Sunday, November 23, 2014

Coming up for air

I don't know how many posts I've written in the past that say something along the lines of, "I need to write more." But it's still true. I need to write here more. Or write more in general. You can see by the number of posts that I relied on this blog so heavily in the beginning. And how they trailed off drastically after Ethan was born and even more so when I went back to work.

I have more responsibilities than grief now. In the beginning my only responsibility was as Marcellus's mommy and that meant my only responsibility was grieving.

Now my other responsibilities have taken the forefront. And I suppose they should. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't still grief. That doesn't mean I don't need to still grieve. I am very much still grieving. I don't know why I'm saying the word still, I will forever be grieving.

Right now, somehow, I have a moment to come up for air. A moment where I'm not running after Ethan (he's napping) or working (I'm prepped for tomorrow, only give a test on Tuesday and then it's break).

A moment to say hey, how the hell is it the end of November. How did Marcellus's birthday and anniversary come and go and we survived again?!? How have I not written about his birthday or write around his anniversary, how did I just keep on going along?!? How is the holiday season right upon us?!? Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. The answer is simple, there has not been time. And if there has been time, I honestly haven't had the energy to write. Let it out. Do the grieving that is there to do.

My life right now has almost every moment full of other responsibility. Those responsibilities wear me thin enough that when I may have an open moment, I have no air for my grieving.

Don't get me wrong, I am overall enjoying my life right now. I just need to work on having a better balance. I don't know if that's possible at the moment. And I guess I'm okay with that. I have accepted that. It won't be like this forever. Ethan won't need me so much one day. Mike will graduate in May leaving us both with more spare time. For now, Mike and I work while Ethan naps and sometimes after bedtime to minimize the amount of time he is outside of our care. For now, Ethan wakes at night and needs his momma. For now, the house is in constant need of picking up. For now, the only spare time is spent doing outings as a family. And that's okay.

Part of where I am at in my grief is making sure I am fully present with Ethan. Marcellus has taught me I mus try my best not to let a single moment go by without being aware. Those moments you can't get back. I can't get back any of the time I wish I had been with Marcellus or more present next to his bedside. I will never get any of it back.

My grief will wait. It will wait the six months until life slows down a bit. I'll be more able to deal with it then. For now, I'll try to come up for air just a little more often though.

Marcellus, I hope you don't feel shoved aside. It's not like that at all. You are always there. Always here with me. Always on my mind. Always filling my heart. It's just that other things need my immediate attention. I do wish I had more time to write. More time to actively grieve right now. More time and energy to shed the built up tears for you. More time to do things in your name. Some day my love. Some day I'll have more time. I love you, my squirmy wormy. I love you! I love you! I love you!!! xoxox.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's her birthday too

I'm typing this on the Kindle as I lay nursing Ethan for a nap. Everytime I've tried to get up he starts to fuss. I think he's sensing all or my emotions. He's probably overwhelmed. He's a very sweet loving child and I'm sure it's hard for him to see Mommy upset along with any feelings of his own he is unable to express.

But laying here with him is giving me some down time. Mike is in class and the house is quiet. Down time to reflect on October 28th.

And some of this reflecting is not just on Marcellus. It's also on the very special little girl born 12 years ago this day at 8:07pm weighing 6lbs 5oz. The little girl I named Angela Mae. The little girl I placed for adoption.

This is the 4th year her birthday has been overshadowed. But that does not mean I have not been thinking of her, missing her, wondering about her and wishing things could have been different. True, grieving for Marcellus has been at the forefront these last 3 years. True, most of the time I try to ignore and put off dealing with the emotions I have of placing Angela for adoption. But it's also true that I love her oh so very much.

It's just too much most of the time though (as i wrote about last year). Too much to balance. I don't have enough emotional energy left over to fill out the card I got her, right a letter, and send off her birthday present. So, yeah...it's going to be late again this year. It won't get out today, maybe it will tomorrow. Ill set the goal that by the end of the week it will go out.

I hope one day she will understand. It's not that I forget her on her birthday. It's not that I don't love her enough to get her card/present out. It's just that it being his birthday is already too much to deal with. But I wanted to let everyone know it is her birthday too. For 9 years October 28th was just her day.

