Stuck in the Moon

I woke Eli up for school this morning.  Normally he gets up on his own before, but not this morning.  So I gently went in softly singing our good morning song to him to bring a smile to his face.  The first thing he said to me was, “Mom, why did Daddy’s ball get stuck in the moon?”

He never talks about dreams.  I always ask him, but he just says the usual, “I dreamed about you, and Tony and Ainsley.”  But this morning I think I may have woken him out of a dream and he actually talked about it for the first time ever.  And you just can’t imagine the joy I have hearing him say he was dreaming about his daddy.

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time lapse

Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything…

No particular reason, other than it certainly demands more of my time raising two kids than one.  Time and sleep are two friends I miss terribly lately.  Baby wakes throughout the night between 2 and 4 times, leaving me to yearn for the day when I can sleep 8 straight hours… I can’t even imagine the pure bliss… So, any extra time I’ve been given due to baby naps and a very cooperative almost four year old, I usually tend to use them by resting.  Not sleeping, just resting.  Eli has given up his afternoon naps, so instead we have made an agreement - that he will choose the watch a movie on the couch and not get off unless nature calls.  Which means that as much as I need those brief winks of sleep, I’m left with one ear open, listening to what Eli is doing in the other room!

Life is challenging at times.  And definitely easier at times.  I never knew what it was like to raise a child with another person.  I had an idea, but instead of experiencing it, I was left with grief in it’s place.  This time around T and I both have a lot to learn.  Getting our routine together, learning the meaning of compromise, understanding each others needs, and communicating are among our challenges.  I’m sure that most everyone goes through this when you are in the beginning of a relationship and have just had a baby together, but in addition, T has also been thrown into fatherhood more quickly than most.

I am still learning so much about loss and love, and how to separate the two, as well and mold them together.  It’s really a daily thing that I must deal with, something new creeps into my mind and my heart at the most unexpected moments.  Most often I don’t understand it.  Most often I don’t know how to deal with it.  Most often I am just getting by.  Gracefully?  …No.  But I’m trying.  And now, once again, I’m trying in the only way I know how, the only way that helped me in the past.  Counseling… a massage for the soul.

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Being Thankful

Every day this past week I have been working on reminding Eli the importance of being thankful.  When we first started he would tell me he was thankful for things like his monster trucks, his pirate ship, and his games on his phone.  Then he began saying that he was thankful for going on bike rides and having a good day with his mommy.  I was so thrilled when on his own accord he began saying that he was thankful for his grandma and grandpas, his sister, Tony, and Mama.  A few days ago he really made me smile when he said he was thankful for me being so lovely.  Today we were out on the porch swinging the baby to sleep and I told him that today was Thanksgiving day and that at dinner tonight we would go around the table and tell each other what we are thankful for the most today.  Quickly he said that he wanted to tell me now what he is thankful for today.

“I am thankful that I love you so you don’t worry about my daddy”

Tears formed in my eyes and I told him I love him.

Then he said, “And I’m thankful that I am here and you love me so that you don’t miss my daddy so much anymore.”

Then he noticed the tears and got a concerned look on his face, so I told him that sometimes people cry when they are happy too, not just sad.  He asked me to wipe the tears away, but they just kept coming.

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These dates

Sometimes I’m not really sure how I should feel.  Is there a “certain” way I should be handling this?  Or a “right” way I should be feeling?  It’s a pretty unusual situation I’m in, you have to admit.  I suppose I just do the best I can and let the feelings I have just be.  It is what it is, after all…

September 4th was what would have been Mike and my 7th wedding anniversary.  This coming October 5th will mark the 4th deathiversary (as they say in the widowed community).  Two of the hardest times of the year for me, both in about a month of each other.  Normally this is a time when I cannot help but fall into a deep sorrowful state, and seek out friends and family to help me pull through.

But last October I met a man who dramatically changed my and Eli’s life.  And surprisingly, just 6.5 weeks ago I gave birth to our daughter.  So these two difficult dates that I face this year are a quite different.  Now I have a newborn who needs me, I have a man who loves me, and I have a reason to feel happiness in my heart once again.  Still, those dates are reminders of the past, of one of the happiest days of my life, and definitely the worst day of my life.  They are dates I can’t just let pass by without reflection and certainly the need to honor the life of an amazing man.

