It’s Wednesday and I thought of you…

I thought of you today as I was raking all the beautiful fall leaves in the backyard.

I thought of you today as I ran my hand through your brother’s hair and felt the warmth of his skin.

I thought of you today when I glimpsed your ornament hanging on the Christmas tree.

I thought of you today as I saw the hummingbird drink from the feeder by our kitchen window.

I thought of you today as your brothers were chasing each other around the house in their underwear and diaper.

I thought of you today as I rocked your brother to sleep, and as your Dadda read to the big brother before bedtime.

I thought of you today when I woke and saw the misty fog and felt the cold breeze.

I thought of you when the sun peeked out of the clouds and your brother said it was pretty.

It’s Wednesday and I thought of you…

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She Needed Me…

It happens. Life. Death. I just happen to work where I see both at the exact same time. I’m trained to be the personnel who tends to your baby’s first breath. Rarely, my services are actually needed to sustain a life, but in the event it happens, I’m there. Along with a team.

This particular day I was needed. But not in the way I thought.

She was born many weeks too early to survive. Her little body pushed from her mother’s warm, loving interior, into the cold world. Her heart beating, trying it’s best to give it a shot, though her lungs were far too underdeveloped to oxygenate her vital organs. She lay still. Her nurse wrapped her in a warm blanket and handed her to her devastated parents to hold.

But after nearly an hour her parents were done. They asked the nurse to take her, do what you have to do, weights and measures. The nurse gently set her in the crib and started to walk toward the nursery.

I saw the look on the nurse’s face. Sad. Confused. Unsure. I asked if the baby was gone yet, she looked at me and said no. No? I asked confused. Why on earth did parents not want to hold their dying baby? I can’t imagine. Oh wait. I can.

I told the nurse I’d take her. I pulled the blanket that covered her tiny body. Still warm, I could feel there was some life in her. I carefully wrapped extra blankets around her so that the crib didn’t look empty as I walked in the hallway to take her to the nursery.

When I arrived I made my way to the back where there was privacy and a curtain. I took out my stethoscope and listened. Nothing. And then a very brief series of heartbeats. Irregularly fluttering in her little chest. She was still hanging on.

I walked quickly to the blanket warmer where I grabbed a nice warm blanket and I gently wrapped this precious baby girl in it. Her little head peering out from the swaddle I sat down in the rocker and began to rock.

But something told me she didn’t want to be rocked. She wanted to be held, but not rocked. So I stood up, walked around and held her close to my chest. I talked to her. I told her she was not alone. I told her I would hold her until the end.

After about a half an hour of walking with her in the crook of my arm, I assessed for signs of life. Again, the fluttering of a little heartbeat still present. I told her that I was going to weigh and measure her. I assured her that I was not going to do this because I was assuming she was gone, but that I do this for every baby. I took two sets of footprints, two sets of handprints. Then quickly I wrapped her back up in the warm blanket.

I looked around the nursery and miraculously it was empty now. The hustle and bustle of the day had settled and it was just this baby girl and me. I took a seat behind our desk with one of our swizzle chairs and gently back and forth we swayed. I began to sing one of the lullabies that I sing for my boys.

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King… Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King… Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King… Allelujah Allelujah…we are going to see the King.

We swayed and sang for nearly 20 minutes. I had to stop myself from reaching down and kissing her tiny head that peeked out from the blankets. I listened with my heart, melting with gratitude that this precious girl needed me. To just hold her. To just be in my arms.

The time that we swayed seemed like hours. I imagined her body feeling comforted, warm, and loved. I reminded her that her mommy and daddy loved her very much. I told her they did the very best they could. I told her that she paved the way for her future siblings. I thanked her for being so beautiful. I told her that she mattered. I told her that she would not be forgotten. I told her that there will be peace that passed understanding.

I closed my eyes and rested with her in my arms. I hoped she could hear my heartbeat through the blankets. And when I opened them again. I knew she was gone. I could sense her energy had lessened, her delicate mouth began to open. It was time to assess her heart rate again. But instead I held her a little longer.

Indeed she had passed. A sadness came over me. But a peace filled my heart. I thanked her for letting me hold her. I thanked her for needing me. I sent my well wishes to her, her parents, and her future siblings. I asked her to say hello to my baby that was in Heaven and hoped he would usher her into her Creator’s loving embrace.

I was needed that day. Not in the way I’m used to being needed. And in the process, I realized that I needed her.

I was filled to the brim with gratitude, love, peace, and grace. The ache in my soul from losing my stillborn son almost four years before was soothed in her presence. She filled a gap. A wondering for me. She gave me the opportunity to BE in the moment of life and death.

An amazing baby with an amazing message, and for that I am so grateful.

My Little Monster…and the heart healing glue

We didn’t get a great family photo, nor was there lots of perfect pictures that captured the essence of that day. But what there was plenty of, was heart healing glue for all of us there who needed it. It was up for the taking! 

