Sunday, November 16, 2014

Remembering Rip

Rip passed away four years ago this Tuesday- on November 18th, 2010.

I never know what to do with this day. His birthday is always harder on me, emotionally, but at least there is a purpose to a birthday. Even if the person is no longer living, you can still celebrate the day they were born. This year, Gracie and I made "birthday cakes" in her bathtub and sang "Happy Birthday" up to Heaven...it was her idea and I think it was pretty perfect.

But what do you do with the day someone, especially a child, dies? I've beat myself up in the past for not being the type of person who organizes a race in his name, or starts a fundraiser in his memory. A thought occurred to me this year that maybe it didn't have to be that hard.

I've said often that despite the circumstances, Rip is and always will be A Good Thing in our lives. So this year, on Tuesday, November 18th, I'd ask that you do something good for a child in his name.

It can be anything. If you want to make a monetary donation, I'd highly suggest donating to your local NICU or PICU...the people who work in those units, particularly the nurses, are truly angels on earth. They are saving the smallest, most precious lives. Of course, there are a million other worthy children's charities, especially this time of year, all of which are doing great things for those who can't.

But I know how busy we all are...and its the holidays so most of us are pretty broke, too. The good things I am asking for can be as simple as letting your child stay up that thirty extra minutes to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and taking the time to smell their sweet heads while they do it. Its doing something small and good that will bring joy to these amazing little creatures who have been entrusted to our care.

November 18th will never be a good day in our family's history, but it can certainly be a day in which good things happen. If even one child is given an extra smile that day in Rip's name, then his life is still a very Good Thing.

Thank you so much.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Thing About Birthdays

My first baby turns 4 tomorrow.

When you are home with a newborn, you can lose track of time. My mind still thinks it should be August, these past three months have been such a blur. I am not exaggerating or sugar-coating when I say they have been some of the happiest of my life.

Rip's birthday snuck up on me this year. I've been thinking about him so much since Sam was born, wondering more about what he would have been like than I did with Gracie. There is just something about a mama's love for her little boy.

But I haven't had that anxiety I usually have leading up to his birthday. That, in itself, is a little sad because I know all too well that if I had an almost four-year-old boy sitting here today I would be reminded constantly of the date. I know this because his almost three-year-old sister has been talking about her princess birthday party since before Halloween. Her birthday is three days before Christmas. So I wonder what party we would be planning for tomorrow.

We had pictures taken of our family right after Sam was born. Our photographer (my very talented cousin-in-law) contacted me as soon as she began working on them and said that the picture below almost brought her to tears when she saw it, that there was something there that was not seen to the naked eye when she took the picture.

Do I believe that light shining down on our family is the closest thing to a complete family picture we will ever get? I do. If I was unsure before, I believed after I ordered prints of this photo and the front of the package said they could be picked up at 11:11. Sometimes you just know.

The thing about birthdays is that no matter how short the life, each and every one changes the world in some way. On November 11th, 2010 at approximately 7:53 am, the world was changed forever. A little boy named John Robert Harris, Rip, was born to Parke and Anne Harris. He made them parents and a family. His birth made it possible for them to have two additional children- Grace Louise, the heart, and Samuel Haskell, the soul. So every year on that day his mother closes her eyes and gives thanks, because she is leading a blessed life. A life which in no small part she has been given because of the birthday of her oldest son. 

Thank you, Rip Harris, for changing my world. I love you more than you will ever know.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Day in the Life

Below is a day in my life, also known as today:

6 am- All awake except Sam (who woke up for an hour-long meal about 4am)
6:10- I am dressed for the day
6:20- Gracie is fully dressed and eating oatmeal
6:22- Gracie drops oatmeal on her clothes
6:25-Gracie requests a bandaid for a non-existent boo-boo
6:30-Sam is awake
6:35- Feed Sam while Gracie jumps on the bed and asks repeatedly to hold the baby
7:00- Parke has scheduled an early meeting and leaves...I declare an end to all future early meetings
7:00-8:25- I finish feeding baby, change baby, dress baby, change and dress baby again while Gracie:
Finds her way into the baby's crib and nearly busts her chin open
Takes off her boots approximately 15 times
Runs around the whole house with the handmade bedding from the bassinet, dragging it through dog hair and spilled oatmeal
Decides she needs to put her baby doll to bed and refuses to go to school until the baby has been changed and sung to
Insists on putting on her boots by herself
8:25- All in the car- I realize I need gas
Gracie realizes she never got a band-aid and bellows about it until I put on the Frozen CD
8:25-8:35- Sing Let It Go 5 times

I work from 9-3, which is a great schedule for a working mom. This only being the 2nd day I have been away from Sam this long, I am so excited to pick the kids up.

