Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can You Make Those Flowers Appropriately Mournful?

Peanut -

Last weekend Momma was talking with another Angel Momma about the absolutely insane decisions we've made and unthinkable tasks we've performed this past year.  As we discussed them, we couldn't help but laugh at ourselves, since the only other option was to burst into tears.

You see, Peanut, having a baby is one of the most hopeful, optimistic decisions any parent can make.  From the time Dadda and I started trying to conceive, to when we finally got pregnant, through the whole pregnancy, and all 500 days you were alive, we never once considered a world without you.  Every moment of every day was spent imagining your future, your next step, your next milestone.

We were so optimistic, in fact, that we had a closet full of clothes just waiting for you to grow a little bigger, a little older.  Clothes you never got to wear.  We had toys and books meant for a boy twice your age.  Every action was taken with the future in mind.

So, when you died we were suddenly thrust into a twilight zone of choices, actions, decisions that made no sense.  From the moment Dadda found you unresponsive in your crib, as Momma was holding you skin-to-skin in her bathrobe thinking my warmth would save you, as we performed CPR and the EMTs worked feverishly to save you, through the frantic ambulance ride to the hospital, and the whole time the ER team scrambled to do everything possible to revive and save you, it never once occurred to Momma you might actually die.  That we might have to leave you - forever.  Even as I was sobbing, holding your increasingly heavy, stiff little body in the emergency room, my brain didn't process it would be the LAST time I would ever hold and cuddle you.

Which leads to "the list."  This horrific list of things no parent should ever have to face.  Yet, we did.  In the moments, hours, days, months after your death we had to:

  • Decide if you were going to try and be an organ donor (yes)
  • Say good-bye to our Peanut and watch the medical examiner's office come retrieve your body to perform the requisite autopsy
  • Drive home in a car with an empty carseat, and enter a house that had been the site of your death, the race to save you on our bedroom floor, and a visit from the eerily quiet house
  • Sit and write your obituary...decide who to thank, where to have donations sent and select the picture to include
  • Plan your memorial we try and speak? Ask others?  Sing?  Have music?  Read your favorite book?
  • Decide if we should bury you and pick a casket, or have you cremated
  • Choose an urn, when companies simply don't make that many urns for children...because children aren't supposed to die
  • Go shopping for a black dress for your service...I don't own a "funeral" dress - for my own son's funeral
  • Pick flowers from Momma and Dadda to have at the service...nothing too "cheerful"
  • Create some type of thank you card to send to all the amazing, supportive people who sent cards, food, flowers, gestures of sympathy...we had over 500 notes to send do we thank people when we can hardly get out of bed?
  • Fight to get your autopsy results...why and how did you die?
  • Fight to get your bedding and froggy back from the police...why the hold-up from the MEs office?
  • Fight to survive
  • Decide how to re-enter the world, re-engage with family and co-workers...nothing is what is used to be, including us
  • Start to put your toys and clothes away, including that last load of laundry...dust gathers so quickly
  • Start to get grief counseling, to find a way to move forward
  • Decide to have another baby, when that had never been on the table
  • Smile, when it feels so wrong
  • Start listening to music again in the car
  • Reach out to other bereaved parents, others who relate, who we can actually talk to
  • Learn to cry in front of others, even complete strangers
  • Rehearse complicated answers to simple questions like, "How many children do you have?"
  • Start looking at your pictures, through tears and laughter
  • Celebrate your birthday without you, knowing you will never grow older
  • Face all the "firsts" and dread the day there will no longer be any more firsts
  • Struggle through once-happy just a reminder of the loss and emptiness
  • Talk about you to others, with joy and laughter...and realize this journey will last forever...

Peanut, this list will never be complete.  Because, life without our Peanut will never make sense.

I love you, I miss you.  Sweet, beautiful child of mine.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, November 28, 2011

Running Out of Fresh Memories

Peanut -

Momma is petrified.  Time refuses to slow down.  It refuses to stop short of your rapidly approaching Angel Anniversary.  No matter how tightly I shut my eyes, or refuse to turn the calendar page, the months keep rolling on.  But, I can't face the reality of a year - one whole year - without you.

We passed the 10-month mark this weekend on Saturday, November 26.  Soon it will be December 26...the day after Christmas, and the 11-month mark.  Then it will be January 26, 2012.  One. Whole. Year.  And the next day will be January 27, 2012.  And we will be past the year of firsts.  But, more significantly, we will no longer be able to say, "Do you remember what Peanut did this time last year?"

And then, before we know it, we will pass the milestone of 16.5 months without you.  Suddenly we will face being without you longer than we had you.  How can that be?  How can it be that me, your Momma, will be without you longer than I was physically with you?  How is it that I'm still alive, still here, living a life and planning a future while you're gone?

