Monday, August 31, 2009

She's the Tough One

She's stubborn but she's brave, she's conniving but she's compassionate and she knows more than any 2nd grader should ever have to know. And today, she had the toughest lesson of her life.

Karly was picked for Student of the Week in her class and she had to fill out a poster with things about her to share with her classmates. We took pictures of her pets, our house, she drew her favorite food, wrote her favorite colors, listed her friends, and pasted photos of her aspired jobs. We also had to include a photo of our family. This was our first obstacle with this project and it is one I had not yet been faced with. I had already thought about it, what our family pictures would be--for the rest of our lives. Family pictures would always be difficult for me because no matter what kind of family picture, cousins on my side, cousins on Patric's side, pictures of the kids or a picture of our family, there would always be someone missing. This is a painful reminder that I don't ever see going away. I have a family picture of us in the living room taken just before I got pregnant with Chase and I remember thinking how "full" our lives seemed in that picture and how on earth were we going to handle one more Pearson. Now, when I look at that picture, all I see is what is missing. Our beautiful son, their handsome baby brother. I decided one of the first times looking at that photo after Chase died that I would always be holding him for every family picture from here on out. I would hold his blanket or something physical, something significant that would represent Chase in the photograph. We took a snapshot family photo for Karly's poster yesterday and I wanted Chase in it somehow, whether or not Karly wanted to explain it to her class. I needed Chase in it. So Karly held her Chase blanket in the photo and we left it at that.

Later that night, it was time to get her show-and-tell item(s) that she would be sharing with her classmates as part of the Student of the Week priveleges. She asked what we thought she should take and after a few suggestions of her American Girl doll or a stuffed animal, she disappeared to her bedroom. She returned with her photograph of her holding Chase in the NICU, moments before he died. And she had a smile on her face.

This is the same girl that I warned her teacher the first day of school was not comfortable talking about her baby brother and to please "protect" her for me from any kids that might try to ask her about him. I did not know what to think. On one hand, I was extremely comforted in the fact that she wanted to share him with her classmates. On the other hand, I was so deeply petrified that she would get asked a heartless question about the picture in all it's uneducated eye's gory and she would get hurt. All I want to do is protect her from hurt. And I think at 7 years old, I should be able to do that as her mom. How was I to know how this might unfold? The potential for invited catastrophe was terrifying. I told her to show her dad what she picked. She did and I could Patric was touched. He was proud. I was too. So very proud of her for even thinking about doing this. But I just couldn't bare her getting hurt. The hurt that you just can't take away no matter what because you can't bring back her baby brother to make it all better. After seeing Patric's approving nod to her when he saw the picture, I felt better. I asked her if she was sure she felt comfortable with this and she said, without hesitation, "yes". Where is the rule book on grief and how to handle situations like this with your 7-year-old? Why can't someone just tell me what to do? I feel like I am making decisions that will affect her for life. The way she deals with this now, will affect what she takes with her as a memory of her baby brother forever. Of course all of our decisions have the potential to affect our children's lives but this, this is something parents shouldn't HAVE to deal with.

I walked her to her classroom and had a brief talk with her teacher about what was going on. I also talked to the school counselor and asked for her help, too. Between the both of them, my apprehensive willingness to allow this and Karly's undying strength, the day was a success. She told her class all about herself, her family, her pets and her favorite things. She shared with her entire class her baby brother by showing her picture and talking about him. And, unbeknownst to her at the time, she has a classmate who lost a baby sister and when she shared her story of Chase, he spoke up and shared his baby sister with the class.

I can't tell you how this makes me feel. I can't tell you how proud I am of my little girl. She has always been my tough little girl. But this gives a whole new meaning to the word. She has always been strong, physically. But now, I know she is strong emotionally, too. She has compassion like not very many 2nd graders could ever have, and thankfully so. She sacrificed exposing herself in a way even adults struggle to do, to be able to share her baby brother with the world. And maybe, just maybe, this 7-year-old made another 7-year-old feel comfort in his journey of such undeserving pain and grief. Maybe he knows if Karly can talk about her loss, it might be something he decides he wants to do, too. If not, though, I am so glad that he spoke up. Because I know his mama is just as proud of him as I am Karly.
I am comforted in a way that will last forever. Chase, you are missed little buddy. And you would have been proud of the way your sister showed you off today. Because you are not here, but you are with us. And you always will be. We love you, Maverick. We love you so much.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

