Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Here. Because of you.




Dear Andrew~
It's your birthday.
I'm at your garden.
I have your journals where I have been reading of years without you. The ups, and downs, the sideways.
There are days where I can see the remnants of my tears as I poured my heart to you.

I'm at your garden.
Here.
I just lit your candles and sang to you.
I blew them out for you and made a wish that you're happy. 
That you feel my love.
That you know that I will always remember.
That I'll never forget.

Here.
17 years. 
I had probably gotten the call by now that this was to be the night when I finally got to meet you and Joe. I know what I was wearing- I know where I was sitting-  I know it all~

(and that's saying something for your forgetful mama)

17 years.
Here.
Here I am...
Tears streaming down my face.
Wondering what you might have been.
Wondering what you are.

But I can tell you~ to me you are my son.
You are big brother to all of your brothers and sisters.
Twin to Jonasen.
Difference maker.
One thing you are not, is forgotten and it is my goal to make sure you never are forgotten.
I left flowers on someone's car, Because of you!

We did do something different this year.
We are actually having a 5k in your memory!
There are many out there Andrew who are wearing a shirt today with YOUR name on it!
How I love when people say your name.
When they remember you.

I can tell you that Because of YOU families who will feel our sorrow will be comforted by a foundation here to help, aide, provide. Families will know that they too aren't alone. Because of you!

I am so incredibly proud of you. 
For sending this idea~ 
For floating it in my thoughts~
For cheering me on when it became a reality.

Happiest of birthdays to you sweet boy~ I look to the heavens and I feel you. 
I feel you here and I know you're here.
Here.
And I'm here.
Because of you.

Love Always,
Mom

https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/AnyCity/BecauseOfAndrew




Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I am not OK.



I am not OK.
Warning- this is not a blog about loss~ it actually may mention my living kids and I don't want that to be a trigger for some, but my writing is my therapy. I come here to "throw up" if you will what is making me sick. It began in diaries when I was younger, then letters to my Grandpa Jonasen, my journals of letters to Andrew, and now (sometimes) on this blog.

I am a busy person. I am blessed to have four healthy, beautiful, amazing children at home. I have a husband who recently got a new job and is back in school to help children with visual impairments. I have A LOT of animals (dog, tortoise, bearded dragon, birds, fish). I run 100 miles a month. I teach second graders (27 of them this year). I regularly have a book (two) that I'm reading on my kindle (or listening to as I walk my dog). I don't want to sound ungrateful or that I don't appreciate what I have. I absolutely do and I thank God for it regularly.

I feel though like I am in a constant state of motion- I'm on a hamster wheel and I can't get off. Not only can I not get off, parts of me are flying off that wheel and I can't get them back.

I am not OK.

Today it fell apart- I fell apart. Quite literally. I fell into the arms of my dad (there to get my youngest son on the bus before work) and I started to cry.

There was a catalyst to all of this, so let me back-track. Managing where everyone has to be and who has to get them there is tough. I literally have alarms on my phone to pick people up because I HAVE forgotten. My job yesterday was to drive 40 minutes after work to see my oldest son run a XC meet- then take him home immediately so he could take a five minute shower, change into a tux and get back up to school for a band concert.
My husband's job was to pick up our middle son from his musical rehearsal at school and take him right to soccer practice.
We had someone to take our daughter to practice (and told her to work out a ride home) and someone to bring home our middle son (so we could both attend the concert). We had our youngest son miss his practice because... well... no carpool.
(This is the START of my "not OK" typical life.)

But then it gets worse. I had a missed call from my friend who was bringing my middle son home. I called her back but it went to voicemail and there was no message so I decided it may have been a "butt dial" (that happens to me all the time).

Plans changed and my daughter (who I'm convinced must like some boy in the band) REALLY wanted to go to the concert so my husband ended up picking her up and was going to come to the concert, sneak in the balcony and catch most of the show.

While walking into the school (where I get horrible reception anyway), a call from an unknown number came in. I didn't answer it (because I figured they would leave a message). They didn't. But I also get AWFUL reception in the high school.

Now is where I'm going to try to make that catalyst go a little faster.

My middle son's practice was cancelled- but we didn't know.
There were some high schoolers there (freshman probably- no drivers) who sometimes practice with my 12 year old's team and so one loaned him a phone to call me (missed call I didn't recognize). The boys ended up practicing themselves and when the older boys got picked up, my son ran (down a main road at dusk) to where our daughter was practicing. My husband and daughter were walking to the car as he ran up. They almost missed him.

And when that settled in.
What could have happened.
I. Was. Not. OK.

I blame no one in this- accidents happen. I didn't get the message and the coach felt awful (there was a problem with one of those awful new sports apps- where it wasn't sent to me), my friend assumed I would have gotten the message (why wouldn't I), and I assumed that missed call was a wrong number (why not?).

