Friday, October 28, 2011

The Box On The Porch

There is a box on my porch.
A cardboard box, with a blanket inside.

We had our first snow of the year last night. A flurry of large chunky flakes that left everything entombed in a heavy, transluscent frost. It was the kind of morning where you just want to pull the covers back up to your chin, and catch a little more sleep, which, of course, is impossible when two 7 month olds are having a turf war over who should get to stick their fingers in your belly button. Bubba won.

Each morning in this house starts with me venturing downstairs, babies in tow, to make Hubs a cup of coffee for his ride to work while he walks the dog. Today, upon returning from their walk, he told me that Charlotte the Wonder Pup had been barking like mad at something. Here is my recollection of the conversation that followed...

"I think I heard a kitty mewing," Hubs said.
"Really?"
"Pretty sure, yeah." He reached for his cup of coffee. "In the bushes by the front porch."
"Poor little kitteh." I said, looking out the window. "It's so cold this morning."
Hubs took a sip. "I was thinking we should maybe put out a box with some blankets."
"Yeah...I don't think so."

So before you start judging me, you should know that I love animals - all animals. In fact our sweet Charlotte the Wonder Pup was rescued as she was headed to the slaughter. It's just that I have a bit of a history (a sordid history) when it comes to stray cats.

Let me explain.

About five or six years ago, Hubs (then my fiance) and I came home from a party very late at night. As we approached our stoop, I saw an adorable black and white cat. "Here Kitty, Kitty," I called, with my arm out. "Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty." Hubs walked ahead of me up the stoop and flipped on the porch light so I could get a better look. To my horror, the "kitty" I was mere inches away from petting was actually a skunk! We ran inside just as he sprayed.

Then there was the time I saw an adorable little kitten curled up against the curb sleeping. She was white and grey and just beautiful. Unlike the earlier story where I had consumed a few glasses of wine before approaching the animal in question, this time I was completely sober. I walked over to her, hand out, calling, "Here Kitty. Kitty." Only kitty didn't respond... because kitty was dead.

So you take those two stories, and compound them with the fact that a very close friend of mine has been battling a horrendous (and in her case life threatening) bout of cat scratch fever the last year (which she just so happened to pick up while rescuing kittens in her yard) and yeah... you could say I am a just little gun-shy about stray cats.

Gun-shy - but still an animal lover.

So like I said, there is a cardboard box on the front porch with a blanket in it.

Here's to hoping a rabid raccoon doesn't wander in.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Transition

Maybe you've noticed that the look of this blog has changed.
In many ways the changes to this space parallel the changes in my life.

I am in transition.

Of course I am still missing her - but the darkness of grief is not ALL of who I am now.
And yes I am loving mothering the twins - but that love doesn't tell the whole story either.

Somewhere between what has happened, and what comes next,
between what is and what can never be,
between feeling robbed by her loss, and grateful for the perspective on life it has afforded me,
is the place where I live (and write) these days.

This space started as a grief blog.
Then a grief/infertility blog.
Then a grief/infertility/pregnancy after loss blog.
And now it is changing again.

I will always grieve Peyton. With every fiber of my being I feel her loss, in the good days and the bad days. And while my love for her is unwaivering, and I do the best I can at mothering a child who is no longer here, there is a whole side of myself that feels underrepresented in these posts.

The side that has embraced living.

There are so many days that I log on here wanting to share something noteworthy (to me at least) about my day. But then I worry. I worry that something I write may be triggering for someone who has come here fresh in their loss or infertility journey, and that such a post might be a sort of slap in the face.

I had thought that starting the Rodeo would be a safe way to share the twins here.
That it would give those folks who needed it a heads up to avoid my blog on a given day, but now I feel like I have painted myself into a corner with it because I might have SO MUCH to say about them on a Monday, or a Tuesday, but feel like I can't.

Then there are the days that I am dying to post about my latest writing project, or to tell a funny story, or share a general observation on life, but I worry then, too, that doing so would somehow be unfair to those readers who come here solely to identify with someone who is grieving.

So I write nothing.

