Displaying 21 - 30 of 40 entries.

Gracie’s First Birthday

  • Posted on May 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Gracie’s first birthday was Wednesday.  I took the day off of work to spend with my family.  We celebrated her birthday by taking her to have her 1 year pictures done.  They were the best set of pictures she’s taken so far.  She’s a little ham, most definitely.

The day was very bittersweet.  It has been a very trying, interesting, wonderful, and scary year.  The loss of Benjamin has been difficult for us, but watching Gracie grow into a little person has tempered that loss to more of a dull ache.  Still, there were not many people who mentioned Benjamin on Wednesday.  I guess people just assume we’ve moved on and what’s the use in talking about a dead baby?  Not only that, but it’s an uncomfortable topic and most people don’t know what to say.

We had lunch after Gracie’s pictures and then drove to the cemetery.  I wanted to place sunflowers at his marker for him, especially since the last time we were there, I wasn’t able to (the florist in the parking lot of the memorial park was closed). I went into the florist and asked for a bouquet of 4 sunflowers and one bouquet of one sunflower. I bought two pinwheels, one for Benjamin and one to take home for Gracie’s birthday. I placed the 4 sunflowers, representing the four of us, at his side and Michael put the pinwheel in so it would stay and blow in the wind. I cried. I looked up at the deep blue shade of the sky and wished things were different. It’s not fair that I have to place flowers at the foot of my son’s grave instead of getting to know him and wondering how different or similar he would have been to Gracie.

I never realized it would hurt this much.  The week leading up to Gracie’s birthday has left me feeling “off.”  I know why.  It wasn’t until about a week before I went into labor that I finally started to feel Benjamin move around.   I also was able to hear his heart beat every day.  I listened attentively to it, looking for any indication that his heartbeat was deteriorating.  We were told by a pediatric cardiologist that Benjamin would not make it to full term, due to Ebstein’s anomaly (a tricuspid valve defect).  So, every time I heard his heart beating, I knew he was OK inside me.  Inside me, he was alive and thriving.  I also knew that when the time came, he would either perish inside me, or he would perish outside.  I refused to think about it.  I didn’t want to even consider a name for him.  It wasn’t until about three days before I went into labor that we chose a name.  Benjamin Kristian.  We didn’t even come up with a girl’s name.  I think we just knew he was a boy.

All the time I had been able to feel Gracie kick and move jab me with her foot, I never could feel Benjamin.  But, when I did, it was mostly bittersweet.  I knew his movement wouldn’t last forever and I knew I would never be able to watch him grow up.

It’s been a year now.  Gracie has started babbling and is now able to say “Da Da.”  She’s crawling, pulling herself up on everything, and giving us her opinion when she doesn’t like something.  For every milestone Gracie accomplishes, Benjamin’s memory is right beside her.

To help keep his memory alive, I’ve found happiness in painting memory boxes for the hospital, as well as making jewelery.  Maybe someday, Gracie can help me make things in honor of Benjamin’s memory, too.

We have her big birthday party coming up next weekend.  It’s a bit late this year because of her bout with pneumonia, but that’s OK.  Thankfully, the weather looks like it will cooperate. (not too hot, and not too cold).

Hospital

  • Posted on May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Two weeks from today, Gracie will be one year old.  A year ago today, I was on strict bedrest in the hospital, hoping I’d make it all the way to at least 30 weeks or more.  I didn’t, and here we are.

I’ve been very hesitant to post pictures of Gracie on this site because I’ve never understood why some “mommy bloggers” expose their children for the world to see.  However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it and the way I see it now is I can’t keep our daughter in a bubble for the rest of her life.  I can share her experiences with the few people who do read this blog.  I will draw the line about posting things that are private and should be treated as such.

Every day is a new parenting adventure for me.  I’m not quite sure what I’m doing and I haven’t even read any books about what to expect her first year or any of that stuff.  In fact, the only parenting books we bought were books dedicated to the raising of a preemie, which have since been collecting dust in our office.  Even so, I’ve managed to detect two major illnesses in Gracie – both requiring hospital stays/interventions.  Not knowing what I’m doing, but instinctively, I know enough.

