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Remember the 28th

Life after infant loss, spreading joy to honor our precious child.

Carry Harry

June 4th, 2015 was the last day of my previous life. On June 5th, 2015 a series of events took imageplace that led to the loss of our beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy, Harrison. Due to this loss, I am forever a different person.  My perception of life is forever different. I often ache to return to my previous life. I squirm to find ways to undo the past. I bargain with the universe to give me just 10 more minutes to hold him in my arms. However, I know, no amount of time will be enough. Logically I understand, I can’t turn back time.

It has been a month since we lost Harrison. As time passes, his memories stay stagnant. It doesn’t feel right. How can this world just move on without him? How can I move on without him? How can his Daddy and brother move one without him? The answer is… we don’t! We have to change for good. We are now different people.

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We have received so many kind words of support over the past month. The words that give me the most comfort are, “I often think of Harrison.” Or “I will always remember Harrison when….” Prior to experiencing this time of grief I never understood what someone might want to hear. For me, this is helpful.

I am a Pinterest Mommy. I love finding fun ideas to enjoy time with my kiddos! I love seeing other Mommy’s creative ideas. There is no mess I am afraid of… Everything cleans up (or doesn’t… who cares?). It is the memories that you make during the process that imagecount. One of my first Pinterest projects with my boys was to take monthly milestone photos on their monthly birth anniversary. I loved to watch them grow! I loved to look back at the photos. It was fun for me! And it was a process. Harrison’s birthday was Jan 28th. On June 28th, after Harrison’s passing, I looked at the calendar….I had no process. I ached for him to be in my arms.

So I need a new “process”, people! Not just any process. I don’t want to resume life like he never happened. He DID happen! His life MATTERS, even if it was shorter than most. What imageprocess can I start to honor him and carry his spirit? I would prefer to carry him in my arms, but I don’t have that choice. So I will numbingly carry his spirit and start a new process. I hope with time the “process” will become beautiful, therapeutic, joyful, and happy.

So here is my idea…. On the 28th of each month Jason, Bennett, and myself will continue to finish Harrison’s milestone photos with random acts of kindness. I will photograph our project with the chalkboard to represent Harrison’s milestone. I will blog about our journey, and continue to share memories of Harrison’s life. I have no clue what the “acts of kindness” will be.   However, I hope we can spread the joy that Harrison brought us. I hope we can continue to teach his brother compassion and imagecaring, which he was learning from having Harrison in his life.

Feel free to join in! Start your own “random act of kindness” on the 28th of each month.  Let’s make the 28th GREAT! (Or pick a different day, any day will do!) There are no rules! Money is not required! Extensive time is not required. Complicated processes are not required. Give a compliment, give a tip, donate toys, donate clothes, make cookies for a neighbor, pick flowers for someone, give a hug, visit a nursing home…. Get your kids involved. And most of all, promise, to remember our Harrison when you do it! That is the best gift you can give us!

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Dollhouse Rehabl

I was so excited a year ago when my daughter inherited my sister-in-laws childhood dollhouse. It was built by her father and had been tucked away in their basement. So when she reached out to ask if it was something we would enjoy I didn’t hesitate for a second. When I was a girl I had a Barbie Dream House. It was big, plastic, and pink. One of my girlfriends had a traditional dollhouse and I always admired its character. So I could think of nothing better than to inherit a REAL dollhouse! So I guess this was a gift for my daughter, but as you can see, I was THRILLED to inherit it too.

The home has great bones. But needed some love. So we put the house in the basement for the opportunity for me to rehab it. Well, nearly a year had passed and I had not started the project. Plus the kids found it and started playing with it in its current condition. So the project was on hold. Until now…

I have 3 months until my daughters third birthday. So I decided I would rehab the house as a birthday gift. Here is what I did.

First I emptied the house and hid the house and contents so my Daughter would be surprised on her birthday. Then my son and I started the rehab during my daughter’s naps.

Step 1: We filled the wood imperfections with wood filler.

Then we sanded the entire house, brushed the wallpaper with water the scraped it off. My son was a great help at this task.

After the walls were clean and clear, I used a cheap primer all over the exterior and interior of the house. During the process I ended up removing the front of the house for easier access. When I removed the front, I found charming stairs at the front of the house. It’s such a pity you can’t enjoy them from the play side.

Next I stained the roof a dark walnut color and painted the exterior walls a light gray. I am undecided if the exterior color is dark enough. I think I need to see it next to the trim color before I decide.

