Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December Blues

Faking it.

Gotta be honest...while Christmas and all the happy cheer IS a lot easier to manage with two living kids, I'm still definitely faking my interest to participate in all the festivities. I'm ready for a turn of the calendar.

I don't want a tree with sparkling lights. Luckily our kids haven't taken much interest either, but it does sit in our foyer, basically dead and ready for tossing. We have a few more days before that's deemed acceptable, but I presume it will be gone before the weekend is over. We're literally the only house on our block that doesn't have a single Christmas decoration adorning our house. We usually have wreaths and garland, but with the kids breaking things left and right (do we have anything left?) and December always hitting me like bricks, we sit here on the 22nd having not quite gotten our acts together.

December still totally grates me. I think of myself in complete and utter despair 5 years ago and how other families are out there mourning losses right now. I open the inbox for Faces of Loss to see a mom who lost her daughter at full term just December 3rd of this year. That was like three weeks ago. And I remember when that was me. And it's still me, just 5 years later. It will be an honor to post her story, but still completely heartbreaking.

I know it's not about the presents and sweets and lights and decorated houses and it's really about family and the birth of baby Jesus, who five years ago, I was even jealous of. How can someone be jealous of the Virgin Mary and the Christ? Well I was. 

I sat wrapping presents last night after my kids were just horrible kids all day long. Made me really want to give them nothing and just put the rest on the curb. I wrapped in a fury, slapped on some cheap and metallic bows from a jumbo pack and called it good. Felt nice to get that over with. I do remember a time when wrapping presents was a joyous occasion.

My last innocent Christmas has all sorts of beautiful memories attached. We traveled all around Europe by car with both of our families and spent Christmas Eve night in Berlin, Germany. We didn't have a tree and we didn't give presents; we just traveled and took it all in. 

This year was a doozy. We had so many changes and more to come. Some were good, some were bad. I'm ready for you, 2016. But December, you're not invited to the party.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Benjamin Babble VI

Scene: Snack time with the kids. Tortilla chips are a favorite, especially with guacamole.

B: "Claire, you can get another chip because you're beautiful." (Good, only attractive people are allowed food. What am I teaching this kid!?)


Scene: Claire is waking up from nap. I announce to Benjamin that I'm going to go get her.
B: "Get her down."
Me: (Walking upstairs, wishing my son willingly used polite words...)
B: "Do you want to run with me, Claire? Do you want to run or sweep with me? You pick."


Scene: Breakfast time and Claire is not eating the meal she requested by name.
B: "Claire, you asked for a bagel, now eat the bagel. Claire, why are you drama today?"


Scene: B looking at a book and sees a picture of Earth.
B: "Mommy, that's the Earth. I want to go there."
Me: "But you live there. Everyone lives on Earth."
B: "I need to go in an airplane to get there. I can take a kite, too."


Scene: At children's museum exploring conductors and insulators. There are bars filled with either metal, plastic, rope or wood. The goal is to place the bars into the space and they will light up if a conductor is chosen.
Me: "Metal is a conductor. See inside these? These ones are metal and these are not. Only the metal ones will help the electricity travel and create light."
B: "Yeah, it's a conductor and it holds many passengers." (train brain)


Scene: B is singing in the car. Claire is not amused.
B: "We love you, yes we do, oh we love you. (Thank you, PBS.)
B: "Claire, I don't like your apitude. Go to your room."


Scene: Claire, holding my phone to her ear.
B: "Claire, are you talking to your peeps?"


Scene: It's dark outside and we're driving. B appears to be trying to fall asleep, which is NOT ALLOWED because he's the worst at transitioning and he is super cranky when he wakes. It was almost bedtime and I wasn't letting that become interrupted.
Me: "No, you can't fall asleep! Keep your eyes open!"
B: "I'm just closing one eye." (We are so in trouble with this one. Always a negotiator.)


Scene: B saying silly things.
B: "The Cat in the Hat is a table. He's a blue table. He's a crack up."


Scene: Explaining to B the plan for the next morning as we're getting ready for bed.
Me: "We're going to wake up, eat breakfast and go to the museum tomorrow morning."
B: "You're correct."


Scene: Random chit-chat among siblings.
Claire: "Cookie."
B: "Cookie? Are you serious, Claire? I don't have a cookie."


Scene: Chatting in bed during the wee hours (because they wake toooooo early...).
Me: (talking to B) "Did Claire wear that sleepsack while she was sleeping?"
B: "Yeah, that annoys me."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Some of the Sweetest

I don't feel obligated to thank you all, but sure do want you to know that your comments and continued love poured out for our boy means more than you'll know. Those small words just sharing that you care and continue to think about us in grieving the loss of our firstborn is priceless to us.

His birthday is always really uncomfortable for me, but this one was definitely more uncomfortable. It kind of feels like your own birthday, but with an uncomfortable pit in your stomach the whole day. Wishing it to end and wanting to hold on at the same time.

I'm mostly an extrovert, but I don't really like a big deal made of me in social settings. I am one to be with the party and perhaps planning it, but not so much the one being celebrated.

When your child dies, you become the one people celebrate and it feels so weird. My own birthday is weird enough (though as years go on, I could care less about my own birthday). But his is just an odd day.

I don't feel like I should grocery shop. Is that what you do for your birthday? What about on the anniversary of the worst day of your life? I feel like everything I do needs to in some way honor his life.

