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Archive for the ‘Zoë and Lennox’ Category

Team On The Road is hitting the pavement again in the March of Dime’s March for Babies. This year we’ll be walking in late April, which is nice because last year we had to start the walk in 40-degree weather!

Even nicer, this year, Olivia Moonpie’s Momom and Papa will be flying out to join us for the walk! Yay!

We’ve set a pretty hefty goal for our little team. If you’d like to help us out, please click through to our team page and make a donation. As always, we are walking in memory of Lennox and Zoë and in honor of Olivia Moonpie. We also walk to honor the memory of the babies of our online friends who should be here, but aren’t. The March of Dimes has become a cause very near and dear to my heart and I truly hope that through our fund raising efforts they find more ways to make sure no one else ever has to go through what we did. Every dollar counts so please, if you can, make a donation today! We also welcome other walkers to our team. If you’d like to join Team on the Road and walk in your local March for Babies, let me know and I’ll help you get it set up and make you a t-shirt!

Silly Face

This silly face was made possible, in no small part, by the work of the March of Dimes. What more do I need to say?

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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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Third birthday

Lennox and Zoë would be turning three today.

We’ve moved beyond the point where I can picture them; what they would look like; how they would act; who they would be. By now, they would be such little people and there is no telling what shape they would have taken.

For the first time in three years today isn’t brutally painful. There’s the sadness to be sure, but today when I woke up I saw Shannon sitting on the sofa with our little Olivia Moonpie snuggled down against the crook of his neck just like I have every morning since September. Right this minute, I’m watching her lie on the floor, half-asleep, thumb in her mouth, trying to decide whether to roll on to her tummy or not. She’s made me laugh more times today than I can count as she performs her latest tricks of sticking out her tongue and blowing raspberries.

I wasn’t sure at first but now I am…this little girl has healed a world of hurt. We can look at today as a celebration of Zoë and Lennox, of those brief days of happiness and total love in spite of all the fear and work on letting go of the sadness and the anger and the pain. Olivia Moonpie will know she has a big brother and sister who aren’t here any more. She’ll know their names and we will answer her questions about them as best we can as they come. She may not understand why for many years, but there will be a quiet birthday party every January 3 so we can remember. We’ll make our donations to The March of Dimes in their names and we’ll have cupcakes. Hopefully in a year or two, we’ll have their trees planted and we can spend the day getting their garden ready for spring.

Time is moving on. Rough edges are slowly smoothing out. We love you, Lennox and Zoë. We think of you every day. You are part of every snuggle, every giggle, every kiss and hug. Happy birthday, sweet babies.

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Goodness. The days fly by don’t they? I wake up in the morning with every intention of returning to my lonely little blog (is anyone still out there? ) and before I’ve had time to think, I’m crashing into bed barely able to string enough words together to make a coherent sentence.

Olivia Moonpie is 11 weeks adjusted today. On Tuesday, she’ll be 22 weeks actual age. Five and a half months old. People who knew her when look at her now in amazement. The baby who could fit in the palm of your hand is now 12 pounds of chubby cheeks and thighs. The preemie who spoke in growls and squawks now giggles and babbles and make the most endearing “HUUUU” noise. She smiles so big her eyes crinkle up. At this very moment, she’s sitting in her bouncy seat telling her toy bug a very long, detailed and humorous story as she smacks said bug around. She holds her head up to look over our shoulders, she stands on her own two feet for as long as you’ll help her balance. I expect her to roll over any day now and if she could, I have no doubt that she’d take off running. She’s willful and opinionated. She has a tooth coming in.

We made the decision to not push nursing on her. I went in with her to the lactaction consultant recently and learned that her latch was too shallow. I could try to retrain her to open her mouth wider, but after lots of soul-searching and a couple of feedings that dissolved into tears and screaming, it simply made more sense to accept that almost four months of bottle feeding and two months of latching incorrectly (although we’d been told she had an excellent latch at earlier visits to the LC) has created a bottle fed baby. I still pump and provide everything she eats, so my goal of a breastfed baby is still being met and now, we have nursing sessions during the day that are as much about comfort and snuggling as they are about eating. When she’s hungry, she gets a bottle. I was sad at losing out on an experience that would have been a given had things gone “normally”. I’d dreamt of putting my child to my breast to feed her and it is yet another instance of feeling cheated out of something. However, I am working on readjusting my perspective. Instead of feeling cheated because I can’t nurse her, I have the freedom bottle-feeding provides while still having the ability to enjoy the closeness of nursing when it suits us both.