I continued with the exterior by priming and painting the window trim. I had two different kinds of Windows. With one set the glass would slide out and the other it would not. I highly recommend the design that allows for sliding the glass out. It allowed for MUCH less prep and faster painting. And the ultimate result is cleaner.

I found washi tape at Micheals with a hexagon shaped pattern. It reminded me of tile. So taped it to the bathroom floor and used Mod Podge for a glossy overlay to create a tile floor. This was super easy!!

After it dried I moved in the bathroom fixtures. All of my dollhouse furniture was purchased from Amazon. I bought furniture that could withstand use by my 2 year old daughter. This room needs some decor!!! But I’m saving that for last. Also, I’m still debating if I need a door. Clearly Bathrooms usually have doors. But without it, it might make play easier. So I’m going to think on that….

Then I installed the wood floor. I used adhesive Birch wood sheets by Artful Inspirations. They were amazing. Easy to cut, easy to install, and I like the look. I used my paper cutter to cut them. It made clean sharp corners! I also purchased these from Amazon.

Now I shifted back to the exterior. I think I am enjoying this project so much because I never get bored! I bounce around to all sorts of different tasks! First, a pop of red paint on the door and then window installation. I am not super happy with this door. It is intended to be an interior door. But all the pre-made front doors were too big. And I can’t extend the size of my door because if the stairs. So I am going to dress the door into a front door.

The window installation was a bit tricky. After all the paint my windows didn’t fit in the holes. So I sanded them down first. Then glue, dry, clean, and Voila!

The next task was a bit more difficult!! I made shutters out of coffee stirs. For the shutters, I bought these handy scissors. They were great to make specific angled cuts. Once I got the shutters glued together I put wax paper over them and pressed them between heavy books to keep them flat and allow them to dr. After they dried I painted them black and glued them to the house.

Now I built flower boxes. I desperately wanted flower boxes because I feel my house needs some curb appeal. I had tongue depressors I planned to use. But to say this task was a nightmare is an understatement. I don’t know how many times they fell apart. It was painful but I was determined. I used a TON of wood glue and let them dry an entire week to given them the best chance at survival.

So here is the trick I finally used. I taped the flower boxes into place until the wood glue dried and then peeled off the tape. When I figured this out, it worked much better.

I also made tiny strips out of card stock and glued on diamonds. Then when I painted them with metallic spray paint, it looked like metal brackets on my flower boxes. I was going to stain the flower boxes to match the roof. But when I stained them the stain was not adhering to all the dried wood glue. So it looked bad. So I painted them to match the shutters. Look at the photo below, see how the diamonds look like bolts? I think they turned out great.

The next step I bounced back to the inside and installed the wall paper. This was simple! I used craft paper and mod Podge. The process was fast, however I HIGHLY recommend you take the back off the house for this step. I also recommend not working with complicated stripe patterns. I don’t like how my stripes turned out.

Once the interior was wallpapered I applied the wall paper to the detached back wall.

At this point I carefully reattached the front of the house and painted the raw edge of the roof trim black to match the shutters.

Now back to the flower boxes. I stuffed the with black clay and the pressed silk flowers into the clay. I kept having issues with the brackets on the flower boxes falling off. So I hot glued them. I read blogs that warned against hot glue. But honestly it drys fast and worked great. So I went ahead and used the hot glue to attach my window boxes.

Our family loves to watch birds. We have a big window by our dinning table and we enjoy watch lots of birds. So our house would not be complete without a couple birdy guests.

Now for some finishing touches. I moved in the furniture and accessories. And my son and a sweet neighbor helped me with creating artwork.

Here is the final result with our furniture moved in. I love seeing my proud son smiling through the windows in these pictures. Such a fun project for both of us.

And the reveal.

And now I check my OCD at the door. It will never look the same again. But it will be loved and cherished for years.

Poor Grandma! I doubt she ever suspected that bathtub and dinning chair to come down the stairs.
That game of monopoly got real intense!

A Vacation to Remember

So our vacation started off like a scene straight out of Home Alone. The good news… we didn’t leave any kids behind! Jason bolts awake at 4:20am. “Darcy! We slept in!”

You see, the night before we were both up packing and working on work projects until 1:30 am. I guess our bodies were not convinced our 3am alarm was truly wake time.

