Showing posts from May, 2005

I must have been quite the sight

Sitting in our kitchen, crying, and playing with our dead son's hair.

The glass locket I ordered arrived today. I wasted no time pulling out the envelope labelled "Hair of Alex Gerard C."

It's amazing how utterly precious a few hairs have become to me. My house is filled with hair (dog, cat, man, boy, me)...but these hairs are special. These hairs came from the head of the baby boy I buried two short weeks ago. These are those precious hairs we, as mothers, debate having cut for the first time. These are the hairs that, had Alex lived, would have changed from dark brown to light blonde to perhaps strawberry red...and back again...just like his father and older brother. These are the hairs that were a part of my gift from God, gone back to God in the blink of an eye.

Truth be told, I had a hard time getting them out of the envelope. They were stuck in there and no matter how I shook the envelope, they didn't seem to want to come out. Finally, I used a pen…

Falling apart

Well, I made it through exactly five minutes back at work before falling apart. The first kind friend I saw offered me the sympathetic head tilt and a hug and I lost it. Oh boy, this is going to be a fun day.

We had it all figured out

We planned it all.

The kids would be three years apart. Close enough to be friends, but far enough apart so as to not be in each others' shadows.

I waited a year after starting work so I could accumulate vacation time and be sure that I could use Family Medical Leave if necessary.

We waited the appropriate time after I stopped taking birth control pills so we would have a "healthy baby."

Steve begged a promotion at work so we could possibly afford daycare for two.

We told Sam all about Baby Alex. We even did the good parent thing and bought books about being a big brother.

I ate all the right things...did all the right things...saw the doctor when I was supposed to.

We had it all figured out.

We planned so well.

We were so naive.

Lessons learned in a cemetery

This may be grim humor for some. I apologize.

Lessons learned in a cemetery...

1. Do NOT take my overly-analytical husband with me to the cemetery for a peaceful trip to plant flowers for my dead son. My overly-analytical husband will bombard me with questions about cemetery operations and the logistics of burying a dead body. Is the coffin in concrete? Can you leave the plants that you plant or do you have to remove them? I finally told him to go find Dana (the cemetery sexton) and ask him.

2. Do not let my three-year-old son have a shovel (even hand-sized) anywhere near a cemetery. I seriously thought we were going to turn around and find he'd dug someone up.

3. Do visit my son's grave as much as I feel I want to. Who gives a hoot whether people think I'm obsessed. This is a time to grieve and it's up to me to decide what's right for me.

4. When planting flowers on a new gravesite, do expect the ground to be very difficult to dig up. My suggestion is to…

Marathon distractions

The week after Alex died I had the funeral to concentrate on. The week after the funeral, I had thank you's to send out. This past week, I've had Sam's birthday to concentrate on. Now I have nothing to distract me.

Alex was due to be born on June 9th. He's gone and I can't stop thinking about what should have been. I should be eagerly anticipating his birth. I should be big and pregnant and complaining about insomnia. I should be buying last minute baby items to make his homecoming perfect.

The thought of what actually is just makes me feel empty inside. Alex's birth has come and gone and I have no baby to bring home. I'm not pregnant and I have an extra 10 lbs to carry around now. I guess I can still complain about insomnia, but it's much different. I'm buying remembrance momentos and planning flowers for his grave instead of what outfit to dress him in for his first set of professional pictures.

Someone told me grief is like a marath…

My bucket

A new friend sent this to me and I thought I would share with you all.

Who Gets in Your Bucket?
By Doug Manning
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The best way I know to picture how we receive help from others in grief, is to imagine you are holding a bucket. The size and color doesn't matter. The bucket represents the feelings bottled up inside of you when you are in pain. If you have suffered a loss, hold the bucket and think through how you feel right now. If you are reading this to learn more about helping others, then imagine what would be in your bucket if a loved one had died very recently. What is in your bucket?

Fear. Will I survive? What will happen to me now? Who will care for me? Who will be with me when I need someone near? Most likely your bucket is almost full just from the fear. But there is also:

Pain. It is amazing how much physical pain there is in grief. Your chest hurts, and you can't breathe. Sometimes the pain is so intense your body refuses to even move. There is enough…

Birthday Rainbows

Yesterday was a good day.

We started by dressing Sam in his new Thomas the Tank Engine t-shirt.

Then we took Sam to ride on Thomas the Tank Engine at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It was an amazing, if not overwhelming, children's experience. While there, we bought Thomas the Tank Engine toys and a toothbrush.

Then we went to dinner at a restaurant with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Matt. While at the table, we played with Thomas the Tank Engine toys.

Then we went home, opened Thomas the Tank Engine presents, ate Thomas the Tank Engine Cake, and watched a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD...but we finished with a Blue's Clues video before

Here are some pics of my birthday boys...

As we were walking out of the restaurant after dinner, we looked up and there was a beautiful rainbow. We talked about it with Sam and we all think that was Alex's way of wishing his big brother a Happy Birthday. Something about the smiles of the day and the luck of a rainbow on your…

Happy 3rd Birthday Samuel Charles!

The past three years have been the best three years of our lives. From the moment you were born (actually from the moment we knew you were on your way), you have brought such joy and happiness to our lives that it's impossible to imagine what life was like without you.

There are no words to describe the wonder of hearing you laugh or tell us excitedly about all the different trains on Thomas the Tank Engine. There is no way to adequately capture the magic of seeing you dance or hearing you sing. There is nothing that compares to getting a "big hug" or a "spitty kiss" from you. We will never find something to match the thrill of watching you accomplish some task that you set your mind to.

Many of the "firsts" happen in the first three years and you would think life would become routine. Not with you, my amazing son. You have shown us that life is an amazing journey to be cherished. You have taught us the value of slowing down and enjoying the …

The phantom bell

I figured out where the phantom bell was coming from!