This funny, smart, goofy little monkey has completely altered our lives. The grief that lay over our days like a fog has faded. There are still so many times I find myself thinking about the “what ifs” or wondering how different things would be with Lennox and Zoë running around. Oddly enough, if they were here, Olivia Moonpie probably wouldn’t be. But, as I hold her and feel her snuggle her fuzzy head deeper into the crook of my neck, I find I can think of them with all the love I hold in my heart for them and miss them without feeling ripped to shreds. I tell Olivia Moonpie about them often. She wore the pajamas I’d bought for the twins to wear home from the hospital. She snuggles in blankets made for them. Their car seats keep her safe. I miss them terribly, but part of them live in their little sister and I find that my grief has lost it’s razor sharp edge. Yes, I am sad that this morning I didn’t have two squirmy almost three year olds in my bed, but I DID have a snuffly, snuggly Moonpie there.

I am having a difficult time accepting that there will be no more Moonpies for us. After the Great Ordeal, I’ve been informed that future pregnancies would be very very bad and extremely irresponsible. My body does not take to pregnancy well. My body does not take to abdominal surgery well. We still have a large number of high quality frozen embryos, but unless we decide to find a gestation surrogate, Miss Moonpie will be my only child. This is hard for me to wrap my brain around. I had hoped to have two children. I really wanted Olivia Moonpie to have a sibling who was close in age. I know first hand what it’s like to grow up with half-siblings who are significantly older. It takes a very long time before the relationship reaches a point where the decade or more age difference stops interfering.

I’m trying to figure out how to order my life so I can stop feeling like I’m caught in a game of The Sims and all my needs meters are in the red. I’ve never been the most organized person around. Oh, I always have good intentions and start out trying to be orderly. And I DID manage to survive having the house on the market for an entire year. But, as soon as it was off the market, I was right back to my old habits. I cannot seem to actually put away a basket of clean clothes to save my life. I need to change this. Billions of other mothers manage to maintain their lives while caring for a small, needy sack of cute potatoes and so can I. I just need to figure out how they do it. And I need to learn not to rely so heavily on the fact that Shannon works from home. I can’t count on that always being the case and it isn’t fair to him now. So, my early New Years resolution is to figure out this whole stay at home mom thing. One day at a time.

Fifteen years ago, I would have told you I didn’t see having kids in my future. Now, I don’t know how I lived without her. I survived the NICU. I stumbled through bringing her home and learning to care for her without the safety net of nurses and monitors. She thrives. She smiles. She lights up when she sees either one of us. I guess we’re doing something right after all. So, if things are a little quieter around here, don’t worry. We have our ups and downs, and there are days when none of us manage to get out of our pajamas and days when it seems like someone (usually me) is doing nothing but crying and also days when the bliss takes over and there’s nothing for it but to sit and sniff her head. And, I think, maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to find our path again. We’ve made it through the darkest of woods and the longest, scariest of nights and the shining light that brought us out safely is a little Moonpie.

Lennox and Zoë would approve, I think.

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Yesterday, I went to the NICU for Olivia Moonpie’s noon feeding. I’ve been working with her on breast feeding every day at lunch. She hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet, but we’re close.

I like being there at noon. It seems to be one of the quieter times in the NICU. I like having the option to sit and chat with the nurses while they chart or just be quiet with the Moonpie. All the babies are usually calm because one way or another, they are getting full tummies. Most parents come before or after work. It’s just one of those times when it seems less like an intensive care unit and more like a nursery.

I was holding Miss Olivia Moonpie while she got her gavage feeding after a very unsuccessful attempt to nurse. Note: A diaper change that requires five diapers will wear a preemie out to the point that no amount of being hungry will make them suck on a breast. She was sleepy and full, I was happy holding her.

