Monthly Archives: January 2013

Putting this life in Perspective

The further we go along in this journey that is Life after Hudson, the more I have to work to justify where we are now to where I imagined we would be. And every once in a while, life serves up a little reminder to me: Live in the present moment, and don’t take anything for granted.

Sometimes these are profound reminders, and sometimes they are hilarious.

Last week, I went over to my dear friend’s house for lunch. She has a sweet little boy who is just over one year old, and when I arrived for our lunch date, he had just finished, as my friend put it, “eating an onion like it was an apple.”

Not more than 10 minutes after my arrival, my friend started to notice an aroma, her mom-senses in overdrive, catching the smell far before I could. And then it hit me.

Diaper explosion.

CLOTH diaper explosion.

She took him to his room to deal with the situation, and a few moments pass before she calls to me, “Erica, can you come in here?”

I am hit with a wall of hot poop stink as I enter the room. It is a war zone of baby wipes, my  friend a bit frazzled as she asks me to hold on to her son’s flailing arms so that he won’t put his own poop in his mouth. He is wailing, a fire engine siren of noise and fury at the indignity of his present situation, his lower half covered in excrement and his upper half confined while his mother uses baby wipe after baby wipe trying to clean up the mess.

“There’s poop on my hand!” she exclaimed at one point, intermittently gagging and wiping.

“Why is it so hot in here?” I have to ask, trying my best to breath slowly through my mouth but worried I might somehow taste the stink, which is intensified by the heat.

“I’m out of wipes! Erica, I’m out of wipes!” This is the peak of the crisis, and I race to the hallway to get a fresh pack out of their storage closet, fumble with the invisible plastic tab to open it.

Eventually we have to resort to carrying her screaming, poop-covered son into the bathroom and running the shower on him to finish the job.

“I’ll disinfect the shower later,” my friend says, out of breath and a bit disgusted.

We return to the scene of the crime to put some fresh clothes on her now clean son. “My husband would totally clean this up,” she says as we survey the wreckage, the filthy cloth diaper and a mountain of used baby wipes. “But I’m probably just going to throw it away.”

It is at this moment that I start to laugh. “I needed this,” I say between giggles. “I needed your son to s*** everywhere today, just to put my life in a little bit of perspective.”

That stinky baby poop, my friend in a panic trying to prevent any of it from getting in her baby’s mouth, the whole hellish and hilarious scene, reminded me to appreciate what I have right now.

I have romanticized the whole business of babies since Hudson died. No midnight wake-up calls, no diaper blow outs, no ill-timed spit ups… I think how much I wish I was experiencing that stuff and I think, “I will appreciate it when I experience it.” And I will. I will love that scene when it is replayed with me and my husband and our own poop-covered child. But for now, we don’t have a poop-covered child to clean up, and we won’t for a while, and you know what… that wall of hot poop stink reminded me that not everything with babies is miraculous and lovely. Sometimes, it is downright disgusting. And I have to be honest, I thought as my friend dry-heaved over her son’s poopy diaper, that I was glad I wasn’t the one with poop on my hands in that moment.

Babies are beautiful and amazing and miraculous and lovely. And so is life. But sometimes, babies shit on you.

And sometimes, so does life.

What makes life beautiful most of the time is the perspective you chose to have. Life serves up a few amazing things, a few shitty things, and the in between is what you make it.

So I might as well make the most of this in between time – take advantage of the ability to wear white, the occasional date night with my husband, the glass of wine on a Tuesday night – because even though this life is empty without Hudson, this life is ours, and I won’t take it for granted.

 

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Insult, meet Injury

I had been thinking that 2013 was our year. That it is all downhill, or maybe uphill (whichever is better in the end!), from here.

And then Hudson’s six month birthday rolled around, and then yesterday, the six month anniversary of her death.

Half a year has gone by, and I’m not “all better.” Not by a long shot. My life right now is the limbo between Hudson and Baby Dub Dos, regardless of how hard I’ve tried to fill this space with new experiences, new accomplishments, a focus on hope.

