Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Our Changing Family Landscape...

When I lost Gavin's twin, we had yet to find out either baby's gender.  I never knew if his twin was a boy or a girl.  All I know is that I prayed that the baby remaining would be a boy.  Don't get me wrong... I would have loved a girl just the same.  I just envisioned having a son first - the oldest in the family - the leader - the one who would look after his siblings and be a good influence.  Just like my brothers were to me.  The day that I found out that the baby was a boy I was so, so happy.  We immediately named him Gavin David and were able to talk to him by name for the rest of the pregnancy.  I can't even remember if we had a girl name picked out - I think I was just convinced that he was Gavin.
I know how much I look up to my older brothers (and brothers by marriage who have been around since I was pretty young!).  I'm not sure I could even imagine how it would feel to lose any of them.  Even as an adult.  I count on them.  I need them.  I love them so much.

Because of all of this, it continues to break my heart to watch Brian grieve for Gavin.  Every night after the three of us read a book, each pull the invisible string to say goodnight to Gavin, give hugs and kisses and tuck him in... he wants me to stay to lay with him.  Ed turns off the light and leaves the room and that's when Brian starts talking.  Every night I need to tell the story again of what happened that day.  Every night I have to answer the question, "Why did Gavin have to go to Heaven?"  Every night I watch him stare at the ceiling and nervously play with his lip as I answer his questions.
Every day he wants to play with me non-stop.  I can only do so much and have resorted to PBS more than I ever dreamed I would.  And feature Disney films.  That's a good stretch of time where I can at least fold laundry or try to get anything done or sometimes just sit and stare at the ceiling and nervously play with my own lip.  But then I hear, "Mama... I want someone to play with me."  It hurts my heart.  
He wasn't supposed to be an only child.  And then there's that...

The pregnancy.

This pregnancy was such a complete shock.  Where we once, not even that long ago, were determined to have a third baby... we had completely given up about a year ago.  I gave away or sold all of our things.  Mentally and emotionally, I moved on.  The day of my birthday... the day Gavin died... I just knew.  I don't know how or why - but I just knew that I was pregnant.  I don't think Gavin was waiting to die for me to find out - not at all.  And I really tried not to believe that this pregnancy was sent from Heaven... or orchestrated somehow by Gavin... because I knew that would set me up for a HUGE fall if things were not to work out.

But somehow... things are continuing to go well.  Me, the woman of many losses, is managing to continue to stay pregnant.  Today I am 10 weeks and 3 days.  That means there's only 207 more days to pray, plead, finger cross, think positive, beg God and worry a lot until the birth.  I can do it, right?  Here's your glimpse of hope for today. He or she was still this time.  Probably has the same Disney hangover we do...

And then my mind and heart go back to Brian.  Now Brian is the oldest in the family - living, that is.  A sibling will look to him for leadership and protection.  I struggle with when to tell him about this baby.  It will get harder and harder to hide as I'm already slightly showing.  We think we will tell him once we know the gender and give this baby a name.  Our names are already lined up and ready.  This baby has been named since my birthday, pretty much.  But what if - I don't even want to say it.  I can't bear for Brian to get his hopes up for a sibling... a future playmate... only to be crushed yet again.  It's a tough spot.  Brian is having to learn some pretty deep life lessons at a very early age.
But you know... Gavin is still the perfect oldest child.  I wanted a son first... to be a leader.  No one can argue now that Gavin was - and is - and will always be a leader.  His journey was so, incredibly inspiring to people both young and old.  I wanted a son first to be the one to look after his siblings.  He has the best view of all of them now - both on Earth and in Heaven.  And I wanted a son to be a good influence on his siblings.  I couldn't have asked for more.  Just this morning, Brian's teacher pulled me aside when I was picking him up.  She told me how proud she was of him for how he helps his classmates.  "He always seems to know which friend needs his help the most - and that's who he goes to."  She said he reaches out to play with kids... to model appropriate behavior... to help them physically... whatever.  He's just a compassionate child.  And we all know where he learned to be that way... from his oldest brother.

Our family landscape has changed more times than most over the past six years. I'm hoping this last change is a permanent and lasting one until Ed and I... many, many, many years from now... go off into the sunset and leave our little landscape safe and happy and secure with family landscapes of their own.
And that's all I have to say about that.

p.s. - this blog post featured the missing Disney photos.


