I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord
Psalm 27: 13-14

Friday, July 30, 2010

Family Vacation...we are back

Well, over the past couple of weeks we went on our first long-distance family vacation. And as every new adventure...there is the twisted mix of excitement and sadness. We are vacationing and creating memories together...and without Zac a part of any of the photos or memories. And I found it really...strange. There were sooooooooooooooo many moments of such fun and joy and awe watching Evan exploring and figuring everything out. Yet...this mommy-heart felt the ache as well. Watching Evan venturing out without his brother. Watching how enthralled he is with other children and how much he loves to interact and play with others. And it's hard...because he was not meant to grow up alone. So throughout our vacation and laughs and adventures...I struggled. Silently, but struggled. However, I did not miss a beat to share a hug, a kiss, a snuggle, a giggle, a "one-two-three...SWING" moment with Evan and Brett. This was a special time. A time to wrap ourselves in Evan and each other and to just enjoy being away from the reality of life. And although we were able to "escape"...reality was never more than a heart beat away from me. My sweet Zac was with me in every moment and thought and smile. So in a way...he was very much a part and present on our vacation! And that makes me smile. Our adventure started on July 17th. We began our journey out to Kelowna, B.C. The first night we drove to Canmore and stayed the night there. We really enjoyed our suite! And it was a nice stop! We then headed to Revelstoke, B.C. OK...sorry to anyone from Revelstoke...but...UGH! Except...our hotel room was very nice! I booked us in a brand new resort hotel on a mountain...so brand new that some of the long-time locals didn't even know what we were talking about when asking for directions!! Although...there was no restraunt service so we headed in to town for dinner...where after over an hour we walked out without eating!! Ya...we were NOT impressed...especially with a frustrated and hungry Evan! Thank goodness for the hords of snacks I brought in his bag!! From Revelstoke we made it to our destination. Kelowna, B.C. We stayed at a resort called Playa Del Sol, and rented a condo there. It was nice! We ended up with a 2 bdrm loft condo. And just down the hall from the friends who got us to come out there to join up with them on their vacation!!! It was perfect!!! The hotel had a pool which was really nice! Especially for a preemie mommy like me!! This trip encouraged me to become more brave and more free with what Evan does. We made use of that pool EVERY day we were there!! The first time in he was a bit unsure, but after that...he was right at home! The weather was amazing!!! I soaked up as much sun as possible!! And it only rained once! AND...we never saw ANY mosquitoes!!!!! That in itself was enough to make us want to move there! hee hee hee. While on our vacation Evan's routine and schedule went right out the window!!! He started doing only one nap a day, but sleeping f0r 2, and sometimes 3 hours. And then he wouldn't go down until 9 or 10pm!!!! BUT he would then sleep anywhere from 10-13 hours!!!! So, he still got good sleep! He was SUCH a trooper with all the driving!!! It was a LOT of driving! Thank goodness for Veggie Tales!!!!!! We only had one meltdown on the way there, and it was short lived after we all got out for a stretch and some fun. HOWEVER, on the way back...that was a different story. He still did GREAT, but you could see his patience was running thin! On our way back we cut out the stay in Revelstoke and drove straight to Canmore. That was just over 7 hours in that stretch. We stayed in Canmore for 2 nights in a WONDERFUL 2 bdrm suite. And then puttered around town for those two days. Then we travelled to Calgary for 2 more nights to visit family. Calgary was just over an hour, so that was okay. And we had fun shopping and visiting. Evan ADORES his cousin Jacob!! Brett and I were able to sneak off for a few hours one night to check out a new mall, and when we got back Evan and Jacob were as tight as tight could be! It was ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We drove home yesterday, and that was another 7'ish hours in the car...and Evan had HAD ENOUGH!! At one point while he was sleeping I took over driving (lets just say my foot is a bit heavier than Brett's, so time can be "made up"), but Evan woke up and MELTED DOWN!!! Eventually I just had to pull over to the side of the road and take Evan out to calm him down. Then I curled up in the back beside his seat and sang him songs until he calmed down. He was SO happy when he saw the house!! He was happy to be home!!! The only things missing were our dogs!! And he knew it! My dogs had stayed with my parents on their own "vacation"! They