Saturday, May 26, 2012

James Ethan

I always wanted to be a mommy to three boys.

And last Saturday, that dream came true.

James Ethan was born via c-section at 8:37 AM, Saturday, May 19, 2012.  He weighed 6 lbs., 7 oz., and was 20” long.  Like his sister, he spent his first day in the NICU on oxygen and a feeding tube, but was back in my arms Sunday.

james ethan birth (12) 
For my own documentation, I’ll come back in another post and fill in the gaps about the c-section and our hospital stay and my recovery.   I just needed to get his arrival up on the blog before any more days passed.  Sometimes, I forget not everyone I know and love is on Facebook (Hi, Kendra!), so many of you haven’t heard this news, let alone have seen the adorableness that is my fourthborn.

Thus far, he is my most mellow baby; is nursing like a champ (huge surprise there!); and has already stolen my heart in a way that I seriously did not expect.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day memories

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since Jim introduced me to Doug and Sara.  Oh, if I’d only known!  And I’m so glad that first impressions don’t really count, because I was such lousy company, thanks to horrible allergies and a Benadryl haze.

And here we are, eight years, seven kids, a handful of jobs, and dozens of barbeques later…

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Saturday, May 19, 2012


Sweet baby boy,

I can’t even imagine who you’d be today.

I think about three-year-old Seth.  His monkey birthday party, with his best friend Gage and his hero Charlie.  Remembering what his vocabulary was, continuing the nightmare that was potty training.  Figuring out how to parent a toddler who was becoming more pure boy each day.

I see two-going-on-three Erin.  Yes, she is just days into this two-year-old stage, and yet, it is already so evident to see the toddler she is going to be versus the baby I’ve grown to love so.  She skip-hops down the street, Bentlie dangling by a sidewalk chalk-streaked ear from Erin’s grip.  She has a fiery personality (which is a mommy’s polite way of saying that she has a temper) and a sweet heart.  And she is like no one I’ve ever known.

And then there is you.  Is it sad and macabre and morbid to say that I sometimes think of you as my ghost child?

You were little person who never got to be anything more than a dream.  A one-pound miracle occurrence that touched my body for 158 days, my arms for 12 hours, and my soul forever.  On one hand, it’s a comfort to know that I can “make” you into whomever I’d want you to be.  Whatever blend of your daddy and me that I can imagine, in both looks and personality.  I wonder if you’d be like Micah, in true just-a-blink-younger-than-your-brother style.  I wonder if you favorite color would be green, just because it’s Seth’s favorite color.  OR.  If your favorite color would be anything BUT green, because it’s Seth’s favorite color.  Would you have Seth’s dark eyes, or Erin’s blue?  Would your hair have a rare double crown like your big brother, or swirl delicately from the right like your little sister?  I wonder about these trivial things, I suppose, because nothing about her child is ever truly trivial.  Not to a mother.

I can’t say that I doubt our decision to have you cremated.  I’m glad that we didn’t have to pick a final in-the-ground resting place for you, because I can’t imagine how we would have made that choice: to return to Tennessee and leave you in Ohio; or to return you with us to White House, only to leave you two years later.  That said, I struggle with not seeing your tree throughout the week.

duncans maple
It, as I suspected it might, became your place.  You are there, to me, more than anywhere else on earth.  Not so much your urn, though I know that holds your earthly remains.  Not your blanket, though I know it cradled your brief stay with us.  Not your footprint ornament, though I know it was the last thing you touched.  No.  It is your tree, so carefully selected and planted by a family who loved you immensely, simply as a reflection of the love they had for me and your daddy.  I stand at the tree, and I feel close to you.  I feel whole in a way that only comes when I am free to publicly acknowledge you, and my role as your mother, even in your absence.

I asked Andrea to pick up birthday balloons for you today, and to tie them to your tree in my absence.  While I know there are few people on earth that love you more than her family – especially AP – it still hurts that it is a “surrogate mommy” doing this favor for me.  If I weren’t otherwise occupied today, I think I would have made the delivery myself, just to be near you on your third birthday.

Speaking of that “other” occupation….

Oh, baby.  I know you aren’t here.  I know birthdays are so foolishly irrelevant in heaven.  But today has always been YOUR day.  People all over the world know that May 19 is Duncan Thomas’ birthday.  But today, you become even a little bit more human, in the fact that you learn a lesson that all people who have a sibling need to learn, and that is to share.

You see, today, you become a big brother again.  You’ve shared your birth month of May with your sister; today you share your birth day with your newest brother (or sister… I’m writing this when only God yet knows the identity of our new baby).

It was a day that we would have chosen to avoid.  Not so much because it is a sad, tragic day.  Because it wasn’t.  Not really.  It was a beautiful day that was completely, entirely, utterly about you.  Treasuring you. Getting to know everything we could about you.  Before we had to say goodbye.  So, really, the 20th was the sad day.  But the 19th….it was the day of your birth.  You were our little fighter rockstar, Duncan, and May 19 was YOUR DAY.

