Monday, July 8, 2013

Two is a Lonely Number

As I sit here this morning a bit sad that I missed the morning sunrise on the beach and a bit thankful for the ability to sleep in after a day of travel, I am taking the time to remember.  My loves are still asleep (at 9:30...AT THE BEACH when there is sand to dip our feet in) and I am here writing.  Today is my sweet Lennon's 2nd birthday.  I told a friend recently that two seems so much harder than one.  One was a bit of a milestone....not in the "it's been a year you can move on now" kind of way but in a way that reminded me that I had survived.  That I had experienced the unimaginable and yet I was still breathing-still living.  And maybe not the healthiest way and maybe not how others thought I should...but I was still alive.  But two, it is just a cruel reminder that this is forever. 
Surprisingly as I sit here and remember the doctor's appointment and the amnio and the receptionist that (thankfully) couldn't fit us in for our next very important appointment, I am reminded of the woman who kept it together when her world was falling apart.  The woman whose water broke at 32 weeks.  The woman who had just learned that her unborn son was very sick.  The woman who labored in an ambulance...whose contractions went from 8 minutes to 1 minute in under an hour.  The woman who successfully vbac'd her baby boy.  The woman who held her beautiful son.  The woman who cradled death in her arms. The woman who lived when all she wanted to do was die.

I never imagined that life  would continue after Lennon died.  I thought it was cruel to even think of living without him.  But slowly, life continued.  I would never have imagined the peace I would feel today.  When I separate out the anxiety of trying to get pregnant from my grief I realize that there is peace.  And while there is still sadness and that heavy feeling on my chest that accompanies an inability to breath, it isn't every day.  In fact, there are more days when I smile than cry. 
I have spent the past two years sad and angry and beyond bitter.  I have hated people that brought there babies home, people that easily conceived (even when they didn't want to) and people who love me.  I have closed myself off in many ways and it has been lonely at times. 
So today, on my sweet Lennon's birthday, I am loving and remembering and making him the promise that I will open my heart to the world around me.
~Happy Birthday Lennon, Happy Birthday to You~

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Guest Post~Still Standing Magazine

Today I am talking about children and grief with a guest post at Still Standing Magazine.  It's kind of a big deal : ) 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Healing Space

It has been such a long time since I wrote in this space.  I have been writing just not here.  There are always thoughts and ideas that I am trying to get on paper, but getting them to this blog seems to be such a challenge sometimes.

In March I had the opportunity to join Stephanie Cole from Sweet Pea Project and Catherine Bayly for an evening of "Coffee and Conversation" at the Mulberry Art Studio in Lancaster.  Catherine is a poet, professor, and a mother to 3 beautiful children.  Her first daughter, Sophie, died in 2005.  Although I had not met Catherine before the evenings event I knew of her.  I had seen her at other Sweet Pea Project events and was always in awe of the peace she exudes.  She was the woman who read a poem at the Annual Remembrance Gathering that I spoke of in this post.  The woman who spoke of living though 6 years of grief and loss.  The woman who helped me to realized that this is forever.  So needless to say I was excited when the invitation to attend arrived!  Stephanie hosts amazingly peaceful events and I feel so honored to attend them.  Don't get me wrong, I would love for nothing more than to not have reason to be invited to events like this.  I wish that I did not understand what the babylost community was, but since life has unfolded this way I am so undeniably thankful for the women I have met on this journey.  It is strange in a way because there are women who I have poured my heart out to on the internet or through email; women I have never met but who have supported me more than those closest to me.  And Stephanie is one of these women.  In the weeks after Lennon died I emailed her to thank her for Lennon's blanket.  I told her of my pregnancy and of the sudden complications and how Lennon had died.  I told her that I would be forever grateful to her for having something that was his.  And since then she and I have emailed numerous times.  I even organized an AMAZING blanket drive in Lennon's memory, collecting over 800 blankets for the Sweet Pea Project.  Through all of this, Stephanie and I have never really had the chance to sit and talk yet she knows my soul.  And attending events like the one hosted in March allow me to dedicate time just for Lennon.  It allows me to mother him still.  As I have heard Stephanie say, it allows the opportunity to "mother (his) memory."  Just as I dedicate time solely for my daughter, I also dedicate time for Lennon.

