Merry Christmas Charlie

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IMG_3616Here is Charlie’s tree we decorated. The tree is a hodgepodge of homemade ornaments and I love it that way.

IMG_3636On Christmas eve we went and put the tree on his grave. When we arrived at the cemetery, I thought we’d have some digging to do to find his headstone but his headstone was totally uncovered, whereas those around him were buried in snow. It was as if he was waiting for us.

IMG_3627 While I’ve come such a long way, it’s still so hard to visit my son here, rather than have him home with us. Holidays are bittersweet that way. I wish this holiday hadn’t come so fast. I feel disappointed that I didn’t make the time to donate toys and goods to another two year old in need, in Charlie’s honor. I was so touched that my brother and SIL donated a toy to a needy two year old in their area for Charlie. I hope in the new year to pick up my service efforts again. In the meantime I hope Charlie can see my heart and know my intentions were good. I think he’s understanding of the time and effort a houseful of sick kids requires, including my own recuperation. But I’m still sad about it because without those service activities, the spirit of Christmas felt subdued in our home. But I am grateful to have the light of Charlie’s Festival of Trees tree in our home and the sweet experience of decorating this small tree with Hailee and her cousins.

IMG_3626Even if I couldn’t do all I wanted for Charlie this year, he is truly always in my heart and I have much to be grateful for this season. Missing him this holiday and always. Love you Mister Mister!

 

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Why it’s worth perpetuating the myth

IMG_3580The magic of Christmas is captured in Hailee’s eyes.

IMG_3603I want to bottle up that joy and wonder forever.

IMG_3602 Hailee has had to grapple with a world that includes deep pain and loss. A world she was exposed to way too early. But moments like this warm my heart as I see she still has the heart of a child: eyes full of light and wonder, and faith that the world is a happy, magical place.

 

Cami 5 month update

Cami turned 5 months on the same day we celebrated Charlie’s birthday so I got a little behind in documenting her life. I did take photos of her that day though!

IMG_3504At five months Cami is such a delight. I feel like I’m entering new mom territory again as she is beginning to have milestones Charlie never met, and it’s been so long since Hailee passed them I’ve forgotten so much! Cami is reaching for everything now! And shortly after grabbing desired object, it arrives in her mouth. I have to be more vigilant about what she can reach! But speaking of reaching, she is beginning to reach for me, which melts my heart.

She loves sweet potatoes but isn’t the biggest fan of carrots or peas.

CameraAwesomePhoto(14)We are slowly introducing other foods into her diet and she seems to really enjoy this. When she nurses Cami still takes over 30 minutes, sometimes an hour. Because she’s a horrible napper, sleeping only 30 minutes here or there, when she starts nursing she often falls asleep. And since nursing her is my only down time during the day, I’m not vigilant about waking her up. Despite her sleepiness, Cami is a good eater.

She hasn’t eaten well the last week, however, as Cami caught her first cold. This threw me for a complete loop and I’ve been beyond anxious, worried that she’d get my pneumonia. But so far, it seems it’s just a cold and she is getting over it. Hallelujah. It’s so vulnerable being a parent, and so hard! It’s scary enough to have a sick baby, but even scarier when your perfectly healthy baby died! So a cold is no longer simply an inconvenience. It’s scary! But I’m glad to be passing that first milestone and hope for some longevity of health!

For exercise Cami loves her bouncer! Finally there is somewhere I can put her down where she will be happy for up to 20 minutes! Because she is still so little and short (8th percentile), she needs a little something underneath her legs, as her feet don’t quite reach the ground.

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With the excitement of being five months and all the new skills she’s developing, Cami sleeps really well at night until 6:30am. And I’m doing a better job of sleeping as well. I still set an alarm for 4:45am but I go back to sleep really quickly after I check on her. One of these days, probably after she’s 6 months, I will push myself to sleep through the night too. I’m just not there yet.

