Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Boy and his Tub

Cohen went through a period of time where he hated baths. Like didn't want to get in, wouldn't sit down, and wanted to get out immediately. I'm so thankful he has learned to love his baths again.

We did a little after dinner finger(car/bug) painting the other night. When he got it all over his face and in his hair I knew a bath would be required.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Day 20

Day 20: Hope
(Do you have hope for the future? What do you hope for those who will join this club in the future)

I do have hope. I have lots of hope. I have to or I won't get out of bed to face another day. I have hope that my boys will grow up knowing how loved and precious they are. I have hope that the things we are going through now will be able to help give someone else hope. I have to believe that this isn't all for nothing and that good will come out of Carter's life. 

The hope I have for other parents who may be facing loss is that they are supported in even greater ways. I hope that their baby's life is validated. I hope they are giving the opportunity to spend time with their baby and to make as many memories as they can in a short amount of time. I hope that the healthcare system and those involved in it can be kinder in the words spoken and actions taken. I hope that people can be more aware of their words and how much they can affect grieving families. I hope families know that they are allowed to grieve their baby(ies). I hope that no one ever tells them to "get over it" or to "move on". I hope that families can find support and love to get them through the hardest time of their life. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall Walk

We have had a really beautiful fall around here. Lots of morning fog which isn't fun, but makes for sunny days and hardly any rain! We've been trying to get Cohen out as much as we can because we know the weather will change any day and continue raining for the next 9 months.

I have been loving all the colors around our little town lately. I took Cohen on a little afternoon walk because I had seen a big pile of leaves at a little park by our house. He wasn't terribly interested in the leaves, but he did love pushing his truck down the sidewalk all the way to the park and back. Cohen decided he was going to "cwoss da stweet" so we had a little chat about holding Mommy's hand and making sure no cars were coming. I would stop to take pictures and he would keep saying "come on!" He cracks me up with all the things he says.

I love this time of year. Boots. Pumpkins. Leaves. Cool, crisp weather. Warm drinks. Hats. Pumpkin patches. I love fall.

Pumpkin Patch Rounds 1 & 2

We went to the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago when our friends were up (I think I forgot to put up pictures...) Cohen really liked it and we got invited to go with my sister and her family this weekend so we went for it! Cohen is happy about anything outside. This was actually his third trip to a pumpkin patch.

This time we decided to go pick apples and took a little ride on another tractor pulled wagon ride. It was his favorite part. We may even try to squeeze one more trip in sometime this week! The boy loves it, what can I say. Lots of room to run, pumpkins to look at, animals to see...right up his alley. These are pictures from our two trips to the same pumpkin patch. Our middle visit was to a different little farm that was a "Cohen and Mom" date so I didn't even take my camera. But we had a lot of fun. The last one we were at we rode a wagon pulled by horses out to the pumpkin patch and he loved "riding the bus". They also had a little petting zoo, and much to my amazement, he rode a pony!

{Andy, Tamara, and Danny}

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Days 16 & 17

Day 16: Seasons

All of my babies have been born in the early summer. When I was pregnant with the twins I would always think about how huge I would be and wonder how I would possibly make it through the summer (I was due in Sept). Little did I know that I wouldn't get a chance to be miserable all summer. I ended up on bedrest in May, ended up in the hospital, and then delivered, all before summer even officially arrived.

There are also seasons of grief, some "harder" or "easier" than others. Seasons when the yearly anniversaries come up and I spend many of my days remembering the moments or tearing up a little more than usual or the holidays where I wish our whole family was here to celebrate. And then there are seasons where I am able to be so thankful for the changes Carter's life brought about in my own life and those around us.

Day 17: Time

Even though there are a set number of hours in the day, days in a month, and months in a year, time never seems to take up the same amount of space. A year seems so short and so long at the same time. Can it really have been two years since I last held Carter in my arms? And at the same time, has it only been two years? It seems like I have spent a lifetime without him. Somehow the days stretch into months and the months into years and life keeps moving whether I want it to or not.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Day 18: Release

The prompt for the day was this: What do you want to let go of on this journey of grief? Is it fear? Guilt? Worry? Deep sadness? Regrets?