3:10- Pick up baby, smother him with kisses
3:12: Pick up Gracie, smother her with kisses
3:13- Gracie decides she need to go potty before leaving school
3:17- Gracie is still on the potty with no action
3:20- Sam is crying. I tell Gracie (still on potty) that we will try again at home
3:25- I find a teacher to bring Sam to the car while I haul a screaming toddler (" I WANT TO POTTY AT SCHOOOOOOL!!") to the car
3:25-3:35-Gracie cries hysterically. I listen to Let It Go and eat a miniature Kit Kat I've had the good fortune to find between the seats
3:35- Home. Gracie calms down and requests Doc McStuffins...I feed Sam and we have 20 minutes of relative peace
3:55- Gracie requests a second snack. After being told no, another tantrum begins
TV is turned off as punishment, and will only be turned back on for good behavior
TV stays off for the remainder of the afternoon
4:00- I decide we need some fresh air and take both kids on a run. This is nice.
4:30- Gracie pinches her finger in her sunglasses. Tears ensue.
5:00- Bath time. Sam gives me some reassuring smiles that I am not totally blowing this whole mom thing.
5:30- Parke is home!!
6:00- I eat dinner while holding a nursing Sam. I drop tacos on his head.
6:45- Sam goes to bed. I come back to find Gracie has taken out every toy she has ever owned.
7:00- I pour a glass of wine and retreat to the shower. I also bring along a Tootsie Roll pop I will have to eat in the shower in order to avoid being caught by a toddler who DOES NOT need the sugar.
7:05- I hear rapid fire feet heading my way. The shower curtain is whipped back..."MAMA- I SEE YOUR BIG OL STOMACH!!"
Also, I have been caught eating a lollipop and am questioned extensively about its origins.
7:07- I think I am alone in the shower, having convinced Gracie to "go play with Daddy"
7:08- I hear what sounds like the sink running
7:09- I poke my head out to find Gracie has "washed" my wine glass with lavender lotion
7:10- Gracie says that maybe tomorrow night we can take a bath together, and we can play with toys.
I say I think that is a great idea.
8:00- All babies are asleep. Gracie tells me she loves me. Sam nestles under my neck in a way that makes me think maybe he does, too

I will admit, sometimes I forget to be thankful every day. Days like this (i.e. pretty much every day) where I am tired and everything seems to be happening all at once, I am short-tempered and go to bed questioning every move I make.

But today I take the time to be thankful that this is a day in my life. A day that ended with helpless laughter when I found my hard-earned wine glass covered in purple handprints. Four years ago, I would have given anything for this life- and now I have it.

You can remind me I said that tomorrow morning on my third rendition of Let It Go.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Simply the best

I have so many thoughts every day that I think I should write down...and then one of fifty things happens and I just don't get around to doing it. I recently downloaded the "Timehop" application on my phone and a blog post from two years ago popped up the other day. It was all about the first little joke Gracie played and I was so tickled remembering her at that age. This is especially important because these days she is more often found wailing on the floor than playing adorable jokes (she is still adorable, just in a very 21/2 year old way).

I want to be able to look back on Sam's childhood that way too, because one day he will also be a terrible two, or sickening sixteen, or something and I will need to remember the sweet happy innocence of babyhood.

I referred to him as "sweet Sam" before he was born, and I was afraid I was setting myself up for an absolute devil child by doing so...but this is the sweetest baby in the world. The only time he cries is when he is hungry or tired (we are alike in this way), and he is the world's best cuddle bug. His smile literally brings tears to my eyes, he is just the happiest little guy.

With Gracie, I was in such a hurry to get to the next step, be it sleeping through the night or smiling or rolling over, but with Sam (and I am sure most younger siblings receive this benefit) I am in absolutely no hurry. Want to get up all night to eat and snuggle? Sure, climb on in. I know how fast this will go and I want to enjoy that baby smell for as long as I possibly can.

Sam's hair continues to bring about conversation wherever we go...it is truly a remarkable 'do. Its funny, because although Sam is much older than Rip was when we last saw him, both Parke and I think Sam looks a little more like his big brother the older he gets. The same is true for Gracie and Sam, their eyes look almost exactly alike. It brings me so much joy to see them in one another

Rip

Gracie


Sam

In fact, this littlest boy of mine brings me so much joy, period. My love for him is so simple, so easy. I cannot imagine what we ever did without him and I am thankful every day for my sweet Sam. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Remember

The sweetest baby in the world, Samuel Haskell Harris, was born at 8:58 am on August 5th. Why am I just writing about this miraculous little person four full weeks after he was born, you ask? Well, because I have been spending every waking minute soaking up his limited-time-only delicious baby-ness.

There is so much I want to write about...the actual delivery, the toddler meltdowns when a two-year- old's whole world is turned upside down, the joy of watching the rare quiet moments between my babies, how I forgot all about the "joys" of being postpartum, why nursing is truly a labor of love...I could go on and on.

However, realizing my newborn is closing in on one full month, I want to make sure I write about him, and only him, and the things I don't want to forget.

I want to remember his cry when they finally held him up over that curtain, and how he had more wrinkles than a Shar Pei puppy

I want to remember the elation and relief I felt during our hospital stay together, how I knew this boy was mine to keep

I want to remember how much HAIR this baby has, and how everyone who has seen him from the very first doctor to strangers on the street comments on his 'do

I want to remember his sweet personality, how all he wants is to be cuddled and held, and how it feels to kiss both of his soft little cheeks each time he is in my arms

I want to remember what it was like to fall asleep with him on my chest, and how that fuzzy little head nestles perfectly under my chin

I want to remember watching his Daddy kiss him all over when he did not know I was watching

I want to remember how his sister insists on giving him full body hugs before going anywhere, and letting her despite being slightly worried she will crush him with her love

I want to remember how uncomplicated my love for him is, how he felt like a puzzle piece locking into place from the very beginning

I want to remember every little newborn detail, but I know I can't. I know that time flies and today my tiny baby is almost one month old and in no time at all I will have a toddler and then a full-grown boy. And, yes, that is a little sad....but I want to remember how lucky I am to have the privilege of watching him grow.



Friday, July 18, 2014

To My Sweet Sam

Dear Sam,

Today I really saw your face for the first time, and it brought tears to my eyes. You look exactly like your older brother and sister. Your cheeks are so chunky and your lips so kissable that I've looked at your picture at least 20 times since I left the doctor's office a few hours ago.

I was alone for my appointment this morning and I thought about a lot of things on my way. This was my first visit back to the hospital where you will be born in over 2.5 years. It is a place where I have experienced the very worst and the very best moments of my life. Having you seems like the best ending I could think of to a long and winding road. As we passed by the main building, I said a prayer for every mama, daddy and baby who sat inside, especially those who are sick and afraid.