I've been given an Honest Scrap award by Kristy at I Love You To The Moon and Back. Thank you, Kristy, for comforting me with your supporting comments on my blog and sharing your thoughts and story for other grieving mothers to relate.
This award is for bloggers who write honestly from their heart, from the depth of their soul. There are some simple rules to accept this award. Firstly, pass the award on to 7 other bloggers and secondly, list 10 honest and hopefully interesting things about yourself.
SO, I pass on the Honest Scrap award to the following bloggers:
10 things about me...
1. I like to make jewelry in my spare time but never had any luck selling it. Don't seem to have much spare time to do it, anyway.
2. I tried out for a WNBA team in the league's inagural year. (Of course I didn't make the team or I most definitely would have mentioned that part, too.)
3. In my life before kids, I hunted, fished and enjoyed the great outdoors with my husband. Now, I choose to take care of the kids and spend time with my sisters while he does that stuff with my dad.
4. I took up running in 5ks and 10ks competitively about 7 years ago and had some goals left unattained. I haven't competed since I got pregnant with Chase and though I have started running again, not sure if I will ever compete again. Can't really explain it, but I just don't want to. Something has changed in me that doesn't spark that desire anymore.
5. I learned in my 30s that family is the most important thing in my life and always will be. Friends that are true friends will gladly take second place and will then and only then, understand me.
6. I also learned in my 30s that marriage is hard work....but worth every second of it. There were some rocky roads along the way, but about a year before Chase was born, we became rock solid. When Chase died, though our lives were shattered, our marriage would only become stronger. I am so very thankful for having Patric by my side throughout this entire journey.
7. I love to take cooking classes but struggle to cook at home. I don't like to follow recipes. AND I love to bake.
8. I do not enjoy watching TV for the most part but my favorite thing to do is watch a movie in the movie theater with my kids and huz.
9. My favorite thing in the world is a picnic with my kids.
10. I love pizza--especially in Chicago!

August Secret Garden Meeting

The Secret Garden is "...our garden, our secret place to come to. A place to remember our children with those who understand us. It is a place to just be, without worry or fear of not being accepted. " The last Friday of each month questions are posted on the site for those of us who have suffered such grief to think about, write about, read the thoughts of others and post on our own blogs.
If you created a bedroom for your baby tell us what it was like.Did you have it ready for them before they were born?If so how did you cope coming home to it without your baby?Did you pack it all away?What is your baby's room now?If you lost your baby after they had come home what is it like going into there room now?If you are trying to conceive again, or are pregnant again how do you feel about setting up another room before your baby is born?

