Displaying 11 - 20 of 40 entries.

Blog Challenge: Day 5

  • Posted on October 5, 2011 at 11:28 am

Do you ever get subtle reminders of your angel?  If so, what are they?

Benjamin’s marker has a hummingbird on it because we felt that a hummingbird would best represent him.  Something so small that works so hard to survive… it just seemed fitting for him.  I see hummingbirds all the time and every time I see one, I think of him.  But, even when I don’t see a hummingbird, I think of him.

I also have a necklace I wear with the twins’ names on it.  It’s a sterling silver hand-poured circle, with their names on one side and on the back, the words, “our beloved son” with the date of their birth.  On the same chain, next to the circle, I have a crescent moon charm with Benjamin’s name stamped on it.  I wear this necklace every day and rarely take it off.  Gracie loves to hold it in her hand and wave it around, and because of this, I’ve had to replace the jump ring the original pendant was hanging from.  That’s OK.  It’ll be hers one day, anyway.

Blog Challenge: Day 4

  • Posted on October 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

Through your grief process what has kept you going?

Oh my… my husband and my daughter, most definitely.

My art, too.

One day, I was looking through my teacher things and came across a poem.  My students were reading “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and I was looking for supplemental materials to tie in to the story.  I had stashed a poem by Emily Dickinson away in a folder and pulled it out to read it.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune–without the words
and never stops at all.”
~Emily Dickinson

I couldn’t get that part of the poem out of my brain.  It stuck there, swirling around when I got up in the morning and when I went to bed at night.  I suddenly, finally, had an urge to create something.  My first idea was to take the poem and make pendants out of it to give to other women at the hospital who had lost their babies.  Then, it morphed into memory boxes, the poem handwritten around the bottom of the box.  These I also donated to the hospital.

Then, I started making beaded bookmarks, which then morphed into lanyards when a nurse at the support group I attend suggested I make lanyards out of the beaded strands I had.

I have found my creative streak again and it makes me happy to create things in honor of my son.  I miss him every day but being able to create something in his honor helps me feel closer to him.

Warm Up #8:

· Think of horror stories that you have read or seen at the movies. Which did you find the most terrifying? What was so scary about them? Why do you think people enjoy horror tales?

Blog Challenge: Day 3

  • Posted on October 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Through your grief process who has been your “rock”?

I’d have to say that my rock would have to be my husband, Michael.  I know that going through something like this would be extremely difficult to do alone.  It’s already difficult, even when we’re able to support each other.  He’s always been there for me to lean on and I appreciate that in him.  Even when something little makes me feel sad, he’s there to support and comfort me.

Gracie is also my little rock.  I’m incredibly grateful for being her mama and she has steadied me in a way I didn’t think possible.  In this storm of a life we live, there she sits, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.

Today is my birthday.  I would rather have stayed at home with Michael and Gracie, but I went to work.  It was nice to come home and see my little family waiting for me.

Blog Challenge: Day 2

  • Posted on October 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Day 2: Tell us about your child(ren). As much or as little as you like. Names, birthdays, stats.

My twins, Grace Kayleigh and Benjamin Kristian, were born in May 2010, at 27 weeks 2 days gestation.  Because Gracie was a footling breach (her little foot was bulging through the opening of my cervix), I had to have an emergency C-section.  Gracie was born first and weighed 2 lbs. 3 oz.  Her brother, Benjamin, was born a minute later and weighed 1 lb. 15 oz.

One of my most cherished pictures is of the two of them together, Benjamin still alive.  I often wonder if he could sense her or if she could sense him?  I often wonder if Gracie can sense that a part of her is missing.  I have read that surviving twins are aware of their twin being gone.

