Saturday, January 29, 2011

A good day!

Today has been a great day!  Luke seems to be settling into something that resembles a schedule, which I love.  Makes the days a bit more predictable so I know when the best times are for me to do certain things. 

Nolan had his first basketball game of the season today, and that was fun.  His team won (yay Nolan!), and I can see that he's improved since last season.  Mark went with me to the game - normally he works all day Saturdays, but he went with me since I didn't know how it would go with bringing Luke.  Luke did a great job!!  He slept the whole time, and we even got to go out to lunch at Panera.  It was super!  We decided to order our lunch "to go", but try to eat it there.  That way if Luke went crazy our food was packaged for take out and we could just finish it at home.  Luckily he was quiet and content the whole time.  It felt good to be out together, like a little date :-) 

After Luke's 4am feeding he wasn't ready to go right back to sleep.  So I cuddled with him in bed until he was ready to go down.  It was so sweet because he smiled at me several times!  He's smiled here and there before, but I could never tell for sure if he was smiling "at" me, or if it was just gas or something.  But I could tell for sure he was smiling at me this time.  I love being his mommy so much :-)

Tonight I'm going to make a batch of my yummy meat sauce spaghetti, and relax with Luke and Mark.  Tomorrow will be awesome because it will be the first time since the boys were born that we have a Sunday by ourselves.  I think we're going to stay in our PJs all day and completely veg out.  Cheers to a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Three weeks

I've had some tough moments today.  It hasn't been one of my days that are just horrible every second....it's just here and there I'm hit with a horrific memory of something that happened surrounding Adam's illness/death.  I think the entire experience was so traumatic that my brain has shut off certain memories and lets them out little by little so I don't just completely collapse.  I've noticed a pattern with this - it seems that when Nolan goes to his dad's for a few days, the grief surfaces more.

I think that when Nolan is here I'm so busy between taking care of Luke and him that I don't have a lot of time to just sit and think (Nolan pretty much follows me around and talks non-stop!  Love him for that though!).  When Nolan leaves for a few days I have more quiet time, and that is when the grief hits.  It helps a lot to have Luke.  I usually try to put him down when he's sleeping so he learns to sleep without being held....but days like this I need to hold a sweet sleeping baby.  I look at him and I thank God for giving him a strong, healthy body.  He is a miracle and such a gift.

It's been exactly 3 weeks since Adam died.  I visit his grave almost daily.  I am looking forward to the spring so we can get his grave stone placed, and so we can plant some flowers around his grave.  Right now he just has a little angel marking his grave, and the flowers have wilted from the snow/cold.  It looks lonely.  I'm thinking I'll plant some bulbs that will come up each year.  The cemetery we chose is so peaceful, I really like it there.  Once the weather is nicer and I can take my walks outside with Luke, we'll be able to walk to his grave for visits.  I normally don't mind winter too much, but this year I'm really looking forward to more sunshine and some fresh air.

Tonight we're having a yummy pork roast and Mark, Luke, and I are going to just hang out together.  I think a low key night and some good food is just what I need.           

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Luke's one month check

I forgot to mention that Luke's one month check went great!  He now weighs 8 lbs. 8 oz., and is 21.5" long.  So he's gained 2 lbs. and grown 2 inches in a month - that's awesome!  The doctor said he's perfect :)  That is so nice to hear after all we've been through.  Oh, and I managed to get everyone, including myself, ready and out the door on time.  No issues taking Luke out on my own either.  Yay!

Resolutions

I'm a little late with this, but this is the time of year that many of us think about making goals/resolutions/promises of change in hopes of bettering ourselves or our lives.  The combination of a new year and Adam's death has had me thinking a lot about life in general.  My resolutions this year are going to look a lot different than the ones from past years. 