This October 5th I will do as I have done and plan on doing every year, and that is do dive the reef dedicated to Smitty.  I will rub the plaque, run my fingers over his name and the words that follow, lingering over “husband” and “father”.  I will think about his smile, his hugs, his laughter and his joy for life.  I will think about what he is missing in watching Eli grow into the beautiful person he is becoming, and I will think about what Eli is missing growing up without the beautiful person his father was.  My heart will hurt deeply.  My salt tears will mix with the salt water.  And then I will turn away from the memorial plaque and dive into the beauty of the reef.  And when my dive is done, I will surface and pick up my baby girl and hold onto her with all the love in the world.  I will treasure every moment I have with Tony.  And I will give thanks to Eli, as I do every single day, for saving my life.

Sometimes I wonder how the human heart is capable of so much love and so much grief at the same time.

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Ainsley is HERE!

It’s been two whole weeks now, VERY hard to believe!

I would have written sooner, however I’ve been suffering from some terrible infection in my upper respiratory system.  I’ve been coughing pretty much non-stop for three weeks now, with horrible chest congestion, coughing so hard I’ve pulled muscles in my ribcage and back.  Along with this came extreme lack of energy and loss of appetite, neither of which is good just after having a baby, but I’ve not had any control over it.  I’ve been on two different antibiotics already and it’s still not going away, and I’m currently awaiting a call back from my doctor trying to decide what the next step should be.  But, I could not hold out the birth story any longer, and while I have a moment of peace while my angel sleeps, I will try to write a brief story about her birth experience.

So here goes… keep in mind I will spare you most of the gory details.  ;)

Thursday, August 11th:

Did I know something was going to happen very soon, if not that night?  I still can’t answer that for certain, however I did spend the entire day cleaning the house, doing laundry, moving furniture to sweep and mop under, finishing dishes and putting away little things here and there, and straightening the baby’s area in our bedroom.  After Tony came home from work that Thursday evening and we sat down for a quick dinner, then we decided to go for a walk because I felt guilty that Eli hadn’t been outside much that day since I had been busy cleaning.  We walked while Eli rode his bicycle through the muggy evening air.  Sooner than expected we were ferociously attacked by swarms of mosquitoes, though thankfully Tony had the foresight to bring the mosquito repellent along.  Barely down the road halfway along our normal route, I began really slowing down, breathing harder than usual, and my pregnant waddle became more prominent than ever before.  I couldn’t have walked straight without looking like a penguin no matter how hard I tried!

Tony suggested turning around and heading back to the house, and as much as I wanted to get a good walk in, I quickly agreed, feeling my belly tighten stronger and stronger.  When we got home Eli and I took a bath to clean the mosquito spray off, then we got our jammies on and ready for bed.  I put Eli down for bed around 9:15, instinctively I suppose, crying a little as I was saying to him that it may be the last night that it’s just us before his baby sister joins us (I didn’t actually feel like anything was going to happen that night, I just said it without thinking).  As I was walking out of Eli’s room the first contraction of the day hit me.  Again, thinking nothing of it because I had been having one or two mild contractions a day for the past few weeks.  This one was not any stronger or any different than usual, I just assumed it was due to going on that walk, because walks tended to bring on belly tightening for the past few months.  Tony and I sat down watching the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance, while enjoying a delicious mango.  Just before 10:00, and just before they announced the winner of the season, the real contractions began.

And they never stopped.  All the books were wrong!  The books said that the contractions were going to begin slowly, 10-15 minutes apart, able to talk through them and plenty of time in between to do a project to get your mind off of them.  Gradually getting closer together and gradually getting stronger.  This, was NOT the case with me!  When they began, they were fast, close together and never let up.  I was completely taken aback, thinking… “this is crazy, they can’t possibly get any closer together and stronger!”  I went to bed, laying on my left side in the hopes that they would slow down a little in order for me to just catch my breath.  But no, they didn’t.  Tony was rubbing my back because from the very first contraction I had terrible back labor.  We tried timing them, and it seemed they were on top of each other.  I suppose realistically they were between 2 and 3 minutes apart, each one lasting about a minute, but to me they felt like they never stopped.  Just as each one was easing, the next one came on before I could even catch my breath.

