Thursday, December 12, 2013

Catching my breath...

Another year. It takes my breath away to think that another year has passed with out my William & Ethan. Three still feels as raw as if it were yesterday.

I think I was holding my breath in anticipation...I knew December was coming and the ache grew stronger. I also ache for the other babies taken from us this month. So many...too many.

Getting messages from friends and family on the boys' birthday was validating. They were real, they are loved and are remembered. Sometimes it feels like I am the only one thinking about them, but that is not true. I am sure no one thinks of them and misses them the same way I do...but that is ok. 

I have also decided to celebrate each birthday with acts of kindness. Each year means an additional good deed, but I can't think of a better way to honor them. This year I paid for the person's order behind me in the Dunkin drive through, donated two age appropriate truck sets to the toy drive at school and will buy size appropriate pjs for Carter's pajama program.  They are all types of things I might have done if they were here. 

Now that a week has passed I can think of them with more smiles. With Christmas coming up it is easy to miss what should have been. So many much longing for what should be. It never gets easier. It is so unfair.

Oh, my sweet peas, my William and Ethan...not a day goes by that I don't think of you . If I can't hold you tight in my arms, I will hold your memory in my heart always. You are loved beyond measure!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I am not sure how to do this...

I am trying very hard to get through not let everything around me magnify my grief... and it's not going so well overall. Luckily work keeps me busy (and out of my head) and Maxwell keeps me focused on the now plus provides more smiles than I can count. There is just so much around me that make the quiet moments hard to bare.

The hardest thing to deal with is the very nearness of William & Ethan's 3rd birthday. November flew by in a flash and December is almost here. Trying to make it to the 4th is exhausting. I want to honor them in a happy way but I am not sure I have it in me this year. I miss them so very much. It feels just as hard as the first birthday without them. It is just the worst feeling. 

Yet another teacher at school announced she is pregnant (we are up to 6 for the year but 3 are now on maternity leave). I should be on that list too, but I'm not. I can't stay in the same room as the one teacher that was due a few weeks before me. She is showing now and of course is adorable prompting lots of comments and conversations. It makes me bitter so it is best if I avoid those situations.

I found out a former co-worker will be an aunt to twins around the time I was due. It also doesn't help that twins are every where...especially ones between the ages of 2-4. Thanks universe...I know what I am reminders necessary.

The thing I feel the most guilty about, and is sooo hard to deal with, is trying to be supportive/excited about my sister's pregnancy. She is due a month after I was supposed to be due so it is a constant reminder that I am not pregnant. She is also expecting twins so it is impossible not to be terrified for her because of what I went through. 

She is nervous and scared because she knows...she was my biggest support after I lost my twins. She has heard me talk about the gritty reality of loss. My sister is the one person in my real life that understands better that anyone. And I am not very good at supporting her through her fear. I wish I could.

I hope more than anything that her babies make it in to her arms safely. I can't help but be jealous if her though...for so many reasons. I find it hard to smile and get excited as she prepares and I hear about the plans they need to make. If all goes well (please, please, PLEASE), their family of four will grow to six which means new living arrangements, new car and a need for baby gear since their youngest daughter is 6. Hearing about any of it shreds my heart. I want to be a part of it all but I can't get excited.

 I worry about how will be with these babies. I know I will love them, but will I be able to be as close as I am with my nieces? Will I keep them at arms length because they at twins? Or because they are the same age as my youngest son should be?

I don't dare ask how much more or what else I can deal with because that is always an invitation from the universe to throw something else my way. I think I may be at my limit, so universe, can I have a break for a bit? That would be great, thanks.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Tried...

And failed. I really wanted to do something for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th.

I just couldn't and I feel like a horrible baby loss mama as a result. These are the things that make my therapist tell me not to be so hard on myself. I am anyway, but I am trying.

Going through another, very different loss, two weeks early made it even harder than I thought it would be to acknowledge all the precious lives gone before they really started. When I started to make a list of names I became paralyzed with grief and had to stop. I couldn't even light a candle for my own sons...and thus I feel like pond scum.

Every day since I have cried for my sons and for all the babies that are so dearly missed. So, so many...and it shatters my heart that every day there are more. It never gets easier and I'll never forget. Even if I can't always make the public acknowledgement...they are loved and missed.

Friday, October 18, 2013


The last two weeks have been a blur. Maxwell continues to battle day care germs and the molars that seem like they will never come in...and wanting Mama always. Sleep is also for other kids...not mine. It has gotten so bad it seems sine kind of sleep training is a necessity. (Any experiences to share?!?)

Saying goodbye to our littlest son seems hardly feels real at all. Perhaps because the entire pregnacy was hard to process or maybe because it wasn't public knowledge. I was trying to process a lot of guilt because I didn't feel like I was grieving enough. Why don't I feel more upset?!? My therapist told me to go easy in myself because in a way I had started the grieving process before he was actually gone. I already started grieving the loss if a chance at "normal" and prepared myself ahead if time for the worse case scenario, just in case.

I still feel a little disconnected but will work through it eventually. Mainly I am fighting to stay social. Phone calls are unreturned, I rarely read blogs or check Instagram or even go on to FB. I hysterical can't summon the interest half the time and the other half is prioritized for Maxwell. 

