Thanks

Thanks for stopping in. There isn't really a rhyme or reason to this blog. It's just what comes to my head as I go through each day. If something I say resonates with you (positively or not), please leave a comment. It helps to know that people care. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Being Annoying

So, every time I try to think about verbalizing this, I think of the Muppets (the recent movie) and i think that might invalidate the depth of my feelings on the subject. There's a moment when they go to get Animal out of therapy, and Jack Black whispers, "we don't use the word drum...it's his trigger word."

"Annoying" is my trigger word.

It doesn't even have to be verbalized. When I know someone is annoyed by me or thinks I am annoying in general, it triggers me. Instant shame spiral: dark emotions swirling, self-doubting pit. I can't stop it. I wish I could.

This happened to me yesterday. It wasn't verbalized, but then, it doesn't have to be. I got the meaning, and the darkness swirled.

I'm still in the pit, a bit. I don't want to be in the pit. I don't want to have trigger words. I don't want to constantly question my status in every relationship I have.

I do, though.

It's that whole adolescent scarring thing rearing it's ugly head again. I hate HATE being perceived as annoying. It just makes me feel....unlovable. Unloved. Alone. Hopeless. It puts a filter on my life for a few days until the darkness clears. It's like the ani-rose colored glasses, and it sucks. A lot. I question everyone and everything.

I'm trying really hard to claw my way out of my pit today. Hence the rambling post. I want to enjoy Christmas with my kids. I found myself snapping at Mia this morning when it wasn't her fault, and I don't like that about myself.

Can I get a little divine intervention, maybe? Could use a butterfly today. It would be a great day for a sign.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Trust

I sent my husband a text last night (he was working) that I think sums up my life fairly well. The true measure of how much I trust someone is if I choose to open up to them about Charlotte, with bonus points for those with whom I share my blog. Most people don't have something that concrete. It wasn't really a conscious thing...until my epiphany last night, that is...but I literally can count the people that I really trust. There isn't a grey area. That said, I can count on two hands the number of people I put into this category. I don't know if that says something good or bad about me. I suppose it's good that I'm selective, yes? I'll just gloss over the paranoid, untrusting background and go with selective. Yes. I'm selective.

*My messed up moment of the day: as I wrote the above paragraph, I actually paused, concerned that my writing this would make the people on the trusted list uncomfortable. By definition, those on the list are the ones that would read this.  You know those people who think they're a closer friend of yours than you thought? The ones who want to hang out when you were really just study group partners? The ones that are the clingy girlfriend who wants to send out Christmas cards together before you've reached the appropriate stage of your relationship?

Yeah....I don't want to be like that. Then again, I literally JUST said that the people on that very short list are the people I trust. I think I need to trust that they're cool being on my short list. So...you don't mind sending a metaphorical Christmas card with me, do you?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Due date +2 years.


It's been two years since Charlotte should have been born.  She would be two.  Wow.  

I was in Richmond today.  It was an hour and a half drive.  I listened to Christmas music the whole way (thanks to my wonderful husband finally putting music on my phone and my awesome bluetooth stereo in my car), but I had a lot of time to think.  

It's funny, really.  The first year, her due date was ridiculously hard.  It was symbolic.  It should have been her birthday.  It was representative of everything that should have been and so very clearly wasn't.  But it's been two years.  It's not her birthday anymore.  Her birthday is in July.  The fifth of December only has meaning in that it helps me mark time.  I'll be honest: I actually had forgotten the exact date until I saw my timehop this morning which had a few images I posted on facebook two years ago.  

I don't know how to feel about that.  A paranoid piece of me worries that it means I'm forgetting her. I know that's not true.  I know that I think about her every day.  I know that I listen for the wind chimes all the time.  They're blowing right now, as a matter of fact, and I can hear them as I sit in the office.  

I know it's just that the day she was born, the day Mike and I got to spend with her, is her celebration, and so that is the day we remember her.  We choose to celebrate her life, not mourn what should have been.  This is why the 22nd of July is so important and the 5th of December has faded a bit.  The 5th of December is really kind of arbitrary, as she was actually born four months before that.  The date was just the symbol of the life that never was.  A part of me feels guilty for that, though.  A part of me WANTS to still mourn and moan and cry and be tortured.  I mean, I do still cry.  For everything and nothing, just as it was two years ago.  But it's different.  I can't explain it.  I feel compelled to try, obviously, but I don't seem to have the words.  