This reality struck me during a horribly long commute into the office today.  Momma had over an hour to sit in her car, in traffic, to stew over these thoughts before even kicking off the work day.  I've ben unable to shake these fears the rest of the day.

I've stared at one picture of you brain is unwilling to let go of you, to believe something as beautiful and perfect as my Peanut is no longer on this earth, in my arms.

I miss you so desperately.  To the moon and back, Peanut.

- Momma

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Zen-Master Peanut

Peanut -

Dadda and I were talking today about how different this current pregnancy has been from our pregnancy with you.  While Momma's morning sickness was much longer and stronger with you, the overall pregnancy was quiet.  Calm.  You were an active baby, but not a hard kicker.  Your sleep schedule mirrored mine, as did your periods of activity.  I also had relatively few Braxton-Hicks contractions.  You did arrive two weeks early, but somehow we knew you were going to be an early baby.

The Bean, on the other hand, has made his presence known.  At night, just as Momma is settling in for sleep, he gets active.  His kicks, nudges and flips are enough to take Momma's breath away.  Over the last three weeks the Braxton-Hicks contractions have, at times, been debilitating.  During meetings at work, I often catch co-workers watching my stomach with a mix of delight and horror.  In short, your little brother is a wild man!

I wonder...will this be a key difference between you and your little brother once he arrives?  You were such a thoughtful, old soul.  Very few things rattled you, and you tended to quietly size up situations with your clear, knowing eyes.  Even when you took a surprise tumble or conked your head, it was rare that you would dissolve into tears.  Dadda and I were always careful to not over-react, but on your own you would generally just shake off the shock and get right back up on your feet.  You were also a VERY cautious kiddo.  You always had a keen sense of the spaces around you, distances between furniture, the drop from stair to stair, or just how high the couch was from the floor.  Every move was calculated, which is why I think you were a fairly late walker.  I often saw your little brain's wheels turning...why take the chance, when crawling was faster and safer?  You were able to walk on your own at 12 months, but you chose to wait until month 15 to use it as your primary mode of transportation.  Safety Peanut!

Will The Bean be the opposite, or at least dramatically different?  I think so - maybe.  Momma's brain knows he will be different from you in many ways - but will probably also share a lot of similarities.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, one of the dinner guests heard The Bean's due date was January 17.  A look of wonder passed over his face, and he exclaimed, "Oh!  That's an 8 in Numerology!  AND you're having a boy?  That is a very powerful combination.  You should expect an old soul."  I've reflected on that...I HAD an old soul.  You.  Peanut, you were truly an old it possible we will have another?  If so, what does it all mean?

As The Bean's due date, and your Angel Anniversary, approach I find my brain occupied with these questions.  The fear and anxiety of having another baby - of the awful possibility of losing another child - has been replaced by a more universal pondering.  Maybe this is "normal" in situations as abnormal as ours.  Maybe it's part of my brain's healing process.  Maybe it's a message from you, "Slow down, Momma.  Enjoy this second chance.  Love my doesn't replace your love for me.  Just keep talking about me, too."

No problem there, Peanut.  You will be the center of our stories, laughter, and tears for a lifetime.  And beyond.  To the moon and back, baby boy.  To the mooooooooooon and back...


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Choosing To Be Thankful

Peanut -

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  This holiday - one we were lucky enough to celebrate twice with you - is all about giving thanks for our blessings, our family, our friends.  It's not based on religion, politics, gifts.  The day revolves around breaking bread with those you love.

It would be easy for Momma to ignore this day.  First, how can I have a meal with the people I love most, knowing you are missing from the equation?  Second, what about this year do I have to be thankful for as the pain and permanence of your absence becomes more and more real?

But then, yesterday, I received a note from a dear college friend.  In the note she acknowledged how hard this holiday season must feel for Momma and our family.  She also expressed her own deep appreciation for my willingness to share my grief, stories about you, glimmers of hope over The Bean, via this blog.  She shared how it has elevated her own love and appreciation for her family.  How it has changed her view of motherhood. As I read her note through my tears, I discovered just how much I have to be thankful for this year despite of - or maybe, partially because of - the enormity of our loss.

Some of the greatest blessings I count and give thanks for this year:

  • The love and support of the hundreds of family and friends who have surrounded, supported and lifted us over these last 10 months;
  • The understanding and grace shown by my co-workers, bosses, and others who have allowed me to ease back into work, into a safe routine, and have never judged as I reveal my tears and sorrow;
  • The 500 delightful, amazing days I got to spend with you, changed me, my life, my personality forever;
  • The life lessons I've learned in grappling with your loss;
  • The new depth of love I've discovered for Dadda as we grieve, build hope, navigate a new future;
  • The miracle of The Bean, feeling him grow and kick every day, reminding me that you have a little brother who will be here in January...just days before your 1-year anniversary;
  • The power of the human heart to heal, the protection of the human brain to only hand us what we can process, the grace of the human soul to continue to love;
  • The tenacity and sharpness of memories to allow Momma to remember so clearly how it felt to touch your skin, smell your scent, comb your messy curls, brush your little teeth, bump your forehead, hold your tight grip, and receive those powerful Peanut hugs.

