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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Giving back to those who gave so much for our sons...

The last place any parents wants to be is the NICU.  Even though when needed...it is the best place for their little one(s) to be.  And the love and care that child(ren) receive from the amazing doctors, nurses and staff...it's undescribable.

So this year I couldn't think of any thing I'd rather do.  I wanted to do something for those parents in a position that I remember all too clearly.  And I wanted to bring some cheer to them and the doctors, nurses and staff.  To show that their efforts and their love will NEVER EVER be forgotten!

I spent two INSANE days baking like a mad-woman.  Two nights that led to the wee hours of the mornings.  But...it got done.  And boy, did it ever feel good!

Last week Brett, Evan and I packed everything up and headed to the hospital.  I had pre-arranged this with the NICU liason nurse (the most wonderful angel ever!  This woman is amazing!) and we met up and I organized the trays in the parent waiting room and then we took the baking for the dr's/nurses/staff to the staff room.  We also donated two nursing pillows for the NICU, and...I handed over the "graduation wall" photos page that I did of the boys.  Finally.  After almost 2 years of agonizing over that!  And admittedly...I miss seeing it in my house.  HOWEVER...it is where it belongs.

It was GREAT news to hear that the NICU was not that busy.  This is one area where that is a WONDERFUL thing to hear!  We met a couple of parents, and visited with lots of nurses who cared for Evan during his stay.  Some we hadn't seen since Evan was discharged...so the last time they saw him he wasn't even 5lbs...and ever so tiny tiny tiny!
A few got teary-eyed, but mostly jaws dropped with joy and shock by how wonderful Evan is doing, and how tall he is, how active, chatty...a little boy!

When we left...my heart was overflowing.  Later that day the NICU liason called me to let me know that already one of the three trays I brought in was eaten and how much the parents were touched that someone would do that.
I didn't do it for my own well-being.  I didn't do it for recognition. 
I did it because I know how much it would have meant to me.
And I did it because they deserved some holiday cheer.
I did it because I was there, and I understand.
I did it because there was nothing I wanted to do more than to help bring some joy to an otherwise scary time of life.
Some babies were just in there temporarily.  Some will be longer term.  And the reality is that some may not come home.
These parents deserved to know that there are others out here that understand and who are thinking of them, even though we don't have a clue who they are.

And it felt really good to do something to brighten up the dr/nurses/staff day too!!! 

Every Christmas I think about how I want to do something for others.  I don't want gifts for myself (although appreciate the thoughtfulness of my amazing husband!), and I just want to do something for others who Christmas may not be so joyful as everyone thinks the season should be.  We don't all live in a pain-free, joyful season...and that's just reality.  And I just want to be able to touch someones life and let them know that they are loved and cared for...even though I am a complete stranger and will most likely never meet any of these people.
To me, that is what Christmas is about.  Reaching out to those in need.  Remembering those who are hurting.  Giving to those who may not have anyone to receive anything from.  And trying to bring some joy to an otherwise not-so-joyful time of year.

What was the most special part of this was taking everything to the hospital with Brett and Evan.  It hurt missing Zac from this moment...but he was there.  Oh boy, was he ever there.
But it was so special to do this as a family.  To have Evan begin to understand Christmas is more than presents and "me me me, mine mine mine".  It's about doing something for someone else in need.

I am greatful for my family.  My family and inlaws who understand that OUR Christmas hurts as we continue to miss our 4 angels above.  That we miss having Zac's name on a gift beside Evan's.  That we miss our son, and we are not "better".  And they remember with us.  And the ones who speak Zac's name to me, the ones who tell me they remembered and wondered how I was doing...that is more precious than I can say.  This is YOUR way of doing something for someone in need...ME!  And I love you for it!! 
To share with us as we savour every minute and memory with Evan, yet ache for our son and children in heaven.

It feels good to remember it's more than just about us.  It feels good to do something for someone else in need.  So good that I would really like to continue with this for years to come!

