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Archive for the ‘a life altered’ Category

Happy Birthday To You

Time flies. Six whole years.

We are happier than we could ever have imagined, but oh how we miss you both.

We will blow out your birthday candles on cupcakes tonight, wishing you could do it for yourselves.

We will hope that tonight isn’t the night we have to figure out how to explain to Miss Moonpie why we celebrate a birthday today.

Happy sixth birthday, Lennox Maximilian and Zoë Harper. We love you so very much and carry you with us.

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Please join us

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”
― Frank Herbert

It is time, isn’t it. It feels right. Sad, but right. This space has served it’s purpose. Now it can be like my copy of

    Jane Eyre

sitting on the shelf, held together with a rubber band, the hardcover spine long-gone, more pages dog-eared than not but always there if I need to pull it off and devour it all over again. Infertility is still a part of our lives, but since I’ve been told that getting pregnant would be a VERY bad idea and, while we still have tot-sicles it is unlikely we will have the financial or emotional means to tackle a gestational surrogacy, infertility has become a footnote to my health. The Twins will always be with us. I will ALWAYS be in mourning and I still think of them every single day, but I’m not so much lost in the Woods and I am just wandering across a neverending plain. I can see others in the distance and sometimes even run into someone to talk to and I can feel the sun on my face and there is a nice breeze and even a few flowers. It isn’t so scary and dark and deep. No one ever wrote a horror story about being lost on a plain. I can live here. So it’s time to let this space become a fixed point and a reference instead of a living document.

We have a new adventure now. S and I have been given this amazing opportunity to shepherd Olivia Moonpie through life and it is QUITE an experience! And, it is a responsibility we take very seriously. We have documented the past three years with thousands of photos and videos and voice recordings because the smartphone is always close at hand and sometimes, that’s all the brain power and energy we have. I’m ready, now, to start documenting and remembering and recording a little differently. I’ve missed the words.

Thank you for being a part of this endeavor. When I started this blog so many years ago, I had no idea where it would take me and I never imagined that so many of you would be a part of it. I wish it hadn’t fallen victim to my inability to do anything extra-curricular the past three years, but if I have learned one single lesson over the past seven years, it is that life is what it is and you can sit and bitch about it or accept it, deal with it, and move on. Spilled milk, y’know? Those of you who are still reading here, and those of you who used to and may someday check back and find this like a message in a bottle on the beach…thank you. You kept us going through some very dark days. We don’t forget.

So, please, join us at A Good Mother and help us as we guide Olivia Moonpie through the next few years and hopefully teaching her to be a compassionate, funny, curious, self-assured humanist in a world that doesn’t always seem to value those characteristics. A good mother…it isn’t what I claim to be, it’s what I’m trying to become.

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Sitting here, enjoying the peace and quiet of nap time, listening to the breeze in the trees and spending a little time playing online.  You let your guard down.

You see an article about yet another mother learning her child’s image has been taken and used in an internet hoax, used to provide some poor, sick individual with the attention they crave at the expense of another.  And you think of the photos posted to another blog, in another life and you worry.  So, you suck it up and you load the page for the first time in years and you see the photos of her and she is so tiny and so far away.  And as soon as you reassure yourself that her life hasn’t been taken for someone else’s purposes, you sink below the waves as they crash over you, knocking you off your feet.  Taking your breath away.

Because there should be two others here, having to be reminded to play quietly while their sister naps.  Helping get dinner ready before Daddy comes home. Filling this space that is always. going. to. be. empty.

 

Five years is nothing.  It still feels like yesterday.

 

Moonpie turns three this weekend.  She is the best and most wonderful thing to ever happen in my world.  I wish watching her hit this momentous milestone, taking this final step out of baby-ness didn’t bring so much baggage with it.  I hug her longer than she would like sometimes.  I fight against my desire to wrap her in bubble wrap to keep her safe from every sharp corner, every bump and bruise.  She will have to suffer with a baby monitor in her room probably until close to the point of indecency.  She will struggle under and I will struggle against my desire to over protect because this grief?  This awful sneaking thief that catches me unaware so many times?  It taught me that you absolutely never  know.  That all that is beautiful can go to shit the second you look away and nothing and no one will be able to stop it and all you can do is Be Here Now.  This moment.  That’s it.  That’s all you can be absolutely sure of.  Treasure it, suck every drop out of it…even the moments when you are so tired and angry and wish you could be anywhere/anyone else…because the sweep of the second hand can change everything and five years down the road it catches you unaware.

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I had to count to figure that out. I no longer carry this running tabulation of how long it’s been, just like I no longer carry a running count of how many weeks adjusted and chronological Olivia Moonpie is.

