Wednesday, July 28

Confessions

Alright, Colby's over a year old (yay!) so it's confession time...

I still rock Colby to sleep. And he still often falls asleep with a bottle. In his mouth. And when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he often ends up back in our bed! (Oh, and yes, he's over a year and STILL drinking from bottles. Which he NEVER holds for himself. He's a little lazy like that.)

Whew. It feels better to get that off my chest. :)

I went to Colby's 1 year appointment on Monday terrified I would be yelled at by his pediatrician. Back when he was like 4 months old she cautioned me about putting him to bed while rocking him and feeding him a bottle. She didn't want him to get dependent on those crutches. And bringing him into bed? I was strongly cautioned against that.

Woops.

I didn't intend on breaking the rules, but it just happened. Kind of like having the twins at 27 weeks and losing Connor. It just happened.

In preparation of getting yelled at (which never happened, actually) I bought a book... "the no cry solution" or something like that. The idea of cry-it-out... well, I can't even stomach that (for me! I have no bad views on others who might do this!). So I needed something a little more... less tearful. (Probably more for me than for Colby...)

Right in the beginning the author (yes, I could just look at the title instead of being vague, but the book is in the basement on the treadmill and amazon is just too many clicks away) mentions that you should only embark on changing your child's sleep habits if they are truly bothering you and that you are changing the habits for you and your baby, not because someone else (doctor, mother, etc) makes you feel like the sleeping habits are wrong. And, aha! Lightbulb. Though Colby wakes up at least once a night, and though he ends up in my bed, and though I spend too much time rocking him, I love it. He's well rested, I'm rested enough, and I get precious cuddle time with my little bug.

And I think that's what I really have needed lately. This year has sucked at times, it's been traumatic, it's caused my entire reality to shift. I'm different. And if a little extra cuddle time helps that, what's the big deal? Even if he needs me to fall asleep now, I'm not worried that I'll need to follow him to college to rock him to sleep. :)

Anyways, 1 year appointment. My little peanut was 20lbs 1oz and 29 inches long. Might we actually end up with a tall child?!

He's doing perfectly, looking perfect. :) He got three vaccinations and a blood draw, though. :( Poor kiddo. I also make a referral to EI to get him reevaluated because of the language scores made at Infant FollowUp the other day. The more time goes by, though, the less I'm worried. Now he's saying "mama", "dada", "up", and "uh oh" pretty consistently. :)

Sunday, July 25

The last milestone

One year ago, after a tough morning, we arrived at the funeral home to say goodbye to Connor here on Earth.

I wasn't ready to say goodbye.

I suppose that's about the most obvious thing that I could say- but I wasn't ready.

Seeing him for the first time- dressed in clothes that we picked out, but couldn't put on him, wrapped in a blanket that belonged to his brother- was so very hard. You're never fully prepared to see someone at a funeral, but I was clueless as to what to expect in seeing my own baby. His had so much bleeding and bruising on his head I was terrified what he would look like- but he was perfect. So tiny, so beautiful, my baby.

After Johnny and I saw him in his tiny casket, the funeral director- who in a very odd coincidence was someone Johnny had gone to elementary school with years ago, someone who just recently had dealt with the stillbirth of his own baby girl- began to close the lid. He cautioned us that no one would want to see a baby in a casket, it was just too wrong. But we persisted and kept the lid open. I couldn't bear the thought of standing around while my baby was locked in a box. I needed the comfort of seeing his precious features.

People began to arrive- some expected, some very unexpected- but all so greatly appreciated. Connor was so very tiny in his box- many people bypassed the front not even knowing that he was there with us. When they realized he was with us, everyone who viewed him told us how incredibly perfect and beautiful he was. And he was.

The funeral passed, we stayed as strong as we could be. But we were watched closely. Wherever we were I felt the eyes on my back, on my face, scrutinizing me for the moment I would crumble. But we didn't. We held together. Johnny spoke out words.

We were so lucky that, despite the tragedy before us, we had a miracle waiting back in the hospital for us. A miracle who had just reached 28 weeks. The miracle that I am convinced is the only reason I am still function right now.

