Sunday, January 19, 2014

Holy wow. HOLY WOW

Check out this comment I got on my Kick Counts post:

I know this post is old, but I wanted to thank you for it. I found it while 38 weeks pregnant with my second daughter because I thought her movement was much less than her sister. At 39 weeks 6 days, I noticed she had significantly slowed down. I got 10 movements in an hour, but they were sluggish. I went in to L&D and the on call doctor sent me home after an NST. The next morning, I told my doctor, who induced immediately. She had heart rate variations during labor. Her heart rate dropped to the 60s right before delivery, and when she came out, it was easy to see why. The cord went over one shoulder, around the back of the next, down the other shoulder, and wrapped around her arm so tightly that hand was blue.

This woman, Tricia, did everything right. I like to think this post helped her baby. Helped her tell her doctor something weird was up. I am so glad her little baby is okay.

I know I don't post often, because the farther you get out from loss, the more you feel like you are repeating yourself. "Still gone. Still miss him. Still posting that I feel like a broken record."

Our kids talk about Curtis all the time. They have said cute things, they have said sad things, they have said things that hurt. They are 6 and 4 and I know they don't understand. It will be something small in their radar, something that happened to their mom and dad. What will it be like when/if THEY have kids? Will they realize our heartache?

Time _does_ make things better. It does. Am I over his death? No. But time has helped. Day to day grief has eased and sometimes you feel guilty for that. I feel guilty for someone who may stumble on this blog and think "Well, her baby died and she doesn't even care!" I do, I do care. Go back and read. And when some of my most heart wrenching stuff isn't even written here. I have it privately locked down. I read it and think "wow. I was _angry_. So so so angry." I remember it, I do. I lived it. I grieved it. But it does feel vaguely unfamiliar.

But, being a bit on the "other side" makes me so fearful of grieving again. Part of life, part of love is losing someone.  I am terrified to my very soul of going back to that angry angry place. Because I have been there. I never lost someone before I lost Curtis. I knew death would hurt, but I didn't know how much Then Curtis died. Now, I know how much....and so I worry. I am terrified. I don't want to grieve again. I know it is inevitable...but grief sucks. Living through it sucks. I now know what it feels like and that terror always is just below the surface.

Random post, I know.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Team Curtis!

We are celebrating our 8th time participating in the Missing GRACE memorial walk/run!

Please donate to Team Curtis! There is also a link on the page to watch our documentary we made in 2011 about our sweet baby boy.

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/chantel-jullie/minnesota-hope-hearts-5k-run-memorial-walk2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sorry that my email wasn't working! I fixed it, I feel horrible, I missed out on so many comments!

Please try again if you were trying to get in touch with me.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

7th Birthday

It has been 6 months since I posted something. That is just sad...but honestly, it isn't because I think of him less. Or miss him less. It is just because....there is nothing new to say.  And that is hard.

What else can I say except we miss him? We wish it was different. We wish he was here. I wonder what he would want for his birthday. How 1st grade went. Who his friends were. Would he be in baseball? Soccer? Computer games? Math? Music? Animals? He is still gone. What ifs will always linger. I don't beat myself up over them, but we all have them and he is a big one.

Seven. Years. Seems like such a big kid.

Those first few days, weeks are etched in my mind. The first year stumbling through our grief, then compounded with a miscarriage and, finally, getting pregnant again with Claudia.

That first trip away over his birthday, which set up traditions we still have in place today. Going to the angel statue. Eating cupcakes. Releasing a balloon. Taking a trip. Then, after the kids were born, going to build a bear and having them make something in honor of their big brother.

I find so much comfort in these traditions. I am already stressed out about his 8th birthday. Claudia will start kindergarten and will be in school. But his birthday falls at the end of the school year, it will be hard to be gone 3 or 4 days at the end of the school year, when class parties and performances happen. The last 7 years it hasn't been a problem. And we can go in the middle of the week when it is cheaper. Maybe the trip will no longer happen. We will do our family vacation a different time.

