Thursday, September 29, 2011

Peanut's Lawn Care Service

Peanut -

Momma came home from work this evening to find Dadda outside mowing the yard with our hulking, industrial lawn mower.  OK, "yard" probably isn't the right word for what we's more like a 5-acre forest with some grassy areas.  But it was the absolute perfect place for us to play outside with you last spring, summer and fall.

That yard is where we took you to crawl in the fresh spring grass when you were 8-months old.  It's the same place where we took your 9-month photos.  And, where we set-up your Little Tykes the perfect-for-swinging tree outside your bedroom window.  It's where we sat on blankets last fall and admired the leaves changing colors.  Unfortunately, we never got the chance to take you sledding in that same yard, with its sloping hills.

Dadda reminded me tonight of the one time we put you on the lawnmower.  You were VERY unsure about the whole experience.  Skeptical enough, in fact, that you and Dadda barely made it through one lap around the perimeter before Momma had to rescue you from the giant, noisy, frightening monster.  (The lawnmower, not Dadda!)

If we do ever sell this house and move, it will be these locations, these memories Momma is most afraid to leave.  Will the memories somehow get stuck back here with the house?  Will they not be as sharp, as fresh, if we no longer live here?  Or, have I helped make them more everlasting by retelling and capturing them in writing?  The latter is my hope.

Peanut, Dadda and I enjoyed talking about you over dinner tonight.  I wonder...could you hear us?  I think so.  We are sending you all the love and hugs our empty Momma and Dadda arms crave to give you in person.  To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New "Look" for Peanut's Blog

Peanut -

Momma went a little crazy tonight.  The Blogger service has created a number of new dynamic view options, and I've decided to take them for a test drive.  Let's see how it goes over the next day or so...sound like a plan?  What I like about the new, different views - it makes it easier to see older posts and pictures.  It feels a little more fresh and new.  What I miss about the old format - some of the sidebar features.  Like, how can someone now subscribe to have the blog sent to their e-mail?  Hmmmmm....

I imagine I have my Puzzled Momma expression on my face right now.  It's an expression I often saw on your face as you were figuring something new the afternoon you decided to teach yourself how to climb down from the couch by yourself.  You wanted NO help from Momma.  It was your mission to do it, piece it together all on your own.  Your determination and attention span were remarkable.  And, after 20 minutes, you figured it out.  Smart, stubborn Peanut!

Tonight's picture is a perfect example of that face.  "What are you doing, Momma?" is what that look is saying to me.  I loved your expressive forehead, eyebrows, and eyes.  They told me everything a Momma could ever need to know...from love, to apprehension, to laughter, to sleepiness.  Wishing I could cup that expressive little face in my hands and give you a kiss.  Instead, I'm sending you an air kiss to heaven - MWAH!  I love you, Peanut - to the moon and back.

- Momma

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Fish, Two Fish. All. By. Myself!

Peanut -

Momma realized today there is a lot of joy in remembering the specifics.  The general statements and feelings - I miss coming home to you, I miss dropping you off at school in the morning, I miss listening to you sleep on your monitor - lead to feelings of general, overwhelming sadness.  A sadness I can't pinpoint, target or give a voice or focus to, which gives it a frightening life of its own.

Specific memories, with exact details and moments in time, bring mental pictures to the forefront.  Images from a time in our lives so full of happiness and Peanut joy, that I can't help but smile.  When the general, lingering sadness starts to settle in on my heart like a wet, heavy wool blanket, I re-focus.  I find an exact moment, memory, story, and give it every ounce of my mind and heart.

This evening I heard the general sadness knocking on my door.  Momma let it knock for a moment, but decided to instead think about one of my all-time favorite Peanut memories.  It's actually a memory Dadda and I like to remember and laugh about together.  Several months ago (May) I mentioned how much you loved all the Dr. Seuss books.  In particular, One Fish Two Fish.  We had lots of games we would play together when you let me read you the book - when we got to the red fish we would look for everything red in the room - and you loved to play with all the moving plastic fish attached to the cover of the book.

As you got older, you desperately wanted to read the book all by yourself.  Rather than bring the book to Momma for reading and games, you would grab it from the coffee table and take it into your bedroom.  The message was - "I can do it myself, thank you very much!"  You would get settled in on the floor, on your tummy, legs kicked up, with the book open in front of you.  And then, you would start to "read" it out loud, checking in every few moments to ensure Momma and Dadda were watching and listening.  It sounded something like this:

"Bah Besh, Ou Esh,
Reh Esh, BOU BISH!!!!"

Followed by a giggle, glance over to Momma and Dadda, and a brilliant grin.

I love, cherish, that memory.  In that moment, I was given a gift.  A flash of what you might've been like at age 6 or 10 while studying for school, or reading another favorite book.  It was one of those moments when I realized my baby was growing into a little boy.

Oh, how I wish there were more of those moments in our future with you, Peanut.  But, at least we have the gift of those special moments.  I am missing you more than I can possibly express in words.  But, I think you know...I've felt you here all day.  So, sending you a big kiss!  To the moon and back...

- Momma

Monday, September 26, 2011

Facebook Timeline Panic

Peanut -

Momma got her geek on tonight and started reading articles about all the planned changes coming soon to Facebook profile pages.  They are implementing a new format titled Facebook Timeline and it has Momma spun into a bit of a panic.

