6 year Angelversary

It’s interesting, whenever April approaches, I notice I start emotionally eating. I get grumpy and a little sad. But the good news is, this April, while I still felt those things, I didn’t clue into why until Charlie’s angelversary was almost upon us! When I realized, I practiced important self-compassion, which helped.

I have learned not to have expectations for angelversaries. I don’t know how hard or easy they will be. I also learned it’s valuable to have a proactive plan for how to spend the day.

This angelversary was the best we’ve passed. It was actually a really good day. Chad ditched work, and we let Hailee stay home from school and we spent the whole day together as a family. In the morning, Hailee and I hiked up to the Reservoir where we fed the ducks and played around. Then, after lunch we all went to the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Hailee was the only one who had been there before, on a school field trip. The museum was so much fun! It was even better that it was during a school day so we practically had the whole place to ourselves. We spent several hours there goofing around. I was struck several times that day that I laughed! Like really laughed! We all had fun together making memories in honor of Charlie.

Of course we concluded the day at his grave where we gave him some small presents and released 6 balloons to heaven. We came home tired but pretty happy.

I like this new tradition we are creating of using Charlie’s Angelversary as a family holiday. Hailee was too young when Charlie died to remember him and Cami and Liam never got to know Charlie in this life. So having an annual family holiday where we make special memories together in Charlie’s honor is a good way to keep Charlie’s memory alive. I like thinking that when the kids are all grown up, they will remember “Charlie Days” together.

I am grateful to be in a place where the sadness I feel about Charlie’s death doesn’t feel dark and heavy. Of course grief waves still strike, but I have learned that I am a strong swimmer. I also can’t help but look at my little family and feel full of so much gratitude for the life we have together now. Cami and Liam are here because we lost Charlie. Our family feels complete, even though our hearts will always yearn for our little angel.

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Biting the bullet

At seven months, when we did all that intense sleep training with Liam it was GREAT! And worth every penny and all the time and effort we put into it. But Liam only slept through the night for about the next month. At 8 months he started teething. And Liam did NOT like teething. So we sleep regressed. Despite giving him Ibuprofin before bed, Liam would wake up one, to two, to three times each night crying! And as he got older, his cries were louder and more persistent! He would stand up in his crib and see us in bed and just cry and cry and cry until we relented, got him out and snuggled him back to sleep.

This got worse. I kicked Chad out of our room and he went to sleep with Cami. I thought it was his snoring that was waking Liam up. But no, Liam kept waking up. I became so tired that I would pull him into bed with me and nurse him back to sleep. But then I began to fall asleep cuddling him and hours would go by before I’d wake up and attempt to put him back in his crib. Liam became so sensitive to being transitioned that eventually he refused to sleep in his crib at all. He just wanted to be in my arms, on my chest, or just right by me, all night long.

Well, this made for poor sleep! While I secretly LOVED cuddling him, he also wiggled all night long and whined. Neither of us got good sleep. So, before this could become too much of a pattern, we KNEW it was time to move Liam into his own room.

I dragged my feet about this so when I was gone one night at a women’s retreat, Chad took down the crib and re-assembled it in the nursery. When I came home the next afternoon, Liam had already taken two naps in his nursery and seemed to be adjusting just fine! In fact, Chad said when he brought Liam into the nursery and Liam saw his crib, he got a big smile on his face.

I was super sad when I got home and realized my little baby would be sleeping away from me from now on. I honestly wanted to cry big alligator tears. But I knew it would be the best thing for all of us.

He’s been in his nursery for a week now and the last several nights he has slept 11 hours straight! At first this made me nervous and I’d wake up to check on him throughout the night. But I am getting used to it too. We had some Owlet difficulties for a few nights where it had difficulty getting a reading, but after re-setting the base station, I think we figured that out and the owlet hasn’t gone off since. Knowing Liam has the Owlet on is very psychologically reassuring since he’s not in my room. When he wakes up between 7-8am, I will still pull him into bed with me to nurse and snuggle for a little bit, so we still have that connection. It’s also good to have Chad back in my bed and our bedroom to ourselves again. Liam seems really happy in his own place as well.

While I am still sad at this transition and that Liam is growing up, I am compensating for the sadness by putting energy into decorating his nursery. Mel is helping me and we are making it really cute! Having a cute space for him makes me excited.

The sleep experts who consulted with us about Liam when he was 7 months old told us that having Liam in his own room would be the best for sleep training. Three months later and lots of hours of lost sleep, we realize they were right! But better late than never!