Nov. Kindness for Callie

NovemberK4C

 

Oooops!  Half-way through November…how did that happen?  Please join me in thinking of those who are less fortunate this month by doing a Kindness for Callie for those who are homeless or going through a hard time financially.  This is a month where so many of us pause to reflect on what we are thankful for.  Don’t forget to give back!  :-)

Baby #3

Charlotte, proudly announcing that we are expecting our third child, our second rainbow in April :)

Charlotte, proudly announcing that we are expecting our third child, our second rainbow in April :)

Baby #3.

How can I explain to you the roller coaster that has been Baby #3 this far?

I just spent this rainy afternoon reading back my old posts from Charlotte’s pregnancy.  I was blown away by how differently I feel this time around.  John and I were still very much in grief from losing Callie when I became pregnant with Charlotte.  I was so sad and so scared throughout it all.  I fought so hard to stay hopeful, face my fears, and maintain faith.

I’d like to tell you that this baby’s pregnancy has been the complete opposite…happy and carefree!  But, that’s not exactly true.

I’m not sure how to explain this time around…

When I first saw the positive test, we were on vacation.  I slipped back into bed and whispered to Charlotte that she was going to be a big sister and left the test there as a surprise for John unsure about my own feelings.  When he came back beaming, I had trouble beaming back.  I was happy, I suppose, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited.

As time went on, I tried really hard not to think about the fact that I was even pregnant.  I avoided talking about it with John and fake smiled when I did have to discuss it.  I felt relief upon seeing our little bean at the first ultrasound, but not exactly joy or wonder.  More like “blah”.

Before Callie passed away, John and I had always dreamed of having three kids.  It sounded like the perfect number.  I thought that losing Callie would make us want kids so much more, potentially leading us down the path to having a boatload of kids.  In actuality though, that just wasn’t the case-  for me, at least.

I realized that after being robbed of a future of Callie, I was taken down to the most fundamental and basic desires.  Lord, I just wanted a baby that would stay with us.  Please, God, just let me hold a baby.  Please, please let me hear a cry.  Let me change diapers.  Let me nurse her.  Oh, God if I could just have this one thing, please, please, please.  And then Charlotte came.  She never took Callie’s place, but she did answer so many of my prayers.

I was good.  More than good- filled with absolute contentment in every sense of the word.  You see, after having Charlotte, my heart was so full I just couldn’t possibly dream of having any more room left in it.

How in the world could I need anything else?

And it was in this mind frame that I went into Baby #3-  reluctantly, with the distant goal of giving the gift of a sibling here on earth for Charlotte to know and play with.  This sounds so horrible, but it wasn’t for me at all.  It was for Charlotte.  It was for John.  For our families.

Because like I said, I was good.

I spent much of the first trimester battling some pretty bad mood swings and a general feeling of discontent, mixed with strong nausea and fatigue.  I will also add that during this time, Charlotte was waking up in the middle of the night constantly and only wanting mommy, so I was downright exhausted.  I broke down in tears often and felt such guilt at my lack of ability to bond with my growing baby and feel excited and grateful for the gift that he or she is.  Finally, I had enough and went back to my therapist to talk things through.

And- poof!  I felt better!  I vented and she listened.  I started to realize that my lack of excitement, was really just my fear:  repackaged and redesigned.  Fear of not being able to handle two kids.  Fear of not being able to love each of them enough.  Fear of taking away my undivided attention from Charlotte.  Mix those fears in with some of the old fears… what if something happens?  why mess with a good thing?…and I was a just a ball of emotions.  Getting it off my chest and owning my feelings has helped me tremendously.  Oh yeah, and getting more sleep and having my hormones calm down a bit didn’t hurt either ;-)

I’ll be 100% honest with you and tell you that, although I feel much happier, stronger, and less fearful, I am still not jumping up and down with excitement.  Maybe this is how it feels after experiencing pregnancy for the third time?  Maybe I’m too busy chasing Charlotte, teaching students, and managing a growing business to really even think about anything more than the moment right in front of me?  But I do know that I’m not alone in these feelings and that so many other mothers have felt the same way.  I’m not sure if I’ll start jumping up and down any time soon (or at all!) but I do know that each day makes me feel better, more ‘into it’, and enthusiastic.  I’m very much looking forward to more ultrasounds, more opportunities to get to know this little one, and the kicks that will make it feel “real”.

And here’s the other thing I’m going to be honest about.  I’m in this with my whole heart:  I want this baby and I know that after he or she arrives, I will never be able to imagine my life without him or her in it.

But…

…I can also completely understand now why some people choose not to have another.  Especially those who have experienced loss.  Because truth be told…I was good, allllllll good.  That intense satisfaction is an amazing feeling and I do not doubt that my life would have been very full and happy should we have chosen that path.

But we didn’t.  And I know that this path will be awesome… I just had to get my bearings first.

So, that’s me right now.  Happy to be past the black cloud that was the first trimester with a better outlook for the next two.  Enjoying Charlotte with my whole heart.  Letting hope slide into my heart in bits and pieces and preparing for it to grow and stretch to limits I never imagined were possible.

