being a parent.

I’m pretty sure that all parents check on their kids at night.  Some nightly, some every now and then, but at some point in time, I’m sure that every parent has checked in on their child.  I love that time period — a sleeping, peaceful child makes everything right in the world.  It could have been the hardest day of parenting ever — a colicky baby, more spit up than you could have ever thought possible, blow out diapers, tantrums in the store, a child bolting out the front door of Target into the parking lot, ear infections, no sleep, vomit, food in hair, food everywhere — and standing in your child’s room watching them sleep makes it all go away.


I’m pretty sure that parents who have lost a child look at their child sleeping in even deeper ways than they did before.  Sometimes I go up to check on Jack just for the reassurance of seeing his chest rise and fall because I’ve held my other son while his chest didn’t.  Sometimes I listen to the sound of him breathing, and it’s one of the best sounds I’ve heard.  The in and out and rhythm of life in his body is the reassurance that I need sometimes that life does go on.  Sometimes I lean my face down next to his and kiss him so hard that I wake him up.  Breaking one of my biggest rules of parenting [never wake a sleeping baby].  And I’ll hold my face close to his just to feel his breath on my face.  Just to feel it.  Just to know he’s alive.


Tonight Jack didn’t want us to leave him in his bed.  He just wanted to be close to us in a sweet way tonight.  But we generally are him-in-his-own-bed and he-falls-asleep-on-his-own kind of people, so we told him we loved him and shut his door like usual.  He cried for awhile, and I went up to check on him and just laid down with him.  Because there are nights where he needs to work it out himself and there are nights where he, where we all, need a little extra love and comfort.  And tonight I looked at him and saw all the things I would be missing in 2 years.  The moments I wouldn’t get to help my Gaby fall asleep.  So I stayed and laid as close as I could to my firstborn in his little toddler bed.  And after he fell asleep, I sat up and watched him sleeping.  I watched his chest rise and fall.  And I felt his breath on my face.  And I kissed his cheeks extra times and extra hard because Gabriel had the same chubby cheeks that Jack has, and sometimes it’s how I get a little kiss for Gabriel, too.


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three months.

Gabriel was born three months ago.  Today he would be three months old.  We also lost Gabriel three months ago today.  Today we remember extra what that day was like when we got to meet him and hold him and love on him.  Tonight we will go back to the infant loss support group for the second time.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 months.  The memories fade so quickly – I can’t remember the feeling of him in my arms as easily any more.  I can’t smell his new baby smell on his blankets any longer.  I forget that it’s only been 3 months.  In ways it feels like life’s been like this forever, and in ways it seems like only last week. 


We deeply miss our Gabriel.  Our family misses its 4th member. 


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a little bit of everything.

I just wrote a pretty lengthy post, full of deep thought and rather great, if I may say so.  And then I moved the computer, it shut off, and the post is gone.  This is literally one of my least favorite things in the world.  Did that ever happen to anyone else in college?  I got into the habit of copying my work along the way, but I’m a little out of practice now.  This happened to me a couple of weeks ago as I was sending a letter to Target.  Yes, I am in the letter writing business.  I enjoy writing letters with “constructive criticism” to some of my favorite, or very least favorite, places.  I may be an 80 year old disguised in a 20-somethings body.  Once in college I wrote a very thorough letter to Best Buy.  Don’t even get me started on Best Buy.  In my shortest explanation I can tell you that I’m pretty sure hell is like a Best Buy.  Those are my feelings.  The positive though, is that BB sent me a lovely $30 gift card to make up for the years they took off my life.  Thanks Best Buy. 


Places like Target and Kroger, I’ve only recently written to, because I want them to be the best they can be, and somehow I feel like my feedback will help them.  I know… I’m awesome.  And by this point, if you’re still reading my blog, then you must know what a dork I am already and love me anyway.  But you see, Target, I have not actually written to because my letter got deleted.  Just like my blog post tonight.  See what I did there?  I came full circle.  Moral of the story – make sure your writing is saved or else you’ll end up typing up old and random stories about writing letters to huge stores that probably don’t care. 


Now, what I really was writing about tonight was pretty good, so I’m bummed that it is not only forever lost but that I will never be able to replicate what I said.  The short of it is that I love honesty, openness, and realness.  I’m all about it.  I’m drawn to it.  I am challenged by it.  I strive to live my life that way.  I hate the fake stuff.  I hate pretending everything’s ok.  And I hate a falseness that life is ok when it isn’t.  So I just summed up my last post in way less words, but it was much less eloquent. 


This summer has been frustrating for me.  I had anticipated having a “normal” summer.  It’s been anything but that which I find frustrating.  My biggest frustrations come from my health.  I haven’t talked about it too much here for several reasons.  I feel like it’s whiney, and whiners are weiners.  Second, I don’t really want to focus on not feeling well.  It’s a waste of time.  And third, I really don’t want to tarnish my image I’ve portrayed here of being so neat and tidy and having it all together.  Oh wait, that last one isn’t me anyway.  So I didn’t feel well when I was pregnant, and I expected that I would feel much better physically when I wasn’t pregnant any more.  A couple of weeks after I had Gabriel, by the time my body had recovered from that, I started feeling worse physically.  I have had a lot of weird, random, non-specific symptoms.  I swear things are bothering me but they’re all so random and general that it kind of just seems like I’m crazy.  I’ve had a couple of ER visits.  I have seen a cardiologist, and he put me on a medicine for my heart.  It helps but I still feel bad.  A couple of weeks ago my doctor told me that she thought I may have a rare syndrome that affects the autonomic nervous system.  It usually develops after an illness, a virus, a trauma, or a pregnancy.  It is really rare, and there’s nothing that can be done for it besides treating the symptoms.  She is hopeful that it will go away in time.  I am too because it is annoying.  Obviously, I wish that I just felt fine and didn’t have any health issues.  I find this not only obnoxious but also was disheartened that I couldn’t just feel better so that I could be able to do all of the things that I want to do.  But I am more thankful to have something identified.  I was feeling like I was crazy and just making things up, so it is encouraging to me that there is an actual reason for the problems I’ve been having.  And it’s very encouraging that it usually goes away.  So for now I am learning to re-think about everything.  I am thankful for the medicine that keeps my heart steady, and I am learning to embrace this as a season of physical weakness.  I’m hopeful it is a short season. 