Marcellus, sometimes I get so frustrated that you were born on Angela's birthday. That it is now your birthday too. That I have so many emotions to sort out for this one day. But it is your birthday and this day 3 days ago was honestly the happiest of my life. It was scary, but we were so happy to meet you and know that you were okay (because you were at the time. You were born pretty healthy for your gestation). Oh my sweet boy, how complicated this life is. Thank you for giving me the space to tell everyone it's Angela's birthday too. I will write more about your birth later after we get to celebrate you as a family. I love and miss you! Happy birthday sweet boy!!! <3 xoxox

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm not ready

I'm not ready to say, "he'd be 3."

I'm not ready to celebrate another birthday of a little boy that isn't here.

I'm not ready to have the day that marks three years since my first son took his last breath come and go.

I'm not ready for carrot cake, our tradition for him.

I'm not ready for the flashbacks that come when I see his dates on the calendar.

I'm not ready to grieve the new firsts I should be experiencing with him at 3.

I'm not ready to buy a toy appropriate for a 3 year old that he will never play with. That we will donate instead.

I'm not ready to buy an outfit, size 3T, that he will never wear. It will sit in the closet until his little brother can fit into it.

I'm not ready for happy birthday balloons at a memorial tree and grave instead of at his birthday party.

I'm not ready to do the grieving I've been putting off . Grief that is guaranteed to not tolerate being shoved down this time of year. 

Life has been busy busy, sometimes stressful busy, but mostly good busy. But that's leaving me feel not ready to deal with Marcellus's third birthday and anniversary coming up all too quickly. But who am I kidding, would I ever be ready for the marking of another year without my first born son?!?! The answer is an obvious, NO! But I really am not feeling emotionally prepared for it this year.

Please help support me and my family during this difficult time by remembering and honoring Marcellus Robert on his third birthday. If you are wondering what you can do to show your love, here are some ideas: Light a candle, eat a cupcake (or any sweet treat), donate a toy or outfit, do a random act of kindness in his honor, let us know you are thinking of us (text, call, email, Facebook, comment here). Most of all, say his name out loud or put it in writing...Marcellus Robert. Let the world know of the little boy that should be turning three.

His birthday is this Tuesday, 10/28. On that day three years ago, he was born at 10:01am weighing 3lbs 2oz. My beautiful baby boy.

Marcellus, I know I've been busy. I haven't been writing. Work and your little brother take pretty much all of my time. But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking of you, hurting for you, longing for you, wishing more than anything you were here. I have been doing all of that. I just haven't had the time to release it. It is there though. The grief. The heartache. The missing and loving you with everything I have, always there. If you were alive you would be turning three on Thursday...three! How is that?!? But you didn't live. So we will do the best we know how to honor you on your birthday. We will go to your tree, Grandma will go to your grave. We will have pizza and eat cupcakes. Most of all we will miss you, we will cry for you. We will make sure the world knows how much we love you. Because we love you so so so much, sweet boy. So very much! I wish you were here. The words, "I miss you," don't even come close to touching how much my heart and soul long for you. I love you right up to the moon, and back!!!!!! xoxox.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A grieving parents best friend

I really should have written this right after it happened. It probably would have helped me process. But I didn't and I still feel like there's some processing to do, so here I go.

On Aug 8th, we had to unexpectedly put our dog, Perk down. It was awful. It is awful. But not the most awful thing we've ever had to do (obviously). I don't want to get into the details of the why's here. What it comes down to is he had what's called predatory aggression. What's often the most difficult about that is the dog can be awesome 99% of the time and then just snap. The primitive brain takes over (ya know, the part where they came from wolves) and their rational brain turns off. There's no way to say what triggers the switch, so it can be a scary situation. Anyone that I've told that knew Perk has been shocked at what happened. I think that goes to show that he was awesome. And if you know us and want to ask more details about what happened, that's okay. I just don't think this is the place for it. But in short, he attacked another dog while being boarded.

This post isn't to be about what happened. It's to be about how it made and still makes me feel. And how that all related back to Marcellus dying.

Perk was our best friend in grief. He was there for us when human contact seemed impossible. He sat with us (or on us) when we cried. He listened to our wails. He became frightened by our grief at times, but he was there...by our side, always. I honestly don't know what we would have done without him in those early days after Marcellus's death. He made the house seem just a little less silent then it was. 

