Monday, December 31, 2012

My Whole World...2012

This.






That's my whole world.

Without doubt, this has been another very tough year.  Starting out with a new IVF cycle that was as wildly successful (relatively speaking, of course) as it was really was just icing on a very delicious cake that has been my life since Luke was born.

And then the icing was gone.

We lost another baby boy, Trey, in April.  Unexpected (though Luke and I had been sick with strep, Norovirus and bronchitis my entire pregnancy), I was sort of back at that grief-place I'd not been in a while.

Why?  Why even let me get pregnant if You are not going to let me keep him? (Again.)

And with such, such different support.  Still blessed, without doubt, but with questions like, "Why did you even name it?" or comments like, "It's easier to lose earlier than later," and "It's not the same as when you lost Matthew,"I admit that I spent a large portion of this year biting my tongue and praying for strength to be graceful.  There is very, very, very much a discrepancy in how people view miscarriage vice how they view neonatal death and it's extremely hurtful and isolating.

In addition to the full, fresh cycle in January, I also went through a frozen transfer, another fresh cycle that was canceled and another fresh cycle did not result in pregnancy.  All this by September.

I was busy.  My body was busy.  I found a lump and thought about the irony in that...all I've gone through to build my family and then I end up leaving the one I actually get to raise motherless.

Good times.

The shootings in Connecticut have been really horrific for my PTSD.  I hate even saying that, because certainly, the loss of those lives is NOT about me, but the feelings that go with my empathy for those families have triggered some very panic-attack anxieties in me.

I remember what it feels like to have that brick wall hit you in the face.  Who dies of labor complications anymore?

I remember what it feels like to have stockings hung and Christmas presents waiting, but the intended will never breathe again, much less come home to those gifts.

I remember Christmas songs about being the most wonderful time of the year coming on and wanting to throw up because that was the LAST thing I was thinking.

I remember what it feels like to pick a grave out instead of take your child to see Santa.

I remember.  Like it was yesterday.  Five minutes ago.

And it still makes my heart physically ache and takes my breath away.

This has been a busy year for John too.  His job and his career have been challenging.  In the way that really great things are challenging, but challenging nonetheless.  We are but weeks away from him deploying for up to a year, and honestly, I don't even now how my heart is going to be able to handle watching him hand Luke to me one last time as we drop him off.

Luke is his whole world too.

There is much to be said about the strength of military wives and mothers.  I agree--we are pretty fabulous.

Honestly, though, I also feel like it's easy to be so because I win no matter what.

John is home?  We have Luke.

John is gone?  I have Luke.

I have Luke.

Praise God, I have Luke.

If I am truthful, I don't want John to go, of course.  Since he is, though, and there's no changing it, I won't lie and say I'll wish the time to pass quickly.

I want him home quickly, no doubt.

But time is moving too, too fast.  Too fast.

I'll never, ever, ever wish a second of Luke's life to move faster than it already does.

Accepting that we are not going to have any more children has been hard for me.

Is hard for me.  I want the ones I've carried here with me, and I would love more too.

I've always wanted to mother many children.  I didn't realize I'd need to be more specific in my wants and want them to be alive as I mothered them.

And now, we are done.  We will not pursue any more IVF.  For various reasons, and admittedly, mostly out of fear because of our own or close friends' experiences, we will not pursue adoption.

Babies don't just show up on doorsteps.

We are done.

Which makes me cherish and adore every single second I have with Luke.  Even the ones where he is swatting because he's mad or screaming because I can't find his 'Ah-hoe' (backhoe) fast enough or refuses, refuses, REFUSES to eat...every single second of that child's life is an amazing blessing and gift to me, and neither John nor I take that gift for granted.

2013 will be quite the year, no doubt.

I recognize that I will be challenged to parent for two, and will do my best to compensate for the time apart on both John's and Luke's part.

John and I will both turn 40 in just a couple of months.  Wow.

Luke is changing and growing SO.MUCH.EVERY.DAY.  His words, thoughts and actions are so...

...little boy.



So less and less baby.

Sigh.

In any event, here's to 2013.  Grateful for so much I have, and looking forward to the adventures Luke and I will have as we pray for Daddy's (and so many others') safe return home to us.

Some recent pictures...


Not digging Santa at all.  In fairness, Santa was grumpy.


Silly Christmas Morning!

Mommy was a little bit worried about how to stop going so quickly!

He had a blast with Daddy!

Wintergreen for New Year's!  Family time before daddy leaves!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some Christmas Crafting!

I am not crafty.

I wish I was.

I try to be.

I pretend I am sometimes.

I buy a lot of stuff with good intentions to be so.

But I'm not.

This salt-dough craft is going all over the internet, though, and it looked 'somewhat' doable.  I mean, for  crying out loud!  I am an elementary teacher!  Crafts are the BEST part of teaching!  Surely I could attempt it and have somewhat of a success with Luke.

Surely.

So, without further ado...a little pictorial of last Saturday afternoon.  We had fun.  About halfway through, he believed me when I said I'd give him a skittle if he put Mimi's apron on (NO WAY to the hat...yet, ha ha!), so at least I have a picture or two of him in it!  Speaking of...the giveaway ends TONIGHT so if you haven't entered already, do so!  I have to figure out how to pick the winner with rafflecopter (anybody want to give me the Cliff's Notes version?) and then we'll get that info to Karie/Mimi.  You will LOVE it!

Carefully pouring ingredients....not letting go of the backhoe, though!

