Monday, November 28, 2011

Who He'd Be Today...


Mama wants you to know this--November 28 is a special day.

It's your brother's birthday, and even if he isn't here with us, I want you to know what an amazing gift our family was given on this day two years ago.

Oh, Luke...he, like you, truly is such a sweet, sweet part of my life.

In such a different, different way.

When Matthew died, I ached. I hurt. I longed to hold my baby and I wept because my arms and heart and everything in me was just empty. It felt like it would never be full again, and really, I guess until we get to Heaven, it won't.

When we found out we were pregnant again with you, hope came back into our lives. My arms still ached and every time I saw a mama give her baby boy a hug or a kiss, I really just felt this pit in my stomach wishing it was ME giving MY baby boy hugs and kisses.

But you gave me hope that one day I WOULD give a baby boy or girl of mine all the love I've wanted to for years.

And when you were born, my arms didn't ache to be filled as much because YOU filled them. You busied my every second and you still fill my days with such joy. I know you think I hug and kiss you too much, but too bad because I have wanted to do that for so, so many years.

I still ache, though. I physically wish I could still hug and kiss Matthew, but what I miss more is who he would be.

I never really missed that initially, I think. I missed the tangible parts of parenting--the sweet baby smells and the soft sighs of contentment. Dressing him up in all the things we'd bought for him and quiet nursing sessions in the middle of the night. Things that I have been so, so grateful to have with you.

Now, as I watch you grow and change into this amazing and funny and charming little boy...

...I wonder who Matthew would be.

What he'd be like.

Before you were born, I said that I felt like you were so much of your daddy...lives for food and likes to just live the good life.

I was SO right!

I had my predictions about what Matthew would be like too.

I miss that I will never get to verify them. I miss knowing what his first word would he'd react when Dixie licked him or what he'd think of Santa Claus and pumpkin pie.

You are growing up so quickly, and with every day, something new happens and you become more and more YOU.

This year, on Matthew's second birthday, I feel pretty sad that I still just don't know HIM. His little life was so brief...but leaves me with what seems like eternity wondering what would have been.

We were able to go back to Maryland this weekend for his birthday. We went to our church, saw our sweet friends, and were able to visit Matthew's resting place. I am so touched by the care that is given to it in our absence, and was so happy to be back 'home' for even just the weekend. I stood in the same pew we always stand in and looked at the altar and thought about how it had looked 105 weekends ago when Matthew's coffin was there. I thought about how much my world stood still at that time and how heartbroken I was.

And how much of my world moves at a crazy speed today and how I am not necessarily heartbroken as I am heart-healing.

You are so much a part of that heart-healing. In fact, the heartbroken really only pours out mostly when I am just consumed with the joy of you. I know that seems weird, but it's true.

I get overwhelmed with emotion because it makes me realize what I am missing with Matthew even more.

I know that to many, the expectation is that two years have are here now and Matthew's gone and life goes on.

That's all true.

And I think it's pretty obvious by the beaming I am usually displaying whenever you and I are together that I am truly happy and content...even at Matthew's grave, my heart is so joyful because of you.

So knowing how much I adore and cherish you, I think it stands to reason that your brother, even though not with us, is just as adored and cherished.

Because he is. And always will be. As will you.

Luke, don't ever think for one second that you do not have every piece of my heart. You do, without question.

But on November 28, heart took on a completely different look and feel...and so it's that heart--the one that misses your big brother so much, yet is so grateful just for what little time I had with him--that's the heart you have.

The heart that will always wonder who he'd be.

From my sweet Pensacola girls. They love you boys so much!

Luke, When mama is gone, will you do me a favor? Please keep eating chocolate birthday cake for Matthew on his birthday. It would make me really happy.

...Even though you had to think about it some tonight!

Friday, November 18, 2011

In His Memory...

My heart just can't believe that this beautiful little boy would have been two years old in 10 days. I can hardly breathe just typing those words. It doesn't seem real, and yet the reality of it all still is so seared in every fiber of my being that I am sometimes just completely and totally overwhelmed with emotion.

That precious little face is and will always be such a blessing to me.

