wear mascara again.
But something, will always inherently be broken.
And I'm okay with that.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to stress yourself out...

Blogging is what I love,
but I love being a mom & wife first...
so usually (well, lately) those two things have been taking up all my time. And I haven't written since October! Truthfully, I have written a few posts but chose not to post them simply because I didn't have time to completely finish them and deemed them less than "perfect."

But today, I am going to write about the other thing that has taken up all my time. Just to recap, last fall we sold our house and decided to build. Long story short, the builder was taking a really long long time and we fell in love with a different part of our city, Grand Rapids. Fast forward to now. We decided against our original plan and have now been working on selections for our new townhome. Its amazing how much work and detail go into colors and floors and cabinets. I'm obsessed. Especially with pinterest and, which is a designers dream! But I'm back to blogging, because I want to document this project...cause its kind of a big deal for our family.

So, here's some of the first photos of our "blank canvas"

                                                                       Living Room

                                                                     Master Bedroom


                                                                       2nd Bedroom

                      Huge Basement! To the right are the laundry room, another full bath and bedroom...

I must admit that while its always been a dream of ours to build our own home, it is truly one of the most stressful things. And we've been through a lot! But it has been fun to work on a project and slowly see some things coming together. Lots more photos to come so I can share our new homes transformation! Just another quick photo of the lights I am trying to decide between for over the kitchen island. Any thought?!

This is the Benson Pendant from Restoration Hardware....

And then we have something totally different! The Clarissa Chandelier from Pottery Barn. Although I am noting that the metal is more bronze in person that this photo shows.

Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snapshot in time

I can't even begin to catch up on all the lost days since this summer.
There is one explanation for my lack of writing: my boys keep me very busy.
And in the chaos of the day, I often don't have time to even feed myself...
let alone to really think about Will or miss Sophie or do anything else that was my life just two short years ago. And while that isn't a bad thing~it is different.

Jack & Declan grow every day and time goes too fast.
It goes too fast because most days I accomplish nothing except for playing and laughing and maybe writing down a "to do" list for when I do get that time back that eludes me.
But for right now, I am content with story time and keeping fingers from getting smashed in drawers.
Just when I get used to this life, it will change again...

Its fall.
The season that I missed most of all in California.
Everything changes here and this fall is no different.
Our house has finally gotten an offer and we will be moving.
A part of me has wanted this for so long,
and now that it is here its almost hard to let go.

We had huge dreams for this place.
We never wanted to move again...
and as quickly as we got here and then Will died,
well, I couldn't wait to leave.
And then we had Jack and the house wasn't so empty anymore.
But it could never be what I had imagined it to be.
Too many rainy days,
too many days staring out the window and crying and wondering how I was going to keep living.
And then Sophie died too.

I guess I know there won't ever be a perfect house,
but I am ready for a new chapter.
And in the meantime, living closer to the city will help too.
But leaving this place and the dreams I had for it,
is still more difficult than I thought it would be.

Will was here, even if it was only when I was pregnant with him,
and the memories I have of Sophie running around in our yard still flash in my mind every time I go outside to play with Jack.

I had ghosts in California too.
Memories of Marines with their families at picnics and dinners, and then those memories playing even though I knew they had died.
But now when I go back to those places, I don't really see the things I used to.
I guess I am ready for that here too.
I want to move forward, remembering the past but not being held captive by it.

So as all the leaves change,
I'll pack boxes and get redy for our own new change.
Building a house.
Like I said before, I'm busy...but apparently not too busy to design and build a new house.

Whew. Better dust off the computer too.
This is will be one big adventure,
time to blog about it so that one day I can look back and proudly proclaim that it is just one more thing that I survived:)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Balloons for brother...

The day of Will's funeral and his little tree ~ 2008

Our family in front of Will's tree ~ 2012

Jack clinging to his balloon, telling me "No!" when I told him to let it go :)

Today its been 4 years.
And after all this time, many things have changed.
And many things have not.
My heart and body still know this day.
Without warning I cry.
I feel lost.
I feel anxious.
I am still grieving.
My living children have no idea.
Not yet anyway.
In the coming years they will come to learn that these are "Will's days."
The time of year when I really cannot escape the emotions that build up over the course of the year and suddenly burst out.
I miss him.
I wonder what our family would be like if he hadn't died.
And now that Jack is almost 2, I especially wonder what Will's personality would have been like.
Would he have been more laid back and chill like Declan?
Or full of sass, stubborn and crazy like Jack.
I'll never know.
It sucks to go through life with such questions.