But when I saw and digested that, the "what 'could' have happened"- my little not yet 80 lbs 12 year old who probably looks 8 running down the road of a busy street- I felt (and still feel) sick.

He was sleeping soundly in his bed as I laced up my shoes to hit the treadmill this morning. I ran one mile and just stopped (this by the way is my ONLY me time of the day- my therapy) and I couldn't do it. I couldn't run. I was NOT OK.

I think that there is this version of me out there that people have painted and I feel badly that it's happened. I am someone who does a lot. I feel badly if I don't volunteer because I work in a job where volunteers save ME. I feel badly when I have to ask others for help. I feel bad when I'm not invited because I'm busy. I feel bad when I say no~ so I often say yes when what I need is to just SIT and breathe.

So while people think that I have got my shit together, I'm here to shout from the rooftops that I do not!! This incident with my middle son was at the top of the mountain and as it started rolling down it picked up all that other stuff that needs to be done that I am not doing... my microwave is broken, my freezer is broken, my under-mounted sink is starting to drop, there's settling nail pops in my house that are driving me nuts, I need to paint my front hallway, I need to call the stupid company where I ordered a front door in MAY who JUST installed it last week (after countless calls from me) and I was told I would get some compensation from. And I'm just remembering that I haven't yet picked up meds for my son (I called them in... but nope, I forgot to get them too). I need to take my dog to the vet and if my stupid bearded dragon doesn't poop soon I'm going to LOSE MY MIND!! And don't get me started with school- I'm behind. I'm always feeling like I need more time but I know play is soooo important so I give my kids a break because- well everyone needs a break- even me!!

Ah. The big vomit.
So no. I am not a super-mom-teacher-wife-friend-human.
I am a brilliant actress.
The cat is out of the bag.

I am not OK.

And oh- my house is a mess!
And no... someone asked I don't do it all. I am a TERRIBLE cook and gardener (though I've tried).
Ah- the big vomit.
Time to go brush my teeth.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear Doctor,


“Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.” 
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Dear Doctor,

I am certain that you don't remember me. I know you have delivered hundreds of babies (maybe thousands?). I wasn't even one of your patients~ not really. I'm not even a blip in the story of your life but for 16 years now, you've been a bigger part of mine than you realize.

Sixteen years ago on September 15th, I was a week overdue with twins. I went to the hospital to finally get induced and you were the doctor on call that night. The nurses were having difficulty finding heart tones so you stepped in. You ordered an ultrasound and and the familiar pictures of my children appeared on the screen but one thing was different. That beautiful spark we mothers see that stops our heart- that beat of our children- was gone. I knew what it meant. You moved your wand to the other side of my stomach and the same picture came up. You looked to me and said,
"I'm sorry but your fetuses are dead." 
Yes~ I can put it in quotes because though we've only spoken two times in my life, I will never forget your voice. I will never forget those seven words that you spoke. I remember being a bit more alarmed by the word "fetuses" than by the message you were trying to communicate to me.

I looked to my husband and mother (my labor coaches) and back to you and I said, "But I feel movement." You put your hand on my left forearm, gently shook it and said, "I'm sorry, that's you breathing." I took your hand from my arm, guided it to the side of my stomach and you felt it too. You ordered the ultrasound tech to my side where he moved his wand and said, "I'm sorry. It appears that one of your babies has died but the other is right here."

That second fetus you thought was dead is now 16 years old. His brother is not. Yet, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of that precious boy. For years, I said your name at support group meetings and to all my friends. Angry. Angry that for even a moment you let my family think that BOTH of my sons had died. That you made them think that I was the crazy one.

I went on to have more children and I WAS the crazy one. My wonderful doctor took my worries seriously. She understood what the loss of my son did to me and she treated my head as much as she treated my body. When it came time to do NSTs (for my head), I would first call the hospital. If you were on-call, I would change my appointment. I knew that seeing you again would break me. I was careful but healing.

Nearly 6 years later I was pregnant for the last time and while you would think that as I neared my due date I would be a little less scared, my doctor knew better. She knew me. I was as heart sick as I was for my daughter who came just 15 months after my heart broke. However, I thought I was better and for the first time in three subsequent pregnancies, I didn't make the call before my NST to see if you were working.

After finishing up that NST, the nurse told me that the doctor would be in in a moment to sign off on it. When I asked her which doctor was on call, she said your name. I almost lost my breath but I was stronger. I could do this.

You walked in, glanced at me for a less than a moment and said hello while looking at my charts. I kept thinking. You don't know me. You have no idea who I am. You asked me why I was getting NSTs and I told you that my first son, was stillborn due to a cord accident. You said, "Well, this one looks fine, there's no need to be here," wished me well quickly and left.

