May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Friday...Again

Fridays will probably never be the same for me again.
Today, Friday, is seven weeks since I held Eli, since I inhaled his scent, since I watched him die. I don't need a calendar to measure, just like throughout the pregnancy I measured my weeks by Saturday I now measure my time without Eli by Fridays. This week has been hard emotionally. I received some news relating to Wyatt and Eli which I haven't quite figured out how to process and regurgitate so I'm holding onto it for now. It's the kind of news which eats away at your insides but the fear of sharing it is more powerful at the moment.

Because it's Friday and Eli is so in my heart, this is a picture of miniature daffodils (daffodils are Eli's birth flower) from our garden today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Driving through Potholes

Winter has been long and harsh the last few years, this year being no exception. We had white snow covered ground just last week and may see snow again this weekend! The extended periods of snow are very damaging to our streets so the first things we see when the snow melts are not tulips, crocuses or daffodils, they are potholes. Big, small and in between.

While driving yesterday I was reminded how life can imitate a street full of potholes. I'm guessing few people have the kind of lives that are smooth and bump free like a newly paved interstate. Most of us drive along on older roads paved long ago that are bumpy and cracked and full of potholes. Some of those potholes we can see as we drive along and we're able to swerve around them, completely avoiding any damage. Others are either hidden or we are so distracted that we do not notice them until our wheel dips down and our car angrily complains. I hit the latter type this morning. I was awake when my husband got up to get ready for work this morning at 5:30. Normally I am asleep for about another hour but today I laid alone in the dark and it hit me hard that I should be sitting in our rocking chair watching the morning news nursing Eli like I did so many mornings two years ago with our youngest. Those early morning moments were so precious to me, just me and her and a random newscaster alone in the dark snuggling. I did not see that one coming. It appears to have messed up my car's alignment for the day, hopefully I can get back on track. Potholes . . . can I get someone to pave some of these holes, please?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

And I Ran

Part of my six week checkup was hearing the words I have been waiting to hear for about six months - that I could run again. I stopped the day we received Eli's Potter's diagnosis. I had only been lightly jogging during my pregnancy to that point and it was devastating to think that I had been jostling Eli in my belly without fluid. I have missed it each day since. Funny since I used to tell people that the only time I would run is from a fire! Now I run. I run to stay fit, I run for endorphins, I run to think. It makes me feel good inside and out, strong and in control. I think the feeling of putting one foot in front of the other and repeating. A simple instruction for living each day - put one foot in front of the other and repeat.

A Big Thank You!

This post is a thank you to Rachel at A Lasting Footprint blog for the Versatile Blogger award! It brought a smile to my face so I am hopefully repaying the kindness appropriately.

Here are seven unshared things about me:

1. I attended a mass with Pope John Paul II as a teenager

2. While I am now a nature lover, as a child I told my parents that I would have a cement lawn which I would spray paint green like grass

3. I am an organizing nut, my label maker is a close friend

4. I have a three degrees obtained through attending four different schools, an associate of arts, bachelor of arts and graduate doctorate

5. I have climbed every stair in the Eiffel Tower, only to the second level, but still!

6. A fact that is most impressive because I am afraid of heights, this includes ladders

7. I broke my left arm rollerblading when I was twenty-one.

I am supposed to award other bloggers however I have to admit that I write much more than I read and I see many that I do read are already on the award list so I hope it is okay to not pass any on...I am so appreciative to be recognized.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Better Late Than Never

Since Eli's birth we have been asked where his name came from or whether it has any special meaning. We don't know and yes, in a way. Eli's name was fated, it was written long before his birth, before we knew he was a he. My husband and I both chose names and did not share those names until well into the pregnancy. The boy name which we had chosen was the same, Eli. It was perfect. So perfect that we literally stayed up into the night before Eli's birth to finalize what our girl's name would be if we had a girl.