Death affects people in profound ways. Especially when it's someone who isn't supposed to die. It touches every part of my life, some for good and some that I wish I could let go of.

I worry about my babies. I know all parents do to some degree, but sometimes the fear of losing them is too much for me. I can't let Ezra sleep in our front room because I am genuinely afraid that something will happen to him and I will be too far away to protect him. I still go in to make sure Cohen is breathing at night. Ezra fell deep asleep one day and he wasn't moving. I made Danny go and try to rouse him because I couldn't bear the thought of having to find him no longer alive. It sounds morbid and paranoid, and sometimes, I am. Losing my child is a feeling that I never want to have to experience again.

I regret not spending more time with Carter, although I know no amount of time other than a lifetime would be enough. I want to let go of the irritation I feel for the people who didn't walk me through bathing Carter and holding him skin to skin and making molds of his hands and feet. Those are moments that I could have had that I will never get back. And I am sad that I didn't get those chances.

I do have deep sadness and while there are days that I just want to go back to not knowing that sadness, I also know that while it hurts, it reminds me how deeply I have loved someone. This whole grief journey wouldn't be so very painful if it wasn't about something that was so precious to me.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Family Catch Up

I feel like I've been chasing my tail the last few weeks trying to catch up on everything going on. Cohen has another cold, ugh. We've been implementing Operation: Not Catch Everything on the Planet. I'll let you know in a few weeks how it's working. Cohen is always kind enough to pass on his germs to be and I am notorious for keeping germs and getting sinus infections. Lots of fun.

Ezra turned 4 months old! I can't believe my little chunk is getting so old. He really is a sweet boy. He still isn't a great sleeper (okay, he's a pretty terrible sleeper), but what he lacks in sleeping skills he makes up for in cuteness and general contentedness. He learned to roll a few weeks back and is now rolling continuously across the floor. I put him on a blanket, turn around, and find him in a corner or up against some piece of furniture. I'm impressed at his ambition, but not so pleased with his partial mobility already.

Danny is still working away, spending his Wednesdays off with the boys while I work. He is deep in the midst of football and fantasy football.

We have been having fairly nice weather around here, cold but not raining, so we've still been trying to get out of the house when we can. Every morning when Cohen wakes up, the first thing he says is "Go Bye Bye". It's a challenge to keep him busy enough to not go crazy while trying to keep Ezra on somewhat of a consistent schedule. My family comes to my rescue quite often as Cohen hates being cooped up in the house. He needs adventure! I'm still trying to figure out what behaviors are his need of sensory input and which ones are just him being an incredibly busy boy.

Other than that, I am still working one to two days a week. We are still making diapers and are starting to plan for NICU care packages! Whew. No wonder I'm tired!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Well, this feels nice and cozy doesn't it? Thanks for following our blog into it's private stage. It really is too bad that there are people out there who would go so far as to claim someone's photos and story as their own, but it is what it is. I still want to share my babies and our story and if this is how it needs to be done, then that's what we'll do! Some of you have asked if you can still share our blog with others and the answer is of course, yes! Just direct them to email keepingupwiththekimmels@gmail.com and I can add them.

Thanks for continuing to follow our journey!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Monkeys and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

At the beginning of the year, we heard about a program through another state where we could get a cheap zoo membership (to a zoo in Kansas actually), but my purchasing that membership, it allowed us to get into our zoo for free! Yeah, I'm not sure how it works anyway, but we decided to go for it. We have been twice and it has already paid for itself so we are pretty happy.

We took Cohen to the zoo once earlier this summer but wanted to take him again before the weather gets too cold. He loves animals so we were pretty excited. We asked him last night if he wanted to go to the zoo and he immediately went to get his bag so he could go. I'm not entirely sure he understood what the zoo was, but knew he wanted to go!

He stayed awake the whole 2 hour drive. We got off on our favorite exit, the one to our NICU, and went to get sandwiches from a little place we found in our 4 months in Seattle. They are the best and every time we go anywhere near there I beg Danny to stop. So we stopped for sandwiches, Ezra woke up and started screaming which caused Cohen to start screaming because he hates the noise. Those sandwiches were still totally worth it.