Where am I?

I remember when Glow in the Woods started up and the metaphor just clicked with me. I was so lost in this big, dark, scary woods and I had no idea which direction was the right one. I just kept putting one foot in front of another hoping and trusting that there had to be an end somewhere. It was perfect. I’ve been lost in woods before, literally. I have crawled on my hands and knees through a tangle of wild rhododendron so thick I couldn’t stand up and I couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead. The branches grabbed at my hair and my clothes, the roots tangled up my boots and hurt the palms of my hands. I had to just keep going, hoping it thinned out sooner rather than later. And that is exactly how my grief felt. It snagged and pulled and scratched. It was a million little papercuts that left me feeling thin and fragile and ready to shatter. There would be moments when I’d think I’d reached a clearing only to find myself plunged back into it by the most inane things.

One step at a time. Keep yourself busy. Go through the motions of life, whether you want to or not, whether you really feel it or not. Then one day you wake up and realize you are just living again.

Writing helped. Saying their names helped. It wasn’t easy. Just weeks after Zoë died, I had to call the IRS to figure out how to handle them on our taxes. That poor woman who had no idea what she was in for when she took that call from the queue sat with me until I could talk and waited until I could breathe again. Their names, Lennox and Zoë, caught in my throat more times than I can remember. Having to explain to various medical people how many times I’d been pregnant, how many children I had. “No, they were born alive. Lennox lived almost three days. Zoë lived three weeks.” I said that over and over. I know it was always more information than they needed, but I needed to say it, needed to have their short lives detailed, needed to let the world know that they were HERE. And like stones in a river, the sharp points are slowly wearing away. I find that I can talk about them, at least briefly without hearing that….thickness in my voice. You know what I mean, that sound that means the tears aren’t far behind.

It still gets me. Even now, I’m typing more by touch than sight because the tears have steamed up my glasses too much for me to see the screen or the keyboard. Olivia Moonpie turned one this week. She’s standing up and starting to cruise. She has gone from belly crawling to crawling on her hands and knees. She says, “Mama.” She feeds herself little bits of food. She will offer to share her puffs or her teething ring with you. I watch her and wonder what it would have been like with the twins. I wouldn’t have my Moonpie. Or maybe in a more perfect world, Moonpie would be trying hard to keep up with two three year old siblings and the house would be so full of noise and fun. I wonder all the time.

Olivia Moonpie was my lamp post in the snowy woods. She was the spraypainted blaze on the tree, marking the trail. She is a giggly, wiggly, drooly, silly, spinning YOU ARE HERE dot on the map. I try not to hold her tighter than she wants me too. I try not to get too many tears on her just barely not bald head when I rock her to sleep. She has done more to heal my heart than she will ever understand. The scars haven’t faded. They are still angry and red. They may never fade but, before Olivia Moonpie got here, the scars hadn’t formed and everything was raw and open.

Zoë and Lennox taught us to take as much pleasure in the small moments as we possibly can because they are so fleeting. We learned that NOW is what matters, far more than what might be ahead or what just passed. The laundry will wait ten minutes while we watch Miss Moonpie bounce like a bronco rider in her jumperoo. A cold dinner is a perfectly acceptable trade-off for a tickle-fest on the floor. Tomorrow, next month, next year there will be something else taking the place of right now, but right now she IS and we are blessed beyond belief to be witness to it and part of it.

That is right where I am. It isn’t where I ever thought I’d be and it may not be exactly how I wanted it. It just is. I’m not brave. I’m not strong. I’m not perfect. I just never gave up on the belief that I couldn’t possibly be lost in those woods forever. The trees have thinned out some. The thorns aren’t as dense or as sharp. I can see bits of sky now. There are still rocks to trip me up and sometimes the climb is steeper than I’m used to, but I’m getting there.

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The Right Where I Am Project can be found at Still Life With Circles. It’s a fantastic project with some amazing posts by parents in all different stages of grief. Bring your kleenex (and sorry I left out the link originally!)
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In case you can’t tell from the few pics below, we had a great time. I have a bunch more photos to share, I just need five minutes to get them off the camera.

The day started off cold…it was 43 degrees when we woke up!! But, the sun shone brightly and between the walking and the sunshine we were perfectly happy.

So, maybe I’m strange…. I decorated Olivia Moonpie’s stroller. It never would have occurred to me not to. She had purple and silver pinwheels on the front, purple and silver pompoms on the handles and a hot pink and white polka-dot ribbon with little dangly things along the edge of the canopy. I actually wanted to do more, but ran out of time. I expected to see tons of fancy strollers and wagons when we got there. Instead, we appeared to be the only one. Now, there were thousands of people there so I may have missed them, but you’d think I’d see at least one!