You father and I know what it is to feel sick with fear, but we also know what it is to be filled with great joy. You, Sam, are a great joy. You have given me such a gift with this pregnancy. I felt bad for a while, thinking I wasn't concentrating on you as much as I did when I was pregnant with your brother and sister, but I've realized that is actually the beauty of it. I have so enjoyed being pregnant with you, sweet boy. The only thoughts I've had have been happy ones in between the chaos of life, we have had so much fun together already. We vacationed with some of my oldest and best friends and watched your uncle get married, we've spent countless hours at the beach and chasing after your sister. Being pregnant with you has allowed me to be more ME than I've been able to be before.

Because you are the third born, have a bossy older sister, are a boy...all of these are reasons I may not remember to tell you how much you were wanted. Over a year ago, I prayed hard for a little boy. One morning I opened up my Bible and read a verse that said "you will have a son"....I felt something settle in my heart at that moment. I knew that one day you would come.

Months later, when I had given up all hope of your arrival that month, a rainbow appeared and once again something settled in my heart. You were coming.

And now we have a date. On August 5th you will be here, and I will hold the final piece of my heart that I will put out into this world in my arms. You were a son of God even before you were given to me, sweet Sam.

All of my love,
Your Mama





Monday, July 7, 2014

35 Weeks

35 weeks is a big one for me. I gave birth to Rip at 34 weeks and 5 days, so with Gracie and now with Sam hitting this milestone feels like an accomplishment to be recognized.

This pregnancy in general has been so different for me. Everything thus far has gone according to plan, I feel good and there is no reason to think my delivery will be anything other than standard (well, as standard as a third c-section can be). I keep wondering what would be different if this was my first pregnancy, if I didn't know having a child could be any other way. A lot of things probably...I would be a different kind of mother, wife, person...in good ways and in bad.

I have prayed a lot about finding peace in accepting that this will be my last pregnancy- my body (not to mention  my husband) is telling me three babies in 3.5 years is enough. I prayed to find peace with feeling finished with this stage in my life. Its a hard thing for anyone, and I think I could probably keep going trying to "complete" our little family, but deep down I know we are complete and this is what is best for all of us. Two boys and a girl is more than many, and I am very thankful.

I am also extremely grateful to have experienced pregnancy this way- I think having my first "normal" pregnancy makes it much easier to call this the last. I would be lying if I said writing this was not hard, that in my head I am not thinking what if something happens between now and delivery, or something is discovered when he is born, but I don't feel that it will. This pregnancy has carried with it a sense of well-being that I've never experienced before.

I don't have any new stats on Baby Sam, my next ultrasound is July 18th and we will schedule the section date that day...I really can't believe I am having a baby in less than a month! At my regular appointments I have been measuring perfectly and Sam's movements in my belly are consistent and reassuring (albeit a little more so a night, which makes me think my days of any kind of sleep are very, very numbered).

By this point with both Rip and Gracie I had reached puffer-fish proportions on all parts of my body but, miraculously, that has not happened yet with Sam. My belly is MUCH bigger than ever before, but everything else seems to be only slightly lumpish. My wedding rings are still on, which is nothing short of amazing based on my previous "man-hand" pregnancy experiences.

This is an especially good thing this time around, as I will be traveling 6 hours to my brother's wedding this weekend. At 36 weeks pregnant. And, God Bless 'Em, my brother and his sweet, adorable fiancé have asked both Gracie and I to be in the wedding. So we can all just say a prayer that I can waddle myself and my meltdown prone two-year-old down the aisle. Preferably without going into labor.

But here's the thing- the fact that I can actually go to Knoxville, be in a wedding, and look forward to a fun time with family at 36 weeks pregnant absolutely astonishes me. Like I said, I am extremely thankful and more than a little amazed by this "normal" pregnancy. Not quite as thankful that I will be the one with the spreading nose in all of the wedding pictures, but its all about perspective, isn't it?

More and more excitement is building to get this baby in my hands. I can't wait to see if he looks like his brother and sister, if he is calm or feisty (please Lord, I love my feisty girl but calm sounds so nice), how much he will weigh, what his birth story will be...as I've said, the name Samuel means "asked of God". Once again, it is truly for this child I've prayed, and I just can't wait (well, I can wait at least another three weeks) to meet him.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Just a Moment

One thing I worried about, even before Gracie was born, was how to share Rip with our other children.

Up to this point, we had not shared much about him with Gracie...not on purpose, but anyone who has ever dealt with a child age 0-2 can attest to the fact that there are not many deep conversations being held, with the child or anybody else for that matter.

Parke and I talk about him, obviously I talk about him all over the World Wide Web, we have pictures of Rip in our house- but I wasn't sure how to introduce him to Gracie.

As I have said a million times, my biggest desire is for Rip's life to be viewed as a good thing, the blessing it is to our family. I didn't want Gracie to associate her big brother with fear or sadness. I wanted her to be an age where she could understand what I was saying at the most basic level, without knowing enough to be afraid, hoping that as she gets older and understands more, Rip will be normal thing in her life.

I've been praying a lot to know when the time was right to tell her about her brother, and praying for the right words to do so.

The other night it just kind of happened. Gracie was on my bed and pulled out my Bible- pictures of Rip fell out on the bed.

I watched as she picked one up and stayed very still, staring at a picture of her brother for what seemed like a very long time.

I felt so many things in that moment- immeasurable loss, memories of everything happening in that picture, thankfulness for these children that takes my breath away.

I sat with a million thoughts racing through my head and tears pricking in my eyes and watched as she picked up one picture after another, studying them very hard.

Eventually, I said,"that's Baby Rip. He is your big brother and lives in Heaven with God. He looks out for you every day."

