Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stay Baby Stay!

I am officially more pregnant than I have ever been...Hallelujah! 35 weeks and counting.  And while I am quite sure I have never been this uncomfortable in my life (you name it, it hurts)...I need this baby to STAY PUT for at least another two weeks.

One of my (seemingly endless) fears during this pregnancy is that we would somehow end up back in the NICU.  While I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the doctors and nurses there, it would suit me fine not to even have to say the word for the rest of my life.

Gracie is big, and showing some signs that she may want to come a little earlier than her December 27th due date...but I feel sure she is an obedient little cuss who will listen to her mama when I say STAY BABY STAY (and then get the heck out of there).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

After After

One year ago today, I wrote the post "After"...it was the first post I wrote after we lost Rip, and it was my 30th birthday.  In it I said that I wanted to keep this blog going for a year, I wanted to see how my life changed after that devasting loss.

Some things haven't changed...there are still no words to adequately express how much we loved and love that little boy, how much his life means in our lives. There are still days when I feel very lonely, confused and so so sad.

But more days than not, I have felt hopeful and thankful.  On that day a year ago, I hoped for a year that, despite our loss, was filled with love, laughter and maybe even a baby.

I have never experienced love like I have this year.  I've learned that even in the worst situations, there can be good and the good that has come out of our situation has been the love...I never would have imagined that I could feel so loved by family, friends and total strangers.  It makes all of the difference on those lonely days.  I think I've also learned how to really love...the kind of love that comes with an open heart and will make my life worth living.

And we have laughed.  Sometimes it has been hard to find anything to laugh about, but I am lucky to have a family that can find humor when it is needed most.  That has been the other lesson I have learned from all of this, laughter is so importnant.  Life is hard, but it is going to be so much harder if you can't find something to laugh about.

As for the baby, I am so chock full of baby right now that I feel like I have one of the suction-cupped Garfields stuck to my insides, with a different appendage in every nook and cranny.  I am so so lucky to be pregnant with Gracie.  She is an answer to many prayers. 

Last night, I found Rip's blanket from the hospital.  It is the only thing I have that he touched, and I am thankful to have that piece of him.  Here in the "After After", Rip is still a part of our family.  Of all the things I worried about last year, I think I was most afraid that as time passed I would lose him completely, but I haven't (in fact, when I started this post I glanced at the clock and it was 11:11...he is very good at checking in when it's important).

So, 31 years old.  I could never have predicted how this year would go...but last year my prayer was that the good would outweigh the bad.  Today, I sit here typing with a baby squirming in my stomach and an angel I carry in my heart, somewhere in this house is a husband who has loved us through it all and right next to me is a big brown dog who had the good sense to throw up all over the bed 365 days ago and make me start my life again.  I am so glad that I did.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

I wish I had something profound to say about Thanksgiving, but I don't.  I do plan on giving thanks for many things this year, thanks for everything from my children and family to the fact that there is absolutely nothing I need from Target at 12:00 am tomorrow night.

And maybe that's what Thanksgiving is really about, all the big and the little things that you are thankful for without having to put too much thought into any of it.  

Well, that and sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Last of the Firsts

Last Friday, November 18th, was the first anniversary of the day that Rip passed away.  It was kind of "the last of the firsts" for us, and there some relief in that.  Not that any holiday, birthday, or even just plain old Monday will be any easier, but now we have experienced it, and lived through that experience, at least once.

I had a much harder time on Rip's birthday, November 11th, than this past Friday.  I think there are probably many reasons for that...I can't actually remember a lot of the day he died, either the trauma of it or the drugs from the c-section have allowed me to block some of that day out, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But mostly I think the day he was born is harder from me because it is his life I miss so much, not the death.

Overall, the last week was hard...but maybe not as hard as I expected it to be.  As I've said before, I miss Rip everyday so the anticipation of these "anniversaries" is almost always worse than the actual day.  Parke and I took some time to be together, and it was nice for me to have time to really concentrate on Rip and all his little life meant and means.

So we made it through a whole year, we made it through all of the worst firsts.  My hope this Thanksgiving is that this year will be full of more firsts, but only the best kinds.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Always There

There is a quote that my parents put in my high school yearbook that keeps running though my head ...