And now we’ve asked you to share.  Or rather, God, via Dr. Gibbs, has asked us to share what had become sacred and solely yours.

My immediate reaction of course was no!  Especially when I thought we’d had the perfect day all squared away – May 11.  Eight days after your sister’s birthday, eight days before yours.  Perfect.  Planned.  Scheduled.  And foiled.  By no one’s fault, per se.  But foiled, nonetheless.  And then, because of the crazy, frantic, bureaucratic, paper-driven, insurance-heavy world we live in today, we were handed the “last resort” option of welcoming your little brother or sister on the morning of your birthday.  But then, the voice of reason, aka Daddy, was brought into the loop, and as soon as I told him what the doctor had said, your daddy responded without hesitation, “I’m okay with it.  I actually think it’s going to be really special.”  (He gets that sweet, sensible, sensitivity from your Gramma, I think, because when I told her, she said, “I think it’s an honor, really.”)

If you care – which, in my heart I know you don’t – it would sure help your worrisome momma to know you would feel the same way as Daddy and Gramma.  I would like to think that your little three-year-old self might even be excited to get to share your birth day date with your little brother or sister.  And just in case your weren’t all that excited, I also know we would spend the next 20 years making sure you both felt special, unique, and individually celebrated on your birth days.

So, of course, now that I’ve managed to turn YOUR birthday letter into more about your new sibling than you (ugh, failing at the “individual” celebration already), I just have to tell you again, and again and again and again….

I love you.  I miss you every day.  I know that logically if you were here, Erin wouldn’t be, and what mother can fathom choosing one child over another, but that logic doesn’t stop me from wishing Seth had his little brother riding shotgun in his big blue truck.  My heart aches for weeks in early May as I cling to the memory of my last days with you.  Sometimes, I order pasta pomodoro even when I don’t want it, because it was the last meal I had while you were with me, and it’s “ours.”  Just because the things that belong to just you and me are so few, and heartbreakingly less than the moments and memories I’ll acquire with your siblings, I still need you to know – I need the world to know – that I love you passionately.  I love you fiercely.  I love you as much as each of my “take home” babies – and maybe, in some other realm, even more.

Apple Jack…..I miss you.  I miss you every day, in ways that only the two of us realize or recognize.  Your memory, your place hasn’t dimmed in the three years since you left.  Your place in my heart, in our home, as our second child is firm and unshakable.

I promise, no matter what is contained in the blog post I write next…today is your day.  It’s your birthday.  Today, I will consciously, deliberately, and joyfully celebrate YOU.

Happy birthday, baby.  We miss you.  We love you.  The first thing I’m going to eat after surgery is birthday cake for you.

Love, Mommy

Friday, May 18, 2012

If I’d only known…

I hate that I don’t have any photos to accompany this post.  We’re all moms with smartphones; you think we’d be used to whipping out the cameras to capture rare memorable moments.


For the past, oh, I don’t know, at least 4, maybe 5 years, Jim and some of his best friends…oh wait, I do have a picture for this!

jerry's wedding

Anyways, these five guys have gathered in the Dayton/Cinci area for a annual guys’ weekend in the spring for the past half-decade.  It usually involves several hours of March Madness watching. golfing, Dave & Buster’s, Montgomery Inn, Bill’s Donuts, and general “boy stuff.”  And while we wives have never stood in the way of this tradition or begrudged our hard-working hubbys this getaway, we have gradually hinted at a reciprocal weekend for us girls.

And this past September, we actually pulled it off.

Four of us girls met up in West Chester, Ohio for a 48-hour retreat of shopping, eating, and girl time.  And we kept up pretty good pace with the boys when it comes to the eating department.

We met up late Friday afternoon at our hotel, and enjoyed a relaxing (kid-free!!!!) dinner at Bravo!, followed by a screening of the chic flick I Don’t Know How She Does It.  Saturday was full of outlet mall shopping, followed by uber-yumminess at the aforementioned Montgomery Inn, and then Graeter’s ice cream (which, really, wasn’t all that impressive; I’ll take my Handel’s any day).

Anyway, the point of this post actually isn’t about marking this weekend, though it is probably worth documenting, because the likelihood that we’ll manage it again any time soon is slim.

The funny part is this…

As we were headed to dinner Friday night, I marveled from the backseat of Nikki’s crossover, “I can’t believe we actually, finally, are doing this.  Then again, it’s the first time we haven’t had at least one of us pregnant or nursing in the last 5 years.”

And then Kristen, who strangely had insisted on sitting in the front seat due to a sudden onset of car-sickness, sheepishly says, “Well, that’s not exactly true…”  Hooray!  She was announcing to us that she was about 9 weeks pregnant with her third child.