Oddly enough, during Eli's pregnancy, no one in our family asked what the baby's name would be until just two days before his birth. Seriously. It never even occurred to me until I was finally asked. Most of our family had no idea what Eli's name was until we came out of the operating room which was after he had already passed. A life lived before it even had a name.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Six Weeks

Yesterday was six weeks. Six weeks since I held my son, six weeks since I kissed his little cheeks goodbye. Appropriately it was also my six week checkup. The visit where I should have taken my little boy to show off to all the nurses and my doctor. Instead we talked about how much harder it is to lose baby weight without breastfeeding. We talked about autopsy reports and chromosomal analyses. We looked at my scar and commented how quickly and easily I heal. Nonetheless, my doctor told me she'd like me to wait six months before trying to conceive so there would be enough time between c-sections. She told me to come back when needed. I asked if there was anything we should do before trying to conceive. She laughed and told me that I know the drill. It somehow felt incomplete, like I'm a special situation and should be doing something different than everyone else in the world who is trying to have a baby. Funny that it should be put so simply, just get pregnant and give me a call. Sadly that is all we can really do. Get pregnant and hope for the best. We've lived through the worst, the best and the worst again. I say this time we've earned the best but we'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fairytales Revisited

What would a fairytale be with just a happy ending?

Every story needs a beginning, middle and end. In the beginning we are introduced the characters, we are given a reason to care. The middle is where conflict arises and must be dealt with. The ending is resolution of that conflict. In fairy tales, at least the popular ones, the ending is where the princess rides off into the sunset with her prince and they live happily ever after. It's the happy ever after part that everyone wants. Without the happy ever after - would we read Little Red Riding Hood to assure ourselves that we are not the only ones wearing capelets in public? Or Snow White to remind ourselves that pale can be beautiful? Maybe Hansel and Gretel for tips on baking the best gingerbread house? What would these stories be without the elements of fear, despair, sadness, longing, danger, evil, rage and even death? That is where fiction mirrors reality. My fairytale seems to be writing itself in reverse.
"The princess and her prince are living happily ever after in their castle when one day the princess's stomach begins to swell. The kingdom rejoices at the couple's good news. Preparations for the royal child's arrival begin when suddenly the princess falls ill. The doctor determines it is not the princess but the royal child who is ill and will sadly, die. The prince and princess enter a period of mourning, the castle becomes like a tomb. Night after night the princess's sorrowful wailing echoes throughout the castle walls. At last the child arrives. He lives only long enough to meet his grief stricken parents. The kingdom mourns with the good princess and prince. Determined to bring joy to their people, the prince and princess one day announce that another royal child will be born and that the child is healthy. The baby girl's arrival is celebrated throughout the kingdom, as is that of her two younger sisters which arrive in the years after. But alas, the prince and princess seek to complete their family and are especially hopeful of a son for the throne. They excitedly announce the impending arrival of one final child. The princess senses a difference with this child and once again the doctor informs the couple that their child has not long to live. Darkness again settles over the kingdom as it prepares for the child's arrival. The royal family welcomes a tiny son who is briefly surrounded by his three older sisters. Sadness again reigns..."

Fairytales and fiction. They provide an escape, escape from reality. We relentlessly pursued fiction after Wyatt's birth, we rented movies, watched television and went to the movie theater. For just a few hours we were able to immerse ourselves into someone else's reality and leave ours behind. Again, I find myself thirsting for that escape. Oddly enough, my poison of choice tends to be reality shows on television which despite the "reality" provide enough drama to drown out my own. This time I have added a new source, literature. I find myself reading books at an astonishing pace and so I have added a tab on the right side of my page to document what books I have read. I tend to prefer historical fiction but find the process of locating good historical fiction too tedious so now I am just reading pretty much whatever I come across and have found most of them satisfying enough. Perhaps one day we will find the ending to our own story.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today's Small Miracle

Since Wyatt's birth my husband often gives me jewelry for Wyatt. Things that are reminiscent of a mother and child or of a baby boy. He bought this necklace for me before I got pregnant with Eli.

The angel is our Wyatt with a beautiful little blue heart. Today, while wearing the angel necklace, I decided to look up Eli's birthstone. It is aquamarine, like the tiny blue heart. With that simple discovery my angel is now Eli. There was no way my husband could have ever imagined we would have another baby boy angel, that he would be born in March and that his birthstone would be aquamarine. A sign from my youngest son that he is with me always, alongside his big brother.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The New Me

Before getting pregnant with Wyatt I was not a great person. I can realistically liken myself to the Grinch, green and hairy on the inside with a tiny little heart tucked way inside. Few knew their way to that place. I was not forthcoming with directions. Instead what I offered was sarcasm, anger, jealousy and judgment - all disguised as opinions, strength, and assertiveness. My heart grew as Wyatt grew within me. I had finally come to know that word. I buried some of that new heart in the ground with my firstborn sun on a bright June day almost eight years ago. I'd love to say that the part I buried was the ugly twisted and bitter part but it wasn't. That part somehow grew in the months that followed. The good part grew again as our first daughter grew within me. It grew to the point of pain almost, after her birth. I believed that Wyatt's death finally meant something because it had changed me, it had made me better.

