Friday, July 23, 2010

If....

IF Matthew had lived, giving hand-me-downs to his baby brother would be a no-brainer.

IF Matthew had lived, moving him into a big-boy room and redoing his room to be a nursery for his baby brother would be exciting and fully joyful.

IF Matthew had lived, comparing his activity level in utero to his brother's activity level would be humorous and fun to compare the similarities.

IF Matthew had lived, thinking about what to do for his first birthday would be full of searching for ideas and dreaming of amazing memories of him eating his first birthday cake.

IF Matthew had lived, a 'shower' for Luke would be a given--not because he really 'needs' anything but to celebrate HIS life and give him his OWN things...just like his big brother had!

IF Matthew had lived, there would be so many different things and feelings....

But he didn't...and so while well-meaning, rational and practical statements like, "Well, you'd pass his hand-me downs on anyway," or "Another boy--now that's easy because you're all set!" make sense...trust me, things are far from easy.

Matthew's clothes are not outgrown and lovingly passed...they were never worn because he died. There was no growth. There were no sweet memories of stained spaghetti shirts that his brother will get to play in. There are tubs and tubs of clothes bought for Matthew...and passing hand-me downs on is not the same when the elder sibling never even lived long enough to need clothes.

If Matthew had lived, we'd be telling him that his baby brother is a big wiggle-worm just like he was when he was in mommy's tummy! Now when we make note of what a wiggler Luke is, it's bittersweet...not that Matthew maintains the monopoly on the term 'wiggle-worm' by any means...but when one's child dies, one tries to keep as many things unique to that child as one can. There are so few as it is...

If Matthew had lived, the issue of what to do with the nursery would be non-existent. Matthew would help us pick out all the things for his 'big boy' room and even help us pick out things for baby brother. The room would not always and forever be twinged with what it could have been...what it should have been....Instead of sitting in the rocker with Luke remembering the sweet memories of rocking his brother in the very same chair, no doubt there will be days that I will sit in that chair and wonder how it would have been to rock with Matthew...if Matthew would have felt like Luke did.

While it is true that the nursery is still in brand new condition and eagerly awaiting a baby boy...that baby boy it eagerly awaits is Matthew. Every thing in that room was lovingly and purposefully bought for Matthew. Children are not interchangeable. I cannot just delete Matthew and insert Luke.

Moreover, Luke deserves every bit of excitement and purposeful and loving planning that Matthew had. And he will get it. It's just not as easy.

One of the happiest days of my life was Matthew's shower. We were just abundantly blessed and it was one of those days that was just perfect. It was a day I couldn't wait to tell him about--to share with him how loved he was and how very, very excited so many were to be celebrating his life. Luke deserves a day like that too. He deserves a day that he is celebrated and receives things that were meant just for him. (John actually used the word 'monogrammed'--as in, "Luke needs his own things monogrammed with his name.") He deserves the memories in his baby book that show him his impending arrival brought so much joy to so many people.

But he doesn't 'need' anything. We don't 'need' anything. I thought about having a shower for our local pregnancy center in Luke's honor...and then even felt bad about that--Luke doesn't really 'need' anything because his brother died before he ever used any of his stuff and amazingly the seasons mostly match up--it would seem more like doing something in Matthew's memory than in Luke's honor.

It's all so messy and it gets even messier thinking about how Matthew's birthday is not too far away...and right around the time we'd have a shower for Luke. I know there are still four months, but they haunt me...what do I do for my dead son's first birthday while I am basically a month or so, give or take, away from my second son's LITERAL birthday?

At the beginning of this pregnancy, I felt like I was a ball of multi-colored yarn--all rolled up and messy and just a big tangle of emotions. Honestly, how could I not? In the course of the last 8 months, I have given birth to and buried a baby, and am 4 months pregnant with another. Lots of emotions and things I needed to go through with and for Matthew just had to be shelved because I had a mission--another pregnancy and doing all I could to ensure that his brother or sister would be healthy and happily received and grown.