We went to my niece’s dance recital on Saturday. Armies of adorable little girls dressed like tiny mice and puppies prancing in a quasi-organized fashion across the stage…  that kind of entertainment was fun for families, but not ideal for me in my present emotional state. Then, our seats just happened to be directly behind not one but TWO families with small babies, who were basically being waved in my face every time I took a break from watching the adorbs on stage.

I’m going to pretend that my tears during one “Ballet 1” number were due to my love for the art of the dance.

Then yesterday rolled around: the six month mark from our daughter’s death, and a Monday to boot. The Hubs and I both are battling some grody winter bug, and neither of us slept well the night before. Hello, recipe for disaster. As we did our nightly routine, I started to cry the unprovoked tears of the perpetually heartached. The Hubs did me a solid, just holding me wordlessly while I let the tears silently roll down my cheeks and into my hair, the silence broken occasionally by one of those wheezy sobs that sometimes escape during a quiet cry. When it felt like words were necessary, I just said, “I’m tired of waiting around for my life to do what it is supposed to.”

This life is not easy.

Today I awoke with a more hopeful outlook, a desire to make the most of this day since I don’t get it back. I was excited to come home to my husband and enjoy a little less bummed out evening. But I had to stop at the grocery store to grab a loaf of bread and some olive oil, and ended up in the checkout line of one of those “overly friendly” people, one I’ve been avoiding since Hudson’s birth and death because she was the type to ask about the baby.

Sure enough. When I got up to the checkout, she greeted me like an old friend and asked me, “How’s the little one?”

I’ve written before about these awkward encounters. You feel apologetic, and inauthentic. You can’t always serve up the story with a healthy side of tears and full explanation, but then you over-analyze the encounter and wonder if you should have provided more information, made more or less eye contact, explained what happened. The “10-items or less aisle” isn’t the place for a retelling of those three wonderful days that were my life with Hudson.

So I just said, “She passed away.”

“What?”

“She only lived three days.”

“Oh… I didn’t know… I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

It’s okay?! It is far from okay. Later in the brief, uncomfortable encounter, I had to say that, “You know, it’s not OKAY, but you shouldn’t feel bad for asking.”

I drove home replaying the scene in my mind, wondering how I could have presented the situation differently, wishing I could have just skirted the truth and said something like, “She’s the most beautiful baby ever born.”

I’m also struck by how I always say “She passed away,” not “She died,” or “She only lived for three days.” I’m sure there’s some sort of insight in that word choice, but I’m too exhausted to explore it.

So I guess I’m not “over the hump”. I am doubting that there is such a thing as a hump in this thing called grieving. Looking back at the last six months, I can vaguely detect a gradual upward trend… but in the minutia of the day-to-day, you really just have to take ’em as they come. This has been a hard week – every time I have an encouraging moment, its been met fairly quickly with a cruel counter from the universe. Weeks like these, you have to be patient, laser focused on the positives you can cling to, a one-moment-at-a-time existence that can be completely depleting.

But there ARE positives to cling to. Sometimes they are as small and sweet as the embrace of my husband, crying into his ever-growing beard. Sometimes they are as big and grand as a family trip to Maui for my thirtieth birthday this coming April (THIRTY!). And there are small and medium sized positives that sneak up on me in the day when I’m least expecting them. The challenge is to be on the look out for these, to revel in their simple beauty, however brief.

Some of the most beautiful things in existence only grace the earth very briefly.

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Six Months

Hudson would have been six months old today.

I thought about skipping a post about this – after all, I’ve commemorated each of these milestones, and at a certain point don’t you run out of things to say about what you’re missing?

No. You don’t.

This isn’t just a lifetime without our baby. This is a world without a person.

I woke up feeling melancholy and sad. I even went so far as to post something a little “poor me”-ish on Facebook, something I try to avoid at all costs. Readers of this blog have hopefully noticed a trend, an overarching theme when I write about Hudson. I always try to end on a positive. Even before Hudson died, this blog featured posts that were a little “poor me”-ish about the physical and emotional tolls of pregnancy. But I always tried to end on a positive note, because I figured that at some point in her life, Hudson would read this stuff, and I wanted to be sure that she never for a moment felt like I resented being pregnant with her.