Traditions will have to change. Sure, we can go to the angel still, the kids won't outgrow build-a-bear for quite a few more years...but it will change. With that comes uncertainty which I find very unsettling.  I am already stressed out about something 12 months away, simply because I find so much comfort in the traditions we have built for him.

We have built so many traditions for Cole and Claudia that take place throughout the year. The Easter countdown. The Valentine picnic. Christmas tree cutting. Gingerbread house party. July 4th outfits. Birthday celebrations. It is nice to have traditions for Curtis too. Traditions I can say "this is for him. AND for us."

But, here is the thing I need to remember. As Curtis would have grown, traditions or events would have changed as he would have grown. Eventually we won't go see Santa anymore with Cole and Claudia. Eventually making little gingerbread houses with the kids will stop. They won't humor mom in matching jammies. They won't want to do an Easter countdown activity each day.

But it is hard. It will be hard when Cole and Claudia outgrow these traditions and it will be hard on me when we no longer are able to experience Curtis' birthday the way we have for 7 years.

That first year it was just Craig and I, we went to Lutsen and had a peaceful day, trip together. The following year I remember how thrilled we were to bring Claudia with us.

 It just feels like with each year, the "older" he is getting, the farther away he is from us...well it just feels like it is slipping away and I am afraid to see these traditions go by the way side. It is hard on a mom without her son. That's all.

It always will be.

_____________________

We did have a wonderful trip away. The weather, for the first time in a few years we beautiful. We got to spend a lot of time outside. In fact, we were so thrilled with the weather we ran around like crazy people trying to do as many touristy things in Wisconsin as possible. The main thing, we had a blast. The kids were great and had fun as well.
 
Us 4 at the angel statue 


 
The kids with the Angel

 
Angel with flowers for baby Abbey, baby Ethan, baby Aaron and baby Curtis. We put 4 flowers in her hands every year in honor and memory of some special babies that passes away around the same time (Ethan being a year earlier)

 
We lay 4 flowers on Curtis' 3 bricks (one from each of us)

 
Releasing his balloon

 
At Build a bear with their new friends

My big kindergartener :(

 
On a duck boat tour, they let Claudia drive! 

 
At the deer park, the deer loved Craig :)

 
Me and my cuties downtown Wisconsin Dells

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012

Another year is coming to a close, Curtis would be 6 and a half right now. The age of the children lost in CT a few weeks ago. I couldn't stomach the coverage. To say that makes it sound like I am insensitive and turned a blind eye to it all, and I didn't. I followed a lot on Friday and Saturday and then, the panic/anxiety attacks came flooding back and I had to stop. My heart raced, my head was spinning. My thoughts raced with no control. If you have never had a panic attack, you cannot imagine what it is like. I hear people say 'I had a panic attack when I couldn't find my keys!' No, no you didn't. Because panic attacks feel like a very real medical problem. As in, call an ambulance, something is gravely wrong. I suffered from them a lot when I was pregnant with Cole and after. I got them under control but it took years and a lot of work. But every once in awhile, they come flooding back. A picture of a little blonde hair, blue eye girl from Sandy Hook did it. She looked so much like Claudia. Their innocent faces...it is horrible.

When I hear stories.... Like the recent one told to me of a mom who lost a baby to stillbirth and then later lost a son due to a freak accident involving him being hit by a snowplow...I just want to rage at the universe. HOW is this fair? Haven't we suffered enough? What about those parents in CT who just had their babies taken away in the most safe place I can think of? My grief for Curtis is manageable now. To the point where I cannot imagine those intense days. When I read back on what I wrote and think "Wow! I was hurting." My biggest fear in life, right now, is my dying. I don't want to leave my children before they can remember me. That is the source of my panic most of the time. I know at this age their memories are fleeting and if something happened, I would just be someone in pictures with them, sure they would wonder and grieve what should have been...but I want them to remember how much I loved them. I want them to remember my hugs and the things we did. And when I think about them not having that, it leads to anxiety.