"You can always remember the second and the third and the fourth time, but there's no time like the first.  It's always there."


Today, I am thankful that Rip will always be my first.  No matter what, in my heart, he is always there.

Friday, November 11, 2011

To You on Your Birthday

Dear Rip,

Today you are one year old! This day is a happy, happy day.

The morning you were born your Daddy and I got up very early, mainly because I wanted to take a shower, dry my hair, and put on make-up to look pretty for you (because I am your Mama, and that's just how I am).  We were so so excited to meet you.

When the doctor finally held you up, we were both crying tears of joy.  We thought you were the most beautiful thing we had ever seen, even if you looked a little like an alien at first.  Soon you were all clean and fluffed up and I knew you exactly who you were...my baby boy.

Your daddy went with you to make sure you were settled into your new surroundings okay, and when he got back he told me that you were like a perfect little present.  He was exactly right, you gave us the best gift that we could have asked for...you made us your Mama and Daddy.  That is a gift I am so thankful for today and every day.

Of course we are sad that we cannot be with you on this day, but life is full of very sad things and very good things and you can't really experience one without the other...and you, my little boy, are a Very Good Thing.

The day will come when I get to hold you in my arms again and I hope you are ready to be squeezed to pieces (because I am your Mama, and that's just how I am).

Happy Birthday, Rip Harris.  We love you more than words can say.

Love,
Your Mama

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Isn't She Lovely

Today is my sister Kit's 18th Birthday.  
Everyone should be so lucky to have such a sweet, kind, beautiful on the inside and out sister.  
We love our "Aunt Kit"...Happy Happy Birthday!!!


Isn't She Lovely?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"She's Just Not a Small Girl"

Gracie's 32 week ultrasound was today and all looked great.  The first thing the tech commented on was how much hair she has, which old wives tale or no, I think is contributing to the ridiculous amount of heartburn I've been having lately.  The second thing she noticed was that Gracie is BIG.

Rip weighed a little over 5 lbs when he was born at 35 weeks...according to the ultrasound (which I know can be off), Gracie has already surpassed him.  Overall she is in the 75th percentile, with her head being in the 90th percentile...when I asked if that was normal, my doctor said "well, she's just not a small girl".  Not what most ladies want to hear, but it was music to my ears! Maybe a little more so knowing that I will have a c-section.

It looks like all of those prayers for a big, fat healthy baby are paying off...I can't wait to get that hairy little piglet in my arms!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Saints and Miracles and all that Jazz..

I will be the first to admit, I can be pretty cynical.  It goes against my nature to act too "sweetsy" about anything, I always feel the need to follow sentimentality with a joke or sarcastic comment.  I'm not a huge fan of romantic comedies or things of that nature, I think I am the only person in the world that hated The Notebook.


Yesterday was All Saints Day at our church.  It is a day where, as my pastor told Parke and me, "we honor all of the saints, even the littlest ones".  Rip's name was the first read out loud during the service.  I would never have chosen for my child to be a saint, but hearing him commemorated in that way reminded me of how special he is.  I felt pride along with my sadness. I am so thankful for his life, for the mere fact that he was and still is remembered and loved.

Later in the day we held Gracie's baby shower.  It was a happy, happy time.  So many family and friends, all there to celebrate her life, just as we celebrated her brother's earlier in the day.

After Rip died, I had moments where I would walk into a crowded place, look at all of the people, and recognize that they were all once babies.  At that time, my thoughts were darker and I felt bitter that all of these "babies" made it when mine didn't.  I was in the frame of mind that it is a miracle that anyone makes it into this world at all.  Now I realize it is a miracle.

The lives that I celebrated yesterday are miracles...I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes or putting in a sarcastic comment here...but it's true.  This little girl that is growing inside of me is a miracle, and I am so thankful for the chance to celebrate her.  The family and friends that surround me in the good times and the bad are part of that miracle too.

So, like that good old Grinch, my heart has grown a few sizes this year.  Maybe it is the spirit of the season, but I'm not afraid to say that I believe in saints and miracles and all that jazz.  Just don't ask me to watch The Notebook, I have limits.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Redirect

I have to admit, lately I have succumbed to what my dad always calls "stinkin thinkin".  To be honest, in the last few weeks I kind of lost my way, my faith and the ability to believe.