Grief is weird...and sucks. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shooting Star

A shooting star is a fleeting glimpse of something that once was, or maybe what could have been. Sometimes you see one and it takes a moment to realize what you just saw...and for a split second you capture that moment in your memory. You try to cherish what an amazing thing just happened, but it was so precious...that you think perhaps it might not have been real. 

That is how I am starting to think if my fourth little shooting star. He is gone now. Such a short time with me, a flash across my heart that is now just a memory. There is nothing to hold on to, no earthly reminders. If it weren't for any empty ache I would swear it was my imagination.

My shooting star is free from any burden that may have been his. Untethered from us all, but free. It just wasn't meant to be.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Dark Cloud

I am forever grateful for the people in my life who stand by me, give their ear when I need to vent, provide support and lend me strength when mine has run out. These wonderful people are in my real life and online life (and no less real of course). They are friends I see nearly everyday, hardly at all and family. 

I could never have survived grieving my twins with out them. I even learned to start to enjoy this new, surprising, pregnancy when I wasn't sure I could. And now that we have received unexpected news, I imagine I will continue to lean on them for strength and support.

A week ago we found out the results of our first trimester screening and the odds were not in our favor. True to our statistical bad luck, we confirmed what was feared...this baby boy has Downs Syndrome. On top of a scary diagnosis, the hormone levels and NT measurements can't get much worse. Paired with my crappy history of preterm labor, the outlook is kind of bleak. While my doctor tells us it is impossible to tell exactly how this baby will be affected, my instincts scream "prepare for the worst." My doctor also mentioned she would be surprised if I did not miscarry or if I made it to full term (or viably close)...but it is possible. Not exactly confidence inspiring. She is an amazing doctor and I know, despite how negative she sounds, she truly wants the best for us and never fails to be honest. I wouldn't want a doctor willing to tell me everything will be fine when that is unlikely.

Processing this news is an impossible task. I alternate between anger, numbness and tears. I am not sure how much more bad news I can take. After all we've been through and all we know could is too much. Thank goodness for a broad support network, therapy, an amazing husband and a smiley baby boy. All of them keep me (or remind me) to stay in the present and keep breathing.

I have more questions than there are answers. There is no way to know what is going to happen. I don't want to accept that, but I must learn how to. Come what may, the journey ahead is going to be difficult at best. 

I told a friend that I feel like Eeyore...where ever I go and what ever I do there is a dark cloud hanging over me. Sometimes it hangs back far enough I forget it is following me. Other times it is on top of me like a fog, and sometimes it is a lightening storm shocking me with every step. Whether it is grief, bad news or general crap circumstances...that cloud just won't go away. Thankfully my support network is my umbrella, providing a little bit of shelter from the storm. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sleep, Or lack there of...

Maxwell has never been a superstar sleeper. A beast of my own making I'm sure, but it has gotten ridiculous.

Over the summer we fell into a routine where he woke up and needed resettling 2-3 times a night. Not ideal, but not horrible either. And then he started daycare...

I don't know if it is a sleep regression, a response to daytime separation anxiety or some blend of the two. Maxwell's night waking has increased to approx 5-6 times a night. Yeah- fabulous for a teacher who is supposed to be functioning and responsible.

I knew illness would be a part of going to daycare, but my poor boy has been sick and or teething since he started almost a month ago. This weekend brought about a doozy of a cold...croup and even worse sleep habits. He refuses to be put in his crib and only sleeps for more than an hour if I holding him. 

I am exhausted and frustrated..,I know this will pass. It certainly can't continue. Sleep training is under consideration because I can't function not to mention it can't be good for him either.

I actually miss the nights with 2-3 wake ups. A baby that sleeps through the night is my dream must be awesome.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Every 9/11 I try to find joy in spite of my heavy heart. On that day in 2001 NYC was my home, I should have been mere blocks from Ground Zero,but thankfully wasn't. I could see and smell the smoke from my apartment. 

My tradition has, since the day my world turned upside down, to be aware of what I am most grateful. In the days after 9/11/01 I was grateful to be released from jury duty early, that my sister in law was ok despite being in a building too close for comfort, and most of all that my best friend since kindergarten had just started law school in Pennsylvania and left her paralegal job (which she often worked over night or went in really early) in one of the World Trade Center Towers.

This year I am grateful for my baby loss momma know me like no others (even if you don't know me all that well, if at all). I am grateful for your support during this wild new pregnancy and remind me that it's ok and "normal" for us to feel uneasy and freaked out considering all that we have been through. 

My art students today also brought me great joy and so much to be thankful for. My students are young (grades k-2) and are blissfully ignorant of horror associated with 9/11. These kids were barely a twinkle in their parents' eye. It is so bizarre that not a single student today was born yet.

Of course I grateful for my sons. William, Ethan & Maxwell have all taught me what a mother's love truly, pain, peace, heartache and so much more.   

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Identity Crisis

This post is as hard to write as it will be for some to read (particularly anyone that has experienced infertility or issues with getting pregnant). So, I apologize in advance and consider yourself warned. 

