Thursday, March 17, 2016

This stone

This. This is my son's grave site. This is my son's name carved in stone. This is where a piece of my heart lies. This is a part of my reality. This is where his body is buried.

But his spirit his bigger than this. His legacy means more than this. My love is more powerful than this.

This still happens though. Other parents still go through this. Prematurity still causes this. NEC still kills preemies that may have lived otherwise. And this...this is why we walk, why we support March of Dimes. We hope their prematurity campaign can prevent this. Even if for just one family, for them not to know this....this heartache.
Please consider donating to our March for Babies team, Marcellus's Marchers, to honor Marcellus and help us know his name reaches farther than his grave stone.
Here's the link to my fundraising page:

Dear Marcellus, I hate this. I hate seeing your name on this stone. But you are more than this. You are my son. My sweet boy. Your name reaches beyond this. One way we hope to keep your name more than this is through March for Babies. We hope we can do enough this year. I love and miss you immensely...always. xoxox.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Walking again

We will be walking in the March of Dimes event March for Babies again. It will be Marcellus's Marchers fifth year walking. That means we are about halfway through our fifth year without Marcellus here. The walk is just a little over two months away.

I have to admit that the couple of months leading up to March for Babies are hard for me. I take it all too personally. When I share about March for Babies on Facebook and hardly anybody "likes" the post and there aren't any comments, I get really discouraged. When I share about it and people do like/comment, but no one signs up to walk or donates I again get really discouraged.

March for Babies is such a big deal to me. It's the biggest physical, tangible thing I can do for Marcellus as his mother. And I take it seriously. But I always feel like I'm failing him. Every year I feel like I didn't do enough to raise money. Every year I feel like I could have done more. Every year it's just not enough. Part of it I think has to do with the major success we had the first year. I just reread the post I wrote after the first walk and we had raised $13,500 and had over 20 people walking for Marcellus. The last couple of years our team has been so much smaller and raised around $3000 or so. Nothing compared to that first year.

The first year the walk occurred on Marcellus's half birthday. People were still grieving with us. This walk, 4 years later, other people don't feel the grief for us like they did then. And honestly, 4 years later, we don't feel the grief like we did then. But that doesn't mean we aren't still grieving. Very much still grieving. Our grief has just evolved. It's more internal. It isn't so intense on a day to day level, but it very much can still be quite intense.

But I still need to know that people think of him, that they haven't forgotten. I still need reminders that he has touched and continues to touch other people's lives. My sweet boy, his twelve days on earth and the 4 years 3 months and 1 week we've been without him. I need to know that when they think of my family that people think of three boys. That they see him in his brothers. His littlest brother looks so much like him. So damn much like him.

I wish people could hear Marcellus's 3yo brother talk about him. The things he says so matter of fact, "one of our children is dead," and "I wish Marcellus was not died," and "I miss Marcellus. He's in my heart." This is our reality, including the reality of our living children. To have a brother they will never know. And so his two little brothers will walk with us and we will tell them why it is so important for us to walk: 1) To keep their brother's memory alive and share his legacy with the world, 2) to raise money and awareness so that other families do not need to have this reality, so that other families may be complete.

Here's a quote from the blog post I wrote that first year (note: it was a post written to Marcellus),
One of my biggest fears is people will forget about you, or stop talking about you. But knowing that all these people were walking for you and supporting us in this walk shows me that they will never forget about you. Lots of people were even already talking about our team for next year! How awesome is that? Every year we will have a team just for you. 
That is still one of my biggest fears. And this walk is still one of the ways I can be shown that will never be true. So, please, if you think of Marcellus, if he has touched your life in any way at all consider donating or joining us on April 30th. Every little bit helps, every little bit means more to me than I can express. Please, help me keep my son's legacy going, help me to mother him in the only way I can. There's so much more that needs to be done to prevent premature birth, to help babies in the NICU, and to support their parents.

"The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality."

All babies deserve the best start in life. Two of my boys didn't get that. Marcellus spent all 12 of his days fighting in the NICU. We spent all 12 of his days fighting with him in the NICU. Ethan spent his first 10 weeks in the NICU. We want to do all we can to prevent other families having to endure what we have.