Gracie is now 16 months old.  She’s able to take several steps without falling and will stand with items in her hand for long periods of time.  She’s still unsure of herself when it comes to walking and prefers crawling as her method to get from one place to another FAST.  Very rarely will she wake up upset and crying.  She always, always, always, has a smile on her face when she wakes up in the morning.  It’s one of my favorite parts about being her mother:  seeing her smiling face in the morning.  She’s very good at taking things apart and figuring things out.  She’s ticklish, just like me, and has an infectious laugh.  She’ll most likely be tall, since she’s now long enough to wear the next size up in clothing, even though she fits into the size she’s currently wearing.  She has piercing, sparkling blue eyes that she got from someone else in our families, because neither of us has blue eyes.  Her hair is just like mine:  fine and sparse and taking its time growing in.  She probably won’t have enough hair for a bow on her head until she’s two.

We took her to swimming “lessons” over the summer, which she really enjoyed.  We don’t think she’ll not like swimming, but we most definitely want her to have a healthy respect for water, no matter where it is.

Yesterday, my in-laws came down to celebrate my birthday (it’s on Monday) and asked me what I wanted to do.  I wanted to see Benjamin and leave him some sunflowers, so we went to visit him.  I also left him a sparkly little pinwheel.  I still cannot look at his little marker and not cry.  I only got to spend 20 minutes of my life with him and I really wish I was given more.

Blog Challenge: Day 1

  • Posted on October 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

Day 1: Who are you? Share as little or as much about you in general.

My name is Dana.  I have a 16-month old daughter, Gracie, whom my website is named after.  We lost our son, Benjamin Kristian, her twin brother, to two separate congenital defects, Potter’s syndrome and Ebstein’s anomaly.  Both defects are fatal on their own.  I define myself as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  Most of what I do, I do in memory of our son.

I had to do fertility treatments just for the privilege of getting pregnant, so I cherished the pregnancy, even though I was scared to death something would go wrong.  So, when something did go wrong, it was very hard for me not blame myself and it became increasingly difficult to deal with.  Fortunately, the lactation specialist in the NICU told me about a support group for infant loss (even though I was told several times in the hospital about it, but I refused to really listen!) and through that group, I met some very wonderful people.

Today, Gracie is 16 months old and a little ham.  Watching her grow up is bittersweet for me.  It’s incredibly difficult to watch your twin daughter grow up alone.

I’m a very creative person.  I love to write, draw, paint, and make jewelry.  I’ve become involved with the Palliative Care committee through the hospital I delivered Gracie and Benjamin, and through the support group I attend, I’ve learned to live a new normal.  Lately, I’ve become more involved with making jewelry to sell and it still boggles my mind that there are total strangers out there who think my stuff is good enough to buy.  I’m also preparing to make a bunch of necklaces to sell at the Los Angeles Walk to Remember on October 15th.

Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month

  • Posted on September 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I got this blog challenge from my friend Cassie, in honor of Pregnancy & Infancy Loss Awareness Month. Please feel free to join me.

Day 1: Who are you? Share as little or as much about you in general.
Day 2: Tell us about your child(ren). As much or as little as you like. Names, birthdays, stats.
Day 3: Through your grief process who has been your “rock”
Day 4: Through your grief process what has kept you going?
Day 5: Do you ever get subtle reminds of your angel(s)? If so what what are they? *Winks*
Day 6: How do you answer the question of how many children you have?
Day 7: Do you do something to honor your angel(s)? If so what?
Day 8: Do you feel you have more good days than bad ones?
Day 9: If you have other children how has your loss affected them? If you don’t other children how has your loss affected your relationship with your partner?
Day 10: If you have Rainbows or older children do they know and remember your angel(s)?
Day 11: It is said that Father’s and Mother’s grieve differently. Do you feel this is true with your angel’s father?
Day 12: How has the rest of your family dealt with your loss?
Day 13: Does anyone else besides your speak your child’s name?
Day 14: What have you done to preserve your child’s memories or make new memories of your angel.
Day 15: Today is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Day. What are you doing today?
Day 16: Do you take time for yourself?
Day 17: Do you feel your child is watching over you?
Day 18: Have you found something that puts you at peace?
Day 19: What is your happiest memory of your child(ren)?
Day 20: If you have anger…..What are you most angry about?
Day 21: Is there something about your child(ren) that brings a smile to your face?
Day 22: Do you have a song or songs that make you think of your child(ren)
Day 23: Besides changing the outcome, what is one thing you would have done differently?
Day 24: On Birthday’s, Diagnosis Day’s, Anniversaries of Passing. Do you prepare for them?
Day 25: On Birthday’s, Diagnosis Day’s, Anniversaries of Passing. How do you handle them?
Day 26: On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your day today and why?
Day 27: Share a picture.
Day 28: Have you ever corrected or wish you corrected someone about your loss?
Day 29: What are your beliefs as far as where you think your child(ren) is/are. Will you see each other again?
Day 30: How are your preparing for the end of the year? (ie: Holiday’s and starting a new year)
Day 31: Do you feel like 31 days has helped you open up more about your child(ren) and your grief?

