Plan B

I spent two weeks training my nanny. I paid for her to take a CPR class and get certified. I showed her all the ropes. And then after one full day of work, SHE QUIT! I won’t malign her in anyway. All I will say is apparently I have a powerful 6 month old who can drive off a nanny in one day!

IMG_3767So here I am, back at square 1. Going back to work has been put on hold for the time being. I’m overwhelmed at the idea of finding someone new to care for our kids. I spent months (literally) looking for a nanny. But beyond the time it took, it took a lot of emotional work to get to a place where I could take a leap of faith like that!

On the other side, I imagine we are a lot for a nanny to take on. You could definitely say we have serious baggage. It’s a lot of pressure to take care of our baby, knowing we lost our last baby. And I’ll admit, we’re a little psycho. We’re hyper paranoid and have rules that normal people don’t have. Normal people have their six month olds sleeping in a crib at regular nap times by themselves. Nap times are usually breaks for parents and caregivers. Not us. Naptime is when we lost Charlie. It’s a lot to ask someone to be hypervigilant like us. To figure out how to navigate being hypervigilant while also taking care of Hailee and getting stuff done around the house.

And yes, Cami is totally a momma’s girl. She will have a serious adjustment time warming up to someone new when she is around me all-day, everyday.

photo(44)A task I need to embark on is to start having Cami sleep in a pack-n-play instead of her swing for naps. This will be step one. After she gets used to sleeping in a pack-n-play for naps, I’ll transition her to a crib (with breathing and video monitors) for her naps. Then I’ll do the emotional work necessary to let her sleep alone, in a quiet room (for naps; she’ll be sleeping in our room at night until she’s one!). I imagine Cami will sleep so much better and be even happier with that arrangement. Then maybe it’ll be easier for a nanny to want to work for us?

photo(45)This is my first attempt at having Cami sleep in the pack-n-play. I’m experimenting with a new monitor Chad’s sister and brother-in-law got us for Christmas: Safe-to-Sleep. I like it better than the angel pad (which was recalled anyway) because it doesn’t just detect movement, it tells you how many breaths the baby is taking per minute and will alarm you if those breaths become less than 10 per minute. It also differentiates between no breathing and if the baby has rolled off the pad (important differences for a SIDS mom!). It also tells you temperature and if the baby is awake. The reviews on-line for this pad are mixed, but until the Owlet comes on the market (we’re supposed to be in the Beta testing group for the product), this seems like it will offer a lot of peace of mind.

Needless to say, Cami’s first nap on her back lasted about five minutes. But hey, it’s a start!

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Ready, Set, 6 months!

IMG_3768Last week Cami, AKA Boo Bear, Baby, Cami-Cam-Cam, Camers, Squishy, hit a big milestone! Half a year old! It really is crazy to think she’s been in our arms for half a year. What’s even better about this milestone is knowing that 90% of SIDS losses occur under 6 months. So we are in big part past the SIDS risk. But I know a few moms who lost babies at 6 and even 8 months so we aren’t resting totally easy yet. I’m sure the fear won’t subside until she’s past one, and we’re halfway! To celebrate this milestone, I stopped setting an alarm for the early morning hours to check on her. More uninterrupted sleep has been nice.

IMG_3778Cami is so great. She now rolls both directions and has been pulling herself to a sitting position. She sleeps from about 10pm to 7:30am, but often wakes a couple times to be soothed. Those late night soothings rarely require more than sticking a binky in her mouth, so that is great. We’ve also introduced her to more foods and in general she’s a fan of most of them. This transition to more solids has led to purchasing prune juice! Which she also enjoys and gets successful smelly results.

She is likely cutting her first tooth soon as she is drooling, pawing at her face, snotting, and chewing on everything. She smiles easily but you’ve got to work hard to elicit any giggles. Over Christmas vacation she thought my nephew Mason was hilarious and I haven’t seen her giggle that much before or since.

IMG_3788(see the drool?) 🙂

She is really a social little girl though. She loves to stick her tongue out and see if you’ll stick your tongue out in response. This is how she greets her Dadda upon coming home from work. It’s very cute and reminds me of Charlie.

IMG_4086As Cami passes this milestone I feel the stirrings within myself to start living my life again. After losing Charlie we were governed by grief. Then after having Cami we’ve been governed by anxiety and fear. Of course we are happy but we aren’t living. We let anxiety dictate each day. I don’t want to live my life that way anymore…but it’s sooo hard because “What if something or the worst happens?” AGAIN?  My anxious brain keeps me ruminating on that fear.

But I am trying to make a conscious choice to acknowledge my fears, take precautions, but learn to trust and risk again. The biggest step for me in this regards is going back to work.