When I arrived at Mulberry Art Studio and found my way to the room I was in awe of the setting.  There were couches and books and candles, oh my!  It just seemed so peaceful.  And there was also amazing coffee and some yummy deserts.  Catherine shared her poetry with us and then we were let loose to create our own works of art.  And even though I am so much of an introvert and not much of a small talker, it was healing to be in this room with others who get it.  With people who have lived and loved and lost and then continued living.  To spend time honoring my sweet baby boy who I had last held 20 months to the day.  It was exactly where I needed to be.

And afterwards I turned the evening into an opportunity for serious girl time!  I invited two of my nearest and dearest friends to meet up with me in Lancaster afterwards and we got a hotel, stayed up late, talked about boys and drank some serious wine!  And the next day we attended the International Women's Day Event and shopped, I mean supported some fabulous organizations!  It was just what my soul needed.  As hard as it may be to pull myself away from my husband and daughter and all of the responsibility waiting for me, it is important to have me time and girl time.  It is important to have Lennon time just as I have Ava time.  And I hope that I instill that in my daughter.  That she grows older knowing that self care is so very important.  That she never feels guilty for taking care of herself or for letting go of what doesn't serve her.  And I think I am doing that.  Maybe not every day because I am certainly not without fault but I think slowly I am showing her.  Just today as I was rushing around this morning and stressing about being late and not having time to do my morning meditation (something that I have been SERIOUSLY neglecting) she looked at me so peacefully and said "just meditate in the car mom...take deep breaths in and deep breaths out"  I smiled and thanked her for the reminder so thankful to have her as my guru.





Friday, February 8, 2013

Wonder

It has been 19 months since I was left with this hole in my heart and it has been a while since the 8th of the month stung like this.  I used to shun it away begging to the goddess to remove it from the calendar.  I didn't want the reminder.  I didn't need the reminder.  I know that my son is dead.   Today I have decided to embrace the day.  I breathe life into it and into him. 

I often wonder what he would look like.  What his personality would be.  How he would play with his sister.  How different our bedtime routine would be with Lennon in it.  How different life would be.  I look at boys his age and try to find him in their eyes. I try to find him everywhere from the brightest star to the morning sunrise but he is only one place-my heart.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

When Time Won't Stand Still

I can feel it in my bones...In the core of my spirit.  Change is around me.  January was a month of celebration.  I turned 32 and my daughter turned 5.  And while one of us was much more excited about the addition of a year, it was a beautiful month.  We celebrated with friends and family and a fabulous birthday party (the first one not held at home) and it was nice to just be.  Approaching my birthday I was a bit glum at the thought of turning another year older.  Age isn't a friend to someone trying to get pregnant and it left me feeling hopeless.  I had said that it seemed unfair and oh so very ugly but then my (sometimes oh so very) wise husband reminded me of this quote, "Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many"  And as I thought about the true reality of that it made so much sense.  Here I was wallowing in self pity at the reality of aging while I was grieving the reality that my son will never age.  And then a friend who I could never see enough of said this to me "the mid-thirties are much friendlier than the early-thirties. Chin up, buttercup."  While I made faces at the "mid-thirties" remark (I mean hey, I thought I still had time in the early thirties category) I also embraced the concept.  There is a homeyness and comfort to this age.  And so I began to reflect on where I was a decade ago-who I was.  And who I want to be~who I want my daughter to remember.  

