Thursday, May 29, 2008

Welcome to the world baby Megan!!!

Sherry's baby girl, Megan Elizabeth, arrived safe and sound this morning!

Congratulations to the whole family!

And thanks to Jennifer for sharing the good news!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy 6th Birthday Samuel

My sweet sweet baby Sam.
Not a baby any more.
A self-proclaimed "big kid."

Measured on the back of mama's closet door.
Grown so much in six short years.
Taller...
and smarter
and funnier
and wiser
and more handsome.

Six years ago I held you for the first time.
This morning I hugged you again and wished you a happy birthday.
You smiled and said, "Thanks mommy, I love you"
and you went off to school for the day with my heart.

Cake and presents and parties...
to mark this special place in time...
to remember the best parts of the last six years...
to celebrate the unique being you are...
and the unique being you are becoming.

We love you.
Happy Birthday Sam-a-lama!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Snakes in a house

This Memorial Day has been interesting...

The cat disappeared again and hasn't been seen or heard from for three days, despite the neighbor's garage being wide open.

Saturday evening Steve and I went out on a date...dinner and a bookstore. It was weird being alone together for the first time in more than six months. We worried about the boys killing my parents and locking their bodies in a closet, but I think we had fun...and my parents survived relatively unscathed.

Then I started feeling sick yesterday morning and by evening there was so much snot I wondered if it might drown me in my sleep. And no, there was no decongestant in the medicine cabinet and only toilet paper to wipe my nose with.

Despite feeling sick we took advantage of our birthday specials...a trip to Toys R Us, to spend three birthday bucks from Geoffrey the Giraffe, and free Coldstone Creamery ice cream.

Today, while playing MLB on the PS2, Sam announced, "Daddy, you're wasting your balls!"

Steve has been clicking away on his work laptop and muttering to himself...much of which is not suitable for ME to hear, let alone the children.

We just got done putting the living room back together after the drama following Steve's declaration, "Oh my God, there's a snake in the house!" (and let me tell you, sectional sofas are a bitch to get hooked back together).

Like I said...interesting.

Welcome to the world Dinkypie!

Congratulations to Aurelia on the arrival of her little boy!

Fortunate timing and a little bit of luck, for sure. (Breathing a sigh of relief for you all, my friend.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Use by May 1, 2008

Back in early December when we bought the formula, it seemed like May 1st was such a long way off. Given my previous experience with breastfeeding, I doubted I would be able to sufficiently nourish Myles and, with my self-doubt, convinced Steve to buy two packages of the little glass nursette bottles of ready-to-feed...just in case.

Today is May 24th. Four days ago Myles celebrated six months with us by staying home from work with me for the day. Six months old! It goes by so so so fast.

And today I stood at the sink and dumped the now-expired formula. It was a surreal experience standing at the sink with the memories of six months of moments swirling around and around like the liquid circling the drain.

They say you forget.

And I guess that was true once.

But the fear and desperation and joy are still palpable when I reflect on the past three years with any real focus.

That's why when I do look back, I do so with restraint. I limit my reflection to short moments that allow me to pick and choose the high points without being overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

As soon as the formula washed away down into oblivion I dropped the glass bottles into the recycle bin and went and nursed my six month old...and smiled.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Take a left at the Hello Kitty display

He calls me from Party City...where I have sent him to buy a package of Star Wars birthday party invitations.

"Where did you find the invitations?"

"In the Star Wars section."

"Which is where?"

????????

Apparently I am supposed to play air flight controller and talk him in for a landing in the appropriate aisle of the store I have been to exactly four times IN.MY.LIFE.

I know I'm tired. Myles' snotty nose disturbed his sleep breathing and woke us both up twice during the night last night while Steve snored away (and today hasn't been much better with sporadic and fitful naps). And I know I'm irritable. Sam has decided to be my shadow today for some reason...my very whiney shadow.

I don't think my husband realizes how dangerous it is to ask me where to go right now. Poor foolish man.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Write your congressmen

Dear Friends,

We have exciting news!

Representative Peter King from New York has introduced a bill to raise awareness about stillbirth that seeks to standardize the definition of stillbirth, and the method in which stillbirth data is collected, so there can be a national repository for stillbirth data with which to conduct comprehensive research efforts. The bill also authorizes a campaign to increase public awareness of good prenatal care practices that may decrease the risk of stillbirth, including monitoring movements during the last trimester. To view the actual bill and supporting documents, please visit the First Candle website.

Now we need your help! We are asking that you write a letter to your Representative asking them to co-sponsor this bill. The more co-sponsors the bill has, the more likely it is to pass. Please note, this is for the House of Representatives only. Do not contact your Senators at this time.

If you could do this within the next couple days to one week, we will be able to maximize the momentum Representative King has initiated!