LOVE "grandma and grandpa"!!!! We picked them up today, and Evan was happy to see them...and they are pretty content back home. Until they realize they once again have no yard!! Ugh!! All in all, the vacation was wonderful. It was wonderful to "escape" life and people. It was wonderful to cut the ties from the computer for a while. It was wonderful to feel like the "old" "us" for a while...even though we knew there was always someone missing. And like I say, I had such a good time, yet struggled through my heart ache and sadness. I know that THIS IS life...and this life truly is precious thanks to Evan...but life hurts as well. I'm glad that I was able to create special moments with Evan and Brett. Glad that we could finally take a step to vacation. To feel the tensions and stresses slowly slip away. To connect together once again. There was one day where Evan was walking between Brett and I and hanging on to each of our hands and we would count to three and swing him...and tears instantly found their way down my cheeks. It was a precious, and painful moment. Precious, because I never thought I'd EVER get to experience the famous "swinging" of our own child...yet painful because Zac was not swinging with us. Then one afternoon while Evan napped, I snuck down to the pool to catch some more sun time, and a mother and her two children set up beside me...and wouldn't you know it...her sons name was Zac. And thank goodness for sunglasses...because yes, tears...those infamous tears, once again travelled down my face. I just kept thinking over and over "PLEASE move!!! Please go sit somewhere else!!" Fortunately, they did! But I kept looking at this Zac and wondering what MY Zac would look like today, and what he would be doing. I was able to include Zac anyhow. While in Kelowna I found a beautiful blue butterfly that I will be able to put out at his gravesite. I was able to purchase something for Zac too! And that was very special for me. On our trip home, and as we were in Calgary a very difficult realization hit me...hard. I realized that the last time we were in Calgary was for our IVF retrieval and transfer. We arrived as two...left as a hopeful, and then realized foursome...and almost 2 years later...returned as three. The last time I was in Calgary, Zac and Evan were being created. They were both transfered back to me. We came home with both our sons, and 6 weeks later confirmed that both my sons were with us. The last time I was in Calgary...I carried both my sons. We had stayed with Brett's sister and her family during the last half of our time out there for our retrieval and transfer. And this is where we were staying on our way home from Kelowna. At first things didn't really hit me until later that evening when I was setting up Evan's playpen in the bedroom we stayed in 2 years ago. And then every memory of every hope and emotion came crashing in on me. And although those memories held sweetness...this return held not just that same sweetness, but also the pain. And it was really hard for me to be there for the first time since both my sons were first replaced within me. It was precious to be there with Evan. Precious to have this sweet little boy, who was a product of such a precious procedure...it was a big moment for me. But I also hurt, and at one point just could not stop sobbing with sorrow. Ah yes...I'm realizing that will never end. It will always be a part of my life. But I'm grateful that I am able to revel in the joy of Evan, and that Evan has and will ALWAYS know of my love for HIM. All in all, our trip was wonderful, and VERY needed!!!!! THEN when I got home, I was blessed beyond BLESSED by a PRECIOUS gift that my mom did for me. She cleaned my house top to bottom...and lifted SUCH a looming cloud that had been following over me knowing the state my house was left in before vacation. I swear I have the most amazing, most selfless, most loving and precious mother in the world! I can not even begin to list all the things she has done for me in the past years...especially this past year. Ahhhh mom....you are beyond words, and there are no thank you's enough to say to you!!! You have once again lifted my spirits in a special way!!!! Well, I just wanted to give the "quick" update version of our vacation, and moments of my mind. There are more, but it is late and I am beyond tired now. So I think for tonight...well, looking at the clock I guess it is this morning...I think this is enough sharing. Now it is time for me to crawl in to bed and sleep!! I will post some pictures of our vacation, but my time away has helped me realize what a slave I was becoming to my computer...and I want to change that. So in the next day or two I will share some fun photos :) But for now it is time to say goodnight! So, goodnight for now! Sleep tight!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In times of need...