In so many ways I did change for the better. I learned that my anger hurt me the most. I learned to let things go, something which I thought I had already learned by letting go of the most precious thing in my life. I stopped looking for the down side, stopped listing all of the things that could go wrong, that would go wrong. I didn't assume the worst in situations, or in people. I tried to be less judgmental and more accepting. I made conscious efforts to change my heart instead of letting it be changed unconsciously. I was a better person.

Of course, things change and then came Eli. During Eli's pregnancy I held fast to my faith and to who I was. I know how quickly things can change. I can see it already. I am different again. It is not what I expected. I am not burdened by waves of anger or jealousy. Tidal waves of pain hit me hard, but I've navigated those before. These changes are subtle but to me profound. I am present. I'm not just one step ahead, worried about meals, laundry, shopping and cleaning. I'm not as mechanical as I used to be. I'm breathing right now in this moment. My children's laughter sounds brighter than it ever has, their eyes reflect more color. Their voices have never been so easy to hear. I love it when they catch me staring at them. My husband has never smelled so good, his touch has never felt so warm. The gray hair at his temples was never there before, yet he's never looked so handsome. Sometimes I notice my eyes have never looked so sad.

There really isn't an ending to this because it's really just another beginning, so I'll leave it at this.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Last Year

I have been pregnant six times, three living children, two lost to Potter's Syndrome at full-term and one lost to early miscarriage. While I have been pregnant six times, not all of those have come easily. I needed clomid to conceive our youngest daughter and I took progesterone supplements to regulate my hormones prior to conceiving Eli. That was last spring, this time of year. I've had the joy of nursing all of our daughters to at least a year. As a side note, that is one of the more painful things about losing my sons, the loss of being able to nurse them - even just one time. After nursing our youngest it took a long time for my body to return to normal and even then my hormones were out of whack. I wasted time and energy trying to explain this to a general practitioner who tested my thyroid and after it was determined to be normal he diagnosed me as depressed. My OB was more sympathetic and gave me prometrium when I explained that we would like to conceive in the summer. I took the prometrium for three months, immediately noticing a difference the first month (to which I'm sure my family sighed a collective hallelujah), and Eli was conceived the third month (the first that we tried). I had felt it was meant to be, in my heart I believed he was a boy and at the time that he would be our last child, the final link to our chain.

Last year, last spring, I was here. I wanted another child, we wanted another child. I was hoping my cycles would normalize and that in a few months we would be able to get pregnant. That is where I am now, except this time I am here after giving birth to that child. Now I am left to again wonder whether my body will cooperate, whether we will be able to conceive another child. The wait will be slightly longer, but not much. I hope to give just enough space between, for Eli. It feels too familiar and so wrong at the same time. I just went through this one year ago, how can I possibly be here again? In that time I got pregnant, carried a baby for nine months and am left as empty handed as when I started. Strangely, I find myself as hopeful as I was one year ago, undeterred by the events which have taken place since. In that I find solace. I know my spirit has yet to be broken.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Scar

At my two week follow-up after Eli's birth my doctor examined my scar and seemed disappointed in her handiwork. Sure, the left edge of my scar was a little puffy and rigid, but after five c-sections I'm not exactly a bikini model and I could really care less. Funny this is, I remember at one of my follow-ups after Wyatt's birth she was also displeased with his scar. So much so that she literally cut it out when our first daughter was born and I have to say the new scar was better. The appearance of the scar doesn't phase me one bit. It's my physical reminder of the birth of all five of my children. It is imperfect. A bit jagged, a bit rough. Just like me. Just like life. It has its ups and downs, its smoothness and ragged edges.

I've thought about this scar a lot. What it means, what it symbolizes. Wyatt. It is there because of my precious first born son. If Wyatt didn't have Potter's Syndrome and had amniotic fluid to float in, he would have likely not gotten stuck in a transverse position. If he hadn't been in a transverse position, I would have likely delivered him naturally and not had a c-section. Had I not been so heartbroken and empty-armed we likely wouldn't have conceived our daughter so quickly and I would not have been almost thirty-nine weeks pregnant for Wyatt's first birthday. I would likely have not feared losing my second child to the small percentage of uterine ruptures for vaginal births after c-sections and likely not chosen to have a second c-section. Had those events not taken place I may never have had a c-section, I may not have this scar. This mark of my imperfect life.