I was about 27 weeks along when we prepared for our little one. Our master bedroom is pretty big and I had the crib in there when Reese was born and until he turned 3. We moved him into his own room where he finally slept in his own bed (he slept with us most of the time anyway) and when we did this, we put the crib away, figuring we'd get it back out when we needed it again. Only about 8 months passed and, yey!, it was time to get it out again. I had ordered bedding a couple weeks before so I was getting anxious to get it set up. We set up the dresser and crib and actually cleaned our entire bedroom. The kids were excited, I was excited, dad was excited. I had a few onesies and sleepers that I had kept from Reese that I had in the drawers. The kids and I painted canvases that matched the colors from the crib bedding and hung them above the crib. I looked at a glider/rocker but could not make the leap to actually buy it. About a month before I was due, I had started buying and receiving a few outfits and things here and there but I was always insistent upon not over-buying. I had done that in the past and did not want to have an over abundance of things in the drawer. I had even told my friends who threw me a baby shower that I only wanted diapers--I did not need other stuff because if it was a boy, I had it packed away from Reese's things and if it was a girl, I'd want to buy pink things anyway. There was something inside me that did not want to celebrate too early, either. Just because I had 2 (early) miscarriages and I just wasn't sure everything was going to be okay. I just wish I had understood the depth of what I was feeling. I was worried something might go wrong, but I had never considered death and what that was and what it would feel like and what it would mean. It was really strange and this is not the post to bring that up in!
Anyway, yes the room was completely ready. Down to the baby bath and baby lotion. Did I pack it all away.......No.
When I was transfered to Albuquerque (on Wednesday), the community reached out to us like we never expected. So many people were there to do whatever we needed whenever we needed it. To help with our kids, the house, anything. The kids stayed at my MIL's but Thursday we woke up and checked on Chase in teh NICU and I knew only ONE thing for certain: I wanted my kids, my living kids, in my presence, in my arms. I couldn't hold Chase, I needed them to hold to get me through this. I knew not what would happen with Chase, but I knew I needed the kids. Patric agreed and friends arranged to get them to us. The community continued to reach, prayers, phone messages, hundreds of texts, even a messenger with money they collected for our expenses. Chase lived until Friday afternoon. News traveled fast and I don't remember exactly when, but Patric's mom told him that some friends had come into our house, stocked the fridge and freezer with food and removed the crib and all baby things. I was speechless. I didn't know what to think, I didn't know what to say. I didn't know anything at this point. I couldn't even grasp what I did know: my baby boy was gone. It took me all of about 10 minutes (really, I have absolutely no concept of time on that Friday afternoon) to decide that having the crib gone was most definitely NOT what I wanted. In fact, I wanted it back and I wanted it back now. To this day, I don't know what was done in my house, but when I walked in Saturday evening, my baby room-slash-master bedroom was exactly as I had left it. I was shocked. I was shocked that my friends would do that, that they would think that was what I wanted. But what impressed me more about my friends, was that they put it back. All of it. Just the way I had it and they did that for me. Out of love, out of friendship, out of compassion. No one knows how they will react when something like this happens to them. And no one knows how they will react when someone dear to them has this happen to them...whether it's a sister, a daughter, a cousin,, a friend. I am not mad that they did what they did. It was something that I don't think I would have done, but I've never been in their shoes. I've never wanted so badly to take away pain and hurt from someone's life that I will do anything to try to help. I am so blessed to have friends that care so much about me and my family. This is something I will never forget.

As for the future, I am planning on leaving the baby stuff out....for a while....I am not ready to put it away. I am not ready to say that I am ready to live without it. I hope and pray that it will be used again one day soon. And that in it will be another one of our little miracles.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Struggle, Part I of ???

I am struggling these days, with my faith, and often I am comforted from reading my fellow baby loss moms' blogs. I have been relieved many times to run across a blog of a mother who struggles with finding answers on this journey we are on. Not because I want her to struggle or I want her to even be on this journey, but because I know I am not the only one feeling and thinking the way that I do. There are some who are very strong in their faith and are using it to survive their grief. There are some who have modified their beliefs to fit how they view their loved one(s) in the afterlife. And there are some who simply have too many questions to understand or trust in something that would justify the tragedy of losing a child.

My comfort comes from knowing that there are others who feel the same as I do. Even though I feel guilty for my faltering faith, I feel as though I am not alone. I have been told that I will need Him to get through this and that those who have God in their lives survive this sort of thing while those who do not, sink into a hole they can never quite get out of. I do try to go to church. I respect my church community and am grateful for them and their support. But every Sunday when I walk in there and sit in those pews, with my empty arms and a hole in my heart, I struggle. I struggle to see past the tiny casket that was so beautifully displayed right there in front of me with our baby peacefully resting inside it. So many people walk on ice not knowing what to say to me, some not saying anything, some speaking, but in words I can not comprehend some times. I tear up at things that relate to me in ways no one else would or could possibly understand.

Sometimes a person's frankness on topics hurts. Such is the case with a lady I have been talking to about a headstone for Chase's grave. I had asked for something specific and she said she can do it but suggested something quite different instead that she not only thinks I will like and will look very pretty but it will also work better in the cemetery we have buried him in. She does not have a website so I cannot see a sample of what she is talking about. She tells me, though, that a black stone (which I prefer) will "show the dirt out there much the same way that a black car does when it gets dirty." Wow. I never thought of it that way. I never thought of a black head stone and a black car and compared the two. I guess because I have never really thought about a black head stone before. She was a really nice, well-intentioned lady but I cried and cried as soon as I got her off the stupid phone.