1.  Don't try to look too far ahead.  

Someone said that you can drive across the country in the dark, only seeing a few feet ahead at a time.  I love that statement to remind me that we don't always have to know what is going to happen in the future.  When I try to look too far ahead, I find that it stresses me out.  Life takes all kinds of twists and turns, and that leaves many unknowns.  When I try to figure out the future and predict what is going to happen when, many times expectations don't match how things will actually play out.  Sometimes that is a good thing, but other times it can cause great disappointment.  This leads to my next one....

2.  Be present here, today, right now.  

By not looking too far ahead, I think it will help me stay in the here and now.  Take each day and enjoy it.  Once a day is gone, we can never get it back!  Adam taught me how significant each day of our life is.  That little boy did not waste one second of his life, let alone an entire day.  I know I'm guilty of wishing time away so I can move on to the next thing.  What if today is my last day and I wish it away?  Part of being present in the here and now is accepting the stage of life I'm living.  My current stage does not include date nights whenever I want, sleeping in late (or sleeping at all!), a house that stays organized and clean, endless opportunities for "me time", etc.  I could make myself pretty miserable if I focused on all the things I can't easily do right now :)  I think it's important to remember that there was a time for those things (pre-kids), and god willing, there will be a time again for those things (once the kids are grown and gone).  I am choosing to embrace where our family is right now.  Life is demanding right now, but how awesome to have the chance to raise 2 boys.  I have seen with Nolan how quickly the years fly by.  Will I have days where I'm ready to scream?  Oh, yes!  But I'm going to challenge myself to stay present and embrace what life throws at me moment by moment.  Especially since once Luke and Nolan are grown and gone.....they are grown and gone.  There is no going back. 

3.  Healthy eating/exercise

Of course I had to throw this one in there :)  Actually I'm really excited to be able to get back on track with exercising.  Between my pregnancy and c section, I've been on restrictions since the summer!!!  Ugh!  In one more week I can start exercising again, and I can't wait.  Good health and a strong body is a gift from God that not everyone has.

4.  Get my hands in the earth more

I am going to design and create a garden area behind our barn.  I'm going to plant three trees, one for each of my sons, plant some bulbs, and have a sitting area.  It'll be a nice place to go and hang.  Also I am going to plant at least one vegetable this year.  I feel the need to use our land to grow something!

5.  Shop smarter

I am going to spend time looking at ads to find the best deals on standard household items.  I think I can save us tons of money by being more organized in this area.  Now I just go to one store and buy everything.  A little planning ahead should produce positive results.  This one will be a real challenge for me!

So there are the things I want to focus on this year.  I want 2011 to be a "treasure the life I've been given" kind of year, in honor of my sweet Adam.   

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nothing much

Well it's been awhile since I've written an entry.  I've started writing several times, but there is just too much to say, and I can't seem to find the words to express what this journey is like for us.  We have great days filled with joy, and then out of nowhere the grief hits and just knocks us off our feet.  I know this is normal, but it still takes me by surprise.

Luke turned one month old on Friday.  I can't believe it!  I find myself hanging on to each day, soaking in his newborn stage as I know he will soon move past being a cuddly tiny baby.  I think this is in part due to the fact that I remember from Nolan how quickly this all passes, but also I think this has to do with Adam.  I only knew Adam as a newborn.  As Luke moves forward and starts doing older baby things, it'll be weird to know that I'll never see Adam doing those same things.  I try to balance this out by reminding myself that Adam's disabilities were so extreme that they would have held him back from progressing, even if he was still alive right now. 

No matter what way I look at it, it still hurts to know that Adam is not here with me.  I want to be caring for him like I'm caring for Luke. 

On a different note, I will make my first trip out with Luke by myself tomorrow!  I haven't been able to do anything alone with him because I wasn't able to lift his carseat/stroller due to my c section.  So the only thing I could do was drive to and from Nolan's school....but we never left the car.  Tomorrow I'm taking him to his one month doctor appointment.  I'm glad that I can join the living a little more.  It's been hard to be so stuck at home for the past month.  I've had to wait for Mark to be home, and then time trips out between feedings.  My few big outings were to Wal-Mart for groceries - such an exciting life!  ;-)  The challenge tomorrow will be to get myself showered and ready, along with Nolan and Luke, and leave the house on time at 8:30am.  Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18th: A due date, a birthday, and a 4 week milestone

Today is Nolan's birthday (Happy birthday Mr. Nolan!!!), Adam and Luke's due date, and Luke is four weeks old now!  Wow, what a day! 