Jason springs out of bed and into action. I sat stunned for a minute. My heart was jumping out of my chest from the adrenaline filled wake up but my tired brain was still figuring out the math in my head to determine the level of crisis. Hmmmm it’s 4:20 am, our flight leaves at 5:50, we have a 40 min ride to the airport and two kids to lug with us…. OH SHIT!

I join Jason at leaping out of bed. I throw on the outfit I had laid out the night before, grab my pre-packed makeup and toiletries and head to wake Bennett.

“Bennett! We slept in. Mommy needs you to be super helpful or we will not make our airplane.” I hand him a a miss-matched set of clothes from the top of his drawer. I didn’t have time to consider cuteness or if the outfit would match… but let’s be honest, Bennett typically doesn’t match anyway. I instruct Bennett, “Take these clothes, don’t put them on, just go get in the car, Daddy is out there waiting for you, and hold ur clothes in your lap.”

Next I run into Alex room. I flip on the lights, grab a diaper and one outfit. I actually fold her clothes in outfits so at least I knew her outfit would match. And I ran to the car. Jason had Bennett loaded and we did a last second check… “Got your phone? Got ur ID? Let’s go!”

We were on our way to the airport. Jason drove reasonable and our typical stress reactions kicked in.

Jason, “We are screwed.”

Me, “We can do this!”

Jason, “There is no way we will make this flight.”

Me, “Don’t give up. We just need a plan. Where are we going to park?….”

We continued to walk through a game plan

I’m chanting a mantra in my head. “It will be ok! We won’t let this ruin our vacation. Even if we miss this flight, We will get there! Don’t stress! just focus on the decisions in front of us and don’t waste any time!”

Jason, “How did I sleep through the alarm? We are never going to make it!”

We pull up to the sky cap and THERE IS NO LINE!!! There is a God!!! Jason pulls up. We leap out and grab all the bags and both kids. Jason hands me a wad of cash to tip and then jumped back in the car to park. Now alone with the kids, I stumble through all 999 pockets in my backpack to find my ID as I continue to drop dollar bills from my hands. Finally I look up at the sky cap attendant and say… “why don’t I just tip you first and get this money out of my hand.” He smiled, “why thank you.”

I asked the attendants, “Are we going to make this flight?” He said, “Yes, ma’am, you have plenty of time. The airport is slow this morning. You are going to be just fine!” Awesome! That is the best news I had heard yet! I took a deep breathe loaded up the last backpack on my shoulders, picked up Alex on my hip, took Bennett’s hand and we ran inside. We made it through security, rushed to our gate, met up with Jason, and realized we had made it!!! They are still boarding!!!! Bennett did an celebratory dance and we had a family hug. I proceeded to tell Bennett what a great listener he had been and his BIG BIG help got us on the plane!! 😘

Then I took inventory, we were disheveled, to say the least. We all had bed hair. Alex looked like she had a rats nest on her head. Both kids were still in pjs with wet soaked diapers from the night before. And we all had the biggest grins on our faces! Let this vacation begin!

During the flight I took each kid to the bathroom and got them dressed. If you have ever tried to change a child in an airplane bathroom…. well I’m sure it sounded like I was wrestling a squirrel from outside as I continually bumped into the walls and door.

Finally both kids are dressed and we look a touch more pulled together. We headed back to our seats where Bennett insisted we read the safety manual over and over. Now that we are prepared for a water evacuation, let’s land this thing.

Finally, we make it to our destination, Myrtle Beach. As we check in at our hotel the receptionist offers us a free upgrade to a 2 bedroom ocean view suite. Perfect! We have have tons of room and everyone is still likely to sleep in one bed. 🙃

The first day, Saturday, we played at the beach and pool until dinner. We ate in our room and then swam again until bedtime. It’s amazing to see how well our kids play together when they have no other distractions. Bennett is so sweet and Alex so funny. The giggles are priceless. 💗💗

Day two, Sunday, was another awesome day at the beach. Sand castles and waves for the kids and cocktails for Mom and Dad.