I’m only going back 16 hours but this is so emotionally hard for me! But I know it’s so good for me too. Working is part of my identity. It energizes me and makes me a better, more patient and loving mom. But I feel soo guilty! I’ve been blessed with a rainbow baby, how dare I even think about going back to work?! Hasn’t Charlie’s death taught me anything about the value of our children?! I don’t know of any angel moms with rainbow babies that have gone back to work voluntarily. It makes me feel like a horrible mom! And trusting someone else with Cami is gut-wrenching! This is particularly vulnerable since we’ve had to find a new nanny. Our old nanny who was with us over three years, Mel, is busy with her own little one and they are moving soon to Las Vegas.

We found our new nanny on Care.com and she seems great. She is understanding of our anxiety and seems very responsible. My work has been great to let me “wean” back in so I can have time to train Staci and build trust. But I know regardless of how much time I have with Staci to build that trust, it is still going to be a big leap of faith for me.

As I move forward I have to decide that I can’t live by fear or guilt. I have to hold to my personal truth that working is integral to me and I am a good mom. That working doesn’t devalue my children. But rather I am taking care of myself so I can more fully be present with them. But man it’s going to be hard to leave this little one for two days a week! I sure adore this little rainbow!

IMG_3792

Choosing to believe

“Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver”-Sophocles

I have been astounded by others I have met with similar losses and their perceivable rock-solid faith. I wish I could claim the same convictions. I wish I didn’t find myself in a religious existential crisis after losing Charlie…but that is what happened and where I still dwell in many regards. This isn’t the first faith crisis in my life but it is certainly my biggest.

I’ve alluded to and commented briefly in many posts about this aspect of my journey, but I decided it’s time to be more vulnerable and more explicit about it.

I think in the beginning I was embarrassed to have this crisis of faith. I felt silly because in my work as a therapist, I have heard many incredibly painful stories that have happened to really good people, and their stories didn’t shake my faith. Instead it felt so cliche that my faith faltered when something so hard and painful “happened to ME.”

And when IT (Charlie’s death) did happen to me, the world no longer made sense. I knew cognitively before his death that the world didn’t follow a “fair” formula. I knew that bad things happen to good people and that bad people are sometimes greatly rewarded and successful in life. But before, I reconciled this lack of justice with the concept of agency. Most of the stories I heard from clients or other people in my life, or even on the news, were stories where someone used their agency to negatively affect someone else. Either through making poor choices (e.g. driving drunk or recklessly) or bad people purposely hurting others through abuse, neglect, etc. And because my understanding has been that agency is an important condition of this mortal existence, God will not and cannot interfere with our agency. Subsequently, most of the pain we experience in life is a result of that eternal law.

But Charlie’s death wasn’t “agentic.” We weren’t hit by a drunk driver, I didn’t accidentally drop him, or shake him in a fit of anger. And I don’t believe my four month old could choose to stop breathing, anymore than you or I can choose to stop breathing.

This experience caused me to question Who God is and whether He is involved in my life at all? Was He involved in Charlie’s death? Or did He just let it happen? And WHY? Why does He intervene on behalf of others; why do others get miracles and we didn’t? These questions spin and spin and get deeper until I asked myself the painful question, Does my Heavenly Father love me? But these questions lead me down a rabbit hole that is confusing, painful and hard to articulate. In service of making sure this post doesn’t become a novel of inarticulate ramblings, I will save those thoughts for another time.

What I want to boil this post down to is what I conceptualize as the first step in my faith journey. Or perhaps better stated, the foundation upon which I return and upon which every other step I take in this journey rests. That foundation is simply this: I choose God.

I have found ample reason to doubt Him. To doubt His love, to doubt His goodness, to doubt His involvement, or even doubt His existence. But faith isn’t about erasing doubt or finding truth. I believe faith is about CHOOSING. And we are rewarded with increased faith and knowledge after we choose, or as we  consistently choose in the face of doubt.

My conclusion is this: I do not have the answers. I’m not sure if I will find the answers in this life. But I DO believe in God. I believe this with all my heart. Experiences before and after Charlie confirm this to my soul. But I still have to choose. Because those confirmations, although powerful and deep, are quiet. I think Heavenly Father is giving me a powerful gift by allowing me to choose Him. To believe. And these doubts come back again and again…so choosing Him is a repeated process again and again. It’s not always easy to make this choice. Cynicism, my analytical brain, and my feelings of unjustice and betrayal start whirring and it takes significant effort to turn those thoughts away and choose to believe; to draw closer to God instead of away.

photo(43)Jerry Sittser expressed my feelings perfectly in his book A Grace Disguised: How the soul grows through loss, “Loss may call the existence of God into question. Pain seems to conceal him from us, making it hard to believe that there could be a God in the midst of our suffering. In our pain we are tempted to reject God, yet for some reason we hesitate to take that course of action. So we ponder and pray. We move toward God, then away from him. We wrestle in our souls to believe. Finally we choose God, and in the choosing we learn that he has already chosen us and has already been drawing us to him.”