I decided to call my doula, though I could barely speak to leave her a message.  I was fighting to get the words out, and praying that she would call me back very, very quickly.  Tony was so freaked out by how fast they were coming, that he called as well and left a message too.  Then he called our midwife Sheila and spoke to her for a moment, though she wanted a more accurate report on the timing of them.  So we tried again to get a better time of how far apart they were.  I began to feel anxious about it all, shaking like crazy because of the adrenaline running through me.  I wanted the tub filled as fast as possible, I wanted in that warm tub to ease the pressure I was feeling.  So I asked Tony to fill the tub and he gave me his phone to try to time my contractions.  I got two more timed, one was 2.5 minutes, one was close to 3 minutes apart, then thankfully my doula called back.  The sweet dear offered to come by and help time them as Tony was so busy setting everything up, running around the house as we knew this was the real deal.

Shortly later Tony called our midwife back, trying to explain to her that the contractions were very fast and strong, then handed the phone to our doula.  She explained to Sheila that yes, they were strong and I was really working to get through them.  As soon as she got off the phone, I asked if she was on her way, because I was beginning to get worried that she wouldn’t make it here in time.  It was probably an hour after the contractions began until the birthing tub was set up and at the right temperature for me to get in, and I just couldn’t wait.  I have to admit, I felt just a moment of embarrassment as I took off my clothes in front of my doula friend, but it diminished as I settled into the soothing warm water.  I was so thankful to be at home, in my own environment with the candles lit and smelling so wonderful, light music playing in the background.

I labored in the tub for about an hour before Sheila got here, which was only 2 hours after labor began, and I was already fulled dilated.  The next few hours were some of those gory details that I will spare you, but I’ll just say that I was in the worst physical pain of my life.  I was very vocal about it too, and kept one eye on Eli’s room the whole night, certain that my moans of pain would wake him.  I was ready to ask my doula to bring him downstains immediately, to my tenant’s apartment since she had agreed to watch him if need be.  Surprisingly, he never woke up!  I am still amazed by that.  Especially considering that for the first three years of his life, Eli was the lightest sleeper I’ve ever known, next to me.

Friday, August 12th:

Around 3:00 am, my midwife broke my water after I had been pushing for some time and not make any (or much) progress.  That made a big difference.  I could NOT believe how hard pushing was!  Now I had a whole new perspective of pain and pressure!  I never had that urge to push as everyone says should happen, I just went by what the experts were telling me to do.  I was certain that she was never going to come out, no matter how hard I pushed.  I did not want to keep going.  I was ready to give up more than a couple times, ready to give Tony our secret password that told him that I was really serious about not being able to keep going.  However, I knew that I was already too far along to give up, as there was half a baby’s head coming out!  Talking about it after with my sweet midwife, she says I only got “fussy” a couple of times, “no big deal”.

There were some more gory details that affected why I wasn’t making more progress with each push, but eventually, with a little help from the midwife and her assistant, at 4:41 am I finally pushed Ainsley Josephine Golden out into the water and into this world.  I reached down and pulled her the rest of the way out of me and onto my chest for the first time, elated that she was finally in my arms instead of in my belly!

There is absolutely nothing that can compare to the birth of your child!  I felt enormous relief.  I felt incredible pride.  I was in absolute awe of this tiny life that we created.  My God she’s beautiful!  The love I felt for her was coming out of every pore of my being.

Next to her actual birth, and seeing her daddy fall instantly in love with his daughter, the best part was when Eli woke up around 7:00am and slowly walked out of his room to find a room full of people, and his baby sister was out of Mommy’s belly!  He was a little quiet at first, probably very surprised, but very soon he fell in love with her as much as we had!

The next two weeks:

I have been living in newborn bliss.  I just look at her and start crying because I just love her so much.  I am reminded of Eli as an infant, and how much I love giving myself 100% to my babies.  She is naturally a wonderful nurser, a perfect sleeper, and pretty much only cries when she’s hungry or is getting her diaper changed.  I do not want her to get any bigger, but surprisingly she has already changed in just two short weeks.  I just love this stage, even all the sleepless nights.

How can she be so perfect?  How can she be such an angel from the moment she’s born?  I can hardly believe that she’s here, that Tony and I created her, and that her birth, though excruciatingly painful, was the most wonderful of experiences in my life.  I’m so very thankful that she got the opportunity to be born at home in the most gentle of ways.

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37 weeks!