Hearing pregnancy announcements, particularly unplanned pregnancies, have been a kick to the gut since about 3 months after we first started trying to get pregnant. It definitely got worse after we got my unknown infertility combined with the hubby's mediocre swimmers and worse still after William and Ethan died. Every announcement was a painful reminder of what my body couldn't do right on its own...get pregnant without assistance or carry my babies to term. As a result I am very sensitive to the affect of pregnancy announcements. 

And here is where I am having a bit of an identity crisis...and trouble sharing our news because I am indeed pregnant. And the kicker is it was not planned. I'm not sure how it was possible but it happened. 

I will preface everything I  about to write with I am grateful and this baby is very much wanted. Let there be no mistake in that. There is a lot of surprise, confusion and fear which takes a person to crazy town every so often and I know that is where most of my mixed up thoughts come from.

With Maxwell just turning one, another baby wasn't a topic if conversation other than, yeah, maybe some day we'll try a last round of IVF. I am completely freaking out about how another baby is going to fit into the mix with a toddler that will not yet be two. The logistics of it all are too much to think about.

I can't quite reconcile my infertile self with  the reality of an unplanned pregnancy. I had accepted my fate...pregnancy was not something that could "just happen." We would need help. I found a sense of security in the planning involved in an IVF cycle. But a surprise like this...just getting pregnant randomly has destroyed that identity, the sense of security and what I thought I knew about myself. 

And then there is my history of loss, preterm labor and premature water breaking. I am a wreck thinking about how this new baby has such a small chance of arriving without issue. With all I know it's hard not to freak out. I am officially the master of the short end of statistics. Make something improbable and somehow I will be that improbable case.

I can't help but feel a little detached and a hefty dose of denial that this is's sad, but true, that my confidence in this pregnancy resulting in a live baby is almost nil. I fully expect to have a miscarriage or something else to go wrong because that is the kind of luck I have. No pregnancy bliss here.

Of course, the universe saw what I wrote in a previous post about my babies, past and potentially future, being from the same IVF retrieval and thought that was hilarious. This baby is not from "the batch" and I worried that my comfort in the thought all my babies would be batch mates would change how I feel about this baby. I am letting go of that slowly but surely...I have to.

The final kicker,  mother lode of stress and heart ache is estimated due date is 3 days before William and Ethan's due date. That means that every pregnancy milestone is nearly identical to least until 24 weeks when they made their far too early arrival. The anxiety and tears this realization has brought about shakes me to my core. Yes every pregnancy is different, especially this one, but this is just too much to not freak out about. The week surrounding December 4th is going to be incredibly difficult this year, even more so than usual. 

So there it is...if you've made it this far I hope I haven't offended, hurt feelings or lost your support. I think I need it more than ever.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And the Universe just laughs..,

"So you think you have a plan?" Said the universe. "You have an idea how this is going to play out?"

(Insert crazy laugh)

"Oh, we will see about that."

That pretty much sums up how things are going right now. Dealing with unexpected curve balls, rolling with the punches and trying to figure out why the universe likes to pick on me. 

School starts in a few weeks and I don't dare think about it too much. There is so much I would like to do before my summer ends and Maxwell starts day care. And considering the universe's sick sense of humor, I am just going to try to squeeze as much as I can in to my last few weeks. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Reality Check

Earlier this week I bumped into a coworker and her daughters as I was walking Maxwell to the park in his new super trike (which he totally loves).

Cruising the living room.

It wasn't until I walked away that I realized how big her youngest was...she's going to be 3 this Fall. And that's when it all came together and I wanted to throw up. She was born about a month before my twins (4 months before my actual due date) and she is almost 3. I  saw her run, climb, go down a slide and call to Mom using complete sentences. Just like my boys should be. Should. Damn I hate that word now. F-ing should.

She's never been a grief trigger for me...she's a girl, a singleton, I hardly ever see it's never been a big deal. This time it was and it made my heart break all over again for my friends that are missing their baby girls. 

It was a reality check I really didn't need or want...and my heart just aches. 

F-ing should...yes they F-ing should be here. If only love was enough to make it so.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Birthday Parties!

There was never any doubt that my son is loved, especially in the wake of grief we all experienced after the loss of our twins. Seeing family and friends come together to celebrate Maxwell's 1st birthday was seeing love in action. 

We had two parties, one at home and one at my sister's (approx 4 hrs north in NY) so that both sides of our families and our closest friends could celebrate. The NJ party was the smaller if the two with just the our immediate families and a couple of local friends where as the NY party was a bit bigger with family and friends from my side. Neither was elaborate, just a simple lunch, yummy cake or cupcakes, a few balloons and lots of love. 

I was to busy enjoying the days to take many pictures but we do have a few...

NJ Party

Balloons are fun!

Smash cake...oh yeah!

NY Party

Auntie Kim's handy work 

Lots of help from the big kids at present time!

On Maxwell's actual birthday day we went out for breakfast and he got a special treat (whip cream with sprinkles)

Then we went to the zoo but didn't stay long because it was insanely hot. We went for ice cream to cool off afterwords.

Look at those silly animals!

Favorites were the tortoise and sea lions

Both parties and Maxwell's birthday were fun and low key. The only thing missing were the big brothers we wish had gotten to celebrate their birthdays. The funk of missing the twins hit the days after the parties. I was glad we could focus on Maxwell for both parties with out a cloud of sadness distracting from the birthday boy. They were definitely missed though...always will be.

