Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Will Forever Be A Student of You...

Dear Hope, 

You are two months today!!
And the last two months have changed us forever.  You have brought a different level of happiness... levity... and joy into our house and it was just at the right time.  God really knew what He was doing.  To say you are adored by your Daddy would be an understatement.  And your brother, Brian, is smitten as well.  Me?  I don't even know that I can describe how I feel when I look at you.  When I hold you.  There's an unspoken bond between us that I hope will always be there... no matter where this life leads us.
You've really started to show your personality lately with big smiles (especially for your brother!) and angry cries (usually for me when I put you down!) and big opinions (you do NOT like to be swaddled anymore!).
P.S. - Hope is not sleeping in this crib yet.  Please don't write to me about the bumpers as they're just for show right now!  :-)

This morning was a little nutty.  Your last feeding was before the sun came up and we both fell asleep with you on my chest.  We were so cozy that I slept right through my alarm!!  I would have just thrown a baseball hat on and maybe even stayed in my pajamas to drop Brian off at school, but you had your two month well visit at the doctors.  So I hopped into the shower and raced through the morning... getting Brian dressed and fed and then you fed and changed and before I knew it - we were way behind.  Poor Brian got to school almost twenty minutes late.  But at least we would be on time for your doctor visit!!  We walked into the pediatrician's office five minutes early... only to find out I was 24 HOURS early.  Your appointment was scheduled for tomorrow.  
I see you find that funny?  Hummph.

 Lucky for us, Dr. Kienzle was there and was happy to see us...
...but Hope - do you know what this means??  I TOTALLY DIDN'T HAVE TO SHOWER!!  It's a good thing I didn't shave my legs - I would have been pissed.
Your visit went great!  You're now a whopping 9 pounds, 14 ounces - and 21 inches long.  You made it onto the chart, even!  You still have an umbilical hernia, but Dr. Kienzle said that it looked fine and would resolve itself without intervention at some point.  

It seems like time is flying by so fast, Hope.  
Some day you will understand the whirlwind of events that surrounded you as you made your way into our lives.  In less than one year your brother died... God surprised us with you... Brian, Daddy and I spent a summer grieving Gavin and growing and anticipating you... and you were born.  And now here we are.  A family of six who is physically a family of four.  I hope, as you grow and learn about your family, that you will see the beauty in our story.  I hope that you'll realize that there are more beautiful lessons to be learned from our journey than reasons to feel like a victim of the circumstances in our lives.
We can't wait to get to know you.  I can tell you have eyes that sparkle like Brian's... and a sweetness that reminds me of Gavin.  With each passing day, I feel like you reveal more and more of Hope.  
I will forever be a student of you.

Here are some more photos from your special day.  Happy Two Months, Hope!!
 You are now BIGGER than "Bella Bunny" - in more ways than one!
 Mommy will do anything for a shot.  No "assistant?"  No problem!  Ha!
 Brian jumped up and ran out of the room at one point when you started to fuss.  But he was back in no time with your doll.  Not just ANY doll - but THE doll that he picked out for you the day we told him he was going to have a sister.  He was sure that it would make you smile...
 ...and he was right!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our Hearts Are Filled With Hope...

"So, Brian - what's your favorite part about having a little sister?"

"I love her," he replied very seriously.
"And what's your favorite part about being a big brother?"

"I can tell her things and teach her how to build with blocks and tinkertoys.  And I can tell her about Darth Vader and the stormtroopers.  And I can read to her.  Let's read her my new "Frozen" book, Mommy!"

"Ok!" I replied.
"She knows I can't read, right?" he asked.

"I don't think she cares, Brian. She just loves being with you."
"Mommy, when Hope gets bigger will she miss Gavin like I do?"

"Well... I bet once she finds out what a great boy he was - and what a great brother he was to you - I bet she'll feel sad that he's not here with us!  And I also think that she'll love him - even though he's not here - because of all the memories we'll share with her and the photos and videos we have."
"Hey Brian - do you think Hope has figured out that Mommy takes a lot of pictures yet?"