The problem with writing nothing, is that I just.can't.do.it.
I am a writer.
I live, breathe, eat, sleep, love-love-love to write!

It is as if the events of my life are only confirmed to me once I have documented them. Even during the hospital stay with Peyton, we would go through so much with her during the day, but until I came home to journal it, or read it on her blog, it didn't feel real to me.

For a while I thought about starting a separate blog. An everything other than Peyton blog to chronicle my life with the twins, and my writing projects, but that just felt completely unrealistic, because my experiences with Peyton influence and color every other part of my world. The two sides of my life are not mutually exclusive.

I cry more easily, and laugh more fully - because of her.
I admire the beauty in the little things, and feel confident in taking on the big things - because of her.
I know the value in sometimes building yourself up, and the beauty that comes in sometimes allowing yourself to fall - because of her.

There is no other life to document. No life that is somehow outside of my love of and grief for my daughter. There is just this life. My life. And even when not talking specifically about her, Peyton is a  huge part of what makes me me.

So I guess that's what this post is really all about.
A bit of a warning to my readers that not every entry here is always going to be centered around grief, or loss, or infertility.

Yes, this is still Peyton's place - her corner of the blogosphere.
And yes I miss her like crazy all of the time.

But like every big sister, Peyton shares my heart and my love with others now. There is room enough in there for her, and her siblings. For her father. Our friends. My writing, and other passions.

It only feels fitting that she would share this space too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Still Hers

I've been in a sort of funny place this week. Vulnerable. Emotional. I've written a number of posts without hitting publish. I never do that.

We started breaking down Peyton's room this weekend. I know... I know... it's long overdue. These little ones now need their own space, and yet somehow, knowing that just didn't make the task any easier. Neither did the fact that Peyton never actually came home to that room. It was still hers.

I can still feel, see, smell, hear, taste exactly how it was to be in that room in August of 2008. I sat in the chair with my feet up on doctor's orders. Hubs assembled the crib piece by piece and hung shelves. I folded tiny clothes, placing them into lined drawers.

We were ready.

Today marks 1112 days since Peyton died, nearly 1/10th of my life has been spent missing her. 1112 days of looking for answers that don't exist. Of trying to understand who I am now, and figure out where to go from here. I have grown a bit in these last 1112 days. Joy comes more readily now, as does gratitude. But Peyton, my sweet, sweet Peyton. She is no less gone. No less absent from our every day lives. No less a gaping hole in my being.


There is now a couch on its side where Peyton's crib once stood. And a file cabinet. And an office chair. Items stacked in a corner until my writing space can be arranged. The years of grief and dust in which I had written her name on that crib has been wiped clean. The mattress removed, replaced by one with certifications assuring me that there will be nothing toxic coming from it as my child sleeps. That crib, so long identified in my mind as Peyton's, is now the place where Squeaks sleeps (or refuses to sleep, as the case has been this week) in a room down the hall. Her brother, by her side, in a crib all his own.

But in that room, that room once meant to be hers, I can still sense the little girl who never came home. The baby who smelled of sweet mint, and was the first to lay her head across my chest. I can still feel the child who made me a momma.

With time Peyton's room will be redecorated and re-purposed. The writing studio I have talked about for the last few years will come into being and the bumble bee decor will come off the walls, but it doesn't matter. For me that room is still hers. It will always be hers, and I will always wish that she had come home to it.

READERS DIGEST CONTEST UPDATE: I NEED YOUR HELP
As a way to honor her third birthday, I have entered the Reader's Digest "Your Life" Contest with an entry about my experience mothering Peyton. The voting is open until November 15th, and you can vote once a day. It would mean a great deal to me to get Peyton's story in Reader's Digest. Can you please help me out by visiting this link and casting your vote for my entry. I have fallen way behind, currently in fifth place, a full 9000 votes behind first place! There were some issues with voting last week that sort of took me out of the running, but after contacting Reader's Digest about them, they seem to be fixed now. Also, you don't need a Facebook account to vote from what I have been told. Thank you so much! I would really love to honor Peyton this way. To raise awareness about the fact that little babies are born with, and die of, Leukemia. Peyton's story is a rare one, but it still deserves to be told. xoxo

Monday, October 17, 2011

URGENT. PRAYERS NEEDED FOR ALEXANDER NOW

Please pray for this baby who has taken a turn for the worse.
Pray that his health will improve. 
Please pray for his mother, Amanda, who has been so strong through this, and hop over to offer her some love. 