Even though Christmas will always hold a sting, it was still a very MERRY CHRISTMAS because of the love of family and friends who have remained by our side.

I would also like to give a special thank you to the aunt of someone I used to work with, who lovingly made all these amazing tiny little knitted hats for the little ones in NICU.
They were so very appreciated!!!!!!
Thank you for doing such a wonderful thing!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zac's Christmas Wreath...

It is year two.  Year two of placing Zac's wreath...at the cemetery.  Instead of a stocking over the fireplace filled with little treats for him to go through beside his brother.
For some reason this year I struggled to get the wreath done and put out.  I guess a part of me didn't want to admit that I was doing this again.  Part of me fought with reality.
Last year I had it out by December 1st.  This year...I put it out just last week on a really cold day.  My fingers were numb with fastening the wreath to the wreath holder that is permanently left out there.
Well, first I had to shovel a path to Zac's plot from the road way.  That's one thing I always have in my car now...a little shovel, so I can get to my son.
So I shoveled the path, shoveled off Zac's plaque and set up his area in Christmas decorations.
Sad thing is...I haven't even set up a Christmas tree in our own home!  Usually I'm all over that!  But there has been a lot of work happening in our basement and Evan and I are actually rarely even around the house...so I justify it by saying we can enjoy my parents tree, and Brett's parents tree.
Well, I do have a wreath on my front door!  And my mom gave me a few things to help spruce up the house a bit.
It's not that I don't WANT to be in the holiday mood...I just have had NO TIME!!
But next year...next year I will make it up!!!!  I am determined!!

Yesterday Brett and I attended a wedding.  We only knew 2 people at the reception so we sat with them and the pastor who did the wedding ceremony.
After the service and before the reception I said to Brett "when people ask if we have any children...let me answer."  I know Brett would just say "one"...and I just can't deal with that.  For MY sake.  I get where he is coming from and I know it's that he isn't wanting to recognize Zac...it just gets hard explaining to people.
But for ME...I always tell the story.  Never to make others uncomfortable (and honestly, I don't care if my reality would make them uncomfortable) but I always answer in a way that includes both my sons.  I just wish I had the energy to include my sweet Whisper, Jack and Ethan in that too...
Sometimes the opportunity comes about, but since Evan is NOT a singleton baby, it's not right to not mention Zac.
ANYHOW, Brett was fine with that. 
And sure enough, as we were in line for the buffet the topic of Evan came up and the pastor asked if Evan was our only child and Brett instictively answered "yes", but I looked at the pastor and said "well, not technically.  Evan has a twin brother, but Zac passed away when he was 3 days old". 
The other couple that we knew at our table knows of Zac and Evan so the conversation carried over and the pastor asked questions and so did the wife of the other couple.  And although it was so painful to talk about things so "matter-of-fact"...it felt GOOD to have these two people ask genuine questions and share their sadness of our loss.  To have people ASK and talk about our sons and the journey we have been on.  To STAY ON the subject instead of quickly changing the subject.  And you know what...I just realized something that I appreciate even MORE about that conversation.  NEVER ONCE did either of them say "but at least you have Evan".  Yes, I have heard that one before, and it's a zinger.
So now that I realize this...my heart feels even MORE full of gratitude for these two who let me talk about BOTH my sons and have the conversation go on more than my explanation and their quick and panicked "I'm so sorry". 
It felt good.
I felt like Zac was truly recognized along side Evan...and that does this broken mommy heart good!
These people did a very special thing for me, and they don't even realize it!
And my heart felt full of love, and I can smile because last night both my sons were awed over!
That was a perfect Christmas gift to me!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Graduation wall...

This has been almost 2 years since I have been able to find the strength to finish this project. 