{laughing}  "Mommy takes a LOT of pictures, Hope!!!!!!"
"Let's take some pictures of her now!!  Will you help me get her to smile?"


And then... this happened.
Our minds might be filled with questions and anger and sadness and grief and loneliness at times.

But there's no denying - ever - that our hearts are filled with Hope.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Icicles of Grief...

Grief is a funny journey.  And so unpredictable.  I surprise myself daily with what I can handle - and have handled.  Yet there are simple, little things that keep me frozen in place.

I can talk about Gavin's journey to Heaven over the four days we spent at his bedside.  And I do - still - nearly every night with Brian.  He still requests that I tell him the story about Gavin dying every night.  And I do... regardless of how I feel.  I know it's what he needs in order to process what exactly happened on those April days.  The days his life - and ours - changed forever.
I can talk about the funeral.  And even found the strength somehow to talk AT the funeral.  Something I never - EVER - in a million years EVER thought I could do.  But I did - and I didn't even cry for some reason.
I can talk about Gavin's organ donation.  How, when and why we decided.  And I can say out loud that we had our sweet little boy cremated and keep his remains at home with us - the only place I want him to be.

But it's the simple things that wreck me.  I can't drive by a particular Barnes and Noble without getting a lump in my throat.  Gavin, Brian and I went on a little book store field trip together just days before he died.  We love books and just leisurely walked around - read books on the floor - hung out and had a snack - and played with their train table.  Last night was the first night I set foot in a book store since - and it wasn't that Barnes and Noble.  I'm not sure when I'll be able to walk in there again.
There was a day recently when I had to empty my 16GB memory card.  Well, I know I didn't HAVE to - I could have put it aside and never used it again - but I chose not to.  The photos are backed up three times on two different computers so I knew they were safe.  But there was something about emptying that card - knowing that I wasn't going to flip through and see a photo of him on my camera ever again - that took me a few days to get over.  If you hadn't noticed, I take an enormous amount of photos and that camera goes everywhere with me.  It was just a reminder that Gavin will never be in any more photos.  There won't be another family photo after this one...
...or another brother photo with matching or coordinating outfits like this one...
I hate that.  It completely, totally, 100% sucks.
Honest to God - once a day I get at least one comment or personal message (usually more) asking me when I'm going to change my blog header to include Hope.  Every time I think about it - I feel frozen.  Just the thought gets me choked up.  I know I need to include her - but adding her will change the landscape of photos that are so new - they were taken just a couple weeks before he died.  Changing those photos is just a brutal reminder that Gavin is gone.  He is the reason Chasing Rainbows even exists.  The name "Chasing Rainbows" is completely inspired by him.  He's a perfect reminder to never give up... and never let anyone tell you that you can't "chase rainbows."  That anything is possible.
I will be changing my header soon.  And I will obviously include Gavin in a huge way.  I just want you to know that the very idea of having two deceased children represented alongside my two living children - well, it's just not how I pictured our life.  But it is our life - and I'll find a way to represent our family in a way that makes me feel good... and in my own time.

It's those little things.
They keep me frozen.
But with time... the icicles of grief in my heart will melt little by little.  
Never really gone - but not as sharp.

Monday, January 27, 2014

We're ALL Winners...

Today has been one for the books.  My own memory book, that is.