You see, Peanut, over the last 8 months I've been able to control (to some degree) when I'm faced with pictures and timeline reminders of you.  I consciously open memory books, peruse iPhoto, smell your clothes, look back at old e-mails about you, on my terms, my timeline.  On the occasions when those reminders pop up out of nowhere, it has felt like a giant kick in the gut.

And now...argh...Facebook is stripping me of that power.  That false sense of control.  Now they are going to force me to be faced with a lifelong scrapbook of events, focusing on those their algorithm  determines to be the most impactful, important.  The highs, the lows, the loves and the losses.  The losses. Or, in my case, The Loss.

I like the immediacy of the current Facebook format.  Seeing what is happening in the here and now of people's lives - my life - is comforting.  To have to face that timeline every day, that reminder of all we've lost in the last year, is so hurtful.  So harsh.  So unnecessary.

It seems the new format is going to roll out over the next several week.  And, it is not optional.  What is optional, however, is Momma's participation in Facebook.  More to come...

Sweet Peanut, I love you, your pictures, memories and stories of you.  But, I want, I need, the ability to control the flood of emotions that come with all those memories when I'm awake.  Sleep is a different story.  Right now, I'm getting ready for bed and praying for Peanut Dreams.  I hope to feel your hugs and little monkey toes in my dreams, and to imagine a world where you are still here.  Missing you so very much.  I love you - to the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tear Soup

Peanut -

In the weeks after you passed away, Momma searched for answers, support, refuge in books.  My logic was that surely someone wouldn't even attempt to write a book about surviving grief without having experienced it themselves.  Right?  Wrong.  But, there were the rare gems - many of them recommended by other SUDC families - that touched my heart, resonated with my pain, and helped speak to Momma's grief.

It's been a terribly difficult few days for Momma.  As time marches on, and life begins to expect more and more from Momma, the network of understanding support has slowly faded away.  I knew it would.  I was warned to expect it.  But, it has opened up a whole new valley of pain.  So many people want the "old" version of me back.  They think it's time to move on.  What a cruel joke.

There have also been the people who think The Bean will make everything better.  Almost as if The Bean will be a replacement or a stand in for you.  My Peanut.

And still there are others who don't want to talk about your death, but also don't want to celebrate The Bean.  Denial is a dark, dangerous, scary way of coping.  It hurts so many others along the path.

Peanut.  Momma is tired.  Tired of making everyone else feel better.  Tired of having to soothe feelings and reassure people I'm OK, we're OK, things are OK.  Because, things aren't OK.  I'm not OK.  Surviving?  Yes.  With some good moments and days?  Yes.  But, OK?  I don't think so.

All these emotions, this pressure, built up today and felt truly overwhelming.  In a desperate moment, Momma pulled one of the grief and healing books off the bookshelf.  Tear Soup.  It's been months since I read it...long enough the message had faded a bit in my mind.  The book is large and illustrated, intended for all age groups.  The message is simple.  But, reading it today was a whole new experience.  It read like a different book from the one I read back in March.  I read it with my wounded but open heart.  And I cried a whole batch of raw and ragged tears...Momma's own, special recipe for her personal Tear Soup.  And, for the first time in days, I didn't feel quite so alone on this journey.

Peanut, I know I'm not alone.  I know you are on my shoulder every moment of every day.  Missing you desperately, and sending you love, love and more love.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Saturday, September 24, 2011

8 Months Without You

Peanut -

Monday, September 26, will mark 8 months.  Eight months since the horrible, terrifying, unimaginable morning.  Tomorrow will mark 8 months since I last heard your breath in my ear, felt one of your tight hugs, saw life and energy in your beautiful blue eyes.

How can it be?  Time has felt intolerably slow and painful these last 8 months, but it has also flown by in the blink of an eye.  I can't believe we have somehow watched 8 months pass...almost half the time we had with you on earth.

I so distinctly remember when you were 8 months old.  It was May 2010.  You were crawling, smiling, laughing, beginning to tire of your bottle and baby food.  You had morphed overnight from infant to little boy.  Every day I saw a new expression, heard a new sound, watched you connected all the dots of the world around you.  Every day I saw little reflections of Dadda's sense of humor, my expressive forehead, both our laughs.  Every day I discovered, even though I didn't think it was possible, that I loved you even more than the day before.

Peanut, even with the physical absence of you, that love continues to grow, day by day.  My heart aches with longing for you, my brain hurts because it can't make sense of your loss, my arms feel painfully empty without you to hold and hug.  Yet, the love continues to grow.

Momma is heading to bed tonight with The Bean kicking up a storm, reminding me of the new love and hope growing inside me.  I can't help but remember these same bedtime kicks with you.  Sending you love and super-tight the moon and back.

- Momma

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unless the World Is About To Implode In 3.5 Seconds, It Is NOT A Crisis

Peanut -

Momma spent a lot of time waiting today.  In the car, at the doctor's office, in much that I had ample time to think and reflect.   Reflect on life, loss, change, perspective.  It wasn't that I was searching for meaning or answers - that period seems to have passed, for now - it was more about reassessing the state of my internal compass.