Hey Universe - this dreadful babylost club already has enough members, we do NOT need another one. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

16th Friday Rainbow Baby Blog Rodeo


Welcome to the Friday Rainbow Baby Blog Rodeo, a place to celebrate the amazing children who have come into our lives after loss, and to strengthen our bond as a community of Rainbow parents.

Every Friday we can gather here to share our little ones' triumphs, brag like the proud parents that we are, and yes ... even own up to our epic fails in parenting (all in good fun of course) via links to our own blogs with posts about any and everything Rainbow from the week.

Feel free to grab the button from the sidebar and help spread the word. Let's bring this Rainbow parenting community together.

I will go first...

Da-A-Da-Da
Bubba's big on the DaDa thing right now. He also scrunches his nose and makes a funny face that appeared out of nowhere yesterday and has been cracking me up. Squeaks has cut her first two teeth. They both sit up well on their own now, though only for a few minutes at a time, and we are still working on the solids and sleeping through the night thing.


Here is a fun little video I captured of them when were driving home from the Ped's yesterday. Hubs was driving, have no fears, I wouldn't be videoing if I was! Don't mind the food on their faces - a failed attempt at feeding them sweet potatoes while in the car so they wouldn't have to wait till we were home. Yeah... didn't go so well. Also learned a valuable lesson on that car ride... sippy cups still do spill! Bubba got more water on his shirt than in his mouth! We still have to do some work on that one.


Enjoy!


video



So that is what Bubba and Squeaks
have been up to this week...

What have your rainbows been doing?

Want to participate? 
It's easy! Just write a post on your own blog about whatever your Rainbow(s) has been up to this week, and then add the link to that post in the Linky widget below. 


****
A side note: As a way to honor her third birthday, I have entered the Reader's Digest "Your Life" Contest with an entry about my experience mothering Peyton. The voting is open until November 15th, and you can vote once a day. It would mean a great deal to me to get Peyton's story in Reader's Digest. I am currently ranked in second place. Can you please help me out by visiting this link and casting your vote for my entry. Thank you so much!



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reality Check

So staying home alone to take care of the twins. Yeah...

Don't get me wrong, I mean, I LOVE being home with them. Playing with them. Hearing them giggle. Watching them grow. I love all of that, I do, but sometimes the lack of sleep, the constant wrestling to get them into their diapers when all they want to do is flip and flip and flip right out of them, their new affinity for pinching me, the nipple biting while teething, and the on-the-boob-off-the-boob-on-the-boob during feedings, it gets to be a bit much.

And then of course we have the separation anxiety because we are now in THAT stage where any time I leave the room, or their corner of the room, or the immediate area, they cry like they will never see me again. It's endearing actually, to be THAT needed, THAT wanted, but it can also be draining.

And let's not forget the screaming at ten-thousand-decibels to each other, because when you are 7 months old, that is just HILARIOUS, or the whining for something that they want, and me trying, trying, TRYING to understand what that something is, because they don't yet have the words to tell me.

Sometimes at the end of a long day it's hard not to sink into how absolutely tiring the whole stay-at-home-mommy-of-twins thing can be. But then I take a step back and bitch-slap myself, because you know what? This exhaustion. This hard work. This is everything I ever hoped for and more. I have been truly, and DUAL-Y, blessed, and even I need a reality check from time to time.

After two plus long, silent, heart-breaking years I have been graced with two HEALTHY, beautiful children.

Are they a lot of work on my own? Heck yeah they are! A lot of work. No, really... A-lot-of-work, and my life would be infinitely easier if I had an extra set of hands here from time to time, but then I remind myself, when the days feel long, and my back hurts, and I haven't peed in 12 hours or eaten more than a bite of whatever just happened to be there, that every moment, every-single-stage with them is fleeting. My babies are growing, and they are growing fast. Last night Bubba laid across my chest and I found it hard to breath. Really. He is THAT big already. And they are laughing, and sitting up, and playing with each other. They have started conversing in their own special twin way, and to watch them take in the world around them with such bright eyed wonder is a dream come true. Every day that they do something new, is another step away from the last stage they were in, and I don't want to miss any of it.