FRIEND: To me, that is actually a loaded word. A word not to be taken lightly. A word that is so full of meaning and value and standard and trust. I know there are varying degrees of friendship...but there is a standard of pride in being called a friend, and calling someone else a friend. Friendship to me is completely bound by trust. I am one that does not take trust lightly. If I feel betrayed...I shut down. And I will do everything humanly possible within me NEVER to lose the trust of another. I have learned this over time, and through experiences. Through friendships gained, and friendships lost. We are all human and make mistakes...and that is where the second word FORGIVENESS comes in to play. Are you big enough TO forgive another when they have damaged a part of your friendship...and are you big enough to ASK for forgiveness when you have faltered. I have a friend who is like none other. Her name is Danielle. We became friends when we were 5. That was 30 years ago! And we are still bound by a unique friendship. She is the type of friend who is there for you when you need her. Whether it be a visit or a phone call or an email...she is there. We have struggled through many of lifes pains and hurts together. We have grown up together...even though we haven't lived in the same city since we were 9! But our friendship never ended...it just grew to something very unique, very rare and very cherished. When Danielle asks you how you are doing, it isn't just a passing question with worry that the responder might just actually tell her how they are feeling! She genuinely wants to know your heart, and wants to either celebrate, or grieve along side you. She wears no false pretenses. She does not inquire lightly and in passing. She wants to get down in the dirt and mire and help you up when you need it. When I lost Jack and Ethan...she was there. When I became pregnant with Evan and Zac...she was the first to send a card. Actually...since I stayed with her for part of my IVF treatment time before Brett could arrive...so the day of the transfer she had a card for me with congratulations on becoming a mommy again...before we even knew. When I ruptured with Zac...she dropped everything and came and stayed over her spring break and stayed at the hospital with me every day. Encouraging, praying, protecting, and participating in the events that were happening. Thinking of this again brings tears to my eyes. Tears of gratitude for such love and faithful loyalty. When Zac passed away, she was here. She came back, helped in whatever way we needed, drove me where I needed to get to as needed (I was not allowed to drive due to my c-section)...but bottom line...she was there. Crying and loving and praying over us. As Evan continued his stay and fight in NICU...I could count on her emails of prayers and encouragement and phone calls when I was around a phone. When Evan came home from the hospital Danielle once more came out to help me in whatever way I needed. Over the past four days, Danielle had been here visiting. We had been having a conversation on the phone one night and I was telling her how overwhelmed I was feeling with the new house and the things that needed to get done, but I just didn't have the time to do it. Guess what...on Sunday, Danielle arrived. On Monday...the biggest task that I needed help with...was done! She and my dad completed a huge job that was looming over our heads. And while I took Tag back to the vet they just did it! I walked in to my house and down to the basement and viola...DONE! The past four days have been very meaningful for me. It has been meaningful to spend time with such a dear friend and have her just pouring out her spirit of giving and helping. Today, now that she is back home...my house seems quiet and a bit lonely. We had a wonderful afternoon yesterday. We went for pedicures and then off for supper. And over supper we spoke of not just the good in our lives, but the aches that we struggle with. We know that this conversation is just fine, because we know we are human and not everything is a bed of roses. And over supper, first I began to weep and then in turn my dear friend. We didn't care who saw, we didn't care what others may have thought. But in that moment, my friend allowed me to share feelings that I haven't been able to share. She allowed me the freedom to let the guard down because I knew I wasn't going to be judged or given answers to things that have no answers. That's the thing I love the most with Danielle. We can be honest, and brutally real and open and not scared that one or the other will say "you just have to keep believing" or whatnot. We know we can just talk and spill our hearts without anyone wanting to fix things that can't be fixed. And it felt so good to be able to sit there and have her ask really heartfelt questions that no one else asks me...and to have her let me weep while at a loss for words to the answers. After dinner, I took Danielle out to the cemetery to see where Zac's resting place is. I have not taken anyone other than family there...and even then it has been with family who were at the burial. But she genuinely wanted to go to the cemetery with me and stand with me while we she let me just have a moment with my son. And you know...that was such a special moment. To have someone by my side and just stand there with me and let me talk...Danielle...you did something rare and unique...and I thank you so very much for allowing me that time with you to share my son with you. Thank you for seeing the beauty in the moment...not something "down" or "depressing". Thank you for letting me put my guard down and take the risk to have you by my side. Thank you for always speaking Zac's name when we talk of when I was pregnant and when I delivered both my living sons. Thank you for remembering him with me. Not just silently...but verbally allowing his name to resonate in my ears from anothers mouth! Like I said...we have a very rare and unique friendship. And I feel so very blessed by this precious, dear, loving girl. You are exactly the person I needed with me these past few days, and the very person I knew would reach a spot inside my soul that needed to be touched. You are a wonderful person, and I am honored to call you FRIEND!!!!