Checking his work!

Giving it a good stir with a spoon...

...and the backhoe!

Seriously thinking about this!

Wearing Mimi's apron...note the smartie in his hand as bribery.!

Kneading the dough...


Rolling it out....

He may or may not be in the middle of "Eyebrows" here...

The finished products!  Not bad for a NOT crafty mom, huh?

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Sins" Of The Mother...

I have been pretty sappy these days.

Ha ha.

Even more than usual, I mean.

I am just loving every single day with Luke this season.  I make sure I always have dollar bills so every where we go, and there is a Salvation Army ringer, I give him money (which he immediately tries to shove down his collar—aka, his "Pocket") and then we go to the ringer and I help him put money into the bucket...telling him, "Jesus wants us to give money to friends who need help for His birthday."

He's at the point now where when he sees the ringer, he says, "Jesus?"

Melt my heart.

The other night, we were sitting on the sofa in the dark in front of our lit tree and asking Luke what different things were.  "O-Man,"  "Ambbie," (lambie), "Urtle" (turtle), etc...I pointed to an ornament with Matthew's picture and said, "Who is that?" and he said, "Maf-few."

Then he kept saying it, "Maf-few, Maf-few, Maf-few.  Ee-sus.  Ee-sus." (Jesus).

Again, my heart melts so much these days.

Of course, it aches too.  It's still hard to hear "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!" on the radio.  It was not that long ago that I wanted to shrivel up and die during this "Wonderful time."  The other morning, in church, our pastor was talking about the Christmas Eve services coming up and how they would be.

For a moment, I was taken back to three years ago.  Not even a month had passed since we'd lost Matthew, and I stuffed myself into a skirt to go to Christmas Eve service.  It was the first time I'd been back at church, and I was grateful that the place was so packed there was no way for friends to really come and hover around.  For the most part, it was just sympathetic glances and silent hugs...appropriate words simply not known and honestly, not known how to accept.

And the snow....everyone loved the snow.

Everyone but me.


Anyway, John's impending departure is rapidly approaching.  Too quickly.



I just got Luke's eval report from his therapist.

I should preface with the fact that every time I walk into that office, I thank God that our 'issues' are ours, and not the issues of others.  I realize that much of the stuff we work on in therapy with Luke are things that many people don't give a second thought to...consider quirky or a phase and think, "Whatever...he'll eat when he's hungry."

Except, he won't.

And I know firsthand because I don't.

I do not always eat when I am hungry.  In fact, more often than not, I eat a meal and a half a day and somewhat snack or drink water for the rest of the day.  I'd not even really consider my 'snacking' much at all.

I am not an eater. I never have been.  I was allergic to most everything growing up.  Dairy/wheat/corn and all products thereof?  Off the shelf.

I was not picky.  I just couldn't eat much of anything because if I did, I'd end up in the hospital with an asthma attack.

I WANTED to eat.  I would 'sneak' cheese.  I LOVE cheese.  Love it.  I wanted to eat a lot of things.

I just couldn't.  Wholefoods wasn't around then and my choices were limited.  Habits were formed.

And stick.  Just the other day I was thinking about how healthy I always am in pregnancy...how I was soo healthy with Matthew and Luke, and even with Trey, couldn't help but catch the bugs that Luke brought me.  It dawned on me that I was super healthy because I was SUPER vigilant about making sure I was eating as nutritionally sound as I could.  Most days, I was forcing myself, I admit, but I was not going to take a bit of nutrition away from my growing babies.


So, imagine how much it hurt my heart to read these words, "Luke has very, very limited interest in food and poor recognition of hunger throughout the day.  Further, he curbs his hunger.  Though visibly hungry, he will without fail, refuse foods, often times even food he has previously shown interest in."

And these words, "Luke has difficulty with change and is apprehensive of new situations.  Although caution with new situations is common to see in children Luke's age, he is hyper vigilant for his age, which is impacting his function in various environments, particularly with food selection."

Like mother, like son.

When John came home, I cried and cried.  Reading it, I said, "Sound familiar?  Sound familiar?"

People have a hard time believing it, but really, I am a hermit.

I am.

I am not a fan of new situations, I very much dislike change and am often hyper vigilant in far more situations than I should be.

I choose to be a 'people person.'  While being a social butterfly used to be my natural inclination, as I've gotten older, I have become far more introverted.  After we lost Matthew, my desire for that introversion grew stronger and stronger and to this day, is always my first instinct.

It's cuhhhh-raaazzy how much we pass to our children.

Obviously, I know I can't change wiring.  Further, I know his anxiety about things is not just from his mommy.  Daddy's side of the family has it's fair share of anxiety, and frankly, we are ALL pretty successful and functional adults!

I'm certainly not worried about Luke having social anxiety issues (he goes outside, hears neighborhood kids playing and says, "Kids? Kids??"...and he's starting to play with kids more at school than play alongside them).  When he goes to school or church, after the obligatory, "Mama, I miss you!" he's fine.  When I go to pick him up, actually, he throws a fit!  He doesn't WANT to leave!

While he may not like change or new situations, he very, very quickly eases into them and warms up well, so, like his mama, he chooses to bloom where he's planted regardless.

I'm thankful.

I just hate that some of the things I've battled with in life seem to already be manifesting in such a baby.

He's so little still.

I'm keeping a detailed log the food he eats.  It's ridiculous.

Thank God for whole milk, dairy and good supplements is all I have to say.

Sigh.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ADORABLE GIVEAWAY!