My sweet and unbelievably talented friend has generously donated this gorgeous quilt to be auctioned in order to raise money for the Kyrgyzstan Orphanage Challenge in Matthew's memory.

Amazing quilt front!

This is the entire back!

Every year, the Wright Stuff does amazing things through the generosity of others to help those poor precious children have something special, if just for one day of the year. I am again honored to be able to raise money to help, and can't think of a better way to honor Matthew's memory...and celebrate his birth...than to share wonderful Christmases with so many in need.

I've never done a chip-in, so hope it's not too difficult! The quilt is completely handmade, a 52 x 52 eight-point star pattern (I know nothing of quilts other than it is GORGEOUS!) and truly, the pictures do not do it justice. This is a really, really intricate and delicate quilt and I think that $5 a chip for a chance to win it is a GREAT deal as I know quilts are so pricey! (Again, thank you, Karie!)

If you do not want to enter in the chip-in for the quilt but would like to donate, please go here and donate through the info on John's sidebar. If you are doing so in Matthew's memory, you can enter that in the paypal instructions (so they'll credit my pie challenge). The payoff if I raise $500 is a pie in my face (payoff for whom, I ask? ha ha) but really, the bigger payoff is the joy in the lives of these children. You can read more about that here and here.

Thank you, thank you for your support and generosity and just overwhelming love for me and our family. We are blessed beyond measure.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Keeping Up With Luke....'s near impossible these days.

For starters, he is growing way, way, way too quickly for his mama's comfort. Wasn't I just at the hospital? Weren't you all just texting me your numbers so I could text you pictures when he was born?

How did he turn into this unbelievably inquisitive little boy? He's always sort of just sat back and taken everything in...but he really is putting that to use now that he is mobile. He investigates EVERY.THING. Gotta find out how it works...what makes it tick....he's just so interested in the mechanics of everything.

Definitely his daddy's boy because mama couldn't care long as stuff works, right?!

He is very mobile. Still doesn't crawl much but cruises around and tries to stand everywhere. He's standing on his own for a couple seconds lots more and I really think he'll just sort of bypass crawling more to go to walking. At church nursery, they tell me it's just a matter of time. I think that it is funny that he STILL won't sit up fully from a laying down position. He sits up about 2/3rds of the way, reaches out like he's saying, "Alms for the poor...." and then rolls onto his knees and then to standing. Hilarious.

I'M NOT READY, though!!!! I love every single day that he grows and learns something new...but I just can't believe my baby is such a big boy now!

He's still got an amazing disposition on everything. He's had this cough and icky nose for about a week and a couple of days now and with the recovery from the flu, and two babies with RSV at church, we've been watching to be sure he's ok. I took him in on the doctor's advice, and guess what? That boy had a double ear infection and sinus infection. The doctor asked, "Hasn't he been fussy?"


"Has he been eating ok? That throat is raging red."

Yep. In fact, he tries just about EVERY.THING. He had chili the night before the doctor visit.

She said, "I tell you, that disposition is great, isn't it?"

It is...but it makes me worry because I don't want to undertreat him. Here he's had a double ear infection and sinus infection and the worst we've dealt with is a bit of sleep disruption. And by bit...I mean teeny bit. Barely anything.

He's just such a good baby. Confirmed by all his pediatricians, ha ha!

He is babbling up a storm. His official words are Mama, Daddy, Bye-bye and now "Hiiiiii!" with my inflection, which is so darned cute. He says it with this sweet little lift like I always do when I say "Hi!" to him and I just love how he picks up his words like we say them. He is still a talking fool, and I love it.

He loves his food. Seriously. The weaning has gone really fact, so well that he makes me sad that he doesn't even seem to miss nursing because he goes goo-goo, gaa-gaa for the bottle. We'll be starting formula soon, though, so we'll see what he thinks about that. He is so good about trying foods...he'll try anything now. Of course, he's super smart about taking it right back out of his mouth if he doesn't like it, but so far, some of his faves are white chicken chili, biscuits, egg rolls and dumplings! I love that I have such a good eater.

Again, got that from daddy, ha ha!