So, without further ado, here’s Gracie, feeling better in the hospital.

It’s hard to see, but her right hand is obscured by a ton of cotton, tape, and an evil IV line.  The first IV went into her left hand and she didn’t protest much, which is indicative to how bad she was feeling.  That second IV line?  The one in her right hand?  It took two nurses over 30 minutes to get it in place, with her screaming and crying and blubbering the entire time.  It was awful.  It was so awful, in fact, she began to associate the hospital crib with DANGER! DANGER! and it became quite an experience every time we needed to change her or try to get her to nap.

I got smart, though.  On Friday morning, I changed her where I had slept the night before.   She didn’t fuss at all and was content to smile and laugh at me while I sang to her.

I really wish I had spent more of this year writing about what it’s like to be her mama.  I never knew what it was like to be a mom until she was born.  She had such a precarious beginning and it’s made me scared, paranoid, and terrified every day.  But, I look forward to seeing her smiling face in the morning and I look forward to seeing her smiling face when I get home from work.

Last night was extra special to me.  Even though I was tired from swim practice and the general business of the last two days, I sat on the couch with my husband and we quietly played with Gracie on his lap.  She giggled and pulled my hair, pulled my glasses off, tried to put my necklace in her mouth, and laid her head on my chest.  It was a joy to have her so close to me.

Small Pleasures – Day 6

  • Posted on April 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

1.  Early morning

I’m not normally an early riser, but ever since Gracie was born, I’ve had to be up pretty early to nurse her.  There’s something about the light in the morning that softens everything.  There’s also something about knowing the whole day is stretched out in front of me.

2.  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Izzy

This song is very special to me.  It’s the song Michael and I chose as our “first dance” at our wedding.  It just warms my heart when I hear it.  It’s also what I have playing on my iPod when the alarm goes off in the mornings.  What a nice way to start the day.  🙂

3.  Gracie’s laughter

The sound of Gracie’s giggles is almost beyond description.  What is it about a baby’s giggles?  Especially Gracie’s.  When she giggles, her little eyes crinkle up and she laughs from her belly.  It’s contagious, too.

Small Pleasures – Day 5

  • Posted on April 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

1.  Homemade orange gelato

We recently bought an ice cream maker attachment to our mixer with a gift card we had, and since we have plenty of oranges, Michael made orange gelato.  It’s very tasty.  I’ve never had homemade ice cream or gelato before and it didn’t disappoint!

2.  New brakes

Silly, I know.  But, I’m very happy to have new brakes on my car and that it was just the brake pads that were squeaking and making such a terrible noise.  It was getting almost embarrassing to drive my car.

3.  Beading

I have been creating new jewelry for a couple of weeks now.  I have put my bookmarks up for sale at my Etsy shop, but nothing of the bracelet/necklace variety as of yet.  Making jewelry makes me happy and it’s something I used to do, but fell out of it for awhile.  I stopped creating anything after we lost our son, but one day, after stumbling across “Hope is the The Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson, I have been creating new things almost every day.  If I’m not actually making something, I’m creating whole pieces in my head.

Small Pleasures – Day 4

  • Posted on April 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm

1.  Holiday from work

Today, my school district gave us Friday off for Cesar Chavez Day.  I’m not complaining, as it gave me a wonderful day off to spend with my husband and Gracie.

2.  Blooming orange trees

Our backyard has two orange trees, both of which are blooming like mad.  The evenings smell strongly of orange blossoms and it reminds me of spring.

3.  Swimming

I can only swim on Tuesdays, and as much as I don’t want to go to practice because I’d rather be home doing other things, I enjoy it.  The feeling of pulling myself through the water and swimming other strokes besides freestyle makes me happy.  I haven’t competed in over a year, though.  I miss it.  Once Gracie gets a little older, I might be able to go to early morning practices and practice more than once a week.  Then, it’s on to competing again. Boy, I miss it!