I still can't figure out how my tiny baby has grown so much and turned 1...time is going way too fast! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More and More Random Thoughts...

(Mommy & Maxwell time!)

Maxwell has been a whirlwind of joy, stress, love and fear for the last couple of weeks! He has put me through my paces and I wouldn't change a thing (except the biting...). I can barely string sentences together but have so much on my mind thus the random train of thought format that has taken a week to write.

• Chicago Rainbow Gathering... I can't say it better than has been said already...amazing! I am so glad I skipped social grace and invited my self! (Although it seems like that's how the gathering started any way.) I know I am a fringe member of this particular group (I didn't know everyone well or some at all before going)...but it didn't matter a bit. The power of our shared experience, this sisterhood of loss, brought a level of comfort around people I haven't felt since way before I had to deal with infertility and infant loss. 

(Some if the rainbow babies wearing their hats...thank you Sonya & her mom!)
(Candles lit for the babies that we are missing)

• I have ordered replacement charms for my necklace...William & Maxwell's went missing during our Chicago trip. I didn't realize how much of a touchstone W&E's charms were on my rough grief days. I also ordered a remembrance necklace that is just for W&E. I can't wait to get them!

(Can't wait for my necklace to be complete again!)

• Maxwell has changed so much in the last month! Not two hours after returning from Chicago he properly crawled and pulled himself up to standing. The rainbow babies were great teachers! Maxwell is also copying us far more and adding to his repertoire of signature moves. He can blow kisses, clap endlessly, raise his hands when you say woo-hoo and "raise the roof" like his a club kid! He is starting to cruise around holding on to furniture. He is not so steady and has earned his bruises and new nickname of "Crash."

(Mwah...a kiss from me to you!)

(Cruising on the coffee table)

• Maxwell's first birthday is coming up quick (less than 2 weeks, eek!) And two parties are in the works. A small one at home the weekend he turns 1 and another much bigger one 2 weeks later at my sister's near my home town. That one is more of a "meet Maxwell" party since so many upstate relatives and family friends have only seen him in photos.

• Teething...ouch. In the last month Maxwell has been working on 4 top teeth. This week all four have cut through and M doesn't know what to do with his mouth full of teeth. There has been lots of biting of fingers, toys and during nursing. I am in serious pain...I have been consistent with telling him not to bite and ending the nursing session so hopefully that will end soon. I am not sure the "girls" can take much more. I am sad that I have considered weaning for the first time. I want it to be baby led, but the biting has to stop!

• I found a bottle of now expired Visine in my medicine cabinet. I can't bring myself to toss was purchased for me on the morning of 12/05/2010. Ethan was still alive, William was dead and we had just left the hospital where I gave birth and my parents were driving is to the hospital 2 hours away where Ethan was in a higher level NICU.

• Maxwell and Daddy have so much fun playing lately. Watch D play with M fills my heart with love, joy and sadness. It is gut-wrenching knowing that two little boys didn't get this chance. We didn't get the chance at those two boys.
(Maxwell, Daddy & the girl cousins playing with blocks)

• We had to pay another chunk of change to keep our last two embies in cryo storage. We aren't ready to try again yet, but we know they are there. We want a living sibling for M and when we are ready that will be our last chance. I don't think another fresh ivf cycle is a great idea so they are it. William, Ethan, Maxwell and the last two embies (as well as two lost during transfers) are all from one very successful egg retrieval. I kind of like that they are all from the same batch.

• I realized that Maxwell's birthday and the twin's positive pregnancy blood work took place the same week 2 years apart. The embryo transfer that gave us Maxwell took place the same week as the twin's first birthday. Kind of crazy! 

• Other firsts for Maxwell...haircut, trips to the town pool with his own rec badge, fun in his own kiddie pool and probably others I have forgotten to mention. So many firsts we wish we had with W&E.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Changing Friendships

In the last few years, since dealing with infertility and the loss of my sons, many friendships have evolved. Some are stilted, some are stronger, some have stayed relatively the same. Only recently have I come to realize that one friend has stepped away and possible out of my life. I might be able to cope with the drifting apart if I didn't have to hear about/see photos of this friend with another very close friend. The three of us used to be super tight...apparently they still are but I am the third wheel that has been cut loose. Messages unanswered, invitations not extended...I finally got the hint. Damn it sucks! More than I want it to...I am not sure I have the energy to mourn a friendship when I am still trying to figure out how to mourn my sons.

On a more positive note, I am super excited to meet virtual friends in real life. This group of women, some I know, some I don't...share the common bond of loss. We found each other online and have created a sort of virtual support group...and the chance to be together feels pretty monumental. I am giddy with the excitement and nervousness that comes with meeting new people...even if I kind of know them already.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Sleep is a precious commodity to parents, whether we are talking about the child or the parent (and its usually linked). And when sleep-deprived parents are desperate!