"A friend loves at all times..." Prov 17:17a

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The year of more firsts....for Evan

May 11, 2009...Evan gets to come home!
July 9, 2010...mommy and Evan at the water park!! A new "first"!
July 9, 2010...mommy letting Evan be a kid at the water park! Oh the exploring to do!!
Having fun with the cousins!!!
On a train ride at the Forestry Farm with the cousins!! Another "first"! When we brought Evan home from NICU last May I was soooooooooooooooooooooo protective of him. HAD to be! Had no CHOICE! We were to keep him away from groups/gatherings for the first 6 weeks he was home due to a low immune system and RSV season, etc. And really...I didn't mind at all. I had no where to go anyhow. I was terrified all the time. Terrified when people came over ensuring no one was sick and that everyone diligently washed their hands and sanitized, to the point of putting signs up in my house as reminders when people walked through my door. Evan was not a typical baby. Evan needed strict measures of protection. Caution is still taken to this day, although I have loosened up quite a bit. But he will still need to be watched over during RSV season. It's a risk for any child, but especially Evan since he missed those anti-body fighting days within me. Sometimes it gets tiring to constantly remind people and get them to realize that Evan is still an at-risk child. Although he has done marvelously! But once our 6 week time frame ended I STILL kept Evan away from groups/gatherings, etc. After everything...there was NO WAY I was going to get careless and put him in ANY risk situation. If someone had sniffles they were asked to stay away from Evan. I still get nervous if someone is ill around Evan. But most realize that they should still keep their distance. And I appreciate that dearly!! I remember the first time I took Evan for a walk outdoors. It was such a milestone day! I felt brave and felt the slightest bit "normal". I still worried and kept our first walks short...but then I realized how much Evan LOVES going for walks...so day by day we got more and more brave with out distances. And then even started including the dogs in our walks. They did great too because they were unsure of the stroller so they kept their attention on us at all times. This year is another year of firsts for Evan. A couple of weeks ago we went to a little amusement park in our city that has a merry-go-round and a train ride, and we went on both. Now...I'm not one for anything that goes in circles. My stomach instantly churns and I get very dizzy...so half way through the merry-go-round I was almost ready to beg the girl to stop the ride! But I made it through. Evan did great. Then we did the train ride and he loved that. So proud of himself between his cousins! The big thing for me was...I let him touch surfaces that I knew weren't scoured and sanitized!! I let him touch seats before I wiped them down. And this was a HUGE step for me. Although...I did wash his hands immediately after and made sure he didn't put his fingers in his mouth before! Then yesterday I met my brother and the kids at this water park at our riverfront landing. And guess what....I let Evan crawl around and play with the water and touch things that again I knew weren't sanitized or cleaned. Of course, I did wash his hands down after. BUT...I let him be a kid!!! I let him experience something new. I let him feel...normal! And then in the afternoon we went back to the amusement park with a friend and her daughter from out of town and did the train ride again. I even let Evan have Burger King french fries and some hamburger! What a day he had!!!!! Then we are going on holiday at some point this summer and I have purchased a life jacket for Evan so that he can enjoy the pool and the lake...another NORMAL moment, and another FIRST for Evan!! Through all these firsts, I still feel scared. I still wonder "what if he gets sick?" "what if I'm being too brave?" "how would I forgive myself if I am trying to be too normal too soon and something goes wrong?" Yes...I might be getting to start to feel a degree of "normal"...but it will never be 100% that way. Because nothing has been normal. But I guess...it's normal to US. It's "normal" to ME. It may seem like I'm over protective, but unless you've walked this walk...I've earned the right to be cautious. I've had no choice. But I will admit that in doing such normal activities to so many others, but all new ventures for Evan and I...I am enjoying it. It is so much fun to watch him exploring and learning and being so curious and brave!! He has earned the right. And for all my caution...my son is not a timid little boy at all! He is daring, and brave, and inquisitive...and it is amazing to watch him testing boundaries and limits. He is teaching ME to be brave, daring, inquisitive, strong. I need to relearn these things. Because I feel quite the opposite to all the above! Each of these firsts for Evan is so precious. Yet...again, there it is. The stab and pain of watching him doing them alone