Small Pleasures – Day 3

  • Posted on March 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm

1.  Misty, gray mornings

I enjoy misty, gray mornings so much.   If it’s a bit chilly, having a cup of hot cocoa and spending quality time with my family warms my heart.

2.  A good book

The ability to fall into a good book and get lost in its plot is something I immensely enjoy.  I don’t have the time to read as much as I’d like to and my “to be read” pile is growing at an alarming rate.  Someday, when I have the time (ha ha!) I’ll try to get some reading done.

3.  My husband’s cooking

I am very lucky my husband likes to cook and he does it well.  He thinks I don’t give myself enough credit for my cooking, but I just don’t enjoy it.  I hate making a mess in the kitchen.

Small Pleasures – Day 2

  • Posted on March 29, 2011 at 8:43 am

1.  Driving with the top open

When I’m in my car alone, I enjoy driving with the top open, to let the sunshine and wind in.  My husband doesn’t enjoy it so much, but I do.  Even when it’s cloudy, I’ll drive with it open and put the heater on.

2.  Chai tea

I adore Chai tea.  The spicier, the better.  I sometimes make my own, but when I can, I treat myself to an ice blended Chai from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

3.  Blowing raspberries on Gracie’s belly

Well, this just goes without saying.  Gracie has started to giggle at everything, so blowing raspberries has become standard whenever her belly is exposed.

Small Pleasures – Day 1

  • Posted on March 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

As a part of an “assignment” I was given, for the next two weeks, I am to recall three small pleasures  I have experienced throughout the day.

Here is Day 1:

1.  Gracie’s morning smiles.

One of my favorite times of the day is when I go in and wake Gracie up to feed her.  She hardly ever fusses and always has a smile on her face.  Her smile brightens my day, even if I’m running late, am tired and cranky, or just generally down.

2.  Hummingbird feeder.

Hummingbirds have a lot of meaning for me.  We chose a hummingbird to go on our son’s grave marker.  It was the only marker that stood out to us as something we thought would represent Benjamin the best.  Since he was so small when he was born (1lb. 15 oz.), and hummingbirds are also incredibly small, we thought the choice fitting.  The feeder is an endless source of joy for me.  The hummingbird who has taken up residence with our feeder (they’re very territorial birds, after all) allows us to get rather close–close enough to almost reach out and touch.

3.  More daylight in the day.

As much as I hate Daylight Savings time in the spring (we lose an hour of sleep!), I do enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the afternoons.  It’s nice to come home and have more time to spend outside.  Once my foot heals (I bashed my toe into Gracie’s swing), we’ll start taking walks in the evening.

A Hill of Pacifiers

  • Posted on March 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’m an English teacher to almost 180 10th grade students.  We’re starting a new unit on “Night,” a book written by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor.  Over the years, I’ve taught this book, and while it’s awful and terrible and horrific what happened to him and 6 million others, I’ve kept the sadness at arms-length.

Until now.

While my students were completing a pre-reading activity, I read an article that was printed at the back of one of the teacher-copy books I have.  In it, a woman was describing how she and her sister were forced to search the clothing for valuables of those who were sent to the gas chambers and sort everything into piles, including a heartbreaking hill of pacifiers.

I cannot bend my mind around this.  I have been struggling with the loss of my son for ten months now.  Through no fault of my own or his own, Benjamin didn’t survive more than 20 minutes.  His life was very brief, but meaningful to me just the same.  But, to purposefully snatch away the lives of innocent children, men, and women?  I just can’t understand the hatred behind it all.

I know my life has been completely altered by the experience of losing a child.  So, I suppose reading about children dying senselessly sends me into a tailspin.  I also saw video footage of a little child running toward his/her mother, but being held back by the SS.  The little one was determined to get to his/her mother, but kept getting held back and eventually fell over.  How could those SS officers be so cruel?  My heart ached when I saw that footage.