On Sunday we had dinner at a local dive Dirty Dirks Oyster Bar. Alex was seated next to a mirror which delighted her. So she and Jason serenaded the restaurant with twinkle twinkle little star as she admired herself in the mirror. 🤷‍♀️

On day 3, Monday, we spent another day at the beach and in the pool. We finished the day going to a dinner theater Pirates Voyage. The kids got dressed up as a pirate and a mermaid. The show had acrobats, sword fights, cannons, diving, and sea lion tricks. Both kids were mesmerized, plus both kids ate like champs! 👍🏻

Day 4, Tuesday, it is time for hurricane talk. There is a mandatory evacuation put in place. Hurricane Florence is expected to hit Thursday and be a category 4 storm potentially causing life threatening conditions. Our flight is currently scheduled for Wed at 12:30. We are not able to move our flight forward because everything is booked. So we stock up on a few groceries 🍕🍎🍌🥪and pray our flight is not canceled.

We enjoy the morning on our balcony drinking coffee ☕️ while the kids played waitress. I ordered ice cream, doughnut, and candy 🍨🍩🍭from Alex and she said, “No Moma! Too much sugar.” 😬

We head back out to the pool. But the hotel closes at noon. We could continue to stay in our suite but we had to leave the pool. So after nap we headed out to the beach. It was virtually a private beach. The water was not safe to get in so I thought we would just we walking the shoreline. So both kids were fully clothed without swimming suits. Get ready for this #Momfail moment. Both kids end up drenched and covered in sandy goop!

On our final dinner we called around and found one restaurant that was open. So we got to have one more meal out. The kids ate spaghetti and we ordered sushi. Bennett tried his first bite if sushi. He did voluntarily take two bites of a philly role…. before saying No Thank You. Both kids nearly fell asleep at the restaurant.

I wanted to take family pictures on the beach before we left. However, we walked out to the beach and the gate to the beach was locked. They were not allowing anyone to go out on the beach. So I settled for a couple pix on the empty hurricane proofed pool deck.

One final cheers before a potentially crazy day of travel.

I am happy to report we had a smooth on time flight home. Our kids got a little cranky cuz there was no food in the airport. But they survived to our connecting location on a 6 pack of knock off oreos. 🍪🍪

We really enjoy our visit to Myrtle Beach. We will be praying for the locals over the next few days. I want to give an extra prayer for the security guard weathering the storm from the hotel. We left him food in our suite. I hope this hurricane does not cause damage or injury. Here are a few pix of the Ocean blvd on the way out. This road it typically bumper to bumper… but it’s an evacuated, boarded up ghost town.

It’s a Journey

Here we are again.  Today I find myself really struggling to understand my feelings.  For the past few weeks I’ve anticipated this day, the emotional waves would crash in and out like the ocean.  As the day draws closer I find myself pacing in irritation.  It feels like I’m wrestling with a large walrus sitting on my chest. Some memories are so vivid I can’t suppress them.  Some memories have faded so much I feel like I am grasping onto a thin string of silk just trying to hold on to a piece of him.

I can’t remember his smell anymore.  I do remember after his death smelling his sheets for days until they no longer smelled of him.  It took me two years to wash the clothes from his dirty clothes hamper in hopes there might be a small scent left.  The sad thing is, many of my memories are fading.  Like any normal Mom, my memories of the infant phase smoosh together with no clear boundaries between each child.  I know this is normal, but when you don’t have the opportunity to make new memories, it is painful to accept the fading memories over time.

While I struggle to remember his smell, sounds, and routine; I can’t forget my love for him.  Day in and day out we seem like a normal functioning family and we are.  But we each walk around with a hole in our hearts.  A hole that can never be filled.  The incredible thing about love for a child is I find it continued to grow even after he leaves this Earth.  The feeling of pain from his absence still hurts as if the loss was yesterday.  In fact, sometimes I feel the pain is worse now, because in the beginning you have these endorphins, denial, adrenaline and all sorts of people distracting you.  It doesn’t hit me as often, but when it does the pain is so deep its immobilizing.

The night after Harrison died I was texting with my Mom.  I can’t remember what I said to her, but I believe I was expressing a sense of feeling lost.  Like I really didn’t know what to do with myself.  I was so used to caring for an infant and juggling two kids, I just felt antsy to do something with myself.  And my mom said, “You are a different person now.  You will never be the same.  You will have to figure out your new normal.”   And she was right.  In that moment her words seems so drastic.  But I even knew then, she was right.

It has taken me years to adjust to our new normal.  I am different, Jason is different, our marriage is different.  All changes are not all for the worse, but it is change.  Change that we didn’t choose.  And it is change that we are not always in control of as we experience it.  There are times in the beginning were I desperately needed someone to tell me when I would feel normal again.  I needed a timeline, a light at the end of the tunnel.   But there was no light, death is so final.  No matter what, nothing would bring him back.  I had to learn to make a life in a new tunnel.