Peanut, on this day of Thanksgiving, the weight of your absence feels heavier than usual on Momma's shoulders and heart.  Yet, I choose to give thanks because of you.  I know you will be sitting at the table with us, laughing and enjoying the presence of family and love.  Sending you SOOOOOOO much Momma love the moon and back!

- Momma

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Brush-a Brush-a Brush-a!

Peanut -

Dadda and I have been marveling tonight over what a happy kiddo you always were.  Even when you seemed to want to cry or be unhappy, it just didn't stick.  Even the ONE time to you tried to force out a single, solitary, giant crocodile tear, you couldn't stop your musical laugh from escaping.  My funny little 'Nut.

This got Momma thinking about a daily event that other parents seem to find intolerable.  For us, it was never an was actually a lot of fun.  The morning tooth brushing routine.  Peanut, let's face it.  You had a LOT of teeth very early, so brushing had to become part of our schedule.  We had some false starts with Momma choosing a toothbrush that was too big, or the wrong toothpaste.  But, once I found the perfect little Winnie the Pooh toothbrush, and the Tom's of Maine Silly Strawberry Infant toothpaste, we were rockin' and rolling.

I placed your tiny, yellow toothbrush in my old-fashioned, Momma-style toothbrush holder.  And your toothpaste was part of Momma's arsenal of personal care products.  Often, I would brush my own teeth in front of you, just to help you get the hang of it.  Apparently, Momma's toothbrushing faces are hi-lar-i-ous.  So, it should have been no surprise to me that you would mimic my funny faces when we started brushing your teeth.

Peanut, you were always so eager for me to start on your teeth.  I would sit you on the bathroom counter, and I'd give you a giant, toothy smile.  You would always reciprocate - in spades - and we'd be off to the toothbrushing races!  Whatever I needed you to do, I just had to do first.  If I needed you to open your mouth, I just opened mine.  Ta-da!  Laughter, hand-claps, and clean teeth were always the end result.  Joy!

The smiles, the laughter, produced during those simple morning routines...that's a big part of what I miss the most.  Peanut, you provided laughter in even the most basic, everyday moments.  Your zest for life is what I hold close to my heart.  It's why we are trying to celebrate the upcoming holidays, and to not give in to depression and grief.  To make you proud.  To make you smile.  To produce that giant, Peanut toothbrush smile.  Cheese!

I love you, sweet boy.  Please know you are with us in every moment of every day.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Saturday, November 19, 2011

O Peanut Tree, O Peanut Tree!

Peanut -

The holiday season is going to be hard.  Sad.  Empty.  Lonely.  But, it is also going to come.  And go.  And come again next year.  And the year after that.  We can't ignore it, as much as I want to.  We also can't ignore the large, hollow, empty place in our hearts, our lives, and at our tables, this year.

We need to honor you, remember you, laugh and cry, and start a tradition that will incorporate you into this holiday season and all future seasons to come.  Partially to remember, and partially to share you with your little brother.  While you two won't share the same physical space, you will share a brotherhood.  A family.  A love.  And, he will know you, love you, and talk about you - just like I know you do about him in heaven.

So...what to do?

Thanks, very much to another SUDC family here in St. Louis (Shawn B. and family), we have settled on a new ritual.  This year, and every year to come, we will have a special "Peanut Tree."  It will be a small, but important tree, dedicated just to YOU!  We will reserve a weekend in December to put up and decorate your tree.  The tree will be trimmed with all your special ornaments - "Baby's First Christmas 2009" and the vintage paper mache Santa Claus, to name a few - as well as new ornaments.  Each year we will add ornaments that remind us of you.  Stories of you.  Pictures of you.  Colors of you.

Dadda and I had batted this idea around for several weeks, and then you spoke to me with a powerful confirmation.  Peanut's approval.  In a Hallmark store, of all places!  Momma was running a quick "thank you" note errand, and there it was.  A beautiful display dedicated to our favorite book, "Guess How Much I Love You."  In the middle of the table, an ornament with Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, staring at the sky.  The book is open in the background to the final quote - and Momma's nightly sign off.  It was like...magic.