At the end, Johnny and I were once again alone with our baby. Our first son. To say goodbye to him for this lifetime. I can't even express the agony in my heart the moment we had to shut the lid, to say goodbye. But we did it. Somehow we did it.

And as stumbled out of the funeral hall clutching a few possessions- Connor's photos, his turtle, a blanket- my parents were waiting across the street. Not to talk to us- but to make sure I was okay. They knew I wasn't, that I wouldn't be, but I was walking and breathing.

And really, what more could have been expected at that moment?

We visited our miracle, the bright spot in the eternal darkness and then my family and I went to dinner. All in dark colors, those around us might have suspected where we were coming from. But there is no way they knew just how horrible it was. Or that at that moment I was begging everything and everyone who would listen that I wouldn't have to go through another funeral like this one. That I needed my miracle baby to stay alive. To get bigger and healthier and to come home to mommy and daddy. Because I felt so broken, so hurt, that I wasn't sure I could handle anymore without him.

One year ago. How I ache to see his face again. To kiss his forehead. To tell him how very much he is loved.

I love you, sweet boy.

Thursday, July 22

Happy Birthday... Party


Alrighty-- I've been pretty depressing around here, so here's for something happier...

I got a late start with the invitation for Colby's party. I couldn't decide where to have the party or how to word the invitation or even wrap my head around the fact that Colby would be a year old. So... I put everything off for way too long. Finally, I got my act together and put together the invites. I was going to make them on snapfish, but they weren't customizable enough, so I decided to make them in word and then convert them into a jpeg to have printed. I like the way they came out! :)

We put off doing pretty much everything for the party until Colby went to bed on Friday night. We figured that with the puppy and Colby things would just get ruined anyhow if we did them sooner. As luck would have it though, Colby would NOT go down on Friday night and instead of being in bed by 8 as usual, he didn't go down until a little after 10pm.

When he finally went down, we had our work cut out for us. I started by making the cakes- I had decided to make two #1 cakes for all the guests and then I also made a sheet cake so that I could cut Colby and Connor's cakes from that. Once everything was baked, I let them cool so I could frost them the next day. (I HATE hard frosting, so I wanted to wait on that.)

We also had to completely clean top-to-bottom, do a little rearranging to fit everyone, and put up all the decorations.

For a few weeks I had been working on a timeline of Colby's first year. When Colby was born, instead of going with a traditional babybook I had decided to use a blank calendar that I could customize for his first year. This worked out AWESOME because I had everything written in it- his first walk to his first time in his exersaucer, his first bottle (at 7 weeks) to the first time he had crossed statelines to go shopping. Every day I have something written, so I was able to pick out the important (and some not-so-important) milestones and pair them with photos form the day (because I obsessively take photos and have at least 1 picture from every day of his life...). I put it all together into this nifty timeline...

video



It took forever to hang the photos and get everything perfect but I love how it came out.

We also had to hang up the family tree. (It didn't come out as planned, but it was nearing 3:30am when I got to this and I was too tired to care!)

And the guessing game:

We also had a photo mat for people to sign, but the photo is going the wrong way... We're going to put a picture from the party in the mat and hang it in the Colbinator's room.

Finally around 4am Colby woke up and I took that as my cue to put him back down and to get a little shut-eye myself! Johnny ended up staying up all night getting more last minute cleaning and stuff done.

Colby had me up a little before 7am and I still had a ton of stuff to do. I had put off cutting all the fruit for the fruit salad, the veggies for the veggie platter, and frosting the cakes. Plus I still had to shower, Colby needed a bath (but only after eating lunch because he's officially now the World's Messiest Eater), and finish a slideshow. Johnny had to run a bunch of last minute errands and set up tables and chairs outside. Needless to say, around 8am I started panicking because there was NO WAY I would get everything done before 1:30 with Colby clinging on to me. So, I called my parents and they headed up early so my mom could help with prep... though honestly she did pretty much everything.

And my dad could entertain Colby... it worked out perfectly!

I got the cakes frosted,


The tables set up,

(Ignore the dog bowl- I actually took this after the party...)



And everyone was clean and ready for the party.

The party itself was great... our house is kind of tiny and we had a ton of people coming to the party so I was very nervous, but it all worked out. The day was beautiful so some people hung around outside and some stayed inside.

