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Where am I am smiling, mom?” We are looking at baby pictures of Henry in our photo software. It’s opening because iPhoto has been acting all strange. Things are not where they are supposed to be. There are 3-4 version of some pictures. In off moments, I’m trying to sort, to make room for the hundreds more pictures we will take this year.

Is that me, smiling?” He scans for signs of happiness. He absolutely smiled when he was a baby. I know because he was just the sweetest little soul. I can tell from the pictures that I kept trying to get just one with eye contact and a smile. The ones with his older brother are the best, or his baby friend Ella.

Did I like being a baby? Did you like that stroller? Did that toy make me laugh?” My kids always know. They share just enough of my own thought life to know where it is worth digging for treasure or dirt.  I wish I could say I blocked out those early months with Henry, but I have not. My husband does not enjoy the walk down memory lane. “It hurts to think about,” he says. I agree but it hurts more to look at those photos and not talk about it. I carried that child on my body for months. The pictures I have of him not in my arms were moments he was well enough to be put down. There were moments I had arms and distance. I’d take a picture to document his cuteness. But, he was too thin and sad. He was sick. He was sick and now he is 6 1/2 years old with just a little bit of information.

I’m not sure when to have the talk. When do I tell him that he was such a sick baby? Does it matter now?
Maybe my larger question is how to talk to Henry about Sensory Processing Disorder and Anxiety without making it all too hard, sad and terrible. There are amazing things about him that come with the SPD and the anxiety. He has all the highly sensitive person traits that people talk about, without the introversion. He has a will of iron which he uses to attempt to bend the universe into a manageable level of stimulation. It’s not pretty but it has served him well over the years. He wants to be “normal,” and is not. He has no savvy. It’s like living with Linus, the most sincere Peanut person of all human history.

Hello there! Happy Halloween! Trick or Treat, but no tricks, because that would not be so nice. Are you having a good holiday?

That is how Henry tricks and treats. At Christmas, he shouts out “Christmas Joy to us all!” He has no idea how much cuter he is made by his big hair. He has learned it is big. “Will kids make fun of my hair? Will my friends laugh? It is so big today.” It gets bigger when he is happy, sad or angry. He is almost always happy, sad or angry. His hair knows, like he knows he was not a “happy” baby. He has no neutral. We strive for 3rd gear. Getting out of 1st and staying out of 5th may be a life-long project.

He was happy, when he was well. By temperament this is a person who loves to be joyful but trips on every obstacle in his path. So, do I tell him he has a disorder? Is that just another obstacle for him. I want him to have a little savvy. Just enough to help himself out of a fix, and let his hair do its own thing. I want him to know the bright lights and extra loud sounds of PE may set him on edge just enough to create a meltdown later in math class when he writes the number 4 not quite right. I want him to know his penmanship is exception for someone with such overall low muscle tone, but I also don’t want him to change the benchmarks he has for himself. I don’t want to promote the idea that anyone is expecting less. We are not. I’d just like him to give his own 6 year old self a break sometimes. But he won’t. He is driven. He will no more give himself a break than he will give me a break. His brain is a sponge. It needs more and more to chew on. When he is bored, he worries. When he worries, his adrenaline sky-rockets, and the sensory processing get worse.
He must press forward. He cannot pause. I am left wondering if I should tell him, what I should tell him if I do tell him. I’m still looking for him smiling in the pictures. It’s there. He knows. We both know there is a truth not yet uncovered in all this. I’m not trying to hide it. It’s hidden in plain sight.

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At night, they sleep in star fields, by day they run with wildflowers.

10/14/2000

Lily Rose 2/8/2005

 

A gift from my sister. If you are remembering anyone today, I’d love to know about it, to hear your story. You can leave a link or just share in the comments. As you can see, I am 10 and 5 years out from these pregnancy losses of my girl children. I’m upright and alright. If you are needing support, I recommend Share and Glow in The Woods, a best friend, some brownies, maybe a glass of wine.  Beyond that I have no advice, I’m just listening.