This challenge does not need to be completed each day in October. Do a day as your feel comfortable. Thank you for joining me.

Sometimes, I feel I need to find a new profession.

  • Posted on September 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I’m a teacher in my eleventh year of teaching.  For the past six years, I’ve taught at an inner-city school, filled with a wonderful mix of students.  I love where I teach and I love what I do.

What I don’t love is my district.  It is the most corrupt, morally reprehensible district I have ever had the misfortune of working for.  In the past four years, I’ve been displaced three times and RIF’d once (layoff notice).  For those few who read my blog and might not be familiar with the term displacement, it means the school no longer has a position open for me and I’m forced to go to another school.  This happened to me at the end of the school year in 2009 (after being at the school for three years), the end of the school year in 2011, and now, five weeks after school has started.  I have packed up and unpacked my room more times than I should ever have to.

I’ve entertained the thought of leaving teaching again.  I left teaching back in 2002, tired of the politics and since I didn’t have my credential, I figured I’d find a job in the “Real World.”  After being away from teaching for awhile, though, I realized how much I missed working with young people, teaching literature that I loved, and helping students become better writers, readers, and thinkers.  So, I buckled down and finished my credential and started teaching again.

Now, eight years later, I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider something else.  I’m lucky to at least have a job that pays our bills, supports our daughter, and I have medical insurance that not only paid for my stay in the hospital, but my daughter’s nine week stay in the NICU and other hospital visits since.  Yes, I’m lucky in the sense that I have a job.  But, I cannot help but feel beaten down and chipped away.  I am constantly bombarded with the idea that as a teacher, I’m the one responsible for my students’ poor test scores.  I’m the one whose fault it is that my students aren’t succeeding.  On one hand, my district is constantly reminding me that we MUST have 100% graduation rate and we MUST raise test scores.  Yet, on the other hand, my district is constantly using teachers like me as a pawn in the games they play.  How on earth are we to help our students succeed if they’re instead being shuffled around like a bunch of cattle?  How on earth is forcing teachers to teach HUGE classes (45-50 students in a class) doing the students any favors?  When I first started at my school, my largest class had 34 students, and my smallest had 21.  Now, it’s rare if my classes dip below 40.  We’re told we must have 42.5 students in each class.  This year, the district has determined we should have extremely large class sizes in the fall so that by spring, when attendance is always lower, our classes will balance out.  How is this rational?  How is having a class of 50 students in the fall so that we’ll have 42 students in the spring, rational thinking?

I’m tired.  My brain hurts.  My stuff is in boxes while I wait for word on whether or not I’ll be going.  I haven’t said anything to my students yet.  I don’t want to because I’m more upset about how they’re being treated than I’m being treated.  What does that say about the state education is in now?  That these students are constantly being shuffled around from place to place, from teacher to teacher, because the district doesn’t give a shit?

***UPDATE***

I received word.  My job is safe, at least for this school year.  I’m angry at exactly how it happened, though, but I really can’t go into the details behind it all.  Who knows what will happen again in the spring?  I miss the years when I just put things away in my cabinets, locked them up, papered over my bulletin boards, and had a nice relaxing summer.  That hasn’t happened to me since 2008.

A Bunch of Firsts, Part II

  • Posted on August 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Now that it’s August and summer is halfway over, I start thinking about all the things I wanted to do (like Gracie’s Baby Book – haven’t even cracked it open since I got it, write more on my blog, exercise more, and sort through pictures), but never made the time to do them.  Lately, I’ve been making a lot of jewelry to sell on my Etsy shop.  It’s been slow going, though.  Seems like there are hundreds of crafters making the same thing.  But, as I peruse through the listings, I don’t see any that are quite like mine, so I guess there’s some hope.

