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Monthly Archives: July 2012

#43: Threshold

We did it. I didn’t realize how much I was concerned about this point until today. We are over the threshold and I feel like things are all going to get easier from here. It seems counter-intuitive to think that things are going to get *better* as the kids get older, so I will explain.

Molly is two months old. Today. Alex died two days shy of his two month birthday. Molly is officially older than Alex was when he died. To hit this milestone makes me realize how much I had been waiting for this.

Rationally, I wasn’t worried that something would happen to Molly. I knew that could expect her to celebrate birthdays and other events just as we have for Benjamin. You never know though… We had no reason to expect something to happen to Alex, and it did.

Realizing that Molly is older than Alex opens up a whole new world for us. We are hitting a whole new world of “firsts” that we haven’t experienced in quite some time. We had Alex just one year ago. Just one year ago there was nursing and swaddling and cuddling and bathing… We have done these things with Molly, and while they are unique in their own right, they are also very recent. We are now going to be getting into things that we haven’t done since Benjamin, and that feels special and new again.

Living with Molly hasn’t been a deja vu of Alex. I don’t see Alex when I look at her, I don’t compare her to Alex as we go through life. However… all the things we have done to this point have been pretty familiar. Not that they’re any less special… they’re just pretty fresh in my memory. As we start to encounter the milestones that mark the life of a three month old, a six month old, etc., that’s when life with Molly will really *feel* different from life with Alex.

I’m not sure if that makes sense. All I can say is that I’m more than relieved. I’m excited. Excited to think about all the wonderful things on our horizon. Excited to think about having two beautiful children to hug and celebrate on my birthday. Excited to think about coordinating Halloween costumes this Fall. Excited to see another stocking hung by the chimney with care this Christmas.

I wasn’t living with dread this past few months, but it feels like I can breathe a little easier now. When I hold Molly in my arms, I can feel my heart and mind let go just a little bit more. I can let her into my life with less concern… she’ll still be with us in the morning.

I have a new perspective on things. It’s been evolving since Alex died and I feel like I’m finally “here.” I can continue to plan our lives, and really try to make the best of things. I will always do that. The thing that’s different is that I’m not going to dwell on all the things that won’t happen according to plan. If I have a list of 10 things I want to do, and only 7 get completed, I’m going to celebrate the 7, not focus on the 3.

It has been a hard transition, but I’ve found that there is so much more joy and happiness in life when you enjoy the things you have, without mourning the things you don’t. It’s not apathy. It’s non-attachment. (I just learned this term…) I’m not emphasizing the “ifs,” “shoulds,” or “woulds.” I am whole-heartedly appreciating the blessings in this moment.

There is still a lot in store for us, and I know our story isn’t done. I don’t know what the next few years will bring us, but I feel better prepared… in my heart and my mind. Watching Molly reach milestones Alex didn’t brings a new level of joy that I didn’t fully expect.

It’s like there has been a cloud over our lives. We still see sunshine and rainbows, but the sun hasn’t shone as brightly as we were used to, and the days haven’t been as warm as we were accustomed to. As more time passes, the clouds get further and further away. The sunlight that shines on us is from the same sun, but it feels brighter because there’s less gray in the sky. I feel like I can experience happiness and joy on another level again. Our world is coming back to technicolor, and I *like* living in  HD.

The everyday chores and work that come with raising two children fill me with a resounding joy and a deeper satisfaction than I have ever known before. There is nothing more fulfilling than going to church and giving thanks with your arms full of kids. True contentment for me is driving home from something fun, with both kids asleep in the backseat. I love that my car is full of car seats again. I love the peaceful quiet of watching them sleep in the rear-view mirror, hearing their tired snoring in the background. I enjoy washing bottles, changing diapers and doing laundry. All those tasks that were arduous before Alex died bring pure unadulterated joy.

The prospect of going back to work is fun, juggling a career and mommy-hood. So different from going back to work, fresh off burying Alex. Returning to work will be a homecoming, not a continued journey into sadness.

I promised God that if I was given the gift of motherhood again, I wouldn’t squander it with complaints. Watching Molly turn two months old, brings that promise home, and I continue to give thanks.

Benjamin asked where Baby Alex was when we were sitting in church this morning. It’s been weeks since he mentioned Alex, and I’m not sure why Alex was top of mind today. Maybe Alex whispered in Benjamin’s heart because Alex is celebrating her two month birthday too. I’m so happy she’s here, and yet still so sad that he’s gone.