Colby had a great time playing with his girlfriend...

And this adorable 11-year-old who I started to watch when she was a little more than Colby's age!

Then came the highlight of the day-- cake!!!


I made a little cake for Colby (which was a whole other fiasco in the AM because the original cake I had made fell apart! I had to make a whole new cake for Colby and Connor in the AM) and after a round of Happy Birthday...




...we decided to let him dig in! He was a little unsure at first...

But after a few bites he got the hang of it!



Eventually the cake landed on the floor... and we decided it was enough.

After a quick bath in the sink...

It was time to open gifts! Colby's been super Mommy-clingy lately, so I had to open all of the gifts 1-handed as I balanced him on my lap. (Daddy passed the gifts over.)

By the end of the gifts Colby was so exhausted that he literally passed out. He could have been sleeping on a bed of nails and I don't think he would have woken!

One of Johnny's uncles brought a bundle of balloons for Connor, so after everyone left we released a few of the balloons for our little guy.




It was so nice to have a few Connor touches at the party...

A few supplied by us...


And a few others supplied by others. The family of the kids I used to babysit for made a donation to March of Dimes in Connor's name. My parents gave us a Willow Tree figurine (Miss You), an angel wing, a Connor magnet, and a letter that they wrote to Connor. And Johnny's uncle brought the balloons.

Honestly, I was a little surprised that more people didn't think of Connor in some way, but I was touched by those that did.

Overall, the party turned out great and I loved that, even though it's small, we were in a place we're comfortable.


Wednesday, July 21

7/21/09-7/21/10

We've made it.

We've hit the milestone- one year since we lost Connor.

While I would have liked to wallow in bed all day, Colby kept me on my toes. He's standing and cruising around, so we have to watch him like a hawk.

I guess that's better than wallowing in bed.

The day itself was okay- pretty typical of a day around here. What I didn't expect, though, was to be knocked off my feet every now and then at random times. The most random things would send me back to that day and I would be overcome with the reality of the past year. I remembered the feeling of Connor gripping my fingers, the voice of the doctor as she told us that there was nothing else to do, the weight of his tiny body in my arms, the agony of handing him off to the nurses for the last time, the emptiness of laying in my bed just staring...




The day that Connor died I sat holding him and my dad sat next to me. With a tear in his eye, my dad said "I wish you didn't have to go through this. I'm supposed to be the one to protect you from things like this..." and the only response I could muster was "It sucks."

And that sums it all up. It just sucks.

It hurts and it sucks. I can't think of anything else to say...



I wish that we had other pictures of the two of them together...

Tuesday, July 20

Almost 1 year

Less than 12 hours until the time we lost Connor last year.

I'm nervous to see what the day will bring...

I'm already having a hard time when I close my eyes. I snuck in a nap this afternoon with Colby.

As we napped, I was greeted by a dream that brought me back to that morning. So familiar, so vivid... but still so long ago. The details are etched in my memory. The sound of the hi-fi vent is so distinctive and it resonated through the dream. The beeping of monitors was accompanied by a flurry of commotion was all around as the nurses worked to save Connor. The nurse was bagging him and I watched the stats as they fluctuated.

Colby woke me up before the dream could finish- before I could find out if this time things would be different.

This year I'm a million miles away from where I was on July 21st, 2009. But I can't keep it at bay.

I have a longing to go back- to see if things could possibly be different. A longing to touch his face, to feel his skin, to kiss him one last time. To tell him how very much I love him, that I'm so proud of him, that he will forever be one of the strongest and bravest people I have ever known.

But I can't go back... life has moved forward.

But it still hurts so very much.

Follow-Up

I still haven't gotten around to writing about the boys' birthday party or their actual birthday yesterday. Suffice to say they were great and not so great all rolled into one little package.

Today we went to Infant Follow-Up at Children's (finally). We were supposed to go when Colby was 10 months back in May, but the appointment had been cancelled by Children's and only now rescheduled. In addition to being screened for Early Intervention back in November, this follow-up is designed to reevaluate speech, socialization, and gross and fine motor skills.