For weeks now, Steve and I have been hearing a bell, three notes similar to a doorbell, ringing intermittently throughout the day and night. I just discovered it is due to a cat sleeping on the foot of Sam's bed and leaning against a musical crib piano toy that he has hanging there.

At least I can cross auditory hallucinations off my list of symptoms indicating that we've totally lost our minds.

Our old tree and me

When I was pregnant with Sam, I felt this amazing connection to the world. For some reason during that time, the big old tree in our front yard made me feel like I belonged to something bigger. I felt like I was home. It's hard to explain, but the idea that our house and that tree have been here for so long gave me a sense that my life fell into a pattern of life...something came before me and something would come after me.

While I was pregnant with Alex, my world became smaller. Instead of an amazing connection to the world, I was filled with an amazing connection to my family. I thought of all the things Steve would teach Alex and Sam together. I thought of all the things Sam would do with Alex. As Sam grew to accept Baby Alex as an inevitable part of our future, I thought of all the experiences we were going to share together...the four of us. I thought of raising my boys together as brothers and friends. It was as if I was growing my own tree...I had developed the ro…

Momentos for holding on

In the immediate wake of Alex's death, I felt as if there is nothing to acknowledge his existence. He didn't have a lot of belongings in the first place, so his existence seems to have been pared down to a couple of of clothes and one of "momentos." The momentos are actually not yet in a box because I haven't found one that is appropriate for storing a dead baby's momentos in. I somehow don't feel like the Winnie the Pooh box is quite right. Anyway...his momentos are just in a pile on top of the wardrobe cabinet in my bedroom. I hope to have a box to store them all in soon.

So...I search the net. EBay has become a favorite destination for me lately. I've found so many wonderful keepsake items, I'm afraid I've become addicted to the search for them as some sort of weird way to hold on to Alex. The self-help book I'm reading warns about addictive behaviors...but it seems to only consider drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy rel…

Maternity leave when your baby dies

You get six weeks off work to bond with your new baby. You get three days to say goodbye when your baby dies. What the hell is wrong with our society?

Insane laughter

I was all set to post something suitably serious and somber when Steve walked into the room to ask me a question about dinner (which I do believe he intends to cook). Now this, in and of itself, isn't all that funny. But the fact that he was quickly followed by a giggling Sam...who promptly pulled Daddy's pants clean off...

Now THAT is funny!
It's like a wave washes over me and I'm right back at square one, crying and wondering why. I can feel it coming, and I know there's nothing I can do to stop it. So I lock myself in the bathroom and take a long shower and cry. Or I curl up in the bed and cry with my back to whoever may be lying beside me. Or I send Sam and Steve out to play baseball so I can come here, type out my feelings, and cry. I've become a master at not crying in front of anyone.

And I think I'm doing so well, being so sneaky...and then Sam looks at me with those beautiful blue eyes and asks out of nowhere, "Mommy, are you sad?" It's like he can sense the wave is coming too, despite my attempts to shelter him from it. It's like he knows that things will never be quite the same again. And I'm even more sad that he has to deal with that. I don't want to cheat my beautiful living son out of a happy childhood because I'm sad about my angel baby.

So I cont…

There are so many things to say

I don't even know where to begin.

If I had broken my leg, people would understand and offer support. I lost a piece of my heart and people expect me to just get on with my life. But in actuality, I'm paralyzed. I simply cannot go grocery shopping when I feel like my insides have been shredded into a zillion pieces. I don't know how to plan my Sam's birthday party when I feel like something is missing from the celebration. I can't pretend to care about my clients' problems when they're so irrelevant. Everything seems pointless.

A month ago, my life and my family was beautiful. Now it's missing something. And I feel guilty that I'm dissatisfied. I KNOW I'm blessed to have what I amazing husband and a beautiful son. What kind of wife and mother can I be that I'm not fulfilled by that? I watch my son play with bubbles and think how much fun he would have had showing Alex the bubbles. I watch him cry and think how much I w…

Baby Alex - Our Angel in Heaven

To our dear friends...

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write. And I sit here and type it with what I know is surely a broken heart, for it hurts too much not to be so.

Alex Gerard, our beautiful baby boy, was born sleeping into the world on May 11, 2005, at 11:38pm. He never took a breath, never cried, never was able to look in our eyes and see how much we loved him. But he was as much our son as if he had lived for years and years. We were able to hold him and kiss him and tell him everything we feel in our hearts before we had to say goodbye and let him return to heaven. He was beautiful to us.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, Samuel was never able to see his baby brother. That is something that will sadden us forever. We know that they share a brotherly love that defies all logic. Over the past months we have seen Sam move from a defiant refusal to accept a baby into our lives to a genuine love for “Baby Alex.” He would pat my belly and talk to Baby Alex. He…

My first "real" Mother's Day

My amazing, gorgeous, wonderful son came home yesterday with a potted viola for me for Mother's Day. He presented it to me with the biggest smile on his face I have ever seen.

"Look what I made for you Mommy. I painted it and I put dirt in it with my hands," he proclaimed proudly. Then he gave me a "biiiiiig hug" and a kiss on both cheeks.

I cried. (And I'm crying now as I type this)

I must admit that I never got it until now. Up until that particular moment in time, Mother's Day was a complete mystery. I know I love my mom...and I hope she knows it too. But, like with most aspects of being a mommy, I didn't really GET IT. I went through the motions every year, not because I truly understood it, but because Hallmark dictated that I should.

Now I get it.

I love you Mommy!

Extra brownie points to...

My mom...for offering to come over and help me clean my house.


My husband...for taking our insane boy with cabin fever to the grocery store so I could have a moment of peace.

Thanks to you both!