WELCOME TO MY "OTHER" BLOG!
This blog is a series of anecdotes from our life after losing our first child, a stillborn daughter, then going on to birth the two other lights of our lives!
Bear is 6: serious, organized, my cruise director and my time keeper.
The Comedian is 4: She is pure comedy always doing something unintentionaly funny that I attempt to put into words.
Enjoy our stories, conversations, and delights as we embrace the lives of our second and third daughters without ever negating our first.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Bear, on the other hand, speaks rather infrequently, but poignantly, about her sister. She is the more capable of the two with regard to abstract thought making our conversations shorter and more to the point.
When you ask her how many kids are in our family her answer is an immediate, "three", her voice clearly conveying this is our normal, why should it be odd that we can't see her?
Just yesterday, when the difficult to latch front door swung open on its own, Bear slid past me to shut it. "Oh, Emma's here" she said, as normally as if she was noting the arrival of the mail.
I smiled. She gets it. It warms my heart.
The normalization of this within our home and how she takes it into the real world, however, is becoming a bit tricky. I always knew the two would eventually intersect, but thought of it continually as a futuristic challenge. A, 'we'll cross that bridge when we get there' kind of issue.
Well, we are there. I opened her Friday folder on the last day of school before vacation and found this.
Predictably, I burst into tears, savoring the moment and the message. My nearly 7 year old girl embracing her heavenly sister and the choices we make as parents in one card. With tears still in my eyes I turned to my husband and said, "Sometimes, it all makes sense. It is all worth it."
And then, I wondered how this card had been received by her teachers, by her classmates (if they saw it), what possessed her to do it in the first place, if there had been a residual conversation about it, or not.
True to form, Bear did not expand on her school experience. I simply told her how much this meant to me and asked if I could put it in her sister's scrapbook.
Her bright smile was answer enough.
My three girls are all alive in spirit, shining brightly this holiday season. The joy I have found in that is overwhelmingly beautiful.
I hope that you have shared a similar moment this holiday. Have you? In addition to seeing what everyone else is showing and telling, will you share your moment?
xoxo - Cara
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I carried a baby doll everywhere with me for the first decade of my life. And not just any baby doll, THAT baby doll she's holding! Elizabeth has been re-introduced to the next generation of the family and she isn't too much worse for the storage wear!
Hence, my mild shock last July when Comedian first met her newest cousin at the hospital and recoiled a bit.
But, after his tiny-babyness had worn off and he became even the slightest bit interactive she began to dote on him. That's my girl. I always knew you would!
This Monday he came to stay with us for a couple hours. He is four months old. She was so at ease with him, he may easily have been baby-doll Elizabeth.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I haven't been in class for a while. Extracurriculars have been keeping me pretty busy! But, I'm back and so very glad to be.
Comedian has entered a contemplative phase with regards to Emma and her place in our family. I remember Bear doing it too, but being so concrete, it was a quick phase with brief questions and seemingly satisfactory answers.
Comedian is less inclined to move on. She talks about Emma alot, a-l.o.t! But instead of asking lots of clarifying questions (like Bear did) she seems to be sure of her facts and just likes saying them over and over.
For example: "Bear is my sister. I am Bear's sister too. We are a family. Emma is a sister too. We have three kids. But Bear is here and I am here and Emma is not. Mom, remember when Emma died in your belly? She almost came out but she died. Then Bear came in your belly and she didn't die. Then I came out of your belly and I didn't die either. So, Bear's here, and I'm here, and Emma is fake."
Hmmm. Ok. I was with her until the 'fake' part. But I get it. I can see why she would use that word. I mean, all she has to go on are a couple of pictures of a baby on the wall, a few toys we say were Emma's and a trillion stories told over and over by us, her mother and father. She has no memories of visiting her in the hosptial or watching my belly grow and feeling her sister kick. She inherited the loss, gained an invisible sister - if you will.
So, we keep talking. And will keep talking. And most of those conversations seem to happen in the car on the way to school. And, more often than not, she breaks into song. And, because I have a new camera I am now able to keep my old camera in the car. So, I was able to quick grab it and hit 'record' on the video feature and get one of those conversations / (prompted segways) into song, just for your benefit.
WARNING: Don't actually watch the video, unless looking at an over exposed, jostling tissue box is your idea of good media.
I suggest closing your eyes and just listening to my sweet girl work through it, yet again. It wasn't nearly the first time and won't be the last.
And that is how it ends, every time, a tender, contemplative moment let go with a, "Hey mommy, did you know?..."
Did you sigh? Admit it, her little voice touches, yes? Oh, and don't forget to see what everyone else is showing and telling!
Since I have last posted they have grown so much. Yes, in a month they have not only become taller, but also more grown up indicating that their birthdays are really just around the corner and I can't deny it one more minute.
Soon, very soon, I will have a five and seven year old. whew. That just doesn't seem possible.
And not just because time flies and we all can't seem to figure out where the years went. But, because I truly can't remember a great deal of their littleness. I know. It sounds odd. No, it sounds terrible, but it's true.
The long and short of it is this. I lost a baby. I broke. A few years later I had another one and she lived. I had proved to myself that I could make, grow, and deliver a healthy child - and then what? I did it again, just to be sure.
And during that time, the trying, then growing, then being amazed she was here, was chaos - both in my world and within my soul. I had no idea how to reconcile the emotion and grief that was still churning within me with the screaming, struggling to latch-on-baby, gifted to me.
I had only thought as far as that first cry, the measuring of the cord, the lightness of a baby holding some of her own weight in my arms. The rest was a mystery.
I think I'm finally getting it now, how to live with Emma's spirit and live moments with my walking, talking kids. The integration has happened and it is lovely, inspiring more than one contented, if not a little bitersweet smile from me daily. Yet with it has come a new grief. A wave of guilt that I did know how to 'just be' with my babies when they were little. That the 'they might still die any minute' fear led my life instead of allowing joy to overwhelm me.
I missed it. It didn't just go too fast, I truly missed parts of their infancy. I never stopped. It's true you can stay busy enough that you don't have time to fall apart. I wish I had. Our time together would have been better for it.
I know what I must do. I know I have to sit with these reality of memories, forgive myself, and let it go.
I know, but it's not easy.
The upside? They don't remember any of this. It is my internal dragon to slay.
Well, till tomorrow then and be sure to come back -- for my show and tell is a perfect example of how the memory of my first and the realness of my others co-exist now.
Oh - and part of it is video...
Friday, October 9, 2009
She was mad because the bank teller forgot to give, and conversely, I forgot to ask for the super cheezy, but expected sticker typically doled out with a trip through the drive-through.
When she opened her mouth to speak I braced myself for a spluttered streak of inappropriatness. "She's so stupid. How could she forget. Next time I'm getting a million" perhaps.
Instead, her features still resembling someone who had been tricked into sucking a tart lemon she fumed, "That was NOT fair to fair. She should be ASHAMED of herself. NEXT time I'm getting two"
Physically, I tried not to burst out laughing. Mentally, I gave myself a 'job well done' parenting pat on the back.
I mean, for one so clearly 'wronged' she followed the well taught and preached format: (1)identify the issue, (2)say how you feel about it, and (3) think how you can solve the problem in the future.
Oh my Bear, may you never be crossed by the sticker gods again.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
But what strikes me as even more amazing is that Bear, a child infamous for liking the idea of something then realizing that the experience is far less entising than the picture she formed in her head, stuck with us, for the whole process of making applesauce.
It got hard, but she hung in, taking delight in the apron wrapped around her tiny waist and the pen she sported because, "it's what mom used to do for work and I like doing things just with you."
Preschools have a curriculum that includes educating our littles about Community Helpers. Usually this includes the firemen in full gear, demonstrating how they keep us safe even while they keep their own bodies protected from the fire. It is also meant to calm the kids who think they look 'a bit scary'.
Today, the firemen visited Comedian's school along with an ambulance squad.
Same concept. Different community helpers.