People do not mean to be hurtful. But you can only try so hard to be sensitive to someone's tragedy and when it comes right down to it, unless you've felt what they feel, or know what they know, you just will never understand. I was told in church this morning, "if there is ever anyone who needs prayers, it's a preacher who is starting a new church!!" Again, wow. That blows me away. And I'm pretty sure that clearly illustrates my lack of faith right now. But in my mind losing a child is the hardest thing that someone could go through. I suppose that is my opinion and there are others who would disagree.

In my prayers this morning, I tried to pray for God to hold Chase and give him a hug for me. But I couldn't finish my request. Because I want to be holding Chase. I don't want anyone else holding him. I have never left my kids, as babies, in the care of someone other than their grandmothers. So for the most part, I have always been the first one my child sees when waking up from their naps, the one to kiss their boo-boos, the one they run to when they are scared. They have never gone to a day care or babysitter where someone else does these things for them and this has always been something that I have been very, very thankful for. I would get jealous if I saw someone else comforting my child this way. And that is how I feel about God. I am jealous of him or Jesus, or the angels, or whomever is getting to hold my Chase in Heaven right now. I am finding it very hard to trust in them and want them to love him. Because to me, they are strangers. I know that is completely wrong to think that way and it will surely send me spiralling down into that deep hole, but that's how I feel. I don't "know" God, not the way that I should, not in a way that I can trust him to take care of my son for me. This might be the way that I will get to know him, who knows. But I have to think of Chase and what is best for him. And what is best for me. I know Chase doesn't want me to be so lost. And I know my little man wants me to know that he is okay. But to come to peace with what all of that means is what I am searching for on this journey. So reading the stories of those who have lost babies will continue to give me comfort. I will continue to look to them and their faith and maybe someone will see my struggle as one they are having as well and feel comforted, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Big Brother's Questions

Reese is my sunshine. He can do no wrong right now. His sisters have been off to school, so in their absense, he has been an angel. He gets mom and dad all to himself! Yes, we have to work, our peak is approaching, but in a month, we'll be past it and have lots of free time. In the mean time, Reese goes along for the ride, running errands with mom, short trips with dad, or entertains himself in between all this. He's there to snuggle at bedtime (all of the kids were great snugglers--I'm so lucky). And he jumps in the car with his PJs on to take the girls to school. This last year before he goes to school I will be counting the minutes. Each precious minute that I get to spend with him before he is off to kindergarten and forever changed. My least favorite day ever? The first day of kindergarten--I hate sending them off!

Anyway, Reese talks about Chase, his little Maverick, with smiles and happy thoughts. I have been concerned about each of my kids with this loss. How they are handling it, what they think about, are they comfortable talking about him, how I am treating them in my grief, how they feel...But a four-year-old is harder to read. I don't know how this will affect him the rest of his life. I don't know what he remembers or what he perceives. I know he hears us talk about things, a lot of things, that I know he doesn't always understands. But I don't know what he takes away from all of that.

I have an enlarged photo hanging up of Chase right next to my bed. It's my favorite photo of him. I also have our family picture in the hospital with Chase hanging there and a shadow box with some of Chase's things. I see it and talk to it every night before I go to bed. Since Reese has been sleeping in our bed, he sees it there, too. Sometimes he stops to look at it, sometimes he doesn't. Last night, he crawled up on the bed and when I walked into the room, he had been sitting there looking at it with tears in his eyes. He asked me, "why didn't I get to hold Chase, mom?"

Oh, god. My tears, immediately, welled up. I sat down and talked to him. I pointed to the family picture and showed him, "Baby, you were sleeping. You had a really bad headache, do you remember that?" When we all got to hold Chase right before the tubes were removed, I could not get Reese to wake up. He had felt warm as soon as he got to the NICU with his sisters. He was extremely tired, the room we were sitting in next to Chase's was really warm, and Reese fell asleep. I tried and tried to wake him up to say good-bye to his brother, but it wasn't meant to be. I didn't want to force him to wake up and have him be cranky and really mad. Patric brought him into the room and held him on his lap while I held Chase and the girls knelt beside me so we could get a picture with everybody. But Reese wouldn't wake up. It was one of those ten million things that I didn't know what to do that day. What was I supposed to do? Would someone just tell me, us, what to do? So I didn't wake him up. Patric had taken him in to see Chase before that and said it was okay. He told he me said his good-bye. So that's what we did.

