Our family

Our family

Monday, April 11, 2016

Craziness, counselling and control issues

I have quite a few drafts or ideas that I'd started writing, but I haven't really published anything for a while.
Well, let me update you on our grief journey and life in general. Babies are sooo busy and truly a great distraction. It was a huge adjustment having Madeline and the first few weeks were really difficult, but as she came to be a person in her own right to me and not just a baby that couldn't replace the child we lost, as I came to love her and opened my heart to her and her place in our family, that all stopped mattering. It was no longer about how she wasn't Max and I could let myself love her and not feel guilty because I learned that they were mutually exclusive people. I stopped feeling guilty about her having a place in our family and life got easier, for a while.
As things started to slow down and the business of babies and sleepless nights ebbed away, I often found myself really angry. I finally termed it 'hulk smash mad' (ya, I hang out with a 5 year old a lot). Even my husband was noticing and pointing this out, the littlest thing could set me off. Something so minute could go wrong and I would react like it was the end of the world. I started to realize that I was really mad, really reaLLY REALLY MAD that I had these two beautiful children to raise and not my third.... (or really, second child). How do 3 babies add up to 2 children? It's just not fair.
So ok, I'm mad and that seems pretty normal given the situation.
All of this is coming along as Oliver is starting to get very articulate about his thoughts too. Between Oliver's questions about death and my anger and this sense that 'this is our life now' and I didn't quite know where or how we were supposed to go on.... I realized I might need some help dealing with this.
I got myself in to see a counselor who I had seen many years before, I got her up to date on my history and explained that I thought we might need some help dealing with our grief. She was so wonderful to talk to and she reassured me that Oliver would be fine and that with my support and understanding he didn't need to see someone himself. She gave me ideas about how to talk to him and coax things out of him without leading him on or putting ideas in his head. Simply to keep doing what I was doing really, let him talk, if he brings something up ask him how he feels about that, if he's worrying about it and reassure him.
One of the most interesting things that came out of seeing her was that she thought I was doing ok with the grief, she was more worried about this sense of 'what now?' that I had. She started to talk to me about post traumatic stress disorder... I tried to laugh it off, I mean... I didn't go to war! But the more we talked about it the more I realized that she was right and I've since heard a number of friends who lost babies admit that they too were diagnosed with PTSD. Awareness is half the battle, learning to relax... there is no imminent danger to myself or my children, nothing outside of the norm right now. I guess it's about finding a new normal and learning to settle into it, easier said than done.
So after a few sessions talking about that I knew that I just needed to spend time thinking about it and finding ways to allow myself to relax and enjoy life. I was still struggling with the anger, but who or what was it directed at? This counselor was so patient and just let me talk it all out, she would pick up on the smallest thing I said and lead me down the right path. Maybe it's just easier to see when you aren't so close to the situation. Well, I had another big insight....the anger is at myself. I'm mad at myself for being frustrated at the kids, I'm mad at myself for not doing well enough as a mother. I'm mad at myself for not being able to grow and keep Max safe and healthy. I want to be able to make up for not being able to parent all three of my kids, therefor I should be giving %150 to each of the two that I have here. I'm not good enough, I'm not doing well enough.... I realize that that won't bring Max back, but maybe this was my way of punishing myself or trying to make myself live up to being their mother.
I have been trying to hold on to everything so tight, because I know that I can't control anything really, but maybe if I just do better, be more.......
Or maybe I just need to learn to let go, take a deep breath and enjoy the here and now. That's really all we have anyways.

Spring 2015 thoughts and rants

Some days I wish that we had a 'normal' life.... You know, cause that exists! My favorite comment to people who talk about normal anything is that meme I've seen going around...
It's so true, really...
Anyways, I guess by 'normal' I mean that it would be nice not to have to explain my child's obsession with talking about death. At the playground a scrapped knee turns into "Oh no there's blood! I don't wanna go to Heaven mom!" Wow! Oh my, we've got some talking to do....  In the meantime, how much info do I need to give to calm him down? "No honey, you aren't going to die." But also, how much is too much?
An interesting lunch time conversation went something like this....
"well I'm a grown up so that means I'm all done growing."
a few moments later he says,
"mom, you're going to be the first to die....."
"oh really, why do you say that?"
                   As I'm completely terrified for a second, thinking.......

Holy shit! Even his tone of voice was on point, this kid could act in horror movies.
Oh my God, is he going to kill me in my sleep!?!?
                                         "Sleep with one eye open, bitch!"


"because, you're a grown up, so you'll die first..." Still totally deadpan, as if this is nothing more than a fact....

"Oh, well....I am a grown up, but I'm not so old.... I might live a very long time yet, maybe until I'm even a hundred years old!"

Who has to have these conversations with their children? From what I can tell it's only other families who've experienced death in their immediate families, and for little guys it's just so frank. So much less emotional, especially if they were too young to really remember the person or if they person they lost was a baby that they never really had the opportunity to know. They understand that there is sadness and sometimes anger and frustration, and that the sadness is associated with a death. And so there are questions about death and so much conversation.
Sometimes it's very uncomfortable, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't a better preparation for the real world than families who make death a taboo thing to talk about. It is, after all, a normal part of life.