In the months after her death, I was angry.  I'm still angry in a lot of ways, but it's not as it was.  I was mired in this pit of self-doubt and fear and anger.  If anyone had cared to notice, I was pretty severely depressed.  I'm not sure too many people noticed...and I'm not going to dwell on that thought too much, because nothing good will come of it.  

Now, today...I'm still sad.  I still mourn for my daughter.  But I work on celebrating her as much as I can.  It's absolutely beautiful to hear Mia talking about her Angel Sister.  She is starting to understand a little, and that really warms my heart.  Ethan will grow into it as well.  Mike and I said from the outset that we wanted it to be a normal part of their lives.  It's not scary or dark.  It's not a secret.  Charlotte is their sister. She's just an angel.  We are lucky enough to have an angel sister to watch out for us and protect us.  That part has won out over the should haves.  

I'm starting to feel like maybe I've earned some of those comments people made two years ago about how strong I am...I didn't feel strong then.  I felt weak and powerless and hopeless in a lot of ways.  I got through, with the majority of my dignity and sanity intact, and now I'm actually managing to follow through on what I said I would do, really believing what I told myself I had to believe.  It took me over two years, but I'm starting to truly be grateful instead of bitter.

I'm still sad. I'm still bitter.  I still want things to be different in so many ways.  Two years later, I'm finally  not drowning in those feelings.  Two years later, I can breathe a bit.  Two years later, while the shore might not be in sight, I have hope that this part of my life, my family's life, will actually be the positive more than the negative.

I still miss her every day.  I miss her today.

Christmas Shopping for Charlotte

We went Christmas shopping for Charlotte on Wednesday night,  Mike and I had our first date night since we went to the beach in August.  As a side note, it occurs to me that we don't go on enough date nights.  Regardless, we went to Tysons to exchange Mike's Kinect at the Microsoft store and to to Coastal Flats where we had a gift card.  Since we were there and together, we decided to do Charlotte's Christmas shopping.

It's still a hard thing.  The theory is that we get her what we WOULD have gotten her had she lived. Had she lived, she would have just turned two.  Wow.  Walking and talking and following Mia like the proverbial shadow.  We took it extra literal this year, thinking about how the presents we got Charlotte would fit in with the presents we were getting for Mia.  In a world in which Charlotte exists, Ethan doesn't. That's such a strange alternate reality, but it's the truth.

We're getting Mia a Lego table for Christmas, so we got Charlotte a set of Lego Duplo blocks. There's a Lego store in Tysons.  We thought, if we got real Lego's for Mia, Charlotte would have liked to have her own set of blocks which would also work on the table.  Then we went to the Disney store and got her some Frozen stuffed animals.  Mia is still obsessed with Frozen, but Charlotte would be too young to have the barbie dolls and too many dress up clothes, so we got a stuffed doll version of Elsa and Olaf.  Mia would probably have stolen them. Or maybe they would have played together.

See, this is the hard part.  This is the time of year I really think of the what ifs.  I would never, ever wish that Ethan wasn't with us.  Still, thinking of having Charlotte with us is so surreal, and it's something I long for so much.  I would have three kids in an instant if I could have them all with me. Sign me up.  It's so strange to go through and buy all the toys for Charlotte that it seems like she would like, that it seems like would fit with Mia's toys and who I think Charlotte would be by now, and then to give them away.  I give them to a kid who will have a nicer Christmas because of Charlotte, but she's not the kid I bought them for.  I bought them for my daughter.

I write that so much on this blog.  My daughter.  It's one of the only places I can put those words out there without the unintentional crazy gothic woman subtext.  People don't understand.  I think maybe they think I don't need to say it anymore.  I think maybe they think Ethan healed the wound.  In some ways he did.  I see some angel in that kid.  In other ways, I have to remind myself that I'm not crazy.  Sometimes I have to say it out loud, just to make sure I'm still real.  I had one daughter.  Then I had another daughter.  She died.  I had a son.  My daughter still died.  It's real.  She's real.  Being a mother to an angel is a part of who I am.  It's a part of what my family is.  But I digress.