And seriously, the biggest thank you to everyone that has supported our March for Babies team in anyway in the past and this year. I really don't have words to tell you how big of a deal this is to me. I am so appreciative of every single penny that is raised in Marcellus's name. The rational side of me tells me this year will be no different. Everyone will out pour their love and support. We will reach our goal...there are still over 2 months to go. But the grieving side of me panics and doubts. Grief is nowhere near rational, so I struggle.

Link to my fundraising page: 

Marcellus, as we come up on another March for Babies season, Momma struggles. I struggle with how to best get our team going. I struggle with how I'm going to fundraise and if it's going to be enough. I want to make you proud. I want people to know how proud I am to be your mommy. Will we raise enough money this year? Do we ever raise enough money? We could raise all the money in the world and it wouldn't be enough. Nothing is enough, because nothing can change the fact that you are not here. But I'll try, Baby Boy, I will try. My goal is to get a route sign again this year. That means raising $2000 as a team to get a sign along the walk route with your beautiful face on it. So that everyone walking can see it. So that they can get a glimpse of my first born son as your dad, brothers and I will proudly walk for you. I love you, my little squirmy wormy. I love you so very much!!! xoxox.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas without him...again

Another holiday season has come and we yet again celebrate without our firstborn son here.

We've tried to include Marcellus in what we do. We've tried to start traditions for him for celebrating Christmas. I feel like we have failed horribly.

This is our first real Christmas in North Carolina, where live. Our first real Christmas to celebrate our way (not that celebrating with our families in MN is bad, just our first time to really start our very own traditions).

It's not our first Christmas in NC though. It's actually our third. The first Christmas we spent here was the one right after Marcellus died. We had been in MN for his funeral (he's buried in MN) and stayed for a few weeks after. We got back early December. It was too soon to travel back to MN and on top of that we pretty much cancelled Christmas that year anyway. But shortly before Christmas the mom of a childhood friend of Mike's sent us flowers. A dozen beautiful white roses. On Christmas day we went around to a few cemeteries we had visited and left flowers at the baby sections (in the early days we visited the baby section of other cemeteries since we had nowhere to visit for Marcellus). We thought we had a new tradition for Marcellus, to get white roses for Christmas in honor of him.

The second Christmas we spent in NC was the following year...with Ethan in the NICU born just a week before Christmas. I was, of course, a complete emotional wreck about everything. And that included not being able to have our traditions for Marcellus. A friend got us artificial white roses and we hung one up on Ethan's white board next to his isollete in the NICU. That year we were also going to start another tradition. We were going to releases a lantern on Christmas Eve for Marcellus. Well just a couple of days before Christmas Eve our house was broken in to. With our first son dead, our second son in the NICU and our house just broken into we didn't feel like luck was on our side. So when I read the directions and warnings on the lantern I just felt like we would end up setting our neighborhood on fire. We didn't have a great open area to release it anyway. We still have never released one. They are currently stored in Marcellus's drawer with some of his other special things.

From when Ethan was in the NICU - Christmas 2012

The next two years we were in MN. I know one of those years we even forgot to bring Marcellus's special candle to light. Did we even get roses? I can't remember now. I don't think we even did in MN. I think we did have them at home though.

This year we had the chance to do it right. To create all the memories and traditions with Ethan and Weston while also honoring their big brother, Marcellus. But we messed it up. I had brought up that we needed to get roses for Marcellus, but then the next time Mike and Ethan went to the store we had all temporarily forgotten about it. I thought of it again last night, we still had a chance to get them today on Christmas Eve.

We also wanted to start a Christmas Even tradition with Ethan and Weston. I really wanted to drive around and look at lights. Mike had to work today and we had hoped to go immediately after. Last night we talked a lot about how we were going to try to get roses for Marcellus. I could have gone with Ethan and Weston, but that did not sound appealing at all. I figured the stores would be crazy busy to have them both out. Of course if I knew that was our only chance to get them I would have dealt with it and gone. Mike said he could stop after work or that we could stop when we were out looking at Christmas lights. Well, he ended up not getting off work right away. I made the decision that we shouldn't look at Christmas lights tonight as Ethan was getting tired. I didn't want to push him past his limit when we have tons of excitement for tomorrow. Mike said he'd stop on his way home from work to get roses. Turns out all the grocery stores were already closed though. After he got home we thought of trying Target. They're still open (until 11 if you by chance need anything), but they do not currently have any fresh flowers (I called to check).