I promise, we will do other things to pay tribute to you this holiday season, Peanut.  We will hang your stocking with the special "Connor" teddy bear stocking hanger.  We will light a candle in your honor every night.  In particular, on Sunday, December 11 during the "Light The Night" ceremony honoring all children who have lost their lives.  But this tree will be different.  It will allow us to carve out a weekend to decorate a tree, talk about you, tell stories, feel both your presence and absence, and include you in what was always Momma and Dadda's favorite holiday.

Peanut, this doesn't feel nearly sufficient, but it's a start.  I hope you feel our love.  My love, as I talk about you and share everything Peanut with anyone who will listen.  Your absence is jarring.  Your presence is comforting.  And, above all else, the love your have created in our family, is powerful.  Sending you Momma nose nuggles and forehead bumps.  To the moon and back!

- Momma

Readers, family and friends: Our family welcomes and invites your ideas for ornaments, tributes, or anything else that inspires you, as we create this year's tree.  

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for you.  Your e-mails, shares, "likes" and comments have been inspirational, heart warming and have reminded us that we are not alone.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lonely Kitteh Kah

Peanut -

Most mornings when Momma leaves for work, Zeke The Cat is curled up, fast asleep on our bed after a night of frolicking with his cat friends.  But every once in a while, he's nowhere to be found.  I've always assumed he's skulking around the house, asleep in the basement, or up in one of the other bedrooms.  Until this morning.

While I always call out, "Bye Peanut!" when I leave for work, this morning I had a strong urge to sit in your bedroom for a few minutes before starting my commute.  But, when I walked into your room the chair was already occupied!  There was Zeke, curled up in a ball, ready to spend the day sleeping in your room, surrounded by smells and reminders of his Peanut-friend.

Sometimes I wonder if Zeke understands what has happened.  I know he misses you.  In the first weeks, and even months, after your passing I would find Zeke crying in your room.  Or wandering around the house looking for you.  Before we dismantled your crib, I would often find him napping in your sleep spot.  I guess I just figured that phase had passed.

But, then I have to remember just how much you loved Zeke.  I mean, one of your very first phrases was, "Hi, Kitteh Kah!"  Followed, of course, by you whacking him on the head while Momma warned, " gentle, 'Nut."  But he loved it - he must have, because he always came back for more.

Picturing the sheer delight on your face whenever you got to play with Zeke makes me smile from ear-to-ear.  I hope that sometimes you visit Zeke while he's seeking you out.  Maybe you guys play a little hide 'n' seek.  And then you give him a "gentle" pat on the head.

I love and miss you, Peanut.  We all do.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Peanut -

There is a new little boy in heaven, and I know in my heart you are looking out for him along with your little band of angel brothers.  His name is Tyler, and he is only 13-months old.  And he needs love, hugs, comfort.

Yesterday, across the St. Louis area there was a frantic search for this little boy, only to have the search end in what was thought to be the final tragedy.  His lifeless body was found in a wooded area, near a cemetery.  Then, this morning, the tragedy escalated.  Tyler's mom was arrested, charged with 2nd degree murder.  She confessed that in a moment of rage and frustration over her crying son, she beat him to death and dumped his body in the woods.  This little, adorable, innocent boy.  Thirteen months old.  The person he trusted most in this world, his momma, was the last person he saw while being beaten to death.  The fright, the confusion he must have felt.  It defies understanding.

But he's with you.  In a safe place, surrounded by love and laughter.  Peace.

This tragedy has torn Momma's heart to pieces.  Peanut, I would give my life to have you back on this earth.  I would give anything and everything just to have you back in my arms.  So, to hear of a mom who batters her son to the point of death...kills him because he won't stop makes me so angry.  Anger is not an emotion I feel easily.  It is an emotion I haven't given in to over the last 10 months.  But, it is the emotion I feel throughout my mind, body and soul today.

There are so many resources out there for parents who are on the brink of rage, abuse.  There are so many other families out there who would love and cherish these children.  There are just no good answers or reasons for Tyler's life and story to end in this senseless tragedy.

Peanut, I am sending you an extra bundle of Momma love tonight.  Please share it with little Tyler.  Let him know he's safe.  He's loved.  He's home.

I love you soooooo much, my precious little son.  My little guardian.  My sunshine.  To the moon and back.

- Momma


Monday, November 14, 2011

Momma Masks

Peanut -

Momma was home sick today, with a touch of the flu piled on top of general pregnancy and grief exhaustion.  It's strange - I work from home most Fridays, and am home a lot over the weekends, but today was somehow...different.  After taking some conference calls, and catching up on work e-mails, I found myself not only unable to rest, but also unable to stay away from your bedroom.  Momma spent a frenzied hour in your room, searching for something - anything - that still smelled like you.  When my search turned out to be generally fruitless, I sat on your personalized Pottery Barn futon (a Christmas gift from last year) and cried my heart out.