Then the nurse told me about what their afternoon held. It would seem that earlier this week, a 24-week preemie was born there and briefly admitted to their NICU until he could be air-lifted to the nearest level four NICU (that would be the one that Lennox and Zoë were born in). His mother remained at our current hospital. Unfortunately, the little one was not strong enough and was not going to make it. He was being kept on life support so he could be brought back to his mother to say goodbye.

I hugged Olivia Moonpie, kissed her head, dressed her back in her warm pajamas and tucked her in bed. As I walked out to my car, I passed by the ambulance from the children’s hospital.

Since then, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that mother. I remember holding Lennox after they stopped trying to treat his last pneumothorax. They gave him morphine for his pain, unhooked all of his monitors and iv tubes and respirator and brought him to us to hold. He was a day younger than the little boy who died yesterday. There are so many things I’d like to tell that mother. She needs to know that it’s ok to scream and cry and just be miserable. She needs to know that the awful, horrible thoughts she has sometimes are ok, too. She should know that the nightmares may come, but that eventually they stop coming as often. I wish she could know how sorry I am and how much I wish she didn’t have to find her way through this deep, dark forest. I wish I could just sit in a dim room and hold her hand and let her know she isn’t alone. If I thought it would help, if I thought she would welcome it, I’d put Olivia in her arms and say, “It isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. It isn’t fair. But, it can and will get better over time. Believe me, I know.”

I have thought about asking the nurse to give her my card and tell her my story. I’d like her to know there is someone who has been there and who won’t judge anything she thinks, feels, or says because I’ve already done all of that. It’s like the “Each one, teach one” approach to grief.

These weeks in the NICU with Olivia Moonpie have been hard. Even though it is a different hospital and a different situation, we are surrounded by memory triggers. From the smell of the alcohol gel, to the sound of a CPAP, to the chime of a bed temperature alarm, to the hypnotic wave forms on the monitor that you watch obsessively and will to stay where they are supposed to. The little things overwhelm me. Watching her drink from a bottle can dredge up all of the thoughts of things that Lennox and Zoë never got to do. I smell Olivia Moonpie’s head and she smells like baby…milk and Desitin and Johnson’s baby shampoo. Lennox smelled of iodine and blood. Zoë … I don’t remember what she smelled like.

You struggle with the grief over what should have been and then realize if it HAD been, you wouldn’t have THIS. And you wish, just this once, that you could have had it all.

Mama, I don’t know your name. I won’t see you sitting by a bed in the NICU. I did see your lovely son being brought in, minutes after he was born. I just want you to know, whoever you are, that I remember with you.

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Two years

Today is your second birthday. I can’t even imagine what you would look like, what you would be doing.

I still think of you both every single day.

There is still such a huge empty space that should be filled with the two of you.

I miss you very very much, my brave Lennox and my sweet Zoë.

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Oh

I was wondering why I had such a spike in traffic today. I’m on the Lost and Found. You’re probably wondering why the hell I’m woodleling around, blogging about produce and members of the family Leporidae with a Date-with-a-capital-D looming.

I’ll be honest. In a rather surprising display of well-adjustedness, while I have not forgotten that April 23 was supposed to be Lennox and Zoë’s due date (and then later, probably close to the date they would have come home from the NICU) that date has failed to hold a tremendous amount of significance for me one year on. After all, they have their shared birthday and then they each have their own days. The reality dates have overpowered the hypothetical. It is a small blessing. December and January have become a string of painful dates for us, so I feel like I’ve earned a relatively uncomplicated spring. I would venture to say that rarely an hour goes by that I don’t actively think of them. I’ve just managed to let go of one instance of what should have been and happily, I’m able to enjoy the site of fresh vegetables and the discovery of wildlife in my suburban backyard.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the warm thoughts and the remembrances. Those are always appreciated. I’ve said it before, so pardon the repetition: It brings us a great measure of peace knowing that others hold Zoë and Lennox in their hearts and memories.

My newest daily mantra has become “Moving on does not mean forgetting.”

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