It is no secret that I am blessed with some amazing, talented and generous friends.

I mean, REALLY talented and REALLY generous and REALLY amazing.

So, I am super excited to have another giveaway from my friend Karie at Two Kwik Quilters.  She has designed and custom makes the most ADORABLE things and she has generously offered to giveaway a custom apron and hat set!

Now, I'll be honest, Luke pretty much gives me flack on putting just about anything on him and God help if I entertain the thought of a hat (without a mega-bribe of TWO skittles!).  That said, I know this phase will not last forever, and I'll be doing all I can to entice him to wear this set because it is SO flipping cute!  He loves dinosaurs ("Rawwwrrr") and he loves snakes ("ssssss") even if snakes make his Mama's heart fall to her toes.  He played with the set for a good while, but the hat?  Yeah, well, the following is the best I could get!
Yes, this cost me two skittles AND a piece of candy cane, but SOOOO cute!
The adorable reverse side!

The entry chances are below and hopefully pretty easy (first time using Rafflecopter!).  Karie can do all sorts of stuff.  Today she told me that she did one that was more 'girly' on one side and 'boyish' on the other so when mom was cooking with one child for special time together, they could choose the appropriate side!  Brilliant!  I hope that whoever wins sends me a picture of their cutie wearing the set!!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, December 3, 2012

Winner!

The Kyrgyzstan Christmas Challenge is over, but money keeps coming and can CERTAINLY be used!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who donated in Matthew's memory!  The $500 for my part was raised, and John and Luke will be 'pieing' me as a result.  Oy.  All worth it, though!

Luke drew the winner of the awesome cosmetic bag from my precious friend at Two Kwik Quilters, and it was another sweet friend, Erin!

Believe it or not, a year ago, Luke drew Erin's name for last year's giveaway!  I think he's sweet on her!  I don't blame him, though, because she IS sweet, and I couldn't be happier that she won.  Again.


Wildman's hair...and yes, that is Thomas on tv in the background.  Luke is on an anti-daddy kick, so whatever gets him to spend some time with Daddy....the boy loves trains!!!


Another sweet friend, Rhonda, is sponsoring a Scentsy party online—and 100% of the proceeds (ALL of them, folks!) will go to the orphanages in Kyrgyzstan!  Please consider going here if you are in the Scentsy market for the holidays...it was a very generous offer on her part and as always, I am just humbled at how supportive people are of us.


Thank you friends.  

There's a lot going on and it's a tough but beautiful time of year, so my emotions are up, down, left and right.

But I'm grateful for so much.  Thank you.

More giveaways to come...I always have believed it's more fun to give than to receive.  I am SO excited about the upcoming one.  Get ready...it's CUTE, CUTE, CUTE!!!

Congrats again, sweet Erin!  Enjoy your bag!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Everything And Nothing.

I have everything to say and nothing to say all at the same time.

I looked back at the last birthday post for Matthew...one year ago today.

Heartbroken as I was, I was in such a different place.  A place of restored hope and belief that I was again happy on this earth and would get to be happy in Heaven too.

This year, his birthday has hit me much harder.

I've since lost another child.  That certainly colors my optimism of last year, I guess.

Last year, I was 50-50 for bringing home a baby to raise.

This year, I'm 1 for 3.

And done.  No more to come.

Why should that have anything to do with Matthew's birthday this year?

It shouldn't.

But I'd be lying if I said it didn't.

Two weeks ago, out of the blue, I was overcome with emotion.  Standing in church, singing a song I wasn't really even into, much less really moved by, and my mind wandered.

Wandered to the last breath that Matthew took.

What was that like? Was he scared?  Did he know?  Did it hurt? Did he know I wasn't with him?

Thankful that I did not have to be there to witness it.

Isn't that terrible?  I would have given anything in the world to hold that baby as he left this world...let him know his mama loved him and would be with him every second she could.

But I am so, so, SO thankful that I don't really know what that was like because I think I'd have committed suicide that night.  Truly.  The flashbacks and the PTSD I suffer from his birth and death are bad enough.

My greatest regret is not being able to get to the hospital and hold him, and yet, such a blessing to my mental health as well because there's no doubt in my mind I'd have made my last breath not too much longer after his.

I have not been sleeping for weeks.  I've been depressed.  My therapist said it stood to reason...these are pretty heavy-duty days.  My husband is leaving soon.  I should be in the throes of newborn-hood and instead am now mourning two boys and the knowledge that my child-bearing days are over.  I'm still regulating from high doses of hormones and Matthew's birthday is here....but he's not.

Whew.  I guess she's right.

Still, not much to say.
Spend a lot of days going through the motions again.
Wishing I could stop intrusive and morbid thoughts about Matthew from invading normal moments in my life.
Riding the roller coaster I feel like will never end.

Blissful with Luke and debilitatingly heartbroken at the same time.

Not at all how I'd like to be spending Matthew's third birthday.

Some birthday post, huh?

To me, though, every day is like his birthday was.

The best and worst day of my life.

One of the happiest times in my life!  A day to celebrate...

....What should have been

...But Never Was.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Confessions From "That Mom"...

I've never denied it.

As a teacher for many, many years, I saw parenting styles that made me cringe.  Don't get me wrong...I saw far, far more that gave (and still give) me some of the best parenting examples I know.

But some.  Oh, some...some made me so angry.

Sick, literally, if I am honest.  Just complete and total disgust for some people who totally took for granted the precious children they'd been given.