I need to go give the gifts to Toys for Tots this week.  I actually still have some gifts from last Christmas that I need to give to Toys for Tots.  We did Charlotte's shopping so late last year that Toys for Tots had stopped accepting donations...so I held on to them.  That's dumb.  But somehow....they had to be Christmas presents.  Not just presents.  I've lost my mind.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Charlotte's second birthday

I can't believe it's been two years.  I know that Ethan is now almost 10 months old, so it has to have been that long, but in so many ways it still feels like it was just yesterday...

I always feel like we don't do enough for her birthday.  I say always...it's only her second birthday...but still... I don't know what would be enough.  I don't know that "enough" exists.  Mike keeps telling me it was perfect. I suppose I'll have to take his word on it.

We did a balloon release this year.  I got four purple balloons while Mia was at camp yesterday morning, and then we took them to Leesylvania State Park and had a picnic lunch.  I also got cupcakes from Confections and brought candles to light and sing happy birthday.

And then it was messy.

I wanted to do the balloon release last, after lunch and cupcakes and happy birthday...but then while we were eating two of the balloons popped when the wind blew them onto the grass.  I didn't see anything sharp, but the wind was a little brutal, and before I knew it we were down to two.  I had wanted to have one balloon from each of us: Me, Mike, Mia, and Ethan.  It turned into one from the kids and one from the parents.  It suddenly occurs to me that we had two balloons for her 2nd birthday...that's a little fitting and it makes me feel a little better about the balloon carnage.

I brought a marker and we wrote messages to Charlotte on them. I asked Mia what she wanted to write on her balloon to send up to Charlotte.  She said, "Happy Birthday, Charlotte!"  I wrote that.  Then I asked if she wanted to say anything else.  She said, "Do you want a cupcake, Charlotte?"  Then she asked me to draw a cupcake on the balloon so we could send Charlotte a cupcake.  I love my kid.



Then we wrote on our balloon: simple messages of love and gratitude.



We went into the middle of the field to release them.  I was worried they wouldn't clear the trees because of the wind.  Mike and Mia both held the ribbons while Mike held Ethan, and then on the count of three they let go.  Mia waved goodbye.




They did clear the trees...barely...thank goodness.  I almost cried when the two other balloons popped...if the last two got stuck in trees or were popped as well, I might have lost it.



Then we finished lunch and went to light the candles.  Remember that brutal wind I mentioned?  Yeah.  Seriously, I have these grand, idealistic visions of how things will be and how things will go, and then there's reality and it's so darn messy. Mike finally was able to turn his back to the wind and light the candles right in front of him.  Mia blew them out...or at least tried to and then the wind did it for her and she luckily didn't notice.  We sang happy birthday.



When Mia was a baby, I didn't let her have cake until her first birthday.  I wanted her first real taste of cake to be special.  Ethan's only ten months old, but I thought this was a special circumstance.  It seemed important that we ALL participate in the celebration.  



It was simple, but it was good.  I also got the kids each a small stuffed animal that I said was Charlotte's birthday present to them.  They both liked them a lot, which was nice.

After the kids went to bed last night, we wrote out her birthday card. It's a lot like last year's card: a list of all the things we believe she had influence on with our thanks and appreciation and love.




As a side note, finding a card for this type of situation is very difficult.  Very few companies make cards relating to the loss of a child...especially cards to the child that has died.

It's gratifying to be able to continue to add to her baby book.  When I first wrote in her baby book, I cried because I thought it would all stop on page five.  No first tooth or first steps or any of that.  Then I realized, when we decided to celebrate July 22nd rather than mourn it, that I could continue adding to her birthday pages.  It's nice to have a tangible thing I can use to prove we still have another daughter.

I always feel like we don't do enough.  It was small and simple and quiet.  I took Ethan outside to listen to the wind chime, and it made him smile.  That was simple, too.  Maybe simple is best.  It's about her.  It's not about me or what I need...it's about loving her.  Loving her is simple.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Two years later

Tomorrow is Charlotte's second birthday.  It doesn't seem possible.  I sit here in my office. Mia is napping.  Ethan is not quite quietly playing in the pack and play behind me.  The box of Charlotte's things is on a shelf three feet away.  I don't know how to feel.

I don't know why or how, but I'm overcome again with frustration and anger that people don't care.  One of my sister's friends (who was old) died on Saturday, and I sent her flowers.  My daughter died.

My daughter died.

My daughter died.