Last night M woke up around 2:30am to nurse...nothing out of the ordinary. He was pretty much asleep again as I attempted to put him back in his crib. M, however, wanted none of that and was wide awake. All attempts at resettling were met with whines, grumbles, crying and flailing. For close to three hours this went on. I decided to attempt co-sleeping with him in the guest room (a tactic that has worked in the past) but no dice. Another half hour of baby boy thrashing, whining, rolling around and attempting head stands. He was exhausted and so was I. About the time the husband was getting ready for work (5ish) M finally settled down and snuggled up to nurse and we both dozed for an hour or so. 

(Yes, little man, you are.)

Nap time came very early and it seemed to be another possible battle to get him to nap in the crib but I've resorted to sleep by any means necessary. M is snuggled in my arms, nursing at will and still asleep for just over two hours. I don't know if it is teething, growth spurt, sniffles from a cold or allergies or all of the above. I hope that M wakes up on the happy side of his nap. 

At times like this I wonder how I ever could have managed twins. I would have because you just figure it out. Oh how I would have loved to try. My sleep deprivation isn't making it easy to contemplate. It always hurts more when I'm tired. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

One Space

I imported all my posts from my other blog (A Speck of Hope) so that everything is on this one space. If you use a RSS reader and it exploded with posts, my apologies for the influx. It just feels like I shouldn't be separating my life and thoughts into two journals. Everything is all blended together in real life (grief, joy, my three sons, etc.) and so it is here.

I made another trip up to my home town and this time I made sure to stop by the cemetery to visit William & Ethan. I had Maxwell with me...the first time all three of my boys were in the same place (other than hanging out in a petri dish post-retrieval during our very first IVF cycle that resulted in me getting pregnant with the twins). There were tears (mine) and a brief introduction. I promised Maxwell he would know his brothers as best as we could and I would tell him all about them as he grew up and could better understand. We picked some lilacs and left them on the twins' stone and headed home. Another merging of my worlds and wishing that I could blend this one in a much happier way, but knowing it will never be.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Sleep deprivation is a strange thing. It makes me forgetful, giddy, tearful, hungry, not hungry, and just plain not myself. Thanks to a teething baby there is not a lot of sleep to be had the last two weeks. I wouldn't trade these moments for anything.

I am especially prone to random thoughts and here are some that are recurring...

- I've been having many PTSD like flashes from the day the twins were born particularly of William's birth and being asked if they should continue trying to resuscitate him and Daron saying keep going while I was having a contraction and unable to respond. I knew in my heart he was already gone.

- I found a necklace in the key bowl by the door that has been there for almost 2.5 years. I wore it to my baby shower and last took it off in the emergency room before the twins were born. When I cleaned out my purse when we came home I must have put it there. I haven't worn it (or any other necklace), except for my necklace with my sons' initials, since December 2010.

- Sometimes when Maxwell is sleeping he looks exactly like Ethan in the short time he was alive. I cry every single time.

- I think a lot about the way our IVF cycles have played out. How William and Ethan were paired, but we lost them and how it could have been Maxwell in that pairing instead. I also wonder who might be in the last two embryos in cryo storage. Will there be a sibling(s) there a girl(s)?

- how different would life be if Ethan had hung in there and lived? What would the relationship be like between my boys?

- I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading Mother's Day. I've had such angst about it for 5 years thanks to infertility and grief that I'm not sure I can enjoy it.

I know there have been many more thoughts but the forgetfulness of sleep deprivation has locked many away. So much on my mind...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This past weekend I took a trip up to the area where I grew up and where William and Ethan are buried. It was a crazy busy weekend celebrating my niece's birthday, a friend's daughter's birthday and making sure important family and friends got to see Maxwell.

It wasn't until I was an hour into the trip home that I realized the one thing I overlooked...I hadn't gone to the cemetery! I drove by after dark when it was closed and blew the twins kisses but I never made it back the next morning. I was talking to my sister when I realized what I had done. The guilt was so over could I have done that!?! Did I really forget to go...forget to visit them on one of my not so frequent trips to the area?!?

Yes..yes I did.

I cried practically all of the remainder of the 3 hour drive. There just aren't words for how truly awful I feel about not visiting William and Ethan's grave. It's not like I can go any time.

My sister called me after she knew I was home and gave me the only reassurance possible. My dad had gone to the cemetery not too long after I had left and had a chat with the boys since he wasn't sure if I had gone or not. He explained how busy it was and that he knew they were on my mind the whole weekend. My sister also went for me also, bringing the boys a beautiful flower arrangement in a cute elephant vase. My sons have the best Papa and Auntie! I am so lucky to have them step up when I falter.

The guilt of feeling like a horrible baby loss momma is heavy. I feel terrible and still can't figure out how it's possible I could flake on something so important.

I guess what's done is done. I have a similar weekend next month (another niece and friend's other daughters bdays) and I will not forget again.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Awkward Pause

Three times this past week I got The Question. The one that baby loss parents dread..."is this your first?"

After all this time I still don't have an comfortable or easy response. Most of the time I say yes because the person asking isn't someone that has any sort of investment in my life or in my sons. I still feel incredibly guilty not acknowledging William and Ethan in that moment. Because of this I realized that every single time I am asked I stop breathing for a second, swallow hard and say that Maxwell is my first or only (depending on the way the question was phrased) and silently think "but he has two brothers in heaven." Who knows if the person posing the question even notices the awkward pause...they probably don't.