The tidal wave of grief ebbs and flows, some days washing over me with such force I'm worried I'll drown.  Today was one of those days.  In an effort to find some comfort, I pulled all the grief support books down from our top bookshelf (a precarious move for my unbalanced, pregnant self).  In the course of one afternoon I re-read six of the books, searching for answers, support, a roadmap.  Something.  What I found...nothing but confirmation that this is all "normal."

Days like today are actually good for Momma's brain and heart.  Without the pressure of work, or friends and family around, I was free to leave all my Momma Masks on their shelf.  Today was raw, unfiltered Momma mourning.  I use that word - mourning - very intentionally.

Grief is what I carry with me, day in and day out.  It lives in my heart, my soul.  I don't expose it freely, yet it has become my constant companion.  Grief is what will live within your Momma until the day we meet again in Heaven.

Mourning is my public, external expression of that grief.  Mourning is what I exposed without shame in the first days, weeks, months, after your death.  But, once the American culture's accepted mourning period ended (between 4-6 months) and Momma was back to work full-time, mourning was replaced by the Momma Masks.

The Momma Masks help navigate the day-to-day.  They help others feel more comfortable - like they have the old "me" back.  But, they hurt after an extended period of time.  Their fit is unnatural.  Sometimes it's hard to breathe behind them.  They can feel brittle, hollow.  And, a "day off" from them is a truly welcome occasion.  A chance to breathe...just breathe and cry without reserve.  To mourn.

Peanut, I hope you felt me with you today.  I held your froggies and shared some tears of love.  I rubbed your urn and traced the outline of the carved teddy bear over your name.  I turned on and played with your toys.  And, I pulled you close to my heart.  Loving you, missing you, aching for the moooooooooon and back.

- Momma

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kung Fu Peanut

Peanut -

On the way home from lunch this afternoon, Dadda and I drove past a little karate studio, and I broke into a giant smile.  "What's that smile?" Dadda wondered out loud.  So, I shared a little piece of my over-active imagination with Dadda, and we both got to share that smile.

You see, Peanut, I always imagined you taking karate classes when you got to be a little older.  Your incredible manual dexterity, cautious yet sturdy approach, sense of determination, and Zen-like inner calm had Momma convinced you would be a quick study in most sports, and would take well to something like karate.  I pictured you attending classes in a little white outfit, earning your way through the various belt colors, and maybe even watching you in demonstrations and competitions as you grew older.  Even today, I can see it so clearly in my head.

Dadda asked if that story, that image I've created, now makes me sad.  What's funny is, it doesn't.  Maybe it should, but instead it warms my heart and makes me grin.  Maybe a part of my head and heart still can't fully believe or comprehend that you're gone and these projected images and stories somehow keep you alive for me.'s more than that.

Peanut, I'm going to share something I refer to as a Momma Truth.  It is simply something I choose to believe, down to the very core of my being.  It's not anything I ask others to subscribe to or believe, it's not based in religion, it's not political.  It just is what it is - a Momma Truth.

Momma Truth About Heaven:  Peanut, when I think of you in Heaven, I don't picture a God, or angels, clouds, harps, flowing white gowns, or a suspended state of being.  I picture you living a full, stimulating life in what is a perfect, happy, parallel universe.  In that place you are playing baseball, learning karate, reading books, dancing to funky music, sharing Peanut hugs, and warming the world with your sunshine smile.  While you might miss Momma and Dadda at times, you are also present, with us, all the time.  You see everything we're doing, and you're by our sides participating.  Back in April I wondered via Eric Clapton if you would know my name when I saw you in Heaven.  But, now I've never been without me and I've never been without you.

I share all this to try and explain why I smile every time I see a karate studio.  It's because when I see you and get to hold you again, I know you'll be a master black belt.  And, you'll have lots to teach Momma.

Peanut, I love you sooooo much.  I know you've seen how hard the last few days have been, and I also know you sent me that smile today.  Sending back to you giant bunches of Momma love, hugs and butterfly kisses.  Maybe even an extra-special forehead bump.  To the moon and back, my handsome 'Nut!

- Momma


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Sound of Silence

Peanut -

Henry The Dog left for training school today.  Since Dadda had the day off work he was able to meet with the trainer who deemed Henry "smart and trainable" within about 30 seconds.  We now face a whole week without Hank.  And, already, we've discovered the house is intolerably quiet.  Which made us remember...this is how it felt in the days, the weeks, after you died.  Henry came into our home and lives and helped partially fill the giant, painful, quiet void left in the wake of your loss.  As he drove off in the trainer's van, the pounding silence descended before we could anticipate or prepare.