When children leave NICU, most parents provide a "graduation" photo, page...something to mark the day.  The NICU has walls lined of photos of babies who have overcome the odds...and a wall for precious angels who did not graduate as parents would have hoped.  Not on this earth any way.
And I think that's why I struggled so much...because, where did I belong? 
Evan graduated from NICU and in to our home and lives.  Zac graduated...to heaven.
I couldn't make two separate pages.  I couldn't make one for Zac to be placed in the Angels section while Evan was placed in the graduation section.  I couldn't separate my boys again.  They HAVE to be together.
And although they graduated in different ways...they graduated together.  And so I have done their page TOGETHER.
This is the first time I've ever done any sort of "scrap book" page...so it isn't perfect...but it is to me.
And honestly...it is going to be very hard to part with this.
However...my boys belong on that wall.

And so doing this page, I have shed many many joyful, and bitterly painful tears.
Looking back at these photos of those first days of both of my sons.  Thinking of every one of those 5 weeks in the hospital before they were born, the night the boys had to be delivered, the days following...and weeks, months and now years.
So many emotions.  Two seperate ranges tangled in to one heart.

Yet the following verses will forever ring true...

"I thank my God every time I remember you"  Philippians 1:3
"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy"  Psalm 126:3

Both so true for BOTH our sons!  Regardless the outcomes, we are filled with joy.  We have been able to love our sons.  In Zac's short life, and with Evan every day.  I also got to be filled with joy the 28 weeks and 1 day that I carried my sons and felt them growing, kicking, dancing, hiccuping, sleeping...
Yes, I am filled with joy, no matter the pain that is included.

Anyhow, God gave me the strength to finally complete this project, and I just wanted to share this with you...whoever you are.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Three years ago today...we were faced with our first "good bye"...

Our 6 week ultra sound where we learned we had lost our little "Whisper", but were expecting identical twins!  This is the only ultra sound picture I have, and the only proof of their lives...therefore it is the picture I will post...again.

December 6, 2007 changed our lives forever.
December 6, 2007 we heard the for the FIRST time "your babies have died".
December 6, 2007 changed me.
December 6, 2007 is imprinted on me forever.

This was the day Brett and I joyfully entered my OB's office to see the 20 fingers, 20 toes, 4 eyes, 2 noses, 4 arms, 4 legs and 2 precious heart beats beating in sync.  I was around 12 weeks at this appointment.
Funny how looking back I was already numb before the appointment.  Looking back, even though I hadn't known I had miscarried...it was like my heart knew what to expect.  And as the doctor searched for our babies heart beats...the longer she took, the quicker I knew...we were doomed.  We had lost our first children. 
I had failed.

That's how I felt.  First I couldn't get pregnant without medical intervention.  Even though Brett and I were both deemed "perfect" on paper.  Second, we get pregnant...and I proceed to lose all our children...without even knowing it.
I felt like a failure.  Some days I still do.

These babies were wanted from the second they were fertilized in a petri dish.  These babies were prayed for every second from the moment they were transfered back inside me.  These babies were my dream for 8 years of trying.  These babies were a miracle.  They still are miracles.  They are still my babies.  Even if I only carried them for a short while before learning they were gone.  Even if I never got to see those fingers, toes, eyes, ears, noses, arms, legs, hearts...they are our children, and I miss them as much today as I did three years ago.

Yes...time softens the darkness that I felt those following days, weeks, months...years.  Yes, the tears are not as feverent every day...but they still fall.  And yes...Christmas is still tough because of the loss of our first children, and then Zac.

Love and joy have found a way back to me.  Don't get me wrong...it doesn't just happen.  That first year I wanted to give up.  After losing our babies I couldn't see past the blackness of my heart and the emptiness of my body.  But eventually I knew I had to make a choice...get up or give in.
And no matter what the future was to hold...I DID have a family in Brett.  We, even though at that time were a family of two...we were and will always be FAMILY.