If I had to describe life since his loss, I would say, it has been constant.  Constant change, constant stimulation, constant fear, and constant appreciation for the people who love us daily.  Thank you to everyone who has loved us through our journey.  You have no clue how much you all mean to us!  This experience has certainly taught me the need for human connection.  I don’t feel worthy of all the kindness we have received over the past three years.

To sum up this rant of emotion I want to list a few life lessons Harrison has provided us.

  1. Spreading kindness in this world is therapeutic for the giver. The gesture doesn’t have to be grand.  You don’t have to be overly creative.  Just be conscience with your intention to be kind to one another.
  2. Be present when you tell your children good bye. Don’t just do the hug and kiss routine.  Drop all the thoughts roaming in your head, look at your child, get on their level, and just BE in the moment.
  3. Never hesitate to show affection to your child. Hold them longer, snuggle more tightly, kiss them, tell them you love them, and tell them you are proud of them.  Tell them how important they are and how happy they make your heart.
  4. There are only so many hours in the day, so choose to spend your time doing the things that bring you joy.  For me, cleaning house, cooking, laundry, and dishes are not the priority.  I do them only after I enjoy my kids and if they don’t get done, life does move forward. So if you come to my house unannounced (or even sometimes announced) just know my mess is intentional and it means, I love my kids!  Also, if you invite me into your messy home there will be no judgement. (I probably won’t even notice.)

#Harrysjoy

Joy and Loss

10-4-2017 8-56-38 AMTonight I sit and look into Alex’s big brown eyes and I feel overcome with a wave of emotions crashing down on me. How do I process the last 2 1/2 years? It’s as if I have been on a journey in a car with no brakes going 1000mph.

Tomorrow, Alex turns one year old. A normal typical milestone for most, for me, it feels like an Earth-shattering accomplishment.

After losing out second son, Harrison, over two years ago, my life changed unexpectedly in a moment. The experience changed who I am in my soul. I used to grieve not just the loss of Harrison but the loss of my prior self. The loss of a naive, sheltered approach to life. Now I am acutely aware of how fast life can change.

It was 2 months after we loss Harrison when our grief counselor recommend we get pregnant again. The recommendation shocked me. I was barley functioning and she is recommending baby making? Good Lord!!! That was the last thing on my mind. However, 6 months later, it still seemed scary, I still hurt like hell, but the logic in me (or maybe it was my biological clock) steered me to have my IUD removed.

The universe must have known that my husband and I needed an easy button. Within days I had a positive pregnancy test. The excitement was accompanied with fear of the worst case scenario.  10-4-2017 8-57-55 AM

As the pregnancy progressed so did my fear and grief. I remember crying just days before I delivered Alex because I missed Harrison so much I was worried I was not in a mindset to be able to attach to another baby, a different baby. I just wanted Harrison back.

After Alex was born I quickly realized my love and attachment to her, just like with Bennett, is independent of my grief from losing Harrison. Over this past year I still grieve for Harrison but I also enjoy Bennett and Alex.

10-4-2017 8-58-24 AMAlex has brought us so much joy. And seeing Bennett have a living sibling again is magical, a true gift. However, having an infant in the house again did cause flashbacks. Some milestones felt as if had waited 2 years to see. I also find myself parenting as if this is my last chance to see her. I feel desperately appreciative of the opportunity to be her Mommy. Embracing each second, each milestone, enjoying getting to know her personality and watching her develop each day is truly a gift.

So tonight on the eve of your first birthday. I pray I can continue to keep you safe and protect you from harm. I hope you grow up to live a happy, fulfilling, healthy life, where you are able to share your happiness and talents with the world. I pray that some day I will see the milestone of watching you drive a car, go off to college, walk down the aisle, have children and grandchildren. But until then, I will be trying to freeze time, so I don’t miss a moment. So I don’t forget any stage.

I love you forever!

Happy Birthday, Alex!

10-4-2017 9-12-14 AM

I am NOT ok


One year ago today, marks the day my life would changed forever.  I would become a completely different person with a new identity.  An identity that I did not choose, seek or want.  I can never erase, change, or undo the events that took place that day.  But on June 5th 2015 my healthy, happy baby boy passed away and I became a mother to an angel.

