Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"I Don't Know How You Do It..."

Said to me so, so, so many times.

Especially lately.

Sometimes, I just give the simplest and truest answer...

The grace of God.

Seriously.  That's what it is...good day or bad, it's just the grace of God.

But people want really tangible answers.  So do I, if truthful.  Something that 'makes sense.'

And boy, do I have that answer.

John being gone for two and a half weeks has been a breeze, all things considered.

That said, I've had the proverbial "If it's going to happen, it'll be when he's deployed," things happen.

Need four new tires.  Car stuck in the garage.  Colds and stomach bugs.  Insanely busy with things to 'keep me busy'.  Big toys that need more than one person to put together.  Very, very, very sick sister.

The usual.

But...when asked how it's going, it is really very easy for me to give the honest answer of, "I can't believe it's already been nearly 3 weeks!  It's going really well!"

I'm beyond spoiled in the communication I have had with John.  I've already talked to him more in this two weeks than I did the ENTIRE first time he deployed.  All 8-9 months of it.  Talk about how far technology has come in all these years he has been in.

Also, I have an amazing little guy who is growing at WARP speed and seriously, I am trying desperately to contain it and revel in it at the same time.  It's crazy how much of this little person he is becoming.  This funny, sweet, serious, capable and engaging little boy I am watching form right before my very eyes.

Mostly, though...mostly, it's perspective.

Perspective that if honest, I'd rather not have, and yet...since I do, and there's no changing it, I'm grateful.

I can do this because he is alive.
He's as safe as one can be in war.
He's coming home in about 50 weeks, God willing.

And though I hate, hate, hate him being gone and hate, hate, hate him missing out on things with Luke—things he'll never get back—it's not the worst thing I've ever had to deal with.

One of my dearest friends and I were talking about one person's awful really is awful because it's the worst thing that's ever happened to them.

To that point.

Even if it's not really the worst thing that could ever happen to them, it feels like it because up to that point, it is.

It's very, very easy for me to say that John being gone for a year is nowhere NEAR the worst thing to happen...or to endure.

Choosing a gravesite for my son?  Worrying about whether his long little body will fit in the infant coffin?  Deciding what words will immortalize him?  Tell the world everything I want it to know about the precious body the stone marks?  Hearing, "I'm so sorry, Lori...there's no heartbeat," and watching my doctor cry just as much as we are because losing yet ANOTHER baby is hard?

Yeah.  Worst.things.ever.

And yet...I'm hesitant to say that even because my mind can conjure up worse.

It's really unbelievable to me that I could...but I could.  You know I could.

So John being away from us?

Too many words could be used to describe it—sad, hard, annoying, frustrating, lonely, wistful...I could go on and on.

But, in light of things I have already done in this life?  Things I never dreamed I'd have to do and would give so many things to change?

Totally, totally, totally doable.

And not just doable...doable with a smile—grateful that it's JUST a year and he's JUST where he is vice where he could be and JUST doing what he's doing vice doing what he could be...


How do I do it?

The grace of God.

In the form of perspective.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Pit...

There are a million things I have planned to do this year to keep me busy while John's deployed!

Too bad that regular life already keeps me busy enough!  I need not add any more. It's already been almost two weeks and it has flown!  I'm not surprised...if nothing else, the last 3 years have taught me that time truly slips through my fingers with no regard to how I want it to move.

Time is pretty rude, actually.

One of the things I committed to was Kelly's Walking With You series, and though I did the first one, I'm about to be two weeks behind (surprise, surprise!) so I'm going to try and catch up.  Try.

Though I really didn't have time for week two's topic, I'll be honest...

I didn't want to write about it.  It's about clinging in the pit...

 "Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?"

There are a lot of days I still feel like I am in the pit.  My stomach gets that same knot in my gut and I get the teary lump in my throat. Just tonight, after Luke went to bed, I stood in my stairwell for nearly 20 minutes just soaking in every detail of Matthew's pictures.  His long, long body.  How much he and Luke looked alike.  How heartbreaking it is to me that my sweet boy didn't have any of his clothes to wear at Georgetown...


My sister has been really sick, and John has been gone and I've been busy with a lot of things and the mail keeps bringing me reminders of the third little boy I should be mothering and honestly, I just.don't any more than I already do on a day-to-day basis.

Clinging to hope was not even on my radar at first.