The other new struggle is how to teach our living children about their brother.
Each year we don't know what to do.
I questioned if should finally find a plot and have him buried here in Michigan.
But what if we leave, or move out of state again?
The thought of leaving him here is absolutely devastating.
So his ashes remain in our bedroom.
There is no grave to visit,
no good way to explain to Jack...
Sometimes I wonder if it would also be easier for me to visit a grave.
To see his name etched in stone,
something permanent.
Something for the world to see.
Maybe some day...

But this year we decided we had to do something.
So we got a cake.
G & G and Uncle Eric came over.
We took a photo in front of Will's tree,
and had 4 balloons.
Our new little tradition.
After the cake, we went out back and let go of our balloons with messages of love scribbled on them.
I explained to Jack that they were for his big brother and that they would float up to heaven.
We let them go and watched them float away.
All except Jack.
"Let it go," I gently coaxed him.
And in true Jack fashion, he quietly said, "No."
After a few more minutes he relucantly let go.
We watched them quickly float up and out of sight.

"Oh, wow!" he said...
Yeah, I thought to myself.
How has it been 4 years since I last held my baby?
I remember that first night when he died and being put into the hospital bed as Tim climbed in next to me. Most of that night is a blur, except for the pain and a few random thoughts.
One of those thoughts was how I was going to make it. And what was our life going to look like after such a horrible thing happened? How long before I would feel normal again? What would it be like when his death happened years ago and not just minutes and hours?
And here we are.
4 years and 2 healthy boys later.
I am truly blessed.
And I remember this as I cry tonight,
but it somehow doesn't make it any easier.
I have accepted that I will spend my whole life missing Will & loving him through the 2 boys here with me now.

And next year,
there will be 5 balloons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What have we been up to?!?!

Has it really been MONTHS since I've blogged?!?
Being a mommy to two little boys under 2...
well, I have finally met my match.
I am no longer the super organized, time-effecient, never-late woman that I used to be.
Oh, she's still in spirit. But it may be years before I'm a version of my former self!
Wouldn't have it any other way.

So what have we been up to?
Every day is an adventure.
Sleep deprivation??
No wonder they use it on POW's...
you suddenly lose the ability to really care about non-important things.
Which is fine, and even after Will dying, it is impossible to go back to our former selves where I spent my time distracting myself with only temporary material things of this world.

But suddenly, summer is upon us and I am faced with the 4th year anniversary of Will's birth and death.
4 years.
It still doesn't seem real.
There is still a hole.
And there are days I just want to cry and be left alone,
only now I simply don't have that option.
People say that time heals all, anyone who had had their child die knows that this is complete crap.
It is the darkest thing, watching a piece of yourself die.
And suddenly I have been thrust into the past and having to watch friends come to know this pain.
It is the kind of tragedy where I silently wished it would never happen to anyone I know.
Life had other plans.

Trying to help someone when I know there is really nothing I can do is also frustrating.
Everyone grieves differently and has different situations.
But the pain is the same.
Only now, with time, I am the other person now.
The woman who lost her first child but now has two healthy boys.
Somehow this is supposed to lessen the initial blow that life dealt me.

But what about the feelings that never really go away?
The times when I swore I would never take me kids for granted or get angry or lose my patience?
Suddenly, I am a "normal" mom who's kids can drive her absolutely insane.
When did this suddenly happen?
At what point in time, did my grieving end and my life begin again?
And at what moment did I simply wish one of my son's would just STOP crying when I always longed to hear Will make any noise at all?

Even as I type, Jack is climbing on me like a human jungle gym even though he has a mountain of toys and a sand table to keep him occupied here outside while I try to type my first blog in months?!!?
I am annoyed.
Because I am human.
And I am a mom who now not only has to juggle a 23 month old and a 7 month old and push back those moments when I still think to myself that there should be a nearly 4 year old here too.

And so my observation to those new parents who suddenly find themselves without their baby they longed so much for?
Life somehow continues.
You find a new sense of normal.
Yet you never forget and you are never the person you were before.
How could you be?
And even with the birth of an additional child there are struggles, because after all, how can you ever stop thinking about "what could have been/should have been?"
You don't. And you can't.
In your mind, you keep that alive.
Because thinking about what your life would be like if they were still alive...well, its honestly the only thing you have left of your child that has died.
So you imagine them in your family at that moment, and find peace that someday your family will be whole and comlete again.
Just not here on this earth,
or even in this lifetime.
And that is why you never really "get over it."