Simple, beautiful happenings

Today some beautiful things happened.

First, per usual, Hailee woke us up around 7am. But I was surprised by the first words Hailee spoke to us. As she crawled into bed with us, she said, “Charlie was in my room this morning! He woke me up.” That immediately got my attention because Hailee rarely (never) describes moments like that with her brother. I asked her, “What did he say to you?” She responded, “I told him ‘I love you, Charlie.” I smiled then asked again, “But did he say anything to you?” Hailee then responded, “He said he loves me.” Chad and I exchanged looks of raised eyebrows and smiles.

The next nice part of our day: all the disgusting inversion had blown out during the night and we were greeted with a beautiful, clear, clean, morning! I actually saw blue sky for the first time in a long time!

Then, when I walked downstairs to make breakfast, I was greeted by another beautiful surprise:

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After months of laying dormant and despite my inadvertent neglect, Charlie’s orchid plant blossomed again!!! I felt like Hailee wasn’t the only one who got a “hello” from Angel Charlie today! This sight warmed my heart like no other…and also made me shed a couple tears.

Another big smile came to my face later today as we walked out of church this morning and were greeted by hearty, cold wind gusts. Hailee started giggling and exclaiming, “Charlie’s kissing us! Charlie’s kissing us! Charlie’s kissing us! Silly Charlie!” I just love that Hailee now associates the wind with kisses sent to her from her brother in heaven!

Finally, this evening ended with having friends over for dinner. They brought their daughter, who is one of Hailee’s bestest friends, as well as their 5 week old son. I felt warmed and happy when I got to snuggle the little baby boy to sleep in my arms and nuzzle his soft cheeks and smell his babyness. It was nice that holding him wasn’t painful in the least, and in fact felt quite healing. I know it was a big deal for my friend, who is super paranoid about germs and lets almost no-one hold her baby, to allow Chad and I to have some baby snuggle time. It meant a lot to both of us.

Today was an unexpectedly beautiful day for me.

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A great moment

I had a really great moment this week. Even though it ended up being just a moment, it was a very momentous one!

One day at work, I was walking back across campus from a research meeting to meet with a client. I was walking really slowly, since you know, I’m uber-paranoid about doing anything that can instigate bleeding again. As I walked across campus, it was cold and I was all bundled in my puffy winter jacket. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular and was just “being in the moment,” as walking really slowly in frigid weather can compel one to do. The sun was out and I was surprised that I was actually enjoying the feel of the January air on my face.

And then all of the sudden, I was struck by this sensation. I was struck with the knowledge that I AM GOING TO BE OK!!! It was a moment of total clarity, hope, and confidence. In that moment, I felt, for the first time since Charlie died that, while I’m not there yet, I really AM going to be OK!!! I don’t just believe it. Somehow, I KNOW it! I know it even in spite of all my fear and uncertainty in my current pregnancy.

I felt for the first time a sense of strength. Strength that I have gained from this journey and that I could only have gained from this journey. That strength still feels miniscule compared to every other emotion and reaction I have, but it’s THERE! This moment was the first time I felt like I’ve really made progress on my grief journey! Before this I’ve had good days, even good weeks, but I have never felt this confidence, reassurance, strength, and sense of calm about my experience! In this moment, I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m really doing it!” I don’t know what “it” is that I’m doing exactly, but it feels like a big step! And even though the days that followed were harder than anticipated given this awesome moment, I cling to that moment and reflect on it as something real and promising.

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13 Weeks and holding our breath!

I’m still pregnant today! With the nausea to prove it! And we haven’t had a bleeding incident in 10 days. Each day that goes by I continue to feel more hopeful that we’ll have a happy ending to this story. At least this part of our story anyway. But of course there’s that voice in the back of my head telling me not to breathe yet. The clot is still there. For all I know, I’m a walking time-bomb. I have my next appointment in a week (seriously a whole week feels like an eternity!) and in the meantime I am trying to resume normal “new normal” life.

