Friday, January 2, 2015

Adrian's 5 year aniversary

It has been 5 years since the day I gave birth to Adrian.  I pulled out his card that joyfully states in blue letters "It's a boy!" and remembered with a twinge how much the cheerfulness of this card hurt me back then (it still does).  It clearly states the time of birth, 10:08, and the birth weight, 409 g.  I know these details by heart, although funny enough I don't know when my living children were born, or exactly how much they weighed (well, ok, Daniel is easy to remember 'cause he weighed 2.000 kg, how can I forget that one?).  It is not that odd, because for Emma and Daniel I have so many more details to remember:  their first days, their first smiles, their first teeth, the crawling days, their baptisms, and just about endless hours of joy spent together.  For Adrian, all I have is this blue card with the stupid birth announcement and the cruel exclamation mark.  That, and his foot prints, tiny and perfect. This year I will post a picture of them, as I love them so much more than the fuzzy ultrasound paper that is starting to darken already.

That's all I have of him, folks!

And, by God's blessed grace, I have two living children who were there with me today when we lit Adrian's candle and said a prayer that he be in Heaven with God, that our love may reach and envelop him, and that we meet one day.

PS.  At dinner today, Emma was very excitedly telling MrH about how mommy had a baby named Adrian who died when he was born, and he is with God, and is flying with wings (that part I never said anything about actually), then about how some mad people burned him in the oven and he died (sorry about that, I obviously did not explain cremation very well, she wanted to know how he got into the urn and I made the mistake of giving too many details, as I was not prepared for that one).  I did correct her and said that no mad people were involved, that Adrian was surrounded by loving people the entire time, and that he was with God when his body was burned to fit into the urn, but I would clearly say that if you get asked this question by a 3 year old, reconsider when mentioning anything about cremation as it is much too graphic and hard to soften as an idea.

I also told her that he died because he was born too small, and that she was luckily born very big and strong.  She seemed pretty happy at the end of the conversation, and I know she will mention the idea again if she does not get it.  Like when she first asked me why Elsa's parents died (in Frozen) about twenty times.

Here I am, posting about Adrian's anniversary only to write an entire paragraph about Emma.  Adrian, your sister is smart and funny, and very inquisitive.  She keeps me busy.  Your brother, Daniel, is getting ready to keep me even busier with his exploratory bent (he is a man, he wants to move, and to find out all about the physical world around him).  I wonder how much you might have looked like them, and decide that the answer is A LOT, since they look a lot like each other.

I was very blessed to have such a rich life so far, my sweet little boy, and I did live it to the fullest, as I have promised you I would.  For you, for me, and now for them too.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year

A happy New Year to all my blog friends, and may this year bring joy and fulfilment of your wishes, whatever they may be, particularly those related to pregnancy and childbirth.  May all of the ladies pregnant right now have healthy term babies, and may all of those struggling to conceive have great news waiting in the following months.

I have a few resolutions for the new year, which are remarkably similar to previous years:
-pay attention to my children, educate them myself as much as I can, perhaps teach Emma how to read (if she becomes ready along the way during 2015)
-be patient as a mother.
-continue to exercise intensely, like I do at the moment
-definitely lose the 15-20 lb that I am still carrying in excess.
-blog weekly
-play piano at least three days per week, preferably closer to 5

I have started a low carb diet again today, and will keep going until I am at goal weight.  No better day to start than today.

We had a little party on NYE with six adults and seven children, a lot of happiness, rack of lamb, white and red wine, too much tiramisu and juice on the carpet, you know, the works, all at the time when MrH was on call and had to go out and come back a few times.  Fun, fun, fun.  Emma and Daniel were fast asleep by midnight, but we got to see fireworks just one block away, and it was beautifully festive.

I know it is easy to forget about NYE, especially when holidays frequently remind us of sad times.  In  2009, I spent the entire time from Boxing Day until Jan 2 in the hospital, trying to (unsuccessfully) hold onto Adrian, whom I lost on Jan 2 (tomorrow is his anniversary).  I could choose to focus on that sad day, and not notice that NYE and January 1 also bring with them tremendous renewal, energy and promise, in a special way that only beginnings can.  We only get 80 of these days if we are lucky.  I might get another 40-50 if I am in the lucky category.  I plan on not letting any of them escape uncelebrated.  Bring on the rack of lamb, the friends and the joy, because even though at the back of my mind I vividly remember spending this occasion on a hospital bed, today I am happy and healthy, and so is everybody I love.  Thank you God!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

how disaster strikes

Today Emma went to the store with her daddy, just a normal outing.  They left like usual, and came back like usual, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until they told me that Emma choked very severely on a piece of candy and just about passed out.  Thankfully, MrH had the knowledge and presence of spirit to administer the Heimlich maneuver, but I cannot stop thinking that if this happened with the nanny, maybe things would not have been the same.  Perhaps it was not a piece of candy, perhaps it was just saliva causing her throat to close up (laryngospasm), in which case she might have recovered.  Regardless, Emma could have just as easily died in the store today.