Lately, I'd been feeling things seemed to be settling down in my life...no IVF protocol, good appointments that each day brought their own little reassurances, focusing on just enjoying every second with Luke....I felt like the ball of yarn was untangling. Less and less did it seem like there were a ton of colors, and all wound up, but more like two colors...and separating into their own individual balls. Matthew and Luke. Mourning Matthew and celebrating Luke. As they've unraveled, I have to admit their intensities have gotten stronger--I've been aching in such a strong way over Matthew, but have been truly falling more and more in love with Luke.

Now I'm starting to feel the yarns tangle again...as hurdles pop up and how to do justice to two the lives of my two little boys is always at the forefront of my mind.

I try not to live in the world of 'If' because I know it's not productive and doesn't change anything.

The truth is though that things that may 'look' easy and sound rational just aren't sometimes...and might have been....

If....

26 comments:

  1. I understand so much of what you are saying here. Thinking if you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, big hugs to you! I cannot imagine how you are dealing with the tangled emotions. Mourning and celebrating at the same time is SO hard to explain until you have to go through it. Your Matthew and Luke are SO lucky to have such a caring, loving, awesome mommy...praying for you as you work through all of this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. oh, Lori...I'm praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know I've never met you, but I think of you often, and I ache for your loss and celebrate your joy.

    There is probably no protocol for what you should do in this type of situation that's for sure.
    Do you want to keep and use Matthew's baby clothes for Luke? If you don't want to use them (for any reason at all), then you definitely shouldn't use them. Luke may not technically "need" anything, but maybe you need to keep some of Matthew's things unused. I was very adamant that my second son have some of his own "new" things. Just because he was second, didn't mean he couldn't have his own new things. So I had a baby shower for both.

    I know this doesn't compare, but I have two sons, both living. Of course, the second baby used much of the same clothes. But I had an idea to make a quilt out of squares of their onesies. As I started going through them, I realized there were some that reminded me of Logan, and some that reminded me of Griffin. Inevitably one thing fit one of them better, one of them used certain clothing more. So...now I'm making two quilts. I've cut tons of squares out of their tiny clothes.
    Maybe there's a way to keep some of Matthew's things and still give Luke some new baby stuff?
    Praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So sorry that you're having to go through this. Praying for you lady!!

    xoxox

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been wondering how all of this would be for you, with having a 2nd boy. I'm sure in most ways it's wonderful, but in other ways will be harder because of the things you just discussed in this post. I say you have to do what is right for YOU and you will find it, whatever it is.

    (((hugs)))

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very sorry you are at this point with very tangled emotions. You have been given great ideas here. Save some of Matthew's clothes and then feel free to use the others for Luke. When you look back on all this way in the future you'll see that the baby showers are such a small part of the whole scheme of things. It's just that you haven't been able to experience the whole scheme of motherhood yet but you will! I meant that statement with the purest of intentions. Sorry if it didn't come across that way. I can't imagine all the jumbled feelings you experience but I just know that once you have that little Luke in your arms that he will be a healing balm for you and John. Not a replacement for Matthew in any way but a comfort and joy to you. Praying for you during this difficult time.

    ReplyDelete
  8. oh yeah, i get this. it makes total sense!

    one thing that people do where i live when a baby is being born and they "need" stuff is to have a diaper shower. because everyone(?) needs diapers..... or they have a "pamper shower" for the mom with things like manicures, freezer meals, gift cards for fav. food spots, bubble bath etc..... anyway, it doesn't solve the heart hurts though, only the practical stuff.

    i hope you get LOTS of monogrammed items for sweet little Luke!

    love you-

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lori, two things really stand out to me from your post. You wrote: "Children are not interchangeable. I cannot just delete Matthew and insert Luke." You are so right. I've had people ask if we're going to have another baby. I've even had people try to seek us out about adopting a baby they knew was going to be given up for adoption. While these people have good intentions, they just don't understand. You worded it so well. You can't just delete one and insert another. No one can replace your Matthew or my Kristen.

    And your analogy of feeling like a tangled ball of yarn is wonderful. There are times when the tangles smooth out a bit, and others when they seem as though they will surely turn into knots. Thankfully, God is great at untangling...if we are patient enough to let Him.