Now, I try to end on a positive note for myself. I write about Hudson, and it is a pep talk for myself. I try to be genuine about how much this whole thing sucks… but I also try to dig into my heart and focus on the beauty of our experience, because there is a lot of it. It’s muddy and tear-stained, but it is there. That is where I have to focus.

I’ve written before about songs and lyrics that get me thinking about Hudson. One that has resonated for me recently is “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes. It was the “first dance” song for my husband’s sister this summer, and on that late summer evening by the lake,  I couldn’t contain the gut-punch sobs, thinking about how much I want Hudson to know she was wanted.

I wanna call you mine
Wanna hold your hand forever
Never let you forget it
Yeah, I wanna make you feel wanted

There are times when my brain works in really messed up ways, creates these little nagging guilts that give me that yucky high school angst in my stomach – like malevolent butterflies. One of those messed up thoughts is that Hudson didn’t live because she didn’t know how badly we wanted her. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant when Hudson came along. She was an “accident”, but not the kind that breaks your C-4 and C-5 vertebrae – she was the kind of accident that changes what you want and puts your whole life in perspective.

Now, we can try to get pregnant, and we are going to try to get pregnant, something we never would have imagined doing before Hudson. Baby Dub Dos is already star of my dreams and my hope for 2013. Now, I sometimes worry that I want BDD too much.

You can always find something to worry about if you let yourself.

You create all these little mini milestones for yourself, to break down a lifetime of coping with something this earth-shattering. We’ve done our time, six months is up. All my calculations have counted on us getting pregnant in one try, or as the Hubs puts it, “One shot, one kill.” That would mean Baby Dub Dos would arrive in September. That’s really pushing it for a summer baby. What if we aren’t so lucky? A fall baby? A couple of months of trying pushes us back even further… Damn it, I better have a baby this year.

So here we are, and six months is this huge milestone on a number of levels. Six months old, and Hudson would be past what the Hubs calls “the useless baby stage”. I’ve seen six month-olds, and they’re awesome. Hudson would have been the most awesome. Six months is halfway to a year – one year-olds are hardly babies anymore! And of course, six months is significant because it’s green light time for Baby Dub Dos, too.

I can hardly believe that we have made it this far. That half a year has passed since our daughter was born. That we are these people, and we are functioning, and that we are even happy, and hopeful. We have so much to look forward to, and I truly do naturally tend towards thoughts about the hope for the future. But some days, like today, I find it hard to get past thoughts of all that we are missing. And I am missing Hudson like crazy today.

Some days, it is harder to end on a positive note.

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Hudson at home

Before the holidays, we brought Hudson home.

Not in the way that I had imagined.

Hudson came home to us in a small, dark blue velvet bag.

I still haven’t found anything suitable to use as an urn for our baby, which is one of the reasons I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the logistics of retrieving her ashes from the funeral home. But as the holidays drew closer, something tugged at my heart, pinched the back of my brain, this thought:

“Hudson should be home for the holidays.”

So I called the funeral director, who is a family friend. He came to my home, dressed in a somber black tux from the funeral he had just attended, a few pieces of paper for me to sign and the ashes of our firstborn in a bag that fit in his palm.

In a bag that fits in my palm.

I thought I might get a little emotional, holding that bag that holds almost everything that is left of our daughter. But I didn’t tear up when I took the ashes of Hudson Ruth Walter from my friend. I’m surprised at how good it felt to have her home. Even though there’s nothing but this blue bag to keep her in.

It feels unofficial, irreverent, almost. I want to build her a shrine in my home… but that’s creepy. I want to keep her ashes in something that’s as perfectly formed and beautiful as she was.

For now, she is next to my nightstand in a velvet bag.

Movies tend to treat human ashes as a punch line, an accident waiting to happen. So having Hudson’s ashes at home, without some sort of knock-over-proof location for her, makes me a little nervous. This little velvet bag seems far from waterproof. I’m one spilled glass of water away from disaster.