She repeated me and went back to studying his pictures. Then, with a smile, she stacked the pictures and put them back in the Bible and said "let's do our colors!" (Her new favorite game, naming the colors of everything in the room)

Just like that, it was over. I know we will have many more conversations about Rip in our family, but I was so thankful for that one. It was just a moment, but one I know I will remember for the rest of my life.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

At the end of the day

At the end of the day
Lord, I pray,
For a life that's good

There was a brief moment this morning when she sat still in my lap

I closed my eyes and felt how smooth her skin and hair were against my cheek

I smelled her toddler smell, a mix of peanut butter and lavender scented baby wash with a little bit of something that is just her

I watched her chubby hand absentmindedly stroke my arm

I felt her sink in just a little bit deeper, and I knew she felt safe

Even with her own opinions getting stronger every day, in that moment it was not at all hard to imagine that she was once part of me

Her breath matching mine, there are still times when she feels like an extension of my body

Today we will have 450 tantrums

We will argue over what shoes she will wear, what clothes she will wear, and the seemingly never-ending issue of the potty

I will wait on her to move painfully slowly to the car when we have fine minutes to be somewhere

I am sure, at some point, I will count the minutes until this little dictator falls asleep

But when the day is done, this is the moment I will remember

At the end of the day,
Lord, I pray,
For a life that's good

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

No News is Good News

I have the tendency to stop writing when things are good- which is a shame, because someday my kids might read this and think "Good Lord Woman, get a grip"...but basically writing is my therapy when things get overwhelming and need to get all the stress and fear out of my system in a "healthy" way (this of course, is in addition to eating chocolate and drinking wine).

So...I am 30 weeks (almost 31) pregnant and haven't written in a while....which is great news! It means that "Baby Sam", as he is known at our house, is doing great.

Because no pregnancy would be complete in our family without some drama, there was concern up until 28 weeks that there may have been a placenta issue. So help me, if I never hear the word placenta again it may be too soon. I went in for the ultrasound and they were able to tell me they could see absolutely nothing of concern. I made them say it several times. It was a really good day. We ate french fries in celebration.

Sam is currently in the 41st percentile, which has Parke all in a tizzy trying to get him bigger by making me eat way more than is advisable. I keep trying to tell him my eating a ton is not going to affect the baby overall, but honestly I'm not arguing that hard. TCBY four nights a week? Yes, please.

So far no swelling, I was BAD right before I had Gracie, so I am hoping to continue the trend of no man hands. Still wearing wedding rings which is also a first for me this late in the game. I am much bigger than I was with either of the other two, at least in the stomach. I tried to take a picture in the bathroom mirror the other day and I could not get my whole belly to fit. My stomach muscles are all- "Pffff, third time around, we surrender". We have two full months left. You may just find me submerged in water like a manatee come July.

For now, Gracie is thrilled about "her Baby Sam", while having absolutely no idea how this is going to turn her little life upside down. Of course I worry about that some, but I see siblings running around chasing each other on the beach and I am so excited for her to have that. I would be lying if I didn't admit to thinking about "what could have been" in those moments, but I am also very excited about what will be. Gracie alternately kisses my belly and gives it a good smack, which I think will probably be about what we can expect when Sam arrives.

I've had a lot of peace during this pregnancy. Even when they were telling me there could be issues, I just didn't feel the stress and fear I always have before. People will believe what they want to believe, but I feel Rip's presence in that peace. I don't know that I could ever feel peace without something in my bones continually telling me that he is okay.

So my babies are good. We are good. No news is very good news.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fear and Facebook

Like most people I know, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Sometimes, though, mine is more of a love/fear relationship.

More and more, I see stories of children who are sick or dying showing up on my feed. There are desperate pleas from family members to pray, pray, pray for these precious little people. I don't blame them one single bit- had I the presence of mind to do so at the time, Rip's story would have been broadcast over social media site imaginable. Your child is in trouble and you reach out to every conceivable source for help.

The thing is, I click on every single story I see about these babies. And I know what I'm doing, deep down I'm thinking that if I read them, if I pray for them, I can somehow stop whatever scary thing it might be from happening to us. Its selfish. And, of all people, I know this is not true. I read every single thing I could get my hands on about vasa previa and premature babies when I got my diagnosis with Rip. In the end, I couldn't stop what happened.

I truly believe in a sovereign God, a God who does not make mistakes, but somehow that doesn't stop me from being so very afraid. I look at Gracie, or feel Sam kick, and then I read something about another child- and with Facebook, it is often someone I know through a few degrees of separation- and it all seems so out of control.

And I know, its FACEBOOK, for heaven's sakes- its not like someone is forcing me to be there. But I can't quite convince myself to stay away.

I'm not sure that there is much of a point to this post, more just cathartic writing on my part. In the end, I know that I don't want to pass along a legacy of fear to my children. I know that I need to start seeing things for what they are, to live outside of me head. I know there are parents out there who need prayers right now, and not in some imagined future. And I know neither fear nor Facebook is where I need to be looking for answers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

All things bright and beautiful

I knew I wasn't going to be good at this weekly pregnancy update thing.

Oh well. Monthly works, too.

Sweet Sam is now 25 weeks! Which, as any pregnant woman knows, is a big deal. 24 weeks marks the "viability" point...I don't want to see a hair on the kid's cute head before 38 weeks, but making it past 24 weeks still feels like an accomplishment.

Also, I say "sweet" Sam, but I am beginning to have my doubts. You know a while back, when I said this was my calm, relaxed baby? Turns out I have an anterior placenta, which was cushioning most of those early movements. My easy-going babe has transitioned into a stealthy ninja, delivering mighty blows to the bladder in the dark of night. Don't get me wrong, I love every single movement this kid makes...its just my visions of a calm baby sitting wide-eyed in my lap while his sister runs around us in circles is beginning to fade a bit.