In addition to those issues that I’ve been having with my health, I have learned that I have scoliosis.  I feel like whoever did my elementary and middle school physicals really dropped the ball on this one.  Apparently, it is pretty rare to make it this far in life and not know that you have moderate scoliosis.  Funny story – about 3 months ago, I was in labor and pretty excited about my upcoming epidural.  Seeing as how I was already dilated 6 centimeters when I got to the hospital, I was pretty ready to get that pain relief going asap.  So the nurse anesthetist was very quick to come into the room as soon as they got me moved to an actual room.  I thought it was going to be a great experience since my epidural with Jack was a piece of cake.  Not the case this time.  It took 3 sticks.  That’s right friends, THREE.  My contractions were less than 2 minutes apart at this point.  It was a fun time, fun time indeed.  So as he is sticking me for, oh I don’t know, either the second or third time, I lost count, he said “So you have a bit of scoliosis, huh?”  To which I replied, “No, I don’t.”  Then after he finally got it in and was cleaning up the blood bath that was my back, he asked me if I did any sports as a youth.  I found this odd and thought he could have picked a much better topic for small talk.  I told him I played basketball and softball.  He asked, “So you weren’t a gymnast?”  In my head I was thinking, “Do I look like a gymnast???”  But I responded by saying only when I was  in elementary school, and I didn’t make it very far.  So he asked, “Did you do any horseback riding?”  Me: “No, I hate horses.”  Him:  “So no sports that would have been rough on your back huh?”  Then his questions made more since.  I told him no and that I’d never had any back problems before and that I didn’t have any trouble whatsoever with my first epidural. 

Turns out that guy was onto something.  My back hurt for weeks and weeks afterwards.  It was really sore from the epidural.  But then it just kept on hurting, and I thought surely my back wouldn’t be sore from an epidural 2 months later.  After a summer of back pain, I decided that I needed to do something to help.  I was pretty concerned about the scoliosis comment shortly after I had Gabriel.  I mentioned the weird experience to my nurse practitioner pal who always takes great care of me at my 2 week check up.  She told me we could look into it if I wanted.  But just her calming nature eased my worries.  [Jenny, if you’re reading this – I have scoliosis, can you believe it??]   Since then I had just brushed off his comment about scoliosis as him not being good at his job [sorry, Mr!], but it turns out I have scoliosis.  And it’s not even mild, it’s moderate.  I went in to my doctor and told her about it and that I have had really bad back pain.  I told her I didn’t think it was anything but that I may need some exercises or something to help get my back stronger so it didn’t hurt so bad.  She thought that was a good idea but wanted to do an X-ray to check my spine.  So I had the X-ray done in the office and while I was sitting there waiting to see if he got a good picture, the tech [who didn’t know why I was having an X-ray] said, “hey do you know you have scoliosis?”  Thanks buddy.  So anyway, to wrap that long story up – a very kind doctor is helping me get set up to see a specialist about my back.  It will be good to get some more detailed information about it and to get a plan to help my back feel better.  It’s been hurting for a long time, but I was pregnant so I thought it was supposed to hurt. 


This is not the post you were supposed to get tonight – but it’s the one that didn’t get deleted.  So that is a little bit of everything from me.  Happy Monday! 

we’re back.

Jack and I got home yesterday afternoon after a week at the beach with my family.  Unfortunately, Tommy wasn’t able to get away from work, so he couldn’t go with us.  We missed having him there – and apparently, Jack really missed the structure and balance of our normal routines.  There was little sleeping and a lot of “terrible twos” on this trip.  But we had a great time with family and completely loved getting to spend the week with them. It was my first time going to Hilton Head Island.  Jack and I both loved it.  


I don’t have a lot of good pictures because I don’t have a real camera right now, so here are some I took with my phone. 


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This boy loves to swim.  By the end of the week he was swimming all by himself, or “Jack self” as he would say. 



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We played on the massive, never-ending-fun, playground.  It was probably the coolest playground we’ve ever seen.  Jack was way too busy having fun to look at me. 



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Dinner at the Salty Dog. 



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There was a spider web by the elevator that caught “biiiiiggg bugs”.  Jack wanted to take his favorite trucks to the beach with him.  They won’t be his favorites for long now that they’re covered in sand and are salt water rusty. 


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Walking back from an evening swim at the pool.  Jack was so proud of himself for holding his own towel around him just like everyone else. 



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Bike rides.  Jack’s favorite thing ever. 



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Pictures 498 The deck the alligators lived under.  We saw one going swimming one day.  Jack didn’t pay too much attention to it.  Thank goodness because he usually wants to pet all animals. 


Jack and I [and I’m sure our family, too] were pretty wiped out  from vacation.  After a week of short sleep, it was nice to get home and sleep in our own beds for a long time.  It was a great trip!  Thanks for the fun trip, Nan and Pops!