When I told Reese about that moment, he cried. From his gut. He cried like he hadn't ever cried for Chase. He was so sad. I held him and cried with him.

I had made the each of the kids their own hardcover book of photos from snapfish and had yet to present them yet. I didn't know when or how I wanted to do this very special event. But I knew I wanted to do each of them separately. The books are somewhat similar, but have a slightly different storyline pertinent to each sibling and they are authored from Chase's perspective of his siblings. I told Reese I had something very special for him and I would be right back.

Reese absolutely loves books and I hadn't thought about this until he saw me bring the book in. It was instantaneously something very special to him. He loved seeing himself on the book's cover! I went through each picture and read every page as he laughed, cried, reminisced with me and cried some more. We talked about Chase and what he had to look forward to. We talked a lot about mommy going into the hospital that morning to have Chase and how each kid jumped out of bed in their excitement at 6:30 in the morning to await the arrival of their new sibling. We talked about seeing mommy in the hospital and why I looked the way I did (yuck!). He looked at my scar (again) and asked how Chase came out of there. He told me he wanted me to have another baby in my tummy and asked me, "will it die, too, mom?" I told him, no, babies don't normally die, but he doesn't know that. All he knows is Chase died, so babies must die. So we talked about organs and how they work and why Chase was so sick when he got to Albuquerque. We talked about how he felt about me in the hospital and what was going on with me. We talked about the day at G's house while mom and Chase were in the hospital and about the friends that brought him to Albuquerque for us so we could all be together again. I don't know if I did the right things. But if anything, I err on the side of honesty with my kids. I would rather try to explain to them in words they can understand than to take the easy way out and brush over the topic or give fake answers.

We read the book again and snuggled under the covers, each with our "Chase blankeys". I hugged mine real tight, put my arm around my earth angel and fell asleep with my nose on his face. Something I am so thankful that I can do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A friend of mine sent me this poem. I read it and it hit home. Then I googled it and found out that it is actually quite popular. Everyone can relate. Before I lost Chase, I would have read this and thought, "I know that". Having lost him, I read this and say in my mind, "I get it. I feel it. I live it." We all know what we should be doing but it is a completley different matter to actually do it. When you lose something so dear, so precious, your life changes. Your view on life changes. What is really important becomes clearer. Even clearer than we already thought it was. We feel vulnerable. Shy. Scared of the mortality of those we love and we do everything in our being to not let anything happen to them. These are lessons I wish I would have lived my life without.
After a While
by Veronica Shoffstall
After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Four Months

Today we have been without Chase for 4 months. The middle part of each month that passes is a blur--because the events that surrounded Chase's life were a blur. There are several days that very significant things happened and I am not always triggered by what specifically happened on one anniverseray day or another. Instead of just remembering my baby's birthdate, I have the tragic memories of his birth date, the day he died, the memorial date and the day he was buried. Besides all of that, there are the specifics of the surgery that haunt me, the details of the delivery that I regret, and hopefully my doctor does, too, the memory of riding in an ambulance for 3 hours, the heartbreaking moment I first saw Chase in the NICU, those 3 days of his life that I so dearly wish I had back, leaving the hospital without a baby and the tearful return to home empty handed, the funeral and memorial services and picking out everyone's clothes to wear to the church for that very dark day forever etched into my brain. Then the 6 hour road trip to the internment a week later and feeling like we went through everything all over again. So I am hoping that one day, I will remember my son's birth, the days we had with him and smile at the blessing that we were given for such a short time. I will think of his perfect features, his head full of feathery black hair, his 10 fingers and 10 toes and his chubby legs and have joyful thoughts of my son. But for now, my sadness overrules. My memories are of a very, very dark time days in our lives. My tears come, often unannounced, with those memories and what should have been.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Aching Arms

I love my kids. I am so blessed to have them. They are wonderful rays of sunshine in my days of some pretty major downpours. But my arms have been aching. Aching to be holding the plump, bouncy, beautiful baby that I should be holding.