Of course, I knew that would NEVER, EVER be me.

And obviously, it's not.

I've come to realize, though, that I still am "That Mom," and you know what?

I dig it.


You know her.  You know you do.  She's the one you look at and think, "Wow.  The AAP recommends no TV for children under two and that kid is watching an iPad at Olive Garden. OMG."


"That Mom" who gives her kid juice without it being watered down.
Guilty.

"That Mom" who lets her kid stay up waaaaaayyyyyyyyy later than he probably should because we are all having too good a time visiting and as long as he's not crying, good enough for me.  Yes, we may pay for it the next day...but the memories made the night before?

Priceless.

I'm the mom who gives in and gives her kid a cookie at 8:30 in the morning.

He has an iTouch and works it like a champ.

Yep, we take it with us to restaurants, and he plays with it and watches videos (the same handful of Sesame Street, WonderPets and YoGabba we have seen a hundred times).

I bribe him.

With candy.

To wear his coat.  To sit still for half a second to take a picture.  To sit on the potty.  To give Daddy a kiss.

The boy loves his Skittles and Smarties.

I take him to therapy to work on feeding skills.  Yes, there is such a thing.

Yes, people laugh at me and think I am hovering over him and can't believe I'd waste good money on trying to get a picky toddler to eat.

I don't care.

I used to.

But I don't anymore.

My kid is happy.  He is healthy.  Given a handful of cookies or brownies over a handful of cheerios, he'd choose cheerios because they were 'safe' and 'known'.  Don't believe me?  Ask his therapist.  She tells me every time we go that a 'picky' eater would gobble up what he was holding out for and Luke will take a bite of cookie, decide it's not the cookie he is familiar with, and be done with it.
There's more to him not eating than him just being a picky toddler.

And I don't care if anyone believes that or not.


I think I've spent the better part of his life trying very, very hard not to be 'judged' as a parent.  Not to be too overprotective and give people the pleasure of saying, "Well, she's just that way because...well, you know...she needs to get over that so that Luke will have a 'normal' childhood."

Or, I've known that Luke has his little 'quirks', and the teacher in me has been working feverishly at home with him and all sorts of sensory integration exercises so that he's 'normal' to everyone.  To my friends.  My family.  My colleagues.


Every day, I realize more and more that he really is going to be it.  The one I get to raise.  The one I pour everything into.

And I am completely, completely, completely ok being "That Mom."

Life is too short.  And I could be Mom Of The Year and someone, somewhere would still judge me.  There is never, ever pleasing everyone, so as long as John and I raise Luke to be the man God wants him to be, I'm happy.

Luke knows he is loved.  He has a wonderful, wonderful life.  We often joke about how nice it would be to live the "Life of Luke!" because basically, it rocks.

Every decision I make is made in his best interest.  Could I be more hardcore?

Sure I could. And every time I get "That Look" or hear "That Tone" of voice from another mom, I cringe a little and wonder whether or not my "Mom" account just lost a ton of points.

But no more.  Tonight John said something...I don't even remember what it was, but my response was, "So what?  I'm completely ok with the parenting I do."

And I am.

So he has a love affair with Skittles?

He has an amazing vocabulary.  He already has a hysterical sense of humor.  He is focused.  He is driven.  He has a wonderful attention span.  He has manners.  He's sweet to kitties and puppies.  He loves to read and he can entertain himself for long periods of time.  He sings songs about Jesus and smiles at me like I am the most brilliant thing he's ever seen.

Good enough for me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"This Is Me Now"...A Raffle!

Oh.My.Heart.

I never, ever cease to not cry when I read John's blog Act of Kindness about the missionary work he and his family are doing in Kyrgyzstan, particularly in the orphanages.

This is a small story he posted the other day.  From John's blog:


"There is a new boy at the orphanage today .  He spent some time living on the streets after the passing of his parents.  There is more to the story, but you get the idea.   Life has not been easy for him.  He has had to face more in a few short years then most of us will in a life time.. yet he is not BROKEN.... he is PATCHED.    After spending the afternoon doing crafts, interacting with the kids he began to loosen up, then Andy sat at the piano and started to play , a little honky tonk , a hymn or two then "Amazing Grace"  at which point there was a smile that came over this young boys face filled the room 


  You would think that language would be a difficult barrier , but when you approach with genuine LOVE, it really does not have to be difficult... in fact maybe what this young boy  needed was the security of knowing he did not need to talk, but just be..... Before we left, he did want Andy to take a little message home with him  .. he drew this little picture , then told Andy with a little smile "This is me now"



This child...this sweet, sweet boy who has seen and lives a life so filled with heartache that so many of us can hardly fathom living and still breathing...he wanted them to know that now that he was in the sights of the missionaries and their work, he felt his heart wasn't broken anymore, but patched.

Patched.

How many days have I felt so the same?  Knowing my heart has been broken into so many pieces, and yet miraculously, so much more often than not, the patches that God has given to me have just been...well, like I said--miraculous.

Life-changing.

Truly, my heart has been patched too, and in life-changing ways.

Matthew's birthday is in 16 days.  My sweet boy would be three years old.  Watching Luke run around and becoming such a fun and funny little almost two-year old (gasp!), I can't help but wonder how much like his brother he'd be. 

What would my Matthew be like?

The birth and death of that little boy changed my life.  I've always had a passion to help those who needed it (I wear the title of "Bleeding Heart" proudly), and especially children.  I cannot do much to 'parent' Matthew, but in his memory, I can certainly do things to help other children.