without his brother. Knowing Zac will never do these things with Evan here on earth. And some might say "oh, just get over it and enjoy all that Evan is doing"...and duh...like I don't appreciate it. I've said it before, and I'll say it again over and over a million times...the joy and pride and love and special moments and memories with Evan belong TO Evan and FOR Evan and for us as a family. But the ache of missing my Zac belongs to ME and my sadness will not just "go away", nor will I EVER just "get over it". My smiles are genuine. My love for Evan is beyond words. Everything related to Evan is in itself the most precious of moments and I will never overshadow that with my sadness. But the reality is this...I will hurt, I will ache, I will grieve, and I will cry. Sure...I do my best not to show those around me. I do my duty to make everyone comfortable. And don't get me wrong...it's not like I sit and cry every minute of every day. But there ARE days where tears find their way down my face...like today. I don't know what triggers it...but the overwhelming gap in my heart becomes very real once again and I just can't do anything but let the tears fall. And I know it doesn't bother God. I know that He cries with me. So I don't know why it would bother others? I don't know why they just can't give me that moment and say "I'm here for you". I miss my son...why is that so hard to accept? I do my part and stay silent so not to "burden" others with my pains. But in that...I feel alone. I do have my key support people, and for those I am greatful. I don't mean to make this post a "downer" or anything like that. I am bubbly with joy to share my excitement of firsts with Evan. I am smiling at the thoughts and memories that are being built. I cherish EVERY second, EVERY breathe that I am granted to be Evan's mom. I feel humbled to have been granted this opportunity and blessing in my life. My world with Evan is precious and beautiful and priceless, and my happiness is genuine, real, true. I cherish moments with friends and family. I miss those that have gone their own ways, but I understand that life evolves and people change, and sometimes it is too much for some to be around someone with such harsh realities of life. And sometimes maybe they feel like I haven't been there for them...and you know what...I get that. It has been hard for me to the kind of friend I've always been driven to be. And for that I am sorry. I am sorry if some have felt left behind or forgotten by me. Please know...that isn't the case. I miss the feeling of friendship. I miss the feeling of having the phone ring and having someone ask me to get together. I miss the conversation of day to day life. I miss the feeling of friendship, but blessed beyond measure to the friends that have muddled through with me. You are treasures :) And treasurED beyond words! I thank you! I miss my relationship with God. I miss feeling that strength in such a special, personal way. Again, it's my own doing. I pushed Him away. I blamed Him. I was so hurt and angry and confused and down right MAD. Still am some days. I haven't touched my bible that often, and I am ashamed to admit that. Through my trials and through my pains I have tried to work so hard at learning what God had to teach me. Not how the bible was going to give me the answers I wanted...but how I was supposed to learn from what life was dealing us, and me. I am working on it. I know He is still a very present, very real part of my life. You don't just give up when life goes wrong. You work harder. You try harder. You get mad, but you don't give up. And I feel like I started to give up. It's easier not to allow yourself to be vulnerable, because then the risk of being hurt lessens. Or so I thought. In reality...life becomes more silent, more lonely. God has always been the one constant friend whom I've always been able to talk to. The one person in life that I know will never fail me, or hurt me, or walk away to let me deal with things on my own. God has been my strength, my refuge, my legs when I can't walk, my breath when I can't breathe. My voice when I have no words. I miss my relationship...so now it's time. It's time to stop being angry. It's time to stop pushing Him away because I let myself believe that He failed me and my son. It's time to stop putting my hurt of others on to Him. The thing with God is...He forgives instantly, and doesn't hold a grudge. He is true. He is real. He is honest and loving and welcoming. He is a friend that will hold me when I break down and won't judge me or tell me things that are meant to help but only drive the daggar in deeper. He is a constant. He listens without judgement. He teaches. He guides. He holds each and every one of my tears that have fallen, and WILL fall. He lets me be ME without questioning my loyalties. So why after all I have described Him as would I have shut Him out? Maybe BECAUSE He does not judge, does not push, does not force. Maybe because He loves me without question. And all the time I believed He was silent...it was me shutting Him