Between dinner and our movie, as the four of us walked around the local shops, we each shared our current positions on our growing families.  Nikki and Jerry have one son, Jackson, and while they may want additional children, Nikki is pursing an administrative/principal certification and position within her school district so the timing is less than ideal to expand their family; Craig and Steph have three-year-old Aaron, sweet Zachary in heaven, and are pursuing Chinese adoption; Kristen had just shared her news that they were adding #3 to 4-yr-old Emily and 2-yr-old Aiden; and then there was me.

I remember saying to Stephanie, “I’m so glad Jim and I already have decided to put off any baby-making for at least the next year, because I think I’d have learned Kristen’s news, and totally gotten baby envy,” to which Kristen overheard and responded, “Yeah, just watch, I’ll call you in a couple months, and you’ll be pregnant.”

This was Friday night.

On Wednesday, I ducked out of choir practice early to pick up a Dollar Tree pregnancy test.

And, yes, we laughed a when I sent Kristen the text that said, “You know how you said you’d call in a couple months and I’d tell you I was pregnant?”  Little did I know that if I’d had any inclination that girls’ weekend, I’d have gotten a positive result on a pregnancy test….

Anyways.  Not my most eloquently written or profound blog post.

But given the emotion of this week, it’s good to reflect on how this final gestational journey of mine started.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It is the third week of May, and the weather is perfect.  Cool breezes, bright blue skies, sleeping with the windows open.

I stand in my mother-in-law’s bathroom, and let the hot water beat over my swollen belly.  I rub the loofah, dripping with Ivory, over too-tight skin, and I start to hyperventilate, just a bit.

Move, I think.  Please, just move.  I can’t handle this, please, just a little move.

You’d think I was just having a horrible flashback, but I’m not.  I’m fully present, three years later almost to the day, and I’m not talking to Duncan, I’m talking to our sweet, unborn fourth child.

I’m 38w pregnant, and I was never supposed to see this day.

My MFMs in Tennessee said I’d be fortunate to make it to 30w, given my history.  But 30w came, and then 34w, and I slowly crept closer to the magical 37w mark that would allow Dr. Gibbs to take this baby from in  to out, and we could all breathe easier.


Last Thursday, I had an amnio. Just a precaution, said the doctors.  We’re fully expecting perfect results.  Be at the hospital Friday morning at 6:30 for your c-section.

I had the amnio.  I dropped Seth and Erin off at my in-laws.  My mom and I enjoyed a pricey Italian meal while Jim golfed.  And at 9:30 pm, Dr. Gibbs cancelled my c-section due to “poor results” from the amnio.

Disappointed.  Anxious.  Angry.  Discouraged.  Miserable.  All these emotions and more overwhelmed me, and any clarity that may have let me appreciate the fact that I was sparing my baby NICU time.

May 11 was supposed to be this baby’s birthday, and it wasn’t.

Tuesday, I had a routine NST, which the baby failed miserably, prompting Dr. Gibbs to order a BPP, which the baby passed beautifully.  Little stinker.  So, we wait.

And while we wait, I become more pregnant.  More uncomfortable.  More apprehensive.

The baby, while we know is small, is still, for all intents and purposes, out of room.  Therefore, movement is slowing down.  A lot.

And I’m terrified.

I’ve spent more time on my left side, consuming gummy bears and chocolate covered raisins and Pepsi, than I’ve spent the whole pregnancy.

Friday morning, I will have another NST, and based on today’s (lack of) movement, I’m anticipating another BPP.  And since my children apparently like to mess with my head, I’m sure the baby will again cooperate, and we will wait some more.

I’m so tired.  I’m so emotionally and physically drained, and I just want this to be over.  Which is a sad way to end this final pregnancy of mine.

But as Duncan’s third birthday approaches, and garage sale signs begin to litter Walbridge yards, and the cottonwood drift from the trees to my sinuses, I sit.  Swollen belly.  Heavy heart.  The kicks slow, and the flashbacks quicken, and I find myself willing away the hours til I can take an Ambien and sleep away more hours, just to wake to another day of waiting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tribute to 2

It’s a couple a weeks overdue, this photo tribute to my precious baby girl.  May has turned out to be an insane month for our family, but that is another post entirely.

I can hardly wrap my brain around that fact that I have a two year old daughter.  A lot of days, I can hardly wrap my head around the concept of “daughter” alone, never mind TWO.  But two she is.

23 pounds and 33.5” of (messy!) blonde hair, blue-eyed spunk and personality that tries my patience and stretches my heartstrings.

Erin Elizabeth….nothing on earth could have prepared me for the wonder of you.  Your sensitive spirit, your empathy to Seth’s hurts, your attitude, your energy, your never-ending fearlessness.  You are so special, so unique.  So difficult to parent, so very easy to love.

So many changes have come in your second year, and I know it has been rough on your little psyche.  Your little brother or sister growing in mommy (yes, still) has made it even harder for me to parent you and attend to you in the way I would have liked.  I hope you are no worse for the wear.

I’m so thankful for you.  My life is infinitely better (if not sleepier and messier!) for your presence.  You are my gorgeous girl, my Lucy Lou, my sweet beana girl….

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