Children with broken lives and broken hearts who need our help to patch them.

John Wright and those who help him restore hope for the future for those children.  They share love with those children and let them know that broken hearts CAN survive...with the blessings of patches given lovingly by those who care.

Where would any of us be without the 'patches' we've been given?


So my sweet friend Karie at Two Kwik Kwilters has again offered a prize to be raffled and all proceeds will go to the Pie Challenge for Christmas parties for the orphans in Kyrgyzstan.  She has offered to make either an awesome iPad/tablet case or an adorable cosmetic/whatever-else-you'd-like-it-to-be bag. 


Some of Karie's creations!  The little bag in the front left is the "Cosmetic Bag."  It is so cute and versatile!

My favorite sample of the "Cosmetic Bag!"

iPad/Tablet Cover example!

Another BEAUTIFUL iPad/Tablet cover!

She is talented, talented, talented and the winner will be able to choose what she/he wants and in what fabrics!  Fun for you, or an awesome way to score a great Christmas gift AND give love to orphans across the world.


To enter the drawing, please do two things for me. First, just donate $5 to the ChipIn I created.  I'll enter your name for once every $5 you donate, and Luke will pick a winner when it's done.  If you'd like to donate directly to the Contest page, you can, just be SURE to let me know you have, so I can enter your name in the drawing.

Second, please go to Karie's Facebook page and "Like" her.  She is generous beyond belief to so many of my heart's desires, and I'd love to say thank you.  Karie is at 125 "Likes" as of the creation of this post.  For every "Like" she gets between now and December 5, I will donate an extra dollar. Even if they are likes that are not associated with the drawing!  How easy is that?  Heck, we could meet the challenge on "Likes" alone!

I know I say this every year, but seriously.  Think about what $5 does for you on an average day.

A cup of coffee.
A breakfast at some fast food place.
A Sunday paper for a few weeks.

Or the most amazing thing you can imagine—smiles on the faces of children who feel forgotten and unloved.  Joy in knowing you are telling them that they are KNOWN and LOVED.

Priceless, friends.  Priceless.

Talk about how cheap it is to patch precious little hearts.

Thank you in advance for your help and support.




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crushing...

Luke has been on this "Mommy Only" kick.

I can't lie; I don't mind it that much.  I love when he wakes up in the middle of the night and mumbles, "Mama, Mama," and then goes right back to sleep.  Daddy is getting a raw deal if honest, because Luke is not being as nice to him as he could...I told John it's a phase, and my time of wistfulness while he's all about Daddy will come.

Which leads me to those moments when my heart is so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for Luke...but mixed with aching and longing for what should have been.

I rocked Luke this evening, as normally I do, and as I started to sing, he started to say, "Night-night..." which is typically his cue to me that he's ready to go to his crib and go to sleep.  Or at least have some "Luke time" and then go to sleep.  So, I put him in bed, said my good-nights and left.

About thirty minutes later, he's still up, and he started to stand up and cry for me.  I figured I might have better luck rocking him and singing when I went back in and I was right.  He wanted Mama, but as I sat with him in and started to rock and sing, he started pulling out all his tricks to make me laugh...raising his eyebrows like Groucho Marx, laughing with squinty eyes and wide open mouth to make me giggle, and singing all his songs so I would sing with him.  He started singing his ABCs, and then giggling to get me to join.  Then he started to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star ("Inkle, Inkle") and of course, I sang with him.  As he played with my face and was telling me where my nose and my eyes were, he started saying, "unshine? unshine?" and then started to hum the tune...hoping to get me to join.

I did.  How could I not?

But I cried.  As that sweet boy went all out to show me just how darned cute he was, I thought about how I should know what that joy feels like THREE times.

I should have experienced it with Matthew.
I should look forward to it with Trey.

I should get those sweet, priceless moments with THREE different baby boys and I only get it with one.

Which is one more than so many ever dream of...I know that.

But still.

The weight of what I miss with those boys sometimes screams at me the loudest in the quiet, dark, night time moments with Luke..moments when I realize how amazing it is to be able to have those big brown eyes look at me with nothing but pure love and innocence and how priceless those never-to-be-had moments with my other boys would be.

That weight crushes my soul sometimes.

Like right now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Snippets Of Where I Was...


I wrote this letter to Luke a month and three days before he was born.  Thirty-five months ago, today, his brother was born.  So much different; so much the same.


Sweet Little Luke,
It’s important you know how Mommy was feeling today. I know that you will grow up in a slightly different way than many others, though you should also know that all of us pretty much do!  You, however, will grow up with a big brother you never knew and it’s my job to make sure you know as much about him and his place in our family as you can.

I cleaned out your brother’s room today.  I know it will be your room also, but it was and always will be Matthew’s first.  This is not written to be disrespectful to you; it’s simply the way it is.  I don’t think anyone finds it ok to say, “Well, mom’s dead so the next mom can have all her stuff.”  Therefore, I don’t find it ok to think that because your brother is dead, we need to pretend that room has always been meant for you, or things bought for him were somehow ‘meant’ to be bought for you because he died and you lived.  Acknowledging that it was Matthew’s nursery and Matthew’s things I cleaned out is just acknowledging life.  More specifically, his life, and I won’t ever, ever, ever act as if everything said, done, felt or bought for Matthew wasn’t and isn’t real and true.  The length of life lived does not determine one’s standing in the family, nor is it interchangeable or replaceable. 