As for pregnancy symptoms, I am now officially in the honeymoon stage of pregnancy- past the green, greasy mess of the first trimester (and a half) and not yet the swollen, emotional mess I  will inevitably become. I am trying to get in a walk most days, loving the warm weather and maxi dresses it affords me, and generally eating everything in sight. I've heard that sometimes nausea returns in the last trimester, so I feel I should really try to stock up on my food intake just in case. I mean, that's never happened to me before, but better safe than sorry, right?

Latest cravings- ice cream and popsicles. Trader Joes has these Caribbean fruit popsicles that are almost as good a having a pina colada. Almost.

Also loving, the BEACH. We pretty much live out there on the weekends and it is the perfect free entertainment for Miss Priss. Gracie wears herself out screaming and running from waves, while Big Mama sits her fanny in a chair and makes countless drip castles. Perfection.

All things bright and beautiful is the phrase that keeps running through my head. This is just a sweet time in our lives, and I am beyond thankful for it. Good times tend to make me nervous, but I am very un-Anne-like calm these days, another thing that I am beyond thankful for.

Without further ado, here I am, being all calm. Full disclosure, this picture makes me look better and smaller than I do in real life. This was not an accident.


Happy 25 weeks, Sammy-Boy! 





Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Babies don't keep


The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.


I was laughing with a friend this morning about the time (s) I crawled into Gracie's crib with her when she was smaller. At 3:00 am when you desperately need sleep, it seemed like the only logical thing to do...and probably went against every parenting book in the history of parenting books.

Do I regret it? Not at all.

When I gave birth to Gracie, I (like most people) had NO CLUE what to expect. In my case, I was in disbelief that I actually got bring this living, breathing creature into my home. I spent the first three months of her life trying to do everything "right". We were both pretty miserable.

I tried not to hold her when she slept...she screamed and I cried. I held her when she slept...and instead of enjoying it, I felt guilty because that isn't what you are "supposed" to do, right? I did a million things that, in hindsight, went against my better judgement because I was so afraid of getting it wrong.

After about three months, I gave up. I held my baby-a lot. I rocked her to sleep every night (and still do when she lets me). Sometimes, I crawled into bed with her. Sometimes, I let her crawl into bed with me. I carried (carry) her after she could walk. I loved doing those things.

Because this time in our lives is going really, really quickly. My tall two year old no longer expects me to crawl into bed with her- and in fact shouts "MY ROOM!" half the time Parke and I even dare to cross the threshold. She wants to hold my hand more than she wants to be carried. She wants to feed herself, dress herself- she wants to be herself. That's what should happen when you grow up. I can't for the life of me remember what I was so afraid of those first three months- that I would be rocking her to bed when she was thirty? I wish! (Kidding...kind of.)

I love this age with Gracie, she is my best little friend. We laugh, we tell jokes...she gets sent to time out ten times a day. I don't exactly wish she was a baby again, but I do think of all the days and nights  I've spent with her on my chest and I am thankful for every one of them.

As for Sam, I hope I remember the lesson of "the first three months" and spare us both the misery of doing it "right". After all, babies don't keep.


Friday, April 11, 2014

All That I Need To Know...

Remember the old poster that used to be everywhere? "All That I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten"?

I feel I should now make a poster for myself, entitled "All That I'd Forgotten, I Re-learned from my Daughter"...a small sampling of things my two year-old has (re) taught me:

1. If you are going somewhere, no matter where that is, be so enthusiastic about it that you RUN to get there

2. Tell yourself that you are pretty everyday (twirling like a princess optional).

3. If you are sad, cry. If you are angry, yell. If you are happy, laugh.

4. Remind everyone in your family to give you a kiss before they leave. Its important.

5. Eating is fun- treat yourself.

6. Holidays are fun- celebrate them.

7. If you hear music, dance. It doesn't matter if you are good at it, just do it.

8. If someone is being mean, call them out on it. Also, be quick to forgive.

9. Go outside as much as possible. It makes you feel good.

10. All you really need to be happy is a snack, some juice, and sunshine.

11. If someone makes your heart happy, go give them a huge hug right that very minute.

I pray that she stays this way for as long as humanly possible, and then I pray she has a little girl of her own to remind her how to live all over again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Real

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

Being pregnant tends to make me think and feel "more". I wake up at night and have all of these thoughts swirling through my head.
After we lost Rip, and I got pregnant with Gracie, people would say some variation of "You have no idea what's coming!" in a, having a new baby is SO hard, kind of way. You know what? They were right. I was totally unprepared for the late nights and utter exhaustion and how hard breastfeeding was going to be. You can't prepare for that.
But, I knew what is was like NOT to have all of that. And that was harder, much harder. So the comments stung a little.
Now that I am pregnant with Sam, people like to tell me how much harder life will be with two. This time, I KNOW they are right. The thought of taking two children in and out of car seats every.single.time. I want to go somewhere scares the bejesus out of me.
But, I already have two kids. And not having one of them seems a lot harder than anything else we will face.
I feel myself start to have a weird panicky feeling when friends say they may try for three kids. I can't quite figure out why...Yes, I always wanted three. Two boys and a girl, in fact...exactly what I got. Of course this isn't really what I wanted, but I know almost every single person who has dealt with loss of any kind, or infertility, would tell you that "you can't always get what you want". In truth, I feel extremely lucky to be as blessed as I am.
Which brings me to being "real". In real life, especially by the time you reach your thirties, almost everyone has been through something... an all caps SOMETHING. Some seemingly more that their fair share. Everybody has experienced something that has made them a little shabby, a little more real.
Rip is my SOMETHING. He is something that changed me in infinite ways.
Rip is real. I sat in a hospital bed for six weeks, have a scar on my belly, and can feel the weight of him in my arms. Rip is real and he made me real.
So its hard not to feel something (another something) when I don't feel his presence acknowledged. But the truth of the matter is, I know I don't pay nearly enough attention to anyone else's SOMETHINGS.
The same people who may give me advice on one, two, or three children may be the same ones who suffered through years or infertility or miscarriages while I laugh about how easily I get pregnant. Or the ones who lost a parent when I talk about how glad I am to have mine. Everyone has something that stings. And we can't all go around tiptoeing over everything that comes out of our mouths. 
So I guess the part I work on, and struggle with, is how to be "real" without the anger, or resentment, or hurt feelings. The real me learned most of what I know to be true, and important, from a little boy who is no longer living on this earth. That little boy has nothing to do with negative emotions, there is nothing ugly about him. I don't want there to be anything ugly about me either.
But how do I do that? I guess it does take time. This becoming real is hard work. Taking your SOMETHING and turning it into the right thing, its really hard. But in the end- if we can do it- all of us, with our sagging joints and loved off hair, turn into something so real that we can't be ugly anymore.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Halfway Home