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We’ve had a large helping of illness at our house recently – ranging from the common cold, to pneumonia and h1n1 -including its full range of symptoms! September 17th was the first day of this current round. Kids have been in & out of school since then, both Matt and I were down for the count at one point or another. Today is the first day they are all three back at school, Matt at work & I am recovering. Somewhere underneath this mess of laundry is my apartment, that we moved into. It is an eyesore today & needs my attention, but I am not sure I have it in me.

Today’s distractions include:

Ordering a tea kettle with a proper hum. I am hoping this one works. Our hotpot got shorted out by this places ancient wiring & I don’t want face that tragedy again. For nearly a month we’ve been boiling water in a pot on the stove, but kettles are so much nicer to look at on the stove top. It’s yellow, which I hope will help with the kitchen design challenge.

Winning an ebay auction for a stroller buggy board. Our ancient one is no longer made, so when I re-order the connector pieces, they did not fit at all. We have to have a simpler method of getting to school. Sometimes I am just not up for supervising the city street scootering. It’s bad enough that when allowed to walk, Theo often shouts to everyone on the street, “Hey everybody, let’s play tag!” The scootering often turns to racing & the pedestrians of Northampton do not need to be mowed down by small children pretending to be Mario and Luigi, at least not everyday & certainly not on days we are running late. By the way, my stroller does not look like that. We have a normal looking Maclaren. (Did I just stroller name drop on my own blog? Good grief, I need to get out more.)

Signing up for National Novel Writing Month, because I clearly am not busy enough. I have no idea what this means or what I will write, but I know several other writers who did this last year & found it excruciatingly painful and/or rewarding. If you are going to write along this year, please let me know so we can harass/encourage one another.

That is all I have done thus far in the way of distractions. I’m sure I’ll think of other ways to be marginally productive. Perhaps I will got do errands that involved going to three different stores for three different things or consolidate my school, church, doula and social calendars so I can pick a day for a apartment warming party – it is freezing in here & a mess, which brings me back to the need to clean it, only I’d prefer to not spend today cleaning. I need to sit down and be tired. I need to sit down for a moment and be grateful that I have done 9 years past the day I almost lost my life in a complicated miscarriage of pregnancy. I need to stay inside myself and tell Jordan that I miss her & wish she were here to be 8, pretty and bossing her brothers around. We need another girl around this place.

*******
Here’s a song my sister shared that just takes my breath away as I love, miss and keep going.

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I’m not holding out hopes for much support here, but I am starting a grudge match against the country of Italy. Anyone want to jump on the bandwagon with me? No? Okay. What if I made an exception and said you could still like the people, the art, the music, the food, the wine, the coffee, the lingerie and the shoes?

That’s better. My best friend is moving to Italy in a matter of months now & I’m not taking it well. I’ve decided to boycott Italy – again, except for when I visit her & except for the people, the art, the music, the food, the wine, the coffee, the lingerie and the shoes….so, really more just the concept of Italy & of Sarah moving there.

Everyone is taking Facebook quizzes, with the result: everyone I know should live in fracking Italy, according to the “What country should you live in?” quiz.

Hey, Facebook, stop ending questions with prepositions & please stop suggesting that people I like leave the country because it is “better” than here – I’m sure Italy is better than suburbia, but I refuse to let something so irrational as reality get in the way of my feelings on the topic!

I’m not saying I won’t go to Italy. I’m just holding a grudge. The truth is that I am going to miss this friend more than I can say, more than I can blog about in any serious manner…I cannot see how my stay at home mommy life in suburbia will not work without this woman, people…. I stumped. I can’t figure out how I am going to make it work. She has henna hair & a nose ring.
If you have a tattoo, body piercings or a broomstick, please move here so I can be friends with you and we can be safe at the playground together. Even if you are Italian, I won’t hold it against you. (Bring wine!) Last night, I had nightmares that the women at the playground cornered me because I was friendless at our upscale park. I a totally pathetic, I know. (Bring chocolate!)

