Sunday, February 5, 2017

Baby L's Nursery

It only took 10 months for us to finish L's nursery...that's not bad for a second child, right?! Because we moved when L was 3 months old, we didn't do much to the nursery in DE. And then in MS, we learned it is really hard to finish a nursery when the baby is living in it already, because prime time to work on things is when the baby is sleeping. But it's hard to work in the room where the baby is sleeping! So the lesson learned-finish the baby's room before the baby comes.

His room wasn't terrible before this, but it also just didn't feel quite right. Nothing really went together and it felt a little chaotic. All it took was some matching sheets and changing pad cover, new bins, new art, and it feels much more intentional now! When I walk in, I feel happy, which is always the true test for me when I decorate a room. I'm sure he doesn't notice any difference, but maybe he will appreciate the pictures of it when he is older.

Of course he needs a basketball hoop ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sometimes motherhood isn't all it's cracked up to be...

When I woke up this morning, I tried to take a few minutes laying in bed to mentally prepare myself for the day. Josh was up with Lewis, so I was afforded the luxury of 30 extra minutes in bed by myself.

Today took some mental preparation, because this whole motherhood gig hasn't been easy lately, and I all but dreaded one more day of being home. Maybe the reality of living in Mississippi is finally sinking in, maybe it's Lewis being sick and being unable to leave the house much with him, maybe it's me finally starting to miss my career and the kiddos I used to help everyday. Most likely it's a combination of all of these things, hitting hard all at once. So I tried to pause this morning and prepare for what will likely be another long day following around a sick baby with a tissue, while balancing his own strong desire to move around in spite of his limited mobility.

This week has been tough and there have been moments where I've hid in the kitchen to be out of site of Lewis so he won't cry for me to help him walk around...where I've shed a few tears over my old job and old home and old friends and old favorite places...where I've fretted about the incoming president and wondered what I can do to help my country right now...and many moments where I've complained to my loving Josh and dear friend Amelia, both who understand all of this all too well. It has not been my prettiest week.

In spite of these terrible and hard moments though, there are moments to focus on. And that was a significant portion of my moment of reflection this morning, to try and focus on the moments that matter and hopefully the moments that I will remember. I have a picture of Sloane set as my background on my phone, and seeing her helps me remember to be grateful for every moment I have with Lewis, even the hard ones. And I am-- I am so grateful for Lewis, even in the midst of the snot and cough and tears and whining, I would choose that a million times over not having him with here. He does not make life easier, but he does make my life more full and more joyful and gives me a focus. And even in the midst of the terribleness of this week, there have been moments that I hope I remember- his cheesy grin when he's trying to get out of eating anything else, the 10 seconds of morning snuggles he gave me, his intense focus on trying to reach Franklin. He is a wonderful and miraculous little guy, and I hope to regain a more grateful perspective for his beautiful presence in my life.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Cause if we're talkin bodies..."

Opportunities to hold Lewis while he sleeps are few and far between these days as we work on getting him to sleep on his own in his crib. But on the rare occasions it still happens (like today), I soak it up. I know to many he is still a little baby, but to us he seems so much bigger every day! Because when he lays on my chest, I think of how not long ago, he was such a very teeny tiny baby who found such solace from hearing my heart beat. And how not long before that when I was still pregnant, I was all he knew.

As he laid on my chest and I reminisced about how far he has come and how far we have come together, I started to think about bodies. Josh and I have had plenty of conversations about how unfair various aspects of motherhood vs. fatherhood seem, many of which are because they take their toll on a woman's body physically. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding...each of these by themselves is not for the faint of heart. But pile them on top of each other one right after another and it has the potential to lead to some difficulties.

I've never really struggled with self-image or body image save a short stint freshman year in college when I thought I was fat thanks to a stupid personal trainer. I worked out a little too much, went on a cabbage soup diet, and then was thankfully saved at Thanksgiving when I remembered how much I love real food. But I've pretty much always worn the same size of clothes and could most of the time walk into a store and find something that I liked on me.

After having Sloane, there were physical aspects that were devastating that I've mentioned previously, but I had the luxury of being able to run as much as I wanted anytime I wanted. This was crucial to my healing and recovery, plus as I worked hard, I was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy size relatively quickly.

With Lewis, while I have this sweet babe to hold in my arms,  I am more limited in how much I can exercise and when I can exercise. Added to that is the cumulative effect that pregnancy and childbirth seem to have on most women--the second time around your body changes even more and it seems a little more permanent.