20 weeks...halfway there, or a little more than, due to c-section scheduling!

So, I knew I wasn't going to be great at that whole weekly posting thing, but I am making an effort to at least document some of this pregnancy, which seems to be going by at lighting speed.

First of all, we have a name! This little boy will be named Samuel Haskell Harris. The name Samuel means "asked of God." Very fitting and true, and also I couldn't find a name that meant "begged and pleaded with God". As with Grace, I felt this baby should be named to reflect what a blessing he truly is.

I am a big believer that you can tell a lot about a baby's personality in utero. Rip was pretty chill. Gracie...was not. That child kicked me from the day she was strong enough to do so, and sometimes does it to this day (we are working on that). Mr. Sam is the definition of laid back. He kicks, but even when he moves they are fairly lazy movements. I just get this kind of calm vibe with him...you can remind me of that we he is screaming bloody murder at 2am in a few months. That said, I do think this baby boy is going to be on the mellow side compared to his big sis (she says hopefully).

As for Big Sis, she seems to have grasped the fact that Baby Sam is in Mama's tummy. Previously, she thought he was in an airplane...we are not sure what happened there. She is still a little confused though, and spends a lot of time digging into my belly button and shouting, "HELLOOOO, SAM, WATE (wake) UP!!!" Hopefully, Baby Sam will learn to tune her out early on.

I am huge. I am not just saying that. I am at least as big as I was with Gracie as 6.5 months. And its not all concentrated to my stomach, its kind of like I am melting, out and down. Attractive. That said, I am happy. I enjoy being pregnant and I am trying to remember if this is our last time that I want to remember it as a joyful one. This is easier to do now that I don't feel like I am going to upchuck every time I take a bite of something.

We go next week for our anatomy scan. I'm not going to lie, that scares me. As much as I try not to let fear get the best of me this time around, it has been my experience that once they go looking for something they usually find it. Please say a prayer that Sam continues to be my drama-free baby.

Cravings still include mostly salt, but sweets are making a comeback just in time for some Easter candy (by far the best holiday candy, in my opinion). I am in the weird stage between PREGNANT and pregnant? Meaning nothing really fits and I swear I will be having a party to burn my maternity leggings when it FINALLY warms up around here.

All joking aside, sometimes I remember we are having a baby this summer and I am almost overcome with excitement. Yes, the fear is always not too far away, it is something I have to consciously keep at bay. I know there are no guarantees here. But this baby boy and I have made it halfway home, and that's something to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Its a....



Sweet Healthy Baby!!

Who also happens to be a boy!

This is a happy, happy day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bump it Up

So, this is the first pregnancy where I have not been in constant panic-mode. Don't get me wrong, I probably would be, if I didn't have "I am Gracie, hear me roar" well, roaring, at me most of the time. Its a nice change, I will be the first to admit, but in a way its a little weird. I think about this baby, and I love this baby, but he (or she) is not my biggest focus 24/7. Probably a good thing for all involved.

However, since this might be my last pregnancy (according to Parke, there is no "might" about it...but I mean never say never, right?)- I decided I would try to be like those cool, together moms who do weekly updates during their pregnancy. Since this is me we are talking about here, these posts will probably only last a couple of weeks...but I will try.

So, without further ado, here is my 15 week update....

-According to my weekly pregnancy email, the baby is currently the size of an apple. This always gets me wondering, are they talking about big old red delicious apples, or those little tiny sour green things? Because if I can walk around with a big old apple in my stomach and not feel it...I mean, that's kind of an odd thought, isn't it?

- Which brings me to- movement. Not yet, I don't think. I mean there have been a couple of times where I thought I felt a twinge or two, but nothing definite yet. I felt Rip at 17 weeks and Gracie closer to 16, so I am trying to resist the urge to poke at the poor creature until then.

- My lack of poking may also have to do with the fact that I am STILL nauseous. Not all of the time, and not NEARLY as bad as it was in the beginning...but I think this baby already realizes he/she will be competing with a...vivacious...older sibling and wants to make his presence know. On the plus side, my skin and hair are better than they have been in previous pregnancies, so I look green but well-maintained.

- Craving-wise I am all salt, salt, salt. Chips and pickles are a particular favorite at the moment. Absolutely no carbonated drinks. Meals in which I overindulge are met with less than favorable consequences, of which I will spare you the details.

-Note that has not slowed down my weight gain. After little to no gain in my first trimester, the last three weeks have been overachievers. This will probably be my last post on weight gain, as we can all just agree from here on out its pretty much a given.

- Due to aforementioned weight gain and nausea, maternity pants are pretty much a must right now. I can still get away with non-maternity tops, but I am more than ready to "pop" and prove there is actually a baby in here.

