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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With the Old, In With the ?

Happy (almost) New Year's to all. I care not to reflect too much on the past 364 days so instead I am keeping my eyes towards the new year, one day at a time. Each day is a new opportunity. An opportunity to mend bridges, an opportunity to say "I'm sorry", an opportunity to do better than the day before, an opportunity to smile.

I don't know what the new year has in store for our family and that is what will make it worthwhile. Living each day without knowing, being able to make it into something memorable and if it's not, letting it exist in the past and moving on to tomorrow. I no longer make resolutions that involve my exterior. There is nothing I can promise to do or change that will be more effective than examination of my own heart. When my heart is okay everything else falls into place. That's the funny thing I think, we all know the right things to do but too often we do the wrong things for the worst of reasons. There is no diet alone that can truly fix a weight problem, no desk ornament that can fix dissatisfaction with an occupation, no expensive token that can fix a crumbling relationship. So my everyday resolution is to open my heart to my mistakes and allow myself to learn from them and to open my heart to the possibilities that occur in life and not just the ones I try to create.

Of course the new year will bring new things for our family, this time in the form of a baby girl. My fourth daughter and anticipated last child after burying two sons. This carries with it a lot of heavy emotions, which as we enter the new year I will share.

Until then I wish everyone can step into the new year and feel the empowerment of newness and the promise of change.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Someone Has a Sense of Humor

That someone is not me. I mentioned in my last post about being sick for the holidays, for the third year in a row. The sense of humor comes in the sense that our two oldest daughters seem to have stomach upset episodes that last up to 6 hours but only happen every 2 or 3 days!?! I took it particularly hard beginning Christmas Day evening and was up almost all night long at least once and hour that night and the next, which takes a huge toll on one's body and an even huger toll on a pregnant body. Amazingly I managed to stay well hydrated and on the plus side I avoided any holiday weight gain!

So we have spent our Christmas vacation so far with one kid after another just exploding in one way or another completely out of the blue. She will be fine for days and then have a few horrible hours and then be fine again for days...ridiculously frustrating and flat out no fun. Three years in a row. Thankfully the only one of us sick on Christmas was myself so I did get to see three smiling faces this year but that was a very very brief respite.

Ever optimistic, I am now holding out hope that we will be all be well entering into the new year. When we can finally enter the year 2011 into our family annals. It will be a year that in the future will be marred by one very sad statistic, Eli's birth and death. But a year for me that carries so many more memories that this latest round of sickness and stress has brought to mind - our oldest's fever spasming body sprawled on our couch less than two weeks after losing Eli only to find out that she had another fairly uncommon urinary tract infection which raised memories years passed of unpleasant testing which we had to repeat to make sure that her VUR (urinary reflux condition) had not resurfaced. Of course, when we finally cleared that hurdle months later I began the very emotionally painful and exhaustive process of entering our family and Eli into the Potter's Syndrome genetic study. Months later I was able to finally pack away that paperwork and we embarked on the absolutely terrifying journey of pregnancy after two Potter's babies.

I don't know what 2012 has in store for our family but I do know that whatever it is we most likely can weather it, I am just hoping for calm seas and happy sailing this year to help put the memories of storm tossed waters behind us.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ho Ho Ho-

ho-rrible! That pretty much explains the last few days in the fewest letters possible. It seems to have become a family tradition that our children get sick the week before and leading up to Christmas. I have been coming down with a chest cold but Wednesday it hit me full on like a flu-filled mack truck. Eating was an exercise in patience, restraint and extreme fortitude and was only done for the benefit of the little one baking within. That night our oldest threw up a good portion of the night and she spent her day home with myself and the little one yesterday watching tv all day while I literally slept beside them on the couch because I was too ill/exhausted to do anything else. I feel somewhat better today and the oldest appears completely recovered but now the middle one has picked up where she left off. Seriously.

Last year it was the adenovirus which took out our oldest for an entire week of school (highly contagious virus) and then our middle daughter had pneumonia at the same time and our youngest one had a milder version of some sickness as well (oh, and I was sick too and then my husband got sick on Christmas Eve). The year before our oldest was out from school with pink eye which she so graciously shared with almost the whole family (thank goodness we broke her of the eye rubbing habit!).

Ho Ho Ho-pefully we can kick this apparently fairly short-lived bug out to the curb before tomorrow so we can enjoy an illness free holidays. The emotional strain of sick kids only magnifies the emotional strain of missing kids at this time of year. At least we are ho ho ho-me for the holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Finished the Stocking!

With time to spare so without further adieu, here is Eli's finished stocking, hung proudly by his four older siblings' stockings.
These stockings take a lot of work, time, focus and love but the feeling of accomplishment after getting to hang one up is like no other. I am so happy that Eli's is done in time for Christmas Eve. Having it hanging with the rest brings something extra special to these holidays for our family.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Things I Remember

I remember living in an apartment on the top story of a three level apartment building in a complex surrounded by other buildings. Our apartment faced a building where almost exactly opposite there was a heavily pregnant woman. I remember seeing her in the evenings basked in warm light as she rocked in her chair in a long old fashioned nightgown. It was like looking into a Normal Rockwell painting every day.