We had a wonderful day Saturday helping Pop with a rock project of his. We filled the truck with rocks, then unloaded them, then relaxed on the deck in the most comfortable chairs, in the most beautiful of weather, entertaining each other with conversation and toys. But something was missing. A grandmother should be holding her youngest grandchild. This would be her excuse for not getting her chores done--she had a baby that needed to be her arms. Something she was so anxiously looking forward to. It's hard to appreciate such blissful relaxation when your arms are aching, physically, from what is not in them.

We went to church this morning and my arms ached then, too. Again, I am so thankful for what I do have. The kids sitting there with me, behaving (by my standards, anyway). But Chase should be in my arms. His brother should be making him smile. My life should be perfect.

Truth is, there are times that I can not imagine what my life would be without this tragedy. I so wish this wouldn't have happened to us, but this feeling, this knowledge of what such enormous grief is, this burden that we carry....I can't imagine living my life not knowing it, now. Again, I so, so, so wish I was. I would give anything to not know this grief. But I have it and I live my life with it every day. I appreciate a beautiful day because of what is not there. I love my family more because of what is missing. I cherish those important relationships more because of one that we will never have. And my arms ache, along with my heart because I am missing Chase.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blending In

Is it possible to be a recluse in a crowd full of people? People that you know? I am not a very good conversationalist anymore. I don't care to talk (read: socialize). And I don't care what most people think. I am so carefree wtih friendships at this point that only those that are true will remain when all the others have fallen through the cracks. Many have become mere acquaintences at this point. And I notice, but I have nothing in me to change it. I just don't care. I'm not one to walk across the room to say hello to someone anymore. I know so many people just plain and simple don't know what to say. People look at me, they might know me, might not, but I'm that mother who lost her baby. I'm have on a pair of ugly shoes worn by only a mother who has lost a child. I'm fragile, I'm sheer. You can look right through me, somedays there's nothing there. I am this deflated balloon. A sailboat with no wind. When I am in a crowd full of people.

My shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.

Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.

Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes.

They are looks of sympathy.

I can tell in other's eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.

They never talk about my shoes.

To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.

To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.

But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.

There are many pairs in this world.

Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.

Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don't hurt quite so much.

Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.

No woman deserves to wear these shoes.

Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.

These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.

They have made me who I am.

I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

i miss you

It doesn't seem right. It never will. This feeling will never go away and I don't know how to live with it. Read: I don't know how to live without you. There are times when I still can't believe you're gone. I have feared that it will some day seem like you never happened, but on the contrary, you seem to come more alive. I never "knew" you were a boy while you were in my tummy, but I look back on those last few weeks when you were kicking me so hard and so often and I knew it was you. You. Chase Allen. With the other three it always took a few days for the name to stick. But yours stuck immediately. As soon as our family vote tallied the name, "Chase" for you, it fit. It was perfect. It was who you were and I so love that name.
I picture you standing on my knees, holding my thumbs tight, your head a little wobbly, smiling big smiles, trying to keep an eye on your siblings rushing by us. The weekly babycenter emails I get help me picture exactly how you are changing. I hate these emails, but I can never delete them without reading about how you are growing and changing first.
I visited a local cemetery Sunday because I wanted to see a baby's grave...I had never seen one in person before. I am trying to pick out a head stone for you even though you are buried too far away for me to come see it very often. Oddly enough, of the handful of graves I did find, one of them was another little Chase. I thought of you and I cried. I cried when I saw all the little toys that were left on the baby's graves. I cried because I, too, will do that for you. Some day.
My church has a prayer garden and a plate with your name has been added on the wall. I am so honored to see it there, but it hurts. I am grateful for all these connections because it is all I have. I don't have you but I have referrences to you. Reminders. Some of them are comforting, but many are still so disturbing...