out. It was me accusing Him. I was doing to Him what I have felt others have been doing to me. It is time to work my way back to my one true friend. It is time to correct my wrongs with my relationship with God. Part of me is so jealous because He gets to spend every day with my children in heaven. He holds each of them...and I don't. But who better to care for your children if you can't do it yourself? Where better for your children to live in completely wholeness and peace and health and joy? Please know that my silence or lack of updating isn't a sign of my blog coming to an end. My journey is no where near over, and neither is my blogging. So, if there is a pause just know that it is either because life has gotten somewhat overwhelming and I am just beyond exhausted, or that I can't access my blog for whatever reason. My blog is special to me, and so are those of you who follow along. So keep on the journey with me!! Blessings, Heather

Monday, July 5, 2010

So much rain...literally

I can not remember a summer with more rain than we have had this year. If it's not raining, it's cloudy and storms are on their way. I feel like we might get one or two nice days a week and then the rest is garbage! ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!! This emotional person can not take so much gloomy weather and gray skies. I want to see sun. NEED to see sun!! And the poor farmers...some who have not even been able to seed this year. I think farming would be the MOST stressful job in the world! You put your hope in the weather and risk so much! It's sad to see how many have been devastated by all this wretched rain! Seriously...one feels like they need an arc for sure! Ya, it helps you appreciate the nice days...but there are so few of them, and it's just not right! But what's the point in being mad at Mother Nature...she'll do what she wants anyhow! You can't reason with nature! And I suppose we as a whole have done enough to our world to tick her right off anyhow!! Days like this are hard for me. I like seeing the sunshine for many reasons. But one reason is because when I look out my dining room or bedroom or living room window and see the cemetery Zac is at...I like to see sun shining down on it. It makes me feel a warmth. But when there is all this gloomy weather and skies and rain...it brings out the part of the feelings in my heart that I try to overcome...dark, sad, tears. This weather over the cemetery makes me feel exactly that...gloomy. And it also takes away from my daily walks with Evan and the dogs. One of the highlights of my days! We LOVE our walks, and love jabbering together and me pointing out things for Evan to see. Regardless, we have fun inside or outside...good weather or bad weather. How could I NOT have fun with this little guy!!! He is so active and inquisitive and wants to figure everything out. He has now decided he is big enough to WALK down the stairs by holding on to the wall (only because he can't reach the railing!)...and try to reason with this squirt that he is just not big enough to do that yet!! Oiy yoi!! I'm going to go grey very fast!! I've had such a nice past 4 days. Brett had been home and we just hung out together and you could see how much Evan just loved being with both of us together! He just seemed so at peace and so happy! Not like he isn't always happy...but there was a special peace about him. Even I felt that special peace with having Brett around for 4 straight days! It was GREAT. We went to the Farmers Market on Saturday and took Brett's mom with us...and it was such a nice day (one of those rare sunny days!!) and I just had SO much fun purchasing yummy fresh, wholesome locally grown veggies. Man...there is NOTHING like the taste of veggies/fruit straight from the garden! Too bad I'm so not a green thumb!! I'd kill a garden in a matter of days I'm sure! Last week Brett, my brothers and my dad went on a fishing trip for 4 days. So my sister-in-law, niece and nephew came to stay a couple of nights with me. Evan was in his glory with his cousins around to play with. He had SOOOO much fun. And I truly warmed seeing the sight. Yet, I ached so bad all at the same time. Evan was not meant to be alone. Not meant to be an only child. Not meant to be without his twin brother. Evan and Zac were together for 28 weeks and 1 day before being torn apart...forever on this earth. And whenever I see how much fun Evan has with other kids...my heart breaks. Oh to be able to have watched my sons grow together, play together...and even while they would fight with each other it would have been the most precious music to my ears. Don't get me wrong...my days are filled with awe, wonder, joy and love for Evan. And I am more than aware of how lucky I am to have him here with me today. Again...the struggle of such joy and sorrow. Well, I don't really feel up to go into too much today, so I'm just going to leave it at this for now and while Evan naps, I should go get some laundry done and wash my dirty floor! Ah, the joys of the rain, and dirt all around the outside of my house!