And now I'm sitting here a mess. My heart is truly heavy and I am not in the Christmas spirit at all. I feel like we messed up Christmas Eve for Ethan and we now don't have anything special to honor Marcellus for Christmas day. Yeah, we do have his candle we will light, but that's what we do for everything. I want something special for Christmas. Four years and five Christmases without him and we haven't figured it out.

We do include him throughout the season. We take a tag off the Angel Tree for a boy that would be about Marcellus's age, we hang up a stocking for him, we include all his ornaments on the tree and we get him a new ornament each year. We get a family ornament too and make sure that it incorporates him. But we don't have anything for Christmas Eve/Day itself and that hurts my heart. It makes me feel awful, like I've let him down.

To end I want to share a story from today. This afternoon I was nursing Ethan down for a nap. He was playing with my Marcellus hand print necklace. It really drives me crazy when he does that so I asked him to stop. He said to me, "I'm just thinking about Marcellus." I had to ask him again and again what he said to make sure. My heart melted and ached all at the same time. Of course I let him go back to holding on to Marcellus's necklace. And he did, he held on to it until he fell asleep.

Marcellus, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I have failed you this Christmas. It makes my heart hurt. But really my heart would hurt regardless. It hurts because you are not here. Because we are having our fifth Christmas without you. Because I live everyday wondering what you'd be like. I hope your brothers know you are included in all of our Christmas celebrations. Even though you are not physically here, you are always a part of our family activities. I miss you so much my sweet boy, so so so very much. The only thing I ever want for Christmas is impossible, it's for you to be here with us. Merry Christmas my little mister....Merry Christmas. I love you! xoxox.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

12 days

Weston Morgan Lennon was born 12 days ago. He was born at 36 weeks 6 days gestation perfectly healthy. We held him immediately, he never had to leave us and he came home from the hospital WITH me. I will write his beautiful birth story soon, for now I want to focus on his age.

12 days. It has flown by.

12 days. It has been a crazy joyous whirlwind.

12 days. A marking of the amount of time Marcellus was on this earth.

12 days. In 2 hours and 40 minutes Weston will officially have outlived his biggest brother.

12 days. Yes, I calculated it to the minute.

12 days. Is just not very long at all.

12 days. But it is more than some other families have.

12 days. The age Marcellus will forever be.

12 beautiful days they were.

So, as I sit here typing this post on my phone with Weston snuggled up on my chest I feel anger over the shortness of 12 days while I also feel gratitude for the 12 days we had with Marcellus.

When Ethan was 12 days old he was still fighting hard in the NICU. We were less than one fifth of the way into our NICU stay. I was still fearing for his life.

To sit here with Weston at 12 days old, holding him in bed after he just nursed, to not be wrought with fear over his life is surreal. How has it already been 12 days since he was born?! And how is it that we only had 12 days with Marcellus?!?!?

Dear Marcellus, I'd give anything to have had even just one more day with you. Twelve days was not enough. But no amount of time would ever have been enough. Parents aren't supposed to out live their children. Period. Plain and simple. But here we are more than 4 years from your precious 12 days on earth. As I hold your 12 day old baby brother I reflect on those days with you. I am grateful for them and grateful to be your mother. I love you right up to the moon...and back. Missing you always my sweet boy. Always and forever. xoxox.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How am I supposed to...

How am I supposed to celebrate and grieve? How am I supposed to balance this pregnancy, this beautiful, almost full-term pregnancy with Marcellus's dates. How am I supposed to get ready for new life with the anniversary of my son's death just around the corner.

I have to be honest, I'm struggling. I'm struggling to figure this all out. To make sense of it all. And I feel like neither are getting the attention they deserve. I feel like I can't fully grieve Marcellus's death in the way I need to right now because of everything there is to worry and do and take care and celebrate and be thankful for with regards to Baby Cranberry (big one being cerclage removal coming up on Wed the 4th). I feel like I can't full enjoy and celebrate being at the end of Baby Cranberry's pregnancy because the intense grief I am currently feeling being in the middle of Marcellus's dates. Having the fear that this baby will be born on Nov 9th, on the 4th anniversary of the day his/her big brother took his last breath in my arms. How could I even deal with the juxtaposition of that?

Balance. I can't find it right now and I feel like all my children are getting gypped because of it.

I haven't even said much about Oct 28th having been Angela's. I haven't gotten and sent her birthday gift. I haven't contacted the adoption agency to see if they can contact her parents and give them a nudge to send me an update. It's been 3.5 years and I've heard nothing. And I haven't dealt with it.