I have other friends here (hey people, love you! let’s have tea and cookies!) but some are working, some live a little further afield, some do not cuss as much as me because they are better Christians, and some have kids not quite the same ages so they are running in different circles – soccer practices & school pick-ups, not play dates & library story time….Sarah, she’s my person.

You suck, Italy. I hope you appreciate the gem you are getting to enjoy for three whole years. When I get over their to visit, you better not be making her cry or I’ll eat all your chocolate & drink all your wine.

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More than anything else my children enjoy water play in the summer time. It is hands on, creative, messy and fun. The only source of stress to visit us on those hot summer days was under the spigot. The water source was a precious commodity. The boys vied for control over it, even while I insisted that I was the only person actually in charge of the spigot. I developed a little system to minimize water usage and yard flooding. I placed an extra large bucket under the flow and emphasized to them that as it filled up, we would turn off the spigot & use the water in the bucket to create our mud pies, sandcastles & lakes, as well as to water the flowers, vegetable and mosquito farm. I had not problem whatsoever with turning the spigot back on if they used the water in the bucket, I just didn’t want it flowing needlessly.

LP, with his need for control and order, had a hard time with the bucket rule. He seemed to misunderstand, or perhaps just had his own issue with the overflow. As the water neared the top, he would begin to wale, to shriek with fear that it would spill. If we turned off the water too soon, there was “not enough.” If I waited too long there was “too, too much.” He had the same issue with the kiddie pool. There was some perfect level for the water at which he felt the pool was full, but not overflowing. The simple sloshing of water over the side unraveled him & he was without the words to explain why it troubled him so much.

This past week LP’s little issue is resonating deep in my heart & soul. I’ve had my fill of losses, disappointments, frustrations & insecurities. The bucket is just too damn full this week. Part of me wants to just tip it over & let it run all over the place, but I’m left with the feeling that the overflow is going to cause some catastrophe that will hide the daylight for a long time to come.

This isn’t my first date with depression or medication. It’s not my first time sitting in the dark & feeling afraid to move. It is the first time my intuition has broken though. My intuition, I’m realizing, is the part of me that I most recognize as me – the part of me that connects my brain and spirit to my body, that keeps me moving one foot in front of the other in times of great joy & times of great pain. Without it, I’m adrift in a boat, tossed by whatever waves push me over. I see no shores & the fog is everywhere.

When I am alone, I sense almost no connection to the people around me. Nothing but their words or their physical presence assures me that I am not in fact, alone in a boat, adrift at sea with little hope of rescue. I cling to them to become anchored, but I am afraid to reach out, afraid by desperate need will drown them, that the overflow of this emotion will leave me that much more alone.

I read the daily office. I say the prayers out loud to bring truth into my body, that I am loved and cared for, that there is some ground under me. I ask for my people to lay their hands on me, to give me their energy and faith freely, so that I won’t need to steal it. I sit on the floor and breath upward the feeling of solidly sitting with the earth & hope the feeling lasts when I get behind the wheel. The vertigo of psychic disorientation overwhelms me. When I awake in the night & early in the morning, the surprise of it, the shock, is still there. I’m never prepared to greet life in this way. I’ve always felt the spiritual presence of those around me. I’ve also had some internal sense that gives meaning, hope and purpose to what is happening in my life at the present moment. Right now, I can’t see past 5 minutes ahead of me. Doing more, trying more brings a panic, a tightness in my chest. The bucket overflows.