- But who is it? Not sure yet! We go on February 25th to find out for the gender. I am still very much leaning towards boy, but would not be totally surprised to be wrong this time around.

I will try to add a picture next time around. Today, I don't like my outfit enough to have it permanently documented. Don't worry, little one, its not that your mother is vain...its just that looking bad never helps anything (or so I've been told).

Until next week! Littlest one, you sure are loved.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finding the Beautiful

A couple of mamas I know, "heart mamas" (aka some of the most hardcore, awesome mamas) who have "heart babies" (aka pretty much some of the bravest, coolest kids in the world) posted this blog post on their Facebook pages this week. It struck such a cord, I had to repost.

I have some really vivid memories of different times in my past where life seemed so beautiful it almost hurt. One when I was dancing with my baby sister when she was about a year old. Another when I was sitting in the sunroom of my family home, looking out at a bright blue sky. One when I was driving around Clemson University with my best friends, singing at the top of our lungs. Another when I was on my honeymoon, staring up at the stars and thankful for the beginning of a happy life.

And then I had children, and life got so beautiful it almost breaks me sometimes.

My prayer, every single day, is that no more babies have to hurt. Ever. And even when I know that prayer is not likely to come true on this earth, I pray it anyway.

Having lost a baby, I felt a connection to that Heart Mama who wrote the blog post. She is finding the beautiful.

I once read a post by a mother who lost a child, and she said that it hurt her for people to say they appreciated their children more because of her loss. I understand that. I never want someone to feel sorry for us because of Rip, we are very blessed people and don't expect pity. But I also know that I do appreciate my children more because of our loss.

I get up with Gracie at 2am sometimes and just lie there and thank God for the smell of her shampoo. I kiss her cheeks so many times a day I am surprised she doesn't have an imprint of my lips tattooed there.

And I think that must be what all mothers who have had sick babies, or experience loss, must do. We find the beautiful, and maybe even more of it, because of what we face.

Today is Valentine's Day. February is heart awareness month. Please take the time today to say a prayer for all the babies who need them. I, for one, am going to Gracie's first Valentine's party this afternoon. If you see me with tears in my eyes while 20 children run around on a candy high, just ignore me. Finding so much beauty has turned me into a big old crybaby.






Saturday, February 8, 2014

State of Grace

I know that a lot of time and discussion is given to the "Terrible Two's", but I've got to say that, so far, I'm really enjoying this stage. Now, that is certainly not to say that Gracie does not have her moments...she does, she truly does...but even those moments I often find secretly hilarious. Here are a glimpses into life with our two-year-old...

Gracie, though generally a sweet girl, has recently developed a penchant for whacking people (mainly me) in the face, particularly when my face has the misfortune to get too close to hers. And, I mean, I get it...its not that I haven't occasionally felt the urge to belt somebody whose big mug gets in my personal space...but it a practice that is generally frowned upon and sometimes it really hurts. Therefore, Parke and I have tried to implement age-appropriate redirections and punishments. I think maybe we need to re-think our tactics...

Gracie's self-imposed punishment, after yet another "tap" to her mother's face: "Hud" (Hug) "Tiss" (Kiss) "Soddy"( Sorry) "I go to time out"...which she promptly does.

One thing that always kind of cracks me up about kids, at least my kid, is how they perk up like dogs at the sight or sound of ANYTHING you are attempting to eat by yourself. Gracie can hear the opening of a yogurt lid from the opposite side of the house. No sooner has my mouth touched the spoon beforeI hear her, eyes sparkling and already pulling up a chair, "Whazzat?"

The other day I finally thought I found something she would not be interested in,  a salad with a bunch of "stuff" in it. Unfortunately she finished her peanut butter toast early and climbed into my lap for a closer look. Right now she is big on "yikes" and "not yikes", so I had a bad feeling when she reached her grubby little hand right in and grabbed a cherry tomato.

"I YIKE it," she declared.
I told her I did not think she would.
"NO, I YIKE IT!"
Big bite into cherry tomato, spraying juice into both of our faces and a surprising distance into the kitchen before spitting the offending item back into my salad.
"I NOT yike dat."

Gracie loves to sing. Unfortunately, neither Parke nor I can carry a tune to save our lives, so it is no surprise that her serenades, while beautiful to us, are not really fit for public consumption. This does not give her a moments pause. Her favorite of all time is "Jesus Loves Me"- cute, right? Maybe not so much if you are minding your own business shopping at TJ Maxx and she is on her 12th round of
"JESUS LUBS ME DISS I KNOWWWW, FOR THE BIB-BUL TELLS ME SO". I know, lady shooting me dirty looks, but I'm not gonna be the mom who tells her kid to stop singing about Jesus, okay?

Speaking of Jesus, we have have finally made it back to attending church regularly. Albeit not often for the full sermon, even though several times before entering Gracie cautions Parke and me to "be tw-iet in shursh", the quiet of a two year old only last so long. Last week was a particularly rough Sunday due to the unfortunate soul sitting in front of us. Gracie, to put it mildly, is obsessed with "boo-boo's" and other ailments. Sorry on you if you have the poor judgement to point out any small scratch or cut you may have in her presence. You will be discussing said cut for the next hour and a half, with multiple viewings. Therefore, Parke and I were horrified to see the man in front of us had a "bump" on the back of his neck. Like, could have used Proactiv bump. Sure enough, it wasn't ten minutes before Gracie zeroed in..."UH-OH MAMA- BOO BOO!!!" While we tried to divert her attention, the girl was determined to have a closer look and I am sure the poor man felt toddler cheerio breath on his neck before we finally dragged her out. She is still talking about it a week later.

These are just some of Gracie's latest and greatest. She keeps us laughing, and on our toes, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The state of grace is always changing and I would not change that for the world.