Anyway… Gracie had a lot of Firsts in the month of July, as evidenced by my last post.  I didn’t want to shove all the pictures into one post, so I broke it up into two.  She went on her first bike ride with us down at the beach.  It was really tough towing her behind me, especially when I was riding against the wind.  Several times during the bike ride, I felt like I wasn’t moving.  We stopped and took a break and turned around to head back.  I had forgotten just how nice it is to ride with the wind instead of against it!  Especially hauling a 20 lb baby, her helmet, her rainbow bear and Tigger, and her carrier.  She also celebrated our anniversary with us at the Proud Bird Restaurant.  She watched the planes come in and had a lot of fun rooting around in her carrier.  I snapped one of the funniest pictures of her yet when she looked up from what she was doing to give me the cheesiest grin.  She also tried out her traveling high chair when we went out to dinner this past week.  It gave her a new perspective at the dinner table and was an eye-opener for us because EVERYTHING was within reach.

First Bike Ride

Gracie seemed to enjoy her bike ride, even though it was hard to tell whether or not she could really see anything with her helmet on.  It fits her OK, but seems to be a bit heavy for her.  She was so tired from all the activity, she fell asleep twice in the trailer.  It looked uncomfortable to us because her helmet caused her head to tilt at an odd angle, but she didn’t seem to mind.  When we go again, she’ll probably be better at dealing with her helmet because she’s a little bigger now.

 

 

 

Our Anniversary

Gracie dives headfirst into everything.  I’m not entirely sure this will bode well for us in the future, but for now, it’s entertaining to see her explore her world with such gusto.  The grin on her face says everything to me.

First Time in Her Traveling High Chair

Notice how there’s nothing, I mean NOTHING, around her other than her puppy?  The last thing we needed was for her slinging a knife at someone!  She did a good job of staying put and pretty much enjoyed sitting at the table with us and charming everyone around her.

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway… August brings her actual 1 year birthday, even though she celebrated in May.  It’s hard to believe when I look at her now, she was only 2 lbs 3 oz. when she was born.  I’m so glad she’s healthy, growing, and soaking up her environment like a sponge.  We still feel like we’re flying by the seat of our pants, but we’re learning and growing with her and it seems a little bit easier to care for her now.

A little while ago, Michael said that she took one step forward without falling over.  Oh, and she’s got three teeth – one on the bottom and two eye teeth on the top.  I’d say she looks like a vampire, but now a top front tooth is coming in.  She’s definitely growing up fast!  <3

A bunch of Firsts.

  • Posted on July 31, 2011 at 11:43 am

Life has been busy here at the Saavedra household.  Gracie’s become a little person and walks around with her little walker, bumping into walls, doorways, and chairs.  She’s a fast crawler now and makes a beeline for any kind of cord (computer, fan, extension).  We haven’t really baby-proofed the house because most of the time, she plays in her play jail yard and is, for the most part, content to play with her toys.  When we do let her out to crawl and walk around, she’s supervised.  But, she always goes for stuff she’s not supposed to touch.  Why is it babies want to stick their little bitty fingers into wall sockets?  She tried that once, but Michael was fast enough to pull her hand away.  Looks like we’ll need to get some wall socket covers.

As I watch her grow, I am reminded of how important life is and how important family is to me.  I am so thankful to have Michael’s family for support because lately, I’ve been feeling very much like an orphan.  My mom (she’s my step-mom, but she raised me, so she’s my mom) lives in Montana and I only see her once or twice a year.  My dad, well, let’s just say his actions have left much to be desired and because of that, I haven’t spoken to him since Father’s Day.  My uncle, his brother, I haven’t seen in almost three years.  I just don’t get it.  I’ve called, left messages, and get a phone call from them maybe once or twice a year.  I’ve talked to Michael about how incredulous I am regarding my family’s actions and how I would never treat Gracie like this.