My scar also represents healing. Time after time it heals with little to no help from me. Stitches and staples have held it together until it mends itself. Much like our hearts. Expressions of love, support and sympathy are the stitches and staples on my heart, holding it together until it can mend itself. Soon, like my stomach, it will be strong again.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wyatt's Garden & Eli?

The Weeping Willow picture at the top of my blog was planted almost eight years ago after our son Wyatt's birth. We made a garden around it in memory of Wyatt and included plants that are baby-like and remind us of him. I have lots of baby (miniature) rose plants, forget-me-nots, lamb's ear (which is soft like a baby's skin), daisies, tiger lilies, blue columbine, irises and jacob's ladder as well as some lovely lavender baby's breath. I have many solar lights to illuminate his special place at night, even spotlight solar lights which light up the whole tree. Each year for Wyatt's birthday we add a new garden ornament. We also have cement stones that we made which say Wyatt's Willow. We have carried on that tradition, to an extent, after each of our girls' births and planted a tree for each. With Eli we would love to do the same. We have yet to decide on what kind of tree Eli will receive.

Here's where my conundrum comes in - should we just incorporate Eli into Wyatt's garden or try to make a separate one? We stripped about the back third of our yard of grass and put down mulch an that area now includes a rock hill I built behind Wyatt's garden (kind of visible in my picture), Wyatt's garden, a perennial flower garden and our girls' swing set. Throughout the rest of the backyard are the girls' trees. I don't want to just lump Eli into Wyatt's garden for lack of space or vision, but I am completely uninspired at the moment. I also don't just want to create another garden for Eli which is the same as Wyatt's. I want it to be special and unique, just as each boy is and was. We live in planting zone 4, can get away with 5s sometimes, so that doesn't offer the broadest range of plants which can survive our winters either.

So, I'm asking for suggestions, ideas, inspiration or even just shared stories of what anyone else has done in their yard to create a special place for their baby(ies).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lost Hope

Saturday I lost hope.

My husband and I support St. Jude's children's hospital and usually order merchandise from them once or twice a year. This year my husband purchased some rubber band bracelets for kids. We opened them at Christmas and it was then that I found hope. A blue rubber band bracelet that spelled out the word HOPE. This was just a little over a month after we found out about Eli's Potter's Syndrome and I really needed hope. I put on the bracelet that day and literally never took it off until the day he was born.

This Saturday hope was lost. I don't know when or where and so far we've been unable to locate it. While I know it's just a rubber band bracelet, it was special to me. It was a connection to Eli. And I just can't escape the meaning. I didn't just lose a rubber band bracelet, I lost HOPE. Ugh. We happen to have another hope band, but just like I can't replace Eli, I can't just replace hope. When I told my husband that I lost hope he responded that I found new hope. I hope he's right. I hope this new bracelet brings with it the new hope that I could feel so strongly while pregnant with Eli. I hope Eli took my bracelet and that this was just his way of telling me that things will be okay, that hope is not really lost.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Because I'm a Mother

Because I'm a mother I wipe away others' tears while holding back my own. Because I'm a mother I am the last one to sleep each night. Because I'm a mother I am able to heal wounds with a simple kiss. Because I'm a mother I take responsibility for my sons' deaths. Only after now losing Eli have I truly come to this realization. It doesn't matter how my children died, I shoulder the blame for their deaths. Because I'm their mother. Our little boys were created inside of my body. Anything that went wrong with their development went wrong inside of my body.

When we found out about Wyatt's Potter's Syndrome we naturally needed someone or something to blame. We needed a reason. I questioned everything - if only I had done this differently or hadn't done that, what I drank, what I ate, physical activity, the bottles I drank my water out of - everything. I even believe that for a brief moment my husband blamed me in his grief. Eventually we came to the realization that nothing we did caused Wyatt's Potter's Syndrome and there was nothing we could have done to prevent his death.

Yet now after Eli's death from Potter's Syndrome I find myself again, asking those questions, wondering if I'm somehow to blame. Or worse perhaps, whether my husband is. You see, having Potter's Syndrome once is explained away by the medical community as a fluke, most people are given a 3-5% chance of it happening again but told not to worry because it won't. But when it does happen again those reassuring percentages disappear and then you are told it is probably genetic. You are left with no percentages, no answers. It boils down to your DNA and your partner's DNA and the knowledge that you may be somehow at least partly responsible for your child's death.

