Saturday, June 22, 2013


I just had the strangest experience.  For the third or fourth time.

Mike was gone for the afternoon, leaving me with the kiddos right around nap time.  He put Liv to bed in her room, and Matt was still asleep in his carseat from our outing to the park.  I settled in for some Saturday afternoon movie-watching. 

About half an hour into this restful break, Matt began to stir, and I prepped a bottle for his "second lunch".  I propped up the pillows just so, grabbed a burp cloth, and we both snuggled in for his feeding.  We sat there, both quite content, watching The King's Speech. 

The whole house was still.

I was pretty sucked into the movie until I realized how loud Colin Firth was screaming obscenities to overcome his stutter.  I quickly grabbed the remote to hush him. 

And then I realized...

I had not been worried about the noise bothering Matt.  He was awake, eating happily.  I hadn't been worried about Liv, either.  She could sleep through an air-raid siren. 

I was honestly worried the movie might wake up Carpenter.  I was concerned to the point that my eyes shot down to the baby swing to see if he had been disturbed. 

Obviously my conscious knows he's not sleeping in the baby swing.  I know the volume can't be too loud for his ears.  But a handful of times in the past two weeks, I've had a snap moment where it felt like he was right there, just like the other two.  Not just "there" like he could be in spirit.  "There" as in physically, alive, and needing me.  "There" as in I had to stop and count heads of living children to shock myself back into reality. 

Of course, these momentary scares (hopes?) make me wonder...

Was he there?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fifteen Months, Two Weeks

It feels like a million years since I posted last.  I don't like that.  Friends of mine are doing these status posts, and I feel the need to do the same.  I'll use this to get my feet wet again...

All through my grief journey, I've wondered if I'm doing this right.  If I'm grieving correctly.  That probably comes from years of pop culture and "experts" telling me about the five stages of grief (which are almost never applied correctly, but that's another story).  The world thinks we are to move linearly through these cleanly-defined stages, eventually reaching an end. 

It's nothing like that.

Fifteen months and two weeks ago, my sweet Carpenter died.  Not a single day goes by that I don't think of him.  Hell, I'd bet I don't go an hour.  And that's the way it always has been, from the beginning. 

I suppose the way I think of him--the things I think--those have changed, though. 

In the first six months, it was not uncommon to find me sobbing on the floor of my closet.  I kept a pillow in there for just that purpose.  Now I don't feel things as intensely as I used to.  I worry this is because I'm hiding that part of myself away.  But I still feel the grief...

I have "valleys".  My valleys are those days or weeks where I'm drowning in a fog.  I can see what's around me, but not much further than that.  I forget about (ignore?) the rest of the world and close down into the valley.  It's a quiet, lonely place.  I try to shut out the world, but...

I know I have to work on my relationships.  In the early months, many friendships suffer at the hands of intense grief.  Too many fail to pass the test that comes with death.  But that doesn't allow me to just avoid everyone.  Relationships are work, and relationships marred by grief are excruciating.  Mike and I have trudged our way through a number of valleys, and each one took serious hard work to overcome.  We keep fighting the good fight against the fog because...

While my grief and my son are constantly parts of me, they are not the only parts of me.  In the beginning, I felt like nothing would ever matter again.  This was me: a broken, destroyed mother to a dead child.  And yes, I am still broken.  I am destroyed.  My son is dead.  But I am so much more than just that.

I have true friends, and I am now able to be a friend to those who supported me.  I am a strong woman, and I now use my strength to lift up other angel moms.  I am a hard worker, and I now work towards raising awareness and support.  I am a wife, and I can see that my husband has saved me--a million times.  I am a mother, and this is the most important part of me.  I am a mother to three children.  And every single day, I parent those children.

The grief has not gone away.  It has instead infiltrated my life.  But I cannot see this as a negative, because to do that would be to see Carpenter's life as a negative.  Instead, I see the positive ways in which grief has shaped me. 

I am a better person for having grieved.

I am a better person for having known my beautiful son. 

Fifteen months and two weeks...and a little perspective.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I first became a mother that day I called my own mom to tell her the test was positive, 30-some weeks before Liv was born.  I loved her, cared for her, suffered needles and blood-draws for her. 

Of course, my mettle wasn't tested until many months later when I left my high-energy, high-stress job and headed home with my infant.  I spent my first three months in a bathrobe, covered in spit-up, walking the halls, bouncing my newborn and praying for her to stop crying. 

I had no idea what I was doing.  And I had absolutely zero confidence.

I called my sister-in-law daily just to hear her say that this too shall pass, it does get better, and I'm not a horrible mother.  It was absolutely nerve-wracking being a new mom.

But over the past 21 months, I've thrived, and so has Liv.  Some days I measure success merely by counting the number of meals served, and some days that's plenty.  Some days I'm super-mom, showing Pinterest who's boss.  But over those 21 months, I've grown in my confidence that I do have a clue, and this mom thing has become tantamount to riding a bike. 

That is, until we brought Matthew home.

Last night I cried.  No, I sobbed.  And when Mike asked what was wrong, I'm sure he wasn't anticipating this answer.

I didn't know whether I should go ahead and shower that night while he was there to help with the kids, or if I would be able to get a shower in the morning.

I know it's ridiculous.  For months I've figured out how to shower alone while letting Liv entertain herself for a few minutes.  It's not a huge deal.  The worst thing to come of this has been pulled-back shower curtains exposing me to cold air and Liv to an unexpected wash-down.  

But suddenly, I have no confidence.

Okay, not NO confidence, but what's there is shaken.  My feet are no longer underneath me as I plan outings, errands...even showering.  Suddenly I feel like I need a safety net to perform these simple acts.  

Again, I call my sister-in-law, telling her about my day and looking for her stamp of approval.  Again, I walk the halls and cry sometimes.  Again, I feel like a new mom.

When explaining this phenomenon to a dear friend who has been there, it dawned on me what my issue is.  And it's an issue I suspect will haunt my motherhood (and bless it) for years to come.  Carpenter.

None of us want, need or deserve to question ourselves as mothers once we've lost our children.  But it happens to almost every single one of us.  It was not our fault--bad things just happen--but that loss forever shakes the confidence that once had us casually discussing running to the grocery store with four kids in tow.  Seemingly simple things must be preceded by wondering whether we're up for the task.  

I mean, staying pregnant seemed simple enough...

So now I'm starting from scratch.  I'm a reborn newbie to this motherhood gig.  I feel lost and alone and scared.  

But there must be some hope in all this.  And there is.  Because every once in a while I have little moments that feel like deja vu.  Small glimpses into who I was when riding a bike felt that simple.  Because I am that person still.  Just a slightly dented version of that person.  And deep down, I know that I can do this.  

Because that was not my fault.  

And this is what a mother was born to do.