Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Loss of "My Twins"

I miss my twins. I want my twins. One of the things I think I will always feel most robbed of, aside from getting to raise my child, is the loss of my twins. At the time we got pregnant and found out we were having not one baby, but two, there was a video going around of a pair of twin boys playing in the kitchen, laughing,  and speaking their own magical language that they both clearly understood. I was so excited to watch that in my own life. I long to see the relationship they would have had with each other, literally a part of each other. Watching them meet milestones, maybe developing their own language, and having that close special bond that doesn't exist anywhere else.

I want to hear the "Are they twins?" and the "How do you do it?" questions. I'm sure I would have gotten tired of answering, but I wanted those things. I wanted to join the moms of multiples club. I wanted the matching outfits, the two cribs, the babies holding hands. The bond that only identical twins can have. I wanted the boys to have built in wrestle buddies, playmates and probably even someone to fight with.

My reality is that people that don't know us, don't know Cohen is a twin. Unless of course I have the generally awkward conversation explaining our story like I did today. A fellow coworker had a family situation and will be off work. Trying to fill her spot, they called me to see if I was available to work next week to cover her shifts. Sorry I can't help, but Thursday is my son's birthday. No, sorry, I can't work Wednesday either. I wish I could help, if it was another week I could. Well, um...(sigh, internal battle with how much to say) my son is a twin. His twin died at birth, so that week is just not a good week for me. 

It will always be a bittersweet day. The day that should have been the best day, the day I became a mom. It should have been filled with squishy baby pictures and smiling faces. By now you know that's just not the way our story went. Instead of people oohing and aahing over our twins, we had a single tiny baby in an isolette and an empty crib at home waiting to be taken down
. Not the way we pictured our twin experience.

I'm thankful for the brief time our boys got to spend together, I just wish they had more. That we had more. My heart grieves that my boys don't get to grow up together. That I don't get to have both my boys as individuals and as twins. Instead of living out the life of having twins, we are watching others raise their twins, feeling the depth of what we are missing out on and hoping that somehow, our boy will forever feel the bond with his twin and that it will bring him hope and strength.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Minding My Own Business

I've been feeling a bit convicted about a few things lately, and this is a post to myself. One of them being the amount of time I spend on the computer/my phone, Facebook specifically. I always feel so overstretched, out of time, and like I never accomplish anything. And then I got to thinking...what if I didn't waste time on facebook (spacebook anyone?). Sure it's nice to keep up with my friends and know what's going on in the world, and I love my friends, but do I really need to know what everyone ate for dinner and get invited to play random games all day?

What if I could just mind my own business? My own family? What if I got back that time I spent mindlessly scrolling through pictures, reading posts, perusing groups reading about everyone else's lives. What if I just lived my own life? Spent time with my kids. Didn't worry about what "breaking news" I was missing. Let me just say, I'm just as guilty as the next person about posting lots of pictures of my kids, thinking everything they say is hilarious (it is!), and trying to keep up with everyone else's life. I'm just as hooked as the next person, feeling the need to post pictures of my cute kids all day and tell you who just wiped boogers on me or played in the toilet (again). How many pictures of my kids do you need in one day, right?

I love facebook, I really do, there a lot of really great things that have happened because of it. But I want to spend more time focusing on myself, my family, and my kids. I want the energy and time I spent keeping track of everyone else's life happenings to be spent focusing in instead of out. The last couple years I have used social media (blogs, fb, etc) as a way to connect to people and it's been amazing. Sometimes, I worry that if I leave I will miss those connections and will miss out on opportunities to connect to people entering the land of baby loss or preemie land. There were many days that I spent scouring the internet for support, for parents of twinless twins, or who had been on a journey similar to ours. I have a hard time just trusting that if there is something/someone I need to be involved with, that it will happen. But, I know if it's supposed to happen then it will.

So, for now, I think I will just mind my own business. At least in the land of facebook anyway. I'm still going to be updating the blog because it's how I keep track of my life, so you can always check in on us here. Now don't do anything too fun without us!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

We Made It!

Hooray! This little time period of working full time is done and whew, it was a hard one. I am really enjoying my new job at the hospital but, I'm ready to have more time to spend with my family again. I am so thankful that I have this chance to work a little less and be there a little more for my family. I love my boys so much and have missed them. And I also have a birthday party to plan for a soon to be one year old and very soon to be 3 year old!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Be Kind. That's all.

This little space of ours has been a little quiet the last few months. We've been busy...working and playing and surviving and growing. As that time of year of the boys' birthday comes around, I find myself wanting to retreat back to this place that gave me so much support and freedom to share.

Now when I come back though, it feels a little different. I feel a little more guarded and I find myself wondering about the things I shared before. If I spilled too much emotion, if I gave away little pieces of my heart, if I opened myself up to judgment. I'm sure people have judged our journey, but they haven't walked it, so it shouldn't matter right?

A local family recently lost their child on a park outing. This family was facing the worst moment of their life and people felt like they somehow were justified in judging this family publicly on the particulars of the situation, their parenting skills, etc. I can still feel the anger even as I type that (and yes, I did get in a small internet fight about it and persist until the post was taken down because the last thing on earth that family needed was to run across a post piling on the guilt I'm sure they were already feeling). Why do we need to judge other people, what gives us the right (I'm including myself here) to feel like we can criticize and point fingers when we're all just trying to do our best? Maybe having a why for the reason tragedy happens helps ease the pain for others on the outside looking in. Life can change in an instant, crappy things happen, whether you are the best parent in the world or not or whether you "deserve" it or not.