But that doesn’t mean that it will not be any less yours.  Several things are in the works for you.  Our sweet friend Miss Amy is making your nursery set.  It’s really adorable, an Under the Sea theme, and your daddy and I love it.  I’ve also ordered some sweet decals for your walls, and Miss Stephanie is making you some awesome art with your name to match your room.  You’ve received several kind and thoughtful gifts, and mommy has been buying things for you since the day we found out you were part of our lives.  I’ve been meaning and meaning to take pictures of things you’ve been given and that I’ve bought for you and I was able to today after I took Matthew’s things down and out of the room.   There are a lot of pictures, obviously, but I want you to always know that you’ve been very loved and very hoped for before you even existed.  I never want you to doubt that.

Though hard, I can’t say that cleaning the room out was the hardest thing I’ve had to do.  I can’t even say it’s at the top of the list.  I’ve had  to hear your daddy say, “He’s not breathing, Lori.  They’re doing CPR,” and “Lori, I’m so sorry.  He’s gone.  I’m so sorry.”  I’ve had to hear the NICU doctor tell me, “Your son is a very, very sick little boy and we’re going to try to do what we can to save him,” as she looked at me knowing that I’d never see him again.  I’ve had to decide what songs to play at my son’s funeral…pick out what he’d wear in his coffin.  I’ve had smile even though my world was shattered.  I bring flowers to a grave that marks where your brother’s body is.

Cleaning out the nursery was hard, but sadly, just one more in the list of things that breaks my heart.  I’m getting to the point where I think I’m just numb to them. I didn’t cry for the most part…but when I came across Matthew’s First Thanksgiving outfit, I did.  When I cleaned out his diaper bag, I did.  When I read what your daddy wrote to him in the book he bought for him, I did.  When I took his curtains down, I did.  When I took all his first Christmas outfits out of the room, I did. 

I guess I cried more than I thought. 

I took a ton of pictures before and took video.  One of my fears is that I won’t be able to remember.  I can’t remember where my keys are most days…I can only imagine how time will chip away my memories of all the happy preparations that were made in anticipation of Matthew.  I don’t want to lose any of that.

So, his room is now ready for you, his little brother.  I anticipate it will be decorated in the next few weeks, and most everything that we’ll need to use with you for the first several weeks is waiting to be used.  It’s been waiting for nearly a year to be used, and unlike me, holds no attachment for whom it was meant to be used.  I can say that as time has passed, I am able to lose some of the attachment as well.  After Matthew died, I couldn’t dream of using just about anything of his for any one else, much less another child.  When your only child dies, the only things he gets to ‘keep’ are those you make sure are only his—clothes, toys, ornaments, shower venues, certain books…different things.  I’ve been able to get to the point where some things I can now contemplate sharing with you.  Not because I probably would have passed them on to you anyway (I HATE THAT ARGUMENT!), but because I know that they are just clothes.  Some clothes are special for Matthew only, and had he lived, would have been that way regardless.  But most clothes do not hold the memories they would had he lived and worn them, and I can see them for what they are—clothes with maybe  a vague memory of me buying them. 

And now your things will go in and wait for you.  It’s hard to believe  that won’t be very long now.  I have to admit that as I was getting things I’ve bought you ready to wash, I found it hard to believe I’d actually bring you home.  There’s no medical reason for me to believe that, it’s just very surreal still.  In any event, know you are loved and cherished and we cannot wait to meet you!

All my love,
Mommy


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Struggling...

There's no point in trying to deny it; that's pretty much how I am functioning.

Still, though...I'm struggling.

I can't even pretend that I'm not.  I mean, I can...and sometimes I am just because life has its expectations, and that's what one does.

But I'm struggling.  Struggling to smile.  Struggling not to cry.  Struggling to keep my head above water.  Struggling to sleep.  Struggling to stay awake.  Struggling to eat.  Struggling not to throw up.  Struggling to stop struggling because MY HEAD KNOWS I AM SO LUCKY.  I AM SO BLESSED.

My heart, though?  My heart hurts.  I feel like it's just drowning in wistfulness every time I turn my head.

My mind races...making connections with everything and everyone and I hate it.  Lady in front of me at Target?  A baby about Luke's age and a big brother about Matthew's...and very visibly pregnant.

My heart screams, "It's a boy and that should be YOU!"

New babies and new pregnancies are all around me.  I am thrilled beyond thrilled for all of them.

My heart screams, "NEVER AGAIN YOU.  NO MORE FOR YOU."

We told Shady Grove that we felt like it was time to withdraw from the Shared Risk program.  I was hoping Dr. K would say something like, "Well, Lori, I certainly understand if you feel it's time.  You've been through so much.  If you should decided to keep trying, though, I still feel like we'd have success and this is what I'd do..."

Instead, I heard, "Well, the plus to the Shared Risk program is the more chances you have, the more chance you will get pregnant." (Not interested in the 'Even the Blind Squirrel Gets a Nut Theory'...Maybe our nuts were in January.)  I also heard, "Well, I think we've tweaked the medicine about as much as we can.  We'd probably just hope for better response."

Hope.  That's a fickle word.

The biggest thing I heard that makes me pretty much realize we are done with trying to have more children is Dr. K mentioning he felt I'd have much greater success with egg donation.

Don't get me wrong...blood does not make a bit of difference to me.  Before Luke, I contemplated egg donation and wouldn't blink an eye if that's what we had to do in order to raise a child.

