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Being Creative

  • Posted on January 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Oh, the beginning of January was fun.  My daughter got sick, then my husband got sick, then I got sick.  I finally dragged myself to the doctor’s office last week to get antibiotics, since the sinus infection I had been fighting would not go away.  I’m feeling much better, but I still have a nagging cough.

Then, just when I was starting to feel better, the largest cold sore I’ve ever had parked itself on my bottom lip.  Despite my doctor-prescribed medication, it was painful and embarrassing.  I hate cold sores.  Every time I get one, I grumble about my ex, who didn’t feel it was necessary to be careful when HE had one.  I guess I thought it was OK to kiss him while his cold sore was still active, because the next thing I knew, I had one and it spread down my throat.  But, I digress.

I keep reminding myself to write on my blog, but other things take up my time, like work, taking care of our daughter, trying to stay on top of the dishes in the sink, etc.  Our dining room table is a disaster with stuff piled all over it, but I’ve got creative projects going and I don’t want to move anything.  Speaking of being creative, I was rifling through my teacher stuff the other day and came across a poem by Emily Dickinson that I use when I teach “Of Mice and Men,”  “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.”  It got stuck in my head and wouldn’t come out.  I envisioned a pendant with the poem behind glass and a little saying about my son on the back.  I worked furiously on them for a week, trying to find a way to spiral the text.

As with anything I create, I always wonder if it’s truly something that someone would like.  I was hesitant to show them at my support group, but my purpose of making them was to send a piece of Benjamin out into the world.  I wanted to make something for Benjamin that I could donate to other mothers and families at the hospital, to let them know that some day, hope can return.

Even though we have our daughter, we lost our son.  I miss him every day.  A part of me died after he passed away and my hope for his future passed away along with him.  I don’t know that I can say hope has fully returned to me, yet.  I sit here and feel incredibly guilty because I have only gone to visit his grave once since we buried him.  I haven’t even been able to bring myself to pick up his death certificate.  That death certificate makes his passing final.  I told the mortuary services at the memorial park he buried in that I would come and pick it up this weekend.  I want to go and visit him.

Every time our daughter hits a milestone, I feel happy/sad.  It’s a strange emotion.  I’m so happy that Gracie has reached an important milestone in her development, but at the same time, I’m so sad Benjamin isn’t there to reach it, too.  I just miss him.  I wonder a lot about what he would have been.

Working on the pendants and the necklaces has given me a sense of peace for the first time since before we found out he wasn’t going to survive.  It’s a little piece of him I work on and give to others.  I like that.

2010 Year in Review Meme

  • Posted on January 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm

My End of the Year 2010 Meme… in January.  Nice.

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Spent 3 1/2 weeks in the hospital on forced bedrest, followed by a C-Section, followed by the birth of my twins.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I did and so did my sister-in-law.  Our children are 15 days apart.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

My son.  He lived for 20 minutes.

4. What places did you visit?

Not the most exciting places in the world, but we did go up to Apple Valley a couple of times and then to Phoenix at the end of the year to visit my family.  Even if they weren’t the most exciting, the visits to Apple Valley were refreshing and nice.  It was a bit of a mini-vacation for us before my hectic work schedule started back up.

5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?

Boring-ness, definitely.  Oh, and I would love to have a bike again.  My cute beach cruiser, complete with a basket and a bell, got stolen from the apartment complex we lived in.  I haven’t really looked for a bike, but will soon.  It will have to be able to pull one of those little trailers behind it when Gracie’s old enough to ride in it.  You bet it will have a basket and a bell again.  🙂

6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?

There are two dates, actually:  March 23, 2010 and May 25th, 2010.  On March 23rd, my husband and I were excited to find out the gender(s) of our twins and I remember waiting impatiently in the reception area for us to be called in to have the ultrasound done.  Everything was going smoothly while the doctor checked Baby A (Baby A was Gracie), but when they got to Baby B (Benjamin), the doctor got quiet and took what seemed like forever to take measurements.  I asked him what he saw and he said he was concerned because there was low amniotic fluid in the baby’s sac.  Benjamin was diagnosed with having Potter’s Syndrome and Ebstein’s Anomaly and both were fatal conditions on their own.  May 25th, my babies were born.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning how to be a mom.  It’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

8. What was your biggest failure of the year?

This was a difficult one to answer because I really couldn’t think of anything I truly failed at that was something I had control over.  I can’t consider my pregnancy a failure, even though I only made it to 27 weeks.  I suppose the only thing I consider myself failing at this year was not swimming consistently enough and I didn’t get my check-off challenge patch.  It would have been my 5th year.  I did make an effort on occasion to swim and in fact, considered competing in a swim meet.  But, my heart rate skyrocketed so high when I swam, it was impossible for me to even do basic freestyle without taking the chance of putting my babies at risk.