When I picked her up she presented me not with a representative coloring book, or a "I'm a friend of a firefighter" sticker, but an official looking paper.
"Ah, you need to sign this" her teacher said, a sheepish smile playing on her face. "Comedian fell when she was on the ambulance and got quite a scrape. She's fine. She was so brave, but we need you to sign that we recorded the incident."
The irony was not lost on me. Even so, my smirk became a full out laugh when I saw the line that asked, "Was an ambulance called for this injury?".
Ah - no, seeing as she was already on the ambulance when the 'injury occured'. Leave it to my little Comedian.
So, there you have it: Applesauce and Ambulances.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
BARBARA WROTE: "Beautiful lesson, your lovely girls are going to grow up into such nice people.But Cara, I take exception to the word "tolerance"! You're teaching acceptance, much more comfortable to live with than tolerance!"
SHE'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT - AND, INTERESTINGLY - THAT'S THE MEANING I THOUGHT I HAD CONVEYED. CLEARLY, WE ACCEPT THESE LOVELY LADIES AND THEIR CHOICES.
MY RESPONSE TO HER READ: "You know Barbara - you are exactly right...and until I read your comment I didn't realize that it read differently. See what I mean? Long standing gifts from the generations die hard, even with word choice!"
SO AS YOU READ PLEASE KNOW, MY LINGUISTIC CHOICES ASIDE, WE ARE TEACHING ACCEPTANCE.
I write often enough about parenting after loss, a difficult and emotional task to be sure.
B) Are they from a different country?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
In case you need a reminder of her 'former do', check the sidebar!! And, spare me a little golf clap as I did it myself. Well, if you count putting it in a ponytail and cutting, then attempting to shape a little so it didn't look so uneven.
Oh, we were canning corn today.
After the tomatoes of last week...
And Jer went crazy on the green beans, turnips, carrots and who knows what else the weekend I was away.
That's my life right now. Work, preserving, and nit picking!
What are you showing and telling?
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Two really excited girls to go to two really fun sleepovers for the weekend!!! Yeah - no mommy and daddy for 48 whole hours!! (seriously - they didn't even say a real goodbye to us, just ran an played with their friends!)
They made bears at their Nana and Papa's house. Must.Show.Off
Monday, August 31, 2009
Today was really hard. Bear struggled immensly with her emotions, riding the rollercoaster of tears, frustration, anger, fear, worry, anticipation, hope, and who knows what other anxiety based emotions.
Tomorrow is her first day of first grade.
As I watched her, trying my best to stay buckled in the same seat she was as she hit the peaks and valleys of her emotionally charged day, I broke inside.
I saw my little girl fighting to regain some sense of control as her world spun out of control. I saw her clothes get folded, then re-folded, and strictly organized in drawers. I saw shoes come flying at my head matched only by the murderous look in her eyes. I saw her cower in the backseat of the car, not wanting to be there but not wanting to get out either.
Quite simply, I saw myself.
I saw the person I become when grief overwhelms. I know those feelings of despair partnered with the need to compartentalize my life. I know far too well how it is to want and not want something equally at the same time. And so my heart breaks a little more each time it happens to her.
GAD - General Anxiety Disorder, that's what they call it. "Basically", one psycologist told me, "life just stresses her out, at times more than others."
Yeah. No kidding. Poor kid.
We have had a relatively good summer with regard to her stress triggers. We have introduced a few new techniques and strategies she can choose to use when she feels her body starting to get out of control. Today, nothing worked.
I am starting my new job tomorrow so I can't be there for her first day. Daddy will walk her to school and pick her up. That will be enough, I tell myself knowing he is a calming force for her, but oh how I wish I could be there too.
Her backpack is ready. Her lunch is packed. Her outift is picked out.
"Mommy" she whispered to me at bedtime, "I'm sorry I was so not controlled today. I'm just so scared to go. I'm just so nervous."
She finally said it outloud. For that I did a happy dance, right there in her bedroom and the corners of her tired mouth reluctantly started to turn.
"I know" I whispered back, "We both start new things tomorrow. I'm nervous too."
And as she closed her eyes we hugged. I pray her dreams will be peaceful ones.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I pounced. I wrote a sample piece. I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the first columnisnts for Exhale magazine. My column title? Meditations On Life After Loss.
Exhale has grown so very much over the last nine months. Each issue is available now in PRINT format for a donation of $5! Woo-hoo, look as us growing!
This month my column is a bit different. It is a piece on Parenting After Loss. I thought it appropriate to share as my show and tell for it took me A LOT longer to write than others preceeding it.
This is an emotional issue I have been wrestling for some time now. Please, if you have a response - leave it. If you are a few years ahead of me on this PAL journey, tell me so - with some nice, flowery, what-I-might-expect-to-see-in-a-couple-years story...perhaps.
Thank you for allowing me to tell our story. Thank you for helping me to write a happy ending.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We all knew that was coming!
And, their teacher gave them lollipops!
They knew that would happen too.
What was less expected were the happy tears pouring from my eyes. Their intensity matched only by the pride and accomplishment glowing in Bears's.
For the record, Comedian did not pass. This, too, was expected. And, contrary to what the image above says, she is not upset about this in the least. "I get to do level ONE again" she says animatedly to anyone who will listen.
Friday was Bear's long earned (like five years in the making) moment.
And, The funny thing about really wanting to do something is that even when you have achieved it you still want to do more, to go further, and try new things that yesterday seemed impossible.
Like this. Holy Cow - I got a swimmer on my hands!
* - A short PSA for all parents: There is a 24 hour fatigue delay when your children swim four hours in one day. The next night expect them in bed a full two hours early!
** - Oh, and don't miss the quote of the week, a lament on the end of swimming!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Bathing during her toddler years is not a story I will even tell you. Ok, Earplugs. Enough said.
We started swimming lessons at 2 years old. For the first year she sat on the first step. The second year she sat in the water on the second step, and so forth.
We've never pushed her. We've always wanted her to feel safe in the water and find her comfort zone in her own time. Even so, this was the general expression you recieved when she got anywhere near water, usually followed by tears.
As summer approached something told me this was our year. An inuition of sorts that the heavens had aligned and suddenly, not only would she feel safe and confident in the water, but she would want to swim!
Mother's intuition. Never mess with it.
Congratulations Bear. You have done it. And, futhermore, you have inspired your sister to follow suit. You are growing up so fast and accomplishing so much.
This is Bear's fifth year in level one swimming lessons. Tommorow is the 'exit test'. Something tells me that, at long last, she will pass!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Aug 3rd - Off to play tennis!
Aug 4th - An improptu lunch out with Auntie Erika and the girls' Great-Godmother Karen and Great-Godfather Paul!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
And this was as close as my baby-lovin', pretend diaper changin', bottle feedin', back-pattin', shoulder-shushin' Comedian would get.
A family - complete, I'm told. Congratulations on your baby boy.
Friday, July 17, 2009
At four-and-a-half she now has what I, an elementary ed teacher, would call age appropriate language skills. However, she has held tight to a few cute mispronounciations, prounoun manipulations, and noun substitutions.
So, do you want to learn to speak Comedian? All right!
Hes (hees) adj. The possessive form of he. Bears a striking resemblance to the usage of 'his' in proper english. Rhymes with 'bees'. Used as a modifier to indicate ownership before a noun: hes shoes, hes momma, hes school, etc.
Now you try it! Oh - come on, it's fun!! Ok, no hands - try this cloze exercise.
"If you can't find your umbrella, borrow ___"
Or this one,
"Momma, ____ shirt is dirtier than _____"
Fun, isn't it? Oh, and being the totally consistant literary child that she is, this prounoun mutation also aplies to 'hers'.
BONUS POINTS: How does Comedian prounounce her version of 'hers'?
Stay tuned for LESSON TWO - 'Leaves'
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
And, just in case you think I might be reading a wee bit too much into my analysis. Take a quick peek at these 'blank canvas' paintings created the day before.