Monday, May 28, 2012

right where i am 2012: one year, five months, twenty-three days

This year I decided to participate in Angie's "right where i am" project. When it started last year I didn't think it was necessary to write a post about exactly where I was at in my grief because EVERY post I wrote had to do with where I was at in that moment and stating it seemed silly to me when that's exactly what I was already doing. This year, this year things are very different and it does feel necessary to write a post about exactly where I am, today in THIS moment.

Today things are busy and sleep is scarce. At one year, five months and twenty-three days there is a baby brother, Addison's baby brother sleeping in the next room over. He has just gone back down after being awake for an hour and half needing a fresh diaper and a full belly. He wakes up screaming and I think to myself...I am so lucky...I change his diaper and I think...I am so lucky....I nurse him and it still hurts, but I think...I am so lucky. Since  the day he was born five weeks and one day ago the phrase that runs through my head the most is...I am so lucky. Every time I think about how lucky I am to have him I also think how unlucky I am not to have her. How can I feel so lucky and so unlucky in the same breath.

Everything I do with him makes me think of her and all the things we missed out on and will continue to miss. As I gaze into his face I am filled with thoughts of how much I love him and then I think, but oh I miss her. Saying those three little words out loud "I miss her" brings me into instant tears. Because after all this time I still miss her just as much as I did in the early days.

I have cried only twice since her little brother was born. I am certainly not "better" just because we now have a living child, but the sharpness that was there in those early days doesn't make it's way in as often. I find myself holding the tears back, but this also means that when they come they come hard and fast.

For me there was a release when we made is through that first year. The tears are fewer, but this missing...the missing remains.

I often catch myself thinking about where my life should be right now if I had my almost year and a half little girl. When I say often I mean

I spend many hours a day in her rocking chair, in her room staring at her walls that are no longer her walls...none of it is hers and I miss it, the way it was, the way it should be. Those pink walls now covered in blue, the flowery bedding replaced by airplanes and the boy in my arms instead of the girl. I love him, but oh how I miss her.

At this point in my grief, I still find it my mission to make sure people remember her, that they know I am still her mother and she is still my daughter. No matter where I am when someone asks if her brother is my first child I always say no. I always count her, always. Sometimes if I am asked how old my first is I will just answer with how old she would have been and for that moment I feel normal like I would if she were really here. Not everyone needs to hear my story. I am willing to share it, but it feels nice to just say I have two children and leave it at that.

This has been a hard and wonderful month for me. I am so busy taking care of this newborn boy, but I have had little time to blog or focus on my grief. Those are the ways I am able to parent Addison and I need them to feel like I am present for her. It's a juggling act parenting two children whether they are both alive or one is gone. It is so much easier to parent a living many things I can do for my son, feeding him, changing him, cuddling him. For my daughter there is little I can do FOR her. Clean her headstone...leave flowers for her. It's so unfair to her that I cannot show her love the way I show her brother, but it's what I have. Three AM feedings are nothing compared to the difficulty of having to visit your child at the cemetery.

Because of her I enjoy each and every moment with her brother. I take nothing for granted. You will not catch me complaining because no matter how hard things get or how tired I am, I am so damn thankful to have the chance to parent a living child. I am paranoid and scared of losing him too, but I cherish each moment. He sleeps on a monitor that will sound if he stops breathing and yet I check on him a million times a night. I know how quickly life can change, I don't want to live every moment thinking I could lose him too, but for now that is my reality. So I check on him constantly and never let a moment go by that I am not kissing him or telling him how much I love him.

One year, five months and twenty-three days ago I was forever changed by birth and death of my daughter Addison. My firstborn, my daughter, my dream. I live in a different world now. I know how cruel life can be and I also see how beautiful life can be. I still don't know how or why we can survive losing a child, but I know Addison is worth all the pain and the tears. She is so much more than grief, she is the one who made me a mother and the one who cracked my heart right open and showed me what true love is. Because of her I love her father and her brother deeper than I ever knew was possible. Because of her.

Today I am missing, today I am longing, today I am loving. That's right where I am.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

17 Months

It's been 17 months since our sweet girl was born. This is the first 5th since then that my arms have been full. It's a strange, wonderful, bittersweet feeling. My arms are full, but never full enough...always missing that little girl.

Being back in that hospital with our same nurses and our same doctor, this time for another child. A brother for our little girl. We promised them we would be back and here we were. Such a surreal time. We entered that hospital on a Saturday with Addi and she was born on a Sunday...the same as her brother, but this birth story had a different outcome, one with a heartbeat and a cry. Something I didn't believe would happen until it did and I am still in shock about it.

Now I sit here typing with my little man next to me in his sister's swing. Time seems to be flying by. I can't believe how long it's been since I have been able to blog or comment on the blogs I read. I am still reading, usually in the early morning hours that are spent awake nursing this little boy. These blogs keep me company in those times and remind me how lucky I am to be sleep deprived with sore nipples. It takes me right back to that time when we came home from the hospital without our baby and how I longed to be kept awake by her cries and demands to be fed.

Brian says he sees parts of old me coming back...I remind him that he is sleep deprived as well and probably imagining such things. Having Mason here doesn't make me feel fixed or healed. He does bring love and happiness. The part that fills my heart the most is seeing Brian and my family with Mason.  They love him for being Addison's little brother and they love him just for him. To see their excitement over sharing Mason news with their friends both fill and breaks my heart as that was stolen from them once before.

Each new thing with Mason is so bittersweet. I enjoy each moment, but also find so much heartache in it. Silly things like going to the pediatrician and filling out forms with HIS name, getting HIS birth certificate, HIS social security number, getting calls confirming HIS appointments...all things my Addi never got. Yesterday the pediatrician's office called and asked if they were speaking to Mason's took me a second before it registered that was me. I am his mom, but I am her mom too...but I know I will never get the call asking if I am Addi's mom. It's all such a jumble of emotions.

I'm getting off track, I just have so much too say and never any time to get to the computer. I may have given up my daily shower just for this time!

17 months and I am in love with a boy, but that love takes nothing away from my first love. I miss her just the same as I always have. I miss her for me, I miss her for all of us. I miss the big sister that should be here too. I miss her...

Dear Addi,
It's been 17 months and you finally have a sibling. I'm sure this is old news to you as you have been watching over us this entire time. I am so sad and jealous for you that you don't get to be here physically in this family who loves you so much. That we can't shower you with the same attention that we are able to do with your brother. I couldn't have a better little brother myself and when I look at Mason he looks just like your Uncle Alex, I have to believe you would have been over the moon with him as well. Little brothers are so special.

I'm sure if you were here we would be struggling with how to balance a 17 month old and a newborn, but that is a problem I would love to have. I am so thankful for every moment we have with your brother, I wish we could have had more time with you. Your time with us was so short, but just as precious...maybe even more so.

Coming home from the hospital with your little brother was a feeling I had waited a lifetime for. Something I will never take for granted. All I wanted to do was get him home, hoping that would make things feel more real, but there was one stop we had to make first. We had to stop and visit your spot. Not your normal "first visit" for a newborn, but normal for us is much different these days.

You are always on our minds. We are living life without you because we have to, but we are living. I love you baby girl.
Mason's first visit...this is a picture I would never post on Facebook...people just wouldn't understand.