    Praying for you as you work through these emotions. Matthew and Luke have a great Mom.

    Love,
    Kim

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lori, if there is ANYTHING that you have taught me, its how I would honor Alyssa ("if") I was blessed with a rainbow myself. I have seen many BLMs "forget where they came from" and to me it is so scary to think that Alyssa will be a thing of the past. and you dont do that AT ALL!! You have truly been a ball of yarn because Matthew is Luke, and Luke is Matthew they are and will always be brothers..there is no untwining that, those last two colors are the only two colors you need to be now. In fact, Matthew is going to be so honored to have Luke sharing his things. My sister and I shared all the stuff and in fact i have to admit to wearing it EVEN before she did and it was hers....that is what sisters do and that is what brothers do too...I can only imagine having those same feelings about Alyssa's things...but in the new house "this" smaller room is not hers. It is just a "room" that is a good size for a nursery. I think you read my post where when we looked at the house the room to me still seemed like it was hers and it made me cry thinking that it would not be, and then I realized she has ALL the rooms in this house...and im sure Matthew does as well. I had a great shower for Alyssa, but I was never a fan of it even before I was always scared (as you know from the blog) and "if" i was to have a rainbow, I would have a "meet the baby shower" where we can all sit around and be with the baby and he/she can get some special things of their own....it is an idea...Good luck and we will support you the whole time!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh, I so, so get it. Handling my pregnancy with Collen has been much easier than I thought. Well, it had been easier...up until now. We're about 4 weeks away from meeting him in person, and like you said, the yarns are tangling. I'm clinging to Ayden's birth memories...and the memories of the 4 months we had with him. I'm afraid of forgetting one tiny little bit of our time with him. I'm excited about meeting Collen, holding him, feeding him, nurturing him, but I'm also so sad that I no longer have my Ayden here to do all of those things with. It'll never be easy...

    And "if" will always linger....

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm praying for you and wishing it wasn't so hard. Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh Lori...First, I thought of you this week as we were visiting friends in Alexandria, VA! I kept wondering, as I saw so many military people ~ if you were close by.

    As far as Matthew and Luke ~ you are totally right in your feelings. They are each precious in you eyes, deserving their own special attention. Funny how little things can make a difference. But, they do. I personally am a gift giver and receiver...it is how I show and feel love best. SO, naturally ~ when each of my children came...I wished that they were each celebrated as spectacularly as the first (it felt like being cheated a bit ~for them). No right or wrong way to feel about it...just that I would have liked each baby to get the same special attention.

    I think that I can help a bit with this feeling. It is part of what I am working on announcing in a little while (like maybe tomorrow).

    The emotions will keep coming...I know mine do. I am so very close to your journey... I kinda feel like I am shadowing you. Just a couple of weeks behind.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Not easy. I have a feeling with time things may start to sort themselves out. Like maybe you will get something for Luke and it will feel so right that you end up getting all new stuff and donating some of Matthew's. But then maybe you will pull out something of Matthew's and have a sense of Luke sharing in Matthew's memory, of sharing Matthew's clothes and things like brothers usually do. There will be things that are just Matthew's, and that is okay. They are special, for a special 1st son. Time will tell and you will get gut feelings as to what you should do and what will feel right.

    I think it is a great idea for you to personalize Luke's room. Make it a special place just for him. :)

    I too will be up and down around Christmas. It will be difficult expecting our rainbow baby a month after Julia died, but I plan to celebrate each as I would even if Julia had lived. I want to keep her memory alive! We will forever remember our babies. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've been thinking about you and these very things. Lori, I can't imagine the tug-of-war that must be going on in your heart and mind. Something will feel right.

    Matthew's room is so adorable; I can't wait to see what you do for Luke!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Love you Lori,

    Sending you many many many hugs right now.