And then there is the fear of them leaving, much like the children in CT. Curtis' death brought the harsh reality of life into my world. Sounds funny, doesn't it? But before losing him, the most grief I had was for a pet. That was very real, don't get me wrong. But I had never lost anyone important. All I know is losing a baby on his due date and an early miscarriage. That is what I know. I don't know losing a parent, grandparent or a 6 year old child who was at school. I cannot wrap my head around any of it and pray I don't have to.( I know I will lose my grandparents sooner than later. They have lived long lives and while it always hurts to lose someone you love, I feel like this will be 'different').

This post is all over the place. I don't even know what I am trying to say anymore. We wondered, like we do every year, what Curtis would have liked for Christmas. I wandered to the lego aisle, Craig looked a the r/c cars. Maybe he would have been a nerf kid. I don't know. I wish I did. We bought a r/c motorcycle and donated it to our local toys for tots. This world is harsh, cold and so many bad things happen. But then I look at my children so full of joy, eating popcorn and watching a cartoon right now and I just want to hang on as tight as I can and take it day by day. I pray we all stay safe.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The good. The bad. The daily life.

I know I don't get here to blog much....I do post more (a bit) on my other blog: http://ourversionofafamily.blogspot.com/ but....even though it has been 6 years and 4 months, there isn't a day where I don't have something happen to make me wonder. Make me think. Make me cry. Make me smile.

We took the kids to Disneyland a few weeks ago. It was a dream of mine. I had never been to any Disney location and never really had any desire...until I had children. Then I couldn't wait until they were old enough. Claudia is almost 5, Cole almost 3. Numerous people told me they were the perfect ages, so off we went.

But a trip like that isn't without the "what would Curtis like to do at Disney?" thoughts. Would this have been his first trip or would we have gone when he was 4? I truly enjoyed the trip, but he is never, ever far from my heart. I wore a necklace that is just his (I have a mom's necklace with all 3 stones) just to keep him "there" while we were on the trip.

Each pumpkin patch trip, each holiday, each school start day... what/should/could it all be like.

Today, I was in an early childhood class with Cole. A grandmother was there with her granddaughter and I overheard her say "Oh, I am visiting my new grandson. We live far away so this is the first time I have seen him and he was born  May 31st".

I wanted to run over to her and say "MY son was born May 31st! My son. That is his day. He died though." But, I can't. I don't. Because many babies are born on that day, there is just something about May 31st that almost seems poetic to me. I have thought so much about that day and it means so much to me each year, is just seems so odd that others don't think of the day that sacred.

Our annual walk went really well, we raised over $2200, on the 6 years we have raised funds (this was our 7th year walking) we have raised a total of $11,998. 2 shy of 12K! I am so touched by our family and friends who donate year after year. I hear of so many people who don't have support and I know we do. I  know we are lucky.
 
(Coley thought he was really funny hding behind Curtis' sign)

My sweet girl...they had face painting and she asked for them to write Curtis' name. Her own idea. It is my grief and I know she doesn't understand the loss, but she knows Curtis is important to me and therefore she does stuff like this. 

Our team...how lucky are we?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

6 years.

Dear Curtis,

Happy 6th Birthday sweet baby boy. I wish I knew what you would look like today. I study Cole and Claudia sometime, trying to figure it out. Dimple? Cowlick? Glasses? Blond hair like Claudia? Brown hair like Cole?

Would you have been my crazy boy? Or cautious like your siblings?

I wish I knew. Who would you be today? You are just forever my tiny baby who I only held for such a short time, but those months we spent together and the 4 hours I got to hold you were some of the best moments of my life. You have taught me so much, I know I am a better parent because of you. Life does move forward, but you are a daily topic of conversation around here. Your siblings know you, they celebrate you. But you and I, we have this connection. Every moment you were alive, you were with me. You heard my heartbeat, I felt you move. I miss you. I miss you so much.

Each year I feel like I say the same thing. I miss you, I love you. Because of you I am a better person. I think it goes to show time and distance doesn't change a single thing. I am richer, by far, for having held you a moment for than to have never held you at all.