As my daughter continues to grow, I grow more and more protective of her.  What did that mother do, seeing her child be pushed away and kept from her?  I suppose it’s easy to say what I would have done in that situation because it’s easier to say something rather than doing it/experiencing it.  How difficult it must have been for that mother, watching with helpless fury as her child was kept from her.

I went home from school that day and hugged Grace a little tighter.  All I can hope is that the mother and child I saw on the video didn’t suffer, but in reality, I’m sure they did.  And that’s what I just can’t stand.  All the horror and brutality at the hands of people.  People who acted like animals.

Trying to Move Away from Terror

  • Posted on March 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I have been remiss about posting here.  I build many entries in my head, but when I want to sit down and write, I don’t have the time.  Or, I do have the time, but I have other things I want to do, such as take care of Grace, wash bottles and pump stuff, and do some beading.

Something happened this past weekend that is burned into my brain and I’m still struggling with it.

Let me backtrack a little bit.  Gracie used to have reflux, which caused her to choke on viscous-y, slimy mucous.  We would have to suction it out of her nose to help her breathe.  The first time it happened, it was beyond frightening.  Her eyes got wide, her arms and legs windmilled frantically, and I think I lost years of my life from the whole experience.  But, once we figured out what was happening and she was put on some medication to help her have fewer episodes, we were able to clear her out when she had them.  The blue bulb syringe the hospital gave us came in handy on several occasions.

Eventually, Gracie didn’t need the medication for her reflux and she no longer had the episodes.

Sunday, I noticed Gracie had been spitting up a little more frequently than she normally does.  I decided to change her shirt into a fresh, clean one and put her on the changing table.  One second I was making her giggle by blowing raspberries on her belly and the next, her eyes went wide with terror, her arms and legs windmilling.  I panicked.

I said, “Michael, something’s happening! Michael!  Something’s wrong!”  He rushed in, and there I was, panicking, not knowing what to do.  I had already reached for the bulb syringe and started to automatically suction out her nose, but there was no viscous-y mucous to suction.  Her face started turning red, and she stopped breathing, her eyes round with terror.

She managed to cry a few seconds later and all I could do was cry right along with her.  I held her for a moment and then Michael took her and sat her down in her rocker.

The terror I felt and have felt since scares me.  I’ve already lost a son.  Even though I can’t control the future or know what is in store for myself or my family, I can’t stand the fact that there’s a possibility something bad can happen.  I watch other people I know who have small children living seemingly carefree lives with their children and I can’t help but wonder if they know what it’s truly like to feel the terror I feel every day?

I leave for work and worry about other people’s driving skills because I want to come home.  I worry about everything.  A friend once said I worry about the whether the sun will rise in the sky each day, so it’s nothing new for me to worry.  But, this fear I have is almost all-encompassing.  I wish I could shake it.  I’ve been told by other parents that the fear for their children never goes away.  I think a healthy fear is fine, but what I feel is almost debilitating.  What happened this weekend drove home that feeling.  I was starting to feel more carefree with Gracie, enjoying all her milestones she’s reached and watching her grow with pride and wonder.  This was unexpected.  I guess in a way, it was a sobering reminder that anything can happen and I need to remember that.  Still, I want to be that parent who is more carefree and less of a worrywart.

Other than the episode this weekend, Gracie is doing really well.  She’s sitting on her own more and more and has almost figured out crawling.  Watch out world.  When she wants something, she reaches for it and will try and take it.  She’s gotten really good at noticing when we take something and put it out of her reach or hide it behind us so she can’t take it.  She follows the item with her eyes and knows it’s being hidden.  Recently, she’s become obsessed with my phone bag.  It’s a little zipper pouch I bought from an Etsy seller who makes the cutest stuff.  It fits my phone perfectly, but I don’t want Gracie playing with it because I’m around teenagers all day and who knows what kind of cooties they bring around?  So, I gave her a zippy pouch I haven’t used.  Michael put one of her little toys in it and now she’s completely fascinated with it.  That’ll keep her busy for awhile.

Watching Gracie grow into a little person is an amazing experience, if not a scary one.  Hopefully, I can move away from the terror I feel.