Because I'm a mother, my children's pain is my own. Knowing that I may be the cause of that pain is a very bitter pill.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Angry Moment

The other night my husband and I were watching a movie. It had a very pregnant woman in it which didn't bother me - until she gave birth. They blessedly did not show the birth. The main characters went to the hospital to visit her and her newborn son. They were all so happy and it was just so easy. After the movie was over I turned to my husband and told him how much it pissed me off. How this woman was just pregnant, went the hospital and then all of a sudden had a perfectly healthy baby. How for most families that is exactly how things go. They just decide one day, let's have a baby, get pregnant and then after about nine months they go to the hospital and leave with a swaddled little bundle. So very simple. For them. That pisses me off. Not that I would ever wish the loss of a child upon the very worst person in the world, but still. I have never known that joy, I have never been that ignorant. Before my first child was born I knew he would die and he did die. Now, my fifth child has died. No one can even tell me why us, why our children, and most importantly, will it happen to another? I know the answers to those questions are not mine right now and may never be but it doesn't stop them from haunting me, it doesn't quench my thirst. I can't just put stock in the good old "God has a plan" phrase that we usually use to explain away the unknown because to say that would be to say that God chose to take my children, that he consciously decided to put my family through this agony - twice - and that is unacceptable. That is not my God. So, I just have to try to put it out of my mind. It's not worth my anger but for one moment the other day it really pissed me off.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Outside my window, just as within my own heart, things are changing. Every day our ground becomes less white and more brown. There are even tiny sprouts of green here and there. It's April, it's time. However, for me it feels too soon. It feels too soon to change. I'm not ready.

I am healing. My body has all but erased any trace of Eli's presence. My outer scar from the c-section is now just a thin jagged line. The milk has dried up. Even my headaches, which had become a daily occurrence I contribute to grieving, have lessened. My heart, just four weeks ago shattered, seems to be gluing itself together. Tears fall fewer and farther between. I hear the sound of laughter, my laughter. I left the house by myself this week, twice.

Just as the ground outside, unable to escape the sun's warm rays, cannot hold onto its cool white blanket, I cannot stay wrapped in my own blanket of grief. Change is inevitable. The only constant in life is change and I am now caught within its tides.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I am referring to the newest Disney princess movie about Rapunzel and her golden hair. Being a mother of three little girls, one of whom truly believes she is a princess who will marry a prince and live happily ever after, it was inevitable that this movie would enter our house. What I didn't expect, was how this movie would affect my heart.

Here goes . . . Once upon a time, Rapunzel is stolen from her parents shortly after her birth after a joyous celebration during which her parents, the king and queen, released a single paper lantern in honor of their daughter. Many many years pass. Rapunzel's eighteenth birthday arrives. Her parents release a paper lantern as they did on her first birthday, this time joined by lanterns from all over the kingdom. The lanterns are released each year on her birthday in the hopes that Rapunzel will see them and return home. As the king and queen prepare to release the lantern, Rapunzel's mother looks lovingly at her husband and wipes the tear from his eye.

The sadness and longing felt so real as if it were captured from my own memory. Their lantern floats into the air and is then joined by hundreds, perhaps thousands of others to light the night sky. The depth of that moment was surely lost on my younger daughters. That those parents, seventeen years without their daughter, had not given up hope of one day being reunited. The release of their love, hope and grief into the dark sky to brilliantly light it one night each year, the night of their daughter's birth. Each lantern representing one other person remembering their daughter too.

I wish that each year on Wyatt and Eli's birthdays I could look into the sky and see evidence of love for my sons, be surrounded by the warmth and love of others and lifted into the sky to be closer to where they are. I wish that for all parents and brothers and sisters of little ones who have left us.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stumped by 57 Down

Since our youngest daughter's birth my husband and I have done crosswords together. My husband has always been good but I started off pathetic. Pathetic even after completing four years of college and three years of graduate school and being a communications major! Thankfully that was then and this is now. We are now up to doing the New York Times Sunday puzzles (with no to minimal cheating). We began a new puzzle this week. 57 Down has me stumped. It reads: 57. Sad. All I need is a five letter word for sad and I am STUMPED. Seriously? I can't even come up with another word for sad. I just sit and look at the word - sad. It should be so simple. I probably feel a million emotions which are synonyms for sad right now and yet words fail me. Actually, it pisses me off. Seeing that word. All I think is, "Sad, yes so very sad." Perhaps sad is the perfect word.


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