We made it!  Officially as of today, it is safe for me to deliver baby girl, hopefully as planned at home with our midwife, surrounded by candles, low lighting, soft music, and nothing but peace and calm.  Completely opposite of the way that Eli entered this world.

I have always felt guilty for the way that Eli was forced to be born.  I can’t help but picture him being ripped from my stomach, blinded by the bright lights and shuddering from the cold air, scared and helpless, only to be taken from the only person he’s ever known for hours while being poked and prodded countless times.  It’s unnatural and unhealthy.  And it breaks my heart.

My greatest hope is that this birth is 100% different.  As far from a hospital c-section as one can get.  At home in the place where we all feel the most comfortable and loved, being welcomed to this world in a gentle, natural way.

Technically full term isn’t for another 3 weeks, however, at this point it is now safe for her to arrive, not considered pre-term and she can be born at home.  It’s remarkable to me that all has gone so well this time around.  She is head down, not breech, we’ve made it to a safe birthing point, and everything seems to be on track and healthy.  I feel like I can relax and just enjoy these last few weeks of being pregnant now, no more worries.  We are excited to meet our little girl!!!

Wish us luck in our vbac home birth, I’ll be announcing the arrival of our angel soon!

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Father’s day

I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without writing, besides the exception of when my computer crashed and I had no way of writing, even as badly as I wanted to at the time.  My lack of writing this time has been pure crazy busy hectic life.  I’ll spare you all the gory details, but in a nutshell, we have been remodeling the house in a last minute effort to give us more space for our upcoming arrival.  Anyone who has done a remodel, while living in the house they are remodeling, can attest to how stressful and irritating this process can be.  Add to that the ever growing and expanding belly boulder I’m carrying around and you have the making of a hormonal nightmare!

But my goal to keep up with the different faces of grief I deal with is not being met when I let so much time go by.  Thankfully, with all the distraction, and the more positive turn my life has taken in the past few months, I actually haven’t missed all that much by not writing regularly.  And wow, that’s a good feeling!

I still have my moments, some worse than others. Yesterday, Father’s Day was on the worse end of the spectrum as it is every year.  But rather than focusing on my loss and the grief I was suffering, I turned my attention to Eli.  He certainly doesn’t have any grief in regards to his father’s death, as he doesn’t understand any of it.  He knows what happened to his daddy simply because he’s reciting what I have told him, but because he never met his dad, he doesn’t have any feeling associated with his dad’s death.  Instead, I feel his loss for him.  I am saddened that he never got to meet him.  My heart aches on Father’s day for what Eli will forever be without.  He doesn’t get it now, but he certainly will in the next few years when he has a better understanding.  And so on days like yesterday I try very hard to instill in him how much Mike loved his son he never met, and how much Mike talked about doing different things with him as he grew up, and how he never ever would have wanted to leave him but that it was an accident and he didn’t choose to die.

And on Father’s day yesterday, I was burdened with my fears once again that I thought I had let go of, which is of Tony getting into an accident and not making it back from his 2 month long fishing charter in the Bahamas.  It’s so close now, he will be home in just 9 days, but as I know all too well, anything can happen.  Especially when all is going so great and you least expect it.  I spent the night before and the morning of in tears and fears, imagining and feeling what it would be like to lose another father of another child.  I desperately needed him to reassure me that he will not be going out free-diving for the rest of my pregnancy, no matter how shallow the water.  I am trying very hard, and most of the time at least lately, succeeding at not letting my fears take over my life as they used to, but yes, I still have my moments.  Especially on Father’s day.

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My history book

Yesterday, the 5th did not go unnoticed.  I thought about what day it was many times throughout the day.  However, I did not cry yesterday.  I did not feel sad.  I did not count how many months it has been since Mike died.  I just acknowledged the day in my mind for what it was, another 5th.

It hasn’t been that long since I would have known exactly how many months and days has gone by without even needing to think about it.  Each day I would wake up and think, “I’ve survived another day without him, it’s now been __ months and __ days since I’ve seen him alive.”  Almost second nature to me, and at times I think it was something I needed to do to help me get through my days.  But as time went on and my days got busier, filled with more distraction and even at times some things to look forward to, the morning thought began to wane.  Some days it would hit me and I would feel guilty that I hadn’t remembered to count the days, that I hadn’t acknowledged in my mind how long it’s been.  Those feelings of guilt built up and up, until they would all come to a head and explode.  The explosions would come out in a multitude of ways, none of which were good or healthy for myself or anyone in my life.  But it seemed they weren’t controllable, and it didn’t matter how hard I tried to quell those forces from escaping.  If I tried to push them down and forget about them, they came out faster and harder than necessary.