9. What was your biggest surprise?

I’d have to say I was truly surprised at the actions of someone I considered a very close friend.  When you lose a child, you really discover who your friends are.  At this moment, I haven’t seen her in a year and haven’t talked to her in over 3 months. That is NOT a friendship.  And, this surprises me because I considered her such a close friend, I asked her to stand up for me at my wedding.  Now, I look at my wedding pictures and can’t help but feel sadness.  Bah.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A shortened cervix put me in the hospital at my 24th week of pregnancy.  I managed to stay pregnant for another 3 weeks.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought my husband a bright red dutch oven for Christmas.  I can’t wait until he cooks something tasty in it.  🙂

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My perinatologist, Dr. M.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if Gracie would be alive today.  Not only her, but the awesome NICU nurses and doctors who took care of Gracie and saw her through her bout of metabolic acidosis, as well as other preemie-related conditions.  Looking at our fourteen and a half pound baby, it’s hard to imagine her weighing below a pound (she dropped below her birth weight of 2 lbs 3 oz).

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I’d have to say as a whole, the majority of my tenth grade students’ behavior appalled me.  I was teaching a satellite class from a different SLC (Small Learning Community, no emphasis on the Learning… let me tell you!) and those kids were crazy.  I couldn’t believe the comments that came out of their mouths, the behavior they exhibited, and the amount of time I had to spend each day trying to get them to settle down and learn something.  I’m used to establishing routines and procedures in my classroom each day.  These kids fought it every day they were in my class.  It was the first time in 8 years I had to keep the entire class after the bell because they wasted my time.  There wasn’t a whole lot of maturity in that group.  Of the two groups of 10th grade I had, a handful of the students were respectful and wanted to do something with their future.  It’s usually the other way around:  a handful of my students could give a shit about their future and think money grows on trees.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Not working for six months, I didn’t make much of anything for it to go anywhere.  And, the money I did have went towards bills and our daughter.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

This one’s an easy question.  Gracie!  All she has to do is smile.  😀

16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?

Song:  “You Are My Sunshine” – I sang it to Gracie every day she was in the NICU and every day those first months she was home.

Album:  I’d have to say U2’s “No Line on the Horizon.”  Even though I didn’t like all the songs on it, there were a few that were favorites and I played them a lot when I got the chance.  I also discovered a “new” band (new for me, anyway).  Phoenix’s song “1901” was used a lot in the background of a car commercial and I finally figured out who they were and downloaded their music.  It’s just my type:  pop-y, techno-sounding stuff.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder?
Last year at this time, I was newly pregnant and terrified most of the pregnancy.  I was afraid I would lose the pregnancy at any moment.  I am extremely happy that Gracie is here and consider myself lucky to be her mom.  However, I do suffer from a lot of sadness at the loss of our son.  It’s hard to watch Gracie grow and now wonder what Benjamin would be doing right now had he been given the chance.  I think I will always have some measure of sadness in my heart for my son.  I miss him and I miss what he could have been.

B) Thinner or fatter?
I’m thinner now, since I’m no longer on hormone drugs that made me blow up like a balloon.  I do want to get back into the pool and swim and get some more of this baby weight off.  I’ve lost about 30 lbs since Gracie and Benjamin were born, but since I’m not pumping/nursing Gracie 8 times a day, I’ve gained 10 lbs back.  Boo!

C) Richer or poorer?
Richer in family, poorer in finances, but that’s because I didn’t work for 12 weeks when work started in the fall.  I took a bonding leave to take care of Gracie.   I’m not complaining, though.  I enjoyed the 12 weeks I had with her and wish I could stay home with her until she starts school herself.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel, but it was kind of impossible, considering my condition.  We actually were going to take a short trip up to Solvang over Memorial Day weekend as a last “hurrah” before I couldn’t travel anymore, but didn’t want to take the risk of something happening to me and us being out of town.  I’m so glad we didn’t, since I ended up in the hospital anyway.  I also wish I’d stayed pregnant longer.  It would have been nice to have been pregnant for 2 more months, rather than going into labor at 27 weeks.  That was definitely scary.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Spent time in the hospital.  Although, I do have to say that being in the hospital was better than dealing with the awful students I had!  I can’t stand pumping, probably because I had to do so much of it when Gracie was in the NICU.  I hated being tethered to that thing 8 times a day.  Now, I’m down to pumping once a day while I’m home from school and will have to pump once when at school.  I still hate it, even if it’s only once or twice a day.