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Getting what you need

Thank y'all so much for the sweet words and congratulations! They made the pregnancy feel more real,  and hitting the second trimester has helped as well. Now I have that "special pregnant lady" vibe going, whereas before I had that "really nauseous, please don't eat onions within a mile of me" vibe.

Which leads me to the question every pregnant woman asks at some point- who is this little person swimming around inside of me? I know some women prefer to be surprised. I admire those women greatly. I really, really don't like to be surprised (ironic, given the name of this blog, I know).

With both Rip and Gracie, I had such strong feelings about whether they were male or female. I was right with both...this newest addition has me guessing.

Long before I got pregnant, I dreamed of having a daughter. I have a very good relationship with my own mother, and some of my best memories are of special things and days we have had together. I wanted that bond with my own girl one day.

And then I got pregnant with Rip. And man, I changed my tune quickly. Boy mom seemed suddenly the best idea EVER.

When we lost Rip, and I was waiting to get pregnant again, that was where my mind stayed...boy, boy, boy.

Then I got pregnant with Gracie. Turns out, I got the baby girl I'd been waiting for my whole life.

With this baby, my mind says "he". My first instinct was boy, and I have to say that is what I am still leaning towards...but my body says she (please see afore-mentioned "really nauseous, no onions etc"). I was never sick with Rip, very much so with Gracie.

So here is what I know-

If we have a little boy, he will be the best thing that ever happened to us.

If we have a little girl, she will be the best thing that ever happened to us.

Because sometimes you really do get what you need.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Girl

I've said time and again on this blog that I have always been a "happy girl" aka, an optimist. And I've said how hard it was to be that girl after Rip died.

I know the expression, "hope for the best, expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed". It makes sense, kind of. But I just don't operate that way. I'm more of the "think of the absolute best (probably never gonna happen) scenario and day dream about it until it doesn't happen". And yeah, maybe I get disappointed but usually not for long...by then I'm already on to the next great thing that's going to happen any minute.

It was really hard believing that after Rip died and when I got pregnant with Gracie. Really hard. Even with my perfect, beautiful baby girl it was hard. I wanted to believe the best again soooo badly. But it was hard.

This year, for our anniversary, Parke and I went back to Tortola-our home away from home. The last time we were there was when our wonderful, thoughtful friends sent us after we lost Rip. It was amazing how healing it was to go back. How different we are today than we were then. Parke was like a little kid.

Before we left, I'd made up my mind I would be pregnant by the time I got back. This is the kind of thing I do, only to make up my mind again the next month. Nonetheless, I bought a pregnancy test and left it for our return.

We got in the car and the song "He Called Me Baby" came on the radio. The same song I heard when I  knew I was pregnant with Rip. You can imagine what was going through my head.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached paradise, it became quite clear that I was not pregnant. Like, the exact thing you DON'T want happening on your romantic beach vacation had happened. To make matters worse, I was completely unprepared for this unwanted visitor (optimist remember) and all the resort had to offer resembled what I was given to wear by the hospital after the birth of my children. Awesome.

Still, we had a wonderful vacation. Really, really good. And the whole time that same song played in my head, and I thought "Maybe??". And I had to smile, because the Old Anne was back. Here in this beautiful place, I felt like I'd found that Happy Girl again. The one who still believes even when EVERYTHING point to the contrary- like basically wearing a diaper in her bathing suit contrary. I'd missed her,  a lot.

The last day or our vacation Parke came and grabbed me to show me this:



So, of course I took the darn test when we got home (I'd paid for it, right? Also, patience is sooooo not my thing).

We are expecting our third child in early August.

And of course I have that voice in my head..."but Anne, what if you write this and then something happens again?!!" So what? The joy I have over the baby is not something I am willing to sacrifice to fear. Not this time.

I saw him (of course I don't know yet, just a feeling) yesterday at 12.5 weeks. I am a Happy Girl.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Peace, Love, and Happiness

I haven't written on this blog in almost two months...which I think is the longest time I've ever gone without saying SOMETHING. I've thought about writing a million somethings, but those thoughts usually occur somewhere around 3 am when I am in crazy "see what I can dig up to worry about" mode.

After Rip died, I felt compelled to write. That's not a strong enough word...it was almost like if I didn't write what was in my head that very minute whatever it was would become too big for me to deal with. Writing was a lifeline.

Writing also became a part of me, something I will always be thankful for. I still write, in fact I'm writing for a couple of local publications on the side now, and I truly enjoy it. But that need to put everything on paper seems to have faded.

I guess my life seems pretty normal right now. Almost everything I do is stuff that every other mom I know is doing. There isn't a reason to get it out here because nobody understands it out there.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still different. I still feel my heart sink when somebody says "wait til you have two!" It will always catch me off guard when someone asks how many children I have. I will always have days when I cry because I miss my baby boy.

But most days, I feel peaceful. Well, busy and peaceful. At peace, I guess. At peace with exactly the kind of mother I am, and exactly the kind of family we are. A broken thing that is slowly being put back together, with the cracks still visible to anyone close enough to us who cares to look.

Most of the time I feel love. And I feel loved...by God, by my husband, by my friends, by my drama queen of a two year old. That love doesn't look a darn thing like I thought it would four years ago, but it is fought-for love...and that's the best kind.

I am happy. I never in a million years thought I would be. Could be. Its kind of a miracle, really.

Now, this is not to say every day is peace, love, and happiness. Peace is generally not having your two year old smack your face and make a big production over saying sorry. Love is not always having your husband fuss over the new scratches on your car for thirty minutes (its not like I do this stuff on purpose). Happiness is rarely found while cleaning out a crock pot a solid three weeks after making a roast. No, that's all called yesterday.

That's also called normal. Sometimes normal can be even better than peace, love, and happiness.