  1. Brian sounds like a resilient little guy. I hope hope hope with you that he gets a new sibling is 207 days.

  2. oh kate...watching that video my heart aches and tears well in my eyes. i am so. sorry. for. your. LOSS. big virtual hugs from someone whom you have never met but who thinks of you so very often. love this post. it has such a healing melacholy to it. simply beautiful. writing is your gift.

  3. What a beautiful entry, my continued prayers for your family including project Hope.

  4. you're such a good mommy. It is obvious. You inspire me!

  5. The pictures Brian with Gavin's Mickey Ears made my heart clench. Then I watched the video. Love and loss permeates all of your blog post, but never more so than this one. I am so sorry. I am just so sorry. I, along with so many of your readers, will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. I will say a special prayer for Project Hope. Another child deserves you as a mother.

  6. Oh Kate, I am sure you see what the rest of us do...Brian is continuing Gavin's work as a Super Hero! He is always there to help those in need at his school! He is an inspiration! Sending hugs to Brian!

    1. Ann Dillon TannousJune 4, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      I think so, too! What a special boy Brian is!

  7. Wow! Just have to tell you how my heart is PULLING for HOPE!!! What a miracle. Keep growing, baby, keep growing strong! Each one of your children are so precious. What a mom you are! The picture of Brian with Gavin's Mickey Ears is beyond words. Extraordinary. I am so very sorry for your loss and your broken heart. You are doing an amazing job as you navigate each day, being there for your husband, for Brian and taking care of yourself for Hope!

  8. Kate, the Disney pics are gorgeous and capture so much!

    As far as telling Brian and protecting his little broken heart I have a thought....first a short history. We struggled to have our second child for 3+years. When Jackson was about 3 literally all our friends started having thier seconds (coincendently all girl). He would often ask when am i getting a baby sister? My heart would break inside as month after month I had nothing to tell him. But our struggle was not his so we did not share that with him. I encouraged him to pray to God for a sibling and we would hold hands laying in his bed and pray. When we were surprised and got pregnant naturally shortly after his 5th birthday, thankfully we didnt say anything tro him as at 9 weeks as we discovered a missed miscarriage and I had a D&C. He was still asking on a routine basis when we were shocked to find out 11 weeks later we were again pregnant naturally. I was adamant we not tell him until we had to. I was 17 weeks pregnant, definately showing, most of our friends knew but all took care to protect him. I will say that even at 5 1/2, the remaining 23 weeks were an eternity for him. The anticipation and waiting were almost more than he could bear. He is the best big brother, loving and protecting. ...So after that long story...wait as long as you can...then figure out a way to help him measure that time. God bless you and your family Kate!

  9. Kate:

    I know you probably don't want to hear from me, but I want you to know that I am praying for your family and for this pregnancy.


  10. All the best for "Project Hope"!!!! Who knows - the baby might be both female AND "a natural born leader." This is 2013/14, after all...
    Best wishes,

  11. My son is 5 years old, and I am 7 months pregnant, and I don't think he would have noticed anything about my tummy for the first several months; the only hard thing to hide was other people's knowledge and anticipation (including our own). So we told him just before we told the extended family: about 2 months in. So I wouldn't worry about your "showing" as being a reason you have to tell, unless he asks you about it.

    I am sending best wishes your way for this pregnancy, Brian's healing, Ed's healing, and your own.

  12. You are an amazing woman. All of your children have been extremely blessed to have you as their mother. I'm hoping and praying for a healthy Project Hope and prayers for Brian as well. What a wonderful little guy. You guys are going to be ok. Better than ok...

    Much love sent your way. Thanks for sharing.

  13. You are so amazing and inspirational. You are doing such a wonderful job while riding this huge roller coaster of emotions. God Bless You. ((HUGS))

  14. Gavin was and is a GREAT big brother. And he taught Brian how to be a GREAT little brother and future big brother!

  15. Kate, could your friends maybe organize regular weekly playdates for Brian? I'm sure they would love to help. It seems like being social is very comforting to him (and he's a pretty social kid anyway), so he'd love that. And it would give you the time you need for yourself. Er, not that there's ANYTHING wrong with parking your kid in front of PBS or Disney or, say, the movie Cars 2.


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