I sit here and reflect on the past year. A year dealing with tremendous grief and emotional pain.  A year dealing with feelings of incredible betrayal and anger towards our ex child care provider.  And a year trying to process this change.  Figuring how to function again as a Mom, a wife,  a friend, and even an employee. How do I move forward without leaving Harrison behind?  It has been a journey.

So how am I doing?  People say to me, “I’m so glad your doing well.”  Or “I’m so glad you are Ok.”  Or “You are stronger than I.” I don’t even know how to process these comments.   I don’t feel “ok.”  I don’t know if I will ever be “ok” again.

I mean, I can’t help but remember this exact time last year. I think about the fog I was in.  I remember my sister-in-law taking Bennett to the Home Depot kid’s craft. I was so numb I had no desire to leave the house and join them.  Neighbor’s brought us milk and Kleenex.  Normal tasks were impossible.  I would climb inside Bennett’s crib and watch him breathe all night. My breasts were engorged and ached to nurse.  My job that I loved and circulated around didn’t even enter my mind. I have moved passed this fog.

I now function through life.  I am back to enjoying work.  I laugh.  I play. I enjoy my husband.  I enjoy making life fun for Bennett and watching him grow and explore his world.   I enjoy my friends. I have made new friendships through this nightmare.  So I guess that makes people say “I’m doing ok.”

But I’m not “ok.”  And I’m not sure I want to be “ok.” Because “ok” might mean I have moved on. I can’t move on without Harrison. My heart aches JUST as deeply as it did 365 days ago.  The pain and loss will still take my breath away.  Even with this new baby in my womb, I am not moving on.  I don’t care if I continue to have 10 living children. I will actually be the mother to 11 children.  Harrison will always count.  I think of Harrison every day.  I see Harrison in every 4 month old baby.  I think of Harrison when I see a kiddo that is approximately his age.  Even Bennett thinks of Harrison.  Just last week an ambulance drove by and Bennett said, “They have Harrison, Mommy.”

No matter how hard I try, I can’t bring Harrison back to this Earth.  I can’t change what has happened, but I can control the way I react to it.  I will always miss Harrison.  I will always feel the pain his absence causes.   I might always be angry with the care provider that was in charge that day, I have that right.  But I have to choose out to react to the situation.  I was reading Developing the Leader in You by John Maxwell and found a segment that gave me clarity.  The book was describing a study that was done on highly successful people.  People like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Einstein.  The study revealed that 1/4  of the people had handicaps, 3/4 were born either born in poverty, come from broken homes, or at least came from exceedingly tense or disturbed situations.  But they still reached incredible success.  As John Maxwell put it, “They realized they could not determine every circumstance in life, but they could determine their choice of attitude toward every circumstance.”

So how does this apply to my situation?  It means I will continue to choose to honor my son.  I will share his joy.  While I may not be “ok.”  It will NEVER be “ok” that he passed away.  However, I will choose to function.  I will choose to be kind.  My husband deserves a wife that is kind and loving.  Bennett deserves a mother that is present and loving.  This new baby deserve to join a family that is ready to embrace more love.  Harrison deserves to be the catalyst of positivity in this world.  So I will choose to strive towards living a life that represent kindness, love, patience, and positivity.

Harrison,

I love you!  I miss you!  You are always my baby boy.  I am sorry I was not able to protect you.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

 

 

 I Will Always be Your Mommy

  
Over the past several months, I have spent many moments pondering, Why?  Why did this happen? What went wrong? Who’s at fault?  What did I do wrong?  I understand, these are all normal feelings when processing incredible grief.  However,  I also feel so thankful to be Harrison’s Mommy.  Yes, perhaps his life was short.  But he had so much meaning on this Earth.  Harrison is a blessing to our family.  He brought us joy every day.  Regardless, of how short is life was and the pain we experienced in his absence, I would do it again!

It is my goal in life to work through the grief so I can get closer to his Harry’s Joy!  Harry’s Joy is his legacy!  And it is now my mission and responsibility to carry his joy.

We are very excited to be expecting another baby.  It also brings lots of emotions; hope, fear, joy, and sadness.  Even Bennett is processing our change in his 3 year old minds.  Bennett said to me at Easter lunch, “Mommy I want to be your baby.” “Oh sweet Bennett, you will always be my baby!  Harrison, will always be my baby.  We will just have EVEN more to love with this new baby.”