I miss you so, so much sweet Chase. Always have and always will.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One step forward, 2 (more like 10) steps back

I wrote that post last night about whether or not to homeschool and a harsh reality came to me making today a really rough day. This reality is so harsh that I feel like I've lost Chase all over again, very fresh, very raw. In thinking about the girls going to school, I realized I have one year left with Reese before he's off. Well, I knew that, but what I realized was that I have one year left of kids at home. Chase was going to be a year and a half before Reese went to kindergarten. They were going to have that long at home together to play, to bond as brothers. The year before Karly went to kindergarten, she became very close with Reese. She took care of him, played with him, dressed him up in princess clothes and balerina tutus. They bonded a great deal and it was time we'll never get back. Realizing that is gone, feels like losing him all over again. It hurts. It makes me mad. I feel nauseous, sick to my stomach, that that was taken away from me, taken away from Reese, and Chase will never be here to live and grow with his big brother. I have a very heavy heart when I think about this--I'm on the "verge". Thanks to my husband, for being there to catch me when I fall. And to hold me up and keep me going. Thanks for letting me cry it out. And thanks for helping, not making, but helping me to get through this. Talking positive to me, showing me love, giving me your shoulder, and just being here. Telling me about your fears, your anger, your sadness so that I know I am not the only one feeling this pain, or that I am not "all better" yet. I don't know what I would do without you.
This realization has made me question whether or not another baby is in the mix even. Moving on, sending Reese to school and no more babies or toddlers running around the house. But I know I'm not ready for that to be over. I do know that my dreams and hopes of having them home together before one goes off to school are shattered. That will never happen. I will always be thinking of Chase, what we missed out on, what he missed out on, and it will always crush me, til my dying day. My hopes and dreams are forever changed. I dream of having a little baby in my arms, for sure, but now we'll have to wait til everyone comes home from school to be a family.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What to do....what not to do....

As school nears, we have been faced with a dilema I was not looking forward to facing. I think I knew we would be making this decision all over again, but I just thought it would be under completely different circumstances. Homeschool or public school? We have been talking about it for about 2-3 weeks now with the girls, here and there, getting a feel for what they are thinking and what they want for this school year. Karly has always been more open to going back to school, but does not want to go if Emma isn't. And Emma just flat out has not even considered going back. There are so many reasons to homeschool and there so many reasons to go to public's a very hard decision and one we do not take lightly by any means. The top 2 reasons that we homeschool are 1) because we can and 2) the kids grow up so fast that we want to be able to spend time wtih them when we can before it's too late. Thus, I have been beating myself up about this for the last 2 weeks worrying about the decisions to make and how it will affect each one of us. It's so frustrating because this was such a very hard decision for me (us) last year and I went through so much fretting trying to make the right one when I finally realized that I will never know if I made the right decision and I will always, ALWAYS, question if I did the right thing, no matter what. But it was finally time to just be happy with whatever decision we made and make the best of it. And that's what we did. Now I feel like I am back at square one and starting all over with it....what to do?

Since losing Chase, there have been so many things I can not explain. I am truly lost right now. Utterly confused, and truly lost. But when I look back on last school year, I thank God that the girls were home with me. They were a very big part of my pregnancy seeing me grow every day, feeling the baby move, dealing with my mood swings and fatigue, watching me stand up to teach, then sit back down on those little tiny kid chairs during class...and then resort to just teaching class from the 18" tall chair the whole day. But they witnessed something that is precious to me...and to them. The were definitely a part of the pregnancy and new the baby in a way they never would have if they would have been at school all day. I am truly grateful for that and don't know how things worked out that way, but they did. I am also grateful for not having to send them back to school for 4 more weeks after they lost their baby brother right before their own eyes. I could not have done that to them. We needed each other then more than anything and we were able to give that to each other. We finished our curriculum when we were ready to go back to it and we made it happen. For that I am lucky. I also needed the kids with me last year. Again, I can't explain it, but I needed them to be home with me in a way that it was almost overbearing. Physically, psychologically, emotionally. The threats to send them to school when they misbehaved were always empty because in no way could I have really done that.

This year, I am willing to homeschool, if that's the best decision for us, but I also want them to get the best experience with education (and life) possible. I told Emma she can always come back home and I'll homeschool her, that will never change. But school changes every year and she will never get a chance to do this year again in her life. Again, there are several reasons our family likes homeschooling and several more reasons that Emma likes homeschooling, but even though I know there will be times when she is afraid to try something, I don't want that to stop her from trying it. I want her to face it and go after it and feel the accomlishment of overcoming any fears she may have about school.