Love, love, love,
Mommy

_________________________________________________________________

We had an amazing time celebrating Curtis' 6th birthday. Like every year, we took the kids to the Angel of Hope statue where Curtis has 3 memorial bricks in his name, laid flowers on his bricks and for some friends' babies. We ate cupcakes. Let a balloon go.  We then took the kids to Build a Bear and they got to pick out something to make in honor of their big brother. Claudia was so excited to make Hello Kitty and Cole made Kermit the frog! We then drove about 4+ hours to Wisconsin Dells and spent  3 days doing fun things such as water parks, a Circus shows, bouncy houses, a restaurant that delivers your food on a train..... Craig looked at me on Curtis' actual birthday while Claudia was jumping on a HUGE inflatable dinosaur and said "Sure different than 6 years ago." Very true. We had ice cream cake that night and took some pictures.

I look forward to his birthday because of the traditions we have put into place, but the build up each month is rough. I gain weight and get little sleep. Each time I tell myself May will be different and it isn't It seems to rattle me until we get to the point where we can celebrate and then...I relax.



Us 4 at the Angel Statue 


Angel holding flowers for Baby Abbey, Baby Aaron and Baby Ethan.... all babies who passed away around the time Curtis' did. I know all of their moms online and all have touched my heart. 

 Cupcake for Curtis

The flowers for Curtis

At the hotel with their Build a Bear Friends

On Curtis' bday, with an ice cream cake!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Video

Curtis' 6th Birthday is approaching.....rapidly. Once again, this month I have struggled with. I swear each year it won't happen and each year it does. While I am looking forward to our little family celebration and trip, I desperately want it to be June. I know it is just a date and dates can't hurt me.... but mentally it is rough.

Last year at this time, Craig and I filmed a home documentary about what it was like to lose a baby. It is Curtis' story. I hope one day to share it with Cole and Claudia so they can truly know what we lost... and how truly wanted they were and our love for them is as deep as it gets.

Last fall I shared these videos with those who donated to the walk, this year, I am opening it up to everyone. It is a little like having your heart ripped open and left out for random people on the internet to stomp on but maybe it could help someone out there.

The bad thing is, we couldn't upload more than 10 minutes at a time, so it is broken down to  six 10 segments.

I hope you will watch.

Links to Curtis video:









Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day.....

Orginally posted last Mother's Day. I think it needs repeating:

Some Mothers Don’t Get A Perfect Ending By Erma Bombeck
IF you are looking for an answer this Mother's Day on why God reclaimed your child, I don't know.I only know that thousands of mothers out there today desperately need an answer as to why they were permitted
to go through the elation of carrying a child and then to lose it to miscarriage, accident, violence, disease, or drugs.


Motherhood isn't just a series of contractions, it is a state of mind
From the moment we know life is inside us,we feel a responsibility to protect and defend that human bein
It's a promise we can't keep. We beat ourselves to death over that pledge.

"If I hadn't worked through the eighth month"

"If I had just taken him to the doctor when he had a fever"

"If I hadn't let him use the car that night"

"If I hadn't been so naive, I'd noticed he was on drugs".


The longer I live, the more convinced I become that surviving changes us.
After the bitterness, the anger, the guilt and despair are tempered by time, we look at life differently.

When I was writing my book "I Want to Grow Hair,I Want to Grow Up. I Want to Go to Boise," I talked with mothers who has lost lost a child to cancer. every single one of said that death gave their lives new meaning and purpose. And who do you think prepared them for the rough, lonely road they had to travel?

Their dying child.

They pointed their mothers to the future and told them to keep going. The children had already accepted what their mothers were fighting to reject. The children in the bomb out nursery in Oklahoma City have now touched more lives then they will ever know. Workers who had probably given their kids a mechanical pat on the head without thinking that morning were making calls home during the day to their children to say,"I love you."

This may seem like a strange Mothers day column on a day when joy and life abound for millions of mothers through out the country.

But it's also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no other mothers who deserve it more then those who had to give a child back.

In the face of adversity we are not permitted to ask "Why me?" You can ask, but you won't get an answer.