I was just clinging to life.  Begging God for air to breathe.  Begging Him to take me instead.  Begging Him to show Himself.

Begging Him to stop John from crying.

Just clinging to breathe.

I was overwhelmed with support.  From the second my doctor said that Matthew forced her hand and we'd need emergency surgery, seriously, I felt like the whole world instantly became my team.  Every nurse and doctor at that hospital made my son and me a priority—of that, I have no doubt.

Do you know that I posted on Facebook that he died?

That's how the world found out my son died.


Who the heck does that?

A woman who doesn't believe it, that's who.

I was in shock.  Healthy, perfect babies DON'T JUST DIE AFTER THEY ARE BORN.

They don't.

But mine did, and while I couldn't believe it, people rallied around me and John in ways for which I will forever be grateful.

The first days after losing Matthew are oddly a blur and forever vividly imprinted in my mind and on my heart at the same time.   The thing I remember most is holding Matthew's blanket on my shoulder for days.

I sat in my leather chair, in the corner, and held that baby in my arms, if only in my imagination with that blanket.

I patted it.  I rocked it.  I stared into oblivion wishing I was not there, but with him, as it should have been.

I know people thought I was losing it.

I was.

Just typing it brings more tears than I really feel like crying right now.

Exactly as I thought it would—which is why I didn't want to write about this.

I don't have any wise words of advice.  Grief, whether fresh or over three years later, is ugly.

When new, it pierces one's soul in a way that feels unrecoverable.

After some time has passed, grief is still soul-piercing, but in an exhausting way...a way that says even though you've tasted restoration and joy again, there are still moments you feel like you are right back in the pit.

But I can say that God does not ever waste pain.


Amazing things have been done in Matthew's honor and though I think I have always been a compassionate person and infertility would have made me a devoted mother anyway...losing babies has taught me what is really important in raising Luke.

My house being clean and his clothes being spotless or him reading at 2 or being the most brilliant, funny little boy on the planet...doesn't matter.

There's so much that doesn't matter.

Loving him.  Him knowing he is loved.  Raising him to know how grateful we are for his life and how grateful we are to God for never leaving us...showing him that life is not perfect and still is beautiful...

Those are the things that matter.

Those are the things I cling to whenever I find myself in the pit again.

And when I cling to them...gratefully, I don't stay in the pit very long.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TriCalm—A Review and Giveway!

You all know my boy has the.most.sensitive skin.

Everyone says their kid does, I know.  People get really, really protective of their skin issue remedies.

I get it.  We all want the best for our kids, right?

So, I am always, always, always looking for things for poor little Luke that are steroid-free.

This boy has eczema so terribly that he has three pretty strong prescriptions for flare-ups, two of which thin his skin and leave it hyper-pigmented ala Michael Jackson.

Not loving that.

TriCalm offered the opportunity to try their new, steroid-fee anti-itch gel and I jumped on it!

All-natural? Yes, please!

Steroid free?  HOORAY!

The main active ingredient is an all natural product from a vegetable.  I am all about that.

I couldn't wait to try it on Luke's right elbow—the main eczema culprit.

The first time I did, he got very agitated.  Scratched at his arm.  Looked at me like I was nuts.

Next night, same thing.  He did not love it.  I did notice that his skin looked a little less angry, but he normally has no problem letting me put creams on him (so used to it!) and did not want this one.

I tried again, though...same thing.  It seemed like it was uncomfortable for him, so I stopped.

We had an appointment with his dermatologist a few days later.  I just took that tube right to the professional.

She liked it!  She liked the ingredient; liked the all-natural aspect, and liked that it was steroid free.

BUT, she warned, she would not use it on his eczema because it is an astringent, and that could burn the inflamed skin.

Which is exactly what had happened.

That was my fault, though.  TriCalm specifically works to prevent itching and irritation—and the one PLUS to Luke's eczema is that it looks far, far worse than it seems to bother him.  Well, that and his sensory issues somewhat prevent him from being as irritated as he should, but that's another point is that his elbow had opened skin, but though the eczema was that bad, it wasn't itching him.  I shouldn't have used it on his broken skin.

Talking with his dermatologist more, she told me she thought it would be great to try in the spring and especially summer with bites.  Much like my son, I have pretty sensitive skin too and welt like you read about with bites. I think this would be GREAT for those bites, and so did she.  It's main ingredients work against histamine releases, which typically is why skin itches when bitten.