But, oh the judgment. It just really hurts my heart. Maybe that's why I feel more hesitant to share. I've always tried to be open and honest about our journey so that others might understand a little more about the pain of losing a child. By putting my feelings out there maybe someone will have a little more patience, compassion, and understanding for others. But I hear the move on's even if they aren't spoken. I feel the why are you still talking about this? even if it isn't said out loud. Unfortunately for me, and probably for you if you are one of those people, I can't move on and I will always talk about it. I guess when you open yourself up and put yourself out there, or even if you don't, you are risking the judgment and the criticism. But please be kind to each other. Life can change in an instant and I don't think we'll ever look back at life and wish we had been harder on or meaner to each other. I think we will wish we had loved, supported, forgiven and just let each other be more. Sorry for the ramble, just what's on my sensitive heart tonight.

Just be kind. And loving. And keep meanness to yourself. We're all doing the best we can.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Out for a Walk

I had a day off this week with my boys and we had no plans! It turned out to be the perfect day. We were dressed and ready for the day and decided to go for a walk. Ezra needed a nap and Cohen needed out of the house so off we went. First, we walked through the local coffee shop drive through and got coffee for me and Cohen got hot chocolate as a little treat. 

Since Ezra was asleep, we decided to keep walking. We walked to the park to let Cohen play. He actually played! He climbed the play structures, voluntarily went down the slides, and even went on the teeter totter. I was quite impressed because he usually demands so much help, but not today! Off he went! It always makes my heart happy to see him climb and play confidently. 

We found this tiny little wagon and Cohen loves it. Takes it everywhere. Tries to ride in it. Tries to get me to ride in it. Would probably take it to  bed with him if we let him. Meanwhile....

And, he's up! 

I love these boys so much and it was just what my heart needed to spend a relaxing day with them. They are growing up too fast! 

3 Years: A Grief Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, it's that time of year. I should be joyfully planning a party for our twins.  Instead I throw myself into various projects and avoid going to bed so I don't have to be alone with my thoughts. My heart aches to hold and hug and kiss my child. The pain of not getting to see Carter playing alongside his brothers gets harder to bear. The new mom to the twins that walks by my house frequently and the neighbors calling to their Carter feels like salt in my wounds.

I can't believe it has been three whole years. Three years since we heard the words "It's time" even though it was far too early. We knew the boys would be early but we were in no way prepared for what was ahead of us. We didn't know our lives would forever be affected and changed as we simultaneously joined the world of both parents of preemies and baby loss parents. The boys'  birthday was not the best day of our lives, in fact it was one of the scariest and most devastating. I can still see his face and remember the moments I spent with him. I have lost a lifetime of hopes and dreams. We have lost a son. Our boys have lost a brother. I still wish it was all a bad dream and that I will wake up one day and we will be whole again. 

Does it still hurt three years later? Absolutely. Am I "over it"? No. I will never be over that my child died. Has the pain changed? Yes, it has. Most days I don't have to struggle to gather the strength to get out of bed. I still cry for Carter. I still want to see him play and run with his brothers. I still want to tuck him in at night and tell him I love him and I can't do those things. I still struggle to see twins because it is an incredibly painful reminder of our loss. Carter will always be a part of me, just like my other children. 

Carter's life was not for nothing, it has to be for something. Because of Carter (& Cohen), thousands of families will have tiny diapers to dress their babies in and will hopefully feel that their babies are treasured and that they matter. Care packages have been taken to the NICU. Money has been donated to the March of Dimes to continue research for treatment for preemies. I have found new purpose and meaning in my life because of him. I have learned so much about myself and who I want to be as a person and as a mom. I understand that there are no guarantees in life and that we need to do our best to make the most of each and every day. To love deeply because we may not have tomorrow. To not take for granted the gift I have to raise my other children (even when they are naughty) and to realize that there truly are things in life that don't matter. I have made connections and lifelong friends that I never would have if I weren't in this baby loss "club". 
In the days leading up to and surrounding the boys' birth, we watched people we thought were our friends walk away from us in our time of greatest need. We also saw people surround us and hold us up when we weren't able to stand on our own. The prayers, gifts, and support were truly amazing. Thank you to those of you who held our hands, prayed with us, cried with us, gave to us, and just loved us. Thank you for your kind and supportive words, on the blog, in emails, texts, and in person.  And thank you to those of you who didn't know what to say or do, but just stood by us. We couldn't have done it without you. 

We also watched as the Lord changed us and worked in our lives and others' lives as well. Our faith was shaken and then strengthened as we faced the hardest days of our lives. And we were reminded over and over and over of God's love and faithfulness, even in times of great darkness. He carried us through days we never thought we would make it through. And yet, he never left us.

And now, here we are. We have made it through three long, difficult, rewarding, and joyful years. I will always wish things had gone differently for our family. Always. But, we have learned that our lives are led by one who is greater than us. Who has gone before us and walked the path that we have and will walk. We know there is a greater purpose for our lives and that this world isn't the end.

Carter, my boy. In almost 3 years, not a day has gone by that I haven't thought of you and wished you were here. You will always be a part of this family. I can't wait to see you again.