Friday, June 24, 2011

No more binkies, no more babies

The Binky Fairy came this week. Kathleen said goodbye to all her binkies (Pink and Yellow and Blue and Green and Other Green). She put them in a bag and we put the bag out on the porch. She went to bed tonight with two of her dolls and a small blanket square from her nana to hug if she needed it. I read her an extra story. She did not ask about a binky, though I was up and down the stairs because she was wet and banged her elbow and was wet again. I knew I needed to really get rid of the binkies, not tuck them someplace where she might find them, but I had a hard time putting them in the trash. And later when I went up to check on her before I went to bed, I looked for them, ready to put them in reach. I'll be glad they are gone, but it felt sad somehow at this sign of her growing up, of this thing she must let go of.

I'm in a letting go phase. 

I went to my OB-Gyn yesterday for my annual exam, nothing baby related. It was weird to walk in there knowing that unless I had some problem that I'd only be there once a year from now on. It was a reminder that I'm done.

There will be no more babies for me. Mostly I'm okay with this. 

I think.

You wouldn't know it from the bins of maternity clothes in the attic, the ones I can't quite bring myself to drop off in a Salvation Army box or Freecycle. I've parceled a few things off to one of my sister's friends. I've promised some to a babylost mama friend of mine. I've offered some to a friend from the neighborhood. I feel like I can give them away to somebody I know but not just get rid of them.

You wouldn't know it from the boxes of 0-3 and 3-6 month clothes that I'm trying to pack up. I know they should not go into the attic, but I'm sure that's where they will probably go for a while.

I love seeing Kathleen grow, all the new things she does, the way her mind works. I love watching Elizabeth rolling around, holding her head up, jumping, tasting foods. I'm okay with them growing and changing and moving on to new stages. 

I'm still having trouble letting go of the stuff though. Does that mean I'm not really letting go?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday, Monday—Five good things again

Sleeping in until 7:30 and waking up in crisp fresh sheets

Dinner in front of the chiminea, so relaxing watching the flames flickering and shifting

Salad from our garden!!! The first food aside from a few herbs from the garden this year

Locally roasted, small batch coffee at the farmer's market (just ordered 3 lbs for a belated Father's Day gift for B.)—so yummy

Unexpected s'mores with our neighbors yesterday

Hmmm . . . food and sleep seem to dominate the list this week. How about you?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An evening out

I went out for drinks and apps with a good friend tonight to celebrate my birthday. After what feels like weeks of rain bracketing a mini heat wave, it was absolutely perfect weather-wise to sit on the deck, sipping beer and eating nachos and fried catfish and mussels. It was the kind of night that makes me wonder why I don't go out more often.

We were there for a little over three hours, and for probably half of that time we talked about Henry, about what happened when he died, what she remembered, what stood out to her, what I remembered, what I couldn't remember or what was fuzzy.

And here's the thing: it wasn't depressing at all. I love having conversations like these. (Not the experience that led to this conversation, but that, given that experience, the conversation happened.) It was not what I expected of my birthday outing, and yet it was what I needed right now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gratitude and Good Things

Years ago, a friend gave me a blank book to use as a gratitude book, an idea she got from Oprah. I tried it for a while, sitting down each night and listing three things I was grateful for. Some days it felt quite forced. Maybe it was that word grateful. It feels so big.

When Henry was in the hospital, I'm sure I prayed more than I ever have before. Throughout the day, I'd send out hope as a prayer. At night, as I lay on the narrow, plastic coated bed that crinkled and made me sweat, I'd prayer. And each night, I began not with please, but with thank you. I don't know why or how I started doing so. Maybe it was a really good day—or a really bad one. In any case, that was how I started each night with gratitude for at least one good thing. There were days it was easy to find one thing—or more. Other days I had to struggle. Some days it was simply that he was still with us or that we hadn't had setbacks. Open eyes. A breath on his own. A smile. Getting to hold him. Climbing into bed with him. A visit. A note from somebody unexpected. Having our favorite nurse. Coffee and cookie hour. Little things.

I'm aware of the big stuff. I'm grateful for a family that I both love and like. I'm grateful for my children and my health. I'm grateful for a comfortable home in a safe place with wonderful neighbors. The little stuff, the day-to-day stuff, is the stuff it's easy to overlook, and I try not to. Sometimes the gratitude for the little or the mundane has simply been hanging on to a splinter of hope; other times it is a deep, deep awareness of the world around me. And sometimes it's just acknowledging simple pleasures.