So I've found myself on a bit of a journey with my body in the past few months. I will always carry with me the emotional and physical scars from the births of my two babies. But I don't mind the C-section scar, and I really don't even mind the stretch marks. The hardest part for me has been having that pile of clothes that I love in the back of my closet that juuuuuust don't quite fit. And walking into a store and not loving everything that I try on, but having to be more strategic about how to dress this strangely new curvier body I now have.

A lot of days, getting dressed, looking in the mirror, and not recognizing the image looking back at me can be frustrating. But then there are those now-rare moments when I get to hold that sweet baby boy while he's napping, and with his head over my heart, our bodies still seem to fit so comfortably together and I know I would do it all again. The heartbreak, the waiting, the tears, and now the bigger clothes and different body...I would do it all again to have this little boy asleep in my arms. I know I won't be able to hold him like this for long. As he learns to crawl and move more on his own that distance between us will grow more and more and our bodies will feel less comfortable together than on their own. So I will work on soaking up that feeling and remembering the great and wonderful things my body has done for me and my babies.


The funny thing about grief is that it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. You'll be walking along in your life dealing with the day-to-day, then all of a sudden, BAM. It hits you like the trauma just happened yesterday, and it is there, and fresh and raw and you have to deal with it. And the difference is that hopefully by now, you've learned to deal with it better than you knew how to at first. Maybe not always, but maybe sometimes you're more equipped. You have more tools in your toolbox to get through this wave.

For me, one of my tools to deal with grief is writing. Writing in my blog, writing letters to Sloane, writing letters to Lewis. My emotions process more easily on paper than they do swirling around in my brain, so I get them down and write people are usually so nice about what I write. That's an added bonus when people actually get something out of what I write.

Today is September 1. Two years ago, this was going to be the month I would meet my baby girl! I was starting my new job as a first year school psychologist, and anxiously awaiting baby girl's arrival. I was due 9/22, but hopeful like most pregnant women to go a little early. So perhaps this is why the grief hits me today. September means the start of fall (in most places besides Mississippi...), and fall means the birth of my little girl. But history shows us that Sloane did not come in September, silly girl waited until October. It seems both of my children are stubborn and have minds of their own, waiting until they wanted to come. So maybe it is because her birthday is just a month and a day away, and I find myself thinking of what we will do this year to remember her and celebrate her birth while still honoring her death. It's hard to celebrate a birthday and a deathday all at once.

Regardless of what brought on the grief, I found myself writing today. Mind you, I am no poet, but sometimes words come out of my head and this time that took the form of a poem. Lewis and I had a rough morning and night, so these words poured out my mind effortlessly.

When my arms grow heavy from carrying you,
I think how grateful I am to hold you.

When my eyes burn and tears fall from lack of sleep,
I think how grateful I am you are here to keep me up.

When all I want is 5 minutes of peace or to take a shower,
I think how grateful I am you demand my attention.

When my ears tire of your cries because you hate falling asleep alone,
I think how grateful I am to have the chance to rock you.

Through the long days and sleepless nights,
I think how grateful I am to hold your warm body and feel your breath on my cheek.
Your very existence is a miracle, and that will never be lost on me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Parenting a Rainbow Baby

I have been quiet on the blog lately bc our lives have been consumed with packing tape and moving boxes! While our house is far from done, it is livable and I have found myself needing a break this week from the craziness of moving. So back to the blog!

We have come a long way in the three months since Lewis was born. Newborn life was absolutely terrible and no amount of time or amnesia will ever let me forget how terrible it was. The combination of hormones, trouble breastfeeding, reflux or something like it was not pretty and was not handled well by me. But we survived and I now know that life with a baby indeed does get better! So if there will be other children in our future, it will not be because I have forgotten the horrors that are newborns, but it will be because I know that time is relatively short and there is hope and goodness to follow. (Like this adorable cheesy grin below!)

My thoughts lately have been on my short experience thus far parenting a "rainbow baby," or a baby born after loss. Pregnancy after loss had it's own ups and downs, as does parenting after loss. 

I found myself in Lewis' room last night rocking him to sleep crying. Crying because of the weight of him in my arms, and the warmth of his little body, felt so sweet. Crying because I will always remember all too well the physical emptiness that my arms and my body felt after Sloane died. But I don't feel that physical emptiness anymore. While my heart will always feel as though it has a hole from her absence, it is more than wonderful to have the physical emptiness taken away by my sweet baby boy. 