This afternoon I got an email from a reader who wanted to let me know that the author, Nancy Tillman, was going to be at a local bookstore for a book signing!  She is the author of "On The Night You Were Born," which is a very special book between me and Gavin.  I read it to him often... and I actually had Miss Sara read it at his funeral.  Part of the book is on the back of Gavin's memorial prayer card, too.  I couldn't believe that she was going to be ten minutes away.  I got myself together and Hope and I headed out after dinner.  I was a nervous wreck - I felt like I was meeting a huge celebrity.  I got to spend some time talking to her - which was such an honor. She really was a lovely person.  I left her with one of Gavin's funeral programs which has the book in its entirety in the back... and a prayer card. It was important to me to tell her how important this book was to me... then and now.  And I told her that if she ever doubted that her children's books made a difference - even changed people - that hopefully she would remember Gavin... and meeting his little sister, Hope.  I'm sure she won't soon forget Hope - who screamed the entire time.
And this morning, Parents Magazine announced that I had one of the best parenting blogs - according to the readers who nominated and voted for me.  This is such an honor - really.  All of it.  The idea that anyone would nominate me, for one.  The fact that Parents magazine thought I was a suitable candidate in the "Best Blog" category.  And, the time people took out of their lives to vote for me each day.  I'm humbled by all of it.

I had a lot on my heart that I wanted to write about this "win" - mostly that I feel like ALL of you who come here each day and care so much about our little family are the REAL winners.  I mean that. We're all in this together.  I also feel that the win means more exposure for Chasing Rainbows - which thrills me.  Not because I want the exposure... I want GAVIN to be "seen."  

I strongly feel that the more people that know his story... the more lives will be changed.  People will start believing in miracles again... they will feel that it's possible to heal their hearts after tragedy or heartbreak... they will be inspired to become organ donors... to change their careers to help those with special needs... and so much more.  This "win" means a lot to me - for so many reasons - and I can't thank you enough.

I had so much I wanted to say.  

But here's the truth.  I handed Hope over to Ed so I could sit down to write... and she's been screaming upstairs while I sit in front of my computer.  I can't concentrate.  Ed's very capable - it's not that.  But my Mommy heart can't take sitting down here when she's up there and crying her heart out.

I'm on my way, Hope!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Eight Weeks Looks Good On Her...

The last few days have been a little bit stressful.  Brian and I were hit with colds.  It's no big deal to have a cold... but when you're up through the night nursing an infant and then caring for a sick child and an infant all day long, it can be exhausting.  Yesterday, Brian took a turn for the worse.  How did I know?  He ASKED to take an afternoon "rest."
"Resting will help me get healthy, Mommy."

He developed a fever by late afternoon.  It's no big deal to have a fever... but when you had a son who spiked a fever which triggered a seizure which ended up killing him, you worry.  We checked on Brian through the night.  Thankfully, he woke up feeling much better today!  We spent the morning reading books and playing pirates.

We ate an early lunch before the three of us headed to see Dr. Trish.  I've been taking Brian and Hope for weekly appointments (we've been behind due to snow days and cancellations) - and I was excited to have her see them today.

Brian loves his Dr. Trish appointments.  He has fun playing with the toys in her office and he's always very cooperative when she works on him.
For those of you who don't know, Dr. Trish is a chiropractor - but she also does healing energy work.  When she treats you, you'd barely know she's touching you.  For Hope she also does gentle craniosacral work which has been proven to help with nursing, colic, digestive issues, etc.  Dr. Trish is also able to sense what you're feeling.  

Hope turns into a marshmallow when Dr. Trish is around.  She lies completely still - stares directly into her eyes - and often coos.  I can tell they will have an intense bond as she grows.  Just like Gavin did with Dr. Trish.
We stopped for a glazed donut from Dunkin Donuts on the way home - Brian's favorite treat - and enjoyed driving home in a light snowfall.

While Brian was watching a new movie with his Dad, I snuck up to Hope's nursery to take her eight week photos!  It's hard to believe she is eight weeks old today.  The quick photo shoot didn't turn out to be very quick.  Either she wanted to eat... or she fell asleep... or she was fussy. Hours later I realized I was missing the major ingredient.  Big brother.  I asked my assistant to come upstairs with me and after that, her mood changed!  Brian was too busy playing with his Daddy to sit for pictures - but I was grateful for his help in making his little sister happy!!

Happy Eight Weeks, Hope! 
We are so grateful for you and the many gifts you have already given our family.  You are a dream baby and we all love you so, very much.
Eight weeks looks good on you!

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