I have three beautiful children and the fact that I’ve never seen them all together brings a unique sort of sadness I can’t clearly articulate. There are pictures with Alex and pictures with Molly. Just never a picture with Alex and Molly. That sucks. There’s such a range of emotions that come with this- all three kids co-exist only in my heart. But, instead of focusing on the distance, I consciously choose to embrace the knowledge that I *have* three children. While I don’t fully understand, God thinks that’s enough. And that’s good enough for me.

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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

#42: Fast

Life with a baby goes very fast. The days go slow, but the weeks go fast. One minute you’re silently hoping that the baby will fall asleep so that you can change the laundry, and you blink and another week has gone by.

Miss Molly is 5.5 weeks old now. How did that happen? Seems like we were just in the hospital, chatting with the nurses and posting her new pictures on Facebook. It all goes by so quickly, even when you’re trying to remember every last detail of the journey.

We’ve been down this road before, had this journey… We had the easy spirited, even-temperament baby that slept well and loved to nurse. Only that story didn’t have such a happy ending. Alex died abruptly at 2 months old, with no symptoms to signal that he had any issues.

I guess that sort of explains why I’m nervous. Not nervous is a non-functioning kind of way, just nervous about when can I finally *breathe* and know that everything in our family is going to work out fine. It’s going through life with a silent hopefulness that everything is okay, but secretly waiting for the other shoe to drop. It doesn’t dominate the forefront of my thoughts all the time, but it’s present in ways that I don’t even realize. This silent, dark “force” that follows me around and slowly sucks the joy out of moments that should be innocent and pure.

Most parents love watching their beautiful babies sleep. They love to watch their children sleep with their fists curled into balls, and see their little frog legs hitched up. These sweet babies sleep through loud noises, bright lights, etc. and their parents look on, proud and content. These are my moments most wraught with fear, alarm and trepidation. What will I find when I peek in on my sleeping baby? An eerie stillness? A face set to a smile, or completely devoid of movement?

Even dreaming, I ward of some rational, and unrational fears about the well-being of our new child. I keep waiting for the time when I feel relief that we are in the clear, and we dodged the bullet of infant death. I know there isn’t such a time. I’ll probably feel these lingering panicked moments for the rest of my life. I can’t avoid them, but I can’t blindly accept them either.

The hardest part is that I don’t see Molly with own her identity yet. She’s not Molly, our first daughter. While I’m relieved that she’s not Alex’s shadow, I’m confused why she isn’t Molly to me. Benjamin will always be Benjamin. There’s no confusion, no conflict. He’s my precocious, loving, slightly whiny toddler who loves to change clothes five times a day and can dance better than I can.

Alex will always be Alex. He’s my picture perfect little Piggy who loved to nurse, slept perfectly and had a distant, wise look in his eyes whenever you saw him. Alex is the child I lost too soon, and the child I was convinced was our last.

What is Molly? She’s kind of a hybrid. I don’t see her as Alex. I don’t confuse her with Alex. I just feel like I don’t really see her as her own person yet. She’s this nebulous thing called the “baby.” I love her and cuddle her and nurse her, yet it’s not a separate experience the way it was with her brothers. Will that change at two months? Is my heart still being cautious because I want to be sure that she survives longer than Alex did?

I’m confused about how I can love her so much… how I can be so grateful and awestruck that she’s here, yet still not *see* her. There are times when I go through the motions of caring for her without identfying what makes her unique from any other random baby out there. I know that sounds weird. What mother doesn’t know her baby? It’s just that things have become blurry for me… the lines are blurry.

There are feelings of joy for Molly and grief for Alex. There are moments of sleepiness when she cries, combined with sheer relief that she’s still with us. There is so much bundled up together, I don’t know where Alex stops and Molly begins. We were pregnant just three months after Alex died… that time was so difficult to process everything… maybe we didn’t finish? Maybe God didn’t mean for us to wallow in sorrow for Alex. Maybe we were meant to celebrate the joy of Molly’s life and I’m just over-thinking things?

I’ve gotten to this point in the blog and I’m stumped. I normally have some concluding thought, or an idea that resonates once it’s all down on paper. There’s nothing today. Time goes fast. I love Molly, but it’s different. I miss Alex, but it’s different. Everything is getting mixed up together and I don’t know what it means.

I guess that’s why I’ve been slow to post in the last month. I don’t know how to explain where we are. We’re happy, but it’s different from what I expected. Maybe that’s the ultimate metaphor for parenthood. It’s happy, but different from what we expected…

 

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized