Missing

I’m struggling to get out of bed today. This is the day I spend 364 days a year dreading. I would much rather stay in bed and skip over this day. The memories that too easily come and play on repeat. There are some images that a mother and father just shouldn’t have in their heads. Today is a day that is impossible to turn them off. The nightmare that never ends. I miss him. We miss him. It hurts. Today more than ever… 2/20/2013 – 2/22/2013 – 36 hours was not enough.

 

 

And then there is this…

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Madeline really does know how to fill our broken hearts with joy. Four years ago I watched my husband hold our son and my heart broke as it was for the first and last time all at once. Every time I watch him with our daughter I am overwhelmed with love for him, for her, and just for the opportunity to watch them together. I love how they love each other.

Ouch

It was innocent enough. 

A dad was talking about how much of a pain it is to have to take his kids’ coats off in order to get them in their carseats. He made a joke about it being okay if one of them froze to death since he’s got two others…

An elderly man talks about all the hoops he has to go through to get his passport renewed. He has to show his driver’s license, birth certificate, old passport, etc. He jokes that he has to give them blood and his firstborn son too…

People say things without thinking. I know this. Logically my brain understands that these people don’t know that I did have to give my firstborn  son back. That I do live everyday without one of my children. They don’t get that these things aren’t funny. That these type of jokes aren’t things to joke about. My brain knows that people don’t say these words with any ill intentions, but my heart wants to shake them and tell them that their words hurt. 

The truth is we all say things from time to time that can probably be misconstrued by someone. Sometimes it’s the simplest things, the things that seem innocent enough, that can sting a wounded heart. 

So, this is my reminder to myself as much as it is to you, be gentle with your words. You never know what battle wounds someone may be hiding. 

February…Again

  I’ve thought about taking a break. A break from Facebook and Instagram. A break from seeing the photos of your adorable children playing together…brother and sister. A break from the reality that we should be posting our own photos in between reminding our almost 2 year old and almost 3 year old to share on a daily basis. A break from the heart ache of knowing that instead I have to point at photos to teach Madeline about her big brother. 

But the truth is that I can’t take a break from this reality. I can’t turn off the realization that February is here, and I should be getting ready for Joshua’s third birthday party, but instead I’m trying to figure out how we get through another birthday without him. 

I keep thinking that at some point this will get easier. Honestly, in some ways and on some days it does feel easier, well, maybe not easier rather lighter at least. The weight of the grief three years out feels like something I can easily carry most days. Like putting on an old backpack. It’s there. I feel it, but I can still move through my day mostly unhindered by the weight of it. Then there’s those other days. Those days that bag feels like it is loaded down like my college back pack always was. Pulling me down. Slowing me down. Weighing me down. February is the two ton of bricks loaded on top of the already too heavy books. 

While my instinct is to hide away and shut everything off, I’m choosing to instead make an effort to use this blog more again. I’m going to grieve out loud with the hope that others who are going through a similar feeling of loss will know that it is okay to feel the pain and to speak it out loud. 
[Print by: Franchesca Cox]

My Saving Grace

The weight of her tiny body on my chest was the only thing keeping me grounded in that moment. I knew that. If it wasn’t for the feel of her breathing as she lay there sleepily cuddling into me I was afraid I might have forgotten that I was supposed to be breathing too. I spoke softly to her as I apologized that her big brother was not her for her to play with. I promised them both that I would make sure that she knew about him. Telling her sweetly that I knew they would have loved each other very much and had lots of fun.

This is a familiar scene around our house. Me in tears, holding our daughter, while desperately wishing our son was here too. This life we live is not easy. It is not fair. But it is ours.  It is our blessing and our struggle.  We don’t take the little moments for granted.  For now we just hold Madeline a little tighter until we can hold Joshua too.

 

To My Husband on Father’s Day

My Darling Patrick,

To watch you be a dad has been one of my favorite things ever. You are patient (even when it’s hard). You are loving (even when we haven’t slept for what feels like days). You teach, you guide, you cuddle, you tickle. You can make her laugh like no one else can and smile the biggest smiles. You are her clown, her comfort, her safe place, her friend, her hero, her dad. You make this parenting thing so much easier (even on the really hard days) and I know our journey to get here wasn’t at all what it should have been, but I’m grateful that we made it through. There is no one else I would ever want by my side at 3 am trying to figure out the eternal question of “how is she STILL awake?” We love you and are absolutely certain that you are the best dad in the history of ever!