I usually use essential oils for bites and such, but I love having another all-natural product in my arsenal, and especially for Luke.  Especially in the spring and summer here in sunny, swampy North Car-o-li-nah!

So, if you head over to Tricalm's Facebook page, you can get samples.  Better, they are giving ME two free tubes to give to YOU!  Simply enter the giveaway below and I'll pick TWO winners this Sunday, January 27.

I'd love to know what you think of it too!

• Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who receivedit directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetSM blogger, Iagreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. Myopinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May MediaGroup LLC or the manufacturer of the product.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

YAHOO For Technology!!!!

This morning started off FABULOUSLY!

Granted, I'd only been asleep for a few hours (I'm an insomniac anyway!) and the phone rang in the middle of a CRAZY, CRAZY dream...but at 4:06 this am, my phone rang telling me John was trying to contact me via Facetime.
Good Morning!
Steve loving you this morning.

John is at a midway point to where he'll ultimately be, and after he leaves this point, I will not really post much in the way of pictures like this unless he says it's ok.   He will probably not have anywhere near the access to this either, and I understand.  It's truly a matter of national security.

That said, I'm loving being able to see and talk to him when I can, and this morning was no exception.  He called again after Luke was up and eating breakfast and Luke is just starting to actually get that he can communicate through the phone...he was sending kisses, watching Daddy be silly and making faces.

What Family Portraits look like in military families these days....
I loved it.

We had our first deployment bloodshed.  Walking up the stairs to nap, Luke must have tripped (I was already at the top of the stairs waiting for him) on his recorder (he plays his 'whistle' to help develop oral muscles) and he popped his lip pretty well.  Poor boy.  He's a trooper, but he actually wanted comfort from me, which is pretty rare. (His sensory issues don't lend him to feel pain as much as he probably could/should.)  After a minute or two and some mommy kisses, he was fine.

This evening, as we were getting ready to run out for a meeting at church, the power went out.  Thankfully I'd already had his dinner prepared and he was (somewhat) eating it.  I have several flashlights in the closet, but on my to-do list was replacing batteries before the spring.

Yeah, will be doing that tomorrow am.

More fun?  My car was stuck in the garage!  Keep in mind that we've not parked that van in the garage for the year and few months we've lived here because there was too much JUNK in there until just the last week.

Seven days.  If that.  We FINALLY got it cleaned out to park and then the power goes out and it's stuck.

Yes, I could have done the emergency cord, but more trouble than it's worth.

We hopped in the truck.

I've not driven that truck in years.  It's HUGE.  It's a Ford F250 and I am a LITTLE bitty girl in a BIG OLE TRUCK.

That needed gas, ha ha.

I was rushing to get Luke in (he was throwing a fit because he's used to getting in the truck and playing with the garage door opener...which was obviously not working) and there he and I were trying to climb in the old monster truck at a quick pace.

Oy.  Our second deployment bloodshed was my skinned shin as I dropped out of the truck, haha...

I figured out where the gas tank was, filled it and parked very awkwardly in the church parking lot and went to my meeting.

Midway through, I got another Facetime attempt from John!!!!  I tried to take it but couldn't with my church's wifi settings and was so aggravated. I was able to tell him to try again in about 20 minutes, but guess what????

My sweet neighbor told me that our power was STILL OUT!

No wifi at my house either.

Dunkin Donuts to the rescue!  I asked Luke if he wanted a donee, and we headed there for their wifi.  While we ate sprinkles in the truck (daddy would cringe even more than him cringing at me driving his truck!) we waited for him to call us.

Dunkin Donuts, God love you, but your wifi service isn't the best either!

Luke was tired, I was tired and frustrated with the multiple failed Facetime attempts and I just finally squeaked in to John that we had to go home and maybe he could try later.

No success as we sat outside Dunkin Donuts trying to connect.  Luke's back there, I promise!
THEN my neighbor texted to let me know the power was on!  Hooray!  We got home and were able to talk to Daddy.  There were all sorts of electronic issues as a result of the power abruptly going off and HOORAY for Daddy being able to troubleshoot with me and get the power all working again.

Luke was BEYOND tired, but still...was glad to see Daddy!
I'm mostly back up and running.  I'll figure out the rest.

LONG evening, and yet...

I remember days of deployment where if I missed a phone call, I might not hear from him again for a couple of MONTHS.