And that is how disaster strikes, swiftly, unexpectedly.  One moment your kid goes to the store to get fruit with her daddy, the next moment she can choke on candy and drop dead. Gone from your life forever, just like that.  One moment you are pregnant and loving your round belly that is growing, the baby that is kicking, and the husband that thinks you are a miracle in transformation, and the next moment you start leaking amniotic fluid and in less than a few hours, or days, all is over and you are alone, no baby, no belly, and no miracle.

How is it that knowing this in the depth of my bones, I can still go through each day completely oblivious to this universal truth?  Is this mercy or blindness?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

clothing style

I am wrestling with my clothing style again.  I say again because it is one of my periodic areas of upheaval, at least since I have been pregnant, not pregnant, skinny because of losing Adrian and being sad, a bit overweight because of IVF with Emma, then pregnant with Emma, then post partum, then fit but not very skinny until Daniel, then pregnant with Daniel, then back to fit and not the skinniest ever but normal BMI weight again.

Are you dizzy yet?

I am.

On top of that, I have started work again after being a stay at home mom for eight months after having Daniel.  But I am only working half days, so that leaves half days of being with kids at home. My work and the kids require vastly, vastly different clothing choices.  I work in an office, and although the environment is very forgiving, I am a professional, and I feel better if I dress as such.

Lastly, I am torn between my equally strong pulls towards minimalism and order on the one hand, and creativity and choices on the other hand.  I need to respect both, as if I forget about the minimalism/order side, I feel overwhelmed, and if I go too spartan in that direction, I feel bored and drab and blah. I have been down to one pair of pants, one skirt and two sweaters on the one hand, and up to a very full walk in closet of which I pretty much wore everything, as everything fit and had a cousin to match.  I now do not have the time to sit and fold and look after so many clothes with the TLC that they deserve.  I like my clothes ironed.  I don't like stains or pills, and I spend time getting those out.  I fix small holes immediately, no kidding, I have a needle and multiple threads next to my toothbrush in the bathroom.

My actual style is forever changing as well...I am talking about my style at work.  At home, I have a simple formula of 4 jeans (or 2 lululemon crops in summer), and four nursing tops (long sleeve in winter, and short sleeve in summer).  Ugg boots in winter, and flats in summer.  All done.  Summer is short, winter is long, so I allocate proportionally more clothes to winter, and more money to that department.

At work, I mostly wear wool skirts with boots and cashmere sweaters on top.  I have just acquired (this year) two wool trousers, one dress, and two blazers.  I am branching in that direction now, so as to avoid the repetitiveness of skirt plus sweater.  However, as a wannabe minimalist, I should love the repetitiveness of my very defined tendency towards skirt/boot/sweater. See what I mean? I am pulled in the direction of variety and my minimalist side feels uncomfortable with the expansion, but my variety craving side was feeling bored and wanted to break some new ground.

I am reading style and fashion blogs, and find that even stylists don't have their own style sometimes!! Some people alternate so much from earthy/warm colours to cool/black/white, from whimsical/boho to clean/sharp lines, from patterns to solids, that I am thinking IF I WANT TO BE A MINIMALIST, I CANNOT READ FASHION/STYLE BLOGS.  I would say it is definitely a good idea that they vary things, but man, I need to see a trend, a pattern, a tendency of the wearer, not just nice outfits creatively put together.

I have no idea what any of this has to do with the topic of my blog (nothing?), except to say that, as with anything in life, we hold inside ourselves two opposing sides, and they pull us in different directions at different times.  If I were to listen to miss minimalist on the left side of my brain today, and severely cut down my wardrobe today, miss creative on the right side would be very sad tomorrow...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

comment

Hey, if you are reading, comment just to say hi.  I am curious who is still reading my blog!  At one point I thought it was becoming a journal, since I am the only one that is still showing up here, but I see I am still getting over 100 reads a day, so can I please  find out who out there is reading my journal???  HAHAHA

Saturday, November 15, 2014

failure

This is so very true!!! I felt like a failure when I could not get pregnant, then definitely felt like a failure when my cervix gave way and I lost the baby at 20 weeks, then felt like a failure some more when I could not get pregnant or had chemical pregnancies, and then when I did have the baby I felt like a huge giant failure for not producing enough breastmilk. By the time I got to having the third baby and developed a rare case of severe preeclampsia, and on top of that had a placenta accreta, I was so used to being a rare bird kind of failure at the whole reproduction thing that I no longer felt ANYTHING about it and just got on with life. I think you have inspired me to write about my feelings and how they just atrophied with repetitive injury...