Nolan's "ruined" birthday got off to a good start by me letting him have his birthday cake for breakfast, and open his presents :-)  I thought I'd mix things up a bit so he could see that even though it's a school day, his birthday will be fun!  I do have to say that I feel really old when I think that I have a 9 year old?!  Where did the time go? 

I'm going to go visit Adam's grave today to tell him "happy official due date" :-)  I feel very thankful today about the fact that we got to meet and spend 15 days with Adam.  I realize more and more what a blessing from God it was that Adam made it into this world.  I hold on tight to the memories I have from those few days with him.  He was my sweet baby boy. 

Luke is doing great.  He's nursing like a champ, and I'm so glad that I've made it past the initial painful weeks.  It's smooth sailing from here on out with that (hopefully).  He's starting to be awake more, and is very alert.  I love when he makes eye contact with me.  He's really strong - I notice he's getting more and more head control and his movements are more intense.  He likes when we sing and read to him.  He stares at the pictures in the books, it's neat to see.  I'm afraid to even type this, as I might jinx us....but he's doing really well at night!  Last night he only woke up once!  He was awake most of the evening, so I was hopeful that he'd have a good night, and he did :-)  The really cool thing about Luke is that he has long periods of being awake and happy.  He rarely gets fussy.  I do have to credit "Happiest Baby on the Block" for his pleasant demeanour - that DVD is priceless!!!  By using the techniques in that video, we are able to calm Luke down pretty much immediately if he gets upset.  The one exception is diaper changing/clothes changing - he flips out almost every time.  As soon as we're done, he is fine again.  We are really enjoying life with an infant...

Check out Elephant Ears in Ann Arbor!

Mark and I have been dealing with the awful task of figuring out what to do with all the twin stuff we no longer need.  Some things we've just decided to keep as a convenience (it's actually nice to have a set of baby equipment back by the bedrooms, and another set in the front of the house - we don't have to drag everything around with us that way!).  Other things we're storing and will decide about later.  But the one thing we wanted to act on was our double jogging stroller.  Our family had gone in together and gotten us a really nice one...but with one child it is too big.  We had never used it, and wanted to get the same model, just in the single version.  It was a Bumbleride stroller, and the closest dealer of those strollers is in Ann Arbor.  My mom called the store in Ann Arbor and explained our situation about Adam dying, and us wanting to trade the double for a single.  She had originally purchased the stroller online, and so returning it was not an option.  Amazingly, the store owner agreed to make the trade!  We are so appreciative of that! 

The store is called "Elephant Ears".  Their website is:  http://www.elephantearsonline.com/  If you need baby equipment, check them out!  It's hard to find good customer service like that nowadays.  We had not even originally purchased the stroller from them.....it was so nice of them to work with us when they had no obligation to do so, especially since their profit margin took a hit by accepting an item that they'd have to discount due to it not being in the original packaging anymore.   Elephant Ears, you rock!  :-)  Thank you so much for your generosity!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

9 years ago...

I was at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, IN, being induced with Nolan!  He was due January 6th, and just did not want to leave his cozy spot in my belly.  I always joke with him on January 17th, telling him that today was the day I was supposed to meet my baby boy, but he had other plans.  It took 36 hours from start to finish, so he made his grand entrance January 18th instead! 

