Wednesday, September 28, 2016

October is coming

October is coming. Just like it does every year. And I feel myself withdrawing. Slipping into...into I don't know what, a depression? A more intense state of grief? A "it just really sucks to have a dead child" mentality? Whatever it is, I feel it. I feel it deeply.

October is such a beautiful time of year too. The weather cools down. The leaves start to change. There are so many fun fall activities. But it's also the time of year I celebrate the birthday of my son without him here. Five. He would be five this year. One month from today is his 5th birthday. It will be the fifth time we make a carrot cake for a little boy that was only here for 12 days.

October is also pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. A time that leaves me questioning "am I doing enough for him? Am I doing enough to raise awareness and honor the life of my child?" It doesn't feel like it. I often feel like I can hardly keep it together for my two living children. How do I find the energy needed for Marcellus?

But those two living children, they know their brother. Weston can't acknowledge him yet. But Ethan does. And he acknowledges Marcellus's death too. Today out of nowhere Ethan told me he needed mookies (his word for nursing, and yes he still nurses). He doesn't nurse often during the day, so I asked him why he needed mookies. He responded, "Because Marcellus died." Oh my heart dropped. I asked him if he was sad that Marcellus died and he put out his little bottom lip, got the saddest looking face and asked, "Why did he have to die?" I explained as simply as I could what happened. That his intestines got a really bad infection and stopped working. That the rest of his body then stopped working, that his body broke. Ethan then said, "his bones cracked?" I explained that actually Marcellus's bones were okay that it was his intenstines and his heart that stopped working. And a body can't work without those. I explained how usually breaking a bone doesn't mean someone dies.

We then started to talk about Marcellus's birthday coming up and how we will have carrot cake. Ethan wants to decorate the cake with bones. He said, "because Marcellus has his bones." Oh the innocent thought process of children.

I share this story with you because these are some of the things you may not realize go on in a household where a baby has died. That to bring awareness to infant loss I can share with you how my 3 year old copes with having a brother that died a year before he was even born. How these things come up in our home organically. I wasn't talking about Marcellus at the time. But something made Ethan think of him. I have to emotionally and mentally be prepared to answer these questions at any moment. And I will. I will always answer their question. Not just my children's, but anyone's questions.

So ask. Ask me about Marcellus. Ask away. Ask me what he was like. Ask me about his soft hair I can still feel on my fingers. Ask what it was like when he melted in to me during skin to skin. Ask to see more pictures. Ask to see video. Ask why we have carrot cake at his birthday. Ask whatever you can think of. Say his name. His beautiful name, especially during October. The time of year where I want to hide and never come out while simultaneously wanting to get out and tell you all about my sweet firstborn son.

Marcellus, your birthday is just around the corner. One month away. Will we do enough to honor you life? Or really the question should be will I think it's enough. The truth is, no matter what we do, it will not be enough. It will not be enough because you are not here. You are not hear to eat that carrot cake with us. Would you even like carrot cake? I feel the dread of your birthday coming and going, the anniversary of your death coming and going. Another year has almost gone by without you here. Did I do enough for you in this last year? Did I live my life enough to make up for the fact that you aren't here to live yours? I feel like the answer is no. And maybe that's why the dread is sinking in. I feel like you deserve more. So much more. I love you my sweet boy. I love you just as I love your brothers. I love you all so much. When I hold them tight I hope they know some of that love I pour into them is also for you. I love you right up to the moon and back. xoxox.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Orange on the couch

My blog, my place on the internet for Marcellus. This quiet online place of reflecting and honor and missing and remembering my first born son. It has been greatly neglected over the last few years, but especially lately. 

And I try to be okay with that. I have two children here on earth that need me. Two children that will only be little for so long. Their infancies fleeting and childhoods passing by at lightning speed. Marcellus, on the other hand, will always be 12 days old. But he is still my son and he still deserves some of my time and energy. 

So in this rare moment where Ethan is playing independently and Weston is just crawling around exploring the house I sneaked away to write this. I started to fold the laundry, but knew I needed to take these few moments for Marcellus and I to connect instead. Yes, I had to pause to keep the baby from chewing on a band aid (still in the wrapper…where did that even come from?) and I’m keeping an ear out if Ethan’s joyful playing turns to needing momma. 