Seriously.  I was lucky to get letters every week or so.

So I will not complain.  Power outages and frustration with Apple TV and routers and modems and facetime and ichat and google talk and all the other gobbledy gook is NOTHING in the big scheme of the way my heart flutters when we are able to see John.

Love it.  Love it.  Love it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Day Down...

No, I don't plan to count down like that every day.  With our deployment quilt strips, I will, but I will drive myself nuts if I count out day by day by day...

But, seeing as today was our first day down, I thought for Luke to remember, I'd share how it went.

All week, I've been a mess.  Every time we did something together, in my head, I'd think, "This is the last...." and I'd start tearing up.  Especially the last two nights.  Because I had to take John to the appointed place (a decent drive) in the weeeeee hours of the morning, he was worried about how I'd drive home by myself.

Luke not interested in a family pic!
Trains with Daddy before his last bedtime...sure is a lot of construction going on in Sodor, huh?
Last Snuggle Baby with daddy after bath...

I was fine.  Really.  I teared up a bit when I left him, but honestly, as I said yesterday, my heart is hurting so.much.more for HIM and for what he is missing with Luke.  My missing him feels sort of secondary, if that makes sense.

Before he packed out...
Waiting to go on...without us.

I got home veeeerrrrry early this am, giving me just a few hours to sleep before Luke had to get up for school.  I didn't sleep much, and honestly, felt like the whole drop-off was a dream in a way.  I got up earlier than I had to, read my devotionals, checked FB and blog (so many sweet, sweet comments, thank you!) and was fine.

I dropped Luke (who was a bit cranky because he's really been into sleeping in these days) off at school  and headed right over to the car fix-it place.  (Yes, that's what I call it.  Well, really, I call it that place that Matt works.  Matt is our mechanic.)  I needed an oil change, and John told me to have Matt tell me how my tires look.
Our first morning without Daddy starts!

Guess what I'll be replacing next Tuesday?  Four tires.  Woohoo!

After, I had an already scheduled counseling session (convenient, no?) and it was fine.

I was fine.  No tears, not really even talking too much about the deployment...fine.

I picked Luke up from school—he had a great morning (as usual) and we came home for a nap.  For both of us!  It was great.

Except it wasn't.  I woke up and had that sick feeling in my stomach.

The "Yes, it's for real," feeling.

I needed to run a couple of errands, so Luke and I went out and as we were driving, I started crying.

Natalie Grant's "The Real Me" came on and that got me.  Not enough that Luke (who loves playing with his trains in the back seat!) even knew, but enough to catch me and remind me, "Crud.  This is gonna be a loooooooong year!"

"But you see the real me...Hiding in my skin, broken from within.
Unveil me completely...I'm loosening my grasp, There's no need to mask my frailty
Cause you see the real me.

Wonderful, beautiful is what you see,
When you look at me, You're turning the tattered fabric of my life into a perfect tapestry..."

In my defense, it was fast.  Considering this morning I'd been doing great and really feeling like it was going to be flying by, the brief period of UGH this afternoon was very quickly replaced again with, "It'll be ok."

Luke and I ate dinner.  Well, mostly me, but he ate more than he often does and we made a little video for Daddy.  He started throwing a fit (I mean FIT) because I wouldn't let him watch Wonderpets while I did the dishes (such a two-year old!) We did bath (he calmed down!) and read our new book, The Story for Little Ones.  As he sat in my lap quietly listening and interested, I breathed.

It'll be ok.  It will.  I have things planned for the better part of the year, we'll do some R&R and then the holidays will make the time go by until he's home.


It will.

It will.

Luke loves to "!" (Play...he is often saying, "Play? Toys? Playing!" and loves the parks and playgrounds!

John didn't know but I snuck in this wristband from Luke's birthday.  I wanted him to have a little something precious to both of us while there, and he was worried about losing anything so he wouldn't let me order or send him with anything.  He'll be surprised to get this when he gets there and barely fit over the top of Luke's wrist two years later!
My deployment nightstand books and magazines...some are not just deployment ones, they are ones I've been trying to get to but haven't had time.  Here's the perfect OPPORTUNITY, right?

Nothing at all to do with deployment, but I find it HILARIOUS that my TWO YEAR OLD is getting invites from his  urologist to attend an erectile dysfunction seminar.
Good grief.

Monday, January 14, 2013

For Whom My Heart Hurts the Most—On Deployment...