It was a bizarre juxtaposition of emotions at the walk. It has a definite festival feel to it, but then you start to read the backs of the t-shirts. There are tributes to babies born too soon, too tiny, too sick. There are the celebrations too: The little girl wearing the “Team Leader” t-shirt whose daddy carried her on his shoulders the entire 3.5 miles, followed by about a dozen family members in shirts with her stats on the back. Our own Olivia Moonpie who napped for close to 2 miles and either rode happily in her stroller or in her daddy’s arms. Reminders either way of why we were there, proof that the donations DO make a difference and proof that there is still a VERY long way to go.

We wore the same t-shirts that Mel and Josh wore when they walked for us in 2008, which just felt right. Olivia Moonpie had her very own team shirt, the first of many. I’m in the process of making shirts for Miss M’s Momom, Aunt Shelia and Cousin Hayley to wear when they do the second half of Team On The Road’s March for Babies in Franklin, Virginia next month. If you didn’t get a chance to donate or help out for the first half, you can still pitch in and support Team On The Road part II using the link in the sidebar.

I can’t wait for next year!

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So, I corrected the links to our fundraising page in the post below. I’ve had some choice words about how the backend pages are set up for the team managers these past couple of days. I had to really dig to find the URL that I was supposed to give to other people. Anyway, I apologize to all of you who may have clicked through and were confused when it asked you to log in. If you have any other problems, let me know so I can get them worked out.

This is the correct url to access Team On The Road’s fundraising page. http://www.marchforbabies.org/OurOwnCreation Please pass it on to others or click and donate any amount. Believe me, if everyone donated just $1 after reading this, we’d just about hit our goal.

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Shannon, Olivia Moonpie, and I are walking in the Fort Worth March of Dimes’ March for Babies on April 19th. As I said in my last post, we have resurrected Team On The Road to remember Lennox and Zoe while we celebrate Olivia Moonpie.

Every year, Tash from Awful But Functioning carries names of babies with her to a remembrance ceremony. She writes them on a list and puts it in her pocket as she goes to remember Maddalena. It’s that simple act of another person writing the name of the child no one got to know that helps keep them here. I’d like to do something similar when we walk this April. I’d like to carry two lists with us, because we are walking for two groups – those babies who aren’t here but should have been and those babies who are here despite everything they went through. Remembrance and Celebration. If you would like your child/children’s name to go on the March with us, email me at ourowncreation@gmail.com. It would be my honor to have them walk with us. I’d like to have a list of the names of those who “join” us here on the blog, so please let me know in your email if you would prefer not to be on that list. And, I’m ok with nicknames or real names. It’s about honoring the babies, not making you uncomfortable.

Now, Team On The Road is trying to raise $1000. That seems like a huge goal to me, but I decided to think BIG with this. It does mean that I need your help. There are a variety of ways you can help Team On The Road out. I’ve listed some groups below, each one with a different way to help us out. The nice thing is, you can join as many as you like!

Red Group: Be our cheerleaders! Use the comment section to show your support for Team On The Road.

Orange Group: Donate. I mean, it is a fundraiser after all. If everyone who reads this blog every day donated a couple of dollars, we’d exceed our goal! There’s a reason they called it the March of Dimes…every little bit adds up and means so very much.

Yellow Group:Write a post on your blog (or tweet/post it at your church/update your facebook status/tell your mommies’ group/you’ve got the idea) about Team On The Road with a link to either this post or to our fund raising page at http://www.marchforbabies.org/OurOwnCreation.

Green Group: Put a badge on your blog’s sidebar. I’ve put a couple here. Let me know if you need help with them.

Blue Group: Join Team On The Road and walk with us. If you are in Fort Worth and want to walk with us in April, we’d love to have the company. I assume you can join Team On The Road and walk in your local March for Babies, too.

Purple Group: Send out an email about Team On The Road to friends/family/coworkers with a link to this post or our fundraising page at http://www.marchforbabies.org/OurOwnCreation.

Rainbow Group: Multi-colored! Do any combination of the above. Seriously, I’ve personally benefitted from the amazing power of the internet in the past (I still haven’t forgotten how everyone came together to help me out). I know we can do this!

So, to recap: Join a group and help Team On The Road (and feel free to post in the comments what part of the rainbow you are. You deserve some recognition for helping out) and send me names of babies to join us as we walk, honor, and remember.

And, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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