Nolan is my special guy - he has always been so full of life and happy.  He's the kind of child who is up for anything.  I love his spirit and his sweet personality.  It has been so neat to see him in his new role of big brother.  One of the most difficult things I've had to do was tell Nolan about Adam's diagnosis.  I think I saw his heart break right before my eyes.  I have some pictures of the first time Nolan held Adam and I'll always treasure those.  He (Nolan) looked so happy and in love with Adam, even though he had just found out Adam would not live very long.  He kept smiling at Adam, and then looking at me and making comments like, "maybe he'll live"...."will he live until his first birthday?"...."how do you know he's going to die?"....etc.  He has been so involved and excited about his two baby brothers since day one, and it's been devastating for him to lose Adam.  He is coping well, but like the rest of us, is mourning the loss of Adam. 

Nolan has been amazing with Luke.  He is so attentive and loving towards him.  Watching Nolan's love for Luke helps heal my heart a little.  I know that even though there is a large age difference, they will always have a strong bond and will be there for each other.  I expected Nolan to get sick of Luke very quickly...once he had to listen to some crying and see some gross diaper changes.  But he really hasn't at all.  He reads to Luke, plays with him on the floor, holds him, and is a great little helper.  I can't wait to see the two of them once Luke can do more. 

Nolan does not have school today, so we're planning on just hanging out with Luke and enjoying the day together!  This is the first year that Nolan has to go to school on his birthday (every other year has either been MLK day, a weekend, or a teacher workday), so he is claiming that his birthday is "ruined".  Did I mention he is a little dramatic?!  LOL   

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blah

So today is one of those blah days.  It started yesterday, when I worked on uploading all of our photos of Adam and Luke onto a photo sharing website so we can get some pictures printed.  I got really upset when I viewed some of the pictures - especially the ones taken at the hospital/NICU.  Those pictures really took me back to some painful moments - the fear in the pit of my stomach as we waited to find out Adam's diagnosis - the shock and horror I felt when the doctor told us his diagnosis - the frustration I felt when we had a couple NICU nurses who were less than helpful (wouldn't let us hold Adam) - the sadness I felt when I held Adam for the first time after knowing he was going to die.  I actually deleted a few of the pictures that weren't good shots of Adam...but were good shots of the pain Mark and I were feeling.  Those are not pictures I will ever want to display anywhere....we were smiling, but the agony was written all over our faces. 

Then I called my OB/GYN to schedule a follow-up appointment to check how my c-section is healing.  I've been dreading this call, because I figured they didn't know about what happened with Adam.  And I was supposed to have a check one week post-op....and I'm 3 1/2 weeks post-op.  I knew I would be questioned on why I was just now calling for a check....and I was right.  So I explained that we've had a lot going on, and said that one of our twins died.  I am glad that conversation is out of the way so I don't have to make that announcement when I'm at my appointment next week. 

It's just a sad day for me.  So Luke and I are just kind of hanging out and taking it easy today.  It's a stay in your PJs and cuddle under a blanket kind of day.  I think I might even make chicken noodle soup tonight for dinner to complete the picture of coziness and comfort.  Tomorrow is a new day, and will probably be a better day.  So cheers to that!  :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

One day at a time

Well, just like I knew it would, life has continued to roll on since Adam's passing 8 days ago.  We have all had a range of emotions over the past week, and overall I would say we are doing okay.  We visit Adam's grave daily.  Sometimes we just drive through to say hi.  Other times we get out and spend more time there.  It's a real comfort to be just a mile from his resting place.  We have to pass the cemetery on our daily trips to Bowling Green.  Nolan always says,  "Don't forget to stop and see Adam!" 

The oddest part of this experience is the fact that I'm mourning the death of my infant son...but yet I'm still actively caring for my other infant son.  I don't know for sure, but my guess is that if it weren't for Luke and Nolan, I would be a crying heap laying in our dark bedroom all day.  That is pretty much not an option, so instead I find time everyday to let myself grieve (usually when I'm in the shower)....and do what needs to be done the rest of the time.  Children grow up so quickly, and I don't want to let days, weeks, months, or years slip away while I sit in a haze of grief.  Adam taught me to wake up and realize that every minute counts in life.  He fought so hard to hang on and be here on earth with us.  Adam lived out the cliche of "live life to the fullest".  I think he would be disappointed to see me wasting away, because that would suggest that I didn't learn anything from him.