We met up with our friends Bridget and Elliott and we were off to see the animals! The sun was supposed to come out and make it a 60* day, but there was only fog and it was cold. We made the rounds as best we could, changed 3 diapers, wiped countless sniffly noses, and stopped for a snack. Although we missed the elephants, bears, and a few other things, we did get to see lots of animals and Cohen had fun! He passed out when we got back in the car, although he only slept for about half the drive home. Then home for a bath and early bed!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Going Private

Today is a sad day. Due to several people I know having their photos and stories stolen and claimed as someone else's, the blog will be going private for the time being. I am really bummed and disappointed because I know when we were going through all that we were, blogs of people who had been in similar situations were a HUGE help to me. I'm hoping to find a way that I will be able to protect my photos so that they can't be used by others and have the blog remain public. If I can figure out a way to do that, the blog will be able to remain public, which is my hope. Until then, the blog will be private.

It makes me so sad that there are people out there who would take the heartbreak, trials, and triumphs of someone else and claim them as their own for attention. But, it's the world we live in and my first job is to protect my family. My hope is that we can find a way for the blog to continue to be public  so that people can find our story and hopefully find some encouragement and hope in it, just like I found in other's blogs.

If you would like to be added to the list so that you can continue to read the blog when it is private, or know of effective ways to protect photos and content, please email keepingupwiththekimmels@gmail.com and we will add you. Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cohen 2+ Years: Favorite Words and Phrases

Cohen talks all the time. He's a little quieter in unfamiliar places, but at home he is quite the chatterbox. He is always surprising me with the words he knows that I haven't heard him say before. Here are some of my favorite things that he says:

Need help!

Mommy sweeping (sleeping)...(whispers) quiet!

Big burp.

Kinda dark. See moon.

Play buttons.

Little house, so cute!

Hold Mommy, hold Daddy (when he wants to be held)

Smells good (when tickle his neck, I think he means feels good)

Daddy home soon.

Go Gamma's house play.

Ashwa cwying (Ezra crying)

Good job

Mommy go woom again (Mommy go room again, when he wants us to come play in his room)

Ready, set, go!

And here's a few videos of the little man in action.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Day 12 & 13

Day 12: Article

I've read lots of articles. The one that has stuck with the most is this one from the Center for Loss in Multiple Birth. Grieving the loss of a multiple is such a unique experience in that you are grieving for a lost baby and celebrating for a living baby. You are in anguish for the parent you don't get to be while trying to be the parent you do get to be. You are saying goodbye to "twins" and the life you thought you would have and getting used to words like "surviving twin" or "single twin".

From the CLIMB website:

"One twin" – it seems like a contradiction in terms...It was not something we ever would have imagined at the time of learning that we were expecting twin babies, and everything became "twos". Yet for so many of us, because of the high risks in pregnancy and birth, it is the way it turned out: we have one to care for and raise while missing and mourning for his or her twin. We experience all the realities of becoming a parent at the very same time as all the realities of becoming a bereaved parent, and all in one package. Not this year and next year, but all at once now, and "my twins". We grieve for our baby and for our twins being together, and we worry about the impacts on our survivor. It is often a deeply sad, confusing, and physically and emotionally exhausting time. We're the last ones who need to be told to be grateful when a baby lives – yet finding joy in our survivor can be a huge challenge, for so many reasons, even though we need and want to all the more, and want our child to be happy.

As if this weren't enough, many of us experience feeling like we don't fit in anywhere, and that no one understands what we are having to go through and cope with. We also usually receive comments by others who may mean well but aren't trying to "get it", urging us to downplay or even deny our loss. (Like we want to hurt so much – but it hurts more to act like this baby was the only one or that our other child didn't matter.) With all the attention paid to living multiples, and little shown of the risks and realities, it is also easy to feel that we truly are the only one and are much more unique than (sadly) we actually are.

Just when others think we are or should be doing fine, is often when we need the most support. Because of all the realities and pressures of caring for a newborn (and for many, having a tiny survivor who is in the NICU) none of us is in the position of being able to "only" grieve, as painful as that is. Many of us find that the grieving process really begins when we bring our survivor home, and for many of us that means after weeks or months in the NICU (and just when others might think everything would be "normal" now). Later also there are pressures from others and from within ourselves to be "fine", to be coping, to not expect to spend much time thinking about our baby who died or doing what we need to do in relation to him or her. Sometimes we get used to putting our grief to the side and then it can seem scary to get in touch with it when we do have the opportunity or the need.

