June 28, 2015

To Cale on His Fifth Birthday

Dear Cale,

I've only written you a few times. Since your death anyway. I used to write you all the time when I was pregnant with you. I have an entire journal I kept from out time together. I thought it would be neat for you to read one day. I never thought I wouldn't get to give it to you. I never thought I would lose you. And then in an instant, you were gone and the trajectory of my life forever changed. In many ways changed for the better. But in many ways not. 

The 'not better' is obvious - you aren't in our lives. Not in the way we had planned, dreamed, and hoped for anyway. I will never stop wanting you in our lives. Fives years without you is entirely too long and I miss you just as much, some days it even feels like I miss you more. Because you would be five now. Five. No longer my baby, but a boy well on his way to just being a kid. A little person with talents and opinions and thoughts we never got to know. And that's what is so hard about five. About all the birthdays and the missed days. I wish I got to know you. I thought I would always want my baby back. For the longest time that's all I remember thinking, "I just want my baby back." But it's YOU I want back. The boy. The person. My son. I daydream about who you would have been, but sometimes I worry I compare you too much to Finn. Or I project too much of him on to the figment of you. And that's not fair, to either of you, but I suppose it is what it is.

I wonder what your relationship would have been like with Finn. I hate that he doesn't have you in his life. I hate it for Mary too, but it stings more for Finn. He's been asking for a baby brother a lot lately. He will ask, "Is Cale my brother?" and when I remind him that yes, you are his brother, he will go on to tell me that he would like two brothers. It's sweet in a way - because it's as if he is able to acknowledge that he does already have one, he just would like another. He wants to go on a "time airplane" (time machine) to see you. He also told me he would drive anywhere to see you and that he would share his toys. I think you two would have been close. I wish you were sharing a room and staying up past your bed time, and fighting over trains and just growing up together. I wish we got to see you in that role of the oldest of three kids. I wish I could sign cards, "from Cale, Finn, and Mary." Even your names sound sweet together. 

There are, of course, the reasons this trajectory of life is better. Finn and Mary. They don't replace you, they don't make up for your loss, in many ways they highlight it so much more. Like when I look at pictures and find the empty space where you would fit. It's always there, that space. And when I think of how amazing it is to see these little people grow before my eyes, but that it is something we were robbed of with you - no, their presence in no way makes up for you. But they exist because of you. And not because you died, I don't ever think that. Rather I know it's because you lived and were here that they are too. So thank you, Cale - for giving me the two of the best gifts I'll ever be given. 

I wish that today was different. I wish that we know what kind of a cake you wanted or how excited you would be to be turning five. We are sending you balloons and spending the day as a family. We are talking to your siblings about you and making you a cake and lighting a candle and all these things feel horribly inadequate and aren't the things I want to do for you, but rather with you. But I hope that today, all days, you can feel our love. That you know we still miss you and that we will never stop loving you.

You are one of the best things I ever did. Happy Birthday, Cale.

I miss you.

I love you.

Mom

. . . . . . . . . . .


Finn helped me make the cake. When we ate it he paused and said,
"we didn't say 'happy birthday' to Cale!" as we didn't actually sing "happy birthday."
He's such a sweet little brother with a sincere and precious heart.
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June 22, 2015

Father's Day Discovery

Yesterdays' Father's Day was nice and low key.  Miles was the lucky recipient of a wheelbarrow this year, Finn gave some cute answers to questions about Daddy, and I made an Apple cobbler. Father's Day complete. Also, by "made" I mean bought. We did spend part of the day at the beach which was enjoyable. We drove down to Jekyll Island as the beaches there are dog friendly and we brought Roscoe along for the trip. Really the day wasn't much different than our normal weekends, maybe that will change as the kids get older, but for now Father's (and Mother's) Days are pretty uneventful.