I know that having Sloane, and losing Sloane, has made me so much better of a mother than I ever would have been otherwise. It sucks that that is how it had to be, but I appreciate literally every second with Lewis. I don't think I am naturally cut out for this whole SAHM gig, and I already miss my school psychology, but I appreciate so much that I get to be home with Lew because I know that tomorrow is not guaranteed for my sweet babe. And if the day ever comes that he too, is taken, I want to know that I gave him too many kisses, too many hugs, too many snuggles, and that we read too many books, went for too many walks, and played too many silly games. I feel so much more motivation to be an amazing mother to him (or try...) because I don't have that opportunity to physically care for Sloane. So he gets all the love for both of them! 

I am sure these feelings on parenthood in general and parenthood after loss specifically will change as the stages of my life and of Lew's life change. But for now, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his presence and place in our family, and for the many lessons that Sloane continues to teach me. 

Baby boy at baby girl's grave, May 2016

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

38 Weeks with Baby L!

We tried to take regular photos during the pregnancy with Baby L to capture every moment we had with him. After losing Sloane, we didn't want to miss anything.

Physically, the pregnancy was great, although I seemed to experience a lot more of the stereotypical pregnancy symptoms than I did with Sloane. I had strange cravings (pickles and chocolate for dinner, anyone??), was forgetful, and more emotional. For most of the pregnancy however, I really enjoyed being pregnant. Like everyone, I got to the point where I was tired of wearing the same 4 outfits over and over, tired of sleeping on my side, and tired of feeling so large, but I really did try to appreciate being pregnant. The process of creating and carrying a new little person is incredible to me and I love seeing how my body changes to accommodate this new little person.

Emotionally, this pregnancy was tough, not surprisingly. It took me a long time to even accept that I was pregnant again and I felt pretty disconnected for awhile. Every ultrasound was scary until I could feel him move regularly. There were so so many times I convinced myself he was dead. I think this was a self-preservation coping mechanism, because if I convinced myself he was dead, and he really was, then it wouldn't be a surprise. But if I convinced myself he was dead, and he was alive, then I could just be relieved.

So here is my pregnancy journey with our little guy!

One Month

Baby L is one month old! Our monthly picture set up needs some work, but maybe by month 12 we will have it perfected.
By now life has somewhat normalized. Breastfeeding still isn't my favorite thing in the world, but it's manageable. We met with the lactation consultant again and she said that we are pretty much at the best it is going to be for the time being. Which was what I needed to hear to help me accept where we are at with it. I'm happy to be done with the nipple shields and optimistic that at some point in the future, maybe I'll start to enjoy it more. We have made tremendous progress since where we started, evidenced by the fact that I don't dread and cry through every feeding anymore. Now I just need to work on relaxing my back, neck, and wrists...
L has some pretty terrible gas at times and we think he likely has reflux. This means a lot of the time, he screams when he's hungry, then he eats and it's peaceful, then he screams when he's done, then he sleeps and it's peaceful. So we try and soak up the peaceful moments as much as we can to get us through the screaming. He really is so sweet and adorable and it's painful to watch him be in pain like that, so we keep trying new ways to help him get through it. I am happy to be able to enjoy his cuteness more now that he is not the source of so much pain breastfeeding. 

My hormones have also mostly stabilized, so I spend far less time crying than I did two weeks ago. It was so rough for a bit there, I honestly did not know how I would survive. But the funny thing is that we don't often have too much of a choice when it comes to survival. It may not be pretty (and I assure you, it wasn't!), but if we just keep going, at some point it does get better. With newborns, as with so many other things in life ;)

Things to remember about L at one month: 
  • Weighs over 9 lbs. Way to go baby! This means he has outgrown some of his newborn clothes and is starting to fit into some of his 0-3 month clothes (pictured above). 
  • He loves tummy time and is starting to stay awake for longer periods of time after he eats. 
  • He started using a pacifier this week and it seems it may become his new best friend. 
  • On a good night, he sleeps for 3 hours at a time. On a bad night, he sleeps for 1.5 hours at a time and we all cry. 
  • He loves staring out windows and being outside.
  • He grabs onto your clothes when you hold him. 
  • He likes to take naps resting his head on his hands. 
  • He continues to make the funniest face while stretching after he eats (pictured below from when he was about 2 weeks old).
  • He fits in and likes to be carried in the Baby Bjorn. We've tried a wrap a couple of times, but I'm not skilled enough yet to feel comfortable with it. 
Here's to one month of survival and one month of breastfeeding!