But we don't.  We have Luke.  And while I feel like the desire to raise more children has been laid on my heart since I realized that girls can grow up to be Mommies....I begged and begged and BEGGED God to just let me have Luke.

I plead with Him for 34 weeks and one day to just let me bring that baby home and to love him and raise him...and if He did, I'd never, ever, EVER ask for another thing.

So to ask again...and to go to those lengths—more time, more trauma for my body, WAY more money in medicine and more interruption in our family—only to have either failure, or God forbid, success and then MORE loss?

I just don't know.

Well, I do know.  I have to accept this place.  This person.  This life.

I feel horrible.  There are so many horrible and terrible things going on in this world.  So much pain and suffering and loss.

My days are filled with the love and giggles of the most amazing little boy in the world...planning fall activities and trips to Disney World and things to do when Daddy deploys...

I am so blessed beyond belief, and I am ashamed of just how hard it is for me right now.  I have more than many people dream of in their wildest dreams.

And still...I'm struggling with want and heartache.  I'm struggling with grief for the losses I've had and the realization that every time I rock Luke to sleep, it may be the last night he lets me...he's growing up so fast.  My heart hurts so much missing days that haven't even happened yet.

Ridiculous.  I know all of this is ridiculous and I just have to get through this.  I've had a lot going on in the last few weeks...months...year....three years...and more to come with Daddy deploying and the acceptance of different stages of our lives.  Hormones are still equalizing.  And honestly, I NEVER struggle to smile or be genuinely happy with that precious boy of mine, and I am just grateful that I have him with me all the time.  What a blessing just to be able to stay home with him and not miss anything I don't have to.

Please pray for a sweet friend who delivered her sweet little girl last week and her precious little boy today...and mourns them both as they have both died and gone to Heaven.

Please pray for the children in Kyrgyzstan who will remain there and not with their families because of political turmoil.  To know my child was alive...but without me...would tear my heart out.

Please pray for my sister.  Her lupus is really bad.

Please pray for sweet friends who have lost babies in the last months, and are having enduring complications.  Insult to injury.

Perspective.  Perspective.  Perspective.  Pray for my perspective to come back.

I may be struggling, but it could be so much worse.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Was Looking Forward To...

...another birthday in our family today.


I don't care what anyone says or how anyone feels and I sure has heck don't care about what anyone else's view on when life begins is or whether or not my heart feels as great a loss today as it will, again, on November 28.

In MY family, this little boy is and will always be as much a Big Brother as he is a Little Brother.


Sad I have to explain to him one day how that can be...grateful I'll be able to explain with full confidence where his brothers are.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Numb Is Not Always A Bad Thing...

When my mom died, I was shocked.  We knew she had cancer; knew it was serious...but she'd been in treatment for year, and her oncologist told us that even though her cancer had metastasized, she had 4-6 months left withOUT more treatment, and she was doing treatment.

So when I got the news that she died, only 4 weeks after he said that, I was shocked.

Numb.

For a long time.

When John's dad died, we were not surprised.  He had been valiantly fighting his cancer for nearly 6 years, and when it metastasized to the brain, and he went into hospice, we pretty much knew what was coming...and we dreaded every phone call because it could have been the one.

Not numb.  Wishing we were.  Wishing we had that 'protection' of dumbfounded, if you will.

When Matthew died, shocked doesn't even begin to define our surprise.

Numb for a long time, that doesn't even begin to cover my emotions either.  Intense, raw and the most painful I'd ever known, and yet...

I was numb.

That's how this week has been...sort of.  Intense and raw emotions, and yet, numb at the same time.

I mean, honestly, if you look at the things going on this week, you almost have to just laugh at how ridiculously ill-timed it all is.

All in a week:
Our last cycle? Negative.  No More Babies. Ever.
A lump?  Cancer?  Maybe no more Mommy?
Oh, don't forget...tomorrow would be the big day!  Got my offer from Shutterfly in the mail today for the birth announcements I should need...probably using a picture I'd take tomorrow.

If his heart hadn't stopped beating.

I've sort of looked at this week in that way===> just ridiculously ridiculous.  So much going on it's hard to believe, and yet, nothing in my control, so I might as well remember I'm that girl who puts on the smiley face and makes the funny, often sarcastic jokes.

Coping mechanisms of my whole life...and very successful, for the most part.

So I really was not worried this morning.  Seriously.  What were the odds?  I mean, I know I am GREAT at beating them (except in the last cycle, of course), but still.  Surely, it was going to be fine.

And it was.  I was told I had nice, young looking and dense breast tissue (ha ha) and neither the mammogram nor the ultrasound showed anything but that...a place/band of really dense, thick tissue.  I'm skinny.  That's not news.  Skinnier than normal, I guess, and that means less fatty tissue and more opportunity to feel new, dense tissue.  Throw in the hormones of enormous proportion affecting the shape and molding of the dense tissue, and my ability to feel more in my thinner self...and in the end, there's nothing even really to biopsy.  The surgeon will still consult with me, but really, for measure and not concern.

I've turned off most feelings this week.  Most.  Self-preservation, whatever...grateful for every single second with my boy and focus on the fact that still, my life is so much greater than the lives of so many.

There are far worse things than pouring all your time, love, efforts and resources into one sweet little miracle.  I look at my clinic's FB page every day, and know that I am so lucky.

I could easily say it's not fair that we lost Matthew...and Trey...and that of the four fresh transfers I've done, the one that DOESN'T work is of course, our last.  I could say that losing my mother and John losing his father to cancer isn't fair.