In the silence, Momma's brain had the opportunity to think back to exactly one year ago.  Veteran's Day 2010.  Dadda was off work that day too.  He brought you downtown to visit Momma at work, and you guys took me to lunch at one of my favorite places.  We had such a nice, fun lunch and marveled over the gorgeous, warm, sunny November weather.  After lunch, you and Dadda headed to the St. Louis Zoo where you had a VERY close encounter with a little giraffe and then tried to climb into the lion's den.  Peanut, my little lion man!

The memory made me reflect...we had no idea how short our time was with you on that fun, warm November day.  The future stretched out before us and it seemed so certain.  While I'm so thankful we never had to watch you suffer through a long illness, I also hope we gave you every ounce of love and appreciation we could while you were here rather than take the days and moments for granted.  I think we did.  I know I am now so much more conscious of telling Dadda, "I love you" every time we part ways.  I am so aware of treating my friends as if every interaction might be our last.  To loosely quote so many songs, I live every day as if I were dying.

And yet, my heart still breaks.  The crying had been unstoppable this evening for both me and Dadda.  We have filled the echoing silence with tears, gasps, sobs.  While I hate that you have to witness this, I hope you know we cry because we love you so very much.  Guess how much.  Yep, that's right.  To the mooooooooon and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Making Sense of the Senseless

Peanut -

On the day you died, and every day since, I've come to realize we live in a world that truly doesn't make sense.  If it did, you would still be here.  If it did, we would be living our quiet life, watching our little boy grow up, working hard to make a good living to support our family.  If it did, my heart wouldn't hurt so much, leaving me to wonder how I still get out of bed, breathe, function, every single day.

But, the world we live in is a mystery to me.  Yet...I've chosen to get out of bed.  Breathe.  Function.  Every single day.  I've chosen to live.  To make you proud.

Part of this commitment has revolved around work.  After your death I went back to work far too quickly, and got sucked back into full-engagement mode before I was ready.  Looking back, I can see it so clearly.  However, work was a good distraction and gave me a purpose in those first few months.  And now I find myself in a place where I've taken on a new, demanding leadership role surrounded by people who either don't know about our family or have already forgotten.  And it is...exhausting.

Peanut, I can people find joy in working against each other?  How is it pleasurable or productive to challenge, question, and create confrontation rather than aim to partner, collaborate, and work towards a common good?

My commitment to make you proud is the reason I took this new role.  Momma saw an opportunity to do great work.  To make a big, positive impact.  To simply do the right work, the right way, for the right reasons.  Was that senseless of me?  Was I expecting too much sense in this senseless world?  Or, am I just expecting too much of either myself or of others?

<sigh> The only thing that makes sense to me tonight is the joy I felt in being your Momma, my Peanut.  I look at pictures of you, watch your videos, and I know that part of my world, my life, was the definition of perfection.  Sense.  My appreciation of the gifts you brought to my life deepens every single day.  My appreciation of my love for you grows bigger, deeper, wider, every minute of every day.  And my love for you stretches to the moon and back and back and back again.

Missing you terribly.
- Momma

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Peanut -

Momma tapped into a new resource, a new community today. It is one I've been avoiding, and still haven't fully embraced. The Bereaved Parents of the USA.

Maybe it's my final shred of denial. Bereaved Parents? No, that's not for me. Those parents have lost older children. Or, children to suicide. Or, children to tragic accidents. But, not a toddler who was rapidly growing into a little boy, who went to bed healthy and never woke up. Those parents haven't lost MY little boy.  They can't understand my level of loss, grief, desperation.  They didn't know my Peanut.

The Bereaved Parents of the USA's Winter Newsletter showed up in Momma's inbox this afternoon. Strangely, I couldn't wait to read it. And, once I started, I read it cover to cover, non-stop. Poems, and stories, book reviews and helpful hints for "surviving the holidays." Thoughts and commentary that echo my own questions. My own concerns. These authors, these parents...they are...just like me.

So, maybe our losses are different in terms of the details. But the journey. The long, arduous journey we have all been on is remarkably similar.

Peanut, I am thankful for these other parents who are willing to share their hearts, their grief and their learnings.  In sharing, they help people like your Momma figure out how to persevere.  

For those who read this blog in the midst of their own grief journey, I share the Letter From The Editor. It is short and beautiful:

Eyn Chaya Kazo!

Bereaved parents are strange creatures. We are different, in some fundamental way, from people who have not shared our experience. Although we appear normal, perform the daily tasks expected of us, and seem to fit in the society in which we live we know it is a sham. We know the design of our lives no longer fits a regular pattern. Others do not understand and do not believe that the changes to our core selves are real and that this new type of creature we feel we have become actually exists.

In October [2011] Israeli scientist Daniel Shectman won the Nobel prize in chemistry. He had revealed that certain crystals do not link up in the symmetrical pattern that nature demanded. Quasicrystals, he called them, line up in a non-repeating fashion that was previously thought impossible. “Eyn chaya kazo!” he exclaimed, in his native Hebrew, upon first seeing this phenomenon, “There can be no such creature!” For many years the scientific community refused to believe quasicrystals existed because it altered their basic understanding of what a crystal is.