Members of Congress receive hundreds of messages from their constituents every day. This communication is important to them because it helps them better understand what issues are important to those they serve. Through your requests, congressional leaders will support legislation, add their names as co-sponsors or even introduce legislation to assist constituents in their districts.

The compelling testimony provided by parents at First Candle’s 2007 Advocacy Day-on-the Hill is what prompted Representative King to introduce this important bill!

· The first step is to identify the Representative for the District you live in. If you already know that, or have had direct contact with him/her, you are one step ahead of the game!

· If you do not know who your Representative is, or if you do not have contact information, you can find that information at https://forms.house.gov by putting in your 9-digit zip code (if you do not know your 4 digit extension, you can get it at http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp.) You will then be able link directly to your Representative’s website. There you will find all the information you need, as well as the ability to email directly to their office.

· Once you have the contact information, write your letter. We have provided a sample letter below, but encourage you to add your personal story where indicated. Personal stories always have a greater impact and are taken more seriously than form letters! Of course, you can write your own letter if you have the time or desire. Just remember to keep the statistics and information about the bill consistent with that of the sample letter.

· Sending a hard copy or email letter are both equally effective. If you are mailing a hard copy, feel free to send along the documents attached to this email. It is not a good idea to attach documents to email letters, as they will most likely be rejected. Do not let this discourage you from using email though, as the vast majority of constituent letters do not include supporting documentation. Your email letters can be sent directly through your Representative’s website.

· First Candle would very much appreciate knowing who you have sent a letter to. This way we can conduct follow-up if and when that becomes necessary. Simply send an email to jennifer.johnson@firstcandle.org with your name and the name of the representative or staffer you sent the letter to. Hard or email copies of your letters are also welcome!

· And finally . . . please share this email with anyone that you think would be interested in supporting this effort, including family, friends, your favorite support organizations, groups, websites, etc.

· If you have any questions regarding the bill or this process, feel free to contact Marianne Adezio at 703-741-7053 or madezio@golinharris.org.

We thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this important matter! By working together, we stand to gain the most in our quest to spare families the devastation of stillbirth . . . in the belief that every baby should live.

Sincerely,
The Board and Staff of First Candle

Sample Letter

Dear Representative ________________:
I am writing to ask you to co-sponsor legislation that would help the CDC and researchers better determine the risk factors associated with stillbirth and convey those risk factors to expectant parents.

House of Representative Bill 5979, the Stillbirth Awareness and Research Act of 2008, was introduced by Representative Peter King of New York in an effort to address the lack of standardized data collection nationally with regard to stillbirth.

Each year more than 25,000 babies in the United States are stillborn. More than 50 percent of these deaths occur in the last trimester of pregnancy and 15 percent occur during labor and delivery. Due to a lack of autopsy/investigation and inconsistencies in diagnosing these, more than 50 percent of all stillbirths remain unexplained.

With standardized investigation and reporting of these deaths, researchers would be better able to determine the risk factors. H.R. 5979 would both standardize the definition of stillbirth and the method in which data is collected, in order to create a national repository of stillbirth data to assist researchers in conducting comprehensive studies in to the causes of, and possible preventive strategies for, stillbirth. The bill also authorizes a public awareness campaign promoting good prenatal practices, including monitoring movements during the last trimester of pregnancy, to reduce the risk of stillbirth.
This legislation is important to me because (insert your personal story here)


Thank you so much for your consideration of my request.

(insert name and contact information here)



1314 Bedford Avenue, Suite 210 – Baltimore, MD 21208
800.221.7437 – info@firstcandle.org – www.firstcandle.org

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oh snaps!

The thing about looking at a picture or watching a movie or reading a book (or a blog) is that it forces you to live in the moment. There is no distraction. Your mind does not wander to the fifty other things you should/could be doing. You are exactly where you are...attentive...focused.

My clothes dryer has decided to be less than snap-friendly and I now have to snap all 374 snaps on the baby's clothing before drying them or they get caught in the drum and come out with scorch marks. Standing there snapping all those snaps, I started to feel impatient. So much time snapping little snaps. I could be doing something productive (like blogging, perhaps). For some reason, though, with each snap I started to feel lighter. I can't adequately describe the feeling. As I snapped, I thought of snuggles and giggles and that look of wonder Myles gets in his eyes when he discovers a new thing (like the cat...LOVES the cat). Images of moments flashed in my memory as I kept snapping...onesies and sleepers and rompers. By the time I was done snapping all those snaps, I was literally in tears. Heartfelt and joyful.

My mind has been going a million miles a minute lately. Planning for the next big step. Daycare. And I literally feel physically ill at the thought. I'm not stay-at-home-mom material by any means (a fact I recognize about myself). But this arrangement, though exhausting, has worked so well that I truly hate to see it end. Of course, I know that Myles is getting to the point where daily boring hours in my office will no longer be appreciated. His little mind needs stimulation and he needs more interaction than I can provide while I'm working. I KNOW all this. But my heart aches. I have, for the past few months, had it all. And now that will have to change.

