The Many Good Things and Filling My Heart Space…

There was this moment…

I caught it on camera and my heart melted.

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My two monkeys playing before going to bed.

Then there was this photo captured on the front page of our newspaper…

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It’s the closest we’ll get to being famous and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Then there was this moment when the Little had to be JUST like the Big.

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I am totally in love.

Then my work wasn’t horrible! We had good resuscitations, good Apgars, and miracle abounding!

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I almost forgot what it was like to smile at work!

Then, a wonderful Twitter friend became an IRL friend!

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Tonya and I had lunch together and it was lovely.

I’m pretty sure we could’ve talked all day.

Her blog is amazing. Her story is even more so.

She’s inspired me to train for a 10k! That’s right. Running for fun.

Who knew?

Also, she rocked the LTYM show audition and will be participating.

I will be cheering her on.

You should read her blog. http://www.lettersforlucas.com

So, that’s the fun, amazing, heart filling moments I’ve had lately.

How about you? What’s filling your heart space?

Aside

She Needed Me…(my submission piece for LTYM)

 

It happens.

Life.

Death.

I just happen to work where I may see both at the exact same time. I’m trained to be the personnel who tends to a baby’s first breath. As a nurse, rarely my services are 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 labor nurse’s face. Sad. Confused. Unsure. I asked if the baby had passed yet, she looked at me and said no. No? I asked confused. Why on earth didn’t parents want to hold their dying baby? I can’t imagine.

Oh wait. Yes, I can.

The overwhelm, the horror, the grace, and fortitude that came to reside in my soul after the 26 hours of labor I had to deliver my own stillborn son came flooding back in an instant. I held my breath and swallowed hard.

I told the nurse I’d take her. I pulled the blanket to the side 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.

For I know all too well that there will not be any first day of preschool pictures, a first lock of hair, or a first visit from the tooth fairy. 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 I. 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.

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 would 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.

 

The pack of three…

Who knew that a little pack of three toothbrushes could cause such empathy, love, and heartache to roll around in one’s heart all at once?

It all started with a family outing to Target in which there were a few million items we needed. It was fairly simple. A present for a child’s party, some half and half, some soap, you know how it goes. Next thing you know, the whole cart is full of crap you never knew you needed.

After we got home to unload, the kids want to try out their new toothbrushes. Hubs had grabbed a pack of three toothbrushes that were on sale. They were excited to brush their teeth with something new!

While my seven year old was looking at the box they came in, he examined it and said aloud, “If Baby Bailey were still alive, there would be a toothbrush for him too.”

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And there it was.

My son remembering his brother.

The one we lost 5 years ago.

The one who never got to choose his favorite superhero toothbrush.

The middle one.

And what I love so much about it? Is that he remembered without any mention of it from me, though it’s never far from my mind.

There should be three boys. I know. He knows.

And they each chose a toothbrush on either side, leaving the middle.

Just where Baby Bailey’s place in our family is.

Downloading good memories…

We are in the business of downloading memories.

There are lots of pictures taken, lots of extra hugs and tickles, and a lot of eye contact around here.

In this nutty world, we are trying to go a little more low key.

A little more old school.

Less crazy new, and more repurposing the old.

Since it was Rowan’s 7th birthday, we celebrated exactly that way.

At home, in the backyard, with delicious homemade food, made from scratch carrot cake cupcakes (per his request), Batman capes made from T-shirts, and Lego crayons made from old crayons.

He wanted a Lego Batman theme, and since there aren’t too many things out there with exactly that description, we modified and combined the two.

And he loved it.

We loved it.

And it was simple, lovely, and good.

Just how life should be.

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I don’t claim to throw the best party in town…

I just know that I love my family more than anything, and nothing makes me happier than to make memories that they’ll carry with them forever.

Summer is here…

Boy silliness…

So there was this after work…where my toddler screeched with delight and ate a strawberry with gusto on my lap….my 6 year old desperately trying to take a silly picture with his missing front teeth…

The piece of watermelon bigger than his head…

And the gigantic watermelon that we sliced open, it tasted like sunshine and happiness all rolled into one…

And my husband who picked up these magnificent hydrangeas last week and then planted them all in our backyard…

Snuggle time

And the big kid reading “nigh nigh” books to his little brother…while the kitty rests on his chest…

A grandfather and his grandson…

And seeing the looks on their faces as my dad and my little boy embraced after an afternoon of swimming…was priceless!

So, although there are lots of changes happening around here, there are beautiful happenings too. I am taking the time to see them, embrace them, and let it soak all in…

Sometimes it’s just a lot…

I cry.

Because I am loved.

Because I have loved.

Because I have won.

Because I have lost.

I am blessed.

I am wounded.

I am healed.

I am broken.

I am healing.

I am blissfully raising my children knowing they are nothing short of a gift. I am deeply aware of the milestones we pass. I beg my mind, my heart, my soul to download them all so I’ll never forget. The smell of their hair, their cries, their little fingernails, their silly giggles.

There are days when I struggle with the ache in my heart from having it broken into a million pieces when my baby was born still. And the shattering of faith that ensued. I struggle with difficult times in a way I never used to. I can’t shake bad news off like I could before. Or I find myself disconnecting completely.

Lately, I can’t disconnect. I have to share my emotions. I have to hold my friend’s hand while she grieves her dear husband who took his own life a few months ago. I think of her trying to live on and how difficult it is to maintain normalcy. It hurts. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to live. I remember.

Somedays I miss my old, naive self. The one that doesn’t get it.

The one who thinks that people live forever.

The one that thinks that only old people die.

The one who thinks that I can make it through anything.

The one who fearlessly went into the field of nursing.

But I know better.

And when you know better, you do better.

I can only pray that all the broken pieces have taught me enough to get through all of what lies ahead.

And be thankful for the angels who light the way.

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Within Normal Limits…

It’s been one of those weeks…the kind where you don’t know your center.  You can’t remember the details of anything in particular, but you remember that for sure there should be someway that is easier, calmer, better.

At work we have a term called Within Normal Limits. WNL. It may not be perfect or exactly what we want to see, but it’s still within normal limits. So that’s where I’m at right now. WNL.

The screeching from the witching hour sends shivers up my spine.

I can’t remember a day where the whole family was off together and enjoyed each other’s company.

The laundry is mocking me.

The kitchen floor is only clean for a fraction of a second during the day.

I can’t remember the last time I drank a cup of hot coffee. I like hot coffee. It appears to be too much to ask for these days. Including at work, when I poured my hot coffee into a disposable cup and slammed it down while standing in the OR corridor prior to attending a C-section. This is not relaxing or calming. Honestly.

And then, in the midst of it all…I am reminded of the LOVE that I have and that I am.

I am tired, frustrated, irritable, and weepy. I find it a struggle to put one foot in front of the other with a smile. 

But a bad day or a bad week doesn’t constitute a bad life.

I am filled with hope that we’ll all get back on track.

That I’ll find my center again.

That the full moon will pass.

That the tears will dry.

That I will fill up on the screeches and screams instead of cringe.

I know my lap won’t always be so full and bumpy.

I am deeply understanding that this is the beauty of life after loss.

My inability to see through the current fog doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it’s mystery and question its presence.

I get it. It’s real life. It’s loud, fast, maddening, joyful, and sweet.

All within normal limits. And it’s easier to see it when I look in their eyes.

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