Oliver was two and a half when we lost Max, I didn't think it had a huge impact on him.... but over time I realized that in small ways he was communicating things to me as he could. For the first six months or so he was upset if anyone so much as sniffled, we all got a cold that winter and whenever I blew my nose he was worried that 'mama sad?'. It's been a struggle for me, learning that he certainly picked up more than I thought he did about our experience losing Max. It comes out in bits and pieces and as he brings things up I've been learning to let him talk and try to answer his questions while being very reassuring about death. We've spent a lot of time emphasizing that most people don't die until they are very old.... and wondering about just how much he worries about this kind of thing.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Max's 3rd Birthday in heaven

We've just celebrated Max's 3rd birthday in heaven and I'm moving in my grief journey....moving on, moving forward, parallel... who knows, but I'm moving.
The last few months has been better in many ways, but also more difficult in others. As I find myself embracing the growth and progress of the other two, even being able to let go a bit, embrace that they do get to enjoy life and trying to let go enough to let them.... to not bubble wrap them... I also find myself seeing Max in other children. I knew so many babies born that same year, right around the time he was... I never used to let myself compare them, I was always reminding myself that he would have been very sick if he'd lived and couldn't have lived so there was no point in going there.... but I can't seem to stop myself now...
Maybe it's because when the grief was just too raw I couldn't even let myself think that, but now that it's mellowed, more bittersweet and not always so intense.... I see him in those kids and sometimes my heart lurches into my throat....and I let myself wonder, daydream really about how a sweet little boy like that might fit into the hole in our family....
Anyways, it's three years since I held him... Smelled his sweet head and kissed his soft cheeks.... and I still think of him everyday, always...I'm pretty sure I will still feel like this, even fifty years from now.
Happy Birthday my sweet boy!

Three little monkeys.... a post I was working on a while ago

It's been a long time since I've written anything. I've been really busy, but also changing...moving along in my grief journey. 
Some days I'm not sure how to live this life, this 'normal' life that I'm supposed to have. To most people it must look like a picture perfect, white picket fence kind of life. And I feel like I'm supposed to live up to that somehow, I'm supposed to be happy, satisfied....the picture of joy and wonder. Why wouldn't I be, after all, we have the perfect family...a boy and a girl. The list could go on about what is just right with my life, but if I wanted to list what isn't just right about my life I could make an equally long list. Mostly I try to focus on what I have to be happy about and mostly I am so very happy. Sometimes though, sometimes I can't help but think about what I'm missing, who I'm missing and how our family is missing him. I wonder how life would be with three kids, I wonder how they all would interact and play together. I want so badly to have that...to have three little monkeys giggling on the floor together.
My husband is always quick to remind me that we wouldn't have gone on to have Madeline if Maxwell would have lived and I know this, I know that we probably never would have had all three of them.... but I did, I did give birth to three beautiful babies and I did hold each of them. And I wanted to raise all three of them, I want to know what our life would have been like in this parallel universe. I want it all.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Maxwell's Birthday Fundraiser

What a blast we had planning and executing Max's birthday fundraiser and it was a huge success! It was truly a labor of love in his name and we really enjoyed having something that allowed us so much focus on him.

We chose to raise funds for the Kinsmen Foundation because we love their dedication to helping local families in need. They helped us travel to Toronto to see doctors when Max was diagnosed in utero with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. They covered our travel and accommodation costs and were willing to continue to do so for as long as we needed to be there. They really do understand just how stressful it is for families in these situations and they did their best to make things as easy as possible for us.

So we wanted to help them to continue to help others in memory of our sweet little Max. We held our fundraiser at Schryer's Smoked BBQ house in Saskatoon on August 24th and almost one hundred people attended! There were silent auction items and door prizes and a 50/50 draw, it was fantastic and the food was great!

 Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate Maxwell's second birthday in heaven and thanks for helping us raise funds for such a good cause!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Maxwell Bear

We had heard about a wonderful organization that makes bears to the weight your baby was, they are called Molly Bears, each bear is hand made and everything is done by donation. Our Maxwell Bear came just the other day, what a jumble of emotions to hold his precious weight again!
I'm in the middle of planning his second birthday/angelversary extravaganza and there is so much focus on him right now and having his bear, as a physical representation of him that I can cuddle.... It's just so special. I'm really having a great time planning everything and I love that this gives me an excuse to spend time focusing on my Max.

I snuggle my Max Bear at least once a day and now so can his brother and sister, thanks again Molly Bears!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

ABC, 123, baby you and me!

I can't think of any better way to explain this than this. Having Madeline, adding to our family again....I feel like part of my alphabet is missing or the number two from my count. I have baby one and baby three here and somehow that adds up to two... But I don't have two kids, I have three.
I can see so clearly the hole that Max left in our family. There is a size missing between my great big three and a half year old and this new baby, there should be a one and a half year old too.
And now, having Madeline, I can't help to notice all of the things that we missed out on with Max. All of these thoughts that I wouldn't let myself have, the places I tried to avoid going... I can't watch Madeline doing all of these things and not think about how he didn't have the chance to do them. Thinking about what he would have looked like smiling and how he would have sounded if he could have cried or cooed. It's like I can't move forward with my family without devoting some time to his memory and who he could have been.
It's painful. It is cracking open the grief all over again, but it's probably a good thing. I think in a way it's healing too.
I will always feel that someone is missing from our family, this void will always be here. While I do sometimes answer that I have two kids, I feel like I'm lying. I feel like people must know or see through my answer as I stutter over the number, because it just doesn't add up.