Three times last week this happened. It is bound to happen more often now that the weather is nicer and I meet other parents at the park or out and about on our walks. It's not that I want to answer The Question gracefully, because there is never going to be a comfortable way to answer completely truthfully or lack of guilt if I only acknowledge them in my head.

I guess it boils down to that I want all my babies alive. I want to be the frazzled mom of two year old twin boys running circles around the stroller holding their 8.5 month old baby brother. Instead I am the mom snuggling her baby, eternally grateful for the joy he brings, wishing there were two more boys by my side.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


A friend I worked with ages ago (before making the career jump from office admin to art education) is pregnant and coming up on her due date. We have stayed in touch through but rarely see each other in person. I see all of her baby-related updates and wish and hope that everything goes ok. I am anxious and freaked out. After all...shouldn't I be anxious because I am excited and happy for her?!?

Of course I should...but as a baby loss momma I fear the worst. I've lived it, seen it happen to other friends and made connections with other women online that have gone through the loss of their child/children. When I think about it, pregnancy complications, miscarriage, infant loss and still birth seem more "normal" than an average uncomplicated pregnancy that results in a healthy living baby. How f-ed up is that?!?

On a completely unrelated topic, I am thinking of merging my two blogs together. A Speck of Hope is all about Maxwell, but I don't feel the need to separate/segregate my grief for William and Ethan from raising my living son. I am not sure if that makes sense. Basically I think I have a need to stop being two moms (one to a living child and one that grieves her twin sons gone too soon) because the two no longer feel mutually exclusive. There are many days where I want to write about something that is relevant on both blogs and because I can't decide where to write it gets lost in the shuffle and ends up on neither.

Once I figure out how to do it, I will. I hope it won't make RSS feeds bombarded with posts. I know that google reader is going away so however my small group of followers that read both this might make it easier for everyone.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Adventures in Baby Food Making

Maxwell is definitely a kid that needs to work up to finger foods. I chalk it up to his hyper-sensitive gag reflex. My early attempts at giving him sticks of softer veggies were a disaster (puking - Bleh!). He is a good solid eater of purees and we'll work our way up to finger foods eventually!

Now that baby boy has a big appetite buying pouches of organic food was getting spendy. And honestly some of it tasted gross or had additives I'd rather skip. Making purees is generally pretty easy and cheap, even when buying organic. If course I say generally because I can always find a way to keep things interesting!

Adventure #1 involved sweet potatoes...a favorite of mine and Maxwell's. Most recipes for baby food have you steaming the fruit or veg, but the thought of steaming a sweet potato was not at all appealing so I baked two extra when I was making some for dinner. Easy-peasy! Yeah...except for the part where I dropped a glob of fresh from the oven sweet potato on my big toe. A blister on one's toe is not your typical cooking injury and it hurts like crazy!

Adventure #2 was the result of an aged small appliance. I defrosted/lightly coked frozen peaches in the microwave. FYI...frozen fruits and veg are a great shortcut for purees when fresh is out of season or wicked pricey! I pulled out my stick blender (since my cheapo food processor attachment for my blender sucks) and set to work pulse blending my warm squishy peaches. After 2 pulses there was the worst burnt plastic smell...I was able to get the purée finished with put catching fire thank goodness! I did some quick calculations and realized this poor little stick blender must be around 15 years old and served me well over years, however it is time to retire him!

For ease and, more importantly, safety I found good deals on a new stick blender and proper food processor. Yeah! There's not much I can do about my clumsiness so I am sure there will be further adventurers to come!

Heavy heart...

Today I woke up and just felt sad...tears have been prickling in my eyes in spite of the the joy that comes with the smiles wrapped up in William and Ethan's baby brother.

It has been such a long time since I woke up feeling this way. Perhaps because Maxwell has done so much good for my heart. He also monopolizes my time so distractions are rare.

I also realized, after looking at the calendar and marveling that it is so close to the end of March, that this was due date time for my twins. It always amazes me how my subconscious self keeps track when I am not. The twins' due date lost most of its power after the first time it passed...after all what are the chances of any baby being born in his/her due date?

William and Ethan are in my thoughts always, but the sadness is a gentler nudge (rather than a kick to the stomach) and missing them is a longing (rather than the paralyzing want of what should be). I know grief changes and I was just getting used to how grief feels now.

Today feels a bit more like it did six months to a year out. How can it be nearly 28 months since we had to say goodbye?!? I am not feeling the rawness of me grief from those earlier days, but the physical response (quick to tear, ache in my chest) is much the same.

I have been trying to use photoshop to edit pictures of William and Ethan so I can have a portrait of them together. With the nature of their premature arrival and quick separation in hopes of keeping Ethan alive after William was gone, there are no pictures of them together. I also have no photos of me holding Ethan, but such is the unclear thinking created by the vortex of grief. Even with all of my photo editing skills I can't quite get it to look right...or even ok.