Peanut, I think - no, I know - you were brought into my life to show me my heart's capacity for love.  To teach me that motherhood is the most amazing, powerful, wonderful gift I've been honored to receive.  To help me learn that life is about family, love, caring, nurturing.  Not about selfishness or possessions.  Not about being "the best" at work, in social circles, in play.  It's about loving someone else so much that everything else pales in comparison.

You made me a better person by making me a Momma.  Which is why losing you has been so painful.  So confusing.  I've struggled with why the universe would give me such a precious gift and teach me all these impactful lessons, only to rip you away in such a sudden, tragic, unexplained way.  But, today I had to come to terms with this...I might not ever understand "why."  There probably isn't a "why."  So, maybe it's time to stop asking that question.  Maybe it's the wrong question.

Instead, I started thinking about what has changed in the last 8 months.  More specifically, how have I changed in the last 8 months?  And I realized this.  Peanut, every lesson you taught me has been emphasized.  Amplified.  Patience, calm, a belief in people's desire to do good - these have become my new guideposts.  I see road rage and it mystifies me...folks, you'll get there eventually!  I witness people in crisis mode at work and I think to myself, "What?  Is there a kidney in a cooler?"  I hear angry words and an unwillingness to cooperate with others and I wonder...what satisfaction comes from that approach?  Instead, I would rather be the center, the calm.

Peanut, I could have succumbed to the anger. The bitterness.  That place was warm, fuzzy, comfortable.  And, in so many ways, it was easier.  But the memories of you, the need to honor you, the desire to live a life that would make you proud, wouldn't allow me to choose that path.  And that, I believe, is its own miracle.  A Peanut Miracle.  The root of The Peanut Effect.

My wise, smart, witty little Peanut.  Thank you for the love you planted in my soul.  Sending you a giant kiss to heaven, the moon and back - MWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

- Momma

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Is This Your First Baby?"

Peanut -

As Momma's pregnancy with The Bean progresses, a question has begun to pop up with alarming frequency.  The question always comes from someone who means well, but would have no way of knowing our story.  It's such a painful question, and always opens the door to a number of potential answers...some more truthful than the others.

"Oh!  Is this your first baby?!"

The non-negotiatiable answer: "No."

From there, all bets are off.

"Great!  Is your first a boy or girl?"

"A boy."

"And, do you know what you're having now?"

"Yes, a boy."

Some people don't pursue the subject.  Others start down the path, but don't try to go too far...maybe they pick up on the short, one word answers.  But there are others...well...they want to know how old my first son is, and OH! isn't 2 such a wonderful age?!  What new fun things has he done lately?!

Somewhere around that point, I have to be the proverbial skunk at the garden party.

"Actually, while I appreciate your interest, I need to let you know - my first son passed away in January at 16.5 months."

Sound technician, please cue the crickets.

Peanut, is there a better way to handle this?  I am so out of my element with these questions.  But, I know I am going to be faced with them for a lifetime.  Is there ever a good, or a right, answer?

I've had to answer that question, to face that same uncomfortable question, twice today.  On top of an overly busy schedule, this has really taxed Momma emotionally.  I need to find the answer that feels "right."  But...will any answer ever truly feel right?  Probably not.

Peanuckle, I'm staring at a picture of you with a giant grin on your face, and I just can't believe you're gone.  I can't believe I'm even having to think about this question/answer scenario.  All I want to do is hold and kiss you.  Smell you.  Tickle your feet and toes.  And whisper in your ear as you settle in for the night, "Sweet son of mine...I love you, to the moon and back."

- Momma

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Everything Should Be On "Repeat" Mode

Peanut -

While the rest of the US television viewing public has been overjoyed to welcome the brand new, shiny television season this week, Momma has hated it.  Yes, I said "hate."  This very strong emotional response surprised even me, until I really sat down and processed the root of these feelings.

New shows, new story lines, new characters = life moving on.  Over the last 8 months we have either been finishing out story lines that started when you were alive, or we've been in constant "repeat" mode.  You see, the 2011 season of new shows had just started when you died.  I was almost able to mark the passing of weeks since your death by the weeks on shows like "The Biggest Loser."  It was a terrible, but strangely comforting reminder.

And now, my refuge - TV - has become a new knife in my heart.  How dare the shows move forward with their laugh tracks, occasional dramatic situation, and new plots?  Don't they understand I just want to stay in January of 2011?  Don't they know life ended on January 26 not just for you, but for a huge part of Momma?

It doesn't help that tonight, in particular, I turned on the last show I watched on January 25, before we found you unresponsive in your crib the following morning.  I had a horrific moment of deja vu, until I realized...I have no clue what the story line is about.  I had to stop watching the show after you was throwing me into total despair as a reminder of that last night of our blissful life with you, Peanut.

Somehow this new season, and the fact that I was able to turn on that terrible TV show tonight, has also signaled something dark, and scary for Momma.  The fact that my grief is morphing.  Maybe I'm harder around the edges.  Maybe I'm desensitized.  Maybe this is just the next hill, the next bend, in the road of my grief.  But, life is carrying on...and Momma is too.   It feels like a betrayal of you.  And I feel so deeply, deeply guilty.