Maybe you are the instrument who is left behind to perpetuate the life that was lost and appreciate the time you had with them to do it

The late Gilda Radner summed it up pretty well. "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity

Saturday, April 28, 2012

May is almost here.

Each year I think I am doing okay, and each year I look back and say "What a mess that was!" I already have had a break down recently.

Claudia is understanding more, I know she doesn't understand on the grand scheme level, but she knows enough to talk about Curtis and that does help. Today we were at a tea party My Other Blog and were at a table with a few grandmas and their granddaughters. One asked another little girl how many brothers she had. The grandmother said something about her having a brother who died and they are trying to "encourage" her to be aware of him and making sure to mention him.

I always take the opportunity to mention Curtis when I can, and in an effort to "bond" with this family, I said Claudia had a brother who died as well. The grandma asked what his name was, and she said "Curtis is the brother who died. But he is in my heart. The brother who didn't die is Cole."

It made me smile and giggle a little. She is excited for his birthday trip and asked me "How many he would be" recently. 6. He would be almost 6. I wonder if they would play well together, like Claudia and Cole?

I am glad she talks about him, I want him part of our world as much as he can be, and not have it be sad. It is sad, he died, don't get me wrong. But it is okay to talk about him and just have it be a part of our life. I like that she can do this.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One thing that is really hard about parenting after loss is just that....being a parent. Being a parent isn't easy. There is times you have to be firm with your child, when you have to be a good role model and when you have to set boundaries.

Good sleep schedules are crucial for kids. So many behavior problems with kids are linked to children who simply do not get enough sleep. Even teenagers need 12 hours a night. So many kids don't get this adequate sleep. It is hard for me when I put Cole to bed and he is crying, trying to get me in there. It is manipulation. He will cry for a cup of water. So we bring him one and then he cries for the cup of water to  leave his room. This can go on for hours if we let it. He wants the music on...gets it...and then screams for it to be off. As a behaviorist I am hip to his game....but it is HARD to let him cry at night.

There are times I worry that I will regret not going in there and stop him from crying. I know he would stop if I go sit on the chair in his room until he falls asleep....but he needs to learn how to do this stuff on his own. It is going to make him independent. It is going to make my life easier...but "what ifs" haunt. What if, someday, I lose him? How horrible will it be that I chose to let him cry? How badly with I kick myself?

When I have to be firm with Claudia. When she overreacts to something and I put her in a time out. When I have to follow through and make sure she is behaving appropriate and not eating for jelly beans for dinner.

I have to be their parent, that is all I wanted....but honestly, I think it would have been easier to parent Curtis because I wouldn't have worried about regretting what I have to do.... I don't find parenting challenging except this...I don't want to make their lives easy and let them get away with everything. I want them happy and healthy and that means I have to set boundaries and teach them. But there is a part of me who remembers what it felt like in 2006 who would be screaming at me for NOT sitting in the recliner in the middle of the night next to Cole's crib when he cries out for me.

(*edit: due to some super rude comments, Cole is not crying for hours on end. He is crying for a few minutes each night until he realizes it is truly bed time. He then happily sleeps all night long for 12 hours. My daughter? She happily goes into her room each night, plays quietly until she falls alseep. My children are happy, healthy and well behaved. Structure and routine are great for kids. TI am a behaviorist, it is easy to see a child without these things become a compelte mess.   I do not appreciate, nor will I tolerate, comments on me causing my son brain damage because I don't cave into his every whim and every tantrum.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Born....

I heard it again yesterday. Claudia has recently come out of her shell, big time. She chats with total strangers. Asks them if she can come to their house. Asks them to come to her house and see her room. Asks people's names. Their dog's names. Where they live. How old they are. She is so unlike me these days, it is crazy. She used to be very shy until about 6 months ago.

We were at a birthday party for a friend's little boy, she was so excited and about came unglued when she saw the bouncy house they had rented. Thanks to the unseasonably warm week we have been having, all the kids were out in full force at this party. Claudia was chatting with a mom, chewing her ear off. The mom looked at me, told me how cute she was, four going on fourteen (don't 14 year olds ignore most adults?) and said "those first borns!"