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Two years ago tomorrow, I started this blog. And just like that two years go by. I did actually start it one day after the anniversary date of the day we tragically lost a pregnancy with a girl child who would have been 2 years younger than our Thinker. Two years ago, I was coming to terms with the loss and wanting some way to process it without staying stuck in the most raw bits of my grief. Two years ago I was also reeling from life with LP, a two year old that did not in any way resemble my first two year old boy. Two years ago, it was the beginning of my journey as a mom with a developmentally non-typical child, though I didn’t know it at the time. Two years tomorrow I was also a new mother again – of a 6 month old who is now 6 months, plus 2, nicknamed Little Bear

On Sunday, we lost him. We lost him for, I think, 5 minutes. It may have been 4. In our yard, down by the brook. It was a busy day – four adults here & 4 kids, actually. We should have been playing man to man, I suppose. The problem with LB is that he is a flying under the radar type of child. He tends to be so angelically good that he is easy to overlook among older, louder & sometime more naughty children. And, so it happened. While making the transition from back-yard capture the flag, to run around the house & pile in the van to go apple picking, he didn’t appear. I’d walked through the house to get the diaper bag. Matt was confident he had followed me in, because he walked around the house with our two older sons & soon to be niece & brother in law.

But he hadn’t. We scattered – my sister checking rooms & closets. I ran to the brook, the access right by our yard, but didn’t see him. Matt walked back into the woods towards the water & started to walk upstream. The soon to be brother in law, walked to the street & scanned for two year olds. I wanted to go inside to check again & sent Thinker & his new 9 year old cousin to the part of the brook up by the road – it is harder to get there, but I heard Isaac’s voice. “We found him,” I ran like mad, and he was fine – just standing there throwing rocks in the water, calmly making sure that I took 5 years off my life. He had no idea he was lost. Four adults, two 9 year olds and a four year old calling his name & if he answered he did it sotte voce.

The first two minutes, I was befuddled, but assumed he was just inside, or had circled the house on the other side. The last ten seconds of the second minute I spent asserting to everyone else that something was desperately wrong & we sprung into action. At the three minute mark, terror struck. I began to hyperventilate and sob, but continued to run and search, not allowing my mind to picture LB as a body. Death was a shadow thought, a horror to add to October’s sins.

It probably was at 4 minutes that he was found and at 4:30 that I had him in my arms – the horrors & shadows kept at bay for one more day. That I might lose anyone of them is a reality I keep as distant as I can. In October, I lose that battle a bit more often than I’d like to admit. It has after all been 8 years since that pregnancy went drastically wrong, but death asserts itself around this time, because I nearly died that day too & a body does not easily forget something like that. The cells, the blood, the brain, they store information like that and leak it all over the beautiful fall foliage.

My sister and I gave the two year old a sharp lecture on talking to big people before visiting the river. His response “River! River! I go river!” We role played him asking each adult & each 9 year old “Can I go river?” He thought this was a wonderful game and enjoyed not having to share our attention with any of the other children. We, of course, we trying to make ourselves feel better, safer and pretend that we could all learn from this. Also, we were hiding from other children so they wouldn’t know we were totally freaking out, because LB is our baby. He is our littlest one & Jen was there when he was born, so he belongs to her in a very special way that he is quite clear on (My Jenni!).

We recovered enough to pick apples and eat cider donuts and thank Jesus that LB was just standing idly by the moving water. I kept the horror at bay all day, surrounded by such a lively brood, enjoying my expanding family and excellent food. When the house was quiet & the sky dark, my body woke me up in pain. My brain zeroed in on my littlest one standing by the brook, his older brother’s hands on his shoulder. His soon to be cousin, standing in front of him. There is nothing we all won’t do to keep these littlest ones safe & close. Eight years ago, all I could do was lose Jordan and make some effort not to get lost myself. Sometimes, there is no amount of looking around that will help. Other times, the alarm goes off and it is all action, all go until you fix it. Then somehow, either way, we move on and chase the shadows away.