Mother's Day 2011, they day I found out I was pregnant with Marcellus
We got Perkie shortly after we got married. He was a part of Marcellus's pregnancy. I shared the news with Mike by getting a shirt for Perk that said, "Only child. Big brother." He would snuggle with my belly, looking at me funny when he felt a kick from Marcellus. And he gave us one of the most fun memories of my pregnancy. One night I put some belly balm on my itchy growing tummy. Perk loved it. He licked and licked and licked at my bare belly. It was hilarious. We laughed so hard that night.




When I came home from the hospital and Marcellus was in the NICU it's like he looked at me asking, "Where's our baby?" We brought a blanket that Marcellus had in his isolette home for Perk to have in his crate. To get him used to Marcellus's sent. Perk still had that blanket. We kept it with him. We would always send it with him when he went to boarding too.

Losing Perk was like losing a piece of Marcellus. He was a connection to him. He was here before, during and after Marcellus. And now that's gone.

Perkie with Marcellus Bear
Mike and I stayed with Perk when he was put down. Mike always knew he would do that when the time came. Just didn't know it would be like this. I wasn't sure. But I didn't want to regret not being there. And I owed him. It was so triggering though. In ways that I couldn't have even expected.

I almost couldn't tell him I loved him. It brought me back to my last words to Marcellus. I don't have a clear recollection of what I said to Marcellus, but I know it involved pouring my love into him. So saying, "I love you" to Perkie filled me with some that emotion. Saying I love you when I knew he was about to die was too familiar.

What got me the most, that I had no way of knowing would happen, was when the vet pulled out the stethoscope to check for a heartbeat. I swear I almost had a panic attack. I felt like I stopped breathing for a moment, but I don't know if I gasped or just cried harder or did hold my breath or what. I swear the vet turned into Dr. Young checking for Marcellus's heartbeat. I could feel what it was like to have him trying to be discreet and out of the way, but leaning around me to listen. It all flashed before my eyes. It was one of the most intense flashbacks I've had in a very long time. Even just typing about it is giving me chills.

So there it is. Another difficult situation to be faced. But hey, we've been through worse...we've been through the worst. Still I'm sad and miss my dog. But more than anything I miss my son.

And you know how we explained what happened to Ethan...we said, "Perkie isn't coming home. He died. Perkie is going to be with Marcellus." Let me just take a moment to say how f'ed up it is that we can explain our dog dying to our toddler by saying that he will be with his dead big brother. Yeah, just had to throw that out there. I guess I'm feeling a little angry about everything at the moment. 

Here's what I wrote in an email to the dog trainer that owns the place he was boarded at (the same place we've boarded him every time we've needed too, including an extended stay after Marcellus died):
"Overall he was such an amazing, kind, loving, compassionate dog. After our first son died, Perk was there by our side and helped us through our darkest days. I don't know what we would have done without him. His loss is more than just the loss of a beloved pet, it's a loss of part of our support system. He has been through our ups and downs with us. We have always tried to do our best for him, but one can't help but wonder if some of our struggles played a part for his behavior, going through the loss of Marcellus with us, dealing with Ethan being in the NICU for 10 weeks (and us being pretty absent during that time), and then the adjustment for him of having Ethan in our home. The house is so quiet without him. I guess you never realize how much a dog is always there until he's not. Seems every movement I make within the house is different without our poochy here"

Dear Marcellus, well, you've finally got to meet Perk. That loud barky dog you heard when in my tummy. Maybe you felt the warmth from the snuggles with him on the couch. And I know you heard the deep belly laughs he gave us that night licking my tummy. He was such an awesome dog. He did so much for Daddy and I. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking of how much he had to go through with us. Your NICU stay and your death. Being away from us for so long when we were in MN after you died and then Ethan's NICU stay. But like I said, he was there for us. And we were there for him in his last moments. That brought me back to your last moments, my sweet boy. Those heartbreaking, life shattering moments. One moment you were here and the next, you were gone. Gone from this earth, but never gone from our lives. I love you, Marcellus Robert. I love you so very much and my heart still aches with your absence. Pet and love on Perkie Pie for me. xoxox.

















Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Helpless

Ethan recently had Hand, Foot and Mouth. He did not get sores on his hands or feet, but he did have them in his mouth. The worst one was right on the inside of his lower lip. It made him miserable. He couldn't eat and he barely drink. Nursing became difficult for him as the sore was right where he would latch. The thing that will always calm him, settle him, nourish him was hurting him. The first day in particular was awful. He fussed and cried. That night he woke up screaming an inconsolable cry. I panicked thinking something must be terribly wrong. Luckily our pediatrician has a good advice nurse line or I'm sure I would have rushed him into the ER. After switching from acetaminophen to ibuprofen, we were able to get the pain under control for him and he got some rest. But in that moment I felt completely helpless. My heart was aching to soothe my baby boy. But I couldn't. I couldn't calm him down, I couldn't take away his pain, I couldn't help him. It felt awful.

But those helpless feelings I had that night were not anywhere near the intensity of which I have felt that before. That same little boy, 18 months earlier was fighting for his life. I was helpless next to his isolette. In the NICU where if you ask any parent  they'll be able to tell you that the feeling of helplessness settles into their core.

But the most helpless I have ever been, as a mother, as a human being, is the day Marcellus died. There's a reason we parents get that helpless feeling when something out of our control happens to our children. You've heard the term, "Mama Bear" because we protect. As parents we protect our children from what we can. But we can't protect them from everything and when we can't we feel helpless. Nothing compares to the helplessness you feel as a parent when your child dies. Not the inconsolable screaming of a sick toddler, not watching your 2 lb baby fight for his life (okay, that one comes close because I genuinely thought Ethan would die too in the early days).

Nothing will ever make me feel as helpless as holding my sweet boy, my first born son, in my arms trying to will his heart to keep beating as it instead slowed down, trying to pour every ounce of love into him in that moment as I could hoping he knew I would have done anything to change what was happening. The hours leading up to that moment, watching my boy suffer and struggle and fight and deteriorate. Watching as even nurses and doctors and surgeons couldn't do anything to save him. But even then shouldn't I, his mother, have been able to protect him, keep him safe?!

I couldn't protect him. My intense, overwhelming love was not enough to save him. Was it enough to comfort him in those moments? God, I hope so. I don't talk about that day much. I don't think about that day much. But that day happened and it still brings complete helplessness over me. Even as I type this my arms are physically aching thinking of that last embrace with my boy while his heart was still beating.

2 years 7 months 8 days without that little heart beating on this earth. Yeah, that makes me feel pretty damn helpless.

Marcellus, I'm so sorry I wasn't able to do more for you. To protect you. To save you. There's that saying, "If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever." It's true baby boy. My love for you is so intense and never-ending that if love could save I know my love would have saved you. But it can't. Love can't save. But love can comfort and since my love could not save you that day. That God awful retched day, I can only wish that I provided you with some comfort. I could not protect you, I could not save you, but I will always always always love you. xoxox

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Those people

Somehow Ethan's bedtime has gotten pushed way back. He is staying up until between 9 and 10pm every night. In fact, right now he is still up (at 9:45pm). When E stays up so late it doesn't leave for much downtime. By the time he goes to sleep I'm usually heading to bed shortly after. Mike is in there with him now though and I can hear E blabbering.

I sat down at the computer to upload some pictures of Ethan. I posted some from Easter (when I wrote my Easter post), but haven't posted any since (including the remaining ones from Easter). As my computer turned on, this picture popped up and let's just say pictures of Ethan aren't getting uploading again tonight.

It didn't surprise me to see this picture. It's the background picture on my computer and I see it all the time. But tonight I just stared at it as it loaded. Like really stared at it. And now I'm thinking "who are those people?" Those people with that beautiful little baby boy. Those people that have no idea that 11 days later their world would be destroyed.

Have I written something like this before? I feel like I have, but the feeling is strong again. I often don't recognize myself in pictures from before Marcellus died. I feel like I can't connect with that person.

I look at that picture and I think those people are so naive. They have no idea what can happen. And we didn't. We had no idea. I want to know what it's like again to be those people.