Bah.  My immediate, closest family is missing some of Gracie’s most important moments and all I can do is shake my head at the stupidity of it all.  It must be the Danish stubbornness coming out.  That’s all I ever heard about growing up, how my Danish relatives all hated each other and some didn’t even bother to show up at funerals.  What kind of life is that?  I don’t want that for Gracie.  We’ve tried as best we can to give her a home full of love, laughter, and joy.  Why surround her with that other stuff?  That’s no way to live.

Gracie took her first “step” yesterday.  She tried to take one step forward, then plopped to the ground.  She did it once more, and same result.  I spent a little time last night going through all the videos I took of her.  I had forgotten just how tiny she was.  How we thought it was the cutest thing, her laying there and waving her arms and legs back and forth.  Oh, and her swing.  Ha ha!  I took at least FOUR videos of her in her swing.  I watched them, and there she was… swinging.  Not doing much else… just swinging.  I was like the stereotypical first-time parent (we all know at least one, right?) – taking videos of her every little move and taking pictures of her every smile.  In those first several months she was home, I took hundreds of pictures and lots of video.  These days, I take pictures of her doing her “firsts.”  Her first stroller ride without her carrier.  Her first swim lesson with me.  Her first swim lesson with Michael.  Her first swing at the park.  Her first bike ride (although, that one’s kind of silly looking because her helmet is so big, you can hardly see her eyes – just a bike helmet and a big cheesy grin) at the beach.  I’m so glad for these moments.

I look at her a lot lately and still can’t believe she’s real.  Like, here’s this little person with a fighting spirit and a beautiful soul staring back at me with twinkling blue eyes and all I can think as I look into them is how incredibly thankful I am for being able to do so.

Here are her firsts these past few months.

First Swim

I love this one… she’s like a little motorboat:

 

Now, she gets in and kicks like a little frog.  She seems to enjoy the water and we’re glad about that.  However, I want her to love swimming but to also have a healthy respect for the water.

 

 

 

 

First Pool Hair

I can’t even begin to describe how funny this picture is to me.  She’s got Pool Hair!  She hardly has any hair as it is and when she got out of my in-laws’ pool, this was the result:  a cottony, wispy fluff sitting on top of her head.  She also has tired eyes.  Swimming is tough!

 

 

 

 

 

First Swing Ride at the Park

Gracie has really enjoyed all the new things we’ve introduced to her.  And, what kid wouldn’t?  Swings, swimming, pool hair.  Are those the quintessential things of summer?

Next up, bike rides, our anniversary, and her first high chair experience.  <3


Mmmmmm! Cake!

  • Posted on June 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’m going back and post-dating this blog entry because I wanted to write something about Gracie’s first birthday party, but the whole month of June escaped me.   So, here we are.

 

For the most part, Gracie’s birthday party was nice.  Our house can only hold so many people, so just the right amount arrived, celebrated, drank merrily (eh… even though it WAS a child’s birthday party, none of my daughter’s cousins or friends with children were able to make it, so there you have it), and ate my husband’s cooking (ALMOST everyone.  I will not spend the time on here writing about how angry a certain person made me feel because I am done with this person trying to dictate my life).  The gifts for Gracie were absolutely splendid and Michael made cupcakes for everyone to eat, including Gracie.

We did a test run with the cupcakes the weekend before and though she just squished it around in her fingers, she did eat a little bit of it and the test run was deemed successful.

For this night’s festivities, Gracie ate most of her cupcake, even if she was wearing a lot of it, as well.  The faces she made through the whole process were pretty funny, too.

Gracie’s birthday cupcake.  The expressions on her face speak volumes.

Eh?  What *is* this?!

Oohhh, it’s a CAKE!  😉

 

My brother James and Gracie.  This was the first time he had actually seen her since she was in the NICU and the first time he truly got to hold her.  I love this picture.

All in all, the day was good.  It was nice to see friends shower Gracie with love.  Gracie is my little ray of sunshine in a sometimes dreary, gray world.  The sunflowers above remind me of both Gracie and Benjamin.  <3