Peanut, please know that Momma's survival is in honor of you.  And that my love for you is eternal.  Boundless.  Beyond to the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, September 19, 2011

Football Season Without The 'Nut

Peanut -

It has been heart-breaking to watch Dadda try to enjoy the beginning of the football season.  In particular, Sunday afternoon football.  You know, those were his special afternoons with you, with both of you decked out in your Rams jerseys and armed with plenty of snacks!  Dadda would shoo Momma out of the house for the afternoon so you guys could have your "boy time."  I'd pretend to be offended, but it always made my heart sing to watch you, side-by-side, in your jerseys.

Dadda had always planned to take you to an actual Rams game, but we decided to wait until you were a little older so you could actually enjoy the outing.  Hmmmm...yet another one of those pesky regrets.  On one hand, it is truly remarkable how much STUFF we did with you in your too short 16.5 months.  But, on the other hand, there is so very much we never got to do.  So many memories we never got the chance to create.  It's so easy to put things off until "tomorrow."  However, I hope my Momma brain has learned that lesson...tomorrow is never a guarantee.

In honor of all the tomorrows I'll never get to spend with you here on earth, but will always hold in my heart, I'm sending you all my love, Peanut.  To the moon, and back.

- Momma

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Project Pinwheel

Peanut -

Under the umbrella of "saying it makes it real" I am sharing news tonight about a very, very special project - Project Pinwheel.  This project is the brainchild of another grieving Momma here in the St. Louis area who has become my friend, my sanity, and now my partner in this project.  The purpose of Project Pinwheel?  To honor the memories of our wonderful, amazing little boys - Joey and Connor - in a joyful, public way that can be enjoyed by all families in St. Louis.

What is this Project Pinwheel?  The foundational idea is to create a park, playground, butterfly garden, frog pond, and family gathering space for all people to enjoy, but, in particular, families who have lost children.  This space would be accessible in all ways.  Central to all St. Louis residents.  Equipment designed for all ages, and for children with disabilities.  And paver stones, or a memory wall or fountain, where parents can purchase a tribute space for less than $50, instead of the hundreds of dollars required in other St. Louis locations.

Why Pinwheels?  Well Peanut, your Momma has been blessed to see butterflies and froggies when she needs to feel your presence.  When this other Momma most needed a sign from Joey, hers came in the form of a pinwheel blowing in a non-existent wind.  The image of pinwheels will be found throughout this playground, and will serve as a poignant reminder of what we have lost, but also a symbol of joy, of hope.

What do we need?  Support, expertise, donations.  As you can see, a website has been created, but we are still working on details around how to gather donations (anyone out there willing to donate legal services to help us with the 501c3 paperwork???).  We already have potential park space and partners in St. Louis, so more to come on that front.  But, more than anything, we ask for support, love and friends to share the site and spread the word.

Peanut, in Momma's search for hope and inspiration this week she forgot to simply look inside herself, and into the core of the immense love I have for you.  A love so powerful it will conquer despair, defy the bounds of space and time, and fuel Momma through even the darkest days.  Peanut, you don't ever need to guess how much I love will always and forever know it is to the moon and back and beyond.

- Momma

(In case the embedded link does not work for you:

Friday, September 16, 2011

In Search of Hope

Peanut -

Momma is in search of inspiration. Hope. That search has led to my favorite spot - the words and musings of others. Momma's heavy heart is finding it hard to share too many personal thoughts this evening, but did want to share a few of the more meaningful, impactful quotes:

“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” (Eskimo Proverb)

“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.” (Emily Dickenson)

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” (Bill Cosby)

Peanut, I know you are here with me tonight.  I know you are feeling my love, my sadness...I know you are in my soul as I grapple with questions, decisions, and this desperate sorrow.  Momma is sending you love and hugs and kisses - to the moon and back, Peanut.

- Momma

(Note: Photos taken exactly 2 years ago.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Maybe I've Had My Happiness

Peanut -

The 16.5 months you were alive were the best months of Momma's life.  Everything clicked, and life was bright, happy, yellow.  The future appeared limitless, full of beautiful possibilities.

In the last 8 months I've begun to wonder - have I had my happiness?  Was I gifted so much joy in the time I had with you that I've now used up my "allocation"?  Is that concept ridiculous?

Every time I feel the darkness lifting, every time I think we might have a slice of positive energy coming our way, it is squashed in a brutal, uncaring way.  Between navigating this grief, dealing with stress at work, and working to have a happy, healthy pregnancy Momma is spent.  There is nothing left.  Yet, life seems to keep requiring more and more and more...

All I've ever wanted is a calm life with my family, a job I enjoy, and time to help leave this world a better place than I found it.  Not a tall order.  So, why does it feel so unattainable?

Peanut, in my naive, silly way I think everything would be resolved if I could just have you back.  In the absence of that possibility, I just hope, pray, plead for a visit or a sign from you.  Momma needs hope.

Missing you so very, very much.  To the moon, and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thunderstorm Dreams

Peanut -

It was 95 degrees in St. Louis yesterday.  And 65 degrees today.  Holy temperature change!  The cooler temperatures were ushered in by some extremely powerful thunderstorms last night.  They came marching into the region around 1:30 am, and gained full strength by 3:00 am.  Needless to say, Momma didn't sleep much - or well - last night.