For awhile after the bleeding episodes I was basically on bed rest. If that is what it takes to keep peanut, I’ll do it! I’d do it the whole pregnancy, if it’d get us our rainbow! And I also have to acknowledge, it’s been killing me. I am an active person. I like to be engaged. I like to do things. I can’t stand looking at all the snow outside and not go snowshoeing! I can’t stand that not only have I not been able to exercise anymore, I have hardly been moving at all. It’s literally driving me bonkers! I have NO stress release! And I hate being a lump on a log because I can’t be the mom to Hailee I want to be. She’s being really understanding about it all and when she snuggles me she says, “I don’t want to hurt the baby.” But I hate that I can’t pick her up, swing her around, slide her across the floor, lift her out of the tub, and just do the things I normally do with her. And then let’s add how lying around just makes me ruminate and worry. My head doesn’t go to good spaces.

So it was immensely relieving to go to work last Friday and today. Because being a therapist is a largely sedentary job,  we felt ok (and my Dr. said OK) about me returning to work. And it has been exactly what I need! I felt human today! While peanut and the clot were always in the back of my mind, they were in the back of my mind. The day flew by and I just loved delving into the lives of my clients and forgetting my own for a few hours! I honestly felt so much gratitude for my job today. I left work with a genuine smile on my face.

We continue to take each day at a time. Thanks for everyone and their continued support. It means a lot.

On a totally separate note, a fellow blogger , I now consider a friend, sent me this photo she took as she was driving to work one day. It made me grin and cry at the same time.

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Seriously, what a coincidence! Have you ever seen Charlie and my name conjoined like that anywhere? And then, for someone who knows our story to see it, pull over on her busy day, take a photo, and share it with me. How awesome! This made my day! What a simple and amazing gift! Thank you Julisa! It’s a good thing I don’t live in the same town or state or I would seriously have to steal this sign!

Clinging to hope and fighting despair

I have amazingly good news. And then not-so-good news. The good news: I’m 12 weeks pregnant! The baby is due July 24. The baby looks really healthy, is growing well, and has a great heartbeat. We affectionately refer to the baby as “peanut.”

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The not-so-good news: I have a subchorionic hemorrhage that is threatening to make me miscarry.

Remember my mention about the ER visit over the holidays? Well the ER visit wasn’t for a sick Hailee. It was for me, as I started bleeding quite a bit, quite suddenly, in the middle of the night. As we waited for over an hour and half for the doctor to see us, I couldn’t help but despair and say to myself, “Of course this is happening to us.” The deluge of crappiness just keeps coming! I was convinced I was miscarrying and that the baby was already gone.

Chad and I were immensely relieved when the ultrasound revealed a squirmy little baby doing “great.” The baby was moving around so much that the doctor had slight difficulty finding it’s heartbeat. But when he did, the heartbeat sounded great t00. It was so wonderful to see the little one flipping all over the place in it’s little swimming pool.

The other good news we received that night was that my cervix was still closed. So while the doctor said this was “threatened miscarriage,” it was not inevitable because my cervix was cooperating.

The bleeding and cramping, thankfully, slowed and stopped within 24 hours and we began to breathe and hope. Then, unfortunately, the day after we arrived back in Utah, I started bleeding and cramping again. I was grateful to see my own OBGYN this time, who made a special exception to come in on a day he doesn’t usually see office visits.

The results weren’t good or bad. They were the same from the first ER visit. The good news is my cervix is still closed and the baby is doing awesome. The bad news is we discovered a large subchorionic hemorrhage that was causing the bleeding and cramping. The clot was so large it was almost as big as the baby! Our doctor tried to be as honest with us as possible and said, “I won’t rate your chance of miscarriage as low” but he said he was encouraged by the location of the clot (which isn’t interfering with the baby at all), the fact that my cervix is closed, and that the baby looks great.

Thankfully, again, within 24 hours the bleeding and cramping stopped. I am almost literally holding my breath for the next episode of bleeding. Best outcome: The clot will simply absorb and we won’t have any more bleeds. Other possible outcomes: 1.Clot will stop hemorrhaging, blood will turn rusty brown, and I’ll have yucky rusty brown discharge but peanut will be fine! 2. clot will continue to bleed but baby will continue to be fine and my cervix will stay closed, 3. Clot will continue to bleed, cramping will activate my cervix to dilate, and miscarriage will be inevitable.