Love you always and forever (and then some more),

Victoria, Madeline, and Joshua

          

14 Months

Dear Darling Madeline,

You are 14 months old!  Time just keeps speeding by and you are growing up and changing every day from baby to more toddler despite my futile attempts to hold you and rock you like a little baby.  You look at me and I can just tell what you are thinking, “Mom, I’m too big for this.  Put me down, I’ve got stuff to do.”  I’ve got news for you little one, I will continue to hold you and try and rock you like a little baby until you no longer fit in my arms.

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This last month has been busy like usual. We got to celebrate our 2nd Mother’s Day with you.  I am so glad that I get to be your momma.  It’s pretty much my favorite thing ever right next to being your daddy’s wife.  You both are my world and I love you both so much.

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We had your follow-up doctor’s appointment this last month and of course everything was great. We met with your regular pediatrician who couldn’t understand why the other doctor was worried in the first place.  Silly doctors.

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We actually all 3 got to enjoy a full 3-day weekend over Memorial Day.  That was a nice change of pace.  We really didn’t do anything super exciting, but it was just nice to all be together with no urgent need to be anywhere.

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We did however go to the Farmer’s Market.  We went a lot last year, and that’s the plan for this summer too.  It was pretty chilly out that morning, but you enjoyed your sample of bread and loved looking around at all the people.

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You have perfected the temper tantrum and pout lately.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan.  If you don’t get something you want or if it’s time to leave when you are still playing you throw a HUGE fit.  You cry and throw yourself backwards and basically become a limp, screaming, noodle.  Not fun.  Now your little pouty face however, that is pretty darn cute.  If you are just mildly upset about something you will scrunch your nose up, pucker out your lips and just whine.  It’s so hard not to giggle every time you do it.

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For the most part though you are a pretty chill kid.  You love to sit quietly and play.  You have an amazingly long attention span for a one year old.  I’m always impressed with how long you will play with one toy.  I’m still not sure if you have any favorites, but you do love your Mega Blocks.

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We made our annual trip down to downtown Lee’s Summit for their Downtown Days festival.  You absolutely loved watching the animals at the little petting zoo.  You were a bit startled when the pony stuck his head out of the fence and tried to say hi to you, but then you just smiled and laughed.  I love how fascinated you are by life.  It is truly amazing to see everything again through your pretty brownish-blue eyes.  It was pretty hot out that day so you got your very first ice cream cone.  You dove in face first.  It was pretty funny to watch.  After a couple bites we went with a cup and spoon to finish it off.  Much less messy that way, but probably not nearly as fun.

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Your fourth little tooth is finally peaking its way through.  Eventually you will get all of your teeth…

You have been a dancing fool lately.  You’ve been “dancing” for a while now, but lately it has become pretty much your favorite thing ever.  Every time you hear music of any kind you get to dancing.  You shake your hips and shimmy your shoulders and move your arms.  You totally feel the music and it is just the cutest thing of all time in the history of ever.

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This month we also (finally) installed your big girl car seats in both cars.  No more having to lug that infant seat in and out all the time.  You seem much happier in your new seats with lots more room.  You do pretty well in the car (most the time).  You like to look out the window, wiggle to the radio, and “talk” to me while we drive.

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You love to give kisses and hugs and each kiss you give with a big “MUAH.”

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You shake your head no when you are done with something or to tell me you don’t want any more food.  You love chicken, pasta, meatballs, mashed potatoes, cheese, applesauce, yogurt, green smoothies/juice, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, green beans, goldfish crackers, graham crackers, water, and of course milk.

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You love Sophie and she is slowly starting to warm up to you.

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You love books and blocks and your water/sand table and to color.  You love to push your little walker all around the house, but you still don’t want to let go.  You will pick it up and turn it around when you get to the edge of the room, but you still think you need to hold on.  You’ll get there eventually.  I’m trying to stay patient.