Last Monday, Barbara inspired me to list 5 good things. She's back at it this week, and I loved seeing her list again. It feels like such a positive way to start the week.

Here's my list this week (if you read the comments on her post, you'll see my five things have changed already, not because those five weren't good, but because I've had more.
  1. Homemade pizza for dinner
  2. Working in the garden with Kathleen: getting potatoes planted—one step closer to the garden being done; watching her sturdy little legs going as she went back and forth back and forth the the compost pile with my weeds in her wheelbarrow
  3. Anticipating chocolate cake at least once (maybe two, maybe three times) this week for my birthday
  4. Birthday greetings beginning to roll in
  5. The quiet when everyone else is asleep (although sometimes it keeps me up when I should be asleep too)

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Elizabeth was baptized today in the church where Brian and I were married, where Henry and Kathleen were baptized, where Henry's funeral mass was held. It is a place of memories, but I did not cry today, not even a little.

She wore the dress I was baptized in, which was made from my mom's wedding dress (I was so afraid she would grow too big for it before we finally got her baptized). Before the ceremony while she napped, she was snuggled in a white blanket my grandmother knit for her great-grandchildren's baptisms. We got a picture of four generations (I have one from each of my children's baptisms): Elizabeth, me, my mom, and my nana. I'm so glad my nana could come (and she couldn't come empty handed—unbidden she made a blueberry cake and I get to have some leftovers for breakfast).

The sun didn't shine, but the rain held off enough for the kids to play outside. I love watching Kathleen run around with all her cousins. I trusted Kathleen to run around with the eight of them older than her, though it was easy with that many of them to lose track of one.

It was a lovely day, and I'm so glad it is done. I put off thinking about it over the winter. Too many snow storms (this winter especially) to be able to count on my family getting here. Then we had such a hard time finding a date when our families could all make it. I started to get really anxious, feeling like we needed to get it done "before something happened." Yes, that's the scarred part of me talking. I don't believe that had something happened before we baptized her that she would be punished for eternity. It wasn't even a fear that something was going to happen to her, just anxiety that we needed to act before it could. Once we set a date, I relaxed a lot. But I admit I was a bit nutty when we were trying to get that settled.

Now it's done, and Elizabeth is officially part of a community that welcomed her already, a community that has been developing for us over the last four years. A community of people who know us, many of whom knew Henry, some of whom still talk about him. And next Sunday we will take her again to the church where Brian and I were married, where Henry's funeral mass was held, where she and Henry and Kathleen were all baptized.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Collage

here's Henry . . . pictures of Henry . . . Down syndrome resource group . . . congrats . . . preparing for surgery . . . back in the hospital . . . thinking of you . . . sending our love . . . Hoping . . . just down the hall . . . wicked cute . . . need anything? . . . that's great news . . . glad to hear about Henry's progress . . . Home?!!? . . . Hurrayyyy! . . . sad news . . . donation in Henry's honor

—Henry's life in email subject lines

Monday, June 6, 2011

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

The two new posts on my blog reading list today were lists of good things, and I'm inspired to do the same on this June Monday.

Five things I'm loving right now

Working on the porch in an old rocker with ice coffee (OK, I'd love it more if I were reading and not working, but if I have to work, this isn't a bad way to do it)

Knowing that the garden is almost planted (finally)

Anticipating a run later today

Strawberry smoothies (with strawberries from the freezer from last year, eaten with abandon knowing that we will soon have fresh ones)

Listening to the drone of bees in the rhododendrons

What are you loving these days?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Right Where I Am: a week later

His birthday was easy this year, so let out the breath I was holding and moved into June.

Tonight, it struck me as I closed the door to Kathleen's room. I could (should) have a four year old right now. Four. I see that in other children, other families and can't quite picture it here in my house. Four. I know, I recognized that on his birthday, but it hit me with that sudden realization that I can't see four, can't imagine it here.

Tonight, it rolled over me as I sat comforting and settling Elizabeth. I held Henry the day he died—but not the day he was born. And sadness rumbled up though me for the four year old that I will never know. For the first day I will never have. For that last day that I will always have.

All of what I said just before his birthday holds true, but this is true too. This is where I am tonight in the missing wallow and the disbelief.