We are pretty settled in the house now and he likes his room. It's not his room at home, but he is really enjoying all his books. When he gets on the floor to play, he goes straight to the book basket, every time. His favorites are still the Mama Llama books, as well as Harry The Dirty Dog, Clifford and super-favorite, The Busy Little Squirrel. He laughs and laughs at his books, and I love that he's so into them.

THAT he gets from his Mama!

Hard to believe that we are so close to Thanksgiving...and to Matthew's second birthday. I just don't know where time has gone. I am really excited to go home for Thanksgiving. We'll be going back to church, and then after, to the cemetery as Matthew's birthday will be the Monday after Thanksgiving.

I feel like I should be planning more...or feeling more wistful. I think I pretty much feel wistful for something about Matthew every day, so maybe that's why I don't feel such a build-up right now. I have to say, we have hung Matthew's big collage in our hallway and EVERY.SINGLE.TIME we walk by it, Luke lights up with the biggest smile. I know, I know...he probably thinks he's looking at himself, as that's what he always does when he sees HIMSELF in the mirror. They still look so much alike sometimes, I have no doubt that Luke thinks it's just another mirror with an incredibly handsome baby.

But I'm just going to believe that he is as delighted as I am when he sees his big brother. And the glee in his face says, "Hey! I know you!"

What a blessing I have in both of those baby boys.

He sure does love his daddy. It's very, very reciprocated!

Of course...Mama still makes him light up too!

"Mommy....what have I said about bath pictures????"

Getting 10 month pictures was HARD! He is all over the place!

He is so happy and jolly all the time, but he also has this really serious face that he gets sometimes and I love catching! He was wondering what that hay he was sitting in was all about!

This was SUCH a joyful picture! We got to meet up with our dear friend, and mommy of a precious Baby Named Nathan. It was quite an event to get to each other, but when we did, it was wonderful! Loved meeting up and can't wait to get together again soon!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The End Of An Era...

Definition of an era: A period of time characterized by particular circumstances, events, or personages.

The era of nursing Luke is over. Actually, it ended yesterday, just as I had planned for it to...on his ten-month birthday.

I have enough milk stored for a couple more weeks and then we'll switch over to formula.

Sounds so cut and dry, doesn't it? Sounds just like the old me...Planned it. Prepared for it. Executed it. Finished it.

It's NOT that cut and dry!

Yes, I've been planning it and have been talking with doctors, nurses lactation consultants and most helpful, other mommies.

Yes, Luke has (true to his easy manner!) made it so easy for me. (Maybe too easy, if I am honest!) He has switched over to bottles fairly well now (only The First Years BreastFlow, though I have tried all sorts of others!) and cracks me up at how he can totally hold it, yet won't. Mommy may have stopped supplying directly, but he still holds me accountable for making sure it gets to him easily and without much work on his part, ha ha!

Yes, it's for a bigger goal. A chance at a sibling with whom he can grow up.

Yes, even if we the testing comes back saying it's a no-go on another IVF, I'll still at least know we tried.

But it hurts. I sort of feel like my body is in mourning...kind of like the poor puppy who brings a ball to his master's feet, willing to run and play and jump like they always have, only to learn the master has a baby now and just doesn't have the same time for the puppy that it once did...and the puppy just sort of takes the ball, longingly, and waits for things to go back like they were before. (Not that this has happened in our house, right?) That's how my body is right now...wondering why we are not feeding that baby like we always have and whether or not it is even appreciated anymore. I'm not in physical pain (seriously, Luke has been somewhat weaning himself anyway, according to the lactation consultants, and that's helped tremendously,) but more emotional.

I have plenty of milk. I always have. He's a good nurser (after some major effort, of course). I honestly would go until he completely stopped or I dried up.

But if we are going to get this testing done, and further, should the testing prove positive and we attempt a cycle or two...we have to get going. And I have to stop making milk and the accompanying hormones so test results are not skewed.