Dear Marcellus, I miss you. I miss being your mommy like I was in that picture. I mean, I am your mommy and always will be your mommy. Nothing in the universe, including your death, can change that. But I want to go back to being your mommy with you here. With you in my arms. I want to go back. I love you my squirmy wormy. My little mister. My first born son. I love you so very very much! xoxox.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tree and tulips

Every holiday is like a marker of time, time that has continued on without my sweet baby boy here. And here we are, another Easter. Our third Easter without him. I just reread my posts from the first and second year. Turns out many of those feelings are still the same (even the religious struggle from last year, not really any progress there). It's just now I am trying to balance those feelings of sadness, grief, and the ache with the joy, happiness, and fun of creating traditions for Ethan. A lot of what I said in the post from last year, we are doing. It's also difficult to comprehend that last year when I was writing that post Marcellus would have been about the age Ethan is now (they are only 13.5 months apart after all). The things I was wondering about Marcellus last year, I'm getting to see and experience with Ethan. But I will never know what it would have been like last year (or this year, or any year) with Marcellus. While I can compare some developmental milestones and know that Marcellus may have been doing some of those, they are two very different little boys. And even though I don't know what Marcellus would exactly be like, I just know they would have such very different personalities. It was evident from the moment they were born (or in utero for that matter).

So far our day has consisted of bunny pancakes for breakfast. A really nice visit to Marcellus's tree. This is the first time we've been there since Ethan has been walking. He loved being there. He loved kissing the tree and touching the branches. He loved looking at the plaque. I know he loves his big brother.

Mommy and Ethan kissing Marcellus's tree.

I had just gotten done reading what the plaque said to Ethan and he went in for a kiss.

We have been so last minute on everything that we didn't have the Easter baskets ready until right before we went to the tree. Mike hid them, so that Ethan got to look for his right when we got back. Two baskets. One boy to find them. This year the boys got candy and plush toys from "their stories." Marcellus's story is Guess How Much I Love You. He got Little Nutbrown Hare that has the saying, "I love you right up to the moon and back" on it. Ethan's story is Kiss Goodnight and he got a new copy of it (his is a bit rough) and a plush Sam Bear. They both got chocolate bunnies. Ethan hasn't had his yet. He's napping now. We'll let him have it when he gets up. But Mike and I will share Marcellus's.

After I took the picture below Ethan grabbed both baskets and dumped them out playing with the contents. I couldn't help but think and I actually said out loud, "Hey, when you have dead brother you get more things to play with." I, of course, mean that in no way negative toward Ethan playing with Marcellus's things. In fact, I like him playing with Marcellus's things (and the outfit he has on in the pics above is one we bought for Marcellus's first birthday). It's that, he should have his brother here to fight with him about it. His brother to get upset when Ethan grabs at all of Marcellus's stuff.


The boys' Easter baskets. Marcellus's is on the right with a hare from Guess How Much I Love You. It reads, "I love you right up to the moon and back." Ethan's basket has Sam from, Kiss Goodnight.

But no brother here in this house. Just Ethan. Just one boy with two baskets to play with. And just some small ways to include Marcellus in our celebration. This year we couldn't find decent white tulips, so we got this orangey ones. Works out because orange is Marcellus's color (because of his pumpkin hat). 
Marcellus's tulips. We waited too last minute and couldn't find open white ones, so this year they are orange.




I've been crabby, snippy, just out of sorts the last few days. It's because I miss him. I miss my squirmy wormy. And I have to go through yet another holiday without him. Having his little brother here does bring me so much joy, but it will never take away the ache and longing I have for him. It will never make the fact that we went to visit a tree and got our "remembrance tulips" any better. It does force me to find balance. Balance in celebrating and grieving. Grieving and missing my son that is not here, but celebrating with and loving on my son that is here. And to do both without guilt. Let me tell you that part is the absolute hardest and I haven't mastered it yet.

But for now, for a bit longer while Ethan naps I am only sad. I only ache and I only grieve. I cry. I miss Marcellus.

Marcellus, Your tree was looking beautiful today. Thank you for the nice visit. I felt you in the breeze. I felt you in your brother's love for you. You are both such sweet boys. I am a lucky momma to have such amazing little boys. I miss you so much though, my squirmy wormy. We are going to do a little egg hunt with your brother when he wakes up. I don't know that he will try to pick up the eggs or not. He's not really one to stay focused on a predetermined task. But I bet it would be fun with you this year. I bet your face would light up when you found an egg. I hope you liked the Easter basket we put together for you. I hate that you are not here to see it yourself. I just miss you. That's all. I miss you and I love you. Forever and ever. Always. I love you right up to the moon and back. xoxox.