In the midst of the window-rattling thunder and constant lightning I had a half-asleep dream of you.  Or, maybe it was more of a vision.  I imagined what the night would be like if you were still alive.  How you would have made your way into our bedroom, and wiggled your way into the giant, king-size bed.  How you would have pretended to be brave, unafraid of the terrifying thunder, while snuggling up with Momma for protection.  To calm and reassure you I would rub my thumb in slow circles from your forehead to the bridge of your nose...that always soothed you and made you smile.  Eventually, you would fall asleep while I watched your sweet little face, and listened to the sweet sounds of you sleeping.  It's the little, everyday moments like these that I so desperately crave, and miss.

Peanut, you are so loved.  You are so missed.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Penguins and Puffins and Butterflies - Oh My!

Peanut -

Dadda and I spent the day yesterday remembering and honoring you through tears, laughter, and visits to meaningful places.  We visited The Butterfly House (which was closed), the St. Louis Zoo, and several important landmarks across Forest Park.  The weather was perfect...the kind of day that begged for a Momma and Dadda to be out and about with their beloved little 2 year-old son.

We were so disappointed to discover The Butterfly House was closed - apparently after Labor Day it's closed every Monday.  But, we took it as a sign.  Closed in honor of Peanut's birthday!  Time to get out and see more of the places that hold so many fantastic, happy memories.  But, before we left we made a decision.  For your birthday, Momma and Dadda are going to have a special paver stone made just for you at the Butterfly House.  Their paver stones are in the shape of little brick butterflies in the shadow of a giant butterfly statue...what a Peanut Perfect tribute!

At the Zoo, we visited their butterfly house and were visited by multiple butterflies who seemed to recognize us, and stopped to say a special "Hello!" from you.  We took as many pictures as we could snap, until we had worn out our welcome.  From there, we walked through the Penguin & Puffin exhibit we took you through every time we visited the Zoo.  You were fascinated by the adorable, funny, active penguins and puffins - in particular when they jumped into the water and you could watch them play underwater through the glass.  In the middle of our Zoo trip, Dadda bought two stuffed penguins for your little brother, so he could be a part of our Day of Peanut.

We took the stuffed penguins to visit the very special Forest Park paver stone dedicated to your memory by Grandma and Grandpa.  The paver stone is located at the base of the World's Fair Pavilion, in the shadow of gorgeous fountains and landscaping.  It is a beautiful, sunny location.  Perfect for reflection and remembrance.  The penguins agreed.

We also made a surprise visit to the 9/11 memorial set-up on Art Hill in Forest Park.  Stunning.  Breathtaking.  There truly are no words.  But, in the midst of the heartbreaking 9/11 coverage we've endured throughout the last week - coverage that has made getting through your birthday so much harder, so emotional - this particular memorial was uplifting.  It seemed just right to make it part of your birthday.

Finally, we stopped by a new tree that has been planted in your memory, right by the Forest Park Golf Course.  It is a small but strong, sturdy tree.  A fitting tribute to my powerful, feisty, funny Peanut.  I can't wait to watch the tree grow strong over the will provide beauty and shade for years to come.

The day ended with a heart-wrenching sense of finality.  I can't believe your birthday has come and gone.  You are now 2 years old in Momma's heart.  Happy birthday, Peanut.  I love you.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday

Peanut -

Facebook has an interesting newish feature that pops up every once in a while.  It shows your posts "On This Day Last Year" or "On This Day in 2009." This morning it showed me the overjoyed post I shared the evening of September 12, 2009, just a few hours after you were born:
"Please help us welcome the world's best, most adorable gift into the world. Connor Patrick Mulholland was born at 6:50 pm today. 19 inches, 5 lbs 1 oz., with lots of blond hair!"

I will always remember every single detail of that day.  The morning started with what Momma thought might just be cramps.  Uncomfortable enough that I called Aunt Dru and asked to change the location for our scheduled pedicures so I could be closer to home and our delivery hospital...just in case.  I made it through the pedicure, but called a friend while driving home to ask, "How did you know you were in labor?"  Her response, "If you're asking that question, you're probably in labor!"

Momma got home, took a quick shower, and started timing the cramps which quickly evolved into full contractions.  By the time Dadda got home from a morning football game, it was time to get ready to leave for the hospital.  Of course, he had to shave, take a shower, and generally putz around until I informed him the contractions were less 5 minutes apart!  It was approximately 12:30pm.

We hit EVERY red light on the way to the hospital.  I was so worried we might have to deliver you on the road, in an ambulance.  But, we made it! The admitting nurse took one look at Momma and said, "Yep.  My predication record is 100% accurate.  You're having a baby today!"  Sure enough, we were already 6 centimeters dilated.

The hospital rushed to get the epidural started, but we wound up needing two - yes, two - epidurals since the first only worked on Momma's right side.  At this point it was around 2:00 pm, and we proceeded to watch the Cardinals game for the next few hours.  Dadda, after watching all the frightening videos during the childbirth classes, was prepared for a sweaty, angry, screaming Momma.  Instead, he got a very happy but nervous Momma...thanks in large part to the epidurals!

Late in the afternoon, the nurses worked with Momma to get you turned around, since you were facing the wrong way for delivery.  To do that, it literally took a village to get Momma up on her hands and knees on the hospital bed.  The nurses were able to get you readjusted without too much drama, and we were ready to get serious about delivering you.