I know most parents out there with multiple kids can relate to this feeling, but I remember being nervous that I could never love another child as much as Bennett.  Then Harrison arrived and I did!  Immediately, I loved both our boys to the moon and back!  I know there will be no difference with this 3rd child.  We will love this little peanut all the same.

We are looking forward to this new addition.  But we know this little child will not replace our love for Harrison.  We will continue to miss Harrison.  And we will continue to carry Harry with us every day!  We will represent Harry’s joy on the Earth.  We will teach this new baby  about the older brother that watches over us from Heaven.

I am now preparing to be a mother to 3 wonderful children.  I will enjoy the love of each of my children on Earth and will carry the love of my angel baby Harrison every single day.

Harrison,

Mommy misses you every moment.   I remember your time on Earth fondly.  I appreciate the meaning you brought to my life!  I will love you for always!  I will honor you forever!  You will always be my baby boy!

Darcy

  

The Dreaded “New Normal”

  
 It has been 8 months since we lost our sweet Harrison.  In some moments it seems like forever since I held him in my arms and other moments it seems like just yesterday.  

  I always hated the word “New Normal.”  However, I think that is what I feel.  I can never regain my normal prior to Harrison’s passing.  I am forever different.  First, Harrison is not physically in this normal.  Secondly, I have a pain I carry with me in life.  A deep pain that isn’t always apparent but is present.   Finally, I have a new appreciation and awareness of human kindness.  I understand what it means to be in need of support and to receive support and love in abundance.  I know what it feels like to know I have been loved by so many that I can not repay the favor.  These life lessons make my new normal different than before.  So I think we are at a “New Normal.”

Our life feels full of normal stresses like getting a 3 year old to stay in his bed all night.  We have normal happiness watching Bennett explore his world.  Listening to him talk about important things like Monster Trucks, Legos, the color orange.  We are enjoying time as a family, playing games, taking walks, and mostly just being together. We have normal challenges of teaching Bennett sharing and kindness.  Our life is normal.  Our life is happy. 

One thing I cannot figure out in this new normal is how to introduce my “new” family.  Meeting new people is part of life.  Most conversations start with, “Do you have kids?”  What do I say?  One?  It just doesn’t sound right to me.  I’ve tried it. I don’t have one child, I have two children.  But when I say two, this is usually followed with, how old are your kids?  Now what?  Do I say,  “Three years and our youngest passed?”  Or do I lie in order to avoid the enevidable awkward silence and say, “Three years and 13 months?”  Nothing feels right.  Most of the time, if I tell a stranger my baby died, they treat me like a weirdo.  But he is my baby!  It feels weird not to acknowledge him.  I was always frustrated that there was no perfect book on how to raise a child.  Well, there is no perfect book on how to be the Mom to an angel.  So I guess I will keep saying I have two babies and deal with the awkward pause when I say one died.

Even though we have hit a “New Normal,” I know our grief journey is not over. Still today,  I find myself struggling with anger!  It is a feeling that I don’t want to carry forever.  So I hope it continues to get better.  But I’m still really pissed!  I’m not pissed at the universe anymore.  However, I’m pissed about everything that should have happened or shouldn’t have happened on that day.  I have to control my brain from going down the tailspin of anger. At times, I feel capable of screaming a cry that would be heard around the world.  I don’t like being angry.  I will get through this…  in the mean time, I will focus my energy of spreading Harrison’s Joy.  I will honor him every day!

For Harry’s Joy today we had the wonderful opportunity to visit with a family that is also experiencing grief.  Bennett helped pick out some gifts for a couple beautiful young ladies that recently lost there father.  I feel so honored they allowed us to connect today.  I also feel sooo incredibly sad for them and their beautiful mother and his parents.  I hope for a moment our gifts brought a distraction from reality.

  

Happy Birthday Harrison

  
I have dreaded Jan 28, 2016 for 6 months now.   How does one survive your baby’s first birthday when he is not on Earth to celebrate?  I’ve been asking myself this question for 6 months.  I have brainstormed many ideas.  Do I throw a party?  Do I host a fundraiser?  Do I sulk in sarrow?   What if I make the wrong choice?  I became paralyzed and overwhelmed so I did nothing.  

Until last night, when I was on my way home from work.  I was already late getting home and I changed my plan.   I turned erratically from the straight lane.  I compulsively needed balloons and cupcakes.  Harrison may not be here but, DAMN IT , he happened.  So we will celebrate his birth.  I will hang the Happy Birthday banner and we will sing.  Because Harrison’s Life Matters!