    ReplyDelete
  17. It is such a struggle to be pregnant again with a sibling for your angel child. I won't lie... I REALLY wanted Blake to be a girl. Not for the pink clothes, bows, or dolls.... because it would have been easier to have Ethan and Jacob's memory and a girl. I feel like a lot of people try to replace Ethan and Jacob with Blake. As a mother, you never will, but others can easily do that. It is a struggle to make others understand. I prayed for a girl to avoid it, but there were other plans.
    Hang in there sweetie. Big hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lori, I can't even imagine the emotions you aere experiencing. My prayers are with you each and every day.
    I love your comparision to balls of yarn--sometimes they tangle, sometimes they separate. I've never thought of our emotional complexities(is that word?) in that way--but it is true!
    I've never lost child--but for us--some things were for each child. I put some stuff away for Julia and passed some on, some stuff away for Rauan and passed onto Chewie and what Chewie doesn't destroy goes to nephew Henry. Some saved for memories---and some passed to make new memories. The love gets to spread.
    Much love from Wisconsin.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I REALLY wish I had some wonderful words of wisdom to share with. Something that would just make some of this make sense ... but that's ridiculous and impossible and would make it seem like I have a clue what you are going through and the major heart struggle you are dealing with. And I don't dare think that anything I could offer would soften the awful pain and questions that surrounds the loss of Matthew. I want to fix things for people. I want to fix this for you ... but I can't. But I can celebrate Matthew AND Luke everyday, even though I've never "met" you. I can offer my prayers. I can acknowledge that only God can guide you on this journey and soothe the stinging "ifs" when the fester. Luke doesn't replace Matthew. Matthew is your precious first born, and Luke is your precious second born. They are YOUR baby boys who have their very own spirits and paths. And it's so awesome how very aware of that you are. Luke WILL know how special and loved and wanted he is and he'll know that his big brother was too. SO wanted and anticipated. I am in awe of you. God is holding you so tight right now and I just pray that when it feels like you let those "ifs" invade, He will squeeze a bit tighter and remind you to let Him take it. You are such a great mother and Luke is in for one incredible journey. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  20. I haven't read this current post--just got back into town and scrolled down as fast as I could to see if you knew the sex! Yay!!!! Boy! I'm thrilled for you Lori. I will get caught up this weekend and see what's been going on this past week. Take care my friend.
    xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  21. I really hope that people - even those with the best of intentions - hit the "mute" button for once (referring to "in real life" people, not your readers who've walked in similar shoes). Plenty would think their suggestions and opinions offer comfort or insight, but this is only about you and John doing what's best for your family. And then I hope those same people give nothing but 100% support to whatever decisions you make. If they don't, forward them this post because it does such a good job detailing the conflicts and "grey areas" to work through as you celebrate and honor your boys both individually and as brothers. Wishing the best for you and John and feeling confident that, together, you'll somehow figure this all out.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think the only right thing to do is what your heart is telling you. Matthew and Luke are not the same and never will be. Things do not make a person who they are. You and John will mold little Luke into what he will become. I'm praying for peace for your heart and mind. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  23. There are just so many things to think about. I often think about the what if. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  24. Life sure feels like one big IF sometimes.

    I think the shower for the pregnancy center is a great idea. So many would benefit from that. I've been wanting a little celebration for Lainey too. Kyndra had a baby shower and Carleigh had a prayer shower....Lainey should have something too. I've been thinking of having a little celebration afterward. Kinda like a 'meet the baby' thing.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Sometimes it is hard to not think of the If in life.

    I think you should have a shower if that is what you want. I think the shower celebrates the baby. We had a shower for all four of our children. For our 3rd we were given TONS of diapers and wet wipes and wash cloths which were very helpful to us.

    We have handed clothes down but I still like for each child to have their own items, that are specifically for them. And I agree that hand me downs do not apply. And I also agree that each child is not interchangeable, they're not batteries and that just because we are focusing on one does not mean we are losing focus on the other.

    Any mother should understand that her love for her children is equal. We have enough love and adoration for each of our children, no matter how many we have. Its just different the way we can dote on our babies in heaven than the ones that are living.

    many hugs

    ReplyDelete
  26. I totally understand everything you wrote. There is no easy answer on how to deal with or handle these things. I have felt guilt even for being so excited for Ellie when I know Hannah never got that chance. They are both my daughters and how I just wish.....Love you. xoxo

    ReplyDelete