I wrote this comment in response to a very good post that I read at No Kidding in NZ.  I used to feel like such a failure, that it is worth repeating the concept in my words as well, if only to help others who are at the point that I was.  

When I could not conceive initially, it was a shock.  Prior to that, I thought of myself quite highly (why exactly, I don't know, and it bears examining, since being healthy, smart, tall, beautiful or any other adjectives that I might have self-attributed or heard from others actually have nothing to do with my own achievement really and have everything to do with the gifts received from God, genetics and the luck of the draw).   I still hold myself up to extremely high standards, and it will be part of me for the rest of my life to bear the burden of my perfectionism.  However, suffice it to say that I got quite the shock when things were just not working as planned, despite no obvious problems.  

I took some time to accept that not all things can be done perfectly, that conception was out of my control, and hence that I could not hold myself accountable for the outcomes.  Then, I got pregnant via IVF and lost the baby due to incompetent cervix.  The sense of guilt coming out of that "failure" is still around to this day, but I have learned to live with it.  There was guilt about all of the subsequent failed IVF's, and sense of guilt about not being able to breastfeed Emma like I thought all mothers SHOULD (ha!  good word, should...). 

By the time I got to Daniel, something interesting had shifted in me.  I simply became immune to guilt, more or less.  I just accepted that that is the way I am built, that my luck of the draw was this never-ending series of mishaps, some more monumental than others.  And I suddenly felt free of a giant burden.  Yes, occasionally the burden can be triggered again by a senseless comment that I unwittingly do not filter, usually when I am tired and run down.  But somewhere in my subconscious mind, I have accepted the futility of trying to do anything to change my reproductive "failures", and that acceptance was a huge relief.  

I don't know how this happened, I just know that it did, and it did not happen right away, but after many, many times of being hurt.  I guess I just decided that I can no longer be bothered to be hurt by these judgements, whether they came from me or from others. 

My hope is that this healing happen for everyone eventually.  Every emotional pain, including guilt, and the sense of failure, has to dull down at some point.  The initial intensity has to diminish, otherwise we would not be able to function.  I think that is what happened to me, it was just too much to feel badly about, so I just stopped feeling badly.  And when I did, I felt relief.  But it was not something I had chosen to do, it just came about (and I am glad that it did :). 


Friday, November 14, 2014

mother to a stillborn baby

I don't often post about Adrian, my stillborn little boy, but that does not mean that I don't think about him every day.  I find it hard to write about him.  He belongs more in my thoughts than in my everyday life, and the people that I hang out with don't know much about my past, and about my pregnancy with him, about losing him.  Since he came into my life and left, I have moved to a different city, got a different job, had two more children, and the hospital in which he and Emma were born was completely demolished and the ground is now bare.

I also don't allow myself to feel the pain of losing him too often.  I worry that I am suppressing that part of my life a little too well.  I touch his urn every day, and once in a while I remember his limp body, his tiny chest, his vulnerable neck that I wanted to kiss but would have had no room to do so as it was so small.  Everything about him small, fragile, lovely, sweet, and tiny baby-ish.

I am his mother, perhaps (one could argue) in a different way than I am Emma and Daniel's mother, but still there is no doubt in my mind that I am his mother.  Mothering, I feel, is a way of being, not really something that I do.  I feel protective, loving beyond belief, courageous, firm, I feel like nothing can get in the way of what I perceive as being the best path for my children, and I am fearless  regarding what would happen to me when it comes to protecting them.

I know that mothering Adrian is quite different from mothering my toddler Emma, but hey, mothering Emma is different from mothering baby Daniel too.  They all have different needs.  Adrian needs to be remembered and prayed for and held softly and gently in my heart forever.  Emma needs lots of things, but mainly attachment and security and a happy environment in which she can thrive.  Daniel needs lots of food, and warmth, and a dry clean diaper, and to touch my face and pull my hair and giggle with me. I honestly just do the best I can for every one of my children, but I do not feel any less of a mother to one than to the other two.

I am writing this because I know that some women have not had living children after their stillborn babies, and because I would have wanted to know whether I was any less of a mother than a woman who has living children.  Having been blessed with having both sides of this experience, this is my take on things.  Once you bond, you are a mother, and bond you will, whether the baby is born alive or not.  For a little stillborn boy or girl, you want to do your best to make sure there was no suffering, you tell them and show them your love, you look after their body with care and reverence and take great pains to make sure that their memory is kept alive.  You never forget them, and you don't allow those who love you to forget your son or daughter either.  There are another hundred big and little things that you do that I am leaving out now, because I know I don't need to continue.  It is the love that makes one a mother, not the presence or absence of the child on her lap.