You know, I've often heard it said of military men and women, "You signed up for this..."


One can NEVER really understand what he or she is 'in for' until one is actually walking in those shoes.  Literally.

I know I chose to marry a man who chose to make the United States Marine Corps his career.
I know I chose to support him in whatever that career choice demanded.
I knew it was not going to be an easy thing to do, seeing as it's a very unique calling.

I knew I loved him, so it didn't matter.

But I had no idea how my heart would be pulled and tugged and full of pride and fear all at the same time.

No one does.

You can casually tell someone that your husband will be gone for eight months or so, and they will usually give the perfunctory, "Thanks for his service and your sacrifice," and you respond with, "Yes, it will be hard, but we can do it," and not even give it a second thought in this life of a military wife and mother.

But until you live it?  You have no idea, and you SURE as heck didn't know what you were in for when you "signed up for it..."

Which is not to say that I am not very proud to be a military spouse, or extremely proud of my husband's dedication and courage.

Or that I am not equipped to handle this's certainly not my first, and though none have been something I'd ask for, I've held my own.

I've never done a year.
I've never done a year with a child.

When John and I got married, there is no way we would have ever guessed where our lives would take our hearts would have grown larger than we ever imagined or how they could be broken into a million pieces.

How they could be renewed.

We had no idea that being separated from each other would be hard, but separated from our children?

The hardest things we'll ever do.

My heart hurts so much for John.  It hurts for Luke, no doubt, as he has just fallen in love with Daddy these last few weeks of holidays and leave time together.  He will miss Daddy more than I expect I can imagine.

He'll be ok, though.  He's young, and not entirely cognizant of what's really going on.

How Daddy is at work in a very dangerous place for a very long time and Mommy prays not only for Daddy's quick return, but more for his safety no matter what.

He'll have his moments, but for the most part, he won't miss John as much as John will miss him.

John loves that child with a love I'm often surprised by.  A fierce and protective love, yet a love that is proud and playful and whimsical and awe-striking.  John learned when Matthew died that men cry.  Strong men cry.  He's not ashamed to tear up and there is no doubt that separation from Luke will at times bring him to tears over the course of this year.

I'll find things to do.  I've decided my word for the year is OPPORTUNITY.  Luke and I will take advantage of the opportunities that this year can bring.  Instead of focusing on what we lose this year (which is the hardest thing for me), I'm going to focus on the opportunity a year can bring.

John will have it much tougher.  Working hard, in a hard-to-work place, and distanced from his loves.

Please pray for him.  Pray for us, as we always appreciate prayers, but more, please pray for him.  Pray for his heart to be comforted by any way we can send a little piece of home to him and pray for this year to be one of opportunity and renewal.

Mostly, pray for his safety.  Pray he comes home safely, as well as all who leave with him.

Thank you for your prayers and your support.  We are grateful.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pity Party...


I read blogs.  Not as much as I used to because I am far busier than I was after Matthew died.

But I used to read a lot.  Still read some a lot.

Am embarrassed to say that some I judged pretty harshly because they were either too peppy (and I found it impossible to be as optimistic and happy and joyous as they were in spite of their life's circumstances) or they were too depressing (and Lord knows I knew a thing or two about depressing).

I didn't judge them publicly. (Seriously.  If you do NOT like something you read, then for crying out loud, DON'T READ.  I have no idea why people feel like it's ok to trash talk someone online just because it's online.)

Anyway, I don't judge publicly.  I try not to judge.  It's hard, though, because when I try to put myself in the shoes of others, I obviously think about how *I'd* react and behave, and frankly, some of the blogs I've come across were ones where I just couldn't believe them, for whatever reason.

I'm sure some say that about mine.

"Good grief, she sounds like she never has a second of hard parenting. Always Pollyanna about Luke.  Doesn't she EVER just get frustrated with him and want to scream?"

(Yes.  Three days before Christmas I was making a recipe that had yummy orange icing.  Sugar, people.  Orange and sugar.  I tried and tried and tried and TRIED to get Luke to even have a taste.  Just a teeny one, thinking he'd want more if he'd just *TASTE* it.  He refused, it got ugly and icing went everywhere.  I was frustrated, believe me, and even found myself saying, in a tone I don't love, "For crying out LOUD, Luke.  It's ICING.")


"Dear Lord, I just can't read another word of this.  It makes my heart hurt too much.  She seems so broken.  I thought she was doing better and she seems even WORSE!"