And then there is the knowing. That even though we hope to have more children in the future, there is no guarantee of that. I know my tubes are shot. I know that making them required seven-long-months of bed rest. This was no easy feat, and there is a very good chance that this is the only time I will have babies doing what these babies are doing and I don't want to waste any of it having a pity party over the fact that I got exactly what I wished for.

So yes. Staying home by myself with twins is hard. And yes, I look like a zombie most days, but I am a happy zombie. A blessed zombie. A singing-silly-songs-to-keep-them-smiling zombie. And that is just fine by me.

In the future I will rest. I will sleep. I will go out to eat. At some point in the future I will have a date with my husband, maybe even feel sexy and like a woman again (rather than a spit-up covered mom). In the future I will wear pants that are not of the yoga-pajama-sweat suit variety, I will do my hair in something other than a messy pony-tail knot on the top of my head because time allows for it, and get my eyebrows waxed. I will wear make-up. Have more time for my writing. Maybe even grab a bite to eat with a girlfriend.

In the future I will do all of those things. But not now. Now is their time, and tiring as it may be at times, I embrace it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Moments

There are moments
perfect moments

like right after the rain

when the brave sun breaks through the clouds,
and roots itself into the earth with the bright willowy lines it has cast

or in the evenings
when I look up to find the moon
draped in perfect, wispy brushstrokes of cool condensation

and in these moments I know
without a doubt, I know
that you are there

among all that beauty

you are right there, child
experiencing this life with me


A side note: As a way to honor her third birthday, I have entered the Reader's Digest "Your Life" Contest with an entry about my experience mothering Peyton. The voting is open until November 15th, and you can vote once a day. It would mean a great deal to me to get Peyton's story in Reader's Digest. I am currently ranked in second place. Can you please help me out by visiting this link and casting your vote for my entry. Thank you so much!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

15th Friday Rainbow Baby Blog Rodeo


Welcome to the Friday Rainbow Baby Blog Rodeo, a place to celebrate the amazing children who have come into our lives after loss, and to strengthen our bond as a community of Rainbow parents.

Every Friday we can gather here to share our little ones' triumphs, brag like the proud parents that we are, and yes ... even own up to our epic fails in parenting (all in good fun of course) via links to our own blogs with posts about any and everything Rainbow from the week.

Feel free to grab the button from the sidebar and help spread the word. Let's bring this Rainbow parenting community together.

I will go first...


SO HAPPY TOGETHER...


There are few things in life that bring me more joy, than bearing witness to the way Bubba and Squeaks interact. Here are a few pics of them just hangin' out last week... I love these pics, even if Squeaks DOES have green bean stuck under her nose.





The Snowflakes' latest milestones are saying "dadadadada" and making funny spit noises. Squeaks is a crawling machine, and Bubba is army crawling. They both are loving solids, though Squeaks will always look disgusted the first bite and demand each bite thereafter. They have mastered (and quite enjoy) stealing each other's toys, and think there is nothing better than chewing on on another's feet or hands.

God I love them.



So that is what Bubba and Squeaks
have been up to this week...

What have your rainbows been doing?

Want to participate? 
It's easy! Just write a post on your own blog about whatever your Rainbow(s) has been up to this week, and then add the link to that post in the Linky widget below. 