I don't know what is the right answer. I will never claim that I do. But I do know that I try with all my might to do what is best for my kids. I don't think what is right and what is best are always the same thing because like I said, we don't always know what is right. But we know our kids, we know our family and by all means, we do know what is best. Things change and feelings change and who knows if we will be doing public school at the end of the year, but we are going to give it another shot. The girls are excited. Dad is excited. Reese is excited. And mom thinks she is excited, not 100% sure yet. I just want everybody to be happy, not sad--we have enough of that around here. I'm happy I get to spend time alone with Reese. I'll get to spend more time with Patric, maybe I'll get to go on a few lunch dates again! I'll miss the girls but as long as they are having fun, I'm happy for all of us. I wish I had Chase here to demand as much time as he would have while I was juggling time with the rest of the family, housework, job and all. This place and my life, I'm sure, would have been a tornado, but I would have loved it. For now, though, we can move on with the school decision. There is shopping to be done, supplies to buy, clothes to buy, curriculum books to sell on ebay, the list goes on....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Secret Garden Meeting

This is a writing exercise from The Secret Garden that I decided to participate in. The author of this blog has also experienced the loss of a child and has created a few blogs in an effort to provide a place for other grieving parents to find support in the journey we all are traveling.
How do you see or imagine your baby now that you do not have them with you?
It really helped to read this entry for other moms because I feel like I have tried to imagine Chase as an angel in heaven. But because I really don't know for sure what my perception of heaven is, it is hard for me to accept Chase as an angel. Thanks to Carly, I can see him playing on Christian's beach one day with all their friends. But now, he is ony 3 months old and to me, he looks like a 3-month-old version of when he was born. Sometimes I sleep with my favorite photo of him and this is the image etched in my mind. I think of him being with us all the the car, on the floor in the midst of his brother and sisters, in the crib, in our arms. There is not a moment in the day that he is not on my mind.

How did the loss of your pregnancy affect your choices/decisions about the birth of you subsequent pregnancy?
Again, after reading all kinds of material I have learned that I am not alone in wishing so bad I had a baby in my arms. I do want another baby, very, very badly. I also know, however, that I do not know for sure that we will have another baby. I think eventually we will try. But we went through a lot to get pregnant with Chase and only after those experiences did I feel so lucky to even be pregnant. I took it for granted--just like I took labor for granted. I don't trust the medical field like I used to. I doubt doctors like never before. I fear the rare diseases and abnormalities that happen during pregnancies. I was never one to love being pregnant so I was so looking forward to Chase being our last baby. At first I was scared about "starting over" with diapers and baby food and all that responsibility that a baby and toddler requires. However, our family was going to be complete and we were going to be ready to raise this last baby and move on in our "parenting lives". But now I feel completely different. I know that as much as I wanted all that I need it more than ever. I will feel incomplete as a mother if I do not get to have another baby. That scares me because, like I said, I don't know if we will have anymore kids. Unfortunately, that is something I don't have total control over. But I will want to try, I do know for sure. By saying I feel incomplete as a mother does not in any sense of the word mean that I am unhappy. Or unfulfilled. I am very happy and am a very, very rich person because of this life that I have. My husband and my kids make me feel very special, very loved, very fulfilled. Not having Chase with us will always make me feel like we are missing out on something, that something is left out, that a piece of us is left behind. That part I will live with the rest of my life, I know. But the motherly instincts that were ready to kick in feel like they are all revved up and now have no where to go. I had so much love and attention that I was ready to devote to this new child and I didn't get to put it into action. I know my other kids have gotten a lot of it, but I needed to take care of a newborn to feel complete. And I know the kids feel this way, too, in some sense. They were so ready to welcome a new little sibling and help me take care of him/her that I feel like they were robbed just as we were. Karly was so very hungry for a new baby in her life that my heart breaks over and over again for her. I see the smile, the shear happiness on her face while she held her baby brother in the hospital just moments before he took his last breaths. She loves babies and rarely fails to notice a baby in the proximity, or the baby department in any store. I want this for our whole family, but again, it scares me. I think I am going to leave it up to "if it was meant to be, it was meant to be."