The pain and sarrow I feel in this moment is so heavy.  I don’t think it is any lighter than the day he passed.  In a way, this pain is harder because the adrenaline and shock have worn off.  The knumbness is gone.  This pain now feels familiar.  It’s not something I feel daily any more, but I recognize it.  I don’t avoid it.

As I sit here allowing my body to flood with memories, I find myself reflecting.  I lose my breath in tears because I am overwelmed with the enormous volume of love we have received this year.  The countless people who have cared for us, held us, and loved us is so incredibly overwhelming.  

I feel so appreciative of EVERYTHING!  I have experienced human connection on a new level this year.  I have countless moments that may seem mundane yet are vivid memories I will carry forever.  I wish I could write about every person that supported us from the shortest text that meant the world to me to the largest investment in time and money.  I have felt touched by it all.  There is no way words can express my graditutde to everyone.  I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us this year.  Please know every hug, kind word, note, text, email, gift, donation, and meal leaves me feeling overwelmed with graditude.  

Thank you for honoring Harrison through acts of kindness.

Our official act of kindness to honor Harrison’s first birthday will not be ready today.  We will share a few smaller acts tomorrow and post the official act in a few days.

Out of Balance

So I am following a Facebook blog written by a college friend of mine, Laura Hilton- Sutherland, called “Living in Blance – Laura’s Way.”  I encourage anyone seeking balance in life for 2016 to read her story and join us.  Her first challenge, identify 3-4 things that are out of balance in your life.  So here it goes!

Most people know I lost my son in 2015.  However, very few people know that I also took two promotions at work, one in March (while on maternity leave) and the second in September.  I love my job!  I love my new position.  I love the people I work for and the people I work with daily.  I am appreciated.  I am mentally stimulated. I am challenged.  I am learning everyday!  I am also working harder and longer hours than I have ever worked in my life. And I still look forward to Monday!

In addition to this, my personal life has been technically simplified and emotionally challenging.  What I mean is technically I started off the year caring for two babies and now I only have one child in my arms.  Plus this amazing kiddo is becoming more and more independent everyday.  So technically, my parenting load is lighter.  

However, the emotional stress of losing a child is overwhelming.  I miss my baby.  There is always a lump in my throat and a hole in my heart.  It used to consume me every day.  Now it just visits during those quiet moments.   Work  and Bennett have been my outlets to move past some of the grief pain.  Plus, I have a strong husband to walk this journey with me.

So here is my focus for balance in 2016!

#1 My Marriage….I have a wonderful husband and we have a strong loving relationship. When Harrison passed we made a commitment to each other to honor Harrison through our marriage.  So the #1 on my list IS and always will be my husband.  I want him to feel loved and appreciated everyday.   

#2 Bennett… I have done pretty well with this piece, but I’m listing it because it is soooo important I can’t lose this.  All our children really want from us is love and attention.  Seems simple, but it takes consistent time, patience, and focus to truly invest in your kiddos.  And Bennett is worth the investment.

#4 Myself…. No surprise, I listed this last on my list.  Like most Mom’s I always come last.  I am sooooo out of whack here!   I have completely and totally neglected my basic needs.  Why is it so easy to take care of everyone else but I can’t fit in 20 mins for myself?  Why do I feel guilt when I do things for myself? It is not uncommon for me to go an entire day without eating and weeks without exercise.  My body is holding every calorie I consume. My joints hurt and my skin is dull and broken out.  I drink diet soda daily and rarely consume water.  I was on my way to losing the baby weight and then Harrison passed away.   I have not lost a single pound after Harrison died, in fact I gained 5 more pounds!

  I’m not talking about needing to lose 10lbs so I can fit in that black dress.  I’m talking about being healthy.  I’m talking about feeling strong and energized. I’m talking about being able to look at my reflection in the mirror without tears.  I want to have a conversation with friends and not feel embarrassed of my size.  So this one is for me!  I want to find time to be healthy physically and mentally.

That is my list!  In 2016 I want to focus on balancing my life with these three priorities on top of my list.  While I love my job, I will not die some day thinking, “Man, I wish I worked harder.”  Nor do I want people to say, “She worked long hours!”  I want people to say, “She was kind.  She was understanding. She was a patient loving Mommy and wife.” So it’s time to make sure my life has balance. 

 

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