At 6:00 pm, the doctor confirmed we were fully dilated and it was time to get started.  At 6:15 pm she broke Momma's water, and by 6:20 pm we were ready to push.  After a few big pushes and a little assistance from the doctor...TA DA!  We were able to see our amazing little boy...Connor Patrick.  One of the delivery nurses immediately declared, "Oh look!  He's just a little Peanut!" And, in that moment, your nickname was born.

Parents never imagine on the day their child is born that it won't be forever.  That somehow they might lose that precious little life.  That the universe will break every rule, and will take that child prematurely.  A parent should never outlive their child.  Parents should never have to celebrate that joyful birthdate without their instead mark it as a yet another year they will not get to spend watching the child grow, thrive.

But, that is our reality.

So, today Momma looks back on the joyful memories.  And remembers the best day of her life...the first day I got to hold you.  My Peanut.  My heart.  Happy birthday, Peanut.  I hope you have balloons and cake and a giant Peanut-style party in heaven today!

I love you - to the moon and back.
- Momma  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day of Remembrance

Peanut -

There is almost nothing I can say today that is as eloquent as this post from Heidi Drexler...

We miss you, your laugh, your smile, your spirit - your essence - so desperately.  To the moon and back, sweet Peanut.

With love,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Baby Brother

Peanut -

Just in time for your birthday, we have are going to have a baby brother.  The Bean is now officially a Baby Blue Bean.  Dadda and I are elated...not only because you are going to have a little brother, but because he looks incredibly healthy.  He seems to be a little Bean, just like you were a teeny-tiny Peanut.  But, I'll bet he's strong and healthy, just like his big brother.

'Nut, I wish I could see you as a big brother.  With your giant, kind heart, your goofy sense of humor, your larger-than-life would have been the best big brother in the whole world.  As an angel brother, I guarantee you are already looking out for your little brother.  Giving him tips and tricks for navigating Momma and Dadda, telling him all about school and nap time and the best books to read, your favorite TV shows, and that super cool real-life stuffed animal - Zeke The Kitteh Kah.

As I write this post, I can feel him kicking and dancing.  Every day his active little personality bonds me closer to him, and also seems to bring a little piece of you back into my life.  He will be his own person, with his own quirks, likes and dislikes.  But, he will also always be your little brother.

So, big brother Peanut, I share with you the joy and hope brought into our lives through your little brother...a little brother I believe was sent to us by you.  And Momma sends love, love and more love to you - to the moon and heaven, and back.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Reality Is Knocking

Peanut -

I started this post last night, but fell asleep before I could post, it's backdated to reflect yesterday's mood...

This birthday that is coming up on September 12, this 2nd birthday that should have been full of so much activity, fun and excitement, is proving to be much more difficult than Momma anticipated.  While my heart wants to celebrate the joy represented by your birth, this birthday represents something much more devastating.  Finality.  Reality.  A door slamming closed.

While Momma's brain has recognized that you are never, ever coming back, her heart is much more stubborn.  There has been a suspension of belief that has been easy to hang on to...until this weekend.  Your birthday is standing up and shouting with a bullhorn, "The years will continue to turn without Peanut.  Two will become three will become 10 will become 20."

Devastating, indeed.

Peanut, I can picture in my head what you should be doing today.  Tomorrow.  On your birthday.  And that will bring joy this weekend (along with the constant tears).  But a new piece of grief is opening up for Momma.  The reality that this is life - for now, for next year, forever.  Life without you.  And that someday, sooner than expected, I won't be able to picture what you should look like, or what you should be doing.  I'm not sure how to navigate this new road.

For now I find comfort, solace, in living in the moment.  And, in this moment, I send you my heart.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Peanut -

I ordered your birthday cake today, and in the midst of the process Momma found herself pretending.  I didn't have the heart, or see the need, to inform the bakery that this very special cake is for a birthday we will never get to actually celebrate.  That the beautiful little boy in the picture is actually frozen in time at 16.5 months.  That somehow the universe saw fit to extinguish that amazing, sunlit smile.

Instead, Momma acted like this cake is for a second birthday party for a growing little boy who has a whole future ahead of him.  That momentary suspension of reality felt...good.  I know it's wrong.  Probably even a lie.  But, in that moment, in that bakery, I felt like a normal, happy Momma again.

Oh, 'Nut.  This weekend is going to be hard.  As much as your birth date is still a joyful occasion - the best day of Momma's life - it is an awful, painful reminder of just how much we've lost in losing you.  Breathe...just breathe.

Sending you Momma love - to the moon and back.
- Momma

(Here is the picture that will be on your cake...just perfect...)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Touched By Light

Peanut -

Tonight Momma looked through lots and lots of Peanut photos looking for The Perfect Picture.  What is the purpose of this picture?'s the picture for your very special birthday cake.  And it became more and more important to find the right picture with the right expression from the right time period.  Which was hard.  Because there are so many perfect Peanut pics!

In the midst of the great photo search, I stumbled across a picture that summed up every thought, feeling, discussion I've had about you and your old, wise soul.  It's from a series of photos taken last October while you were chowing down on Cheerios and steamed veggies in your high chair.  You're wearing a funny little Frankenstein Halloween bib, and alternating between serious and totally hilarious expressions.  Except for this photo.  When I look at this photo, I feel you staring into my soul.  I can imagine you in heaven, bathed in radiance.  I see my Peanut Angel.