We were there for about 2 hours meeting with the specialists. Colby was cute as always. He wouldn't even attempt a few tasks and some he couldn't do. In the end he scored at 11 months for gross motor, fine motor, cognition, and socialization. He scored at 7 months for receptive language and 8 months for expressive language. As they were scoring him as a 9 month old (corrected) I was thrilled with the 11 month scores. I was a little disappointed by the 7 and 8 month scores, but we were reassured that he's in the normal range and will likely catch up very soon. So now we work on language. :)

After the appointment we called over the the NICU and found out that none of Colby's primaries were working, but the secretary said she'd love to see him, so we decided to make the short walk over anyways.

It was such an odd feeling once we made it into the parking garage. I parked there way too many times and made the trek into the lobby, up the elevators, and onto the NICU floor. It brought back so many memories- and once again I quite sift through them, so instead they linger and ache in the pit of my stomach. We didn't go in the NICU itself, but hung out in the hallways by the desk, but we could still see in through the glass doors. The bank of sinks where we scrubbed in every visit, the hallways leading to the boys' first (and only) room together. The "secret" door to cut through to the other side of the NICU.

I walked in theew so many times. Scrubbed in, knew the procedure. I felt at home in some weird way there. But it was also linked to so many painful memories and hard times.

Exactly 1 year ago I visited the boys 4 times. Only 4 times. I saw Connor alive 4 times. Maybe 20 minutes at a time... so maybe for just over an hour of his short life. I've said it before-- once he was born I knew their could be setbacks and maybe even problems that lasted for a long time. But never once did I think I would lose him. I never thought he would die. It wasn't a possibility. If I did, if the thought even crossed my mind for a second, I never would have left that floor. I would have stayed with him every second. But I didn't and it's a regret that I will carry for the rest of my life.

And that's the reminder that washed over me as I visited today. If I had known 1 year ago what I know now... maybe things would have been different. Maybe I'd be more at peace. Maybe I'd understand more.


Monday, July 19

Happy Birthday!

I had plans of a big birthday post. 1 year. But I can't quite get my brain around it. Maybe a little later... but I'll keep it simple for now...

Happy Birthday to two amazing little boys.



We love you both more than you could ever imagine.
And we couldn't imagine the past year without either of you.
You stole our hearts and I'm happy that you did.

Sunday, July 18

Acceptance

Just over 12 hours until my babies are officially one. One year since their wild entrance into the world with their *tiny* perfect cries. One year since our world was rocked and changed forever by 2+lbs of cuteness .

I'm not sure how I feel. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel. But I thought that by now- 365 days later- it would be more real. It would feel like this is my life, not like some crazy surreal dream.

Daily I look at Colby and just stare in awe. I have this perfect, happy, healthy, adorable baby. (Big boy now, I guess.) He's mine. He's mine?? How did I get so lucky? The thought of watching him grow makes me ache with happiness. His smile literally warms my heart. I am so lucky.

Daily I look at Connor's photos, his heart urn, his footprints and I stare in disbelief. I remember his frail skin, the tubes, the wires... his blue eyes, his dark hair, the feel of him gripping my finger as he said goodbye. I had this perfect, tiny baby boy taken from me so quickly. Much too soon. He's still mine. But why isn't he here with me? I get it in medical terms... logically, rationally. But I don't get it.

Why can't I accept that this is my life now? Why can't I just accept that Colby's here and Connor's not and be okay with that? Why do I have to dwell on this aching feeling that I can't figure out? This feeling like I know this is reality... but the feeling that I have that I will soon wake up from my pain? How can it be almost 1 year since their birth and almost 1 year since Connor's death and how can I still be wrestling with the feelings that spill out?

I know that it won't get much easier. I've learned that much over the past year. It will get easier in some respects I'm sure... but it will never be easy. It will never be okay. I just wish I could overcome this sickening sinking feeling I have in my stomach and heart every time I think about how things were supposed to be, how they became, and how they are.

I wish I was okay with the life I have to accept.

The life where babies die.

The life where my baby died.



Saturday, July 17

Party

Last year, at 26w6d, I was checked by the OB on call and was deemed almost-okay to go home. I was to get to 28w the following Saturday and then I would be sent home- still on bedrest-- but home just the same.