At 22 I was embracing a new freedom and learning to be with myself and like it.  I was moving past some ugly relationships and into a healthy area where I spent much more time with my girlfriends then I did boys.  It was liberating and unforgettable.  There were drunken nights at the local bars and late nights that turned into early mornings.  There were laughs and peace and such a sense of being free!  I felt light then.  Light and full of a love that radiated from me!  And a decade later I feel heavy.  There is a greyness to me now, and while there are beautiful peaks of laughter and sunrise in my world there is still the dark color of life experience.  And in between there have been both beautiful and heart wrenching moments.  I met a boy and fell in love.  Deeply in love.  And he is amazing.  It didn’t always go as I had hoped and there are some moments that I would like to forget.  It has taken me many years to understand how hurtful my words can be.  I have a mean fighter in me that peaks when I feel defensive and threatened and I have allowed my  anger to say things that I never meant…but those words are not easily forgotten.  I have spent many moments fighting with someone who loves me because I didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship.  I didn’t know what I wanted or who I was.  I fought over stupid things like changing my last name and why I would never want to give up my career for a child.  I believed in empowering women and was demanding of the equality and respect that I deserved.  But what I learned is that empowering women and being a feminist involves believing that every woman has the right to be exactly who she is.  And she has the right to change her mind!

A decade later and I am left wondering why I spent all that time and money on a master’s degree that has taken me nowhere.   A decade later and I would give anything to be a stay at home mom with 5 children making crazy messes.  Growing up, I didn’t have healthy role models to show me what a relationship truly is- acceptance and compromise.  I didn’t know that it would require this much work or that it was important to spend the time doing just that.  As the saying goes "you need to like your husband because when the children leave he will still be there."   

But I have to admit, at this age I didn’t expect to be seeking as much as I am.  I am always searching.  I had my cards read once and that was the first thing the woman said to me. And I do not know if it is healthy.  Sometimes I believe it is the root of heaviness.  And then sometimes I believe that it is part of my continued evolution.  Right now, I feel like I need to shed this skin-break free from this cocoon.  I need change.  Yet, I do not know exactly what change means for me. Because as much as I want change I also want to just be.here.now. Right where I am with love and light surrounding me…and peace.  Peace in my heart and in my mind.  Peace for the things that I cannot change.  Peace for the things that I have done everything that I could.  I want to be okay with it all, whatever it may be.

.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The (Strange) Comfort of Winter

The mornings are crisp, cool and oddly comforting.  The cold is here and welcomed.  It's familiar.  A few months ago I would have said that I have grown cold.  That my heart had grown cold.  But it is a loud statement that I simply cannot own.  Instead I have grown fond of the cold.  I have welcomed it. 

Summer~I used to welcome that too.  Lovingly embrace it.  But now I feel suffocated by it.  Summer is his time, his memory and sometimes it overwhelms me.  Not every day as it has before, but random moments in time I am overcome with grief.  There is no moving on or getting over it.  That would mean forgetting him and his short but sweet life.  I am learning to be me again, to understand who I am after the world around me crumbled.  I am rising from the drunken disaster of self care and pure neglect. I am stumbling along with an emptiness that will never be filled.  But I am! (and I have to start somewhere.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

playing catch up-part three

Day 18:  Family Portrait

Day 19: Project
I learned of the event Carly Marie Project Heal was hosting to remember and honor our babies that died and I went right to work on Lennon's prayer flag.  Prayer flags are something I had envisioned hanging throughout my house and then my hospital room during Lennon's birth.  They were something I planned on having my friends and family make during my blessingway/sprinkle.  But we never made it that far, so it was healing to put energy into this flag.  And then I became attached.  I felt that I was putting all of my energy into this project and then I was going to send it around the world and never see it again and that made me sad. And although I think the prayers flags had a mystical beauty  to them as they hung along the beach, this year I know that Lennon's flag is right where it needs to be (for me).  And next year it can travel the world! 




Day 20: Charity/Organization

Sweet Pea Project 






Molly Bears
 Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
I am forever in debt to this organization for the beautiful memories they created.  When I learned Lennon would die I was so afraid that I would forget his face but thanks to this organization that will never happen.