I had my iPod on shuffle yesterday, and the song "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers came on.  That was the song we played during our wedding when Mark presented Nolan with a special necklace to signify all three of us becoming a family.  It was interesting to me because being able to lean on each other is what has gotten us through these past few weeks.  Mark, Nolan and I have turned to each other in our darkest hour, and our relationships are strengthened forever because of it.  But also we've leaned on family and friends.  We've been offered help, and we've accepted it.  That is actually really hard for me to do - I tend to say "thanks, but we're fine".  Adam's health issues and death broke us down to the point where there was no denying that we needed help.  The kindness that family, friends, and even strangers have shown us is truly heartwarming.  I've realized that accepting help when you need it is healing and comforting....and that people don't offer to help because they feel like they "have" to.  They are offering to help because they truly care and want to do something to lighten the load.  It's funny how relevant that song from our wedding ended up being in our lives.            

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to business

Today marks the first day of our attempt to get back to a "normal" routine.  Life has been a whirlwind since the boys' birth on Dec. 21st!  We've either been at the hospital, at the "hospital hotel", or we've been home with family here to help.  Everyone has gone home, and it's up to us to get back in the swing of things.  In some ways it's comforting to think we'll be back in a routine....and then in some ways I want to cling to the past few weeks because Adam was here with us during that time.  I miss him so much....

The day started with me figuring out how to balance breakfast, Luke, and getting Nolan ready for school...and getting us all out the door to drive Nolan to school.  It went surprisingly well!  We all ate breakfast, Nolan arrived on time to school, and Luke had minimal upset about getting loaded up in his car seat so early in the morning.  When we got home it was time to feed Luke, I put a load of cloth diapers in the wash, and I've gotten some things done while Luke has been napping.  I'm hoping school pick-up goes as smoothly as school drop-off went!

Speaking of cloth diapers.....many of my friends thought I was completely crazy for going the cloth route.  But I have to say, I'm loving the cloth!  Washing them is no big deal at all....and I love how soft they are for Luke.  I think his favorite part of cloth diapers is the warm, soft wipes.  He was not liking the cold disposable ones at all.  Plus, he doesn't get a diaper rash when wearing cloth.  His little bottom was red and sore when he was in disposables.  He is a heavy wetter....he actually made a disposable "explode"?!  (and he had only been in it for 2 hours max.)  I've had no leaks with the cloth.  We'll see if I continue to love cloth....I've only been using them for about a week, so I might end up recanting my rave review....but for now I'm pleasantly surprised with the experience! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Adam David Joseph 12-21-10 to 1-5-11

Adam went to heaven January 5, 2011 very peacefully, surrounded by his loving family.  Adam lived for only 15 days, but those 15 days changed our lives forever. 

Being able to hold and care for Adam gave us memories that will last forever.  He was brave, and he was a fighter - defying the odds simply by being born, and by surviving as long as he did.  He had some apnea episodes that lasted 5 minutes, and one that lasted 10 minutes.  Both times, I picked him up to hold him and say goodbye...and then he would take another breath.  He wasn't ready to go, it wasn't his time.

The morning of January 5th I had Luke on the floor for some playtime.  I was sitting with him and said that I felt really bad playing with Luke on the floor while Adam was in his bassinet alone.  The reason we hadn't brought him down to the floor was because of his pain.  His last few days we tried to move him as little as possible, because any movements caused him pain.  Mark said, "Well, let's try him on the floor.  Otherwise, it's like he's already in his coffin."  Miraculously, when Mark brought him down, Adam did not cry out in pain.  I had about 20 minutes of pure joy with my two infant sons.  I played with them, and they enjoyed being close to each other.  Their hands touched and Luke couldn't stop staring at Adam.  Adam's color improved, and he even seemed to smile a little.  The twin connection was so obvious.  Luke even reached out and hit Adam's face - I got the chance to say, "Luke, don't hit your brother".  :-)  After about 20 minutes, Luke became a little fussy.  I picked him up, and as soon as I picked him up, Adam became fussy.  So I decided floor time would end for now.  I put Adam back in his bassinet.  About a minute later, Adam took his last breath.  It was almost like he needed some time with his brother to say goodbye, and then he let go.  He was not in pain and it was very peaceful.  All of the false alarms from the previous few days had prepared me for the moment that he actually took his last breath.  It was the first time I didn't feel panicked.  I held his little hand and knew that he had gone to heaven, and that he was freed from his pain and suffering.  I will never forget those last 20 minutes, and am incredibly thankful that Adam's last minutes were filled with happiness and peace.