But – we have the same amount of grief as anyone who loses a baby, plus the grief for "my twins" and the concern for our survivor, and so it gets stretched out over a fairly long period of time – longer, not shorter because of having a survivor, and complicated, not "easier". Besides our sheer feelings of losing our baby, we have a great deal to re-live and process emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically about what happened, "why" it happened, and how to somehow integrate it all into our ongoing life. While all that is going on, we are dealing with a birthday which is also the birthday, and then the anniversary, of our twin who died...other landmarks and day-to-day reminders...issues about talking to our survivor and about what they may be feeling, and similar for any older children we may have...and often, issues about another pregnancy.

All of this is a big order, especially when we think we're supposed to do it without appearing to be, and without support. We don't recommend you try it alone! and hope that this section and others in this site will be helpful in some way. This section is focused on the loss of a twin during pregnancy, at birth, or in the days or weeks after birth. Also in this site are sections on the loss of a twin or multiple to SIDS (which is relevant to other sudden losses in infancy), and the loss of an "older" twin or multiple (after the age of 1). The section If You're Pregnant Now focuses on the needs of those who learn during pregnancy that one of their multiples has died ("going longer"), or will not survive past birth ("knowing ahead"), or who are pregnant after one twin has born born prematurely and died ("delayed interval delivery"). Also, we are in the process of constructing a section on raising and talking to surviving twins and multiples.

Day 13: Books

In their grief, some people go straight to books. I was trying to juggle the NICU and other things so I didn't have a ton of time to read. The two books I found most helpful were "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo and "A Grace Disguised" by Jerry Sittser. I highly recommend both of these books. 


Saturday, October 12, 2013

NICU Care Packages 2013

It's almost that time again! I went back and forth about whether we would be able to do them this year, with 2 little boys requiring lots of attention and limited resources financially on my end.

BUT, I think I would just be totally bummed to not be able to do them again this year. So, we'll make it work! We have been so incredibly blessed by all the support for this project and there's absolutely NO way we could do it without our family, friends and even strangers.

So I'm going to do a little thinking out loud here for myself. I still want to make sure every family gets a hat and blanket (new - knit, crochet, or sewn or store bought). As far as the things for parents I think we will shave down the list a little and do:

- Hand sanitizer
- Lotion
- Granola bars/protein bars
- Candy
- Chapstick
- Vitamin C drops/Emergen-C
- Small children's books (we loved reading to Cohen, it felt like it was one of the only things we could "do")

I would also like to still send a few bags for parents in need (preemie clothes, diapers, wipes, small new baby toys, hand sanitizer).

Whew! That's my brain for now. I'm getting excited to be doing this again, it has been a wonderful way to give back to our NICU.

You can see our past years here and here

Friday, October 11, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Day 11 - Triggers

Day 11: Triggers

My major trigger is seeing twin boys. It's like a knife in my heart or a punch in the gut, or both at once. Every time. Part of me can't help but stare when I see them and the other part tells me to run and get as far away as I can. I can see twin girls, or boy/girl twins and it's still hard, but obviously the twin boys are a different story. It's a painful reminder of what our life should have been like. What should have been for our boys. They should have had each other and we should have both of them. As much as my grief has changed, this is one thing that still gets me each time.

My babies at 20 weeks. One of the last ultrasound pictures we have of them together. We never got to see them together after they were born. The ultrasounds I have of both of my boys are some of my greatest treasures.

Play Buttons!

A while back, I inherited a tin of buttons from my mom. They were my great aunt's and there are tons of them and all different kinds. At some point, I gave Cohen some to play with and ever since it's been "play buttons!" all throughout the day.

 He is pretty good about keeping them on the table or better yet, on a blanket on the floor. Buttons are a brilliant toy. You can dump them, pour them, sort them, match them, and find different shapes all while working on fine motor skills. I usually sit Cohen down on the floor on a blanket and give him a little jar of buttons and he just sits and plays with them for quite awhile, you know, like at least 10 minutes! he likes to put them in different containers or cars or whatever he has around.