I told my sister-in-law (Who, by the way, really is a good conversationalist. She listens, even when one rambles, and has good insight and good, honest support. I never remember to tell her this, but am doing so right now!) that I feel like I am always robbing Peter to pay Paul when it comes to sacrificing one child's needs for another's...sacrifice feelings I have for Matthew to be the mommy Luke needs. Sacrifice mood and energy level for Luke because I'm drained in giving to Matthew when I just have those horrible, terrible achy days.

Now I am sacrificing something so precious and intimate and sacred with Luke, for the mere possibility of another sibling.

It just isn't fair.

But I already know that, and she reminded me that's just how it goes when you have multiple children.

And it is. I guess it's the fact that this next sibling is truly just a dream right now and having to stop nursing Luke to get there is a very tangible thing I am giving up.

The knowledge, either way, will be worth it. I will not regret weaning Luke and having another child. I may wish wistfully that I'd not had to stop nursing Luke only to find out we weren't having another one, but I would always regret not knowing whether we could or not.

So, as stated. The end of an era. A wonderful and magical one, though very bumpy and not without it's share of frustrations. Sweet little Luke, I want you to know it has been my honor and my privilege to nurse you these 10 months, and I am so grateful for the amazing experience and memories. Thank you, thank you.

Today we took some pictures out at the beach. They mostly stink because it was so bright out they are all overexposed and frankly, I don't know how to compensate for that. I was in manual, and I was using all my tricks on my camera to balance exposure, but still...blech. I want to learn how to adjust white balance in Kelvin and I also need to learn more about metering with my camera. But I digress...the purpose of this paragraph was to preface the pictures. My niece is visiting and after I took a few of Luke, I set the camera and gave it to her. She captured some really sweet ones...because the most important part of the pictures are the expressions...they show how much I adore this little boy and how happy he is.

I am so blessed with him.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Complicated...

Not necessarily the most uplifting way to start a post, I guess...but basically how I've been feeling lately, so might as well be honest.

It's that time of year again. Two minutes ago, two years ago, I posted the following facebook status: "This is my sweet boy's birth month. What a blessing his life already is. Can't wait to meet him!"

You know, I have to say that at this moment, typing, my heart hurts because I really feel like I didn't get to 'meet' him. So many did...and I am glad for that. I'm most glad that John did and got to spend so much of his life with him.

But all I got was a shoulder caress and a sweet fingertip kiss to his cheek.

Poor thing probably had no idea I was even there.

It's ok. Don't feel the need to tell me that surely he did. Whether he did or didn't, no difference. I was jilted out of my long-anticipated meeting and it just hurts.

He was such a beautiful baby.

And his little brother! His little brother STILL looks so much like him sometimes. I know people who have twins that don't look as much alike as Matthew and Luke do. What a blessing both of those baby boys are to me.

I guess I am just in one of those moods. Two years ago...on top of the world with joy and excitement and just overwhelming gratitude (not to mention an extra 50 pounds!). A year ago...heartache, confusion, anxiety and still amazing gratitude (and an extra 20 pounds!). Today...I'll be honest. All of that and more...add in bitterness and frustration and uncertainty and take away all of that gained weight and even an addtional 10 pounds, though I am not happy with how much weight I have lost. Like...probably going to the doctor because of how much weight I've lost, though John just thinks it's because I am carrying Chunky Monkey all over the place and running around day in and day out. (Glad he notices!)

I am bitter and frustrated and uncertain about our upcoming plans to look into another IVF cycle. Bitter and frustrated because this is the last week I am nursing, and very possibly, forEVER. I have been an emotional wreck over this. I remember writing how much of a fan I was of breastmilk, but not so much of nursing because let's be real--it's HARD!

Now...I TOTALLY get why people would nurse their kids until they were 104.

(Well, that may be pushing it...but I'd definitely nurse Luke until he wanted to be done if I felt like I could without jeopardizing the opportunity for a sibling for him.)

Which is the I am crying, crying, crying on a regular basis because I don't want to give nursing up and that little stinker (and obvious blessing in disguise!) is weaning himself!!!! He is such a good, easy baby...and weaning is no exception. He's not a huge fan of bottles, but he does ok with them. He's definitely pulled back on the nursing on his own though, and all the lactation ladies remind me, this is what I want--HIM to tell ME that he's good.