We never sent anything to my mom to put out at his spot for his birthday. I haven't been writing like I'd want to. I intended to share the posts about my memories of his time on earth on Facebook and I haven't been.

And Ethan. My sweet Ethan. He's stuck in the middle of it all. The grief we have for his big brother. The anticipation and busyness and excitement and everything else that comes with the preparations for his little brother/sister. I haven't gotten to spend the time with him I'd like to before his little world is rocked by a new baby. We haven't had the quality time we need.

Lark...if only I hadn't miscarried Lark. I would have had a baby in August and not be at such a vulnerable time of pregnancy around Marcellus's dates. I wouldn't be fearing giving birth on the day he died. If only...

We're not exactly prepared for Baby Cranberry. The house is a disaster. Baby stuff is not organized at all. I haven't had even a moment to really soak this in. To soak in the fact that I'm 36 weeks along.

My head has just been spinning for weeks. I'm so grateful for this pregnancy to be going how it is. Really I am. But I also carry intense grief with me, especially this time of year.

Marcellus, I'm sorry if I haven't been taking them time I need to talk to you, to grieve you, to ache for you. This time of year is hard. And having this pregnancy with Baby Cranberry go so far along doesn't make it any easier. I think it actually makes it harder in a way. Harder to balance all of these crazy intense emotions I have going on. I'm trying baby boy. I really am, but many days I feel like I'm overwhelmed. I want to enjoy these last days of pregnancy. But I also know I need to grieve for you. For the fact that you are not here on earth with me. That while I believe you already know this baby's spirit, you will not know this baby earth side. Your little siblings, alive and well...but you are not. I just want all my babies with me. I love you so so so so so so so much!!! xoxox.

Monday, October 19, 2015

About little brother's birth story

I need to write Ethan's birth story. It's been almost 3 years and I haven't written it down. I would really like to write it out before this baby is born and that could be in just a few weeks.

It's not like I haven't had the opportunity to write it. I have. Many times. It's that I don't know how to go about it. I don't know how to find the emotional reserve needed to go through his birth story in detail. To see it all laid out before me.

You see the thing is, even though Ethan is here and healthy and thriving, his birth was very traumatizing. In many ways it was much more traumatic than Marcellus's birth.

I started writing out Marcellus's birth story when he was in the NICU, he was 9 days old then. I worked on it one night when I was up pumping. I wasn't able to finish it, but did so a couple months later. I couldn't even imagine trying to write Ethan's birth story when he was in the NICU at all let alone when he was 9 days old. When Ethan was 9 days old I was still under the impression that he was certainly going to die too.

And that's where the difference comes in. When Marcellus was born it was scary. It was incredibly scary. But the moment we got to that hospital when I was in labor I no longer feared for my baby's life. We were at the hospital, they could take care of him. So, when he was born at 28 weeks 5 days gestation I worried more about what disabilities he might have, what struggles he might go through and how long of a NICU stay we were looking at. But I thought he was safe. We were where we needed to be. When he was born and he let out his little cry, I did not fear for his life. It was so joyous and I was on cloud 9 during his birth (even though it was a cesarean, which is not at all how I had envisioned delivering, we were planning for a homebirth). 

When I went into the hospital pregnant with Ethan and the doctor confirmed how far into labor I was, it was complete and utter despair. My world just came crashing down. We found ourselves facing the birth of a preemie again. But we knew too much. We knew the worst. And for 48 hours we hung on to hope that he wouldn't be so preemie after all. But he was. He was 27 weeks 4 days, 8 days earlier than Marcellus was. And I was certain he was going to die. I can't tell you for how long I had daily thoughts that he would die too. I can't put into words how incredibly intense, scary, awful, grief filled it was to walk through those NICU doors again.

So Ethan's birth story doesn't have as much joy behind it as Marcellus's does. There was no glowing moment when we found out Ethan was a boy. In fact, we were devastated he was a boy (boys don't do as well in the NICU as girls because the develop slower). How do I write about moments like that? I do I put that down. How do I know one day he may want to know the details of his birth story and I'll have to tell him it was soul crushing enough just finding out he was a boy, let alone the other moments leading up to and following his birth.

 I know there was joy too and good moments to look back on. We have a video of him crying immediately after birth. Cry crying. Not just letting out one little cry like Marcellus did. Ethan really cried. And there was joy.