I've shared my struggle with finding something, anything that Cohen will actually play with. Before buttons, he played with cars. And only cars. Now he plays with cars AND buttons. Yahoo!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Day 10: Beliefs

I know this can be a touchy subject for some, and I also know that not everyone shares my beliefs, but I would still like to share them.

God is good, all of the time. This was hard for me, like, really hard. How can a good God allow people's children to die? I struggle greatly with this, and I don't have all the answers. Sometimes we wrestle with wanting to know why. I have come to the conclusion that on this earth, I may never know that answer and that I will drive myself crazy trying to find the answer. I have chosen to try to focus on the fact that it happened and now I can choose what I make of it.

God has never left me. I have walked away from him and then accused him of leaving me, but he has never left. He has always been there, waiting for me to come back to him. Even if I've yelled at him, cursed him, accused him, or ignored him. He always takes me back. As I struggle with those emotions, I have one of two choices. I choose to believe that everything I've said to be true is true, or I can call it all a bunch of lies and walk away. I've been in both places. But in those dark, hopeless moments, he has always been there. Whether it's through a Bible verse, a friend, or him speaking to me, I know he's there.

Everything happens for a reason? I don't believe that God caused my child to die. I do believe that he allowed it, but I don't think he was sitting in heaven thinking that I looked like a mom who needed to lose her child to learn a lesson. This may be debatable among some of you, but in this moment, I don't believe that. I do believe that I can learn many lessons from my situation and find new purpose in my life. I believe that God uses these hard times to draw us closer to him and to reveal his truths to us if we are willing to see them. Good things can come out of hardship. But I don't think he was sitting around twiddling his thumbs and taking babies because "heaven needed another angel". My God is kind and compassionate and caring. He knows what it's like to watch his son suffer and die and he is there with me in my pain.

God can handle it. I have been angry (so, so angry). And God can handle that. He knows that we aren't perfect, and I don't think he has called us to blindly accept things as "the way they are". He has given us thoughts and emotions and choice and the freedom to explore those things. I have gone to those dark places, with thoughts and emotions that overtake me and threaten to upset everything I've ever known. And I always come back to God. And he can handle anything I can throw at him. 

This isn't it. I don't believe that this life is all there is. I find it sad to know that there are people that believe this life is all there is. If it is, then what's the point? We die and it's just...over? We struggle and grow and change and affect others, all for nothing? I know that when I die, I will go to heaven. I will be reunited with my loved ones, I will be free from hurt and pain, and mostly importantly, I will get to see God. I can't wait. I also know that Carter is in heaven. And some days, that is the only thing that brings me comfort. He is there not because of anything I did or he did, but because of Jesus. Because he has taken away all of our sins, my baby can be with him forever. And that's pretty much the best thing I've ever heard.

So there you have it. I'm not perfect, I don't have all the answers, but I do know that God exists and that he has a plan for my life.

Also, this article has been circulating that I found very interesting about the ole "God won't give you more than you can handle" issue.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Capture Your Grief - Day 9: Music

Rascal Flatts - Won't Let Go

Favorite Lyrics:
I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
If you can't cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let go

I love this song for not only Carter, but for Cohen as well. I will never let go of any of my babies for as long as I live. I cry every time I hear this song.

Mercy Me - The Hurt and the Healer

Favorite Lyrics:
So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

This song. Everything about it, the lyrics describe this journey so well. This impossible journey that I could never walk without my Healer. 

Selah - I will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says…

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen Me
To carry you

This song makes me cry every time. EVERY time. Written by a mom pregnant with a child that was not expected to live. Written by a mom who knows the pain of burying her baby. A mom that knows that Jesus is now carrying her child when she can't.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Baby Love

When I was pregnant with Ezra, I didn't know if I could ever love another baby as much as I loved Cohen. And then he was born. Honestly, it wasn't immediate like some people say, maybe because of our history and the fear of another loss. I felt like I had trouble connecting before he was born.

But now? Man I love this kid. Like, seriously really love him.

The chubby thighs.

The drool.

The gummy smile.

The big eyes.

The curled up toes.

The way his head finds that spot in my shoulder.

His soft hair.

His general contentedness with life.

The sometimes needy manner (that I'm okay with).