We had a small, private funeral yesterday.  It was a very difficult day, to say the least.  There really aren't words to describe what it's like to bury your infant son.  We are lucky to have Luke and Nolan.  The joy of having them in our lives will carry us through the tough times.  Now is the time to lean on our faith, and to accept help from family and friends.  I don't think the pain from losing Adam will ever completely go away, but I know in time it will fade.

When you go through a tragedy like this, it feels like everything has stopped.  But the reality is, the world keeps on going.  As hard as it is, we have to keep on going.  We look for joy and for reasons to smile.  Lucky for me, I have an amazing husband, and I have Luke and Nolan - the three of them give me lots of reasons to smile every day.     

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sad days

Things have been really rough at our household the last few days.  Adam is not doing well at all.  He's experiencing a lot of pain, and having long, frequent apnea moments.  There are no words to describe what it's like to watch your newborn baby die.  Hospice has been wonderful, working with us closely to manage Adam's pain, and letting us know where Adam is in his dying process. 

My mom has been at our house since Saturday, which has been a blessing.  She's cooking and cleaning and helping with the babies.  Right now we simply can't manage to do all those things, while dealing with our grief over Adam.  So many friends have offered up meals and support - we appreciate that so much.  With all that is going on, eating seems to be the thing that falls through....it's nice to have real food to eat to keep our energy levels up. 

Mark and I had to go out to a cemetery today to pick out a grave plot for Adam.  There is a beautiful country cemetery a mile from our home, and luckily they had sites available.  It was so strange to think that two weeks ago we were full of excitement about our baby boys being born.....now we are planning a funeral for one of them. 

The priest from our church came out tonight to give the sacrament of the sick to Adam, and to Mark, my mom, and I.  That helped us all feel more at peace.

I sent Nolan to his dad's house yesterday, and he'll stay there until Adam passes.  He was here yesterday when the hospice nurse was here, and there was a point at which Adam stopped breathing and she couldn't find a heartbeat....but then he started breathing again.  I could tell it was way too much for Nolan to deal with.  He seems the most upset by seeing me so upset.  After the episode with Adam, Nolan went to his room and got his Christmas money.  He brought it out and wanted to give it to me so I'd feel better.  I can't completely protect him from the pain of losing his baby brother, but I can make it a little bit better by him not having to sit by and watch his brother die.  I can barely handle that at age 32, so I can imagine how this feels for a 3rd grader. 

Please continue the prayers for our family.  We pray that Adam will find peace soon, so he can be freed from his pain.  We know he will go straight to heaven.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Baptism

Last night we had Luke and Adam baptized :-)  We were so happy that it worked out to do it yesterday.  The boys looked so handsome in their white outfits - I'll post some pictures later.  Adam had a really hard time with it.....he gets very agitated when he is "messed with".  So having to change his clothes was hard on him, and then we had to put him right into his carseat, which is also upsetting to him.  So he screamed constantly for about 45 minutes, but once we were able to get him out of his carseat at the church, he did calm down eventually.  Part of his trisomy is being unable to regulate himself....so when he gets upset, it's hard to bring him back from it.  We try to keep it pretty zen over here for him, but inevitably there will be times when we can't.  But all in all, it was a very special night and we're thankful for the memory.  It's kind of cool that they were baptized on 1-1-11 :-)