Joy and Pain, Sunshine and Rain…

There was rain this week. With that I decided it was best to arm ourselves with raincoats and go puddle jumping. That was followed by a warm bath and snacks eaten in the tub, while the clothes were drying…

There was a happy toddler who is determined to pick his own clothes out, regardless of the season. He will cheerfully say “catch” while standing on the ottoman and then leap to you just for the thrill of landing in your arms.

There was a sinus headache that tried to make the mama miserable. Even with Sudafed and coffee it insisted on playing right along with us. Oooooh, ouch. But we made the best of it anyway.

And there was a happy kindergartener who received mail from a new friend in Taiwan with puzzles to do to celebrate Chinese New Year! (See sunshine in back?)

Although there was not enough rest, relaxation, calm, or retreat for this mama’s soul—the silliness, the jumping hugs, and the excited screeches remind me that life is good, life is here, and life is loud.

And who’s heart isn’t filled by a somersaulting toddler on your bed when you’re trying to make it?

Coping with chaos…

Now that I can take a deep breath and reflect after the chaos that ensued the family this week, I will say that I am grateful for the little things that remind me we are okay.

On Thursday afternoon while at work I got a call from my nanny. The 6 year old threw up in the car on the way home from school. Luckily, she saw the look on his face, opened his backpack, tossed everything out and he tossed everything in! Cue, sad mama.

While racking my brain I figured I had ruined my child by letting him eat raw cookie dough the day before, but really…it was just the stomach flu. Nevertheless, the anxiety tried to creep in to tell me that he was going to end up in the hospital again, just like last time.

However, I have more skills now. I know that the anxiety never adds to the situation. I know that the worry gets us nowhere. We were armed with experience and the need to surrender. I gave it to God and the angels and asked for every healing thought and prayer to be heard. I imagined sending healing energy to my son. I pictured a shield surrounding the toddler, Hubs, and myself so we wouldn’t get sick either. I asked the angels to send their healing light to the Spirited Warrior child to keep this virus mild and within normal limits.

Armed with Zofran, a makeshift bed on his floor, a bowl, and my phone we began the long night ahead. Miraculously, it wasn’t that bad. There was fussing, but there wasn’t panic.  There were tears, but not sobbing. There was fever, but it was tolerable he said.

By morning, my Spirited Warrior was feeling a little better and able to keep fluids down. By afternoon, there were a few bites of banana. By evening, there were many loads of laundry done and hope that we were going to be okay.

Just as the children were going down to sleep, the cat comes into the house limping and bleeding. An epic battle he apparently lost. There was a cat bath, shaving of his fur to assess his wounds, and a phone call to the vet. The worry tried to sneak in again. Infection, abscess, injury, etc.  I refused to listen. I sent healing energy (my amateur attempt at Reiki) to our cat, and again pictured a shield of light and love around each of us and just let it be.  I couldn’t do anything about it at the moment anyway.

In the morning, the cat was still alive and limping. The toddler was feisty and bouncy. The Warrior child was fussing, but eating. There were shoes all over the floor, dishes in the sink, fingerpaints, legos, and crayons on the table. The train table track was pulled apart and tipped over. Pillows and blankets and towels were on the couch, while juice cups were half empty and littered the kitchen counters.  

The windows were opened. The cold sunshiny day sucked up the stale air and brought a reminder of how nice it is to live in California in January. I broke 4 cinnamon sticks and put them in some boiling water on the stove with a handful of cloves. The smell reminded me of comfort, of calm, of carrying on.

I chose to work out even though I wanted to hide under the covers, I caught up on Twitter, let the 6 year old play computer games while toddler napped, and Hubs went to lunch with extended family. The cat visited the vet, came home pumped full of antibiotics and rested on his blankey.

So I’ve learned a few things along the way…we count it all joy…when there is bleeding, there is life. Where there is pain, there is life. Where there is fussing, there is life. We don’t count throw-ups around here, we don’t count infections around here. We don’t give in to anxiety and what if’s around here. We will count the giggles, the snuggles, the nudie jumping around, playing with legos times, and have relief in knowing that the angels are all around us.

The crocheted blanket…

Although I can offer my condolences to a family who just lost their newborn baby, I cannot fix the reason I am offering my understanding and love in the first place. I have no answers most of the time. All I can do is share that they are not alone, that their baby matters to them, to us, and the world. 

I remind them that there is no right or wrong way to integrate this loss. Some insist from the very minute they learn of their baby’s demise that there will be a tattoo. Even if they aren’t tattoo kind of people. Others refuse photos initially, but give in after they hear our pleas. 

They are very tastefully done. 

They are in black and white.

They become absolute treasures.

They are all you will have left.

It’s all true. There aren’t crawling pictures, preschool photos, or graduation invites. The family walks out of the hospital one less family member than they walked in. There is no soothing balm for that.

The space this baby leaves is a chasm that I try to bridge as a caregiver. I always take two sets of footprints and handprints. Just in case if something should happen to the one set you have. I try to find a lovely lotion I can put on the blanket I wrap the baby in, sometimes in dire need to cover up a horrific smell, other times to help mom “bank” her memory of her baby. 

I remind you to hold your baby for hours and hours if that feels right. There is no need to rush to the morgue. And, if you change your mind and need more time with your baby, I will go get your baby from the morgue and wrap him or her in warm blankets to help the chill go away. I will encourage you to just BE with your baby. Examine every finger and toe. Kiss her cheeks. Nuzzle his neck. There will never be another time. 

And when the time comes to say goodbye, I will take your beautiful baby, and with grace and dignity I will wrap him up, remind him that Mommy and Daddy love him very much, thank him for his presence, his gifts, his spirit, and send blessings to the parents who’ve just joined the club of Empty Arms, Broken Heart.

I will then take a deep breath and wonder about the person who took the time to crochet the beautiful blanket that I just gave to the mother. The blanket that was wrapped around her baby’s body. The blanket which will become the catcher for all the many tears to come. The blanket which she might sleep with, just to be close to her baby who now lives on in her heart and spirit.  That person who spent all that time crocheting the blanket and donated it to our hospital, had no idea what a gift she gave. I for one, am grateful.