As all of this has been going on, I have been fighting despair and pessimism and trying so desperately to cling to hope. After losing Charlie it has become so easy to be overly pessimistic, thinking nothing will ever work out for us again. I’m having to make strong conscious decisions to be positive about this pregnancy and hope that we’ll get our rainbow baby this summer! I am trying to focus on the positive signs the Dr. noted and take it super, super easy.

It has been really hard for me to pray and ask for a miracle that I can keep this baby. Losing Charlie has been the biggest trial of my faith and here I am, presented with another. I’m trying to have faith that my petitions can be heard and even granted. After Charlie’s death, I landed in a place where I bitterly believed, “Well, it’s going to be God’s will not matter what, or He’s not involved at all, so there’s no point in asking for anything.” I tried to change myself and no longer want anything and tried to accept life by “its” terms. But I want this rainbow baby soooo badly. And I want to believe that God could give us a miracle. And, so, each time I kneel to pray, I feel soo vulnerable.  I am trying to pray anyway.

Overall, I am happy to report that each day that goes by and I’m still pregnant, my hope continues to grow and overpower my despair. Here’s to hoping, not just for A rainbow, but THIS rainbow!

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Christmas card update

After writing about my dilemma earlier in December, I thought I’d post about what I actually decided to do or did not do for Christmas cards this year. I DID procrastinate making them until Christmas Eve. We did NOT send out Christmas cards. But we DID send out New Years Cards.  I paid extra money to get them shipped ASAP so we could at least get them to family and friends not too long after the new year! Here is what they looked like:

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We did NOT include any sentiments we didn’t feel we could really say. Hence the cover doesn’t have any platitudes like, “Blessed” or “Season of Joy” or anything like that. We DID include a letter, as inspired by a link shared by someone who commented on my blog. We wrote a gratitude letter. Here it is:

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We are very happy to see the close of this year, as it has been the most difficult year of our lives. However, at the close of 2012 we also feel very grateful and want to express that gratitude to you.

*We are grateful for four months of very disrupted sleep as we shared many waking hours with a hungry and fussy baby Charlie.

*We are grateful for the four months we got to sing to, talk to, and interact with Charlie. We cherish the memories of his intense gaze, flirty smile, and sweet giggle.

* We are grateful for the endless loads of laundry cleaning baby spit up and diaper blow outs.

* We are grateful for those quiet moments just holding our son as he slept, or gazed at the world with his wise eyes, or babbled to us.

* We are grateful for the moments witnessing Hailee love and care for her baby brother.

* We are grateful for the kindness of strangers, who reached out to us in our most difficult hour.

* We are grateful for sunrises and sunsets that remind us to hope and believe.

* We are grateful for the majestic mountains we explored this year that reminded us we are part of something so much greater than ourselves.

* We are grateful that time heals and that each day we get a little bit stronger.

* We are grateful for employment and the opportunity to learn that even in our greatest pain, we can still be productive and contribute in meaningful ways. We can continue to live.

* We are grateful for the increased love and connection felt with family and friends.

* We are grateful for Hailee’s giggles, endless flow of hugs and requests for snuggles. She gives us a reason to get up each day and helps us remember the world is a beautiful place.

* We are grateful that Charlie’s short life has taught us to live in the moment, with greater purpose and greater meaning.

* We are grateful for faith and the sustaining divine support we have received through this trial.

* We are grateful that Charlie’s life inspires us to give back and serve others. Service has helped us heal in meaningful ways.

* We are grateful for family and friends who reached out with their time, with words of comfort, with service, with support, and with love unceasing since we lost Charlie. You are our lifeline in this journey. Thank you!

* And finally, we are grateful for our Savior who understands our experience perfectly, loves us beyond our comprehension, and who gave everything so that we may be reunited with Charlie again, forever.