I worked so hard to get him here. And now I will spend the rest of my life working equally as hard to send him on his own way. Eventually, like his big brother, he won't wear anything with snaps and I'll be washing tball jerseys and camouflage pants. Eventually, like his big brother, he'll wash his own clothes (hopefully sooner rather than later). Eventually, I will be relegated to another role. And though I'm not ready for that just yet, I am so happy to have the opportunity some day. Just as I'm so happy to be able to snap all those little snaps right now.

Attention quilters!

It's time to join the 2008 St. Jude Quilt of Dreams contest!

Friday, May 16, 2008

For Steve

For when the words are too small...even on your huge TV.
Click here.

Not bitter...who me?

There was a going-away party for a co-worker who has resigned her position here to go work for a neighboring county's prosecutor's office and earn the paycheck she deserves (that our county can not afford to pay). She gave a speech reminiscient of an awards show speech, thanking everyone individually for whatever nice traits she noticed. I was first on the list...

I am apparently "very lovely...such a joy."

And "with everything that has gone on" in my personal life, I could be very bitter...but I'm not.

SEE?!?! I TOLD YOU SO!!! :o)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dropped the ball

Juggling.

Juggling.

Juggling.

"Mommy, where were you? We had our movie today and you were supposed to be here."

Damn it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

3 Years


Alex Gerard
5/11/05

Happy Mother's Day

I just realized that someone stole the pinwheels Sam and I left for the boys at the cemetery.

I'm not sure which is more upsetting...that they were stolen or that it took me DAYS to realize it.

Happy Mother's Day

Donate Diapers for Twice the Good — Through Pampers Gift Certificates

Diapers for a needy family in America + One life saving vaccine to UNICEF

You will be making your diaper donation by purchasing a Pampers gift certificate. Please go through the required steps to order a gift certificate. That certificate will be delivered to the charity you select. You will have the option to choose a one week supply (one pack), one month supply (four packs), or more. The gift certificate process is an easy and efficient way to get diapers to families in need in America. That same diaper purchase will provide a vaccine through UNICEF to a pregnant woman and baby. One purchase = two donations.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Miscellaneous thoughts

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Note to self:
When your five-year-old son tells you he planted his ball in the front yard so he can grow a ball tree...he's not kidding. Make sure to mark the spot for future excavation...or the ball may be lost forever.
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This explains the maddeningly simple handouts the pediatrician kept giving us...the first time around. But for the second trip? Do they think we just didn't pay attention the first time?
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My neck is killing me. I think it's stress. Nothing to be stressful about here. Except possibly the thought of how I'm supposed to get through Mother's Day brunch without a complete and utter meltdown.

I hereby declare that Mother's Day shall never again be allowed to be on the 11th of May. Do you hear me? I declare it!
-----------------------------------
Yesterday was the first time in more than a month that I've written Travis' name here on this blog. Made me think...

April 11th was the last time I wrote Alex's name on this blog. I feel alternately proud and saddened by these facts.

Yesterday was marked by nothing. We don't make it a birthday celebration because...well...not to offend anyone who is into that sort of thing...I think it's creepy. May 8th wasn't supposed to be Travis' birthday. In fact, May 8th wasn't Travis' birthday. It's the day his dead body was evicted from the uterus of doom. Birthday cake just doesn't seem appropriate. And quite honestly, I don't feel like putting my sons through that sort of morbid reminder. I know Sam remembers in his own way.

Like the day a couple weeks ago when it was warm enough to grill hamburgers for dinner. While the burgers were cooking, I took the opportunity to pull some dead leaves out of a nearby flower bed. Steve and Sam arrived home from daycare and Sam said, "Look Daddy, Mommy and Alex are gardening," and hopped out of the car leaving Steve to catch his breath as if he'd been punched in the gut. Sam didn't even register it and Steve didn't say anything.

So yeah...proud and sad. Life goes on. But no, I'm not over it.
-----------------------------------
Letters to my boss (about me) do not intimidate me. They might, however, piss me off enough to really spark my fighting spirit. Nothing makes me angrier than being threatened. I'm just sayin'.
-----------------------------------
What IS that noise? It sounds like someone mowing their lawn. But it starts at 7:30am and hasn't stopped by 7pm. It's making me nuts!
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

2 Years


Travis Leo
5/8/06

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Light a candle in remembrance

Remembering Our Angels is a page dedicated the the special bond between mother and child that survives even death. Celebrate your children with us throughout this Mother's Day Month of Remembrance by coming back to this page and lighting candles, writing condolences, and uploading pictures.