Miles and I have talked before how Father's Day doesn't sting as much for him as Mother's Day does for me. It's still a little bittersweet, but it's just different. Of course we both think about Cale a bit more and on the way home from the beach we found ourselves talking about Cale a lot and sort of walking through details of his birthday and delivery. While doing so, we made the realization that the resident who delivered Cale is now assigned to the same unit as Miles as a family medicine Doctor. He didn't remember the name of the resident (who we literally had no encounter with other than when he came in near shift change to deliver Cale) and so he never put two and two together, that he now works with this same guy, until I mentioned his name. Miles called him to see if he did his residency in 2010 at the hospital where Cale was born, and sure enough it was him. He remembers that night, but didn't remember Miles, so he never put two and two together either. I was glad he remembered Cale's delivery, though I also would hope that he would remember it. I imagine residents going through a Labor and Delivery rotation don't deliver many stillborn babies, at least I sure hope not.

When Miles got off the phone with him I started to cry. I can't really put my finger on it, but it was just pretty heavy to realize there's a connection to Cale out there that we hadn't discovered. Miles said he is curious what their next encounter will be like as I imagine Miles' phone call caught him off guard and maybe it took him a bit to process it as well - that nearly five years ago he delivered the stillborn baby of a guy he now works with. I told Miles I would like to meet him. Most people I know have a relationship with the doctor who delivered their children, but when I was pregnant with Cale I didn't have one consistent doctor. I was seen at a small clinic until the last month of my pregnancy when my care was switched to the hospital and there I was seen by whomever was on call. The doctor who told us the horrible news that Cale had died would go on to be the same doctor I saw throughout my pregnancy and delivery of Finn. We essentially picked him because of the kinds and compassion he showed us that day. However when Cale was born it was nearly midnight (11:45pm) so a different doctor and resident were present for his delivery. And now that same resident, the person who literally was the first to hold my son, one of the few to have seen him, works with Miles. Just crazy. And a heavy realization to make only one week out from Cale's birthday when my emotions are already a little (a lot) tender.

I know these days will never be what they should, but I'm glad they can still be special (or low-key) and that we can celebrate Miles being a father because of all of his children. I wish I got to see the kind of relationship he would have had with Cale and I wish he got to hold all his kids yesterday. And while I'm so glad Finn and Mary (and Roscoe) got to love on Dadda yesterday,  I couldn't help think back to the day I saw him as a father for the first time as he gently held our first born son. It confirmed what I knew all along, Miles is a wonderful dad and all my kids are so lucky to be loved by him.


Someone didn't want to be rinsed off after the beach


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June 13, 2015

Finley at Four

Yesterday he bounced in a bounce house until he was literally dripping with sweat, but laughed every time he fell down and probably would have stayed longer had I let him. Today he splashed in the ocean and dug in the sand for six straight hours. When he's having fun and laughing with his friends, I can't help but smile as his happiness is so authentic and refreshing.

He is quick to make friends and adjusts well to new people and new situations. He is sensitive and kind and a little bit of a narc. He does a decent job following the rules, but an even better job pointing out when someone else does not.

His memory is amazingly impressive, except when he's looking for his shoes. Speaking of shoes, he prefers to wear running shoes because he likes to "run races." He is often seen wearing a t-shirt with a digger on it accessorized with his Batman watch.

He is encouraging and sweet to his sister, but also tells me that he gets "frustrated when Mary does that." That being a wide range of actions. He loves his Daddy something fierce, but still prefers his nighttime snuggles come from mom. He asks heartbreakingly sweet questions about his brother Cale, and wants to color pictures to mail to his out of state family at least once a week. He is thoughtful and curious and a bright little boy.

His birthday was a special one spent at the beach surrounded by friends. We skipped nap time (I'm amazed and grateful he still naps) to soak up as much time at the beach as we could. He had requested a digger on his birthday cake, but I knew he wouldn't even eat the tiny cupcake I opted for instead. He was fearless in the waves and in need of two breaks to be wrapped up in a towel and held for a little bit while he reloaded on energy.

Tonight we opened some presents and when we asked if he wanted to save a few for tomorrow he said, "yeah! Let's save some, save them for other kids" and we laughed and looked at each other wondering how we got so lucky to have such a fantastic kid.