It isn't the first time I have heard her referred to a first born, and it isn't the first time I have blogged about it either. But it just hurts when people say that, when they assume it. Maybe she "acts" like a first born if you buy into those labels (I don't).

But, she is NOT my first born. Being born conjures up images of birth to me, and she was not first. She is special, she is amazing, but....Curtis is my first born. I wish I would have said "Nope! She is my second." And I would have except the woman was walking away as she said it. The woman didn't mean anything and I am not mad about that....but I don't like those words. They make me feel bad.

There has been a huge rash of stillbirths happening to friends of friends lately. I have been contacted 3 times in the last 2 weeks over full term stillbirths and my friends wanting to know what to do to help their friend. I wish I had magic words. I don't. I offer resources and tips and advice....but you must sit helplessly by and just be a constant in their life. That is one of the few things that can help. Don't disappear, don't shy away...just be there. Hug, talk about the baby, don't forget. Remember the baby. Every holiday. Every event. Those who have done that for us....there is a special place in my heart for them.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In the car on the way home from a family birthday party Claudia...out of no where...said "Curtis died."

Yes, yes he did.

"I can't play with him because he died."

Yes, honey.

"But he is still my brother."

Cue the tears. I choked them back and said "You are right."

She then said, switching off of Curtis but still on death,  "Remember how Annie's parents died?" (Annie, from the musical. I let her watch it..it is a fave of mine, but is pretty intense. I didn't think she would follow the story like she did.)

That day we watched Annie I was trying to explain in 4 year old terms that Annie's parents died and she wanted a new mommy and daddy to love her. Of course I get the "Who is going to be my mommy and daddy when you die?" response. Craig was about to jump in and say "That won't happen." But I cut him off, one thing...life is unpredictable. I tried to tell her if something happened to mommy, daddy would take care of her and vice versa. She looked at me like I was crazy and said "No, I want a new  daddy like Annie!" Craig and I laughed, assuming she was expecting Daddy Warbucks to swoop in with his millions.

I doubt reality of what death is makes any sense to Claudia. It makes so little sense to me.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wow. I didn't realize it has been close to 5 months since I had posted in here. That makes me sad. Because there are times I know I have really good thoughts or need an outlet. that means I don't post.

We had a nice holiday season, I often wonder what Curtis would be "into" for Christmas. Legos? Nerf? Video games? I get to shop int he "boy" section for toys because of Cole and I cannot help but glance at all the stuff. I have no idea what 90% of it is...I know if Curtis was here, I would be educated on each weird yamguchituchi thing! I wonder how he would react to all the holiday traditions I have started with the kids. What would he think was fun? Decorating cookies? Cutting down the tree with grandma and grandpa?
We have a tradition as a family to go buy toys for Toys For Tots. We have done it since Curtis died, but now that the kids are old enough we let them each pick out a toy to donate as well. They gravitated towards toys THEY would like so Craig and I pick out something appropriate for a 5 year old boy. It makes me smile to know a 5 year old out there got some cool trio blocks for Christmas this year.

With each passing of time, events....you always just wonder. What it SHOULD be like. There is never an answer, just speculation. It doesn't hurt as much to wonder like it used to, but it is very wistful and creates some hard moments.

I have a nephew who turned 7 last week. While I was pregnant with his cousin, we were so excited for these two boys to become friends. Playmates. Ryan only a little over a year when Curtis died but he has heard about him since he died and participated in the memorial events. I don't know what his parents told him...but a few weeks ago he went to his grandmother (Craig's mom) and said "You know what, Mimi? I miss Curtis."

This breaks my heart. He lost out on a life long cousin and friend when Curtis died.

But, at the same time, it warms my heart he knows him and talks about him....a little baby he never even knew.

There are moments where it is still really hard to accept. That was one of them. His loss hit everyone in our family. There is a teacher who missed out on teaching him, a little boy or girl who missed out on playing with him.... as time passes I am sure I will think about him in the terms of a teenager or man and everything and everyone who missed out on him as those ages. And everything HE missed out on.

It will never go away.