We celebrated my little Zen baby’s second birthday today. I’m pretty sure I’m always going to call him my baby, although now he’s quite the toddler. It was pure joy to see his smile when he saw the cute monster banner I had made for him, and his cake? Adorbs!

I tried to be fully present at the party which isn’t always easy. There were normal things to attend to besides entertaining.  Like poopy diapers, reminding the Spirited Warrior to wash his hands, desperately trying to feed them something healthy before the sugarfest, and normal day to day activities.  

I tried to take it all in stride and focus on the fun when the party began. I was excited that it was gorgeous and cool outside, and that we could keep the sliding glass doors wide open. 

I reminded Hubs to take video during the gift openings, during the piñata knockdown, and when we sang Happy Birthday and Baby Zen said, “Yay!”

What heart can’t be filled by a little boy screeching with JOY that his big cousin came over to play? What soul can’t be filled by a few bites of homemade cake and some frosting? What sorrow can’t be forgotten in the moment where a little boy opens a present and his face lights up? 

For me, I walked in my moment. I enjoyed our family. I enjoyed our friends. Our conversations. The giggles. The sighs of happiness from my children. Even if for a brief moment, I stopped worrying, guessing, and hoping for something more. It was grace and love, all rolled into one. 

High expectations and a little fork throwing

I don’t know if it’s because of the losses I have had in recent years, that I have such a need for special moments to be really special. One could say, “high expectations”. Yeah, well maybe I do have high expectations. And maybe I learned to have them because there was no choice but to make ‘lemonade out of lemons’. 

But now, I am wondering if I need to adjust these expectations and realize that what is, is enough?

I can picture in my mind a beautiful, touching moment where the whole family is sitting at the dinner table waiting patiently at the restaurant to have cake and ice cream for Zen baby’s 2nd birthday…but in reality what is happening is far from special.  

It went down like this: two year old wants down from the high chair, screeching until he is released. The 6 year old Spirited Warrior is encouraging Zen to crawl under the table and pick food up off the floor and eat it. Gross! Then as Zen decides he is wanting to get back up he picks up a utensil or two and hucks it at the nearest person.  Next, the dear old people next to us are glaring at us and the loud sighs coming from me are not enough of a clue to them that we are TRYING! Trying to keep a semblance of order. Trying to encourage good behavior and discourage the bad. Meanwhile, the food comes and the kids will not touch it, despite warning them that there will be no dessert if they do not eat. They still do not eat. Yet, there were complaints about being hungry from Warrior on the way to the restaurant.  I GIVE UP!

In these crapass precious moments I wonder if this is normal? I feel so discouraged and disheartened. It was not the dream birthday dinner I pictured. Then I wonder, am I over sensitive to it all? Do I just need something to be easy and perfect because so much of my childbearing life hasn’t been? What does that prove anyway? Is that my way to get an apology from God for having it rough at times? Or do I need meds and a better sense of humor to laugh off the disasters dinners we have together?

Either way, I think I’ve figured out that IT IS WHAT IT IS. It wasn’t the picture opp kind of night, I don’t feel relaxed or content, but those little monsters are mine. That counts for something. I think.

The Gatekeeper and Her Wisdom

As I approach Baby Zen’s two year birthday this week I am reminded of how anxious, nervous, and unsure I was. I was worried and yet hopeful that this delivery would have a better outcome than the last. 23 months prior I delivered my stillborn son, and I couldn’t shake the uncertainty of life ever since.

As the contractions started I heard these words:

I am a Gatekeeper.

I am the one who will hold your hand as you become a mother.

I will talk you off the ledge.

I will talk you into what is safest for your baby. 

I will remind you that you don’t need to be anxious; there is Something bigger out there watching over you.

I will call your doctor for you and advocate for your needs and wishes and expectations.

I will let you lean on me while you are preparing for delivery.

I will let you share your sadness, anger, and frustration.

I will prepare for the worst and yet hope for the best.

I will be ready to remind you to take your son’s first photo.

I will call for help if needed.

I will feel your pain, trust me I do.

I will listen to my inner voice when it guides me into action.

And I will never apologize for using swift action to bring about breath into a new life.

I ache with compassion as you held your baby for the last time, and I will smile with you as hold your wiggly, healthy one.

We will work together to bring into the world the most reassuring, life affirming miracle that your little family always dreamed of.

And 6 hours after the contractions started, our miracle arrived with the best cry I’ve ever heard.

And we become whole. New. Amazed. Trusting. Faith-filled. Grateful.

Joy and a little candy…

I can’t love the way that my boys are in two totally separate developmental stages for trick-or-treating, but yet I am embracing it and finding the joy!

One is running off with the pack of neighbors and the other is toddling closely by, trying his hardest to say “trick or treat”. What the little one manages to eek out is “Thank Eww!” instead.

 What I noticed in the chilly air was my relaxation, my taking it all in, my realization that this stage of dressing the kids up and making them nap before Halloween night will be gone before I know it.

There are some days I can’t wait for the next phase of life to begin. The phase where my kids sleep better, eat better, and don’t need so much help with everything.

And then other days, like today, I couldn’t love our present moments more!