Love,

me

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Please join us tonight for the International Wave of Light in memory of Callie and other babies lost too soon.  Light a candle at 7 p.m. wherever you are.  We appreciate it so much!

Sept/Oct Kindness for Callie

September K4C.jpg

Oops!  Totally forgot to post September’s K4C theme with all the back to school craziness…and guess what??  The theme is SCHOOL!   It’s not too late to do something really nice for the teachers, principals, and other staff members at your local school.  They work hard all school year, but the beginning of the year is so unbelievably stressful and they do their work with such patience and love.  Show them some love!

 

While I’m at it, I thought I’d go ahead and post October’s theme as well since I have the tendancy to be a *little* late with these.  I chose “Fight Cancer” as the theme for October because that is breast cancer awareness month…but I’m certainly thinking of so many others.  When I sat down to write these monthly themes, I didn’t know that September was Childhood Cancer awareness month and I probably would have changed things around a little because of that because of a special little guy we know who is so brave and for his brave mommy and daddy.  Please consider buying a Team Trevor shirt :-)  I’m also especially thinking of a good friend who is fighting her own battle with colon cancer and has the most amazing positive spirit.  Thinking and praying for you every single day.OctoberK4C.jpg

August K4C: Children & Update on the Garden

Thanks to Carly and Mark for donating Callie's marker.  It's beautiful.

Thanks to Carly and Mark for donating Callie’s marker. It’s beautiful.

 

When Callie passed away, John and I had to make the most heart-wrenching decisions.  I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to contemplate things like burial vs. cremation when it comes to your baby.  We felt sick, drained, tortured.  What was the right thing to do?  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a “right” thing to do…no rules, no instruction manual, no guide for the path we were walking.  Ultimately, after discussing it with our pastor, we decided to have Callie cremated and buried her ashes in the prayer garden at church, which we later redesigned in her memory.  We marked her resting place with a rock with the inscription, “Sunshine Angel”, because it was just too cruel to see her name and short life written in stone on a grave.

As time has gone on, John and I have gone on a roller coaster of emotions when thinking back on these decisions.  A lot of times, we wish we could go back and change our minds.  We miss her and wish we could be close to her again.  But we know that no matter what we would have decided, the outcome would still be the same.

She is in heaven.

On Earth, her soul dances in the sunlight on wings of yellow butterflies, or floats to the ground on the back of a feather, or pops up when you least expect it in a million different forms.  I see her all the time everywhere I go.  But I know she truly resides in heaven.

Yet even with this knowledge, I began feeling empty when I looked at the spot where she was buried in the garden.  That part of me that had not wanted to see her little name in stone began longing for just that.  I needed to see it.  And I needed others to see it too.  She mattered, she was here, she was loved, and she will never be forgotten.

We put Callie’s new marker in the garden last month.  Just this past Sunday, we visited her after church and after watching John and I put a kiss on the stone, Charlotte bent down and touched her big sister’s rock just as sweet as could be.  I’m not sure she will ever understand just how meaningful that was for us but it was a beautiful moment that I wanted to share with you.

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AugustK4C.jpg

This summer is going faster than the blink of an eye.  I’ve loved every sweet moment of being home with Charlotte.  She is so active and fun and her smile lights up a room.  This month for Kindness for Callie, the theme is “children”.  I’ve always had a soft spot for kids, but even more so after becoming a mom.  I hope that you can find a way this month to do a little act of kindness to brighten a deserving child’s day!

 

 

 

June K4C: Animals (Really Late!!)

June K4C

 

Well, since June is almost over, I thought it would be a great time to share the June Kindness for Callie theme which is ANIMALS!  Man, I feel so badly that I didn’t post this earlier, but the end of the school year is always a busy time for our family.  I’m going to have to double up on my acts of kindness next month!  I’d love to hear your ideas for random acts of kindness that involve our furry (or feathered! or scaly!) friends :-)

Ouch

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Sometimes, things from the past just reach out and slap you in the face.

I haven’t been able to take a picture or video of Charlotte on my iPhone for awhile now because I had filled up my storage…AGAIN.  When I went to upload everything, I noticed a ton of space being taken up by text messages so I started deleting them since I never, ever do.  And there it was.

Jan. 27th, 6:52 a.m.

“Good luck”

Sent from my long term sub who I had messaged the previous day to tell her I was having Callie.  I was tapping her in, handing over the teaching baton.  I don’t know why my message to her doesn’t show up, but I’m glad it didn’t in a way.  I don’t think I could face seeing the happy message I sent to her having no clue what was about to transpire.

By the time this message was timestamped, Callie was at Children’s Hospital and I was lying in a hospital bed in Reston trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.

Seeing this message stings, but of course there were so many others.  Messages of support and love.

And with a click, I deleted them all.

Not because they don’t mean something to me- of course they do- but because I need to make room.

Yes, room.

Room for the future.  For the good things to come.  For the dimples and the giggles.  The dog licks and the tantrums.

I need room for these things.

But for now, this room feels pretty empty.