Typing it is so strange, still, two years later.

My daughter died.

I am still surprised and hurt that no one sent us flowers.  I am still surprised that no one ever asks about her.  I am still surprised and hurt...by everything that followed.

I never got to mourn my child.  Not really.  There was no funeral.  No pretty words.  No flowers.  It was as if she never happened.  She did, though.  She was my daughter.

It surprises me how much I am still angry at everyone.  I would have thought that by now I would be different...or indifferent.

My mom mentioned it today when I saw her.  As she was leaving, she said tomorrow would be hard.  It's the 22nd.  She was a little teary.  It made me mad.  I know that's illogical....but you don't get to be sad and cry.  I don't want to comfort you.  You were supposed to comfort me. She was MY daughter.  When I wanted to be sad and cry you WEREN'T THERE FOR ME.  It's not fair to get sad now when I'm trying so hard to celebrate her.

That's what tomorrow is supposed to be.  It's supposed to be a celebration of Charlotte's life and her influence on her family. My family.  Ethan is sitting in a pack and play behind me right now because of Charlotte.  No matter how much I wish it could have been different for her, Ethan wouldn't be here if things didn't happen the way they did.  I can't be sorry Ethan's here.  He's beautiful and perfect and so very, very sweet.  His sister had to die for him to be here.  It's still so hard to put a finger on that emotion.  Bittersweet doesn't cover it, but it's somewhere in that zone.

I always feel like it's not enough.  What we do to celebrate her is not enough.  Tomorrow is such a...such a....day.  A sad day.  A happy day.  It's a celebration.  Charlotte is my daughter.  I miss her all the time, and I always will...but her life was special.  I have to stop crying and celebrate.  It's hard to remember that I'm thankful sometimes.

I looked into planting something in my front flower bed that attracts butterflies.  I want to see more butterflies.  When Mia sees a butterfly now, she talks about Charlotte.  She doesn't really get it, still.  She keeps saying she wants to see Charlotte and asking where Charlotte is.  I tell her that Charlotte's always around, but we can't see her.  I tell her that Charlotte sends butterflies to let us know she's near.  That's a hard concept for a three year old.

This was really disjointed.  I feel disjointed.  That's why I'm writing again.  I know it's been a long time since I've written...and I'm fairly certain that no one will read this.  Still...I needed to talk to someone.  Even if someone is no one.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Charlotte's Legacy

I was out to dinner with my mom a little while ago.  We went to the McDonalds with the play area so Mia could have fun even when it's so cold outside.  I was sitting in the booth with Ethan, my dad was watching Mia play, and I was talking with my mom.

Apparently she told the knitting circle in the retirement community she lives in about LLOST.  Apparently they made about a hundred blankets of varying sizes with matching hats and donated them to the local hospital so that babies like Charlotte will have something nice...like our little purple potholder.    It was very sweet of my mom and them.  My mom said, "It's Charlotte's legacy."

I looked down at Ethan.  No, that's not her legacy....he is.  Ethan wouldn't be here if it were not for Charlotte, in so many ways.  We choose to see her death as a sacrifice so that we could have a strong, healthy child.  We choose to believe that she chose to let go rather than make us or her suffer.  If we hadn't gone through what we went through, Ethan wouldn't be here.

It's a hard thing to grasp.  I wouldn't wish Ethan away for anything in the world, and yet I wouldn't wish Charlotte to die, obviously either.  She had to die so that he could come to be, could live, could be loved.  Yet given the choice I wouldn't have her die.  I can't quite get a handle on the emotions of this. 

They call the birth of a child after a loss a rainbow baby.  It's the light and beauty that comes after the storm and darkness.  This symbol seems confusing to me.  Losing Charlotte was the most painful experience of my life.  It continues to hurt my heart, and I still cry for her loss frequently.  At the same time, I would not, for anything in the world, wish that it hadn't happened to me.  The fact that she lived, even so briefly, even so quietly, is more important than that she died.  Her little soul is watching out for our family now, and I feel so blessed for it.  It was a storm, yes, and it was darkness, yes, but it was also rain...nourishing rain.  Rain makes the flowers grow.  I guess the rainbow isn't a bad symbol.  You can't have a rainbow without the rain.  Ethan wouldn't exist without Charlotte. 

My heart bursts with love for my children.  Charlotte has quite a legacy.