Oh, there's so much I could say isn't fair.  And it is SO not.

Neither are innocent children dying all over the world because their mothers can't feed or hydrate them.
Neither are people who are persecuted simply because they believe.
Neither are those who suffer neglect, cruelty and abuse in epic proportions.
Neither are people suffering life-threatening illnesses...especially little ones with long lives they should live.

SO MUCH IS NOT FAIR.

I am beyond grateful that the pain of so many others is not my pain.

And I'm grateful for being numb sometimes.  It's not always a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The End.

I went ahead and had my blood drawn yesterday afternoon.  A few hours isn't going to make a difference.

It was negative.

I will never again carry a miracle within me.  Never know again what sweet little baby kicks feel like when Mommy eats Skittles (which, by the way, Luke loves).  Never be able to scan another face, desperate for any signs of Matthew or what Trey may have looked like.  Never watch Daddy lose all hints of "Manly Marine" and go goo-goo ga-ga over his precious newborn.

No Hannah.  No William. (The names another boy and girl would have had.)

I'm sure many are thinking, "Don't count yourself out...." and have some story of some woman who ended up with a surprise pregnancy when she least expected it.

Yeah, not interested.  When you spend as many years and dollars as we have pursuing just about every modern technology available to bring children into your lives, you don't give 'those' stories credence.

Of course, they happen.

Just not to me.  I'm the story of the lady with babies who die.

************

I'm also the story of the lady who is blessed beyond measure.  A dear friend told me that when she read about how I was saying it would be just my luck to end up with cancer, she was thinking about how lucky I was with Luke.

And she is SO right.  He is the song in my heart and one of the most amazing gifts I've ever been given.  He is proof that God can and does create all things new and I am often just at a loss for words to describe just what he does for my heart and soul.  For his Daddy's too.


I told another friend yesterday...in light of how it ALL has turned out...I still would not change a thing.  I'd do every treatment, go through every heartache and roller coaster ride, cry every tear and plea every plea all over again just for the privilege I've been given to mother the babies I have.  I'd obviously prefer that ALL were with me here on this earth.

Given that they aren't, the joy of knowing and loving them for whatever time I was given is enough to last my lifetime.

And it will.

*************

We have several more opportunities to do more fresh cycles.  We are withdrawing from the program, though.  The last two cycles have been pretty indicative of what is going on with my body as it ages (gasp, I know...39) and my plea to God was to have 'one last shot' at bringing a brother or sister Luke could grow up with into our lives.  Two weeks ago, I was begging Him to allow us to have at least two beautiful embryos to transfer and to accept whatever happened after.

God is good.  I was given exactly what I asked for and more.  Not only did I have two—two BEAUTIFUL, perfect looking embryos (even prettier than Matthew's and Luke's!), I had a third.  God gave that lab a miraculous ability to rescue more embryos and we had a THIRD embryo to transfer.  I didn't mention it, but another embryo actually kept growing a few more days, which was, in itself a miracle and we thought we might be able to freeze it.  Sadly, it arrested right before freeze.  And still, a dear friend told me, "What an opportunity to give God glory."

So right.  Though I would love nothing more than to bring another baby into our lives, I am not willing to put our family (or my body, in light of this lump) through any more trauma...no more interruptions in our lives because of treatments.  No more copious and crazy amounts of money on drugs—money that should and could go to Luke.

We are blessed.  We've always thought raising another child would just be icing on the cake that is Luke.

Not that I would not love more of that icing.  Who wouldn't?  It's so flipping delicious that it makes you CRAVE it.

But I'm grateful for the cake I have...it's sweeter than I ever imagined it could be.

**************

I am so grateful for the most amazing messages and texts and calls and gifts that I've been given.  Facebook has it's faults, for sure, but it also is such a nice way for a girl to feel the love.  I have to share about a gift I received yesterday—I'll ask my friend if she's ok with me sharing her company, but it's one that makes adorable scarves.  I got home from my doctor appointment yesterday and out of the blue, a package was delivered to me.  It had a sweet pink and white scarf in it and the most precious note.  I couldn't even read it because I was crying so much.  The note told me the she'd read my blog for years (we were acquaintances in college) and was touched by my post on the October 3 about how breast cancer and pregnancy loss were close to my heart.  She just felt she needed to make me a scarf, one that had been designed for her cousin, a breast cancer survivor, and that would be able to remind me of my mother when I wore it.  For my heart, and my heart alone, she added two little butterfly charms—one for Matthew and one for Trey—so they could be with me.  I don't even think she knows that my mother was a HUGE butterfly lover (she had a bumper sticker that said, "I brake for butterflies!" and on the day of her funeral, butterflies were EVERY WHERE)....nor does she probably know that when we were looking at gravesites for Matthew, standing under a beautiful poplar tulip tree on a cold, cold December day in Maryland, a sweet little yellow butterfly came by...and we knew that was the spot.  I see those little butterflies all over the place here in NC, and Luke calls them out every time.

My point?  That scarf coming to me in those colors, for that purpose, with those charms, YESTERDAY?????? God-given reminders that He is with us always.

Of that, I have no doubt.

****************

I think that I have a lot of things to process.  I think it will not be easy, as I am a hormonal mess and there are some upcoming dates that are sure to tug at my heart.  Even once the hormones peter out, the acceptance of many things not in my control is one with which I have to deal, as do we all.

So as I do, I appreciate all the love, care and concern.  It is all such a blessing to me.

As are these sweet boys in my life.