Less than 2 days later I delivered my boys.

This year, we spent the day celebrating the boys, eating cake, and releasing balloons for Connor to see from his place above us.

I am constantly in awe of how much changes in a year.

I'll update more about the birthday party- it was a success but I am utterly exhausted.

2 more days until the actual birthday...

Wednesday, July 14

Eyes and Angels

In just a few days we will be celebrating the boys' first birthday.

One year.
365 days.
Where did the time go?

Colby is doing so well that he really is my miracle baby. He's a tad behind... or maybe not behind, but at the tail end of the "normal" range of development. But he's still perfect.

Last week we had his eye check-up. During his stint in the NICU his eyes always checked out as perfect, but we had to check again at 1 year just to make sure things were still looking good. And I'm glad to say that they are!

When I was in the office with the eye doc she mentioned that another little boy in the waiting room had been a 25-weeker and, like Colby, he has always checked out as perfect with Early Intervention and with his eyes. She asked what his secret was. I just laughed it off, but it occurred to me later on what his secret is.


He is lucky enough to have his very own angel looking after him.

---------

Thursday, July 8

Background

I seem to have lost my old background for some reason... I'll have to fix this later!

Monday, July 5

IVF, party, and Colby!

IVF
We got the ball rolling for our IVF... kind of.

Yesterday AM I went in for my Day 3 testing- blood and ultrasound.

The ultrasound was interesting because I've always been used to quick checks- lining, left, right, done. But this time the tech did my lining, then my left, then she searched and searched for my right. She couldn't find my right ovary! As she's doing this and saying things like "That's odd." and "Let me check here." I'm thinking "AHHHH They removed an ovary during my C-section!!!!!" She assured me that probably wasn't the case (probably!?!?!?) and pulled out the external ultrasound wand to find my right ovary. It's hanging out somewhere about where my kidney should be! The explained that during pregnancy and especially with c-sections, things can "shift". So, now instead of having a straight uterus, and two happy ovaries hanging out on either side, I'm a little warped. My uterus hangs out to the right, my left ovary is a little lower than usual and my right ovary is out of reach of the typical ultrasound wand. Ha. But I digress because all looked okay.

Blood was fine... 1st try, though it stopped flowing and she had to do a lot of digging to get enough to fill the vial. I got a call yesterday afternoon with my levels... apparently they're not where they would like them to be because I have to go back next month for Day 3 blood again. If it looks good I'll proceed with the birth control pills the same month. If things are still out of whack... well, then I don't know what the protocol will be.

I go in for my sonohysteogram (I know that's spelled wrong, but I'm too lazy to look it up) in the next few days-- I'll schedule it tomorrow. I'm nervous because the HSG sucked SO much, but I'll deal.


Colby&Connor are almost 1 year!
We're planning Colby's party... I like to do things last minute apparently. I had put it off because I was so nervous about hitting 1 year, but I decided to suck it up and deal. We are having it here which is a HUGE help. It will be SUPER crowded and could potentially be miserable if it rains, BUT I'm so happy that I will be here where I am comfortable and where I can know that Connor and his things are just upstairs if I need to go be with them.

I made the invites... I wasn't sure what to write. I didn't want to make them sad and I also couldn't leave out Connor, so I kind of just left them... open to interpretation? I'm not sure. But I like how they came out. And I'm looking forward to a low key day hanging out with some of our favorite people!

Colby
Colby is just doing great! He's a world-class crawler and can get wherever he wasn't to get. He's close to going up the stairs I think... I catch him often pulling himself up to the first 2 steps. :) He's not too much of a fan of practice walking, but he is super strong. He's happy to crawl for now. He has 3 teeth now and he has another so close to poking through. He's a total water baby (like his mama!)- he loves to splash in the tub and he went in a big pool over the weekend and he LOVED it. We went up to NH for the weekend and went to a water park at Santa's Village and he loved the fountains and sitting in the water and watching the big kids. He's a complete and total doll. He has a little bit of a cold right now so he's been super cuddly which I love. (But not the sick part!)

Be sure to visit our family blog for lots of picture updates of Colby. ;) I'm too lazy to post things twice!