After Rip died, my faith is a big part of what saved me.  I turned to the Bible and to prayer in ways that I never thought to do before.  I found comfort where I thought there was none to be had.  Believing that I would see my son again saved me.

I've realized that I haven't been carrying that same faith with me in the last part of this pregnancy.  I think a lot of it has to do with protecting my heart.  Subconsciously I guess I've been feeling that if I didn't trust God then I couldn't be hurt again, which of course if far from the truth.

This morning I woke up and knew that I had to make a choice, either I believe or I don't.  I chose to believe.  To believe that the same God who carried me through the weeks after Rip's death, the same God who answered my prayers for this pregnancy, the same God I know I've felt my whole life has not changed.  I am not doing Parke, Gracie, Rip or myself a favor by turning my back on Him.

There is a saying that worry is just a prayer for something to go wrong, and I've been doing too much of that lately.  I've lost sight of the goal, that despite all of the things that could go wrong the light at the end of this tunnel is a healthy baby.  That's where my head needs to be right now.

There were two quotes I read this morning that affirmed what I was feeling.  The first was the serenity prayer:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

I can't change what happened with Rip, as much as I wish I could.  I can have the courage to have faith in Gracie, as hard as it may be.  And for me, I know I don't have the strength to do either alone.

The second quote was "It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty- Goethe"

I know it was our choice to name this baby Grace, but it wasn't a name I even thought of using until I got pregnant with her.  I feel like this name was meant to be, to give me comfort and make me feel as if God's grace and the baby Grace were meant just for me in quotes like this one.

I know I may have to make the choice to believe ten times a day, to redirect my thought from dark places fifty more...but today I choose to have faith.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Raindrops on Roses

I feel I've been a little doom and gloom lately, not that it isn't warranted but I wanted to make it known that there is still a good deal of happiness going on in my life.

Here are a few of my favorite things this fall:

My wiggle worm of a baby girl...Last week at our doctor's it took them a full ten minutes to get her heartbeat because she kept kicking away the monitor.  The nurse (somewhat ominously) said, "This is when you can really start to tell their personalities".  I am sure she will keep me running in the years to come, but for now nothing makes me happier than the crazy gymnastics going on in my belly.

Russian Tea...you know, the kind with Tang in it that is literally pure sugar?  I didn't even know they still made Tang but over the weekend my mom made me a batch and it has become my morning treat.  Based on the sugar content alone, Gracie seems to like it too.

Books on CD...this is my newest obsession.  I sincerely look forward to getting in my car and driving somewhere when I know I have a good book.  I was getting a bit hormonally road-ragey there for a while, but now I actually welcome the sight of a little traffic.

A Happy Halloween...I was a little worried that Halloween this year would be hard, but I honestly enjoyed it. Last year I was in the hospital and horribly lonely.  This year, Parke, Dock the dog, Gracie and I all piled on the couch and ate hot dogs (a long standing family Halloween tradition).  We had some cute little buggers come by to trick-or-treat and gave away all of our candy...well, except for the little pile I set aside for later.  I have a growing girl to think about after all.

November...yes, parts of November are really hard.  But I have always loved this month.  Some of my favorite people have birthdays coming up, my mom, my sister...and well, me.  And now I have Rip to add to the list, and no matter what he deserves to be celebrated this month.  No child of mine would settle for anything less.  Add a fabulous Thanksgiving meal and some day after Thanksgiving shopping (with birthday money in hand) to all of this and there are some good things about November.

Nice people...we have been blessed with some of the best friends and family anyone could ask for.  This coming weekend we will have a baby shower for Gracie, something I was initially very hesitant to do because I feel that everyone has already done so much for us.  But so many people encouraged this shower, and seemed to genuinely want to celebrate this baby that I am really looking forward to it.  And I am enjoying nice people in general, being pregnant you tend to get a lot of big smiles and encouraging comments...and while they may be thinking you poor old big thing, it makes life considerably more enjoyable to be surrounded by goodwill.

So, these are just a few of my favorite things...simply remembered and now I don't feel so bad.