I had forgotten about this particular picture. What a joy to rediscover it.  Seeing it tonight warms my heart and soothes my soul.  Sending you Momma love and hugs and kisses and forehead bumps - to the moon and back, my little angel.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer Colds and Sinus Infections

Peanut -

The beautiful fall weather arrived in St. Louis literally overnight this weekend.  In celebration, Momma opened all the windows, turned off the AC, and has embraced sleeping with the sound of crickets and froggies outside.  Unfortunately, the rapid change in weather seems to have also given Momma a pesky, end-of-summer cold.

As I was sniffling and coughing this morning, a powerful series of memories were triggered.  It is so odd, so unexpected, what triggers the memories.  It hit me like a truck - I haven't had congestion like this since the weekend before you died.  I was battling a sinus infection while you were dealing with a runny nose.  We were a gooey, nasty pair that weekend!  When I wasn't wiping your nose, I was hovering over a giant pot of water in a futile attempt to unblock my sinuses.  Every time I put my head over the pot, you watched in wonder and horror - what is Momma DOING?  And then I would whip my head back and you would laugh your giant, musical laugh at my bright red face!

We also spent that afternoon watching, and dancing to, The Jungle Book.  We played the songs over and over and over again so you could bounce and jive while Momma danced in circles around you.  <sigh>  I love every single moment of that day.

I also worry.  What if my sinus infection somehow made you sick?  What if it's my fault you started to run that 100 degree fever on Tuesday?  What if that trace of tracheo-bronchitis is my fault?  There is still no explanation as to why that little infection, that low-grade fever, resulted in your death the morning of January 26.  But still, I can't help but wonder if it's my fault...

Tonight I'm scared that this little summer cold might be hurting The Bean.  I know it's irrational.  Crazy, even.  But, it's real.

Peanut, please watch over The Bean tonight.  Please know that Momma is doing everything possible to be healthy and strong.  For you, The Bean, Dadda, everyone.  I'm sending you butterfly kisses and giant Peanut-style the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, September 5, 2011

Courage to Love. Again.

Peanut -

Momma heard this quote today, and immediately connected with it:

"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." (Ben Okri, Nigerian author, 1959)

I gave myself permission today to miss you, to cry for you, to sob without reserve, and to just plain wallow in despair.  It may sound odd, but allowing myself to revisit that deep sorrow also allowed Momma to reconnect with the love, the buried memories and the joy of you.  

Not finding space - or giving space - for that raw depth of emotion is almost scarier than riding the roller-coaster.  It is a numb, hollow place.  It is robotic.  And, it is not genuine.  As a protective measure, it is a nice, temporary safe zone.  But, it's not a place Momma wants to stay.

Peanut, you gave me the most precious gift in the world.  Momma love.  You opened my heart to a whole new universe of love.  The depth of that love has also created this intense sorrow, but the two coexist.  I grieve because I love.  To not allow my heart to love again would be would be a jail sentence to live in that numb, robotic place for eternity.

Thank you for teaching me that lesson.  Thank you for showing me that to believe in beauty, necessity, of love is to truly be greater than my suffering.  Thank you for giving me the courage to love again, despite my fears.  Thank you for being Momma's Peanut, the compass of my heart, forever and the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Active Bean, Active Peanut

Peanut -

Your little sibling, The Bean, is one active baby!  Just like you were...maybe even more.  Are you giving The Bean lessons???  Here we are, at 20 weeks, and this tyke has the kicking strength of a professional athlete!  While it can take my breath away with the force, it is also so reassuring.  Momma has been living in fear throughout this pregnancy...obsessed with the "what ifs."  But feeling the life-force of this baby exert itself through kicks and somersaults is calming.  And it brings back so many wonderful memories.

Peanut, I remember feeling you kick at this stage in the pregnancy, and it was like our little secret.  No one else could feel your kicks, or see the "thump thump thump" of my tummy.  It was just you and me, speaking our private little language.  I loved you, craved you, before I even knew for sure I was pregnant, but once I could actually feel you....whoa.  My love became intense, fierce.  I knew I would fight the world for you.  I would die for you.  I wish I had died instead of you.  Because the world desperately needs a loving, generous spirit like yours.

Sweet boy, I hope you understand my love for The Bean.  I hope when you hear me talking to my tummy, and telling stories about you, singing songs, and making future plans, it in no way replaces you.  Because, you see, you are here in every moment.  You are the catalyst for this journey.  You are my lighthouse, my beacon.  My heart.

I am sending you love, and memories, and lost dreams, and hopes for the moment I get to see you again.  My amazing, wonderful Super Peanut.  To the moon and back...

- Momma

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Miss My Sunshine

Peanut -

Dadda and I spent a very, very hot afternoon at the St. Louis Cardinals game today.  Every piece of the experience brought a bittersweet reminder of you, or, more accurately, the loss of you.  Every place Momma looked, there were little blonde boys who looked so much like you.  At every turn there were nagging, jagged reminders...we never got to build a Fredbird with you.  We never got to buy you a jersey.  You never grew into a toddler sized baseball cap.  You never even got to throw a baseball.