His birthday felt like more of a treat to us than it probably did to him and I hope he always knows how special and loved he always will be.




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June 3, 2015

Running and a New Job

Today was National Running Day which really isn't a thing, but we went ahead and made it a thing in our stroller class, Stroller Strong Moms. Speaking of my stroller gang, I've started teaching and am really enjoying it. I had to get certified as a Group Fitness Instructor and for the last couple weeks have been teaching a couple stations at different classes and on Friday will teach my first full class. 

Today we did a track workout in honor of the day which was a fun change of pace from our normal workouts in the park. After the moms finished working out we had a little race for the kids. It was only about 50 meters and those little boogers looked so cute running and they didn't get the message their race was over and they just kept running, completing an entire lap around the track which really is a lot for a three or four year old if you think about it! Finn was all red faced and sweaty, but said he loved racing. 



Mary sported her "Run Happy" onesie, but looked anything but when I tried to take her pictures. Her pink converse shoes were totally adorable and a total pain in the butt to get on her pudgy feet and she managed to get them off twenty seconds after these pictures were taken:


Friday is apparently National Donut Day which is so awesomely timed with National Running Day and I think if we participated in one it's only fair to participate in the other!


Shoes in the process of being kicked off.
I'm excited about this new little job and love being able to get in an effective and fun workout with the kids in tow. Even if they manage to grab the sunblock and dump it all over themselves and the stroller. Not that that happened today or anything . . .
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May 31, 2015

Joe Biden and Grief

The year after we lost Cale I started to connect with a lot of other loss moms, mostly through blogs. It was (and still is) a really great outlet for me to not only express my grief, but to be able to share it with others and in turn, share in their grief. It's like the saying "misery loves company," but really I think that any intense emotion loves (and needs) company. Because just being able to identify in another the feelings you are experiencing can be really helpful and dare I say even healing, or at the very least reassuring.

When I read the news of Joe Biden's son this morning I got that achy feeling in my chest for him. Because on top of the devastation of losing his son (who has two children of his own), he had already lost his wife and daughter over forty years ago. Another example where enough is enough! How some people can escape life tragedy free and others seem to be hit repeatedly is maddening and mind boggling to me.

When I first started connecting with others, I read a post from my friend Brooke in which she talks about how stillbirth needs to be more talked about and not a shameful secret. She writes:

There has to be a way to let people know that a stillborn baby will break your heart, but it doesn't have to wreck your entire life.

Because that is what people need to know--it's what I still need to be told.

I've said a million times that there is no upside to the loss of a baby, there is no silver lining, there is nothing that will ever make this remotely okay.  But there should be a way to say that this is an event that you can survive.  That this great loss can hollow out your guts and also enrich your life in unexpected ways.  That great sorrow can make room for great joy.  That you will survive this.  That it will change you forever, but not all of those changes will be bad.  That even five months later you will still hurt more than you ever have in your life, but you will also find hope again.  This sort of information should be out there.

And I think that while horrible that Joe Biden and his family have endured another loss, maybe his story will help shed some more light on grief and tragedy and things that we often don't talk about, at least not as frequently as we should. Because take out "stillborn baby" and insert whatever heartache you're enduring and Brooke's words still ring true. Car accidents can break your heart, but don't have to wreck your entire life. Cancer and war and sibling death and violent attacks and on and on and on, all these things can undeniably be horrific events in ones life, but as Brooke said, great sorrow can make room for great joy. Joe Biden himself said that himself, that grief doesn't go away. It just makes room for other things.

We are approaching five years without our boy. Five years in which my grief has changed and moved and made room for other things, but never completely subsided, nor would I want it to. We grieve big because we love big. I suspect the Biden family will need to grieve big for a long time and I hope it's a reminder to the public that doing so is not only ok and healthy and normal, but also a reminder to those also grieving that they are not alone. And if we can all empathize with the Vice President and his family, hopefully we can do that a little more with the people in our every day life as well.
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