I have learned many things over the course of the past three and a half years.  Some lessons I wish I never had to learn.  But one of my most important lessons I have only just accepted is to let my feelings just be.  They are what they are, and I don’t need to change them.  If I feel the need to cry, just cry.  If I feel the need to have a “Mike moment” then just have it, because if I don’t, I, and those close to me will pay for it later.  However, when those feelings arise I have learned that I don’t need to let them consume me.  Believe it or not, I am more than my grief!  It wasn’t something that came naturally to me, but over the course of a few months of working on it, I can now pull out my history book, read a chapter or a paragraph, and close my book and put it back on the shelf!!!!! I do NOT need to keep my history book out, sitting in my lap at all times, reading and rereading every moment written into it.  I know what is in my book, I lived it.  And though sometimes I need to get it out and go over a section of it a little, I don’t need to keep reading.  I can close the book and continuing living my life, in the present and not in the past!!!

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We’re having a GIRL!

I’ve wanted a little girl my entire life.  Ever since I was a little girl myself, I’d dreamed of having a family, and I could picture me, the daddy, a little boy and a little girl.  A whole complete family.  Three and a half years ago I thought that dream was going to stay just a dream for the rest of my life, never to come true.  I also never could have imagined the drastic turn my life would take, and where I would be now.

But, here I am, as shocked and amazed by it all as I’m sure you are.

Awaiting the arrival of my little girl has been a whirlwind of emotions.  Just last week we confirmed the exciting news that the little one kicking and punching inside me was indeed the girl I had the feeling she was.  Suddenly I could picture her wearing the clothes I’d saved for her when was little.  When I was young, once I’d outgrown my favorite outfits, I asked my mom to put them away for me and save them for the girl I would have someday.  And I could picture her playing with all my favorite toys I’d kept too, my Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kid, and my My Little Ponies.  It’s been so exciting to know the baby is a girl, and to think about possible names and to plan for her arrival.

Eli will be a wonderful big brother.  He already kisses and hugs my belly daily, and talks about her constantly.  I think he’s as excited to meet her as Tony and I are!  I know he will love her and protect her for the rest of his life, like big brothers are supposed to do.  I’m so thrilled that he will get the opportunity to experience being a sibling rather than an only child.

Because I am now 19 weeks pregnant, I can’t help but remember back to where I was the last time I was 19 weeks pregnant.  Mike died when I was 17 weeks and 6 days along.  Pain and the sorrow had overtaken my whole life.  It felt like my life had ended, permanently.  But it didn’t.  Somehow I kept surviving because I didn’t have any other choice.  My anguish over that day this time around almost overtook my life.  But when we made it through that day, Tony still alive, still smiling and laughing, still lighting up my life, I began to relax.  I could no longer allow myself to worry about that horrible possibility.

Yes, my life has taken on some dramatic changes recently.  And although they have definitely happened quickly, they have all been positive changes.  I have not smiled until my cheeks hurt in years.  But that day we went for our ultrasound and found out we have a little girl on the way was one of those days, a welcome pain in my cheeks.

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3 years old!!!

It’s a bit unbelievable to me that my baby boy is THREE years old already!!!

We had a wonderful party at the house, with all of his best friends in attendance to help him celebrate.  We borrowed a huge bounce house from one of our friends, big enough for all his little buddies to bounce at the same time!  And while it was perfect for the kids to keep entertained and exert all their energy, it was relieving to me that they were not all in the house at the same time, bouncing on my new furniture!

Eli blew out his candles at his time of birth, 4:08pm and ate a little chocolate cake.  He began opening presents shortly after and it seemed it never stopped!  He only took short breaks from opening presents to go back outside and bounce around!  Fortunately for me all the wonderful, generous gifts for Eli have been a gift to me as well because they have done a great job of keeping him entertained without my constant attention.

Eli has had so much love showered upon him from the moment he was born, and it’s times like this that remind me of just how much.  Not because of all the gifts he received, but because of all the incredible friends who showed up to celebrate his third year.  Good, true friends who we both treasure immensely.

Happy 3rd Birthday Itty BItty Smitty!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!

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