Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Worry chain

What a great idea... as things are beginning to wind down (babe is dropping, kitchen cabinets are hung, hips are beginning to ache) and I'm looking ahead to labor and welcoming this new little one, the worries are beginning to pile up. I think I might copy her idea.

Each morning when I wake up my heart skips until I feel movement from the babe, that little bit of reassurance that all is well. For that moment. Then I can breathe. Later on, the movements mark that all is okay. For that morning. Getting ready for sleep I wait for the baby-dance to tell me our babe is safe. For that day.

I guess this is something all mamas with losses work through.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Two days

Just a couple of days left to vote, and it appears to be a split decision. Maybe that means twins! Since I've already gained over 30lbs I'm beginning to think this is a distinct possibility. My hips are beginning to ache, and my knees sound like I'm mashing a ziplock of rice crispies every time I go up a flight of stairs. The additional fact that my belly rests on my thighs when I'm practicing good posture is adding to this delusion... or truth...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Upper Cabinets!

B has spent the past weekend hanging his custom-built cabinets and the last couple of days trimming them out...
This massive corner unit will have an "appliance garage" with doors on the underside.
They are trimmed out in el-cheapo mdf, which is perfect for painting. We wanted to have a microwave over the stove, the kind that has the vent built in. The problem we encountered is that the stove is 40" wide, a tad bigger than the standard 30" that most stoves are. Over the stove microwaves are designed to fit that 30". So, the "fluted columns" are helping to fill in the gap that will be there.
B still has to fill the holes and prime it all white. Then I'll be kicked out of the house while B paints all the cabinetry with oil. That stuff stinks to high heaven.
After the painting the last steps will be hanging the crown molding around the top and ordering or making the doors... B is now beginning to think he'll just build them himself. At this stage in the game, there's no doubt in my mind that he doesn't have the ability. This guy has Mad Skills.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I woke up at 5:35 this morning to the sound of all the bits and bottles on my nightstand shaking. The windows were open and in my haze I first thought it was a truck passing by. Then the bed began shaking. I got up and noticed the ceiling fan knocking a bit, then began calling for B. After all, it was only 5:35am. What sane person is voluntarily at work THAT early? I thought he was downstairs using a sawzall. The photos hung in our hallway were trembling as I went down the stairs, and the glasses in the cabinet were rattling when I got to the kitchen (still yelling for B).

Then it stopped. Altogether, about 15-20 seconds of quaking. And no B with a sawzall cutting away beams in the basement.

I checked on the dogs, both oblivious and camped out on their beds, found a phone and called B. I thought for sure some support in our house had given way.

Instead, I found out shortly after this is what happened.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Belly cam

There are 32 weeks down, 8 more to go. So, given how I'm carrying, any predictions on boy or girl? Vote in the poll at the bottom of the screen!

Project finished!

First project finished! With binding!
The colors are a bit off (basement lighting) but you get the gist. I'm loving the pink fabric with the blue. And the red binding.
Here's hoping little L likes it half as much as I loved making it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10th

Today was the day we got to hold our son for the first and last time. Really, truly hold him. With no wires, no tubes, no alarms. Just our small family in a room in the NICU, with paper towels taped over the window to protect the world from our anguish. Or to protect us from the raw world that awaited us when we said goodbye. All day I've been struggling with the memories, trying to keep the happier ones at the forefront, willing the hellish ones to recede. I wish I could say I've been successful. The raw vulnerability of this experience is just undeniable."Even in hell, it is possible to be joyful, because both heaven and hell are here on earth, created by our minds and actions. Transformation is always possible. We can transform pain to joy by keeping our hearts open.
Keeping an open heart in hell, we learn the art of vulnerability, the power of no protection. This is a spiritual power, not an egoic conquest. To learn its secret alchemy, we must be willing to accept suffering and vulnerability as a normal part of life. Because we are vulnerable, life hurts. We are not here to be free of pain. We are here to have our hearts broken by life. To learn to live with vulnerability and to turn pain into love.
"There is nothing so whole as a broken heart," said Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk, another Hasidic sage. The world breaks our hearts wide open, and it is the openness itself that makes us whole. The open heart is the doorway, inviting the angels in, revealing that the world--even in the pit of hell--is charged with the sacred."

-Miriam Greenspan, 2004.

Burke Franklinn: April 5, 2007-April 10, 2007

"When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
-Kahlil Gibran

April 9th

I'm off work today, with the goal in mind of quilting. Keeping busy seems to be the best line of defense, and having two quilts assembled and ready to go was an awesome feat for Tuesday! Unfortunately, my sewing machine is not cooperating.

I am realizing that the reason I don't quilt much anymore is that I've begun to outgrow the capabilities of my simple Singer 5830 school model. I want it to do stuff it just can't do. I need it to do free-motion quilting and not gum up. I need to have control over the bobbin thread tension, and there's just no way that's going to happen. I've been feeling the panic rising up in me all day. And anger at being limited not by my own creativity or ability, but by a hunk of mid-line quality metal and plastic.

Luckily, Mrs. M, my friend's mom (and avid quilter) has a couple of machines she's not using and is going to lend me her Bernina AND her old Janome. Thank Goodness for the kindness of friends.

Back to progress and the slow digestion of these in-between anniversary days... these few short days of our baby's little life. Tomorrow is the day we let him go. We're both working, so here's hoping that provides enough distraction to carry us through...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8th

Today's Good thing:
Strawberry buckwheat pancakes for dinner.

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7th

Back to work today. I'm still feeling a little disjointed and distracted, thinking of the five days we had in the NICU as a family. And my physical state after all the interventions. Swollen, battered, bruised...