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I thought it might be good for me to mention that yesterday was a due date for a baby girl I named Jordan. She was lost to me in a traumatic early second trimester miscarriage, in which I nearly lost my life. The aftermath of this incredibly horrific event spilled into every area of our life when weeks later, when I was still recovering in bed, my husband was laid off work. Already at a tipping point, he suffered greatly in a depression that lasted for roughly three years – though parts of those years were better and parts were worse – he was under or unemployed for about that much time. Already a mother of one, I picked up what slack I could in those years and burdened my friends and family with my endless needs for support, love, encouragement and ideas. I was blessed enough in those areas to have people in my life who were not willing to let our family go down on their watch. There is no replacement for having people like that in my life and I will be replacing none of them any time soon.
Our emotional recovery took its own time. I cannot look back on one day that I think, okay, that was the day. It took years to even think to myself – have we reached some fragile peace that can be shored up with time and better memories? We took turns grieving over our loss, then over the tail spin that began that year, each having to move slowly through time, much of it on our own, yet under one roof, sharing a boy who was growing from toddler to preschooler before our eyes.
We carry to this day the financial burden of those years, eeking out our livings with three kids, knowing time was lost on the financial goals that make one’s fit into this world a little easier- we are two people in our thirties living in suburbia, married for nearly 12 years and we do not own home. This is not the norm in these parts — but neither is our decision to have three kids and have me stay home with them – the lay-off can’t take all the blame there, but the leanest years we had a couple are still what sketch the edges of our canvas.
We might have rolled along this way indefinitely, wandering if we were forever tainted from the experience, forever on the outside of what we used to call normal life. Then, one day, we were pregnant. I suddenly knew there was no ticket back and our only choices lay ahead of us. I was terrified of another loss – what it might do to him or me or us. I lived in a foggy terror and took short visits to happiness and hope that I feared being punished over – I made it through the very, very worst round of anniversaries I ever had to – pregnant on the date of the miscarriage, 11 weeks, spotting, and still hadn’t heard a heartbeat & pregnant on the phantom due date – a day which I habitually had bled through up to that point. The moment the pregnancy began, our recovery was what you’d have to call on the fast-track. Nothing ever could have gotten us, just as we were, to the next goal post aside from that. We moved forward and threw into the mix of birth dates, due dates and anniversaries, a third set.
And thus we lived for a while, all dates separate and distinct, the roles they played in the shaping of our year. The months we got pregnant, the date of the miscarriage, Thinker’s due date, his actual birthday, Jordan’s due date, LP’s due date, and birthday – even making it through a second very early miscarriage when LP was still a babe in arms, yet another set of dates, all achieving this crazy, crazy effect in which there was hardly a single month of the year that I had not been pregnant, nor was there a season without some anniversary of something that could set my body into a fully regressive mode to bleed or lactate at the slightest autumn sent or the first bloom of the magnolia. Then the pregnancy with LB, all slightly off kilter from the other dates, filling in whatever blank spots may have been left (up til that point I not think I had ever been even the slightest bit pregnant in July for example). All the moments of joy and loss jumbling together until one day I looked back and realized in less than 10 years of marriage I had been pregnant 5 times – and I had spent the first three years on the birth control pill. So that was actually 5 pregnancies in 8 years, and it was a small wonder I could hardly escape a moment from all of that to breath.

This year the magnolia’s bloomed incredibly early. We had a week’s worth of summer in April here in New England. The blooms opened fast and died quickly in the heat. We hadn’t had much rain. The year we bought and planted a magnolia tree on Jordan’s due date, all were in perfect bloom on May 3rd. I will always do my grieving when they flower. This year’s due date was marked by a little milk flowing from my breasts in the shower yesterday morning and today as well. I was at a conference up at church and took a brief walk to check on the magnolia we planted. I was alone at church – which never happens – so I took my time on the walk. The property is rather large and lots of it still wild. It was a wet and cold spring day. Our trees flowers have darkened with each year. I seem to remember picking out a pink-blooming tree, but each year I notice its hue is closer and closer to purple. It is odd as that is exactly the opposite of how I feel about what to do with the phantom due date of May 3rd. Each year I feel less need to have it stand out from all the other days. It is much more than a blip on the radar screen and much less than it was the first year it rolled around, the date I had dreaded in my hearts for months – and yes, it was just heart-wrenching as I though it would be – and 7 years out, the day is swept up into the current of life, one of the many, many drops of water that make up the stream.

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