Day 21:    Altar/Shrine/Sacred Space
This space is new to me.  I was reading the Project Heal blog and came across this post about creating a "fertility and peace mama altar." The idea instantly felt right.  I had been trying to develop a morning meditation practice but never felt right about my space.  So I decided to use Lennon's room.  There are some toys in there that Ava occasionally plays with, but that only disturbs half of the room.  I can easily put my back to that and still find peace.  I originally thought that it would be difficult to find things for my altar.  I started with an old book shelf that I quickly painted white and then I started adding whatever felt right.  I visited Angie Yingst and her etsy shop and discovered her.  This beautiful meditating mama, this happy mama, with hair my color and a side braid that makes me think I am looking in the mirror.  She was necessary for my altar.  Next to her I placed the Happy Buddha and was reminded as I purchased it that it symbolizes abundance.  I picked up a small piece of rose quartz but in the mean time threw it out to the universe and all my friends on facebook that I was trying to find a larger piece of rose quartz.  And then I came home to find that someone had left a rose quartz angel on my doorstep.  Ah-mazing!  I started placing items on my altar and was sure to include my name on a piece of paper which the rose quartz sits on top.  And most days I find myself in their before the world begins to stir.  I light candles, for Lennon, the baby I lost early last year, and for the baby I am ready to welcome into my body.  And I light a candle for myself and our family that we can continue to find strength in the challenges presented.   I am not religious person but I like to consider myself spiritual, so I made the decision to include a mix of items into my altar.  I'm praying to anyone that will listen!  There are medals and a St. Gerard prayer card that my mother picked up at the St. Ann's Novena along with the St. Jude statue that my grandmother clung to whens he was praying for those in need.  It's all there, next to my crystals, Jizo statue and Buddha and it is sacred space.

Day 22:    Place of Care Birth
I do not have pictures to share here.  What I can tell you is that my care and Lennon's care was amazing.  I started out early in the pregnancy seeing a midwife, but for various reasons that you can read about here I had to switch care providers mid way through my pregnancy.  From the specialists I met with at Maternal Fetal Medicine of Lehigh Valley Health Network to the OB I finally found who was pro vbac and respectful of my birth plan to the OB and nurses at Lehigh Valley Hospital where I gave birth to Lennon and where he died.  Every single one of these people were placed in my life at the exact time that I needed them.  I am thankful for the chance to work with a midwife and embrace the midwife model of care.  I learned a great deal from her and her apprentice Nicole, who today is a good friend of mine.  I carry their love and support and belief in birth with me as I raise my daughter.  Maybe one day she will give birth with a midwife by her side.  Lennon needed care that only a hospital could provide and I am at peace with his birth.  The staff that I met throughout his birth and death were amazing and truly helped me to leave the hospital with less regret.

Day 23:  His Name/His Photo

Day 24:    Siblings 

Day 25:    Baby Shower/Blessingway
I never had chance to enjoy my blessingway/sprinkle.  My best friend and mother were hard at work trying to understand just what a blessingway was =) and also make sure that I had some fabulous new items for Lennon when he arrived earthside.  I planned to have each guest bring with them a bead so that I could create a labor (of love) necklace and wear it during Lennon's birth.  I also planned to have each woman tie a red string around their wrist all from the same thread and ask them to wear it until Lennon was born.  Both of these activities would be symbolic to the love and support I had present in my life.  And then there were prayer flags...ah yes prayer flags.  When planning a home birth I have visions of prayer flags hanging in every room.  And then when I realized I would have to give birth in a hospital I planned to bring those prayers flags with me and decorate the walls with peace and love.  Unfortunately, Lennon came before any of that could take place. 

Day 26:    His Age 
Today, Lennon is 15 months old in the stars*

Day 27:    Artwork
 Submitted to the community gallery for five. an art exhibit
Ava's artwork:  A picture of her and her little brother

Day 28:    Memory
After Lennon died I held him for hours in my arms.  At one point Rich had left us to get some items we needed and I was alone with my sweet Lennon.  I drifted off to sleep holding him close to my heart and when I woke up I truly believed for a moment that his death had been just a terrible nightmare.  For a moment there was peace as I held him but then the cold reality set in~my baby was dead.
Day 29:    Music     

  "Somewhere over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

 
Day 30: My Grief-Tell the world
Expectations
"Everyday I see my reflection, feel my heart race, and hold my stomach in hope and desperation it is a reminder that I will never be that person again-the person who lived on hopes and dreams...the person who believed in should haves and could haves until they were no longer mine."