It has since dawned on me that I should use my artistic skills and just draw them using the photos. That would certainly take away the challenge of photoshopping William's bruising that make the photos hard to look at. What I want more than anything is a picture that I show people and say "here are my beautiful baby boys." While I can look at their photo's and see their beautiful faces, the awful reality is the photos are clearly of dead babies with all of the horrible marks of the premature birth and attempts to help them live. A mother's love can see beyond and see her sons, but not everyone (including their father) are comfortable with what is really in the photos. I understand that and that makes me want more for my sons. I want to put their picture on the wall next to Maxwell's. I want to show off all of my sons!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Sweetest Sounds

Maxwell's babbling has gradually developed into increasingly distinct sounds, often hilariously combined at volumes ranging from low, barely audible, grumbles to ear piercing and surprisingly loud squeals. To say he is exploring sounds feels like an understatement! He has definitely mastered expressing him self with sounds despite his lack of words.

The squeaks, squeals and giggles of joy warm my heart and never fail to make me smile or laugh. His protesting grunts and rumbly grumbles of dissatisfaction get the point across even if they make me laugh hysterically! (Sorry's just too funny not to laugh!) It's not so hard to tell how M is feeling...the "why"is often a mystery though.

Three days ago the sweetest sound ever started coming out of my son! At first I wasn't sure and it was mixed in with his grumbles. Then it got more and more distinct and I sent video to family and friends for confirmation. Yes...they heard it too! Ma ma mama ma ma ma!

Granted he is using it as a part if his grumbles and "pay attention" grumblings and not as my name but he is saying it! I honestly have never heard anything sweeter.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Babies are amazing!

Maxwell Has healed so quickly from his surgery! After just two weeks the catheter is out, the incisions are closed and stitches dissolved. The extra care needed the last two weeks was mostly time consuming but felt like a huge effort...just having the catheter out has relieved so much of the work! It is absolutely amazing how fast their little bodies heal...and how slow the scratch across the bridge of my nose, made by sharp baby talons, is healing. Those miniature razor blades at the tips of my son's fingers grow in spurts. All is fine then I need to trim the nails every day or everyone gets stinging scratches. Ouch!

It is also amazing how many skills Maxwell has mastered this week. It seems like he does not like to do anything until he can do it perfectly. He has been sitting with assistance, rolling on to his side and half-heartedly reaching for objects for weeks if not months. The poor lil' guy decided one night to roll all the way over shortly after his surgery...there was lots of crying! Some of the tears from surprise (half asleep and shock) and many more from pain in his boy bits. A rude awakening for sure! During M's twice a day soaks for comfort a dissolving his stitches, he mastered sitting up on his own and lunging for his bath toys. Bath time also got a whole lot interesting with the kicking of feet and hand splashing learned in swim class. Anything in a six foot radius was soaked!

With all of these new skills Maxwell has turned into a rotten sleeper and he wasn't a great sleeper to begin with. I fully take responsibility for most of his sleep issues, apart from the restlessness that is typical of babies who are processing new skills and teething. On a really good night, M will wake up twice...once to eat and once for a diaper change (even with extra absorbent night time diapers he gets uncomfortable because his diaper is so full because he pees a lot). On a bad night he is up every hour or so (sometimes more, sometimes less). This is a lot of my own doing and ignorance early on.

When he was tiny and sleeping in our room I attended to his every whimper by feeding and changing him. This of course would fully wake him up and I would have to resettle him. I am also guilty of holding him for most of his naps. And lastly i nurse a rock M to sleep. As a result, I have a finicky sleeper. It is a process to get him settled in his crib, he has trouble settling himself back to sleep and will only take short naps if I am not holding him. I don't mind so much since I am home with him but if I was teaching it would be a disaster. Since M's surgery and his new found skill of rolling his night wakings are more frequent and he is far more awake which takes much mire effort to get him resettled. Basically, our old routines aren't working and I need to build better sleep habits.

Most sleep training methods aren't for us...hearing him cry even a little is more than I can bear and watching friend's try these methods I know that disruption to the plans takes you back to square one. I do have the no cry sleep solution book and plan on trying some of its suggestions. Here's hoping we have some amazing progress with sleep!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

All is well...

Maxwell's surgery went well. So very glad to have him come through it ok and be able let that worry go. There are other worries (is he healing ok, is he in too much pain/discomfort, are the meds making him hyper) but really, the worries never stop even if you are a mother not familiar with the loss of a child. Bottom line is he is alive, well, and home.

Being the charmer he is, M had the nurses fawning over him. He was in pretty decent spirits prior to surgery considering he hadn't nursed since 3am and by surgery time he hadn't taken a nap so he had been awake for just over 4 hours. That turned into the theme of the day...not much sleep. You would think that the surgery would have been taxing enough to bring on lots of sleep especially paired with Tylenol with codeine. poor babe was wound up, hyper even, and not able to sleep much. Holding him and nursing him was a challenge because our usual comfy snuggle put pressure on his nether region making it uncomfortable or down right scream-inducing painful. And then there was the hyper-activity that drove M to distraction and latching on for more than 2 seconds impossible. We were both exhausted!

Thankfully today the meds don't seem to have the same effects as yesterday and he is resting well. M almost slept through the night and had his meds not worn off I bet he would have slept longer! He didn't even seem to notice his catheter slipped out of his diaper drenching his sleep sack that is how well he slept. This is the most sleep I've had in ages since M always wakes up at least once or twice a night (or every hour on bad nights).