It happened again. I was dismissed. I was wrong. I SHOULD be there. I was there for a reason and part of that reason was you.

I walked out of that hospital faster than any pregnant woman probably had and when I hit the door I RAN to my car,  shut the door, and cried.

Again~ I felt dismissed. I had let you do that to me. Again. Why was I so weak?

I have written to you for years in my head- and sometimes in my journals. At support group meetings, I have heard your name come out of lips that AREN'T mine and I know you have not really changed. You just don't get it~ so maybe it's time I shared this story so that perhaps you will. Perhaps you will pause the next time there is a CHILD who has died. Perhaps you will pause and think of your words knowing that what you speak and the way in which you speak it will be on the hardest day of your patient's life and that they will never be forgotten. Words are powerful~ But so is forgiveness.

I have read some reviews on you that said you were perfectly lovely and I always thought~ I'm sure he is. If your baby doesn't die.

I have forgiven you in my head for years now but still it lingers. I thought of you when I recently read this book that I am gifting you. I thought you should read it and then maybe you'd understand, I am not sure, but perhaps this gift can be a gift to your future patients who will share their worst days with you and you can be a source of comfort instead of pain.

I forgive you.

That fetus you thought was dead is 16 now. He's absolutely amazing! He's smart, musical, artistic, athletic, funny and kind. I look at him and I imagine his brother. I wonder.  I look at him and sometimes think~ Thank you for kicking on that night when I needed you too. Thank you for that gift. Thank you for being my SON just like your BROTHER was.

Words matter.

I forgive you.

Laura

Sunday, September 9, 2018

#Because


Our fifteen year old is a runner!

Words can't describe how incredibly proud we are of who he is~ who he is becoming.
We've been busy living life~ following our kids and yesterday we were following him around at a race. There were about a dozen high school teams from all over. We watched as parents wandered looking to see where they could get a good glimpse of the runner they were there too see.

It was a beautiful day in the park and my husband and I had joined all those parents, looking for the perfect place to watch OUR runner. We were following a pack of parents when I looked up and the back of the shirt in front of us said, "Joey's Mom" and I thought, I could use a shirt like that!

Later on we saw another similar shirt only this one said, "Andrew's Mom" and I thought, I could use a shirt like that too.

How odd that with the hundreds of people who were there we saw two shirts mentioning their sons by name and they happened to be MY boys' names.

Maybe not odd at all.

It's September.

On the fifteenth it will be 15 years!
I will not be able to start my morning as I have the last 15 years~ at the hospital. I'll be watching my runner and wondering if his brother would have been a runner too. 

Joey and I were talking about his upcoming birthday~ about how we've been trying to get people to do kind acts to help heal my heart on the fifteenth.

He said, "Mom. I hate that my birthday is your hardest day. I hate that you hurt and that you're sad. It kind of sucks."

And yes, Joey. It does suck. 
It did suck 
and it will always suck.
But what you don't understand is there was one thing that made THE worst day of my entire life 
THE BEST day of my entire life.

YOU!

My sweet boy, how will I ever tell you that YOU are my reason. YOU were the one that got me out of bed. YOU were the one that began to heal my shattered heart.
YOU!

So yes~ I will always wonder. I'll wonder what kind of son Andrew would have been. I'll wonder if he would have been as fast as you, as musical as you, as funny as you. I'll wonder if he'd be as incredibly sweet as you are with your siblings and others. I'll wonder if he'd be quiet and reflective.
I'll wonder and I'll wonder and I'll wonder.

But one thing I do know is that though I will wonder, I will KNOW that this world MY world is so much better because of YOU!

So maybe I was wrong... Maybe having people do kind acts #BecauseOfAndrew should also be #BecauseOfJoey 
because if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be.

So thank you my sweet boy.
I love you more than you will EVER know.

HAPPY Birthday.
And know that my tears are not all tears of sadness. Just like they were fifteen years ago they are also tears of tremendous joy!

I love you,
Mom

And... May it not be overlooked that today~ September 9th~ TEN YEARS AGO my heart was shattered when my sweet spark's heartbeat was no longer. 
Remembering E and so incredibly thankful for my tribe who remembered. You were there THEN and you continue to be here NOW. 
Ten years later. 
Fifteen years later.
I'm thankful.
#BecauseOfYou

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Close Your Eyes and Imagine


Think of~

Your daughter.
Your spouse.
Your sister.
Your brother.
Your best friend.
Your father.
Your mother.
Your son.

What would you do for them?
Anything.

What if what they needed was beyond your reach, but was within the reach of someone else.
Meet Jackson Pype.