****
A side note: As a way to honor her third birthday, I have entered the Reader's Digest "Your Life" Contest with an entry about my experience mothering Peyton. The voting is open until November 15th, and you can vote once a day. It would mean a great deal to me to get Peyton's story in Reader's Digest. I am currently ranked in second place. Can you please help me out by visiting this link and casting your vote for my entry. Thank you so much!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All Time Favorite Post - Time Warp Tuesday

Kathy, at Four of a Kind, has come up with a great blog hop. It's called Time Warp Tuesday, and each week she gives you a theme, and you look through your archives for a post that fits that theme. I was torn this week, because the theme is All Time Favorite Post, and honestly, that's a tough one. I turn to this blog for so many things - to vent, to share, to celebrate, to cry, to express myself through the written word, to create, to document - and each post has a different significance for me. I have a favorite poem. A favorite vent. An epiphany that means the world to me. And then certainly, without a doubt, the announcement of the safe arrival of my Snowflakes has been my favorite moment documented here, so picking my All Time Favorite Post actually felt a lot harder than it may sound.

I've already decided which post I will be submitting to Mel's creme de la creme for 2011, and was going to post that here today, but while that may be my favorite post from this year, to get my All Time Favorite Post I have to go back - way back, to a post titled  On Falling.

This post is my favorite because it brings me spiritually and creatively back to a place where I felt so in tune with my emotions. It highlights what a gift grief can be. Yes, you read that right -  a gift - because grief provides you with a deeper, richer view of the world. It helps you to see meanings that you may have overlooked before loss. It proves that even in the pain, there is still so much beauty to be found. Beauty that encourages you to keep trying. To keep going.

Many of you have already read the post. Some of you have not. Give it a read and let me know what you think, then be sure to hop over to Four of a Kind and submit your own favorite.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Three Years Ago.

Three years ago, baby girl, you left and my world crumbled. I thought, on that day, that I had hit rock bottom. I was wrong. Rock bottom came later. Months later. Possibly years later. Rock bottom came in the crying and the grieving and the depression and the PTSD. It came in the flashbacks and the never ending questioning and the anger. Rock bottom came, and it went, and through all of it you were there, your little spirit guiding me in that way you always do, and we survived.

I can't think about that day without second guessing every-single-decision that we made on your behalf. If the right decisions had been made, wouldn't you still be here?

This year feels different than the last two. The first anniversary of your death was like dying all over again. Last year I remember laying in bed with your siblings floating in my big belly, and crying until I felt I couldn't breathe. I begged them at the time to understand. I explained to them that there are tears that will always come for you. For what you went through and never got to experience and your beautiful little unlived life. This year I find myself treading water, trying with all my might to not go there, not because you aren't missed. Not because I love you any less. But because I have these two little beings here who are dependant on me. They learn everything from me, the good and the bad, and I don't want them to know at 7 months about a level of darkness that it took me 28 years to be exposed to.

I am trying to think of the right words here. The ways to tell you that I think of you constantly. You never leave my mind. My thoughts. My heart. I have your picture on the window sill in the family room, and every day, every-single-day I look at it trying to remember how you smelled, to breathe in that sweet minty smell that was you, and to recall your features. When I went through your box the other day, I was struck by how absolutely tiny your hands were. How could someone with such a huge personality have been so tiny? But you were... weren't you? Too tiny to fight such a giant's battle, but you did, and with a level of grace far beyond your years, and one that I can only strive to ever live up to.

I wish I had the strength to be an advocate for you. I see so many parents lose their children to cancer and they trudge forward honoring them by raising funds and awareness. Truth be told, when I hear about childhood cancer, I curl up inside myself. I retreat. I run scared. I feel ill, and struggle not to be flashed back there. To the helplessness. To the horrors. I was so scared Peyton. Every moment of your life I was scared. And in over my head. When you came into this world, I didn't even know how to bathe a baby, and yet I was being asked to make decisions regarding treatment plans and chemotherapy. It was too much.

If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, I think I would have pushed to birth you naturally. Even knowing that your little body wouldn't have survived it. I just can't help but to feel that in some way, sparing you of all of it would have been kinder. I wish you hadn't had to feel one needle stick. One test. One spinal tap. One surgery. I wish you had been spared, instead floating painlessly from this life to the next. Someday, when I leave this world and we are reunited, I hope to make this all up to you. I like to think we will be in some beautiful field somewhere, with the sun shining, the birds singing, and the clouds floating over, and I will hold you in my arms, watch the light dance across your face, and rock and rock and rock you, until we both feel whole again.

I love you.

Momma