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You are just full of personality and joy.  Everywhere we go you smile and greet the people you pass and I like to think that your little smile brightens their day just a little bit.  You are a ray of sunshine my sweet little rainbow and I am just so blessed that you are mine.

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Love Always and Forever,

Momma

13 Months

Dear Madeline,
  
I debated about whether or not I was going to keep writing these monthly letters. For now, I think I will try and keep it up. There is just so much happening with you as you grow and change every day.  

  
The actual day of your birthday we went and did one year photos. You were so not interested. 

  
There was a 20 degree temperature drop from the time we left our house to when we arrived at the garden where we were doing photos. I felt so awful, because clearly you were cold and you didn’t like all of the attention you were getting from everyone that walked by. 

  
Thankfully, it wasn’t a complete loss and there were a lot of really cute shots. Including some cute “cake smash” photos where you totally can’t even tell that you were crying the entire time. :(  I’m so sorry we tortured you just for some photos. I promise the rest of the day was spent playing with toys and cuddling. 

  
Unfortunately, the day after your birthday was your one year check up. We didn’t get to see your regular doctor and the one we did see was a little concerned with just how tiny you really are. They ordered lab work which meant that you had to have some blood drawn. You did much better than I did. You didn’t even cry one bit. You just stared at them very carefully while I held you on my lap. You were so brave. Of course, we later found out that all your test results came back perfect so no worries. You are just our little peanut. 

  
We came home and you rested while I finished getting things ready for your big party! 

  
For your first birthday we decided to go with a Somewhere Over the Rainbow theme. The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie when I was little, you are our rainbow baby, and the first song I ever sang to you was Somewhere Over the Rainbow as you were laying on my chest just about an hour after you were born. This theme seemed perfect. 

  
It was so much fun to come up with all of the decorations and foods. I was so glad that so many friends and family were able to be there to help us celebrate you. 

 

I made you a little Dorothy themed tutu and you even had your own pair of ruby slippers! Your dad has already been warned about how much fun I had planning this party and that I expect to make them bigger and better each year. :)  
 You seemed like you had a fun time and you made quite the birthday haul.   

This last month you also had your first major “boo boo.” You fell down at daycare and hit your face on the corner of the table. Again, you were so brave and barely even cried. Which is good, because I’m pretty sure I cried enough for you. You were left with a swollen cheek, a small cut, and your first (and hopefully last) black eye. 

  
We are very used to having people ohh and ahh over you in the stores because you are quite adorable, but walking around with a baby with a black eye was something else entirely. I really wanted to carry around a sign that said, “she is learning to walk and fell down at daycare. I swear we didn’t push her.”  Thankfully, after a couple weeks it was pretty much all faded away and healed up. 

  
We got to celebrate your cousin, Mason’s 3rd birthday. You had fun playing with all the balloons.

We took you to the zoo for the first time. 

  
We had a lot of fun. I think your favorite were the birds and the penguins. You would point at the animals and smile and talk or laugh at them. I can’t wait to go again. 

  

You also cut your third tooth. Slowly, but surely those teeth are coming in. Since you now have a tooth on top in addition to your two bottom teeth, you are getting much better at taking bites of food which means you are getting more things whole and not always cut into tiny pieces. 

  

You occasionally will give the sign for milk. Which is pretty exciting. You are saying more and more words: mama, dada, baba, dug dug (dog), hi, yeah, huh, and many more that you will echo back to us.  We are working on ditching the bottle, but it is a work in progress. You will drink out of straw cups and your new Camelbak bottle, but still no regular sippy cups. Which is fine. 

 
For awhile there you were super close to walking, but then you fell and you seem to have gotten a bit apprehensive about letting go now. It’s okay. I know you’ll be running soon enough. For now, I’ll take the extra cuddles. 

 

You are silly and fun and I am so proud of you everyday. The way you are starting to really figure out how everything works, the way you dance every time you hear any music, the way you always give kisses with a big “muah”. Everything you do is amazing. You are such a sweet little girl and I am one very lucky momma. 

  
Love always,

Your momma.