But overall the days leading up to and the day of his birth are dark and heavy for me. And I hate that. I hate that so much.

Marcellus, even though you had to die I am thankful that we were not aware of that the day you were born. I am so thankful that we were able to experience your birthday overall as a joyous day. Oh baby, how I remember so vividly when you were born and you let out that cry, the doctor saying "it's a boy!" The look on Daddy's face as we made eye contact. The intense pride and joy Daddy had when he came back to show me your picture telling me how good you looked and how you held his finger. So many beautiful moments. Although scary, your birth will always remain a beautiful day in my memory. I love you so much my squirmy wormy. I can't believe your 4th birthday is coming up so quickly. I wish you were here. Oh how I wish you were here. xoxox

Thursday, October 15, 2015

All over a bowl of cereal

Grief can make you feel crazy. It can make you feel irrational. It can make little things turn into big things. And for me right now that "thing" is a bowl of cereal.

We typically don't have cereal in our house. We're more of an eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles type of family. But with being pregnant and needing to snack and eat smaller amounts of food more often I have turned to cereal. Mike typically does most of the grocery shopping, so on one of his recent trips I requested he pick up a box of cereal. My only request was nothing too sugary.

So, the other night I went to the cupboard to pour myself a bowl as a bedtime snack. But when I opened to cupboard door I froze. He bought that cereal...the cereal...Kashi Cinnamon Harvest.

What's the big deal about that cereal you ask? Well here is a quote from Marcellus's birth story

I was restless and couldn’t get back to sleep. When I realized I was hungry I just decided to get out of bed and get something to eat around 4:40am. I left Daddy sleeping and went downstairs. I got a big glass of water and a bowl of cereal. I still thought I was just having a few BH contractions. After I finished my cereal I tried drinking lots of water and lying on my left side.
 The cereal mentioned was Cinnamon Harvest, one of my favorites at the time. And 4:40am on October 28th, 2011 is the last time I have had a bowl of it. It is the last thing I ate before he was born. Every time I think of his birth story I think of how I thought I was just hungry. That a bowl of cereal could make what I was feeling go away. And almost 4 years later I have not been able to bring myself to pour a bowl of that (delicious) cereal.

I guess at first it was maybe too triggering for me. Too triggering to do something I did in the hours before he was born. Too likely to cause flashbacks to the start of my recognition of being in labor with him. And maybe I'm still worried about that. Maybe I am still worried I will be emotionally triggered by eating the same cereal I did that morning.

But I think the "fear" of having a bowl of Cinnamon Harvest has evolved. Right now being pregnant there's that irrational thinking that if I do something I did while in labor with Marcellus maybe I would end up in labor with Baby Cranberry. Crazy, I know. I do. I know that sounds absolutely fricken crazy. A bowl of cereal can't send me into labor. I was most likely already in labor with Marcellus that morning when I poured myself that bowl of cereal. But grief is crazy like that.

When I really think about it though, at this place that I am in almost 4 years later...I'm not so sure it's about being a trigger or a flashback anymore (although I'm sure that would depend on the day). I think it is now something I see as a way to honor Marcellus. To keep that cereal to be "his" cereal. To have it be something I won't ever do again since the day he was born. To have some would be like betraying him. If I were to be okay with pouring a bowl of that cereal, would that mean I am not grieving him enough?

I don't know if I'll eat it. I've been going back and forth for awhile now. I think it's been in the cupboard for well over a week. Mike didn't realize it when he bought it. How could he. He wasn't up that morning with me when I ate it. I don't hold it against him in any way for buying it. I just honestly don't know what to do about it. Do I have some? Do we donate it and I stick with never having it every again? How will I feel if I do decide to have some?

It's so confusing. And all over a damn bowl of cereal.

Marcellus, I'm sure this seems absolutely ridiculous to some people. It's just a bowl of cereal, right?! But for almost 4 years that bowl of cereal has represented the start of labor with you. It marked the hours just before you were born. And now that that same kind of cereal is sitting in our cupboard, I don't know what to do about it. The back and forth. I don't want to betray you. To have that bowl of cereal would mean it's no longer special to just you. I will have turned it into just any other cereal. Am I crazy to be making such a big deal out of a bowl of cereal? It's just there's not much on this earth that is yours, that is special just to you. I love you right up to the moon and back my sweet boy! xoxox.