Our children inspire us in a very unique and powerful way, but we can find strength in our community too, so reach out to people and let them know about this Remembering Our Angels page, because every time someone new visits it, Memory-Of.com will donate $1 to First Candle.

First Candle has been recognized as one of the top fifteen children's charities in America. They are working to increase public participation and support in the fight against infant mortality, including SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and other areas, including stillbirth and miscarriage.

Together we can continue to find our strength in each other, and make a difference.

(Thank you for forwarding this to me Julie.)

May flowers

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There is no stopping the coming of the days. The beginning of May. This day...this week...there is no stopping them. And as they approach I walk toward the well and peer down. But I'm afraid to climb in. I'm afraid I'll fall to the bottom.

The familiar dance of pain and grief is here during the beginning of May. But this time I dance with a beautiful baby boy in my arms. The familiar dance is somehow unfamiliar...with awkward steps like that autumn dance so many years ago. All elbows and knees and toes in the wrong places...moving unpredictably out of rhythm with a white carnation on my wrist.
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Keep screaming Myles. Fill up this space where I used to sit and sob...where I used to scream into the silence for my sweet little babies...your big brothers. Make as much noise as is possible for a little human being...so there will be no mistaking that you are here and healthy and life goes on. Keep reminding me.

Keep asking your questions Sam. Keep imparting the little bits of wisdom you learn from school and television and your friends. Keep me anchored to the here and now...

"The stones are so the people know where the babies are buried, right?"

Then there are the explanations that other people die...not just babies. But if we're lucky, we get to live really long lives. "My grandparents were in their 80s when they died."

"How old is grandpa?"

Give it a rest kid. Give ME a rest. We can talk about it after the beginning of May if you want.

"I hope WE live a long long time."

So do I.

And then we started digging and the crows started squawking. "Do you hear that crow laughing at us?"

"Mommy, did you know that when crows make that noise they're not laughing at us, but they're saying go away, this is my territory?"

Stunned, my shovel stops mid-dig, I look at the overturned dirt in the flower space above our dead babies, and I reply, "That seems about right."
----------------------------------
The petunias are white wave petunias. They will, according to the sales pitch, grow quickly to cover the entire area. I can return them if they "don't perform as expected." That's funny, considering the circumstances.
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I can't think about them though I so desperately want to. I want to hurl myself down into the well and curl up and cry for a while.

But life goes on. There is a house to clean, a job to do, family to care for...life to live.

Someone once told me that time would drag me along in life whether I wanted to go or not. And that's how I feel. Dragged along. Time hasn't healed the hurt, it's just put distance between us...made it more of an effort to go to that place. I want to find my way there...to feel for them the way I think I need to. I just don't have the time or the energy.

I honor them in other ways.

But I'm not sure it's enough.
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It all used to spill out of my brain through my fingertips onto the keyboard. But now it's as if it's all clogged up. So I write in stilted half sentences...try to shake it all loose...bits and pieces that may or may not make sense together appear and I can't edit or delete them. It is what it is. I never claimed to be a poet.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

With Sam helping me dig (and saving as many earthworms as he could)...

With Myles screaming at the top of his lungs until he fell fast asleep in the stroller next to us...

I planted white petunias again...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Thank you!

Thank you Michelle, for your donation to the MOM Project bracelet program! I love you!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Happy 65th Birthday Dad!


We hope you enjoyed your birthday...we had a great time.

(pictures will follow sometime tomorrow...I'm tired right now)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Steve's fifteen minutes of fame

Resident Stephen .... said the value of his property will plummet if the rezoning and expansion take place, a loss that will devastate his young family.

“I am stuck. I will lose everything (if) I have with a landfill right in my backyard. We invested in our house, and we renovated to the tune of $70,000. All that is gone if this passes,” he said.

Looking for a new back yard

I'm tired.

I'm tired of everything being a struggle.

I'm tired of having to beat the odds.

I'm tired of fighting for the smallest bits of happiness.

I'm tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I would like for something...anything...to just be easy for a while.

It seems that our township plans to rezone the 230 acres behind ours to accomodate a 75-year expansion of a landfill that is currently almost a mile away. This expansion will bring the landfill close. Too close.

Our township officials' response? If we don't like it, we should move.

Given the state of our exhaustion, we think we're going to do just that (and give a big old F*** YOU to this place that is literally turning into a dump). If this had happened a few short years ago, we would have fought...hard. Now, it just makes us immeasurably sad to see our dreams so easily devalued.

I can tell you why there is an inherent distrust of the government...even local government. Because they'd sell you out in a heartbeat...with an, "I'm sorry...I feel for you...but I'm going to screw you over anyway."

I guess we've learned (a very expensive) lesson. Another lesson. I'm so f***ing tired of learning lessons already.

So now we just need to figure out the ins and outs of unloading our house without crippling ourselves financially. Should be fun.