The most helpless feeling in the world is seeing your child in pain and not being able to make it stop. His cries are always hard to hear, but M's crying out in pain is beyond heartbreaking. When it goes on for more than a few minutes everyone in the house becomes a hot mess. The cat (always concerned over Maxwell's noises including laughing) is trying to get close to see what is wrong, Dad is pacing and on edge and Mom is crying almost as much as the baby! Not pretty. I realized I need to be the calming influence since I can't actually take the pain away...a few deep breaths to lower my blood pressure, a quiet soothing voice and a gentle touch is the only tools I have. Hopefully this will pass quickly and the healing will be quick!

The bandages come off tomorrow, the catheter comes out at his follow up appointment in two weeks and hopefully all goes well in the mean time.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Imprinting to Memory

Tomorrow is the big day...Maxwell has his out-patient surgery to correct his hypospadias. To say I am a nervous wreck is still putting it mildly. I spent most of today drinking in my baby boy, holding him tight and taking snapshots of today and committing them to memory...just in case.

Goofy grumbly faces, huge smiles, slobbery kisses, chubby legs kicking in the water, the weight of his body against mine as he drifted off to sleep, his hand reaching out to grab my face as he nursed...all moments that I tried to carefully memorize. They are moments that I enjoy every day and not take for granted because of what I don't have.

I am terrified of the what if that hangs over tomorrow. What if something goes wrong? What if I loose him too? While the surgery is routine, I know that it can all go wrong in an instant. While I am fighting to push that thought to the back of my head, it is a hard battle.

On top of the stress of the surgery, a potentially nasty snow storm is heading our way. It makes the trip to and from the surgical center less than ideal. There is also a knot forming in my stomach because the days around William & Ethan's birth were snowy and the day we lost Ethan there was terrible storm and we barely made it to and from the NICU hospital. This is an entirely different situation, but thanks to a little PTSD the worry feels magnified.

All I want is to get through tomorrow and have my baby boy sleeping in my arms tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Screw you Wal.greens and your adorable commercial about a family with twin boys. Thanks for reminding me what we are missing.

Yup...still feels like a stab in the heart and a kick in the gut to see twin boys. I thought these kinds of things wouldn't have the same power as they did two years ago.

Boy, was I wrong.

Big Happenings!

Finding the time to write is getting harder and harder...especially with so many new things Maxwell! I want to write about them ...but being more active and on the verge of dropping a nap...the time seems to slip by in an instant!

Now that my big boy is 6 months old there are lots of new activities for us to do. A story time at the library, swimming classes and a baby play time at a kids gym. Swim class starts tomorrow and I'm excited! Well, not about putting a swim suit on this post-partum body...but definitely about being in the water with M. He seems to like bath time so hopefully swimming will be fun too.

The other big thing is M has to have surgery next week...complete with general anesthesia. M was born with hypospadias which is a fancy term that means the opening of his urethra is not at the tip of his penis but is on the shaft. We are lucky that is a very basic case and not super serious. Some of the worst cases have the opening behind the scrotum. Maxwell has normal functioning boy bits other wise. The surgery will correct any issues and ensure good functionality when he is older. Believe me talking to the urologist about my son's sexual functions is not something I ever thought (or wanted to talk) about!

I have had major anxiety about the anesthesia including worst case scenario dreams (he never wakes up) and might need meds myself that day! In my head I know that problems are rare...but I've been on the short side of a statistic before and it shattered life as I knew it.

So fingers crossed all goes well with swimming and the surgery!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My big boy!

In less than a week Maxwell will be 6 months old! It's mind boggling how fast the time is flying by...and how much I am enjoying being home with him. I will never regret taking this time off and already dread having to go back to work in September.

Yesterday M had his 6 month check up and he is a thriving healthy boy! Like his mommy, he is at the top of the growth chart for height and weight (27.25" and 19.16lbs)!!! Not bad for a 5lb premie that arrived 6 weeks early. I hate to say it but as a boy I hope he won't have the self image issues I grew up with as the biggest girl in my class. I was proportional and a healthy weight for my height but that messes with your head when you are 5'5" in 4th grade and feel like a giant among your tiny classmates.

Sometimes it's hard to remember he was a premie and is on the later end of the developmental milestones, yet still doing things you would expect for his age, when he looks so much older. He is almost bigger than my friend's 10 month old daughter...she is on the move while M is just getting the hang of rolling over and sitting up on his own. I'm certainly in no hurry to see him grow up (the time is going too fast as it is). I just have to remember not to compare.

Maxwell is healthy, happy and thriving and I couldn't be happier! Breastfeeding is going well (with a few painful ups and downs...umm can someone tell me why M decides biting is a great idea during growth spurts and forgets how to latch!?! Ouch!) Our next adventure is venturing into the world of food. His pediatrician gave us the ok to start cereal, which I have mixed feelings about (low nutritional value, arsenic levels found in rice) but the dr said I can try any grain and the store bought cereals are iron fortified so not completely devoid of nutrition. She also said that it is really just a way to thicken up my breast milk (she recommends using breast milk to moisten the cereal) to give him a chance to get used to eating and swallowing thicker food. She also said if he hates it then try purées thinned with breast milk instead. It makes sense I guess...any words of advice from moms already having fun with food?