Elliot had a dental appointment that I scheduled. I took the kids to Target to pick up Q-Tips and these flosser things my dentist recommended because Friday's appointment yielded more dismal results in the history of Brandy's crap teeth. My regiment has been expanded even further. I might need to set up a checklist. Grumble.

Post Target, we went to the Arboretum and then spent a stupid amount of time preventing meltdowns when we left. We went to McDonald's for lunch, swimming at the Y after Benjamin watched Frozen and Claire had a nap. Then we went to Red Robin for dinner, lit candles, sang Happy Birthday and ate yellow golden cupcakes in honor of Andrew's Golden Birthday. Benjamin ate Andrew's cupcake along with his own and then threw a mini fit because he couldn't have another.

His birthday wasn't glamorous. I wish it were, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how to celebrate my boy who isn't here to participate without making it seem forced and uncomfortable. We were together for a family day (for the most part) and we spent lots of time talking about Andrew with the kids. It wasn't much different than a normal Saturday, but there were tears and lots of beautiful messages and well, I'm happy it's over. He's five in heaven. I feel unfulfilled, but that's sort of how it goes in the land of babyloss.

We sure love him, and you, for caring so much. xoxoxo

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Day Before His Golden Birthday

It's the kind of birthday that comes only once in a lifetime...

Andrew will be 5 tomorrow. I know it's a bit dramatic to say, but can you just imagine for a moment (with me), what it would be like celebrating a 5-year-old? Some of you have children that age, so you already know. I don't know.

I can just imagine. Turning five and it being a golden birthday is really cool. Something about five means you're like, super big. Almost kindergarten status. In fact, I had already started kindergarten at his (would be) age.

I've lamented this birthday for a long time now. Five is half a decade. And just plain big. It's a long time since I held that baby boy body and birthed my very first child. I would do anything to go back and hold him again. More now than ever. It feels like he's so distant, because he is. Five years is a long time since seeing your child.

Benjamin has been talking about Andrew a lot lately. Their grandparents sent the book, Someone Came Before You and Benjamin refers to it as Andrew's book and asks for it to be read all the time. At the end, it mentions lighting a candle for the baby. Benjamin chose a cookie candle and we've been lighting it the past two days because he wants it lit for Andrew. He knows Andrew's birthday is tomorrow. We discuss it all the time, especially on the way to the children's museum (like yesterday) when we drive by the cemetery. There is always lots of discussion surrounding the flowers and wreaths and "big things sticking out of the ground."

Five seemed big enough to have a really great thing planned. Initially I thought about planting a tree in a local park in his honor. I was SET on this idea and thought it would be perfect. But, I'm not sure Illinois is our forever home, and I don't want to leave the tree and miss seeing it frequently if we do move in the future.

As he grows older, I'm going to continue to long for things to memorialize him, because that's what parents do. They want to make their children happy, or at least honor their lives in some way.

I just couldn't think of anything else. Nothing would suffice, anyway. So, on his 5th tomorrow, we'll probably go grab him some cupcakes, have our traditional dinner out at a restaurant and be together as a family.

Tuesday, we'll attend the remembrance ceremony we attend every year.

He'll get his tree eventually and when he does, I know it will be perfect.

Missing you and loving you forever, Andrew. I always, always will.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pay it Forward: Wedding Dress

I've been married 7.5 incredible years. Well, some of those years weren't so incredible, but not based on my choice of husband. He was nothing short of amazing through all of our heartbreak and remains so to this day.

I kind of won the jackpot with that one.

When I picked out a wedding dress, everyone thought I'd choose a simple A-line because I've never been the frilly type. I didn't. I grabbed the pretty princess dress. It was the 4th dress off the rack and I was done trying them on in an hour. Probably to the dismay of my mother who loves all things lace and frills and girly. I've just never fit that category too well. That probably means Claire will love all that stuff and I'll have to embrace the pink. Grandma will be stoked.

It was off the rack, but still needed tailoring (which I'm convinced can be avoided, but alas). It was tailored and ended up being something like $700 when it was all said and done.

And then I wore it once. The best day of my life in a dress I still think is quite beautiful. And on July 26, 2008, I stuffed that dress and its accompanying petticoat in a comforter bag and stuffed it in the closet. And then I put it on a moving truck and brought it to Illinois where I stuffed it in a wooden chest. I told my mom I planned to throw it away and she wasn't keen on that idea.

I didn't sew it myself or pour hours and hours into it like my mom did making hers. Probably thousands of brides that same year had the same dress. It wasn't mine... just a "borrowed" style and one that I was grateful for that year, but won't ever use again. It hasn't been cleaned and is still dirty on the bottom from our outdoor reception. I never planned to have it professionally cleaned or have someone cut half of it off and stuff it in a display box (to be stuffed in another closet).

I could probably save it for Claire, but what if she never marries? And really, I don't know a single person who wore their mother's gown, especially a gown off the rack at David's Bridal. Maybe earrings or veil or another piece to check off the something old category of superstition, but never the dress.

I'm in a purging mood. But I didn't want to just throw it away. So I'm donating it. I have the amazing husband and the perfect set of rings and three beautiful children from a marriage I'm honored to have.

But the dress? It's just a thing that isn't contingent on having a happy marriage or fulfilling life. And it's taking up a lot of space.

A nice girl from the city is coming this afternoon to pick it up and hopefully wear it for her own wedding day. And I couldn't be more elated (and maybe a little nervous to hand it over). But really, it would be so nice to gift it to someone who can use it again for their happiest day ever.