20. How did you spend  Christmas?

We spent the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?) at my dad’s house.  We then spent Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s with my husband’s side of the family.  It was a bit rushed and I was a bit frazzled, though.  We had to pack for Phoenix, even though we weren’t leaving for Phoenix until Monday the 27th.  We didn’t get out of the house until over an hour from when I had anticipated and as a result of the rushing and feeling frazzled, I forgot Gracie’s iron and poly-vitamins.  So, after Christmas Eve dinner (which I ate cold and by myself, because Gracie decided to have a meltdown right when dinner was being served and the only thing that would settle her down was my boob), on our way up to Apple Valley to spend Christmas with the in-laws, we had to find a 24-hour pharmacy.  I called ahead to see about getting the iron and poly-vitamins, but the pharmacist said there was a no-refill policy on the meds and the doctor would have to call it in.  Nice.  I had to call Gracie’s doctor at 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, the doctor on call was understanding and she called it in.  At first, she didn’t think it would be an issue for Gracie to go without the iron and PV for the 9 days we would be out of town, but when I explained that Gracie was a preemie and still needed to be checked for anemia, she said it probably would be best for her to continue taking it until she was tested.  There is no way our daughter is anemic, but just to be safe, her prescriptions were filled and we were on our way to my mother-in-law’s house.  And, what a relief that was.  Other than the fact that my husband can’t sleep in a bed with a foot board, it was nice to finally be able to relax for a few days.

21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?

This is kind of silly.  I talk to my husband every day.  I suppose he’s the one I spent the most time in 2010 communicating with.  It would make sense.  I should also say that I’m very happy to have someone like him to talk to on a daily basis.  🙂

22. What was your favourite TV program?

We were very much into the last season of “Lost.”  Lost holds much significance for us, since the last three episodes I watched while in the hospital.  In fact, it was right after the Lost finale on Sunday night, May 23rd, that I started to go into labor and was whisked to Labor & Delivery at 1:30 in the morning.  I also enjoyed watching “Bones,” “Glee,” “House,” and kinda-sorta enjoyed watching “The Biggest Loser,” with the exception of the over-use of product placement, blatant advertisements, and spreading a 1 hour show over 2 hours.  I don’t know if I’ll watch future seasons of it.  It’s starting to bug me.  I find myself watching it, just to rag on the show and how annoying the host Alison is with all her running commentary during challenges.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t say I hate anyone.  I dislike some people because of their dumb actions and even dumber behavior, but I don’t hate them.

24. What was the best book(s) you read?

My husband and I joined a book club with our friends.  The best book of the ones we read was, hands down “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I also enjoyed “Sarah’s Key” (very haunting and sad) and “The Glass Castle” (the father in this book made my dad look like a saint).

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Probably Phoenix.  I didn’t even know who they were until I finally saw one of their videos at the mall, of all places.

26. What did you want and get?

Gracie.  Without a doubt.

27. What did you want and not get?

Benjamin to live.

28. What were your favourite films of this year?

Probably Toy Story 3.  I also loved Despicable Me and Red.  It’s hard for us to get out to see movies!

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My dad and his wife Karen met my mother-in-law and her husband Mike at our house the day before and we all went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  Even though my dad chose it, I still enjoyed it because I got to have sushi for the first time since before I got pregnant and we got Gracie’s doctor’s permission to allow her out in public.  Then, for my actual birthday, we went for Indian food, taking Gracie out for the first time as just us.   Gracie did really well.  She slept most of the time.  I turned 37.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not losing our son.  Other than losing Benjamin, the latter part of this year has been one amazing experience, with having Gracie as a part of our lives and a part of our family.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?

I have spent the better part of May through the end of the year in sleep shorts and a spaghetti strap sleep shirt (easier to pull down to nurse).  When I do go out, I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops.  Stacey London would be appalled by my choice of clothing.  I’m definitely a very drab mama.

32. What kept you sane?

My support group.  Since going in August, I have had to miss two meetings, one of which was right after Christmas.  I wish I could have gone, but we were traveling and there was no way I could see to fit it into my schedule before heading out of town.  It’s been my saving grace these past several months.  I still have a few meltdowns, the latest one being on Christmas Eve, but I’m feeling better bit by little bit.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The stupid Proposition 8 in California.  It disgusts me that there are people out there who are so extremely homophobic that they feel it’s their right to refuse human beings the right to marry, regardless if it doesn’t fit into their cookie-cutter idea of marriage.

34. Who did you miss?

I missed my mom a lot.  I don’t get to see her very often and when I do, it’s only for short periods of time.  The good thing is, she’s now become a snow bird for the winter months and is “wintering” in Arizona.  We are within driving distance (not as easy to drive there with an infant, though!) so we’ll be able to see her more than once a year now.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Sharon, the chaplain at the hospital I delivered the twins at.  If it wasn’t for her, I truly don’t know where I would be emotionally.  I am so glad I met her.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

I cannot change the past.  All I can do is remember it and keep the small memories close to my heart.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

I was born, I was born
To be with you in this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven’t had a clue only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

“Magnificent” ~U2