Now, I wonder...will I ever find true joy again?  Will I ever be able to smile or laugh without feeling the pain of your absence?  Is it possible to embrace the thought of life moving forward?  Will this pain be a brand on my forehead forever?  Is it a brand I even want to let go of...or have I embraced it?

Peanut, you brought more joy, more light, to my life than I ever could have hoped to find in the entire span of my lifetime.  I now owe it to you, your memory, our family, and to this little Bean growing stronger day by day, to find joy again.  I have to recognize feeling happiness is not a betrayal of you, your life, your is a celebration.  That a smile, a laugh, is simply sharing a very special piece of the beauty you opened in my heart.

Tonight, I am balancing the love and the sorrow.  The despair and hope.  But, in my soul I know the hope is stronger.  The love is more powerful - eternal.  Peanut, I'm sending you love and the moon and back.

- Momma

Friday, September 2, 2011

Change Begins...One Letter At A Time

Peanut -

The Peanut Effect is in full impact mode.  You are making a difference.  You, your beautiful smile, your tragic death, your very persistent Momma, a cadre of phenomenal letter-writing supporters, and a fantastic State Representative named Tim Jones have all come together to create the beginning of meaningful change in the state of Missouri in relation to the recognition of SUDC, education of medical examiners, coroners and child death pathologists, and overall communication standards in cases of unexplained child deaths.

Despite a disappointing, unsatisfactory, defensive response from the local St. Louis County government, Momma has persevered.  Continually reaching out to other resources, pushing for answers, responses, anything.  And, in the background, our local representative in the Missouri House - who is also the Speaker of the House - received the initial letter we sent out to County Executive Dooley.  And, it impacted him.  So, he sent his own letter to the Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Margaret Donnelly.  Then, weeks later, she received another letter and an e-mail from your Momma.  This amazingly busy woman connected the dots and took personal action, which resulted in a letter we received in today's mail.

Under Ms. Donnelly's direction, her team has contacted the Missouri State Fatality Review Panel.  This Panel works with the child death pathologists across the state to develop education and protocols for pediatric autopsy.  More importantly, they also spearhead all education and training for these pathologists.  And, once a year they bring all the child death pathologists together for an annual meeting - in November.  Thanks to Ms. Donnelly, SUDC training, education and information has been added to the November 2011 agenda.  And, in the most gracious, unexpected acknowledgement, Ms. Donnelly thanks YOU - that your tragic loss is going "to help improve Missouri's system of dealing with childhood deaths."

Peanut, this is just the beginning.  There is so much more left to accomplish.  To honor you.  To grow and ensure your lasting legacy.  But, this is a beginning.  And a beginning means hope.  Like that wonderful little caterpillar in one of your favorite books, this seed of progress is going to be fed and will grow and bloom into...a beautiful butterfly!!!

Sending you love, hope, the moon and back!  I love you, Peanut.

- Momma

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Click. Thud. Slam.

Peanut -

Over the last several months, Momma has had to walk through many different types of emotionally significant doors.  Some have closed gently, with a mere "click."  Others have been solidly heavy, as if made of pure mahogany, inches thick, and have closed with a weighty "thud."  And then there are the doors that slam closed with such ferociousness, they take Momma's breath away.  Today was a slamming door day.

This week's vacation was cathartic.  Healing.  A much needed break from the painful reality of what has become our day-to-day life.  It was a time to share stories about you, reconnect with memories, and feel your presence in the beauty of nature.  I had anticipated sadness - had actually prepared myself for a week of crying and sorrow.  Instead, I was greeted by love, light and joy.

But then, today arrived.  It was time to say "farewell" to vacation, to Big Cedar Lodge, and to head home.    As we drove up the steep exit hill, with the full property reflected in our rearview mirror, Momma burst into tears.  Deep, buried tears that stole my voice for minutes on end.  I looked over to see Dadda struggling with his own emotions.  He shared he was recalling this same drive from last summer, with you in the backseat jabbering away and all of us turning around to call out, "See you next year, Big Cedar!"

I had actually forgotten that moment.  Hearing Dadda recall it actually helped calm my sobs, and brought additional memories to mind.  How we discussed what fun things you would get to do at Big Cedar when we returned next summer.  What cool plans we had in store for your 1st birthday party, which was just days away.  It was a 4-hour drive full of laughter, excitement, future plans.

The door that slammed shut for Momma today, the door that literally shut your Momma down, was the realization that we'd had a vacation - beginning, middle and end - without you.  That this was the last vacation we would ever take that was fully intended to include you.  This whole vacation was planned while you were you were still very present in every detail of the trip.  But...what now?  How do we ever plan another vacation without feeling like we're missing a huge element of our family?  How do we move forward with "joyful, relaxing" vacation plans when you aren't here anymore?

Peanut, I know life can't stand still.  I know we need to create a "new normal."  But, right now, in this moment, tonight, I can't.  I don't want to.  I just want you.  So, there it is.  I just want you back.  Since I know that can't happen, won't happen, I am instead going to head to bed to see what tomorrow brings.  Peanut, I'm sorry for the tears and sadness...just know Momma's sadness is only a reflection of how much I love you.  To the moon and back - a gazillion times.

- Momma