Other milestones include rolling over, but she’s not consistent about this. I imagine it’s a skill she’ll pick up faster and faster in the near future. Not my favorite skill for her to achieve, but inevitable I guess. 🙂

At Thanksgiving, Chad gave Cami a special Father’s blessing, per LDS tradition. This was an emotional event for me and Chad spent time meditating on what he wanted to say in Cami’s blessing. Cami proved to be just like her siblings and screamed through the whole blessing! Due to her being inconsolable, Chad didn’t get to say everything he hoped to say. But I felt the spirit present that day and it was still special.

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IMG_3481We are so happy Cami is five months and we love every minute of her! Every day she gets older and closer to leaving the SIDS zone, we are breathing easier. She continues to be a good baby and is such a blessing in our lives. We look forward to celebrating her first Christmas in a little over a week!

Charlie’s second birthday

Yesterday we celebrated (is that the right word? Commemorated maybe?) Charlie’s second birthday. And you know what? I was OK. The deep crevice of pain I anticipated didn’t open to swallow me whole. Yes there were tears. Like when I told Hailee what made the day special and she asked how old Charlie was. Or when our new pediatrician’s office called to wish Charlie a happy and healthy year and to remember to schedule his annual check-up. But I didn’t feel despair. I felt a little sad and thought about Charlie most of the day, but I also felt a sense of peace and a sense that he was close.

One of the best moments came when Julie, a nurse from our old pediatrician’s office and angel mom herself, called to tell me she was thinking of us and Charlie on his birthday. I was so touched that someone we’ve connected with but only saw a handful of times a year would remember Charlie’s birthday and reach out to us! I felt loved and grateful.

I didn’t have much time to prepare a celebration for him or organize some sort of service project like I’d hoped because I have been battling pneumonia for three weeks! It felt like a tender mercy (yes I use that cliched phrase that will make some of my friends will cringe, in all sincerity) that I started to feel better just 12 hours before his birthday. This is a good thing because I am a horrible sick person and get extra emotional. Just ask poor Chad. And after three weeks of this gunk I felt I had come to the edge of my sanity and any little thing could’ve put me over, let alone my angel’s birthday! So yes, it felt like a true tender mercy when my lungs finally began to relax, my coughing slowed down and I got a decent night sleep.

I woke feeling well enough to at least prepare a little something to honor and remember Charlie; but we kept it small and intimate.

Of course we made pineapple upside down cake, which will be a yearly tradition for him. OK, Chad made the cake. I had full intentions to do so but Cami’s feeding schedule interrupted those plans. Chad, my baking husband, did a great job.

IMG_3532And also per tradition, after we sang happy birthday, Hailee blew out the candles.

IMG_3533This will be a tradition until Cami gets big enough to vie for a turn!

This year I was able to sing Happy Birthday to Charlie. Last year I was too choked up. It felt nice to notice the difference.

We invited my brother Preston and SIL, Emily over with their four kids. Being with family felt perfect for this occasion. Especially being with my nephews. As my son isn’t here for me to play with, and I don’t know if I’ll get another son to raise in this life, it was nice to interact and be with Andrew and William. They are the coolest, sweetest kids and I always have so much fun with them. And they are healing for me.

I organized an activity to make ornaments to decorate a small Christmas tree for Charlie that I will later put on his grave. We made handprint ornaments that the boys and Hailee painted into snowmen.

IMG_3537 IMG_3536We then made fun birdseed ornaments with the thought of also putting them on Charlie’s tree…until I realized I’d be inviting birds to poop on his grave and likely knock his tree over. So we put those in the backyard instead.

photo(41)Preston and Emily stayed way past their kids’ bedtime to be with us on this tender day. Their company meant a lot. I ended the day snuggling Cami to sleep on my rocker in our darkened bedroom. As we rocked, I  thought about Charlie, and offered a prayer of gratitude that I was given the honor of giving life to an angel two years ago.

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