I think I got my (3rd or 4th) IV out and was getting discharged. My hand was still swollen like a mitt from where they punctured the vein on the 5th, yet let the bag of fluid run. It took several days to go down again. I remember B helping me shower for the first time, holding me up, supporting me, washing my hair as I cried.

And coming home with empty arms to our house, family camped out on couches. It was Saturday.

Coming home today, I stopped and looked through the bulb garden I planted in the fall while expecting Burke. I wanted to watch the crocus come up, and the early daffodils. I told myself by the time the hyacinths and tulips were up I would be picking them while holding my baby.

It's strange how the little things bring back such strong emotions.

Tomorrow I'm going to pick a bunch of the daffodils that are blooming and bring them in. They deserve to be enjoyed, just as they were intended to be when I planted them. Gardens are Good things, as is watching them grow. Now I play a new waiting game, watching the tulips come and go, then wait for the iris and peonies to bloom. Our new little one will be here before the daylilies and hydrangea tree bloom, if memory serves.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April 6th

Things are going ok... we made it through yesterday surprisingly well. We went to look at trees to plant in Burke's honor. We drove out to my favorite nursery to see what they had in stock. I was thinking about either another fruit tree (we planted apple trees the year we were married) or something ornamental that is currently in bloom. They hadn't gotten a whole lot in yet, but they did have the most beautiful weeping cherry. We arrived pretty late in the afternoon and they were getting ready to close, so we didn't buy it but we probably will go back next weekend.

B got the ceiling completely done, and I got the rest of the quilt completely assembled and basted and began the quilting this morning. It was meant to happen. All the pieces just came together so quickly and easily, it was meant to be the project to carry me through.
It's been so INCREDIBLY cathartic to sit at the machine again and work on a quilt. I'm glad it is going to be a family quilt instead of a baby quilt. I remember starting it with the intention of it being one for Burke. Instead it will be for the family, and we can all share it and talk about him and remember...

The quilting bug has bitten me HARD after being dormant so long. As an added distraction I started work on a little quilt for a friend's new arrival. Hopefully I'll be able to whip it up quickly and get it done. I hate agonizing and making "perfect" quilts for kids and babies. The intention is for it to be slept on, drooled on, spit up on, loved on, and easy to wash, dry, and keep using. I am loving the pink pattern so much. It's making me hope for a girl.

A quick thank you to everyone who has been checking in with us this weekend. It means so much to us to hear your voices, to know you're thinking of us... I'm tearing up thinking of all of your love reaching out to us, holding us up...
So, yesterday's Good thing is rediscovering fabric and quilting. And today's Good thing is you.
We love you.

B and G

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Morning (April 5th)

I woke up before dawn today (and long before B) with a wet pillow and sore hands. It seems I'd been crying in my sleep with tightly clenched hands for who knows how long.


As I laid there, I realized it's not the tears and pain that woke me, it's the birds chirping insistently in the darkness, preparing for day, and the swirling and prodding from my belly.

All the signs of renewal and life, egging me on to face today with an open heart.

Friday, April 4, 2008

April 4th

One year ago today I went into labor with Burke. Today, I am laboring through the heartache and grief while working on an unfinished quilt from last year. The quilt I started last fall/winter is turning into more of a family quilt than one intended for a babe, and I think that's okay with me. It will give our family plenty of warmth and comfy snuggles next winter, and it's giving me something to work through this week.

So, today's Good thing is a Work In Progress:
Here are some of the nine large patches made up of 64 small patches. More photos to come when there's some better lighting to take them by.

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." -Helen Keller

Here's to the coming through the fire... day by day, by whatever means we can.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

April 3rd

Today's Good happening: a healthy appt. with the OB and busting out the sewing machine and working on a forgotten project I packed away last winter. I've forgotten how much I like the smell of burning dust and oil my old Singer sewing machine gives off when in use.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hard days (April 2nd)

This is going to be a hard week for both of us.

B is sinking himself into the house, his refuge from heartache. The dining room ceiling is looking good, completely primed, caulked, holes filled and sanded, and ready to paint tonight.

I know I've written about this coping mechanism before, but I'm always wowed how well it works for him. As an engineer, it's his job to fix stuff, to make things right. It doesn't matter how something mechanical is broken, he just has a natural knack for figuring out what is wrong and what it takes to make it better. But when it comes to losing your child, there are not circuits you can rewire or programming you can adjust to change the outcome. The constant is the loss and grief you feel. Now the house: that you can change. You can tear down walls and construct them stronger. You can take an Ugly Chandelier Problem and make it better. Bit by bit, you can rebuild. Each week we get closer to getting finished is a week that B gets further processing his grief.

For me, the pain is creeping up on me at odd times. I looked over the ledgers for last April at work yesterday, and as I reviewed each day's bookkeeping I relived Burke's short life. I haven't cried at work in a long time, but yesterday I broke down once I got to the 5th. Then there was the 10th when Burke died. And the 16th for his memorial service. Then the emptiness.

Yesterday was his official due date, and part of me still wonders if he would be here with us if only my body would have let go of him sooner. Just a few days earlier...

I wish I had a mode of coping that worked as effectively as it does for B. For me it's all about taking each day as it comes and trying to find the Good in it. Reading, writing, being Present for the new baby, they're all part of my day. The monthly projects have been cathartic, too. So, this week's goal is to find some Good each day...

Today's Good find:
I found fabric today that I think will become a new quilt for the babe. I love Eric Carle. As active as the baby is and big as I have gotten 'round the middle, it's fitting to think the child will indeed be a "very hungry caterpillar."