Like the scientists refusing to believe there could be a different kind of crystal, the world we face can’t, or won’t, comprehend that the patterns of our lives no longer fit a regular plan. We are expected, after a brief mourning period, to return to the life we lived before; doing jobs, maintaining connections, fulfilling responsibilities. Friends, family and co-workers don’t understand that although we still look like a crystal we have become quasicrystals— unable to be the reliable, predictable, symmetrical souls we were before our children died. Even so a quasicrystal can be a beautiful thing. There’s a Nobel prize that says so.

- Editor

(Taken from the national Newsletter of BP/USA - A JOURNEY TOGETHER.  Website:

Peanut, I've had your face, your smile, your forehead bumps stuck in my head all day today.  I think of you, see your image, and I smile through the bitterness of this loss.  <sigh> Oh, how I miss you...  Sending you love across the light years of eternity.

- Momma

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Peanut Connection

Peanut -

Today Momma embraced her new norm.  New reality.  The new Momma I have become.  There wasn't a bolt of lightning, crash of thunder, or even what some might refer to as a pivotal moment.  There was just...a moment.  A question.  And, an answer that felt normal, appropriate.

This afternoon I got to meet the new leadership team I've joined at work, after spending the last several weeks simply communicating via telephone and e-mail.  We all congregated in St. Louis this week to meet in person, and get some planning work done for 2012.  While the main focus of this meeting is work related, there is also a big component of "getting to know you."  To that end, we were all asked to introduce ourselves by sharing whatever we deemed important in our personal and professional lives.

At 30 weeks, it is quite obvious to everyone that I'm pregnant with your little brother.  So, of course, that was a no-brainer to share.  But from there...what?  Hmmmmm.  Then, a question from the room, "Is this your first?"  And just like that I realized, I HAVE to share I have a son.  A Peanut.  A little boy who would be - should be - 2 years and 2 months old.  And, his name is Connor.

I knew this could make the room uncomfortable.  But, it is who I am.  Who we are.  I am Peanut's Momma.  My love, my motherhood, my grief, my tears, my memories - these all define who I am today.  To not reveal the facts about you would feel wrong.  Like denial.  Like a lie.  How could I not share the accomplishment I am most proud of - you?  So, I did.

As we went around the room and continued introductions, I realized something else.  I made an instant connection with someone else in the room.  Another momma who has experienced her own loss.  Different, but similar.  My share opened her up for her own share.  And just like that, a new version of The Peanut Effect came to life.  The Peanut Connection.

Peanut, your far-reaching impacts never cease to stun me.  Amaze me.  Humble me.  Thank you for teaching your momma some of her most important life give, share and love freely, openly, honestly.

My sweet, amazing son.  My Peanut.  I love and miss you sooooooooo much - to the moon, and back.

- Momma

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Splish Splash

Peanut -

Wow, the last two days have been a whirlwind of activity.  Yesterday we had a string of doctor's appointments - some "normal" baby stuff, and some not-so-normal.  And today we had a beautiful, meaningful, Peanutriffic baby shower for your little brother.  While the lion's share of these activities are bittersweet without you, they have led to a few very positive days.

The doctor's appointments for The Bean have been different since we don't really know how/why you died.  The amazing team at SUDC have compiled a list of recommended tests for for expecting SUDC families and their subsequent (ick, I hate that term) children.  So, this poor little Bean is going to be a bit of a pincushion when he's born.  Until then, Dadda and I had to get EKGs yesterday, and we had a 30-week ultrasound to check-in on the Bean.  We also met with your amazing pediatrician to discuss some additional tests the Mayo clinic can run on YOUR birth blood panels, which is pretty interesting.  While we don't expect earth-shattering answers, it still doesn't hurt to pursue every avenue, right?  We ended the day with the reassuring news that your little brother looks fantastically healthy, and is weighing in at 2 pounds 11 ounces.  Good stuff!

Today's baby shower was a joyful event, attended by immediate family and a few close friends.  It was the first time Momma had seen this group gathered in a room since your Memorial Service.  Stunning.  Peanut, you were everywhere at the shower today.  We all remembered back to your baby shower just over 2 years ago.  Your name filled the room, stories about you abounded, and Aunt Dru and Aunt Colleen had Peanut-nods woven throughout the event.  Tins of mints with bright green, smiling froggies.  Bottles of spring-green hand lotion for all the guests.  The cake was covered with tiny butterflies.  And, a lot of the gifts were Very Hungry Caterpillar themed.  It was...perfect.