Jackson has been battling medical issues since he was a baby.
He's proven to be an amazing fighter but now at age 16, he is in desperate need of your help.
His parents are in desperate need of your help.
His brothers.
His friends.
His family.
His community.
Needs YOU!

Jackson is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant and YOU could be the one to save him.
His match is out there. 
It could be YOU. 
YOU could be the one who saves this amazing young man!

To "Be the Match" click HERE.
It is painless and costs nothing~
but what it could give is priceless!

LIFE.

So please.

Think of~
A daughter.
A spouse.
A sister.
A brother.
A best friend.
A father.
A mother.
A son.

Jackson.
Please share this!
It could save Jackson's life~ and the lives of others!

I know many of the readers (like I) know the pain of losing a child.
Think of these parents.
We don't want anyone else to lose a child.
Thank you!

Monday, February 5, 2018

This Is Us.


So here I am firing up my computer because I just got done watching "the" episode.
You know.
This Is Us.
If you're reading this blog there's a good chance you watched that first episode and either turned it off because it was too hard~ or got sucked in for more because well... This is us. People like us.

I remember someone telling me I MUST check out the show and I'm not a huge TV watcher but I thought, OK. And right away there we are- I am watching my life- my story- unfold on the screen.

Mom goes in to deliver babies.
One baby doesn't make it.

This is me.

Recently my teenage daughter (my rainbow) started watching the show with me. With a snow-day after the Super Bowl (yay), we both got to stay up to see the infamous #Crockpot episode.

Of course we bawled like babies~ which probably isn't unique to people like us.

And then came the teaser for next week.

I saw the doctor and I put my hand to my mouth and started crying.

My rainbow didn't watch it from the beginning and she looked at me with questioning eyes. I looked at her~ with tears streaming down my face (and I'll admit a few ugly moments where I was catching my breath) and said... "They lost one of their babies. That's how the series started and that doctor knew. He knew just what to say and it brings back so many, many memories of that night with Joe and Andrew." And she cried and understood because just like this is MY story~ it's also her story. It's OUR story.

I am convinced that this show has a writer that has experienced loss. I wonder if we all (who have lost a child) had a moment with a doctor like that. I remember my doctor calling me and checking in and I remember asking her, "What made you call me to come in that day?" (I was scheduled to be induced two weeks after my due date- not one) and she said to me, "God put you in my head that day." I still think back and can remember those words like they were yesterday. They stuck with me. I was (and am) convinced that Andrew had gotten to heaven and told God, "You've got to get that doctor in so she can save my brother! So she can save my mom!!" and He did it. God put me in her head and got Andrew out when he still looked like a pink sleeping baby and got Joe out~ also wrapped in cord but alive and healthy. My doctor saved him. He saved him. That was MY doctor scene.

For those of you not familiar with the show, that first episode the doctor said:

"I like to think that one day you'll be an old man like me talkin' a young man's ear off explainin' to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned."

And that spoke to me.
Early on I remember finding it so hard that I couldn't say I had "babies" (plural).
But eventually I did~ just not the way I had planned.

But those babies have helped me to take the sourest lemon life had to offer and turn it into so much more than anything I could have ever dreamt possible.

Andrew and E are still so much a part of me. So close to every thought.
I know that isn't everyone's story. But this is our story.

This. Is. Us.

*** And a note on that picture~ My beautiful friend snapped it years ago and last November sent it to me again. I was curious at first why she would send me that picture again and then I looked more closely. There were two "new" people in the picture (not new to ME but new to others who didn't always see "us" the way we do).

THIS is us.
How I see us.
And she even got E's pigtails the way I saw them in my dreams.

Us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

#BecauseOfThem


It's September 15th.

For a week I've found myself regularly thinking... "At this time 14 years ago.."
FOURTEEN!
I am amazed at where I've been.
How far I've come.
And I often say it's #BecauseOfAndrew
And it is~partly.

It's funny~ September 15th.
It was the worst day of my life. It was the best day of my life.

Today I have already been moved by friends who have and are doing acts of kindness #BecauseOfAndrew 
~ But like that day I am reminded of the number 2.
There were two very extreme emotions that day.
Two reasons for streaming tears.
Two amazing little boys that changed me.

So while I remember the boy who broke my heart,
Today I also think of the boy who began healing it.
My reason.

The reason I could find my breath after crying so hard I couldn't breathe.
The reason I could get up after my knees would buckle when it was too hard to stand.
The reason I COULD live.

It was all~ #BecauseOfJonasen

And so begins another September 15th where 
I will remember.
I will grieve.
I will celebrate.
I will cry.
I will smile.
I will try my best to give to others an ounce of what I have been given~
#BecauseOfThem

Happy Birthday my Sweet Andrew & Jonasen!
Love you both more than you know!