But for this moments, I am here, on my blog. In my space with Marcellus. I am here to say I miss him. I ache for him. That I am always thinking of him. I may go months between posting on my blog, but the truth is I am always always thinking of him. I often "write" blog posts in my head and never get a chance to type them up. 

...The fact that I just had to step away to clean orange marker off the couch definitely shows how difficult it is to find balance in this season of my life. This season of having a 3 year old, a 10 month old, and a child not here on earth with me. 

The crazy thing is E never writes on anything. He barely colors even on paper. Of course I initially felt very frustrated about it, but as I was wiping it off (thank goodness for microsuede or whatever it is that's so easy to clean) it dawned on me that he used orange. Orange at a moment that I was engrossed in thoughts of his big brother. His brother that dons an orange pumpkin hat in many of his pictures making orange the color that makes me think of Marcellus the most. 

Maybe it was Marcellus's way to say, "Hey, Mom. I know these two keep you busy. And that's okay. I'm always here."

Dear Marcellus, this time of year I particularly struggle with the balance of wanting to do tangible things for you while raising your living brothers. You're always on my mind, always in my heart, always internally there with me. But I want to externally do things for you too. Talk about you, write here, think of ways to raise money for March for Babies, figure out what things to do for your upcoming birthday, think of ways to include you in the upcoming holiday traditions. I feel like I often fail to find that balance. I feel like I fail with finding balance for a lot of things. But I do know you're always with me. Your love is with me and my love for you is always always with you. Missing and loving you my sweet baby boy. Forever and ever. xoxox.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I will never be alone.

 There are so many people in my life that the following is true for.
Lexi Behrndt's page -

I vividly remember going to our infant loss support group for the first time about a month and a half after Marcellus died. As each story was told I remember calculating the time gone by since their children died. I thought to myself, "Wow, they've survived 6 months (a year, two years, etc.) without their child here. They grieve and they cry and they are heartbroken, but yet I see life in them. Maybe one day I will live again too."

And here I am. Proof that you can live. And not just live, but have hope, laugh, feel immense love, and even be joyful. I don't really know when that happened. When did these things start to creep back into my life? Was there a certain time frame that passed? Was it some milestone we got by? Was it the hope our living children have brought us? Whatever it was and whenever it happened doesn't matter. It is so different for everyone. What matters is that it happened.

I do know the first six months were dark, very dark. I honestly can't remember much of my life from that time. Around six months after Marcellus died is when I started feeling ready and hopeful for another baby. Maybe that readiness and hope is when a little light started to sneak back in.

I also know it's not something that happened over night. It wasn't the one year anniversary, it wasn't having another baby (or another) that did it. It's been gradual, it's been the day to day stuff. For me that means it has been doing the grief work, the therapy, the blogging, speaking his name, creating traditions, making sure his siblings know him. Surrounding myself with supportive people that will also speak his name and listen to his story, my story, our story. Embracing this life, the good and the bad, for what it is. My life, his life. His life through my life. I carry my love for him with me everyday, just as I do for his living siblings.

There can still be dark days and moments. The grief can still be immense. But my life is full of so much light, color, and beauty. I have now been on the other side. The one that a newly grieving momma might look at and say "She grieves and she cries. She is heartbroken. But she is alive. She lives. She hopes and laughs and loves and lives freely. Someday...someday I can live again too." I can only hope I am able to bring hope to others in their darkest moments.

So to all of you that have come before me, are beside me, and will come after me...I love you. I am here for you. I need you. We are surviving. We are living. We have each other, always.

Marcellus, I've said it before and I'll say it again...when your heart stopped beating I swore mine would too. And in a way it did. In those early days I honestly didn't know how to live again. I had no idea how my life would continue on without you on this earth with me. But it did. Each day turned into the next. And somehow the darkness started to lift. Light and laughter made their way into our lives again. At first I know I felt guilty to feel hope and joy without you here. But I know that hope and joy is a part of my love for you. I carry that love everywhere, always. Missing you with all my being my sweet baby boy. Love you!!! xoxox.

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.