One of the first gifts Momma opened was a Fisher Price Fun Tub for bath time.  The sight of it made Momma crack up.  When you were itty-bitty, most of your baths took place in the kitchen sink, but as you grew we moved you into Momma and Dadda's giant, powerjet bathtub.  A bathtub that had no mats, skid strips, traction devices...just a nice, slick surface.  Combine that with baby shampoo and a slick, wet kiddo and WHOOSH! you basically have a slip-n-slide.  I'll never forget your shocked expression, eyes round as saucers, as you slid from one end of the tub and back as Dadda and I tried to get a grip on you.  And never once did you cry or look worried.  Once we finally had you stabilized, you simply gave us that, "Hey! Can we do that AGAIN?!" look.  Hilarious, and perfectly Peanut.

It was so fun to have the chance to share that story - that memory - with all our friends and loved ones at the shower today.   To hear everyone laugh over you, rather than shed tears.  This...this is how it should be, as often as possible.  To remember the joy.  The delight.  The little moments that now mean the world.

Peanut, my heart is full of joy and love.  I so wish you were here physically, but I feel you.  I've felt you all day today.  Sending you buckets of Momma love - to the moon and back!

- Momma

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chin Uh-PUH, Momma!

Peanut -

After spending the better part of this week in a dark blue funk, capped off by a totally inappropriate crying session at work this morning, Momma realized it was time.  Time to square her shoulders, lift up her head, take a deep breath and...just keep breathing.

No, this isn't a Pollyanna moment.  I'm not going to burst into a Broadway-esque rendition of "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow."  No revelations about clouds and silver linings and unexpected blessings.  But, there is this: We have survived the worst imaginable loss ever this year.  Nothing can compare, Peanut, to the loss of you.  Yet, here we are.  So, by that logic, we will survive this too.

Peanut, Dadda's company announced on Monday they are closing their doors at the end of the year.  No severance packages.  No health benefits.  Nothing.  Two weeks before your little brother is due.  And, while "it's just a job" it was, for us, a sense of security.  Momma was planning to take an extended maternity leave this time around, knowing we had the security of two paychecks.  We were evaluating whose health insurance to use for The Bean.  Everything felt like it was going to start falling back into place in 2012.  We had started to feel...hopeful.

Now, we're facing the reality of one paycheck.  No extended maternity leave.  No options around insurance, as Momma's company dramatically changes health plans to save corporate expenses.  No true sense of financial security as we support this family.

But, we'll be OK.  It will work out.  Now Dadda might get to stay home with your little brother as Momma goes back to work.  And, if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that Dadda will be the BEST stay-at-home parent in the world.  We've also learned a lot about who we trust, how we trust and when we trust.  A lesson I'm glad we learned now, rather than 5 years down the road.

Peanut, as I sat in my office crying this morning, I heard your little voice saying "Uhhh-PH Momma!"  I vividly saw the image of your delightful, pleading face and outstretched arms asking for me to lift you onto the couch.  That image, in that moment, told me it was time.  Time to put my chin uhhhhhh-puh!  Put the steel back in my spine.  Face the day.  And, breathe.

Peanut, I hope you know every tear, while salty with sorrow is also full of my love for you.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Searching for Hope

Peanut -

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of "hopeless" is:  Having no expectation of good or success; despairing.

Yep.  That sounds about right.

For the first time in weeks...maybe even months, that is exactly where Momma is tonight.  Hopeless.  2011 has been a year that continues to defy all reason.  I keep thinking we can't possibly have one more bad thing happen to us, only to have the universe course correct me in the blink of an eye.

This year has not been without its own blessings - The Bean, to be specific.  The pregnancy is still progressing well, and he is one active, healthy little Bean.  According to the books, he's actually more like a butternut squash at this point.  But, calling him The Squash just doesn't flow like The Bean.

But, here we are, in the midst of anticipating a lonely, hollow holiday season, the awful 1-year anniversary of your death, and the arrival of your little brother and we receive one more blow.  One more obstacle.  One more challenge from the universe.

Momma has switched back to survival mode.  A terrible place to be, but a necessary protective device.  I can't help but wonder, "What have we/I done to deserve this?  What message are we not hearing?  Why us?  Why all of this?"  These lessons are lost on me.  Instead, I am confused.  Wounded.  Bending so far I feel I'm about to break.

Was all that was good, beautiful, perfect in my life lost on January 26, 2011?  I think, perhaps it was.  As I have wondered out loud before...maybe I've had my happiness.  I look back at pictures of life with you and almost don't recognize that woman.  That mom.  That bliss.  That joy.  That Peanut.

Searching for hope tonight, in a world that has lost meaning.  And, loving my little Peanut in a way that is indescribably painful.  To the moon and back, sweetie.

- Momma