But it makes me sad because I'll miss it. I'm grateful it's so easy for us. Him, rather.
But I'm sad.

And I am angry that I have to give it up just to *see* if we will qualify for another IVF cycle.

My guess is that we won't, and I've given nursing up for nothing.

Then I remind myself that it's not nothing. It's the knowledge I'll gain. The regret of not knowing that I won't have to live with.

That's worth it, right? said...feelings these days are complicated. For all my aching, and searching for acceptance of things being as they are...I am just so, so, so madly in love with Luke.

Seriously. He is just truly the most amazing gift and I am so grateful (and excited!) that I have him to share these upcoming dates and holidays with. I had to buy him a coat because it's actually coat-worthy here in NC and as I hung it in our coat closet tonight, I started crying over how beautiful it was having that little bitty coat in there with ours.

What a gift he is indeed.

He said "Bye-Bye" the other day, to grandma, on the phone. Cracked me up. I had her on speaker, said, "Bye," and she said, "Bye," and as I hung up, out of the back seat came, "Bye-bye!" I looked back at him and asked if he said, "Bye-bye," and he just smiled, like, "Umm...didn't you hear me?!" He's done it a few times since. I love it! I also think those teeth are rearing their heads again, and I just wish they'd pop through for him. Still just those cute ones on the bottom. He is adjusting just beautifully to the move (HOORAY FOR FINALLY BEING IN A HOUSE!!!!) and getting so, so big. He's in mostly 12 month clothes now and yet, his feet, which USED to be big and long like his brother's, seem to have just stopped growing. I'm having a heck of a time finding pre-walkers for his size 2 feet. If that. Still mostly crawling or standing with some cruising, but that's ok by me.

Let him stay little. Lord, please...just let him stay little a little while longer. I can't soak in enough with just 24 hours in a day.

Here are some pics from the last two weeks. I think my favorite thing is how happy he is. Like he knows how much he's loved. I love that!

A few weeks ago we went to Mike's Farm. Super fun!!! He was all happy and smiley...

...until some punk kid (seriously) comes along, pushes the pumpkin RIGHT INTO LUKE, and he wasn't happy....

Mama made it better....
...well, sorta...he's still wondering about how he got hit with a big old pumpkin!
"Okay...I'll somewhat pose!"


MUCH happier!!!
That boy loves, loves, loves him some Daddy!

So...last summer...after we found out he was LUKE and not Molly, we went and bought some things for LUKE. This costume was on clearance for .... get this.... $.48! Could not help but get it! He is looking at me like he's wondering how long it's gonna take CPS to come and lock me up?!

"Oh brother..."
I'm in trouble this hat season. Boy knows how to take them off!!!

We got a SWEET visit from our friends and Luke thought Miss Tamla was mighty comfy! They stopped by after he was in bed, but I knew he'd be just fine with being woken up to see them, and he was....snuggled right into her! It's been about 4 months since Bert and Tamla had seen him, and she can attest...the boy is SOLID! (For the record, he was back asleep within 5 minutes after they left. He is SUCH a good boy!)

That boy and his faces....

I know kids under two should not watch tv. I know this. I also know that reality is harder to live by. I allow 1.5 hours a WEEK. This usually lets me get dinner done when he's having one of those moods where he'd rather not play by himself (which he does a fabulous job of, most of the time!) for a bit...This was the 28th and he was enthralled with his cookie and the Wonderpets.

Took him to the Atlantic Beach Kite Festival and it was chilly! First cool weather clothing...he wasn't too sure of it!
...but he had fun at the beach!

Yeah...definitely a daddy's boy!

He LOVES to swing (though daddy scares me with how high he pushes!)...

I learned, sort of, how to use Instagram. Still working on it!

Our sweet friend Amanda got us this AWESOME Red Fish, Blue Fish toy. Pulled it out the other day. Wouldn't you know he went STRAIGHT for the Red Fish??????? There was a blue one, two green ones and a yellow. He immediately went for the red one. Choked me up a bit.
Of course...then he had to eat it.
Before his first Family Day as a VMM-266 Griffin kid!!!!

At the marina...great day!