I feel ya.  There are lots of days I think about how depressing it is.  How depressed I am.

And then 30 seconds later, how grateful I am and how much joy I have in my life.

Throw in a daddy leaving for a year.  It's probably obvious that he's leaving soon.

Very, very, very soon.

For a year.

A year seems like such a long time.

But three years ago was yesterday.

A year ago, I was about to be pregnant again.

Yesterday, I lost him.

Sigh.  I'm obviously no stranger to being a military spouse (16 years, OY!) or deployments, but never a YEAR with a child.  It's hard.  I can do it.  I can handle it.  I've no doubt.  Luke and daddy being separated that long breaks my heart though.

I feel like he's already lost a lifetime with two of his sons.

He says he had their whole lifetimes.

Potato/potahto.  Easy to tell who is the glass-full kind of person, huh?

Luke is going to a speech evaluation.  He has his two year check up tomorrow.  I've filled out the Ages and Stages and the MCHAT.  No issues...except with communication.

For a kid with the vocabulary he has (yesterday, he dug through a box of hotwheel cars/planes, pulled out what I'd call a blimp and called it a "Zepplin") and the strong abilities in other areas, his speech development is behind.

Significantly.  He is not phrasing much, doesn't really use pronouns, and though he repeats EVERYTHING, and can remember too, he does not do much construction.

Probably related to sensory integration issues, which are presenting their own sets of challenges, and heart aches for him.

People off the street would have NO clue.  None.  Others tell me he's FINE.  (He is, regardless.) Others tell me that in the big scheme of 'issues', his are so minimal. (I know, I me, I know.)

But I'm not dumb.  I'm not trying to force issues on my kid.  I am NOT a hover mother.

I have degrees in early childhood development, as well as certifications as a special needs teacher with a focus on autistic spectrum disorders.  I'm not completely ignorant to flags at 2 that turn into the issues I saw in my students at 7.

No, I don't think he's close to being on the spectrum, and even if he was, no big deal.

In fact, it's more frustrating that it's *just* sensory issues because people like to dismiss those as not a big deal.

When your kid eats a meal every two or three days, trust me, it can be a big deal.  Thank God he ate this morning.  He was hungry, obviously, because he's not eaten much of anything since Saturday.  

Yes, Saturday. guess is the eval will say he's fine; he's a boy; come back in 3 months.  Great. I'd be glad to do that.

If not, we'll deal with whatever.

Just having one of those days where I'm feeling down.  Not woe is me, just woe is.

So, off to the park we go.  No woe is possible at the park, is it?

I didn't think so.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Walking With You...Some Reflection.

After Matthew died, I scoured the Internet.

I mean, that's of course after I was able to breathe for a few minutes...look at a computer screen or any thing, really, without great heaving and sobbing.

I needed to find something.

Wasn't sure of what it was.  Well, of course I knew what it was.  I wanted to find the way to fix everything.  To rewind back to right before she said, "I'm going to go ahead and break your water," and live *that* life.

The life where he would have lived.

No such luck.

Instead, I found blogs of women who also knew what I was looking for.  How to survive and live and still love God, and yes, even to find more joy and happiness in a world that had shattered.

One of those sites was Kelly's.  Kelly offers such special things for mothers who've lost babies, and though I couldn't bring myself to ask for any, I was grateful for her ability to comfort mothers like me and to do so with the perspective of having been there before herself.

In the beginning days of my life without Matthew, I found myself doing her Walking With You series.  Writing being therapeutic, I figured it was a great way to release words screaming in my mind and heart, as well as 'meet' other people who would know just how I was feeling.

In a world of people who don't know telling you how "It'll get better," I wanted to hear more from those who said, "I know it will never go away, but it won't always be this heavy.  It won't always take each breath away...just some of them here and there."

I wanted to know and hear from women who survive.

This last year has been a hard one.  After losing Matthew in 2009, I was a shell of the person I ever was before.  The big smile and bright eyes I'd always been complimented on were gone...and in my mind, gone forever.

One does not ever go back to *that* person after something so sacred and precious is taken from her.

When Luke was born in 2011, I became a new person.  A mother with a broken heart and a fully whole heart at the same time.  Capable of still being overcome with great sobbing sorrow and yet, being able to find joy in every.single.second with this sweet reminder that God can send restored joy and hope when we couldn't ever expect it.