Surviving and also enjoying the Holidays

I apologize for my blogging absence as of late. After Charlie’s birthday I feel the need compelled to retreat inside myself. For almost two weeks after Charlie’s birthday I felt gloriously numb. I welcomed that numbness with open arms. While I couldn’t really experience any excitement or joy in the holiday season, I simply reveled in the fact that I felt nothing. And I wanted to do whatever I could to keep that nothingness going. So I didn’t want to do any introspection (hence lack of blogging). I also kept myself quite busy with holiday preparations. For a little bit I was lured into a false sense of security: maybe Christmas wouldn’t be as hard as I anticipated?

But as Christmas approached my emotions revealed themselves again. I originally had all these lofty ambitions for Christmas. Besides wanting to make it magical because this is the first year Hailee really gets it, I also wanted to feel the spirit of the season. I really wanted to connect with the true meaning of Christmas and feel close to my Savior again. But I’ll be honest, my numbness demotivated me to explore anything experiential and meaningful. Then when the numbness wore off and I felt raw again, my energy plummeted to a minus 10 and I decided it was simply good enough to “survive” this first Christmas without Charlie.

For Christmas we flew to California to be with my in-laws. The beautiful, green and warmer weather of Northern California was a welcomed oasis from our icy Utah weather.

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Being in California, around our family and close friends, was the perfect scenario to survive the Holidays. While I never caught the spirit of the season and cringed each time Christmas music came on, I am  happy to report that there were many moments of genuine enjoyment during our vacation! I absolutely loved playing with my niece Leia, who made me laugh, feel alive, and loved. I loved spending quality time with my sister-in-law, Liz, having meaningful and deep conversations and walking through the beautiful forested hills of Northern California. I loved a  dinner spent on a double date with Chad, Liz, and my brother-in-law Don, to a delicious steak house where after four hours our tummies were full to the brim but our conversation could’ve lasted all night. I loved watching Hailee’s excitement on Christmas morning when she opened her gift from Santa: a princess dress up. On Christmas day, my parents also flew into town and we spent a lovely Christmas evening all together. I loved watching Hailee thrive around her cousins, as well as learn important life lessons: like her bossiness won’t get others to play with her, and she needs to take turns. I loved a four hour lunch reconnecting with one of my all-time-best friends.

photo(17)I loved the sunshine on my face and the cool ocean breeze through my hair as Chad and I went on a bike ride in Santa Cruz. I loved the two night retreat my mother-in-law gifted Chad and I for Christmas, to go to Carmel Valley where we relaxed, hiked, slept, and reconnected.

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As Chad and I have learned, however, no vacation is without it’s hiccups. (That’s putting it lightly for us). There were some intense moments on this happy vacation, that included a late night trip to the ER (to be discussed at another time) and worry and concern over a very sick Hailee.

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But by New Years Eve, Hailee was doing somewhat better. Better enough to enjoy some sand and sun.

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I think the stress I felt over Hailee’s condition brought my emotions more to the surface than they already were. Then, as Hailee felt better, my anxiety about her relaxed somewhat. But because my emotions were already present, I suddenly became acutely aware of my sadness about Charlie.  On New Years Eve I felt unexpectedly very sad and missed Charlie fiercely.  As we visited Capitola Beach, I remembered earlier in 2012 when I came to this exact place with Charlie. All the memories of that trip together came flooding back to me and I just missed him.

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I thought I would welcome 2013 with open arms! I thought I would be so glad to shut the door on the most painful year of my life! And that’s still true. But I also experienced bittersweet emotions as I said goodbye to the year we also held our Charlie in our arms.

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So it was with a deep ache in my heart that I said goodbye to 2012. I was grateful that Liz came to my aid that night and lightened my mood with her presence, Red Vines, and a good chic flick.

I don’t want to end this post on a sad note, especially when the cumulative experience of our trip to California was really wonderful. I guess this trip also just summarizes my experience of life lately: complicated and mixed.

As Chad and I were talking about hopes for 2013, I told him I hope that sometime this year I will reconnect with me again. That I will no longer feel like the shell of a person I have been since Charlie died. That I’ll feel joy again. That I won’t just enjoy my life in moments but begin to enjoy it in its entirety again. That is my hope. And I’ll continue to journey this journey with all it’s ups and downs along the way, continuing to search for and create a meaningful life.