I don't remember if I was pregnant or I had just given birth to Wyatt but I know that's why I have this memory. I was glimpsing an apparently perfect Americana scene, one to which I did not belong and never would.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No One

For those of you familiar with Richard Paul Evans' The Christmas Box, you are probably familiar with the Angel of Hope Statute and you may be aware of the annual candlelight ceremony held on December 6th at 7 pm at or near these Christmas Box angel statues for those who have lost children. I attended our local ceremony one week ago tonight and during the ceremony it occurred to me that no one will miss our little boys like I do. Others have lost babies, but none quite like my boys. No one but me carried them, felt them move within, and then held them to their dying breaths. Just like I don't know the depths of grief anyone else feels for Wyatt and Eli, no one will ever feel the depths of grief within me. I have mixed feelings about this. It is sad that no one will ever truly understand but it is also special. I have a relationship with my sons that is ours alone, as unique as their fingerprints.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven

Over the last eight years, our family has begun many Christmas traditions to honor our son Wyatt, which we will continue this year with the addition of our son, Eli. The first Christmas after Wyatt's passing we ordered special Winnie the Pooh ornaments through Lenox which bear Wyatt's name and his birth year.
We purchased one for ourselves and one for each family within our immediate family to hang on their Christmas trees in his remembrance each holiday season. (Eli's ornaments have been ordered for this Christmas.) Some families even display theirs year round. The ornaments serve a dual purpose, to remind our families of our missing sons and to remind them of our ongoing grief which is especially poignant during the holiday season. For the years of 2003 and 2011 they also served and will serve as holiday gifts to the families because of the cost involved.

Our second or third Christmas after Wyatt's birth brought healing and crafts. This time we poured our hearts into a very special memorial, a homemade stocking. We purchased a Bucilla felt stocking kit. My husband and I cut, embroidered, stuffed and sequined each tiny detail into this beautiful stocking (every single piece of felt is hand cut and embroidered onto the stocking from the tallest tree to the tiniest paw). No sewing skills are necessary prior to beginning this project but it is quite time intensive and there is a slight learning curve if you are not familiar with embroidery. I figure if my husband can do it, anyone can.

We purchased and began Eli's stocking last year while I was pregnant with him but before his Potter's Syndrome diagnosis. After the diagnosis, it was packed away. Here is a picture of the progress we made.

I hope to finish Eli's stocking before this Christmas Eve and have it look like this with Eli's name embroidered on the banner instead of "Santa's Sweets". All our children's stockings are hung proudly in our living room each holiday season though sadly two will always remain empty.

Every year since Wyatt's birth we have participated in a giving program such as the Salvation Army's Angel Tree and chosen an anonymous boy about Wyatt's age to purchase and donate a gift for. This year we will do the same for Eli too. We would have spent much more money and time on Christmas for Wyatt and Eli if they were here so it feels good to honor that and them by donating something for another child their age. It also serves as an annual reminder of how much they would have grown and what we have missed. It is a gift of heart and a time of reflection.

We also purchase the boys small gifts to leave at the grave for Christmas and place a small decorated Christmas tree at the gravesite. When we began doing this we would carefully wrap a string of battery powered Christmas lights in plastic and take them out to the cemetery Christmas Eve. Last year however, dawned a new age of Christmas lights for us with an LED battery powered set. We found the set still fully lit days after Christmas so this year our boys will have a lighted tree for much longer!

These holiday ideas are inspired by our sons, Wyatt and Eli, imperfectly formed and lost due to Potter's Syndrome but perfectly loved and remembered by our family which includes three beautiful rainbow girls born in between. My blog is the story I began writing while carrying Eli to term which details my Potter's Syndrome journey beginning with Wyatt and our life beyond.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Christmas has long been a special time for me. My husband and I married just days before Christmas almost ten years ago. We spent our first Christmas together and my first Christmas apart from my own family as newlyweds collecting seashells on a southern Florida beach which was followed by a trip to one of the most magical places on earth, Disneyworld.

We celebrated our first pregnancy the next Christmas and transported our first, and only Christmas tree, a seven foot tall artificial across town in my Geo Prism with its doors bungee corded shut. That year I was humorously deluded into believing I could not only have a Martha Stewartish tree, but that I even wanted one.

Our second Christmas was celebrated in our new house but was overwhelmingly tinged with sadness. I was about three months pregnant with our first rainbow but only six months out from Wyatt's birth and death. As if that wasn't enough, in the midst of our grief, we sought comfort in the form of a puppy. The most adorable black and brown miniature daschund who apparently was very familiar with the novel Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. We intended to purchase Dr. Jeckyll but unknowingly took home Mr. Hyde. It was not a good fit and after about five months we came to the difficult conclusion that our puppy would be much happier with a different family. That decision was reached just before Christmas and by Christmas she was gone. As if that wasn't enough, my sister was coming for Christmas with her one month old baby boy. That was almost too much for me. Her pregnancy was unplanned and she was extremely immature and unprepared to have a baby. I was jealous and heartbroken at the same time. Many weeks of sad anticipation of that visit passed. I didn't know at that time what I was capable of. When at last Christmas came, I not only went to see him, but I held him and snuggled him and like the Grinch, my heart grew two sizes that day.

Fast forward to last Christmas. I spent many hours sitting alone in our living room gazing upon the most beautiful Christmas tree I know, my own. Over the years, just like me, that tree has changed. It began with ribbons and glass bulbs which when children finally entered our home changed into plastic and cloth. It is a red, green and white confection of gingerbread men and women, Santas, snowmen and angels topped with a golden star. The frosting are my twinkling white lights (which thanks to an hour long shopping mission across town are now LED). The twinkling white lights are my constant and truly one of my favorite things. So last year I sat, unable to sleep, consumed with grief for the child I carried within who would not be here to see those twinkling lights for the first time this year. Even those beautiful twinkling lights did not brighten my dark days and nights.

Which brings me to this Christmas. Those twinkling lights are here again, steadier than the stars, which often disappear behind wispy clouds. They are more beautiful to me this year but I still long to see them reflected in the eyes of one who hasn't seen them before.


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