When we started our third IVF cycle this time last year, I was, with no doubt, happy.  Content.  Longing, always, of course, for a baby boy in Heaven, but grateful for the one on earth and choosing to relish every second with him.  Another baby would have just been such a blessing, but honestly, if the cycles (I'd planned to attempt two) didn't work, I'd be ok.  Luke was enough.

Getting pregnant again was such a shock.  A joyful one, but still, shock nonetheless.  The cycle went amazingly well (not usual for me) and my numbers were great.  I plopped Luke in a Big Brother shirt, bribed him with a lollipop (only his 4th one, ha ha) and could not believe our great blessings.

Another baby!  Such joy.

Until we lost him right at the beginning of the second trimester.  No reason; normal, healthy baby boy.
Just gone.

I found myself right back there.  That place.  And this time, I was asking why I even got pregnant in the first place.  With Matthew, my whole pregnancy and our time together had been precious.  Amazing.  Perfect.  His life and death changed me in ways I'd never imagined.  Even knowing he'd die in the end, I'd not have changed a single thing.

But the second time? When I lost Trey, I was just so distraught...I'd been happy.  Having another baby was just icing. I was blessed to have a sweet boy in my arms already and honestly, did not know WHY that happiness had to be marred again with yet ANOTHER loss.

Why even allow pregnancy through such a complicated process as IVF to only lose him?


There's a difference, too, in the level of support.  There's never been any lack of support for our loss of Matthew.  It's very easy to see he was a real, living and breathing healthy baby, and people are often torn and heartbroken for us just looking at pictures of his daddy holding him.

But not so much with Trey.

Isolation.  I feel isolated.  Still, as I recognize that my third baby boy should have been gazing at twinkling stars on the Christmas tree, I feel like I'm the only one who remembers what my body lost.

What my heart lost.

So I'm doing this series again.  To remember, reconnect and restore.  There is great power in empathy, and often it's just the power that is needed to remind one she is not alone.  She is heard.  She is understood.

She will survive and she will grow.

With others.  Just as God intended us to do...carrying one another's burdens to love and support.

I'm grateful for those who've carried mine, and blessed for the opportunity to carry others'.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Luke Is Two!

My heart.

Of course.

Because he's just finally learned to answer, "One!" when I ask, "How old are you?"

Being silly for the camera because he knew I wanted a smile!

That boy!

He insisted on carrying these balloons all over the house...even with him in his room for nap!
Note the candy cane to bribe.  He's not into skittles or jelly beans these days.
He is the love of our lives.  He is funny and finds himself funny, which is even funnier.

He sings.  All.the.time.  Songs I had no idea he even knew.  I love turning to look at him when I hear him sing something and he'll look at me with this sweet, shy little smile and keep singing.  He knows words I had no idea he knew because he sings them perfectly to the radio or jingle he hears.  He bounces his little shoulder and belts it out.  He tries to dance, but like his Mama and Daddy...well, it's cute, but he's definitely a singer and not a dancer!

The singing makes ME sing.

He is a counting fiend.  Randomly, he'll just start counting.  To ten, sometimes to 12.  I have always counted with him when using stairs and things like that, but land alive! The boy's been listening!

He cracks us up when we say the blessing before meals.  We shouldn't laugh, but it's so darned cute.  We'll say, "Let's say 'Thank you, Jesus!'" and we'll hold hands.  Then he squeezes his eyes shut like they have been glued together and a couple seconds later, opens to check if we are watching.

Which we often are.

He's getting so much better about responding with, "Thank you," without me prompting him to, and his little southern accent is TOO.MUCH!  I adore it, especially his little "Ma'am" ... which is more like, "Maayyy-uuuhhhm" (Yes, we have him say "Yes, Ma'aam/Yes Sir; No, Ma'am/No Sir"... I'm almost 40 and I do, my boy will have manners too!)

He melts my heart every time he says, "Uff eww" in response to me telling him I love him.  Which is pretty much all the time.  He loves his Mama, that's for sure, and makes my heart go pitter patter!

He's all about showers these days...that little stinker wants to just jump in anytime he hears the water running, clothes and all.  He prefers a shower to bath, and honestly, that's almost easier for now, so I am glad he enjoys them.  Toothbrushing too.  He got a Thomas vibrating toothbrush in his stocking for Christmas and he LOVES it.  He's always loved brushing his teeth, but he literally dreams of that toothbrush.  Trains, trucks and aircraft—the boy is all boy and his daddy couldn't be more thrilled.  He's good about knowing the difference between a helicopter, an airplane and an Osprey.