The blessing of Zac and Evan was beyond our dreams, and we never would have imagined having to face a funeral of our own child as we never got to bury our first children.  Both were dark experiences. 
But we have been blessed with Evan.  Our hearts will always ache for our 4 other angels in heaven...but Evan is our angel on earth.  And for that I will smile, I will get up, I will fight for my today's and my tomorrow's.

I miss our babies every day.  But today...today was the day we heard the first experience of death in our own family.  Today, 3 years ago, we were told our babies no longer lived.

Yet...we know they do.

And one day we will all unite again.  And I pray that they will all love me as much as I have always loved them...even before they were ever conceived.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Updates updates updates...

 Chillin' after an afternoon nap.
 My hockey boy!!  Makes hockey out of ANYTHING!!  Look at that swing and follow through!!!!  He ROCKS!!

 "If Papa's shoes are good enough for him...then they are good enough for me!"

How's that for a Starbucks plug!!  Evan just wishes there was actually something IN it!  hee hee hee

So, it has been a while.  Life has been so crazy this last while that I'm finding it hard to update as much as I used to. 
We are finishing our basement, so it has been pure chaos!  Drywalling, taping, mudding, now spraying the ceilings and walls.  Fireplace is being finished off.
LOTS happening, and lots of noise and dust and...did I mention chaos?!
So Evan and I have been staying at my parents a LOT.  We have been here the past couple of days with all the sanding going on.  I didn't want Evan in all that.  He doesn't need to be inhaling all that junk!
Plus all the noise makes naps impossible...and that just won't do!
We are lucky we have a place to go!!
However...we miss home.  It's tough being away from Brett and the dogs, and tough to feel unsettled.  But it's for the benefit of Evan's health, and it should be over soon.
Why we never finished the basement with the upstairs...we've been shaking our heads on that one!!
That will never happen again!!

Evan has been doing great.  He has had a runny nose for a couple of days and a bit of a cough...but his spirits sure haven't slowed down at all!!  He is still ALL GO GO GO!!  There is no slowing my boy down!
As you can see in the above picture with him swinging away!  My hockey ADDICT!  LITERALLY!
Tonight I bought him a couple of hockey books for his age...and he "read" to me over and over. 
It went like this..."hockey...ummmm, hockey" (page turned) "HOCKEY....ummmmm, hockey".
Yup...he is ALL about hockey!! 

Yesterday Evan had his NICU follow up and a hearing test.  The hearing test was all normal so no need for follow ups with that.  Then while we waited to see his NICU doc Evan ran the halls in his sweater, diaper and socks...playing...you guessed it...HOCKEY.  And I kid you not...residents were all dropping jaws and asking "HOW old is he!!!!"
Evan had another glowing review.  He is in all normal growth rates for his UNcorrected age.  So that's awesome!!!  We don't have to go back for another year.
He is STILL stuck at 23 pounds...but it isn't a concern because of his height and how active he is.

We did some visiting while we were at the hospital.  Saw some of the NICU nurses, and our loved NICU liason.  It's always so emotional walking through those doors, and being flooded with the memories of each of those days!  And seeing parents who are there now, going through the emotions and fears that each NICU parent is familiar with...that's tough.
And as Evan and I were leaving, I saw so many kids who are dealing with major disabilities...and there it was again...the reminder of the life Zac would have lived...had he survived on this earth.  And my forever confusion of WHY it ever had to happen at ALL?!
My heart will forever break.

Our boys...ALL our children...are such a blessing to us.
We are blessed with how well Evan is doing!  He is a living miracle.  And he has a strength that puts me to shame!  I am so blessed to be his mommy.  And I know that I have so much to learn from him, with him and through him.

It is always such a joy to be able to give such wonderful reports on how Evan is doing.
He is growing so fast.  Learning so much.  Doing all the things that a toddler does!
He has such spirit, such personality, such wisdom for one so little!
He blows me away.
He humbles me.
He heals me.
He shows me that laughter can be easy :)  And with him...IT IS!!

Even though my heart will always ache...it will also always love!