But having that little blue velvet bag in our room is comforting to me. I hold it tenderly in my hands, pass it from left hand to right hand and back again, and think beautiful thoughts about our beautiful baby.

 

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A weekend of reminders

This was a weekend full of reasons to miss our baby. It took me a little by surprise.

We have made it through several months now without Hudson. August, September, October, November and December, all have passed without having our firstborn daughter at home with us. Some weeks are better than others. The holidays came and went, and despite a few tear-filled days, we survived. This last week, I started a new, exciting job and I’ve been so caught up in that opportunity that even the thought of Baby Dub Dos started to take a backseat.

Temporarily.

Because this weekend, I was hit smack in the face with missing our girl from so many directions I was left reeling, missing my baby, and wanting a baby.

We went to the one-year birthday party of our friends’ daughter on Saturday. She’s a spunky, beautiful, fun little girl with amazing parents, and we certainly wouldn’t have missed her party. But to kick things off, there was a video slide show (set to the best sappy tunes) that featured pictures of this sweet little gal through the first year of her life. I was doing pretty good until the pictures from the holidays. Then I started to choke up, and had to stop watching and look around wide-eyed to prevent tears from running down my cheeks.

Then, today I was in the car with my husband on the way to the grocery store, and overheard on the radio that some country music star named their daughter Hudson.

Come on!

Then at the grocery store, I caught sight of a couple from our birthing classes. They weren’t there for the last couple of classes, but they stay in my mind because they weren’t going to find out what they were having. They had a girl.

I’m missing my girl like crazy this weekend, and I’m also missing out on being a mommy. Even though no baby could ever be Hudson, I still wouldn’t mind being pregnant right now so at least I’d be that much closer to experiencing motherhood the way it should be experienced. So here I sit, missing our daughter, missing our baby, missing A baby, and wishing I were pregnant as of yesterday.

Without the new job as a distraction, this would be the only thing I can think of: Baby Dub Dos. As of this month, we are given the all-clear to start trying for Baby Dub Dos.

I realize this puts a lot of pressure on my baby makin’ parts (and on the Hubs!), publicizing the status of our baby attempts in this way. But lets face it, everybody knows that’s our top priority. We might as well have everybody we know rooting for us along the way.

This was a weekend of reminders. Reminders of what we are missing and reminders of what we have to look forward to.

Reminders of what is important.

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To New Beginnings

The year 2012 is in the books, over and done with. Thank God.

I am sure it hasn’t gone unnoticed that I’m a fan of lists, goal setting, etc., so you can imagine how I embrace the concept of New Years Resolutions.

I love them.

I spend considerable time on the dawning of each new year evaluating my life and where I’ve come, evaluating the coming year and the opportunities I want to seize. Some of my resolutions make repeat appearances (you know, eat better, exercise more, drink less, etc.), and some are more specific to the year and what is going on in our life at the time.

Last year, my resolutions were about a healthy pregnancy, creating a life for our daughter, investing in my friendships and relationships with more intent.

You can’t very well set a resolution to lose 20 pounds in a year when you’re certain to gain at least that.

This year, I didn’t spend a lot of time in reflection on the year that has passed. It was momentous. What more can be said? Beautiful, amazing things happened, and awful, heartbreaking things happened. We have lived through five full months without our precious Hudson, and somehow we are still here to see 2013 and we still have hope for more beautiful, amazing things to happen this year than awful, heartbreaking ones.

Instead of a list of personal goals and resolutions for the year 2013, I talked with the Hubs today about what we want to work towards together this year. We create a life together, as a team, and our shared vision helps direct the things we want to work on as individuals.

That’s not to say that the old standbys to eat better, exercise more, drink less went unmentioned (More Salads in 2013!).

Here’s to healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy wallets and healthy relationships in 2013.
To the year of Baby Dub Dos (fingers crossed).
To the year of new career endeavors.
To the year of making a difference.
To the year of creating a new kind of home for our children.

Our lives were changed forever by the life of our beautiful daughter, Hudson Ruth. The year 2012 brought her to us and took her away from us. The best thing in my life came last year, and better things are sure to come in this one.

To 2013!

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