Yes, there's a big difference!

He loved the snow, for a while, and then was ready to go in.  Just like Mama!

Still sleeps pretty well and naps like a champ from about 1-3:30/4 most days.  I am SO lucky.  Still has his boppy (paci) for nighttime and naps, and since the ADA says they are ok up until 4, I am not pushing getting rid of it while Daddy is gone.  Nor am I potty-training anytime soon.  I've heard you can start at 2 and your son will be trained by 3 or you can start at 2 years, 11 months and your son will be trained by 3.

Opting for the latter!

He  still doesn't watch a ton of tv, but he sure does love his iPod and iPad and can work those like a champ! He only has a few shows he likes...Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Thomas, Yo Gabba Gabba and Wonderpets are some favorites, but he's also added Dora and Curious George to his playlist.  He still really only wants to watch the same few episodes, but those episodes are practically memorized.  It cracks me up to hear him recite lines.

Pretty much the only tv he watches is with Daddy, and that's the main time he snuggles with Daddy.  This was tonight after dinner.

He has a lot of words still, but is just now starting to phrase (and often, phrases he's heard from Dora—"I did it!" or Yo Gabba—"I like it!") and I'm somewhat surprised since he has such a huge vocabulary.  He just turned two, though, so I'll give him a little more time before I worry.  Ha ha.

He is exceptionally good at leading you by the hand to show you what he's talking about if you are not getting it.  "Hands, hands," he'll say, so he can take yours and get his point across.

The boy knows his construction equipment!  He can tell the difference between a backhoe and a frontloader and a bulldozer and a crane (and now so can I!) and he sure does love construction vehicles.    They will be the theme of his birthday party tomorrow.

We'd not really planned much, but in thinking about Daddy being gone for a year, we wanted to squeeze in all the memories we could make, so we threw something together.  Poor child.  His mother is NOT a party-planner by any means.  I even tried to figure Pinterest out more for a few suggestions.

Yes, my Mother Of the Year trophy surely is in the mail!
Helping put his goody bags together...really, he was just trying to play with everything.  This was after his nap.  He carried those balloons EVERYWHERE!
Today was low-key, as we will celebrate more tomorrow.  He had a yummy breakfast of donee holes and yogurt and applesauce.  He ate tons of hot dog and yogurt at lunch, and his birthday dinner was cheese bread, yogurt bites, crispix and fruit bites.

Birthday dinner.  He's eating.  I'll take it.
Yes, yogurt is a theme.  Therapy is going ok, but he still is very, very resistant to new foods and eating and we are working on a lot of tactile and vestibular sensory integration.

Anyone off the street wouldn't have a clue that we have issues.

And though they aren't big ones, they still are there.  Mommy knows, and we are working on them.

He is so funny.  He's starting to exert his will, and even that is funny.  He'll do something he shouldn't do, and I'll say, "Nein, nein!!!  Not okay!" Then, I'll give him the "Mom" look and he stares if we are in a stare-off.

Then he giggles.

Which makes me giggle!
Some faces for the camera as he walks with Daddy...

Situation diffused pretty easily!  I am so, so thankful that even in the middle of a fit, it's still a short fit and one that I can usally divert pretty easily.  I pray this temperment lasts.  Mellow and laid-back with just enough spunk to keep it interesting.


I cannot believe how quickly two years have passed.  I am sad that John will leave at such a fun time, but he and I agree that there really is never a good time to leave your kid for a year.

We are well aware of how precious every second is.
His anti-daddy campaign is over...right in time for Daddy to deploy, of course.  That's ok.  John will take all the snuggling he can get!

Samuel Luke, you have been such a joy to your parents.  You have shown me an ability to love that even surprises me, your bleeding heart Mama.  I never doubted that I'd be a sappy, lovey-dovey mother, but you make it so, so easy to just let things roll off my back and not stress over anything but enjoying every second of your childhood.

It goes too quickly, and I don't want to come to the end of my days regretting not using our time together wisely.  You are our sunshine, and every day I end in prayer thanking God for the gift of you.

Happy Birthday, sweet boy.

I love you with everything I am and have, and you'll ALWAYS be my baby!